A Brief History of Game

Wow! What an excellent job of reporting by Shannon Appelcline. He has written four articles on the major players in the rpg industry.


Read them all here.


Another Progress Report

An update on Intrigue!

I have scrapped both the maps and I am looking into copyright issues for the use of the new bitmap symbols in Campaign Cartographer 3. Because of these questions I will most likely end up scrapping all the work on the maps and start them again from scratch using Campaign Cartographer 2 or using Campaign Cartographer 3 without the bitmap symbols.

I also pulled all the text out of WikidPad and put it into Writely. Writely is Google's new word processor and it seems to work really well. It also allows me to share the document for reviews and collaboration.

The biggest progress has been on the major characters for one of the two towns - I have identified 40 major citizens that will be detailed in the module. I am still trying to determine what format these writeups will be in. So far my total is 1100 of 10000 words(about 11% done).

My self imposed deadline is still Oct 1, 2006 but I am starting to think that I may need to extend my own deadline to Nov 1, 2006.

11% complete


More Progress

An update on Intrigue!

I have only written another 200 words for a total of 500 of 10000 words(about 5% done). I haven't done any more work on the maps.

My self imposed deadline is still Oct 1, 2006.


Intrigue! Progress report

Intrigue is a fantasy adventure module I am writing for the Fudge game system.

I am not much further along than I was two weeks ago. I have approximately 300 of 10000 words completed (about 3% done). I have also started 2 of the 7 maps.

I still hope to have the entire module completed within the next 6 weeks.


Chapter 6

I am only awake for a moment before I pass out again; as I drop from consciousness I can only think, "Uh-oh, not again".

I peek out from squinted eyes and feel a massive pressure on my eyes as the burning light from the room strikes deep into my mind. A deep throbbing headache and annoying ringing in my ears makes it hard to concentrate.

I just can't recall where I am and how I would have gotten here.

I close my eyes again, trying to concentrate. There is a very unpleasant odor making me gag. I start to breath through my mouth, but that isn't really helping and my arms are stiff and sore. My legs are completely numb.

I peek out again, and as the glare subsides, I realize I am looking at the side of an old steel wash basin.

"What the..." I think to myself.


Feeling painfully returns to my legs - I find that I am face down on the floor, well almost. My legs are still on a cot behind me. I slowly pull my legs down off the cot and then try to raise my head off the floor.

That wasn't such a smart thing to do just yet!

I must have started out lying on the cot but at some point tried to empty my stomach into basin. I missed. Not only did I miss the basin but neither did I get back to the cot and ended up half on the floor. Must have seemed like a good idea to stay on the floor at the time.

That smell - ew! - I realize that smell is my own vomit.

Well, I will have to get the hell off the floor, but I am kind of sticking where I am. Not that I can actually exert that much effort just yet. A few moments to gather my will and extract my head from the floor and as I slowly regain control of my legs, I pull myself onto my hands an knees.

"Aaargh!" Pain shoots through my right arm as I put weight on it. I pull it back into my chest protectively and maintain my balance using just one arm. I lean over on the cot and close my eyes again. Slowly, painfully, I pull my myself onto the bedding. Nausea and sweat hit me instantaneously and I can feel my brain moving around in my head.

I feel the heave coming and move towards the bucket, I missed the basin yet again! That explains a lot, or at least much of the mess I have been lying in!

After emptying what seems like every meal I have ever eaten I drag myself back onto the cot. Lying on my back I look at the room I am in. There is a single, glaring bulb casting a harsh light onto the room. I turn my head away from the pain of the light.

I am in a small room. The concrete walls once painted white are now showing the effects of many years of neglect. The paint peeling off and the grout seams to be deteriorating. Along both sides are steel framed beds, something like army cots. They're in pretty bad shape but I can see that they were also once white. In the space between the cots is the steel wash basin.

I crawl over to the basin; rust and corrosion have long since have taken the gleam from the bucket; the liquid inside is a scary inky blue and coffee color but it is cold. I wash the puke from my face and hair anyway, it has to go!

Crawling away from the bucket and my puddle of puke I sit against the wall and study the room once more. It's a bare floor, and bare walls, and a lonely vent window is found in one wall, high and long since sealed up and so I won't be able to get a look outside from there.

The single door has been jammed closed with the remains of one of the cots. A frightening amount of blood is on the door and the cot.

I curl into a ball, trying desperately to get my head straight. I take a look at myself. I realize that I have only a denim shirt and white shorts on and only one boot! The shirt is stiff with dried blood, puke, puss and some weird glowing blue stuff. The shorts not so white anymore either.

I take a look at my wounds. Marks on back of hands showing that an IV had been used and ripped out. There is dried blood flaking from my right arm. I stare at my right hand in shock, my little finger is gone! A short stump of the finger is all that remains, it looks like the finger was torn off and the wound burned to cauterize it, it's black, and bruised and terribly painful. From my shoulder to wrist my arm has deep scratches and a cut that is going to need some stitches. My left arm is in much better shape. I remove the surgical tape which was trying to hold my eye open.

I close my eyes again and try to relax.

"Cold. Wet. Miserable. I ain't in Kansas anymore!"

I am having serious difficulty remembering anything other than the last twenty minutes. For some reason this does not strike me as strange. I try to focus on anything I can remember from outside this room. Nothing. All I manage to do is give my self another headache. Then without warning a vivid memory fills my mind as I sit alone on the concrete floor. I remember... running wildly, in a panic to escape... a giant insect-thing which had broken out of a small building thing, after it discovered my stealthy approach!
"How did it know I was there?!"
Getting over the shock of seeing this sort of mantis like thing, I emptied a full clip into it. I think it might have been laughing at me; then it roared - I guess it was a roar, or a scream or some screeching sound - and started right after me! I know I hit the damn thing at least half a dozen times; there's this black stuff oozing out of it, but you sure wouldn't know it from how fast it's coming!

This is too much! Did this really happen or is it the remnants of a drug induced hallucination?

I am not sure how long I remained sitting alone in the room after that. I pulled myself off the floor and promptly trip over a canvas back pack. Inside is half a bottle of wine, a bottle of water, a vintage .45 with no bullets, a handful of breakfast bars and a knife with a broken tip. Alright, now I've got something to start with, so I carefully pack everything back into the bag and head over to the door to pry the cot way from the door.

The noise that accompanies the cot being pried away from the door is a terribly excessive but I need to see what is out there, so I keep going. I push the cot aside and slowly open the door. The hallway beyond is dark but for the red glow of the emergency lighting. The outside of the door is covered with dried blood. Next to the door is a bunch of pale green colored vines with large thorns and broad flat leaves, trailing away down the hallway. The outside of the door has taken quite a beating. Gouges, scratches and dents confirm something was trying to get in - and then there is a strange growling sound coming from the hall.

I open the door more and allow the light from the room to spill into the hall. The bright chrome of a gurney frame is jammed sideways in the hall. Making a barricade nearly five feet high. One side of the hallway has suffered considerable fire damage.

A large forearm and hand are on top of the gurney, but the arm doesn't move. Slowly creeping forward I take a closer look at the hand. It looks like a human hand but it has large claw like nails, all covered with blood and some dark moss like growths. This just keeps getting better!

It takes a few minutes to get up the courage to look over the gurney. On the other side of the gurney is a massive pool of blood a bloody big mangy dog! It looks up at me as I stumble backwards against the door jam. The dog's head is caked with blood. I have a distinct feeling that this might be the source of my missing finger. It doesn't come over the barricade right away so I try to get a closer look. It is all cut up and bloodied and obviously starved and chewing on what must be another body part. I can't make out the breed. It looks like part labrador and part pug, or maybe part chow, or maybe even chi-wawa. Whatever! It's a big dog with a face that is oddly flat. Its nose is small and pushed up. With a bark it thrust forward a growling face towards me and I can see a missing fang. After a half hearted attempt to get over the gurney it falls back and starts lapping at the drying blood at the bottom of the gurney. I can see form here that the arm ends in a bloody stump.

This dog is between me and what might be the way out. I shake the gurney trying to move the dog off and it kind of growls in fear and backs slowly away, dragging the arm with it through the mess on the floor.

I sit down on my side of the gurney and dig out a breakfast bar from the pack, tear it in half and throw one over to the dog. Maybe we can be friends, or at least this would be better than chewing on me! After finishing the bar and some water I take another peek over the gurney. The dog is no where in sight.

I push down the gurney which hits the ground with a loud crash. Too loud maybe.

I scale over and limp down the hallway looking for the rest of my clothes and anyone who might be able to tell me just what is going on. It is only a few feet to the end of the hall. I take a look around the corner and the dog is still nowhere to be seen. A few feet away is a set of metal stairs and another door. I walk over to the door and walk into some sort of garage bay. Must be a hospital judging from the three ambulances and the cop car parked in neat rows and thickly covered in a sooty dust. I slowly cross the garage floor and set into the hospital building itself.


Chapter 5

I open my eyes but all I can see is a painfully bright light burning down onto my face. Trying to blinking away the searing afterimage I find my entire body aches from top to bottom. Trying to sit up is beyond any control I have over my muscles. After several tries I come to the conclusion that I can't get control over my body. After several painful minutes I manage to flop over onto my stomach. This reduces the pain from the light above me. I peek out through squinted eyes and it appears that I am lying face down in a stairwell.

Closing my eyes I take a few deep breaths to try to regain control of my body. Lying there, the cold floor seems to reduce the ache from my arms. I slowly tense my left arm and push myself up off the floor. It only takes a couple of minutes to push off the stairs and get into an uncomfortable seated position. Shaking my head to clear the cobwebs I find I have to close my eyes to force out the bright overhead light.

If I close my eyes it shuts out the light but the throbbing pain in my temples and running down my neck doesn't go away. I mentally brace myself, take a few deep breaths and open my eyes. I am sitting on a step about five up from a landing. A bright orange six is on the door of the landing. Turning to look up the stairs I see a body.

After an instant of shock I reach for my sidearm. I feel a bit better with the soft wooden grip of my gun in my hand. I stare at the body on the landing above me. The gun in my hand is not my service sidearm but my own pistol. A bead of sweat rolls down my cheek as I watch the body on the floor. There is an odor in the stairwell, a mixture of stale air, sweat, and urine. It is a scent that some of my buddies called the scent of fear.

There seems to be something wrong with the body - but I can't tell what it is. The bright light is still affecting my vision. I carefully shift to have a better view of the landing above.

I have a gut feeling that I am about to be in a very dangerous situation. I would feel better about things if I could remember how I got here. I start thinking about what I should do next. I keep trying to identify what is bothering me about the body because something doesn't feel right.

I take a deep breath and consider what to do next when the body moves. I take a quick step away from the body but end up falling down the stairs. I try to catch my balance but I can't manage to gain my footing. I try to bring my gun up but a burning pain in my shoulder restricts me to a feeble gesture at best. I open my eyes but I can't focus my vision and all I see is darkness. I fight to remain awake but succumb to the cool darkness that envelops me.

I awake with a start.

The cold concrete floor has numbed my face. There is a strong odor all around me and a lot of dried blood on the floor. I push myself up onto my hands and knees and realize I have my gun drawn. I roll over and lean up against the wall. I can see an arm hanging down from the landing above me. That would explain the odor. I check my gun. Only two shots left. I check it again... still only two shots. I am sitting right next to an exit door.

The stairwell is still fairly dark and only the emergency lights are on. I take a couple of deep breaths and pull myself up off the floor. A flash of pain shoots through my arms and legs as I get to my feet. I grit my teeth and force myself to move.

I take a quick overview of my body and find that I have more bumps and bruises than I care to count. I must have taken a pretty nasty spill down the stairs. A deep cut just under my left eye has left dried blood on my cheek. All my muscles hurt as well. Sleeping on concrete is not all that restful.

I catch myself taking mental stock of my situation, listing my injuries, the current time as well as the location of the items around me. I am on the sixth floor based on the giant six painted on the door next to me. On my mental check list I start giving all the items around me threat levels. I am a little shocked at the activity but it seems to be a natural reaction for me so I go with it.

The emergency lights add a dull hum to the otherwise quiet stairwell. I put my gun away and realize I have added "limited ammunition" to my mental check list.

Sweat rolls down my back as I pace back and forth across the small landing. My heart and my mind both seem to be in a race to see which can go faster. I stop pacing and try to regulate my breathing. My pulse jumps again as I realize I have started a second mental list. It frightens me to note that the second list is all the signs of shock I can identify in my own behavior. I get angry as I realize I have started pacing and have drawn my gun again.

I put my gun back and force myself to stand still for a slow count of twenty. I sit down and take a look down the mental lists I have been compiling on my current situation. The equipment list is pretty short; a gun with limited ammunition and that seems to be it. But that doesn't set my heart racing, it?s odd but I seem to be quite comfortable with that. The body above me on the landing doesn't seem to be the source of my near panic either. Even though I am pretty sure that I killed that person. My training seems to have kicked in and taken over. What training?!?

The sweat starts to drip off my nose as it hits me. I have no memory of what has happened, why it happened, when it happened. It is a stark and sudden thought that causes the cold sweat to stop - I have no memory of who I am! I stop pacing and I sink to my knees with the stark fear that I have no idea where or who I am or why I am holding a gun in an industrial stairwell.

I start doing some breathing exercises. I stop pacing and sit down again. I rest my head against the door and I put my gun away again. I start looking though my pockets. I don't have my service side arm. My service side arm?

Flashes of a graduation ceremony appear to me as though through a fog. My parents and brother are in the crowd along with Sgt. McKinley. He?d been retired for twelve years before I joined the academy but was my inspiration for joining the force. I proudly showed him my service revolver and badge the day I graduated.

I search my memory. Hungry for more, hungry to remember more of myself. But there is no more. Just a ceremony and then me in this stairwell. It must have been nearly four years ago but I have no memory of anything that happened in that time.

I pull out my wallet; there are only five items in it: My badge, Buffalo New York Police Department number 2003786, Patrolman James Sharp. My drivers license; James L. Sharp of 5 Red Jacket Parkway, Buffalo, New York. Looks like I am 23 years old. There is also a visa card for Jim Sharp and a smart card with a blue square and the letters JTL embossed in black. The only other item in the wallet is fifty seven dollars in cash. I put the items back in my wallet. The wallet itself is a plain black leather wallet with an embossed B with a sword sticking through it. The symbol tickles my memory but I can't place it. I also have a key chain with a dodge key and what must be a house key on it.

I look over my clothes. My jeans are in okay shape but are a little dirty. I pull off my jean jacket and hoodie and under all that I am wearing a white and black Buffalo Sabres tee shirt with a large blood stain on the left shoulder and arm. I don't have any injuries so it must be someone else?s' blood. The jean jacket and hoodie are both in great shape but have the same blood stain on the left shoulder. I put the hoodie and jacket back on.

The lights above me crackle for a few moments and slowly light up as the emergency lights flicker and go off. I am about to open the door and head out of the stairwell through the doorway when I hear something in the stairwell below.

It sounds like someone is moving around down there. I wait, straining to hear but the faint sounds are drowned out by the high pitched buzz of the fluorescent lights coming to life. I draw my revolver and start moving slowly. I would like to move faster but the combination of wanting to make a cautious approach and the shooting pain that stabs into my back with every step. At the next landing my right knee starts to stiffen up slowing me down even more. That fall I took down the stairs sure didn?t help improve my mobility.

Gripping my pistol I pass the green five painted on the landing and continue down the stairs.


Writers Un-block

I have come to the conclusion that writers block is not the worst problem I face writing. I am actually having exactly the opposite problem right now. I have started a writing project and I am stalled after only a couple thousand words.

The problem is not writers block. The problem is that I have so many ideas that I can't settle down to write on any topic. When I have writers block I can work through it by sitting down and writing. Writing about anything. Just write.

With un-block I find myself putting off writing because I can get back to it in a while. I justify this to myself because I have so many ideas it is not like I will have problems putting things onto paper once I can pick just one topic.

So I am going to try posting a progress and design notes here to try to get myself motivated. It works for NaNoWriMo, so maybe it can get my momentum going.


Another chapter posted...

Another installment of the story writing game.

here is how it works. I wrote an openning scene and then sent it out to some people. They responded and I worked with them to produce a chapter of the story. As time moves forward they will meet and interact with other people and maybe with eachother.

So far it has been tremendously fun to do.

the Chapters published so far:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Chapter 04

I open my eyes and try to clear my mind. I have a killer headache and the taste of blood in my mouth. Above me is a bright glowing bar or light.

The light seems too bright to be contained. I swear the light grows as I watch it expanding to fill my vision.

I feel light headed as the light coats my body. All at once the light disappears and the world goes dark. I get the feeling this has happened to me before.

I open my eyes again and try to judge how much time has passed since I was last awake. I feel the cold hard floor under my cheek and turn my head to look up at the ceiling. The room I am in seems to be one massive blur of painful bright lights. There is something large and green covering my lower body but I can not seem to clear my vision to identify what it is.

I shake my head to try to regain my bearings. Shaking my head causes a remarkable amount of pain. As the blur clears and the pounding in my head slows to a dull roar I feel tightness across my chest and back.

I try to stretch but feel a band tightening painfully across my back. I feel restricted and that's when I realize that my arms are crossed in front of me and secured somehow along my back.

"What the Hell?" I mumble aloud. My voice sounds strange. I probe with my tongue and feel a set of stitches on my gums and a very swollen upper lip.

Gritting my teeth blood starts to leak into my mouth again. I struggle to get a clear thought. My mind feels like I have just downed thirteen shooters and slurping a quart of malt liquor through a straw.

I make another try to get my arms free but they remain crossed in front of my body and pulled tightly behind me. I try to sit up with limited success. When I try to get up off the floor I feel the straight jacket straps. I manage to get into a seated position but doing so causes the tugging of the cheap blue hospital bottoms into some remarkably uncomfortable areas.

I cross one leg in front of me but the other is tangled in the large green sheet that is still partially covering the stretcher. On the leg in front of me is a small plastic band around the ankle. "Jarrod" is printed on the band in big block letters. Is that me? I think to myself as I try to roll the band to see what else might be printed on my bracelet. As I struggle to read the bracelet a memory from long ago fills my mind.

"Ok Jarrod it is then" I mumble to myself.

I guess if I am a guest I might as well meet the innkeepers. "Hey nurse! A little friggen help here!" I hoarsely yell which renews the pain in my head. I make a mental note; no loud talking for a while. I wonder how many times I've made that note.

After a few minutes I conclude that no nurse, orderly or anyone else is coming. I guess they are all busy at the crazy zoo.

As I try to get up I notice stuff on a shelf under the stretcher. My Kodiak boots, jeans and plaid shirt are neatly folded on the shelf. There is something dark and smelly on my clothes. The contrast between the shiny chrome of the shelf and the dark black stain on my clothes is surprising.

As I lean in to take a closer look I recognize the dark stain on my clothes. "Ah shit," I say to myself,? my stuff is all covered in blood, again.

I use my chin and teeth to pull my clothes off the shelf. I hope I can get to my wallet. Hopefully I can use the edge of my debit card to cut through the straps trapping my arms. The smell of my clothes is quite strong. I loudly gag a few times as a work towards my wallet. I hope I can get my wallet out and wear through these straps before anyone notices.

I fall forward painfully to get to my pants pocket.

"Damn!" I yell aloud. No wallet. Oh well, lets get creative.

I have to use my whole body to get back upright. I use my shoulders and head in place of arms as I wiggle to the wall. Trying to stand is a new adventure. I push my socks off with my feet so I don't slide. I leave a trickle of blood on the wall as blood leaks out of the corners of my mouth.

I lean against the wall panting. The silence is striking. I can hear my own breathing and my heart pounding. The buzz of the fluorescent lights is loud in the unusual silence. As my breathing returns to normal a clap of thunder in the distance startles me.

Taking a final relaxing breath I take a look around. Other than me and my stretcher the hallway has 7 doors. This hallway looks familiar. In the center of each door is a glass bubble allowing a full view of the room beyond. A memory of being on the inside of one of these rooms blossoms in my mind. I wonder what I did this time. Another memory fills my mind. I am in some sort of protest, fighting to save the animals. More memories flood into my mind.

I remember standing before a judge for assaulting a medical lab security guard; breaking into labs and freeing the animals. I don't have any memory of why I would have been sent back here. Maybe I just went on a bender, and all hell broke loose, sure feels that way.

At one end of the hallway there is an exit sign. You can't miss the painted on bright orange 3 with the word Stairs on the door at the end of the hall. I must be on the third floor and that door will be alarmed if I am in the sort of place I think I am. I turn around and stumble away from the exit along the wall of the hallway. I reach a corner and listen. I hear the rather loud pounding in my head and the regular air circulation sounds but not much else.

I peek around the corner.

Twenty yards further is a small waiting room.

Someone is seated in one of the chairs. He is seated with his back toward me so I can not be sure he is asleep but his head is tipped all the way back. So he is either asleep or staring at the ceiling.

I try to quietly approach the chair. Shit. Shit. Shit he is so dead. This was the orderly who was watching the main entrance to ensure none of us went for a walk. Well someone wanted out in a hurry, or maybe wanted in to get someone.

There is a massive hole in his chest. Someone really did a job on him. His hands and face are also deeply scratched.

I am so screwed.

Blood and entrails lead away from the orderly to the desk. The desk has a partial glass partition. A dark stain covers part of the glass partition. The stain creates a clear reflection in the glass. That stain does not look good, good thing I don't work as a cleaner here.

Part of the partition is shattered. A bloody hoof print is on the desk near were the partition is broken. I stare at the hoof print. It is quite clearly a hoof print. About 4 inches long the cloven print is really out of place in a hospital.

Near the print is a piece of broken glass jammed into in the wall. I push against the piece of glass with my jacket hoping like hell it doesn't come free before I cut the strap. I feel a stab of pain and a new trickle of blood as I push too hard and the glass slices into my side.

I take a sharp breath and start to work more carefully at the strap. I hear a loud guttural wail from one of the rooms down the hallway.

I take a look around. I can see my reflection in a section of the glass partition. I look like quite the tool; I have a nasty cut on my mouth but it doesn't look too bad. I should be fine in a couple of weeks. I am a little shocked to see the bright orange hair. The seven inch spikes are a little limp.

I suddenly remember when I used to wear a lab coat over my suits and my employer liked the buzz cut I wore to the research lab.

Another wail draws my attention back from the past. After what could be a minute or two could be ten who knows one of the straps cuts through. Things get loose in my nether regions. I manage to slide the jacket over my head and stretch my arms.

So I take another look at myself. It doesn't look like I have any other wounds. I am still wearing a faded World Wildlife Federation t-shirt. I carefully search the orderly for keys, money, pass cards, ID badge license registration any thing to help me get out of here. I find a blood coated badge. Cameron Fleming. Sorry Cam, but I need this more than you do. Cam also donates twenty Canadian dollars and a Visa. Canadian dollars! What am I doing in Canada? I grab the guys' shoes they are a little big and they squish uncomfortably, but they seem good enough once tied.

Time to blend in again.

I hop over the partition into the nurses' station. I hope they have some Tylenol. I don't know what hit this place but I hope it's gone. Once in the nurses' station I see some keys. I clip them onto the waistband of my pants. There is a doctor's coat on the back of a chair.

I throw the jacket over my shoulders, a bit big for my frame but it will do. I put my hands in the pockets. There is a whistle in one and a stethoscope in the other.

"Okay Jarrod. Time to get creative and get the hell out of this alive." I say to myself, then realising I shouldn't be talking to myself I smile and add, "next time I am running to a tropical island."

I push the release on the security door but nothing happens. I try it a couple of times with the same results. I pick up the chair and after a couple of attempts the door opens. I discard the remains of the chair and head into the hallway beyond the door.


Why I am running a d20 fantasy game

I am about to start a new campaign as a GM. I stepped away from the GMs chair over a year ago because I did not have the time to run a game. Since then we have had two GMs. The first was a first time GM that we tortured into submission the second a veteran that put together a great campaign. Unfortunately, this game has ground to a halt due to real life schedule conflicts. Each time we plan to play something comes up that keeps to many people away from the game. The end result has been no games for four months. In that time we have played board and card games like poker, BANG!, Killer Bunnies, and The Werewolves of Millers Creek.

Although I have enjoyed playing these games a great deal I have realized that I want to roleplay. I have a marginally simpler life now than when I stepped out from behind the screen so I am going to take another shot at running a game.

The first struggle was genre. We almost always play Fantasy. We have played a few short games of Superhero or Future based games but all the long running campaigns have been fantasy. I would love to try a SteamPunk, CyberPunk, Future, or Supers genre. However, I have a limited amount of time to prep for each session so going with something familiar is far easier than trying something daring. So I flirted with a modern or near future campaign but settled on fantasy for the genre. (I did start a story telling "game" in a near future or dark future world to try out the modern genre. The chapters of that game will be published here as well.)

Then I struggled a great deal trying to pick which game system to play. To be honest the real struggle was trying to find a game other than d20 to play. I try not to be biased about game systems but when it came down to selecting a system I found myself looking for any system I could play rather than d20. I sometimes find the game material for d20 to restrictive, or too combat based. So after several days of research I finally made a decision. I will start a d20 campaign and here is why...

I looked at Fudge. I really like the Fudge system, or at least I claim to, but I have yet to run a long term campaign in Fudge. I seriously considered Fudge because regardless of genre or setting I can use Fudge. I could actually mix and match genres and setting in one game with the Fudge system. In the end there just isn't enough stuff there for me to run a campaign easily. I love the Fudge but it is a lot of work for the GM. There are very very few off the shelf modules to use and there is no campaign books for the games I would like to play. I have played a few sessions of Fudge and I liked the system (or I should say I like the mechanic) but I don't want to get into the level of GM preparation overhead that Fudge requires. So Fudge was eliminated form the list of possible games.

I considered Rolemaster but only for a moment. If Fudge requires too much GM investment then Rolemaster is off the scale. I have been a Rolemaster fan for a long time but I just can't get excited about that level of detail anymore.

I also took a long hard look at Harp. About a year ago I tried to start a Harp campaign but the preparation work for the game just sapped all my creative juices. Not that Harp is a difficult game but when I was starting up only the base book was released so I would have to come up with the settings and adventures all on my own. I looked at Harp again and I really like some of the concepts introduced in Harp (Blood talents are a fantastic idea for example) but I don't want to have to buy a bunch of new books for the game and I don't want to invest the time to create my own stuff for Harp so Harp was also dropped from my consideration.

World of Warcraft the RPG was considered for about thirty minutes. I love Warcraft 3. The world is interesting but I don't know the system, the world, the way things work, etc. The game books also cost the earth so WoW was only a flash in the pan on my list of games to consider.

I took a look through my RPGNow pdfs and picked out Rune Stryders. Rune Stryders is a fantasy game that includes mecha - but fantasy based mecha. Giant organic constructs. I read through parts of the rules again and thought about using Rune Stryders for my upcoming game. I really like the concept but I rejected Rune Stryders for the same reasons I dropped fudge and Rolemaster and Harp. No support products.

So that left me with d20.

I looked again at my RPGNow pdfs and found a ton of things to just pick up and play. In less than an hour I have a campaign planned that would span first to thirdteenth level. And the whole thing would use just three products that had cost me a total of $18.87 USD.

The last thing I considered was d20 modern. I looked really really closely at d20 modern simply because I love the way money and damage works in d20 modern. I was very close to trying to take the damage rule from d20 modern and put them into my new campaign. So finally d20 modern was the last thing that dropped from my list and I had a final list that looked like this:

  • d20 Modern - not the right setting/genre
  • Fantasy Fudge - too much prep work
  • Future Fudge - too much prep work and not the right setting/genre
  • Harp - need to buy the books or too much prep work
  • Rolemaster - too detailed
  • RuneStryders - too much prep work
  • World of Warcraft - far too expensive and too much prep work
  • d20 Fantasy (D&D)

So I am going to run a d20 game, even though I am at times extremely dissatisfied with the game system. My hope is to produce a game that is a great deal for all the players (including me) and I think that after going through all the steps and reviews and reading I have selected the right game system.

So I went though this process because I did NOT want to play d20 and came to the conclusion that I actually do want to play d20. The system is not bad and the support products make it extremely easy to set up and play.

Note: Simply because life has a way of doing things to you ("Busy, busy, busy" in the words of Billy Pilgrim) I immediately cancelled the first game session because I was going out of town for the weekend.


New Game, New Story

A new story writing game...

As requested I will maintain a "top post" with the chapters in the correct order.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3


Chapter 03

I open my eyes and nearly scream from the pain that assaults my eyes. The light burns into my mind. I can't seem to clear my head or get back to my feet. I close my eyes to escape the light and the pain and I return to my coma like sleep. As I lose consciousness I feel more than hear that there is someone else in the room.

My eyes open but sting with the sudden brightness of light. I close them again and my other senses kick into overdrive. At first I perceive the strong smell of disinfectant so I must be in a place that requires a high level of hygiene.

I move my hands and realize I am under some blankets. They are thin and stiff like a newly pressed shirt. I am a bit surprised how rough the sheets feel. I can almost feel the weave of the sheets as I run my hand along the seam of the sheet covering me. I press my fingers down and feel the soft give of a bed and hear the crinkling of plastic. The sound reminds me of nights long ago when I would tuck my niece into bed. The sudden thought of her brings a smile to my face and I feel a gentle calm. I wonder if she ever needed that bed sheet as I cannot remember a time when she had an accident in bed. She had, in my mind, always been a very smart girl but then again she was my only niece and I had only nephews to compare her too.

I used to visit her and my sister a lot before I joined the firm. I wonder how long it has been since I have seen Them. I wonder why memories of them are more real than where I am right now.

My niece would bug me because she never knew anyone who had two earrings before and would constantly ask me if it hurt when I got my ears pierced. That would always lead into the stories of how I got them.

The first one was from my sister. She thought it would be cool if she gave her little brother this as a present for Christmas. Mom had always said that I could not get one till I was eighteen but my sister worked her over and I was allowed to get it pierced the Christmas year I turned sixteen.

The second was my niece's favorite. I was seventeen and I was having a good time with my friends. It was Friday and we had just won a soccer game that no one expected us to win. We dug deep and we pulled off a major upset. I would like to say that I had scored the winning goal or that I was the goal keeper that had stopped all the shots fired at me, but that was not the case. I played defense but I was first defensive substitute. Don’t get me wrong that position is still important - if someone from the main line grew tired or the coach wanted to rest them up for a special play - then I was sent in. So anyway, we were all living it up and I got a little drunk and passed out. My friends decided to take advantage of this situation. When I sobered up there it was a brand new hole with my school pin in it. At first I was angry, but now it reminds me of all my friends and how we would do anything for each other.

My niece lived outside the city in a place we called the big woods. It has an actual name, but she and the rest of the family just called it the big woods. When I was out there I would run and play with her and that was always such a treat. We would play one of fifty versions of tag. There was freeze tag, hamburger tag and frog tag. Each of them a bit different then the one we played before. Most of them were based on an animal and that you had to act like that while playing the basic game of tag.

I always got a lot of exercise while visiting the big woods a lot more then when I was in the city. Don’t get me wrong I am reasonably fit as I walk to work every day. This is because like most people I could not afford parking in the city... well that was before I joined the firm.

Thinking of the firm strikes me with sudden fear. Do they know where I am? Will they be sending someone to help me? I block those thoughts and return to pleasant memories of my niece.


That is the name my niece used to call me. Well at least now I think I know who I am. I try to open my eyes again, this time only slightly. I squint hoping to see something, but all I see is light. I know this will take time so I wait for my eyes to adjust. I look around. I must have opened my eyes looking toward a window since my eyes are now starting to see more clearly.

I now try to open them fully. The bright lights are gone but the dull pain remains. I can manage the pain and look around the room. I notice I am in a bed. There is a sink near by and a table. The table seems to have a lot of bottles of different sizes on it. There also seams to be gauze on it.

My calm turns into fear as I realize I am in some sort of hospital. How did I get here...? Why am I here...? What happened to me...? Who am I?

I roll off the bed and look at myself. I am dressed in a light blue hospital gown and hospital slippers. I look at the bottles and can't make sense of what they might be used for. The largest is labeled "Refined Equine Latrodectus Serum Globulins". It is the type of bottle doctors use to fill needles. There are a few smaller bottles. One is labeled “Halothane” and another seems to be a pain killer. There are a few that are empty with nothing in them. I look over my body. My right shoulder is sore as if I had recently received a number of shots into it. I lift up the sleeve of the gown and I see a blood soaked bandage. No wonder it hurts so much. I try to peal back the tape on one side to take a look at what is underneath. The tape pulls back at my skin. This is gonna hurt. I contemplate just ripping it off and then notice that the blood and the bandage are working as a clot for the wound. I will have to look at this later when I can soak it off.

Continuing my self examination I find that I have a tight gauze bandage on my left calf. Deep marks along my calf indicate that I had a splint on the leg until quite recently. I also notice a tattoo. I have a tattoo? I scan my memory to recollect when I would have gotten it, but my memory comes back blank. I look at the tattoo more closely. It is a tiny brown cross with some sort of branch wrapped around it. Above the cross are three symbols that I do not recognize and below are three letters. B.R.G. I touch the tattoo and feel a bit of discomfort. It must be new. I feel a bit more scared.

I walk over to the sink and wash my face and neck with cold water. I glance in the mirror. My hair is a bit messed up. It is not an odd look as it often looks this way when I first wake up. I gently run my fingers through it and it falls into place. That is the nice thing about having short hair. I have my two earrings in and I gently think ‘Go tigers Go’. I am a bit thirsty so I look around for a glass to fill with water. There is no cup near so I fill my hands and drink a few gulps of water from my cupped palms. At first I fell a bit of pain as I drink. It might be because I have not had a drink in a while, but it more feels like something else. That’s it. It feels like the time I was at a rock concert for SugaBabes. I had yelled so much that the next day I could not speak and my throat was sore. I try to speak to test my theory.

“Peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers..”

The words come out very softly and I have to clear my throat on every second word. That must be it, I must have been yelling and that is why my throat is sore. I drink a bit more.

I step over to the window and look out. The natural light actually makes my eyes feel better. I am quite high in a building, maybe as high as six stories up. It looks like mid morning from the light. I can't see any signs that would identify the hospital I am in but across the street is a huge Daimler Chrysler building. It looks like a factory.

I almost fall over when I see the street between the factory and the hospital. There are cars everywhere. Some are parked on the sidewalks and meridians, others are smashed into each other or into trees and poles. None are moving. Some of the cars have blood on the windshields where the occupants slammed into the windows on impact.

I retreat from the window back into the room. I open the locker in the corner and find clothes. There is my Treo. At last something I know is mine. I check to see if it is on but the batteries seem to be dead. I will have to charge that as soon as I get a chance. Also in a small sealed bag there appears to be a key card. It looks like a security card. I flip it over and realize both sides are blank. I put it back on the shelf and put on the clothes but they seem to be a size too big.

I see some glasses and try them on. The room goes blurry. They must not be mine. I fold the glasses and put them into my pocket along with the security card that I had placed on the shelf.

I look into the hallway and see someone else. They are hunched over in the hallway next to a pile of furniture. The furniture seems to be a crude barricade. Looking the other direction the hallway seems do be a dead end. There are three other doors down the hallway. The person seems to be hurt, they are not moving and a pool of blood is on the floor around where they are seated.

I walk toward the other person when a loud bang sounds from inside the building.


Chapter 02

I open my eyes and see bright lights. They burn into my mind and cause a great deal of pain. I am not sure where I am. I try to sit up but I can't get up. I sink back down into the darkness of oblivion.

I am awake again.

I briefly open my eyes but the pain is still there. Without opening my eyes I examine my surroundings. The light overhead makes a small droning sound but beyond that I only hear my own steady breathing. I reach out my hands and find that I am in a very small room. I can almost reach both of the walls from where I lay on the floor. I open my eyes again and take a quick look around. This is a an odd room indeed. I can not figure out what kind of room I am in, the doors to the room are quite a distance to either side.

I take a look at myself. It looks like I am in pretty good shape for someone who can not remember his name, life, or how he got to be naked in a strange room. I notice a smell which is kind of arousing.

Next to me on the floor there is a uniform neatly folded in a plastic bag.

The rest of the room is empty.

So why is a naked man left in a odd room with a freshly cleaned uniform?

There is a strong smell of cleaner, and the floor is very clean. Next to me on the floor is a uniform. It appears to be the uniform of an fireman. I take a look at the uniform. There is a lot of medals on the uniform, it looks like military issue.

A memory strikes me. This is my uniform, but I haven't been in this uniform since I left Fort Wayne, but that was a long time ago.

I tear the plastic off the uniform. It appears to be in good shape. While I put on the uniform I notice that I have a recent head wound. It is not bleeding but it is very fresh. I don't seem to have any other cuts.

Bending over to pull on the uniform pants I notice a massive bruise on the left side of my back. What would have caused that? I stretch to check my range of movement. It doesn't seem to be limiting my movement but it does cause a twinge if I have to bend or reach. I button up the uniform and read read the name off the name tag. Boatman. This is my uniform so my name must be Boatman.

I take a long look around the room. This almost looks like a hallway. The far door has a bloody hand print running the length of the door. Is is the only thing that is not white on any of the walls.

I walk over to the door with the bloody smear on it. I look at my hands. I didn't make the marks, or if I did I cleaned my hands really well afterwards. The blood is still sightly wet so it must have happened only a short time ago. There is something about the hand print that strikes me as out of place but I can not place what it might be.

Other than the hand print the door has a few scratches along the edges. Like someone was trying to grasp the side of the door but was not able to manage to grip it. Who ever made those scratches was desperate to get out of this room.

I take another look at my hands. No way I made the scratches either.

I check the door, it is locked from this side. I try the knob. As I turn it the lock clicks open. I lock the door again and rethink my situation.

I am in a long strange room, with one of my old military uniforms. Someone was recently in the room and tried to force their way past a door they could have easily unlocked. Someone else left a long bloody smear on the same door.

I walk to the other door. It is closed but not locked. There is no marks on this door and no blood either. I look back at the other door. It is like someone was marking their territory with that bloody print.

I sit back down on the floor and consider my options. The pain behind my eyes is getting better but it is still painful to look at anything too bright. There is nothing else I can think of to do so I decide to find out where I am.

The pounding in my temples is starting to subside but the pain and pressure is still pretty intense. The lights are no longer painfully bright. So I have confidence that I will recover in due time. All my training comes in handy though. I can hear my internal clock counting out the minutes to me. Don't stay in one place. Do not rest in an uncertain location. I know I will not start feeling better until I have discovered where I am and why I am here.

I open the unlocked door and I find myself in a large room. Based on the color scheme and construction I can now say for certain I am in a hospital. I am immediately struck by the smell. It is a cross between sweat and musk. Maybe someone is marking their territory. Across from the door is a huge mirror. The mirror is at least four meters across and almost two meters high. In the center of the room is a large bed. It is an adjustable bed similar to a regular hospital bed but with straps and attachments that look like they would hold someone to the bed in various positions. The bed sheets are sweat soaked and a considerable blood stain covers the upper portion of the bed.

Walking across the room to the bed the door closes with a loud and audible click. My footsteps are loud and dull on the polished floor. The room has a clean and military feel to it. How long has it been since I was in a military institution.

Next to the bed is a long and narrow tray table. Two dozen tools a lined up on the table. Some I recognize but there are others that are a complete mystery. Looking over the tools arrayed on the table I start to get a tight uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. It looks like the last person in the bed grasped for something on the table and covered the parts of the table and some of the tools with blood and gore. There is some blood spray on the floor ceiling and wall that clearly originated from the bed.

The bed and the table evoke vague memories from my past. I can not identify the source of these memories through the fog in my mind. I have a stark fear that I have been in a room like this before. I have a sudden and urgent need to leave this room. Looking back at the bed my memory flickers to life but I still can't identify the event. All that I can do is shake my head and tell myself it can't be true but what might have happened in my past.

I can't see anything else in the room of any significance. I am more than a little uncomfortable staying in the room.

My own dull footsteps beat a cadence to exit. On the back of the door there is a symbol drawn in blood. It looks like a bio-hazard symbol. Why would anyone draw a bio-hazard symbol in blood? I drop to one knee to examine the marks. The strokes are deliberate and it is quite clear someone is trying to send a message.

I open the door and step back into the hallway. It is past time for me to leave.

I walk back down the hallway and move through the other door. I have a distinct feeling I have walked this hallway before.

On the other side of the door is a much smaller room. Across from the door is a small seating area. In the seating area is a door marked washroom. The seating area is immaculately clean. The seating area has a couple of vending machines. The machine has M&Ms, my favorite. I step up to the machine wishing I had some change. The deja vu feeling gets even stronger. The glass is cracked exactly where I remember it... I have been here before.

To the right of the waiting area is a large metal strapped door. To the left is a hallway that must lead to the elevator.

I figure it is time to get as far form here as possible. Headache or not I jog down the hallway to the elevators. Next to the elevator is a large orange thirteen. Thirteenth floor. Next to the elevator is another bloody hand print. There is no call button to get the elevator though. Looking overtop the elevator doors at the lights indicating the floor the elevator is on.

As if on cue the elevator starts to rise. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Each light is accompanied by a clear and loud bell. I look at the lights and my jaw drops. There is no thirteen. The lights stop at twelve. I head back to the seating area as the elevator hits the tenth floor.

I hear the elevator doors opening as the washroom door closes behind me.


Chapter 01

I open my eyes and try to focus but all I see is are bright lights and blurry images. I seem to be lying on a cold floor, which causes me more than a bit of concern because I can't seem to remember how I got here. Actually I can't remember where I am.

I lay back down and close my eyes again. Focusing on what I am doing and where I am... a sudden frightening thought hits me. I can't remember who I am. A cold sweat covers my body as I struggle to remember who I am and how I came to find yourself... where?

I try to raise my head again and a stabbing pain behind my eyes forces me back to the ground. I try again to raise my head but the pain explodes once more and I fall back to the floor. I fight to remain conscious but I slide into darkness once more.

As my head starts to clear I open my eyes a second time. I see my surroundings much clearer.

I am naked in a private room somewhere in the a hospital emergency room. There is gauze on my right hand. I feel under the gauze and discover a cut that feels and looks a lot like it was made with the broken base of a forty pounder of Vodka.

Every pore of my body wants to go back to sleep, but what the hell is this crap in my mouth. The light is stabbing my brain with such vehemence that I think my name is Blue, but I am not sure.

I get to my feet and look around. I use the bed for support and see my clothes on the floor and in a garbage container. I paw through the clothes looking for a hint of where I was and where I could be. The black silk t-shirt with the silver 'fsck me' across the front is ruined. There is too much blood on it for my comfort. I drag the brown leather pants out of the trash and a black case falls to the floor with a clatter.

My blackberry! I can't live without that!! I pick up the case and attempt to wipe off the sticky mess that coats it. Luckily, my blackberry case is shockproof, waterproof and securely closed, unless I unlock it with my thumb print, so it appears fine. I set the case on the bed and sit down and see if I can find anything else of value.

I dump out the trash and dig through looking for my wallet. The bastards! My wallet is gone. The pants are coated with the same sticky mess as the blackberry case, and the shirt is coated with blood. No help there.

I push the clothes back into a pile near the trash. Grab a gown from the shelf and pull it over my shoulders. It doesn't quite cover as much as I would like. They obviously don't design these gowns for someone six feet three but I can't be running around naked. I shuffle toward the door and see my socks and boots neatly stacked on a chair. I grab them and go into the bathroom.

Looking in the mirror a single name pops into my memory. Knash! I thumb open my blackberry and dial my best friend, Knash. As the phone rings, I laugh out loud, painfully, when I see a 'No Cell Phone allowed' sign reflected in the mirror. I hope Knash is still alive this morning, if it is morning.

Knash's message service picks up. I'm not surprised that the voice on the message play back is my own. I am telling myself that if or when I call the girls names are Monique and Sara and we went to club called 'the Aphrodisiac'. What the hell would I be doing in a club called the Aphrodisiac? A new memory hits me. I remember deciding to goto the club. It has a reputation of being one of the hottest clubs in Cleveland.

I hit a button to rewind the message playback. It is fairly normal for Knash or myself to call ourselves and leave details of what we will not remember in the aftermath of the night before.

I am pissed at myself for not being able to remember the girls. Wait! I think I can recall one of the girls...

A loud grunt form the hall interrupts my memory. I pause the playback and stumble out of the bathroom. On the way out I catch a good look at my reflection. I have some kind of black charcoal all over my face, mouth, and the front side of my chest and stomach.

I poke my head into the hallway. There is a sign on the opposite wall that reads 'Emergency Room'. There is bloody foot prints on the floor and a smeared red hand print on the wall.

The grunting noise seems to be coming from down the hallway.

The noise will wait.

I pull myself back into the room and sit down in a chair. I thumb the playback back on and listen. My own voice describes for me Sara. I think I can remember her - a goddess, blond and tiny, just the kind of girl I like. Ah Yes. Man, I hope Sara explains why I woke up naked, rather than the huge cut on my hand

I pull the gown back off my shoulders and move back into the the bathroom. In the mirror, I examine my 'blackened' reflection. I would think I would remember a fire big enough to coat me with this much ash. The soap in the sink is not doing anything more than create new black smear across my chest. I need to clean myself up. I walk back into the room and see an open box labeled 'Medicinal Charcoal?. That is the source of this black crap. That is when it hits me! I wasn't burnt I was poisoned! Alcohol poisoning! Well that much alcohol and getting my stomach pumped would explain a lot. No wonder i am so dehydrated and hungry.

I grab a couple of bottles of soaps and disinfectants. I turn on the shower and try different soaps until I find one that will clean up the charcoal. It takes about a gallon of industrial-strength soap, my skin has only a slight discoloration (and no natural moisturize left).

I dry off and pull on my socks and boots. Then I put on the hospital gown again. I managed to open up the cut on you hand during your shower and dressing. I press the call button but by now I are fairly certain no one will be coming. I do notice that the grunting noise gets louder when the call button is pressed.

With a bit of searching I find some fresh gauze and replace the bandage on my hand.

My eyes are still burning and my head is still hurting and now my hand is starting to throb. But my hunger is starting to drive me to find some food, any food, even hospital food.

I push out the door and down the hallway toward what the sign indicates is the emergency room. This is far too quiet for a hospital emergency room. The grunting is being drowned out by the droning hum of the fluorescent lights.

As I move toward the Emergency Room the moaning and grunting starts again. Maybe there are other people here after all. The sound keeps getting louder as I lurch down the hall. I guess from the sound that there is more than one person nearby.

I reach a intersection in the hallway. I see a candy machine in the emergency room to your right and the cafeteria is straight ahead another three hundred meters. The grunting sound is off to my left. It might be coming from the nurses station or maybe from one of the examinations areas.

There is a lot of blood on the floor of the emergency room. In the hallway I am in the floors are fairly clean but the floor leading from the Emergency Room to the nurses station has bloody smears and foot prints running the length of the passage.

I hear an odd scraping sound like someone dragging their fingernails across a smooth surface.

I try and I try but I just can't clear my head. My body refuses to listen. Where the hell am I? How did I get here? Through the fog, one memory comes through. Me and the little tech-weasel, Knash, had been doing our usual "hack-into-unsecured-web-sites" Friday night thing, with - of course - the usual libations, but then what?

Well, I am off to find some liquid, and Knash, and maybe why there's blood all over the place and no people in the hospital. Nahhhh, first things first, liquid and then Knash! I head out down the hall to the intersection, and then across to the cafeteria. Hopefully some good samaritan will buy me a Coke - since a beer is likely out of the equation.

As I step into the intersection the hallway the grunting sound immediately stops. Somehow, I get a feeling that it is just gonna be one of those kind of days...


Roleplaying Inspiration

I have recently seen Serenity (a lot) and am reading Snow Crash. Both are making me want to roleplay.

Serenity (and Firefly)
I have fallen in love with Serenity. It is an excellent movie but beyond that watching it makes me want to jump in and play a character in that world. The character interactions remind me of conversations I have heard around a gaming table. One example is the exchange between Mal and Jayne:

Mal: Do you want to run this ship?
Jayne: Yes!
Mal:Well... you can't...

That is exactly the kind of dialog I would expect to hear around the table. The character interactions are also reminisce of roleplaying situations I have seen. The characters don't always get along. They bicker and fight and in some cases are mean to each other. This type of behaviour gets worse in the Firefly series when the characters actively act against each other.

The characters are also not "white hat" heros. They are scoundrels and scumbags. They are criminals that do good only when there is no other option. They all have an unexplored back story that makes them feel more like a roleplaying characters I have seen. This is in part because the series was cancelled.

So I hope Serenity roleplaying is in my near future.

Snow Crash
Snow Crash is a "cyberpunk" novel, but is more light hearted and upbeat than any other book I have read in the genre. I would describe it as Sienfeld meets Neuromancer. This does not do the book justice though. The plot is rich. The characters are well done. The interaction of the characters in the real world and inside computers is except. I think the saving the world aspect of the book resonates with the gamer in me. I can very easily see my buddies coming over and playing in this world.

The tongue in cheek nature of the setting screams roleplaying to me. The main character "Hiro Protagonist" delivers pizza for the mob. The in jokes and cliches make me think of characters I have met at the game table.

My Inspiration
Both these stories are roleplaying inspirations but in different ways. I wish I could GM a game like Serenity. The characters interact smoothly, even when they disagree. The plot moves quickly, but the pace doesn't feel rushed. In my games an in character disagreement drags the game to a halt. Hours can be spent convincing the other characters to participate. Bribes and threats fly. The mood is broken and the pace of the game is destroyed.

I wish I could play in a world like Snow Crash where the characters and setting are off beat without the silliness spiral starting and leading directly to a game ending Monty Python revival. Maybe I need to stop recruiting players that read Critical Miss ;)

I know I could do these things but I lack something that would make the game a success.

I am not sure why these stories affected my roleplaying drive so much more than usual. These stories have rekindled a writing and story telling drive in me and I have started an online freeform game. The game is immensely fun and has been very well received. I also dragged out a old project that I have been working on on and off unsuccessfully for 5 years. I finally started to make some solid progress.


Wrapping Fudge results beyond Legendary

After my last post (on dice pools, linking attributes to skills and keeping results inside the adjective ladder) I was talking to a friend about Rolemaster. Rolemaster (version 2) to hit rolls allowed the characters to "wrap around". This meant that a very high roll could result in two, three, or even four hit results and critcals.

I am now wondering if this would be helpful or hurtful for Fudge. To keep the results in the adjective ladder you could wrap very high rolls.

Given a task that has a Good target and a rolled result of Legendary+7. To wrap the result you take Legendary result and look at the remainder subtract 4 from the remainder to convert to a adjective. In this case Superb. So the resolution would be a Legendary result AND a Superb result. Two successes!

There is far too much math in this for my tastes but I am going to keep working on this to refine the idea.


Linking Skills to Attributes in Fudge

I started this post a while ago but it has been sitting in my editor for close to two weeks. Since then this topic has come up on the Fudge List in the form a user poll. I started to reply to the poll but decided to finish this instead.

I have been a Fudge fan on and off for close to eight years. Over that time I have experienced close to a hundred different systems to tie attributes to skills. This includes the Fudge "default" of not linking skills to attributes and dropping attributes altogether. I even considered dropping skills altogether. Recently the fudge List has had a thread on using the Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing style of skills. Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing using the attribute to set roll against and the skill list is a list of things for which the attribute can be used.

Many systems use an Attribute + Skill + Roll vs... target number system. This is a good model but it means that attributes are far more important than skills. A classic example of this is the climb skill in d20. Someone with a very high Dexterity score will have the equivalent of four ranks in the skill.

Rolemaster tries to mitigate this by making a role against an untrained skill start at a big penalty (-25%). This is a partial solution as it only means you have to develop a single rank in a skill to gain the full benefit of your attribute. Someone told me of a system that allows an attribute bonus to double the skill bonus. Any additional bonus from the attribute is lost. This is a better solution but still makes attributes far more powerful than skills. (There is nothing wrong with attributes being far more important than skills, the problem is that many people - myself included - want skills to be the focus.)

Results Beyond Legendary
This is a problem that I have struggled with in Fudge. How do you deal with a result of Legendary +3. In many cases I have dropped the adjectives and gone directly to the numbers. This is a very unsatisfactory solution in my opinion.

My Solution
[note: I have been told that this is how The Shadows of Yesterday works but I have never played the game so I am not sure ow accurate that statement is. If you have played the Shadows of Yesterday please leave a comment on how similar this is to the resolution in TSOY]

To fix the Attribute to Skill linking and results beyond the Fudge scale I am going to try a new resolution technique. I will use Attributes as dice pools this will be a combination of Aspects and dice pool. I have stolen um borrowed both of these concepts; one from FATE the other from Shadowrun. I will have three Attributes: Mind, Body, and Soul and each will be rated by the number of dice they have. Each character will have six (6) dice to split between the three attributes. These dice can be used for any roll that the player can justify their use. When attacking you could add a die from body because of you are putting your weight behind it, or a die from mind because you are going to go for the weak spot, or a die from soul because you a in the zone. The only limit I will put on the pools is you can only draw form two pools for any given action.

Pools will refresh fairly quickly and can be automatically refreshed by spending a fudge point.

To determine success for any given action:

  1. The task difficulty defaults to Fair
  2. To determine success:
    • start with four (4) dice
    • add any dice form your attribute pool(s)
    • add or subtract the number of dice from your skill rating
    • subtract dice for penalties (for opposed actions subtract dice based on results of the opposed roll - note that this could add dice if the opposition rolls particularly badly)
  3. roll the dice and use the best four (4)
  4. fair or better succeeds
If this works out the way I anticipate then attributes will be important but not as important as skills. A side effect will be that there can never be a result below Abysmal or above Legendary.

Raol is trying to pick a lock while being fired upon by the enemy forces.
difficulty: fair
penalty dice: 3

attribute pools
Mind: 2
Body: 3
Soul: 1

Locksmith: mediocre (-1)

Raol takes 4 dice, plus 2 dice from his mind pool, 1 die form his body pool, and drops three dice for the difficulty penalty, and drops 1 die for his skill rating. This leaves Raol with 3 dice (4+2+1-3-1=7-4=3). He rolls the dice and gets (-,-,+) a Mediocre result. This is a failure, but he can try again next round but he has exhausted his Mind attribute pool and has only 1 die left in his Body attribute pool.


Critical Miss

I just saw it... Critical Miss Issue Number 10!

Jonny Nexus has posted on his live journal that Critical Miss issue ten is up. For those who know what Critical Miss is, well they have already followed the link and are reading it right now. For anyone who does not know what Critical Miss is, it is the web magazine for real gamers. You know, not the gamers people say they are, the gamers we actually are.

Three of the funniest things I have ever read were form the pages of Critical Miss.

So why are you still reading this, click the link, read something that is really good.

The official Press Release for Critical Miss Issue #10

After a hiatus of more than three years and the accompanying requests, complaints and abuse that said hiatus generated, Jonny Nexus - the editor and chief writer of Critical Miss magazine - is pleased to announce that some seven and a half years after its founding, his magazine has finally crawled into double digits with the publication of its tenth issue.

This issue contains the same ingredients that made its forebears so successful - immature humour (peppered with swearwords) mixed with intelligent commentary and thought (also peppered with swearwords) - but builds on these foundations with the founding of the First Church of James Wallis Sanctified, a church dedicated to the belief that the British gaming writer James Wallis is a prophet sent by God.

It also contains what may be (and please God is) a world first: a scenario for Violence, the game that was never supposed to be played. Add in a guide to Information Laundering (the conversion of "dirty" player information to "clean" character information), a fistful (well three) of free games, convention reports, and some other stuff, and you have what is probably the best issue of Critical Miss since Issue 9, the last one.

The new issue can be found at

About Critical Miss: Critical Miss, "the magazine for dysfunctional roleplayers", is a roleplaying humour webzine. In its four-and-a-half years of intermittent publication, it attracted a legendary reputation among its five thousand or so devoted readers and a possibly less savoury reputation amongst everyone else.


Mysaniti Cartographers Guild (Subscription)

This is a six month subscription for the Mysaniti Cartographers Guild, you receive six releases once a month on the 20th. You also have access to parts of the Mysaniti library of products. The releases are of maps, tools and catalogs for ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer products. Maps released by the guild are released as PDFs as well as Campaign Cartographer formats.

During the six months of my first subscription some of the things that were released included:
Endless Realm
Ship Builders Toolkit
Journeyman's Toolkit

Endless Realm is an interesting product. It consists of a series of linked maps and each map will have two symbols included. One is a circle that indicates where you enter the map. The second is a portal that is the exit for the map. The Endless Realm release also included tools to add your own maps to the collection. Looking at the maps, I don't think I would play a game based on these maps but the maps are well done and the linking is excellent. For me the biggest benefit was looking at the maps. I learned a lot of valuable techniques from these maps. Reviewing these maps I also learned how to link maps. The quality of the maps in the Endless Realm series is excellent.

Ship Builders Toolkit is a set of tools to build ships. These tools will help you build a sailing ship form a cog to a galleon. The toolkit contains drawing tools like draw bulkhead, draw deck, draw mooring, and draw rigging. I have not used this toolkit yet to draw a ship for my own game but I have used the tools to draw a quick ship interior for a friend. The ship interior was used in a game where I was a player so O could not use all the tools. I was given descriptions of areas of the ship but not purposes for the areas. What I had thought was the ships galley turned out to be a torture chamber my character visited often as the game began. I was impressed with how easy it was to construct the desk of a ship using the tools. When the Ship Builders Toolkit was released a series of catalogs were also released or updated (the product page lists 10 catalogs) the two I found the most useful were the Ship Fittings and Ship Cannon catalogs.

As my first subscription neared an end the Journeyman's Toolkit was released. If you remember the old days of RPG maps where the maps was printed in white on blue on the inside cover of the adventure module you know the type of map this toolkit will help you create. More drawing tools and catalogs are included in the toolkit. I have a love hate relationship with this set of tools. The tools and catalogs work great and in a short time you can get a map created. I love the simplicity of the maps, and whenever I see a map in this style it takes me back to the early days of roleplaying. That would be the love part. What I hate is that I can't use all the other symbols I have purchased for Campaign Cartographer. Those old style maps really only used a couple dozen symbols.

This rocks becasue...
Each month you receive another Campaign Cartographer goodie.

This sucks because...
You might receive something that you can immediately use, but you might get something you don't really want or need.

You should buy this because...
Over the six months of your subscription you will receive a ton of stuff: maps, tools, catalogs.

Final Thoughts
This is a fantastic product. The six releases you get for your subscription will all be top quality. Add in the limited access to the guild library of other releases and you have access to loads of Campaign Cartographer goodies. Buying each release separately would cost a great deal more than buying the subscription. The only thing I would like to see is a longer subscription length.


Welcome to HAEL

52 pages, 47 pages content, 2 cover pages, 2 credits pages, 1 license page

There is a lot of info crammed into the Welcome to HAEL PDF. This is a new campaign world where the war between the Orcs and man is over. On this world the Orcs won. The Orcs and their allies are the dominant races on this world, the Humans and their allies are relegated to outlawed tribes scratching out an existence far from civilization. The world is strongly linked to the related product Psihammer (review coming soon).

A brief history of the world is given, including the war that lead to the dominance of the Orcs. The civilization of the world has shifted. Orcs (called Daeorcs in the setting) have taken the northern part of the world, pushing the Humans and their allies into the barren desert at the equator. Gnolls (called Yaena) have similarly pushed the Humans form the south. The Orcs and Gnolls have both developed into civilized races while the Humans and Halflings society has crumbled. I like how half breed Humans are not accepted by Orcish society. I found that this is a well thought out cultural shift, with the Humans and Halflings of this world filling in a niche that is traditionally filled by the goblins and their ilk in a traditional setting. Recent history beings an alien visitors angle that I am not entirely happy with. There are two alien races that are recent arrivals on the world. These aliens seem to be setting up for another world shaking war. If I were to run a game in this world I am not sure if I would include the aliens.

The next section of the book details the major settlements in the world. This is done with a short stat block and a description of the local areas. There are six major areas detailed. Three in the north and three in the south. Here is also the biggest editing problem. Crossplains is a major location but other than the section heading the name of the area seems to have been changed to Cross Way in the rest of the book. It took me a few moments to make the mental cross reference. A few more maps in this section would have been a great addition to the product.

The races come next detailed in two sections. First come the pure blood races. Orcs (Daeorc), Gnolls(Yaena), Humans, Halflings, and the Kirene. the Orcs become the Daeorcs the primary dominant race. The Gnolls became the Yaena. A society to rival the Daeorcs. Humans and Halflings are the shattered remnants of the once great societies they were. Halflings have a peculiar relationship with the Yaena, serving them as animal trainers. The Kirene are unique to the world of Hael, they fill the void of the elven races that are not part of the world of Hael. The second group of races includes the half-orc, half-human with the new aliens visitors. I liked the treatment of the half-men. The societal impacts of being a half-man in an Orcish dominated world is well thought out. As I stated previously I am not sure how I feel about the aliens. However, even if I do not like them, the alien races are well done and add a new dimension for the world.

Character classes follow the races. Barbarians, Clerics, Fighters, and Paladins are unchanged from the stock rules. Bards have become the Yaena Storytellers and are a large part of the Yaena culture. Druids are also substantially modified and are identified strongly with the Kirene race. Halfling are tied to the Ranger class, a class that reminds me of the rangers found in the Dark Sun setting. Two new monk classes are introduced one specifically for the Daeorc race another for the Yaena. Rogues are also modified, they are presented as a thief that has not been caught yet. Rogues are expected to maintain a very strong illusion that they follow another path. Finally Sorcerers are a class dominated by the Daeorc race, the class is only slightly modified. The biggest modification is a skill that allows sorcerers to share energy and to duel with each other. Wizards are unheard of on the world of Hael. Psionics are also strongly liked to the world, but the psionic rules are not class based rules.

A pantheon of gods is included. There are Orc Gods and Gnoll Gods, I would have liked to see a few Human and Halfling gods included. If there are no Human and Halfling gods left then there should be a story about what happened to them.

A short bestiary of new creatures is included. The creatures included are well designed and in the case of the Varibeast seems to be the defining monster of the setting. Also included is a list of creatures from the SRD that would also be found on the world of Hael.

The last thing included is a single page map of the world. I really dislike the map. It is a simple outline of the continent with picture a picture mask in the background to indicate the type on terrain in an area. So you have an image of a pine forest for the "Many Forests" area and a picture of a mountain for the background of the "Cold Peaks". I found the map to be quite unsatisfying. It did however list all the areas discussed in the book, which is a plus. The only thing not marked on the map is the location of the two alien craft.

Intermixed with the text are comments attributed to "Professor Grumin Tarsh" an Orcish scholar. I found the comments to be well placed and added an excellent bit of "color" to the rules.

This rocks becasue...

It is a well thought out setting that changes the expected society norms you see in 'classic' fantasy world. The races and classes are well thought out to fit a world where Orcs are the dominant race.

This sucks because...

The aliens. I really did not like that aliens added to the setting. I also did not like the quality or quantity of the maps. Another run through for editing would also have made this a much better product (although it is still pretty good).

Edit: I have since gone through the PDF again and this is an unfair criticism. The editing is really quite good, I found a total of three spelling or typos in a 50 page document.

You should buy this because...

You are looking for a new setting that is not the standard elves and Humans dominated world. Or you are looking for a world where magic and psionics are intermixed.

Final Thoughts

I am looking forward to playing a game in this world where the players are all Humans. They would suddenly find themselves the underdogs in a way I don't think they would expect at all.


Deluxe Map Pack

72 Maps in a single pdf and in ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer format.

The maps are a mixed bunch. There is far more interior maps of buildings and dungeons than areas or overland maps. The interior maps are in my opinion much better than the overland maps. The overland maps seems to be too structured, not natural enough. The interior maps have good detail and have good layouts. Too many maps I have seen have some pretty odd interior layouts. The interior maps in this package are not like this, the interior spaces are well considered and thought out. The objects (tables, chairs, etc) are well laid out and "fit" the buildings well.

I did not like the town maps at all. They did not look like towns and they were not maps I would use in my games. Although, to be honest these maps are better than what I produce with Campaign Cartographer. I especially like that the product includes the source maps, allowing me to edit the maps for my own use. Of course this requires that you own ProFantasy's Mapping software.

One thing that is missing is a license. There is no indication of how I can use the maps, for example can I use these maps in my own product? Can I use them in a commercial product?

This rocks becasue...

There are some good maps in this collection and there are a lot of maps total.

This sucks because...

There are too many average maps. Too many maps I would want to edit before I would use them.

You should buy this because...

You need some generic maps to use in your game.

Final Thoughts

The maps in the collection could have been greatly improved by adding some simple things like textured backgrounds. For the price this is a pretty good value, even more so now that the package is on sale. I paid $2.00 USD and the current sale price is $1.50 USD.


Jonny Nexus Compilation

45 pages, 43 pages content, 1 title page, 1 Advertisement and license page

The Articles:

  • Confessions of a Session Amnesiac (Jonny admits to being a session amnesiac, absolute gold and the best article in the collection)
  • Taking Santa Down
  • I think My Game Master Hates Me (I think my game master hates me too, excellent article)
  • You Want to Play a What?
  • Planning - How Not To Do It
  • Dealing With Dumbo (This article is brilliant, I have already tried the techniques in this article to mess with my fellow gamers)
  • Alas Poor Edas, We Knew Him
  • Are You Sure It Happened Like That? (Not my favorite)
  • Say What>?
  • The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying (Part 1)
  • The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying (Part 2)
  • The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying (Part 3)
  • The Quintessential Cheat (Long and complex method of making a uber-character, I did not find this one funny at all)
  • They're Not Like Us, Adventurers
All the articles are good. I particularly liked "Confessions of a Session Amnesiac" and all three "The Man Who Couldn't Stop Dying". These got me laughing out loud. They reminded me of the days when I first stumbled onto Critical Miss and spent hours reading the articles, laughing alone on my cubicle at work. I kept expecting the articles to include a reference to BogBoy, Bubba, or TAFKAC. I also had to admit that I identified with these articles because I identified with the content. I could see the people I play with in the articles (and if I were totally honest I would admit I saw myself in the articles as well).

Of all the articles I liked "Are You Sure It Happened Like That?" and "The Quintessential Cheat" the least. I am sure there are people out there that will tell me that that those articles are the best. These articles were not bad, they just were not my favorites.

This rocks becasue...

For those people (like me) that miss the old Critical Miss this is an excellent package of articles form Jonny Nexus. Many of the articles would fit right into an issue of Critical Miss. I laughed out loud while reading several of the articles, they are not all gold but I am sure that others will like what I did not and dislike the articles I liked. The bottom line is that the articles are top notch and if you like Jonny's writing this is a great package for you.

This sucks because...

The articles are ripped directly from the Signs and Portents Magazine. No effort was made to make the articles look alike. There is no table of contents, page numbers are the pages from the original magazine pages. The PDF is also not printer friendly with a lot of images and background textures. One article is even white text on black background. My printer actually whimpered as I printed out, all that ink lost forever.

You should buy this because...

You miss Jonny's writing or you are looking for some top notch role playing humour.

Final Thoughts

The only thing that would make the Jonny Nexus Compilation better would be making some layout changes. Taking the articles and giving them a new layout would have probably made the package much more expensive though. Even removing the background images to make printing the articles would have been a great improvement.

As of Jan 5, 2006 the Jonny Nexus Compilation is listed as "Not Validated For Sale" at RPGNow

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.