Tag Archives: Roleplaying

Why You Don’t Want to Play in My Dungeons & Dragons Game

5 May

Why You Don’t Want to Play in My Dungeons & Dragons Game

I was talking with a player in my game yesterday about getting together again after a hiatus, since school will be over for me in two days (YAY!)


Here is how the conversation went:

Jeff: We should get a session going in a week or two, since I am done with school soon. You guys were on the sea voyage home… I guess I could say you were blown off course to the South polar regions. I hope you guys like scraping lichen off of rocks with your teeth. Roll a twenty-sided die to see if you break your teeth on the rocks.

Steve: I know you, you will say I broke them no matter what I roll. But I have a “Stone Teeth” spell, so I’ll use that.

Jeff: Yeah, but you didn’t say what kind of stone, so roll to see which type of stone your teeth become. I hope you get Granite!

Steve: Oh darn! I got Sandstone!

Jeff: I can see it now, your Ranger is breaking his teeth on rocks trying to be all Ranger-like in the Antarctic and the Barbarian will be eyeing the NPC Rogue saying: “He looks tasty. I know he eats well!”  Hmm, I wonder if the Rogue has “Lichen Scraping” as a survival skill.

At least it won’t be like some other game systems, where you just sit around the whole time battling a single Skeleton.

Steve: Yeah, we will just be figuring my teeth out the whole session!


Tasty Lichen

Just in case I am mean enough to send those guys off to the bottom of the world, I did some quick research on lichen, some of which ARE edible:

          “Of all the plants, lichens are best adapted to survive in the harsh polar climate. Some lichens have even been found only about 400 km from the South Pole. Lichens have proliferated in Antarctica mainly because there is little competition from mosses or flowering plants and because of their high tolerance of drought and cold.    

          On icy rock, lichens have the same strategy as plants have developed in the sand of the Sahara: they form an “oasis”. Like in the desert they miss water. They have only a chance to survive, if they settle in an area with a convenient, damp microclimate. Since what stops lichens to spread over the whole of Antarctica is not so much the big cold as the lack of water. For this reason they don’t settle in a place with the most sunshine, but in recesses and cracks between rocks. They like scanty soils, created by weathered rocks. They often quicken this process with secretion of acid.

   Snowflakes are captured in the cracked rock and melt on the dark lichens, so they can absorb the vital liquid.”

mmm… I am thinking of a Lichen Soup recipe as I read this. Unless the players have their characters trap penguin or they do some fishing, it seems it may be a long Winter ahead for them until the birds come to breed along the shores of the South polar region in the Spring!

I am such a mean Dungeon Master.

-Jeff
“Retro”

Z = Das Ende!

30 Apr

Well, here we are at the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge.

I certainly enjoyed it. Sometimes it felt like a wicker cage, sometimes it felt liberating, but it was definitely worth it!

To end the Challenge, I want to post something that is a beginning, not an end:
I made a new video that is a very basic introduction to Fantasy Roleplaying Games as Mythopoesis. It is not meant to be complete or detailed, but is a very simple overview of the subject material. I may revise it later, but here it is as it currently stands.

Here is to the end of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and on to new things in the Blogosphere and in the OSR…

Fantasy Roleplaying Games: A Mythopoetic Experience
(This is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter. It is meant to be introductory only and does not contain details as to many pertinent details of certain aspects due to media constraints.

No favoritism of games or game systems is implied by any of the art work appearing in this video… it is a Fair Use video for educational purposes only)


The Corpus Hermeticum

17 Apr

[Hermes:] Concerning Soul and Body, son, we now must speak; in what way Soul is deathless, and whence comes the activity in composing and dissolving Body.

For there’s no death for aught of things that are; the thought this word conveys, is either void of fact, or simply by the knocking off a syllable what is called “death”, doth stand for “deathless”.

For death is of destruction, and nothing in the Cosmos is destroyed. For if Cosmos is second God, a life or living creature that cannot die, it cannot be that any part of this immortal life should die. All things in Cosmos are parts of Cosmos, and most of all is man, the rational animal.

– from The Corpus Hermeticum

The Corpus Hermeticum is the body of work most widely known of the ancient Hermetic texts. It is one of three major bodies of works that are considered essential to the study of Hermeticism and Hermetic Magic. These books are set up as dialogues between Hermes Trismegistus and a series of others. The first book involves a discussion between Nous (God) and Hermes, supposedly resulting from a meditative state, and is the first time that Hermes is in contact with God. The secrets of the Universe are unfolded to Hermes, and later books are generally of Hermes teaching others.

The Hermetic Order of Wizardry instructs Initiates from the teachings of the Corpus Hermeticum during their ten year apprenticeship.

Enter the Nexus!

16 Apr

Some last thoughts on The Multiverse & The Nexus

In the previous posts on the Multiverse and the Nexus, the possibilities of how these could be used in a campaign. Whenever a Nexus is involved in my game, there is either some reason for the focus on one or it is just an opportunity to spice up things with a change of pace. If it is too easy to walk around the planes and other dimensions, then they become old hat, so a GM should avoid Nexus travel being a common thing. Even a stable Nexus portal that is keyed specifically between two points of the Multiverse should have potential dangers.

When accessing a Nexus, unless the GM does not currently wish for ir to occur, there should always be a chance for malfunction and ending up in in another world or perhaps nowhere at at all. Some Nexus’ may phase in and out of existence in the player’s world, while others may require magical or technological opening… hopefully to a place where those Sleestak aren’t!

Examples of the Nexus in Science Fiction:
In Traveller, a mis-jump could be used as a Nexus to a parallel Universe or worse! In Planet of the Apes a mis-jump took the astronauts thousands of years into the future, but not to their target destination. The TARDIS of Doctor Who is a portable, technological time-space Nexus – which tends to malfunction a lot. There are several new Sci-Fi Retro Clone games that have or are coming out where a space-time anomaly could be a method to introduce new elements into the game. A new alien species might appear, as the tear in the fabric of the Universe allows them in.  The starfarers might end up hopping inside their own Universe because of a warp accident and end up in uncharted space.

These are just a few of the possibilities, some of which I have used in my games. How do you, as a GM, use the concepts of the Multiverse and Nexus portals in your game world?

Love, Romance & Fantasy

14 Apr

Love, Romance & Fantasy

There are lots of books and movies that combine romance and the fantasy genre. One could easily have chosen Labyrinth and gotten extra points for mentioning a movie that has an “L” name, but I had to “go with my heart” on this one. So, I chose to star this post with my favorite romantic fantasy/comedy: The Princess Bride.

Every time I watch it I want to engage in a Chatty Duel, storm the castle and do inconceivable things! I laugh, I cry (manly tears, of course!) and the tale never gets old. Other stories have hilarity, lovers’ spats, adventure and obstacles to overcome in pursuit of True Love, but none intertwines Fantasy in them quite as wonderfully! The tale feels like a romantic D&D adventure. 🙂

(Note: The videos – except the last one – have “embedding disabled by request”, like half of the things on YouTube these days, so double click on them if you wish to watch them in YT, sorry)

I could go into the characters in The Princess Bride, but the romance and tension between the main characters, Westley and Buttercup are really what makes the movie a Fantasy Love Story. I guess I am a romantic sap or something, because even though I know the “Real World” doesn’t always quite function this way, I still believe in the mushy ideals of The Princess Bride.

My first serious girlfriend was a Roleplayer. I introduced her to D&D when I was 17. I would play my gritty hack-n-slash character with The Boys. I am sure my character in that game wasn’t very romantic at all. However, my girlfriend I and would take time to have intimate 1-on-1 sessions, where either of us would be the GM. My character in “Our Game” was romantic, playful and Roguish… the perfect Gentleman Scoundrel! I think it was just my teenager-almost-a-man ways coming out in my alter Ego, but it was a lot of fun. Our roleplaying sessions remind me a lot of The Princess Bride, in retrospect, but the movie hadn’t even come out yet and I was unaware of the book at that time.

"As you wish."

There is a place for romance in fantasy, however not every fantasy roleplaying game is going to have it. Because of the nature of the group and/or GM, etc. it might not be an aspect at all of many campaigns, but some do incorporate it.

When I got older, I was in one long-term campaign that had the element of romance as one of the underlying aspects. The group was composed heavily of couples that gamed together. It was funny to see how we, as couples, gamed when things were not going so well at the time in our relationships. Little jabs and such might happen across the gaming table, but nothing severe. I still laugh to this day about some of the things that happened. The dynamics of real life romances at work in our game – even if it wasn’t always sunshine and roses – was sometimes just like in The Princess Bride.

A little laughter, a little tears, a little romance, a little fantasy is good for the soul.

As I end this post, I wish to bring to your attention Storming The Castle. I own it and enjoy it very much.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/35524/the-princess-bride-storming-the-castle

-Jeff
“Retro”

Ki-rin (Qilin or Kirin)

13 Apr

Magical mythological creatures, Qilin (or kirin in Korean and Japanese) are always lawful & good. They resemble unicorns and may be related.
They are powerful spellcasters, and roam the skies looking for good deeds to reward, and malefactors to punish. It has a head like a dragon, antlers of a deer or other horned beast, scales like a fish and hooves like of an ox. Its tail is like a lion’s with scales. It legs are sometimes ablaze with magical fire! Seeing a Qilin is a good omen. If attacked it can shoot fire from its mouth, but can also be so gentle as to be able to walk upon water.

In D&D, the ki-rin first appeared in the original Dungeons & Dragons game supplement Eldritch Wizardry (1976) and then in the 1977 Monster Manual.

 

bronze Qilin from the Ming Dynasty

Jesters !!!

12 Apr

The Jester is something that resonates with my own personality, so for me, they are extremely natural and fun to play!

I created a Jester NPC for a mini-campaign once, based on articles found in Dragon Magazine 60 & 120. He was a Sprite and functioned as a adventure-causing catalyst in the sessions. The character mostly dealt in puns, illusions, pranks and general harassing of the Big Folk. I still take that character out of mothball once in a while and have him appear in the wilderness settings he was originally created for.

Later on, I had a Rogue PC that had some shades of Jester in him, especially when he was on a vengeance kick. He was in an Immortals game and like the chaotic god Balor in Moorcock’s Elric cycle, he was not always something to laugh at! Indeed, he would appear as a similar sort of clown, juggling fire which became a devastating weapon. People were not usually laughing after his performance!

Balor

The mythology behind clown, Jesters and Trickster gods is that way. They can be full of wisdom, mischief and folly as sometimes the joke is on them.


Kokopelli is a well-known iteration of a Trickster.

The figure represents a mischievous trickster or the Minstrel, spirit of music. Kokopelli is distinguished by his dancing pose, a hunchback and flute. His whimsical nature, charitable deeds, and vital spirit give him a prominent position in Native American mysticism.

Kokopelli has been a sacred figure to Native Americans of the Southwestern United States for thousands of years. Found painted and carved on rock walls and boulders throughout this region, Kokopelli is one of the most intriguing and widespread images to have survived from ancient Anasazi Indian mythology, and is a prominent figure in Hopi and Zuni legends. Kokopelli is also revered by current-day descendants including the Hopi, Taos and Acoma pueblo peoples.

Kokopelli

Kokopelli is considered a symbol of fertility who brought well-being to the people, assuring success in hunting, planting and growing crops, and human conception. His “hump” was often considered a bag of gifts, a sack carrying the seeds of plants and flowers he would scatter every spring. Warming the earth by playing his flute and singing songs, Kokopelli would melt the winter snow and create rain, ensuring a good harvest. Kokopelli often displayed a long phallus, symbolizing the fertile seeds of human reproduction.


Many peoples world-wide have their own myths about these Jester-types, so you may want to explore them for the cultures in your own campaign.

Sometimes a Jester player character is hard to integrate well into a campaign, but it can be done, if the player is skillful and the conditions of the campaign are right. I tend to find them more useful as an NPC and they can really stir things up and cause the PCs to take notice of things that they might otherwise not have any interest in dealing with. My NPC would snatch valuable magical items from PCs and lead them on a wild goose chase into some odd adventures, only to give the item back later time, thanking the PCs for such a wonderful play time. A Jester could lead the PCs through encounters that are serious and life-threatening to them, but that affect the NPC not at all, because of their buffoonery.

A Jester NPC is best used sparingly in most cases, but if played right, they can really liven things up! I would try to avoid totally irking the characters and use some restraint, though, or like the Trickster gods, the joke may be on the DM as they are the only one left at the gaming table when the players give up in frustration!

Whatever your take on Jester-types, if used well, a Trickster makes a fun and odd interjection into an RPG world.