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Preview: Dungeons and Digressions

Dungeons and Digressions



For many years a solitary hermit has haunted this area of the forest, becoming progressively wilder and crazier and more dangerous.



Updated: 2017-11-09T08:46:43.668-08:00

 



Augmented Reality Sandbox

2015-09-19T10:44:03.084-07:00

I recently received a call from an outdoor education school looking for help in creating an "augmented reality sandbox"... Now that was a voicemail that got my attention!  I ended up having to leave a message on their end and may have turned them off after saying I'd be happy to help if they didn't mind having it done in linux rather than OS X (as they wanted) for technical reasons. I'm guessing that they gave up on it or went elsewhere, I should probably try them back at some point (maybe they just don't know they can run linux on their Macs).

Poking around a bunch on the UC Davis site they'd cited as inspiration, I found myself wanting to build this thing for my own purposes, which would involve trying to recreate old TSR module landscapes a la my B2 Sketchup exercise, only maybe this time I'd be able to plop minis right down into the scene if I could get the scale right. I haven't researched this - I imagine a ton of table top wargamers are way ahead of me..? Mind you I reckon this would run a couple thousand dollars and take a lot more spare time than I have to put together. I really should call those folks back, huh?

East Carolina University's Geology department has a nice video of one of these sandboxes up and running.

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="237" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EETkn5_qrhM" width="350">



Dungeons 'n Digressions MC Server

2015-03-19T11:37:34.424-07:00


So a while back I had a serious addiction to Minecraft and ran a server before Minecraft Realms and the Microsoft buyout. Telecanter and I had some great times on that thing. I left it run at one point for about year and just forgot about it. I just resurrected it for old times sake - if interested, send an email to me here with your MC username (I'd rather not publicly list the IP/domain and port, and I'd need to whitelist you). There's also a dedicated Mumble (VOIP) server for it too.



Bummed I missed this party...

2015-03-06T19:55:42.241-08:00

Noticed this in the local weekly the other day... Damn! No slouches in the marketing department at Ninkasi Brewing...



Deleted Google Plus

2013-11-17T21:19:09.322-08:00

I don't know... I just feel a little cleaner now, somehow. That is all.



Tufty Terror

2012-10-26T16:33:07.521-07:00

The Tufty Terror’s secret remains unknown most of the year, appearing as it does to be nothing more than a common squirrel. For several weeks every Autumn though, its head enlarges and mutates to become indistinguishable from one of the undead. At this time it also becomes highly territorial and carnivorous. The Dordogne’s inhabitants make sure to avoid where known infestations of these creatures have occurred in past years and in the weeks leading up to their re-appearance they remind one another to be on the look out - with the rather crude (but wise) advice to “Mind your nuts.”

Tufty Terror: HD d4 hp; AC 8 [11]; Atk 1 Bite d3 + Special (Disease 10%), Move 13; Save 18; CL/XP A/5



Still taking a break - broken links? Please let me know...

2012-10-26T16:11:49.183-07:00

Whoa - quite a different post interface at blogger now huh? I guess it's been a long time since I've put up anything new here... Our regular games ran out of steam due to work and other distractions, though just the other day an old pal mentioned some interest in playing an old school game of one kind or another. Maybe I'll manage to bash out some new entries here after all...

There were two different servers that hosted most of the files I linked to from this site - I've moved all those files to new hosts. Please let me know if you find any broken links!



Miniature Modeling and 3D Printing With Minecraft and Mineways

2012-01-11T22:38:28.954-08:00

(image) Minecraft players! Have you ever thought to yourself how cool it would be if you could export your creations into a 3d physical model to share with your pencil and paper rpg players? For visualization purposes, wouldn't it be great to hand them a small model of the dungeon, castle, or valley?

Meet Mineways, a free program that allows you to "interactively select a model from a Minecraft world map and render it, or send it to a 3D printer or 3D printing service such as Shapeways." Looks like a lot of potential here... Minecraft modeling is very intuitive - you could easily create your own miniatures. Even cutaway views are possible.



Medieval d6 Found

2012-01-11T02:07:42.171-08:00

(image) Recently found at the bottom of a well, at the Caherduggan Castle dig in Ireland - full story at Rubicon Heritage blog.



Minecraft and D&D

2012-01-02T17:35:17.404-08:00

(image) Well, I've been outed as a fan of Minecraft. Yet another barrier to regular blogging, it would seem... It took just a few minutes of playing to begin thinking about recreating TSR modules. I knew I wasn't the only one - check out the above, a recreation of the castle from B2's Keep on the Borderlands. Is that gorgeous or what? Then there's this guy's recreation of Tomb of Horrors. Anyone else addicted to this game (or recovering)? Yikes.



Have a Happy New Year!

2011-12-31T18:35:42.941-08:00

(image)



Beynac Castle Walkthrough

2011-12-24T18:20:02.983-08:00

Here's the text from a handout given to those taking a self guided tour of Chateau Beynac in the Dordogne - it isn't copyrighted and was probably created by the Ministry of Culture. I've been on the lookout for an actual blueprint or plan of the place for some time but it's proven very elusive. Perhaps it's due to the fact that the castle is privately owned - the owner still lives there and doesn't wish to see it turned into too much of a tourist attraction.I saved my copy of the handout as a memento and scanned it for a fellow blogger who's also been searching for a layout. Maybe it will be of interest to someone else out there as well...~Please pass through the door in the second line of walls, dating from the 12th century. You are now entering in the lower courtyard of the castle. On your left stands the 12th century keep with the master’s chambers on the top floor and his family’s lodging on the lower floors.On your right, the ramp leads to the upper courtyard and you are passing along the 17th century stable, the building date of which is engraved in the keystone (1650). This stable will be roofed again in the next few years.When arriving on the upper courtyard, on the WEST side, you’ll see the extension of the 12th century wall, which fell down in the 19th century and is part of the restoration programme initiated in 1980 to last until 1995. On the SOUTH side the former manorial chapel, built in the 13th century with some additions in the 17th century. It is covered with a flat stones roof (local name : lauzes). This chapel, even though it is located on the estate, is presently the parish church and is open for Services every Sunday. One has access to it from the outside of the castle.Lower donw flows the Dordogne river which has been the border between the French and the English possesions in the 13th century. On the opposite side at the foot of the hill, the castle of FAYRAC, on the shoulder of the second hill : CASTELNAUD. On the same bank as Beynac, on your left another castle : it is MARQUEYSSAC.Now, please enter the castle through the door of the 14th century machicolated keep, probably built by the English. As a matter of fact, the castle had been taken by Richard lst of England (the Lionheart) in 1189 and was kept by him until he was killed during the siege of Chalus (next to Limoges) in 1199. The castle then retumed into the hands of the French until the signature of the treaty of Bretigny in 1360, when it was occupied by the English until the French victory of Castillon-la-Bataille which brought the 100 years war to its end.Here you are in the guards room. In the left comer of the back wall, the narrow and steep 13th century staircase used to connect all the different levels of the castle (do not use it, it is blocked by works under process in the upper levels). Just next to this staircase, in the lower room of the keep, were kept the battle horses. Moving back to the large window (it will shortly be replaced by the original 13th century slit) three steps and a door on your right will lead you to the l4th century section of the castle. Full restoration of this section has just been completed. The floor of the first room is a beautiful “pisé” (paving made of toothlike shaped stones which are nailed vertically into a bedding of clay and lime). In the second triangular room, 13th century latrines may be seen.Please climb up the wooden staircase to the second floor where you’ll see a beautiful spiral staircase recently rebuilt in solid oak, according to the rules of the art of the time : one man, one tool (the adze). This staircase leads to another floor where restorations are under process, not yet open to the public.Leaving this 14th century section, please proceed to the large mediaeval state hall, remodelled in the 17th ce[...]



Old School (Arcade) Games on the Local Rebound?

2013-05-01T12:31:56.246-07:00

I've only recently heard about the Vintage Arcade Museum in the Whitaker neighborhood here in Eugene, OR. I hope to get down there and take some video before too long - this old school pencil & paper gamer's heart is warmed to hear that someone wants to keep these old arcade machines alive!

The nearness of the Ninkasi Brewery and Izakaya Meiji (whom I've previously posted about here) is convenient - some brief liquid encouragement and its off to the arcade! Oh yeah. Right down the street from some excellent soul food, I should add...

Thursday Update: KVAL (local TV station) picked up this story for their 5 and 6pm news broadcast. They have some pictures up on their website, including this one - looks like they've applied for a liquor license. Nice.



I'm All Out of Bubble Gum

2011-12-12T00:22:36.694-08:00

Wow, it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post… Not a lot of excuses really - a little more work than usual, the same bug that everyone’s had recently… watching way too much DS9 (see previous post) which still feels a bit silly. Things are starting to pick up in season 3 for sure - Jem’Hadar and all. Oh, and I actually bought Duke Nukem Forever, which so far is pretty terrible. I had no idea that Duke’s line “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” was taken from John Carpenter’s “They Live”… Or was it the other way around? Stumbled on the below clip recently…

src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/inZUDMGJsKo?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="237" width="350">

In other news, we finally managed to play a short session of S&W where I was able to introduce Sir Froig. The PbP game also continues at its glacial pace, which I've come to enjoy on its own terms; it's a very different style of game and I appreciate the additional time to really think about descriptions and the various possibilities between exchanges.



Avoiding Monsters in OD&D

2011-11-29T11:03:00.050-08:00

At the risk of going over some well trod territory, I thought I’d share some notes I’d jotted down as something worthy of investigation - The section entitled Avoiding Monsters in the Underworld and Wilderness Adventures book (volume 3 of the original D&D booklets). The rules laid out there are very specific - some of them I’ve used and some of them I haven’t (probably since I originally started playing with Moldvay’s rules). Now that I play S&W: Whitebox, it’s interesting to more closely examine the beige books’ idiosyncracies.

One item of note is that monsters in OD&D will automatically attack and/or pursue unless their adversaries are obviously stronger and the monsters would know better. This is versus Moldvay, where some monsters always act in the same way and attack, but the reactions of most vary: “The DM can always choose the monster’s reaction to fit the dungeon, but if he decides not to do this, a DM may use the reaction table…”

So basically, Moldvay says “Use your best judgement” whereas OD&D says “Monsters are monsters - their raison d’être is to attack you. If it was otherwise, they’d be potentially dangerous animals or perhaps intelligent beast-men. We’re not on a zoological expedition kids, we’re monster hunting.

Also, Moldvay has a Reaction Table but OD&D has a Random Actions by Monsters table. In Moldvay, the monster might even become your friend! In OD&D, the monster might respond positively to something, but we can still assume that it wants to kill us. This seems contradicted by the inclusion of neutral and lawfully aligned creatures listed in Monsters and Treasure (volume 2). Maybe those should just have been listed separately as “Other, Non-human Beings."

One might conclude at least a couple of things from this reading: First, that OD&D as written is decidedly more hack and slash. Second, that there isn’t as much moral ambiguity in OD&D as there is in later editions. Maybe it was the fact that the game was becoming popular with kids and criticisms were being raised at the time that led to these particular rules being revised. Nobody wants to be accused of teaching children that there are intelligent beings not worthy of moral consideration precisely because they don’t consider you worthy of moral consideration (they just want to kill you). But…that’s just what monsters are - that’s what they do.

Maybe all subsequent hand wringing about goblin baby killing could have been very easily avoided if the term "monster" had simply been better defined. Or maybe it’s not that easy... just easier to let the dice be the judge.



The Illustrious Josh Kirby

2011-11-27T12:33:04.391-08:00

Some scanned artwork by the late Josh Kirby - I love the old school feel of these black and white illustrations from the '86 T&T paperback.
(image) (image) (image) Here's a couple more. Kirby did the covers to the whole set of paperback T&T releases, you can see them here.



Season of the Witch - Paper Mini

2011-11-24T05:45:50.353-08:00

(image) The small town of Belves is host to a coven of witches which meets there at least four times a year. There are currently eleven members, led by the redheaded enchantress Lucienne.

The coven is divided into four groups of three members, each group corresponding to one of the four seasons. Each of these has a member aligned with one of the forces of law, chaos, or neutrality - though the members frequently argue and scheme against one another, they also see the wisdom of periodically coming together to pool their individual magical powers and support the current season’s three members.

Every year they elect a leader whom they then gift potions and various abilities. In this way, though they’re considered an equal, their leader is also more powerful and better able to resolve any serious disagreements.

Several years ago though, a dispute within the coven led to a leader being exiled. Known as Hecatha, she was eventually overtaken and cast out by the others when she refused to relinquish the power with which they'd entrusted her… To this day, the Great Druid still searches for a cure to her self-inflicted curse, which manifests in both physical deformity and madness.

With the witches’ number and power now diminished by the loss of a member, Lucienne seeks someone to fill Hecatha’s shoes. She fears what might happen if Hecatha was somehow able to regain her mind and former power… and Hecatha’s season approaches.

click the thumbnail image above for a closer look or to download the 4x6" (index card formatted) paper mini PDF
see also: Hecatha and Witch and Watchers minis



The Sorceress Lucienne

2011-11-23T09:56:23.842-08:00

Ludwig Hohlwein paints a pretty hot sorceress.



Deep Space Nine and Thieves

2012-01-02T22:59:11.855-08:00

I’ve been watching a lot of Deep Space Nine on Netflix over the last month. Back when it premiered, sitting through the CGI intro wasn’t so bad - after all, it was only on screen for a few minutes once a week. Now though, when watching an episode every other day or back to back, having to wait for the music and opening credits to finish is painful. Or rather, it’s painfully obvious that the whole sequence is ridiculously overdramatic. The wormhole’s depiction begins to seem less like a triumph of computer special effects and more like a giant bowel movement, opening up as it does to drop a spaceship deuce from time to time. Consider that the Bajorans' prophets live inside the wormhole - apparently talking out of their ass.How much edgier it could be with the proper soundtrack... src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/z-TwaHNBFgY" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="237" width="350">Aside from that initial unpleasantness, it’s sometimes fun to take a short nostalgic trip back and watch this show. DS9 is less of a hex-crawl, if you will, than the other Star Trek series. Supposedly it was more critically acclaimed than those other series too - I wonder how much this has to do with the ability to create more complex and interwoven plots due to the stationary setting. I keep making mental notes to use this or that element in a Traveller game I'll never actually play. One of my favorite episodes is when a priestess from a fundamentalist branch of the Bajorans’ religion has a fit because they’re teaching kids on the space station that the wormhole is host to aliens (rather than “prophets”). Then someone blows up the school with hilarious consequences.Somewhere along the way, I realized that the Ferengi “Rules of Acquisition” could be converted fairly easily into a Thieves Guild’s (or a god of thieves’) Rules of Wisdom. Just change “latinum” to gold and “sale” to “theft” and you're halfway there...Corrno’s Lesser Rules of Wisdom1. Never allow family to stand in the way of theft.2. A man is only worth the sum of his possessions.3. Keep your ears open.4. Greed is eternal.5. Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.6. A deal is a deal - until a better one comes along.7. Nothing is more important than your health - except for your money.8. There’s nothing more dangerous than an honest thief.9. She can touch the family jewels, but never your gold.10. Theft is its own reward.11. Never trust a man wearing better clothes than you.12. The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.13. Never ask when you can take.14. A good set of tools is as good as gold.15. Keep your lies consistent.16. Home is where the heart is, but the road is made of gold.17. Enough is never enough.18. Nature decays, but gold lasts forever.19. There is no honor in poverty.20. Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack.21. Even a blind man can see the glow of gold.22. There’s nothing wrong with charity, as long as it winds up in your pocket.23. Let others keep their reputation - you keep their money.24. Underlings are rungs on the ladder of success - do not hesitate to step on them.25. Always know what you are stealing.26. Gold lasts longer than lust.27. More is good… All is better.28. A wealthy man can afford anything but a conscience.29. Never allow doubt to tarnish your love of gold.30. When in doubt, lie.Of possibly related interest.[...]



The Yogi: A New Class for Swords & Wizardry

2011-11-18T14:06:08.275-08:00

For a while now I've tossed around the idea of a PC class that is explicitly non-violent or that derives experience from things that aren't related to combat or treasure. I'm not wholly convinced that such a class can work in the game, but I think offering it as an option to players might be an interesting experiment and a way to coax perhaps otherwise reluctant players to join. Uncomfortable with bashing in skulls? Try the Yogi class! I can see some serious humor potential there. Also, since writing up the Yellow Order of Freyse, I've been thinking about how a player might actually want to join it and how that would work.So, I submit here the Yogi class - nothing too complicated, but certainly very different from every other D&D class. Some qualifiers - the "yogi" as cultural phenomenon is open to many interpretations. Why should the one here be so ascetically oriented? What about the karma yogis, or bhakti yogis - not to mention such "chaotic" yogis like Milarepa? Well, I had to limit the scope of possibilities to keep it simple and in line with the lightness of the OD&D/SW:WB rules. Creating a number of subclasses of the Yogi sounds tempting though...The Yogi Class for S&W WhiteboxThe yogi (or female yogini) is concerned with three things: overcoming the illusionary and temporary nature of normally perceived reality, freedom from desires and attachment which lead to suffering, and reconnecting and merging with the source of all creation.While most yogis respect and observe devotional practices associated with one or more deities, some worship none - or else just ambiguously refer to an omnipotent and omniscient God, Creator, or Spirit. What distinguishes yogis from clerics is their belief in the practice of ahimsa, or nonviolence, and also that their salvation depends primarily upon their own willpower and mental focus rather than faith in supernatural beings.Yogi Advancement TableCharacter Class Abilities and Restrictions: Yogis must begin as lawful in alignment and remain so or else lose the special powers given to them.Possessions: Yogis are severely limited in the amount of possessions they may have - they may never possess more than what they can carry on their person, they avoid contact with gold or jewelry, and may not carry more than the equivalent of 1 gp worth of other types of treasure. They may not use magic items.Weapon and armor restrictions: Yogis practice nonviolence - they are forbidden from using any weapons. They shun the use of armor or shields, believing that these encourage the use of weapons and threat of violence. The DM will have to be creative in awarding the yogi PC experience points - deeds which produce “good karma” for the character or party are suggested as an alternative to experience gained in combat or through treasure. Another option might be experience granted after successfully carrying out missions under a guru's direction.Spell casting: A Yogi gains siddhis, or mental powers which correspond to some cleric and magic user spells. In order to obtain these, the yogi must spend one hour in meditation per spell, per day.The following siddhis may be chosen:• All cleric spells except spells against Law and the following: Hold Person, Sticks to Snakes, Insect Plague, Quest, and Raise Dead.• Magic user spells: Read Languages, Detect Invisibility, Knock, ESP, Levitate, Darkvision, Fly, Protection from Normal Missiles, Water Breathing, Wizard Eye, Contact Other Plane, Passwall, Telekinesis, Teleport, and Anti-Magic Shell.In addition, at 3rd level the Yogi may Simulate Death, lowering his[...]



Post-historic Graffiti

2011-11-14T10:20:42.055-08:00

(image)



H.G. Wells' "Little Wars"

2011-11-10T09:26:18.213-08:00

(image) A video posted over at Mutants and Magic shows Peter Cushing playing with his toy soldiers "according to the rules laid down by H.G. Wells in his famous book Little Wars." How's that again? While probably very old news to serious wargamers, I didn't know about this... I've only just perused it but already see two great things going for it - it's rules light and in the public domain. You can download it from archive.org or Project Gutenberg. There's a short companion text too.

Have any readers actually played this? It seems like it might be a great introduction to the hobby for kids.

Of possibly related interest.



In the Spirit of Shields and Hirelings Will Be Splintered...

2011-11-08T18:10:53.301-08:00

The Yellow Order of Freyse

A short distance from Veyrines in the southern Dordogne lies the monastery of the Yellow Order of Freyse. Its few members are easily recognized by their yellow robes and well known for preaching the doctrine of “Sahima” - a spiritual practice which values nonviolence, abandonment of material possessions, and belief in the supremacy of mind over matter.

The order’s size would leave it largely unknown in the valley were it not for an unusual initiate requirement. True faith in Freyse is said to be best proven by demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for another. By itself, this seems an honorable and commonly held belief. For the order’s members though, self-sacrifice isn’t something to be done only when the opportunity spontaneously arises. Rather, such opportunities are actively sought out by younger monks with the encouragement of their elders. Indeed, monks cannot progress to higher levels of authority within the order without having demonstrated their faith in this manner; senior monks bear their scars and broken bodies as symbols of their deep faith and status.

The Yellow Order came into existence in response to the Long War between the Ocks and Ogleds. At the time, the only way to avoid conscription was to enter the monastic life. It became obvious to both the king and the priests of Freyse that something had to be done to stem the loss of potential soldiers and the rise in deceitful applications for priesthood. An agreement was struck, and the Yellow Order created - any that applied for membership in the priesthood during times of war were relegated to the order, where they were required to sacrifice themselves as human shields in defense of the kingdom.

These days, the origins of the order seem forgotten - or perhaps conveniently ignored by the senior monks and head. Peace has reigned for over forty years and the order’s numbers (difficult to maintain even in times of war) are dwindling. New applicants are accepted without hesitation - be they mentally defective, debtors hoping to escape prison, or the rare but actually faithful. However, the stipulation that nonviolence be followed and self-sacrifice sought out are still seriously enforced. The only exception to the practice of nonviolence that’s allowed by the order is in the punishment of monks who refuse to obey their seniors - and renunciation of membership entails a death sentence.

Young yellow-clad monks can occasionally be found looking for “work” and it’s rare for locals to take advantage of them since most also count themselves as one of Freyse’s Flock. For adventurers new to the valley though, the presence of these monks is a positive boon... diminished only by the fact that they refuse to carry treasure.



Image from Holmes

2011-10-30T13:21:56.514-07:00

(image) Copyright © 2011 Warner Bros. Pictures

Not that Holmes - the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I won't go and see it (haven't been to a movie theater in years) but this still from the official preview caught my eye. Nice looking fortress... Must be a bitch to shovel out though. I especially like the utterly useless battlements facing out over the valley. Or maybe they're there for protection against archers on griffins or pegasuses?



The Parade of Ghosts

2011-10-24T14:14:21.636-07:00

An annual parade held in the town of Beynac is both a celebration of the changing of seasons and a macabre spectacle of local justice being meted out. “The Parade of Ghosts” begins at nightfall on the same Autumn day every year. Prisoners from the dungeons of Lord Aubry are bound in shackles and covered in white sheets, then marched up and down the avenues for an hour or so at sword point until finally ending up at the central square and gallows tree.

All landowning citizens are required to enter a lottery, the winner of which must point at a “ghost” of his or her choosing. The unlucky prisoner is then drowned in a barrel, hanged with the sheet still covering them, and left to swing until morning when they are brought down and their identity revealed.

Serious criminals are not the only ones subject to this fate - anyone currently imprisoned at the time of the parade is forced to participate. It’s thought to be an effective deterrent, coming at a time when the poorest residents become increasingly likely to take desperate measures due to the approach of colder weather.

The only downside that the Constable and other authorities have noted is the amount of superstitions being spread associated with the ancient oak tree where the criminals meet their end. While most residents worship the goddess Suthak, Lord Aubry still follows the older druidic ways and will not tolerate discussion of the tree’s removal. In addition to this, though the tradition of the Parade is enjoyed by most townsfolk, some lottery winners claim to be haunted by their pick - with at least one having committed suicide as a result.



Eddnic's 3d and 2.5d Paper Minis

2011-10-17T11:53:31.552-07:00

(image) Eddnic's fantasy paper miniatures are amazing! They're free too.