I Want Fluff And Lots Of It!

I love reading rule books and I love reading campaign settings even more. I’ve went on before about how I write campaign settings just for myself even if no one else will ever actually play them so it comes as no surprise that I’ve got a little fed up rereading the D&D 4e books and that I’m looking for something ‘new’.

Coming home from my dyslexia testing on Monday I stopped by one of the larger book store chains in Glasgow to see if there was anything worth picking up. Usually I head in there just to see if they have a specific book but this day I decided just to have a look around the fiction areas as well. They have a small section for RPG books these days and it’s never really been stocked that well. They have the usual D&D books as well as the occasional TV related system such as the Firefly or Battlestar Galactica books but apart from the occasion WoD or Cthulu book thats it.

Scion : Hero

What they did have though was a few of the Scion books. I’d heard a little about them before and to be honest what I had heard didn’t tickle my fancy but after a quick flick through it is very similar to a setting I tried to write about 10 years ago using the old WoD system. I stood for a good 20 minutes reading the fluff that goes along with the Hero book. Why can’t games be released with a backstory this rich all the time? Needless to say I’ll be picking up the books on my next trip to the gaming store even if it is only to read them and never actually get my players into a game.

What other systems are there out there that go into the backstory in this much detail in the main rulebooks?

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Top Five Reasons To Not Upgrade To The Latest Version

Why do I have such a downer on updates to game systems?


1. It’s expensive.
I’ve spent thousands of pounds over the years on roleplay books. At least 90% of that was on supplements and campaign settings rather than rulebooks so you can understand when I get a little miffed when the publishers bring out a new version that makes all those supplements and settings worthless in the eyes the new system.

2. Same old story just different rules.
So when WOD went through a reboot very little changed. The mechanics where mixed up and ‘refined’ and that’s about it as the same basic story kept going. To be fair to White Wolf they basically shot themselves in the foot when they first published that Gehenna was on it’s way. Or were they just very shrewd people that knew exactly how many people would buy the new rules?

With Dungeons and Dragons 4ed  they’ve basically turned it into D&D lite. It’s not a refinement of the previous games or an expansion on the system. They’ve took the popular parts from online computer games and melded it together with the previous rules to create something that doesn’t feel, to me at least, like any D&D game I’ve seen before. Why not keep the old D&D line going or at least fix the bits that didn’t work and release 4ed as a new game line but one that uses the same world? Have it as an extension of the mini battles game and market it to the crowd of young gamers moving up from Pokemon and the other card games that seem to be morphing into spinnig top battles.

3. Did I say it was expensive?
Forget the cost of the books I’ve bought in the past that are now worthless. Lets look at how much it costs to get a Forgotten Realms game going now that 4ed is out. The DM/players guides come in at $60 for both of them and the setting books add another $60-70 onto that as well. Your talking over $120 just to play the basic setting and never mind any of the expansions they bring out in the future. What if you go to all that trouble and you find you really don’t like the new setting or you really don’t like the new 4ed rules?

4. Physical space
I live in a normal sized house in the UK. We have plenty of shelf space and yet I am forced to keep a sizable amount of my books in boxes in the attic. I cannot find anywhere to keep my almost complete collection of oWOD books never mind space for the new system should I ever give in and buy it.

5. Mental space
I’ve already memorised the rules and mechanics of 13 separate gaming systems over the years. Do I really need to squeeze another one in? At what point will my mind begin to fail and the AD&D equipment charts start to meld together and be mistaken for the Small Creatures Crit Table from Rolemaster?

The old games worked. Sure they had their flaws but so do the new versions. Pick one and stick with it but I just wish the old system I loved still had official work being published for them.

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“The First Amendment does not cover MERPing”

I’ve previously mentioned that over the years I’ve lost an awful lot of my gaming books. I’ve misplaced at least half of my ADnD books somewhere and of all my other systems only my Rolemaster books seem to be in any fit state and that was only because I bought new copies on Ebay a few years ago.

Anyway I was intent on rebuilding my old collection any way that I could and whilst hunting down the Dark Sun campaign books that I’d misplaced over the years I remembered a system that I bought when I was 15 years old. It was quite famous at the time but if I were to ask almost any of my fellow gamers in my home town about it they wouldn’t have a clue. That game is of course MERP or Middle Earth Role Playing to those that don’t like acronyms. A lot was said at the time about how it was a handicapped version of Rolemaster or that it was too complex for beginners but we loved it. I was never a fan of the books when I was younger purely because of the size of them but I loved the setting and the half finished movie by Ralph Bakshi.

Over the years I picked up a few modules for it but it was never a game we could get much material for what with it being in the days before the internet and online shopping. We would spend whole weekends just working through complex back stories for our characters before we even thought about starting game but we’d always hit the level limit and want to go further. As time went on we ended up moving all our characters over to rolemaster anyway and keeping the campaign setting but to this day I miss the MERP books. There was so much history in the rulebooks that was not easily digestable from the novels that even after we moved systems we still used the MERP books as our number one resource for the campaign.

I miss those books. I’m really beginning to wish I.C.E. didn’t lose the rights to make LotR games in 1999 now.

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System Update

With WordPress 2.7 being released last week I’ve spent the last few days updating the software and trying to update my theme to take advantage of the new features. Unfortunately it beat me but I’ve found an update from the designer that has included the comment upgrades. The downside to this is that the designer has completely rewritten the code and so it’s taking slightly longer than I hoped to get everything working.

I’ve gave up for now as over Christmas I’m doing a major overhaul of the site to fix the bits that don’t really work that well. Hopefully I’ll have the time and skillset by then to get through the new code quickly and get back to writing more posts.

*Edit – 1 hour later*
Somehow the current theme got deleted so I’m having to use the messed up version just now until I can get access to my offsite backup tomorrow. Hey ho :(

*edit – 16 hours later*

It seems my backups are useless for the personalised content so please bear with me while I cobble something together to do me until the update.

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Mupit Is A Desert Planet In A Binary Star System

Something I’ve been thinking about recently actually cropped up in a Darths & Droids strip I read recently. Why is it when it comes to roleplays set on outer space 99% of the time the planet will have one environment and probably only one or two exports? Where is the diversity?


Back in the days of my youth our games were very simplistic. If we were not using a pre-existing setting like Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms or Star Trek our locations were always very simple and generic. It was until I hit my late teens that my maps became anything other than a amoeba shaped blob with badly drawn mountains and trees on it. When it came to space settings though it got beyond a joke.

Picture the scene. You’ve spent two months playing in Waterdeep for a solid three nights a week and maybe a day at the weekend. For a nice break you decide to run a Spacemaster campaign for a few weeks. You throw together some characters with the players and pull out your binder of hand drawn and very detailed ships and get them to choose one from the ‘cheap’ bundle. And what planetary system do you let them loose in? The one who’s entire chart can be described as an A4 sheet with 20 circles drawn on it with generic environment and chief export details written beside it.

It was my one bugbear with the Firefly TV series and Star Wars is famous for it but it still drives me nuts. So why do we keep doing it? I can understand that to populate countless worlds in the same detail as you would a normal one world fantasy campaign but something has to give. The one method I’ve came up with that works is to pick two places on a planet and treat it like a city on a fantasy map. Give it enough detail to play it well and use generic work for elsewhere on the planet and over time the players will much prefer the places you’ve worked on. they’ll keep returning to those same places and this allows you to slowly add new areas on planets that attract interest. So your generic sea/space port kicks off thanks to your characters falling foul of the law and having to make a sharp exit from the gaming area you had prepared. Next time they come back to that planet you’ll have had time to expand on the new location and every bit of work you do fills the game world as a whole.

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Anti Spam Software = Fail

I’ve only just managed to check over the back-end of the blog after a week or so of modems blowing up and PC’s dying. My new laptop should be here tomorrow hopefully or the beginning of next week at the very latest so normal services should resume very soon.

Anyway the point of this post was to apologise to the handful of folk who had posted entries to the blog carnival but who’s posts never made it past my spam filter. They were hidden amongst 30 odd spam posts but I’ve sorted them out now and they should be showing. I can’t believe it’s been so successful this month. It just seems to get bigger and bigger as each month goes on.

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What ever happened to them? I’ve spent the last 3 days being ill and spending most of my day in my sickbed barely able to focus on the laptop screen but I got thinking about all the old netbooks I had printed out in my attic. Being ill I couldn’t climb up and get them so I thought I’d have a look around the internet for them.

I’ve managed to track down most of the netbooks I used to have for ADnD that I found on the ADnD mailing list all those years ago. I had another look for my weaponmastery netbook again but still no success. What i did find though was that the number of netbooks seems to have dropped considerably in the last few years. What happened to cause this.

I’m currently assuming that White Wolf’s Game System License for D&D has killed them off as anything worth ‘publishing’ would be pushed through that route. I’m also guessing that the proliferation of blogs and amateur websites has also meant that DM’s no longer had to publish their work on central spots like mailing lists or newsgroups. They could put anything they wanted onto the net but at the same time their audience numbers would dramatically drop. It’s something I miss from the roleplay scene but thankfully I also enjoy surfing through all the blogs to find those ideas and house rules that I’d never be able to write myself.

I’ve decided to host any of the netbooks I come across on this blog. You, my loyal readers, will probably never use them but someone might and with them being spread out over the entire internet hopefully this will make them easier to find.

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If you had to choose…

What roleplay system would say was your hands down favourite of all time.

I’d be hard pressed to choose but in the end I’d have to go with Rolemaster. Yes the skill system is overly complex and the number of companion books meant that the rules for any one event could be split over about 5 books but there was something about the game I loved that I can’t put my finger on.

Actually that is a complete lie as it’s the combat system that I adored. Considering how complex everything else in the game is the combat system was surprisingly straight forward. You roll your D100, add your modifier, subtract your opponents modifiers and consult your weapons table. If you were lucky you then got to roll on the critical hits table. Okay maybe that is still a little complex and there is a reason it was renamed Rollmaster by many gamers but it was the critical hit tables that I loved so much. In fact even when we didn’t play this system I still tried to find ways to bring the crit tables over with me.

My group usually groaned when I pulled out Arms Law and Claw Law right after my AD&D 2nd Edition books. For years all I had left was the AL&CL but after a spending rush on ebay one evening I managed to get al the books I was missing. It seemed like a bit of a culture shock when I tried to get some of my players to roll up characters and play a game using the whole system. When your used to AD&D and Vampire TM any character with more than 8 skills and stat points higher than 18 seem to cause a great deal of confusion.

I’m sorry but any game where your character can have an unlucky roll of the dice and die because a fluffy rabbit ripped thier throats out in a freak accident on the crit table gets my vote.

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