Dugeon Majesty

Via the Daily Illuminator: Dungeon Majesty is one of the RPG geekiest things I’ve every seen. Four women sitting around playing D&D on cable. Check out the Dungeon Majesty video.

Actually it isn’t that bad. It falls under the too much time on their hand, but the fact they go to the trouble of recording the cut scenes and doing special effects is cool.

And they are kind of cute.

The Goblin Problem

Last weekend my family and I played the first session of the Elves of Tejas. One thing I was impressed about on James Wyatt’s site was his description of the play session. I wondered how he remember everything that happen. Well he probably keeps notes. I have a bunch of stuff I write down during combat, and knowing I wanted to transcribe it, I wrote down a little more. Here’s my first shot at it.

Written while listening to “Message In A Bottle”
album Every Breath You Take- The Singles
by The Police

When the story started a large group of adventurers were sitting on the porch outside the county court house and church in Harrisburg. It was hot and humid, oppressively hot. They had just gotten out a of town hall meeting. It seems Harris county has been having goblin problems.

The sheriff and mayor spent what seemed like forever telling the collection of ten or twelve itinerate adventures about the problem. The small government knows there are several tribes of goblins that live around the county, but they are not sure where. The sheriff and the local militia have gone hunting for and destroy various strongholds of the goblins, but there is only so much time they can spend on it. So they have come with the idea that brought the adventurers here.

A reward program for those who kill goblins. Goblins 1 sp, Hobgoblins 5 sp, Bugbears 1 gp. In order to collect the reward you have to bring back the head of the monster.

The group knew they didn’t want more than six in their group. That was enough to do some damage, but not enough to have to split too many ways.

It became immediately obvious, Red was focused to bringing a party together. He went around talking to various adventurers looking for just the right grouping. Red is a monk who put aside all worldly considerations taking a ascetic vow, forgoing all worldly possessions. Though he can own a simple quarter staff, he forgoes even it, preferring to let his bare hands settle combat. He has taken extensive training in non-magical healing, this being his profession when not called into the field.

There was some disagreement about the combat usefulness of a bard, which resulted in Liza Wolfwalker Easten deciding to stay behind and ply her trade in the local bars, while her sister Katerina “Kat” Wolfwalker Shroeder joined the party. There was no disagreement from the monk the Kat’s rouge skills could be useful in the hunt for goblins. Along with Kat came her battle companion Joed “Big Joe” Bennett, a proven fighter.

Two others joined the group. Vack a Paladin that had fought against the goblin hoards before with Kat and Doren, a bothered fighter that was eager to join in the fight. Turns out Doren had a secret unknown even to him.

The group decided to avoid some of the other hunting groups, cross the Buffalo Bayou and go north. After a few hours travel they came to a fork in the road. Here again there was argument about which way to go. Finally Red called on the High Lord and his patron for guidance. At first there was no answer but after continued supplication he was told to go right.

And right they went.

They traveled the road God had pointed them along sweating like pigs and ready to be there already. The sun was beating down on them making them sweat like crazy, especially those in armor. They were suffering along in a fog of boredom and heat, when they snapped wide awake at the sound of a crossbow bolt twang.

One bolt buzzed toward Red, but he easily avoided it because of this combat reflexes. Vack too was able to avoid a bolt aimed at him. The Goblin crossbowmen’s poor marksmanship made the other two shots miss both Doren and Big Joe. As the group pulled weapons and dropped into fighting stances the rest of the Goblins rushed out of the bushes and attacked.

The melee lasted a long time as four goblins and four orcs attacked the group. Red’s martial training allowed him to quickly kill his opponent and move to help the others. At one point Joe killed two goblins at once. Vack dove into the fray attacking multiple opponents with his long sword, but he was overwhelmed and took multiple hits from the orcs, ultimately succumbing to his wounds and collapsing unconscious and bleeding.

Doren yelled out in orcish, trying to persuade them to stop their attack. But his calls fell on the deaf ears of the orcs in combat frenzy. In a panic Doren felt power leak out of him, and a number of the orcs were dazed. One of the other orcs, realizing magic had been used cursed Doren as a sorcerer. Then Doren knew his own secret, though he wished he was a fighter, he had the dragon blood of a sorcerer.

While Doren was discovering his true nature, the goblins and orcs were taking and inflicting damage. Kat took multiple hits from goblins and had to disengage from the fray, fleeing her friends, while Joed cut down orcs to protect her retreat. Red finished off a goblin and rushed to the fallen Vack. The group needed Vack’s divine healing ability, but right now they depended on Red’s professional skill.

At first Red wasn’t able to do anything that would stabilize Vack. Kat, now outside the remaining orcs and dead goblins, unslung her bow and used it to good report finishing the last of them.

With the battle over, Red was able to stabilize Vack. Only Doren had managed to remain unscarred in the battle. Kat was barly on her feet. Wolf suffered from a wound that cut her strength in half. Joe was injured but able, and even Red was bruised.

Vack might never have gotten up that day, despite Red’s ministrations, if they hadn’t found a healing potion among the possessions of the orcs and goblins. With that healing he was able to stand again and call on the help of his Patron and the High Lord to heal the other members. Because they were not fully healed, they decided to return to Harrisburg to regroup and recuperate.

They chopped the heads off all of their fallen enemies, though there was no stated rewards for orcs. Maybe the county government would give them something for them.

Elves as cowboys and indians

James over at Hell In A Handbasket commented on a previous post and said on his site that elves can’t be both cowboys and indians.

Sure they can. The problem with D&D is elves, and most of the other non-human races, have become to associate each race with a particular professions/class. Which seems to be what Wizards wants. But when you do your own campaign you can change the races.

For example, I was looking through one of the campaign books – either Forgotten Realms or the new one Eberron – and they have dwarves of different colors.

I was looking through Unearthed Arcana at the book store and they had a set of desert versions of all the races. Desert elves herd cattle. Those are the cowboys. Desert Dwarves don’t have stonecutting as a skill, that’s practically sacrilegious. They specialize in drilling water wells. I’m already planning on have dwarves that specialize in drilling oil wells. Wildcatter dwarves.

It seems to me a very elven to be nomadic people concerned mostly with the horse and the hunt like the Indians of western Texas were. Are those barbarians?

So I’m going to have both. Right now I just discovered King Ranch in South Texas and plan on integrating it into the campaign and am trying to decide if I want it to be an elven kingdom or just a human one.

And I should point out I’m not looking at any one time period to build this fantastic Texas. King Ranch was well after the republic period, but its just too good to pass up a ranch that was bigger than Rhode Island.

Written while listening to “Interstate Love Song”
album Purple
by Stone Temple Pilots

Elves of Tejas

I mentioned in my previous post I’m working on a campaign world. My working title is The Elves of Tejas, which it won’t ultimately be called because the story isn’t really about elves.

My goal is to have an adventure with the feel of Texas in the mid 1800s. Over that time it drove out the Mexican army, formed its own government and ultimately joined the union. Now take that sparsely settled – by the white man – area and populate it with the fantastic races and monsters of D&D.

Elven cowboys and indians.

Wildcat oil dwarfs.

The Texas Rangers

The Alamo mission

The possibilities are endless.

Another thing I want to do is work out a monotheistic religion. James has attempted monotheism in D&D and I will too. I’m inspired by Elizabeth Moon’s Deeds of Paksenarrion.

Which by the way is the best fantasy series ever written. I don’t say that lightly. If you play D&D and in particular if you are partial to paladins, you have to read that book.

Back to a monotheistic religion. Like Moon I intend to have a High Lord, the one God. He may have more than one name, but the same character across the races. Everyone good follows the High Lord, but depending the things they have a special passion for, they will devote themselves to a patron saint. You end up with saints like Gird, a common man turned warrior who lead the peasants in a revolt against the aristocracy and is now the patron of people and warriors who over throw tyranny. Or Lord Falk another patron of good warriors in Paksenarrion, but whose story we only hear bits of.

I’m not putting those exact characters in my world, but there will be saints like them

Written while listening to “Insanity”
album Exclusive
by Liz Phair
Written while listening to “Don’t Look Back”
album The Raw & The Cooked
by Fine Young Cannibals
Written while listening to “Sweet Sixteen”
album Billy Idol: Greatest Hits
by Billy Idol
Written while listening to “Start The Commotion”
album ^a
by Wise Guys

Town Generator Script

As you may know I’m getting back in to D&D after years of not playing. (Anyone in north Houston with a group that could use a player drop me a line.) Right now I’m working on a campaign world. And last night I came to the point I needed to generate some towns. I read in the DM’s guide how to do this randomly and even did it once.

But then my inner geek came out and I spend the next 4 or 5 hours writing a Ruby script to generate random D&D towns. This script will generate a random town for you each time it is run. It has one optional parameter – the name of the town size as given in the DM’s guide.

After you follow the link above and download the script, if you are running MacOS X (and probably Linux) you go to the command line and type:

ruby CityGen.rb

And hit return. It will spit out a bunch of text that you can copy and paste into a word processor for use. There is some strange output for the race demographic table. This is because the code uses tabs to make it easier to use the table in a word processor. The command line doesn’t like that.

If you include a town size like “Thorp” it will generate that size town, and not randomly pick the type.

ruby CityGen.rb Thorp


Generating city
Town Size: Hamlet
Population: 206
GP Limit: 100
Cash available: 1000

Power Centers
1. Type: Conventional
Alignment: Neutral Evil

Community Authorities
Sheriff is the highest level warrior
There are 2 full time guard(s) and 10 militia members
1 3rd level adept
1 2nd level commoner
1 2nd level expert
1 1st level barbarian
1 3rd level bard
2 1st level bards
1 1st level cleric
1 2nd level driud
2 1st level driuds
1 3rd level fighter
2 1st level fighters
1 1st level paladin
1 6th level rogue
2 3rd level rogues
4 1st level rogues
1 2nd level sorcerer
2 1st level sorcerers

The rest of the population
164 first level commoners
9 first level warriors
5 first level experts

Race Isolated Mixed Integrated
Humans 201 162 76
Halfling 4 18 41
Elf 2 10 37
Dwarf 2(other races) 6 20
Gnome 14 14
Half-elf 10 10
Half-orc 2 6

Anyway enjoy. I may make it take a flag that generates HTML

Did I mention that every new computer language I’ve every learned I learn making a D&D program, with the possible exception of ObjectiveC.

Written while listening to “Message In A Bottle”
album Every Breath You Take- The Singles
by The Police

Book of Exalted Deeds

For father’s day my family got me the new 3.5 Dungeon Master’s Guide. Last week I bought myself a 3.5 Players Handbook, and on Sunday I bought The Book of Exalted Deeds.

The Book of Exalted Deeds is very interesting for a number of reasons. The thing that caught my eye first was the “Intended for Mature Audiences” sticker on the front of the book. I’m still not sure why it was there. The introduction says “…the Book of Exalted Deeds is intended for mature players. That’s not because it’s filled with lurid depictions of depravity and torture. The material isn’t meant to shock or offend (though some topics may). Rather, this book deals with tough questions of ethics and morality in a serious manner.”

This first thing you wonder is how discussing ethics is something you don’t want the immature to do. People with no kids don’t understand that young people don’t have much understanding of subtly. They don’t understand that everything isn’t black and white. And I’m sure there are parents who would rather not discuss these things with there kids, or whose lives are obviously not good and they don’t want someone telling their kids what good is.

I think CYA is a big part of it. D&D already has problems in religious communities. It takes guts to write a book dealing with good and evil with those problems already hanging over your head. The author alludes to this in the introduction when he says “In the Book of Exalted Deeds you’ll find archons with names drawn from Jewish, Christian, and Gnostic angelology, paladins with stigmata, and monks who have sworn not to touch dead flesh or drink alcohol….” Lots of people don’t want someone codifying their religion. Heck, that’s what causes most of the tensions and divisions inside religions.

You also find the interesting comment “To many of us with deeply held convictions about such matters, the subject is touchy at best.” Which implies the author, James Wyatt, has real religious convictions. I hate it when religion is discussed by people who don’t believe in it, and who therefore only understand it in a superficial manner.

(BTW: Amazon’s ability to search inside this book is way cool.)

The book actually had a spiritual impact on me. In the first chapter James discusses the concept of being good. “Many characters are happy to rattle off long lists of sins they haven’t committed as evidence that they are good. The utter avoidance of evil however, doesn’t make a character good — solidly neutral perhaps, but not good.” Those too lines are so concisely correct they almost deserve to be a signature. And it makes you wonder, “Do I base my goodness on what I don’t do?” Or even on what I think and not what I do? It has given me something to think about.

Written while listening to “Keep Hope Alive”
album Vegas
by The Crystal Method
Written while listening to “Lay Your Hands On Me”
album ^a
by Bon Jovi
Written while listening to “I Need”
album Blurring The Edges
by Meredith Brooks
Written while listening to “American Bad Ass”
album American Bad Ass (CD Single)
by Kid Rock
Written while listening to “Pleasure”
album Bad Bad One
by Meredith Brooks

Houston Con

One of my co-workers – the one that is quitting soon – mentioned at lunch that there is going to be an SF con in Houston this month. I hadn’t even heard about it. Following the Apollocon link and a number of links I found some other interesting mailing lists.

Con mailing list. The description is confusing because it is identical to…

Houston Science Fiction Association. Which has a lot more traffic and seems to be the group that provided Genesis for the con.

Apollocon Gaming. About gaming at the con.

Some of the mailing lists are kind of a pain to join, but they seem to respond quickly.

I’ll probably be going for a number of reasons. One I want to support a Houston con. Two I will do some market research into my game store idea. Three to actually do some gaming. Its been a long time.

Written while listening to “Sweet Child Of Mine”
album ^a
by Guns n’ Roses
Written while listening to “Chateau”
album Matrix Reloaded
by Rob Dougan