Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Future of Tabletop RPGs ?

Before, I leave for today’s weekly gaming session;
It is obvious from reading other peoples’ blogs
that finding an old school game is not easy.
I know, I game with dedicated 3-tards.

Many retroclones will have a hard time drawing in youth or newbies because they require patience, determination, literacy and/or are counter-intuitive;
descending armor class (WTF?)
Roll high to save and hit,
But roll low for thief skills, find secret doors, etc..

Teaching your own children to game, doesn’t count –
they will most likely abandon’s dad’s (and/or mom’s) hobby
when they discover cars or
their own sexuality.

I believe retro cones will have a hard time converting 3-tards and 4-ons.
IMHO the future of our dwindling hobby belongs to game systems with the CLASSIC feel
AND 3.x or Pathfinder compatibility.
Primarily, because those systems have SO MANY modules, splat books and GM materials available for FREE
(or darn near free on Amazon or Ebay)!


From Cyclopeatron   ,  26 April 2013

Relative Popularities of OSR Games

If G+ community size is any indicator...

634 - Swords & Wizardry
551 - Original D&D
549 - Dungeon Crawl Classics
512 - Advanced D&D
329 - Lamentations of the Flame Princes
236 - Adventurer Conqueror King
222 - Labyrinth Lord
209 - Castles and Crusades
208 - Basic Fantasy
143 - Talislanta
124 - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
119 - Adventures Dark and Deep
115 - Holmes Basic
110 - Basic / Expert D&D
97 - AD&D 2e
70 - Delving Deeper

For Reference
2142 - Pathfinder   ( which is more  than S&W, DCC, LotFP, ACK and LL combined)
1465 - OSR Group
1430 - Dungeon World
1195 - Savage Worlds
733 - D&D Next
653 - D&D (4e)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

classic Small Unit Ranged Combat

Just like in melee combat, you roll 1d6 for each attacking unit. If the die result is equal to above the numbered required on the table, a figure casualty has been inflicted on one’s opponent (remove miniature from play).

Attk…… A.….B.….C.….D.….E.….F

Mskt….....5.… ..4…..4.......3…....3…..2
Lngbw......5… ..5…...4......4…...3……3

XBow......6….. 5…...5….....4…....4……3
Bow....... .6….. 6…...5….....5…....4…...4
Sling..……7….. .6…...6…...5…....5…...4

Unlike melee combat, defenders get a saving throw if successfully hit in range combat if and only if they have adequate cover or concealment. Roll d6 for each unit struck (higher is better),
rerolling ones if target is small size
(such as elves, goblins, halflings, etc.):

6+ if wooden shield, brush and/or fog,
5+ if kite shield, low fence and/ or trees,
4+ if tower shield, battlements and/or trenches,
3+ if murder hole, hidden and/or invisibility.

Range is expressed in map squares, not in inches. Each map square or hex represents ten feet of simulated distance. Each unit (5 soldiers) or monster figure controls a single square. Two figures cannot occupy the same square. If figures are touching they are locked in melee; otherwise, missile combat is allowed. Subtract one from d6 roll if long range (twice that listed).

Bow (TL II, Range is 10” ): this weapon is a flexible piece of wood, bent by a string or cord between its ends. The bow is designed for propelling long finned darts known as arrows. Unlike firearms, which kill by shock, bows kill by causing internal bleeding. The bow is 30-40” in length; twelve arrows are usually carried on a quiver on the owner’s side or back. Bows are used by mounted archers (TL III) and many ground units; elves, orcs, goblins, skeletons, etc..

Crossbow (TL IV, Range is 15” ): combining mechanical leverage with archery, the crossbow has more accuracy and lethality than a bow. The owner of this weapon will carry 20 bolts (or quarrels) in a quiver at his side. This is the preferred range weapon of dwarves. Although a crossbow has a slower rate of fire than a bow, it requires less training to develop proficiency.

Fireball Range is 20” this simulates the 3rd level magic-user spell. The fireball spell effects a number of units = spell caster’s level divided by two.

Longbow (TL IV, Range is 12”): an advanced infantry design, this bow is as tall as an ordinary man. The longbow requires years of training to use skillfully (‘on mark’), but is capable of killing at significant range. The longbow’s body is shaped from a single piece of rare and highly-prized yew wood. The bow string is woven from flax or hemp. Only gnolls and veteran human archers usually deploy long bows.

Musket (TL V, Range is 9” ): a version of this sturdy 18th century infantry weapon had a service life of over 150 years with the British military. The musket uses a flint striker which ignites the main charge (black powder); thereby propelling a .50 caliber lead ball down a 20” barrel. A skilled musketeer is capable of firing three shots per minute. Although dependable and lethal, these firearms are not very accurate. Muskets and matchlocks were adapted by renaissance armies over longbows, because muskets more readily penetrate plate armor and longbows require an extensive amount of training to become proficient. Musket is also used to simulate spells that attack a single target such as flame strike, blight or lightning bolt.

“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”
William Prescott, June 1775

Sling (TL I, Range is 8” ): a piece of leather that has been shaped to engage centrifugal force to hurl a rock a stone. Rerolls ones if used by halflings. Treat web as a sling that holds enemies in place; it effects number of units= half spell caster’s level. Sling is also used to simulate magic missile.

miniature is bronze age miniatures
>unit casualties includes MORALE
(lawful troops are LESS likely to break)

these rules inspired by wardammer and Maldecon

Monday, January 24, 2011


The volunteer militias of the U.S. colonies that used to be under state authority have evolved into the National Guard through a series of legislative acts. The National Guard is ultimately under presidential authority. The National Guard evolved from the militia, but the militia is not the National Guard
(i.e., Man may have evolved from a monkey named Lucy, but few would call a monkey a man, and vice versa.
i.e., The automobile has replaced the horse and buggy, and you can tell me that the horse and buggy is obsolete, but you will not convince me that an automobile is a horse and buggy.).


“In 1903, a piece of landmark legislation opened the way for increased modernization of, and Federal control over the National Guard. The law provided increased Federal funding, but in order to obtain it, National Guard units had to reach minimum strengths and be inspected by Regular Army Officers. Guardsmen were required to attend 24 drills per year, and five days of annual training, for which they received pay for the first time.”

In preparation for World War I

“In 1916, another act was passed, guaranteeing the state militia’s status as the Army’s primary reserve force, and requiring that all states rename their militia “National Guard.” The National Defense Act of 1916 prescribed qualifications for National Guard officers and allowed them to attend US Army schools; required that each National Guard unit would be inspected and recognized by the War Department; and ordered that National Guard units would be organized like regular Army units. The act also specified that Guardsmen would be paid not just for annual training, but also for drills.”

Only two states, retain a state controlled militia:
Alaska and the great state of Texas,
The latter state is host of
Central Texas MiniCon and
North Texas RPG con., Dallas Texas Jun 2- 5th

Friday, January 21, 2011


In the Roman Empire the highest life expectancy was in the Legionnaires;
half of them lived to forty.

Several factors;
they were always feed,
they were selected for health and strength,
they were usually kept away from the cities, 
(where disease and plagues were common) and
their battlefield losses were minimal as they significantly outclassed MOST of their opponents.

            “They were taught not to cut, but to thrust with their swords.  For the Romans not only made jest of those who fought with the edge of their weapons, but also found them an easy conquest, a stroke with the edge, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills, as the vital parts of the body are protected by the bones and the armor.  On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally fatal.”                Vegetius    

The highest casualty rate in the Roman Army was amongst the Centurions who were usually promoted from the ranks of ordinary soldiers for bravery and ability. A Roman centurion led from the front. It was not uncommon in a battle for 10% of an armies casualties to be Centurions.
Recall, there was only one centurion for every 80 to 100 soldiers.

Nobles didnt live as long as Legionnaires because of political intrigue; assassination typically included you and your entire blood line.

The Romans had contact with the Norse
(who were large even by today’s standards)
but they did not make good soldiers -
couldnt march for long distances and did not have the immune system of their Mediterranean counterparts.

Norse mercenaries served as Elite Guards, as their large size made them both intimidating and formidable individual opponents.

Roman soldiers attacked in ranks of three;
The front rank armed with shortswords aimed for your face and throat . ..
The second rank armed with spears aimed for your axilla and the neurovascular bundle of the arm …
while the third rank armed with long spears sought the femoral artery in the leg or pelvis .

Caesar’s Civil War & Caesar’s Gallic Wars
by Adrian Goldsworthy


Nero's Killing Machine: The True Story of Rome's Remarkable 14th Legion
by Stephen Dando-Collins

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

classic Small Unit Combat

A unit represents five soldiers or a single monster whose quality is graded on a scale from A thru F. Unit quality is not just based upon attacks, armor class and hit points but also includes less tangible qualities such as adroitness, ferocity, discipline, intelligence and courage. A unit defeated in combat is not always slain or killed; it is more typically captured, routed or broken.

A) = heavily armored and battle hardened crack units such as knights, bugbears, blink dogs or one troll (63hp) or one griffon (59hp).

= elite units such as lizardmen, sahuagin, mounted archers, elves, Legionnaires , or one unicorn (42hp).

= veteran units such as heavy infantry, light cavalry, dwarves, gnolls, hobgoblins, skeletons, mermen or one ogre (29hp) or one hippogriff (25hp).

D) = standard units such as light infantry, orcs, mercenaries, buccaneers, stirges, zombies or one worg (30hp) or one centaur (26hp).

E) = green or unreliable units such as militia, pirates, goblins, halflings or one boar (20hp).

F) = poor units such as conscripts, kobolds, levies, bandits, giant rats or one mastiff (12hp).

Elite…..…..5.… ..4…...4…...3…....3…...2
Vtrn....…...5… ..5…...4…....4…....3……3
Stndrd......6….. 5…...5…....4…....4……3
Green..... .6….. 6…...5…....5…....4…...4

Reroll ‘1s’ if minor advantage such as
height, terrain, blessed, charging, or
infantry weapons deployed in formation.

Add +1 to result if significant advantage such as surprise, haste, invisibility, blurred or
if attacking opponent’s rear or right flank.

Subtract one if attacker is entangled, heavily encumbered, climbing ladders, slowed or webbed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First War Game

My friend Dr. Dean is a Chess Master;
I never got into that game in youth, because to my young analytical mind
(graduated magna cum laude in college with mathematics degree)
the movement of the pieces made NO sense.
It wasn’t until my 30s when I read the book Born in Blood
by Robinson, that the game of chess became rational. Paraphrasing . . .

Chess is a Persian game that was brought to the west by the Crusaders –
the Catholic Church was against anything that was from the east and/or distracted from religious devotion.

Hence, the game of Chess was banned and deemed satanic
(sound familiar ; - );
however, the game proved too popular to legislate away;
THEREFORE, the church tolerated this new game as long as the pieces were ReNAMED.

Hence, CHESS pieces are as follows:

The PAWN represents spearmen or pike men, defensive units,
that slowly advance, but have to attack a flank for success.

The ROOK is actually the elephant (a Pagan animal) –
 unstoppable and fierce, but only capable of linear attacks/ charges.

The KNIGHT is heavy cavalry,
charges forward, but needs to strike a flank for maximal effect.

The BISHOP (the most important piece on the board?) represents a sailing ship;
notice how it tacks along the board unimpeded while delivering mayhem.

The QUEEN is guarded by elite, light mounted archers;
she can move and strike in any direction with full effect, but vulnerable to attack if isolated.

The KING is surrounded by his elite body guard; however,
  he is loaded down with the TREASURE of his house; therefore,
he may move only one square in any direction.
Even the term ‘check mate’ is a bastardization of the Arabic
“sheik mat”,
which translates to ‘the king is dead.’

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Helicopter Joke

Morris and His Wife Esther Went to the State Fair Every Year.

Every Year, Morris Would Say, "Esther, I'd like to Ride in That Helicopter"

Esther Always Replied, " I Know Morris, But That Helicopter Ride Is 50 Dollars And 50 Dollars Is 50 Dollars."

A Few Years Later, Esther and Morris Went to the Fair.

Morris Said, "Esther, I'm 85 Years Old. If I Don't Ride That Helicopter Now, I Might Never Get Another Chance."

Esther Replied, "Morris, That Helicopter Ride Is 50 Dollars and 50 Dollars Is 50 Dollars."

The Pilot Overheard the Couple.
He Said, "Folks, I'll Make You a Deal.
I'll Take the Both of You for a Ride.
If You Can Stay Quiet for the Entire
Ride and Not Say a Word, I Won't Charge You!
But If You Say One Word, It's 50 Dollars."

Morris and Esther Agreed -- and up They Went.

The Pilot Did All Kinds of Fancy Maneuvers.

But Not a Word Was Heard. He Did His Daredevil Tricks over and over Again, But Still Not a Word.

When They Landed, the Pilot Turned to Morris. He Said, "By Golly, I Did Everything g I Could to Get You to Yell Out, But You Didn't. I'm Impressed!"

Morris Replied, "Well, I Was Going to Say Something When Esther Fell Out,
But 50 Dollars Is 50 Dollars!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Critical Hits example from World War I I

'Operations resumed on 11 April. An attack was scheduled to win back the lost sections of the main road. The attack failed, however. The next morning three tigers moved forward to halt probing Soviet forces. Commanding the lead tank was Sergeant Major Sanderring, one of the “old hands” of the Panzer arm. This attack provided a demonstration of the damage a lucky hit from a Russian anti-tank rifle could inflict on a Tiger tank. A well-concealed Soviet soldier took aim at the tank of the sergeant major as the Tigers approached. He fired his antitank rifle from a range of fifty meters. The round penetrated of one of the copula vision slits. Sergeant Major Sanderring was killed instantly. A single Soviet soldier had accomplished what several T-34s were often unable to do: put a Tiger out of action.'

Frank Kurowski,
Panzer Aces

Monday, January 3, 2011

Origins of Myth

The bones of the dimetrodon discovered by ancient Greeks were the inspiration for a classical and persistent mythological monster.

What do we have here?

body and tail of a lion,
head and claws of an eagle,
and long support bones,
. . . it must be a GRIFFIN !