Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Eternally Born

“'Yes, awaken now likewise, my beloved children, to the dream which you are.' Sylvaeon has been eternally born..."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fairies of Autumn

Autumn in Sylvaeon is both a time of solemnity and celebration.
As the leaves turn with all of their majestic colors, it is a time of fading. The flowers and leaves depart for a time, from Autumn into the season of dying, which is the Winter. Yet, with the withering of the blossoms and the falling of the leaves, the magic of Sylvaeon is not diminished. Each petaled flower, each fallen leaf is but a fairy waiting to be freed again, only to come back in the Spring.

As they are released, the beloved little friends come before She-of-Auburn-Hair for that season's celebration with all of the citizens of the Seelie Court.

She-of-Auburn-Hair greets each one with a kiss and a gift. The time for festivity and preparation for the long Winter begins...

Friday, August 24, 2012

The New Castles & Crusades Players Handbook

I got my copies in the mail yesterday of the new Castles & Crusades Players Handbook (5th Printing). It is beautifully done, with color illustrations throughout. 

The font for regular text is not too bad for these older eyes, being 9 or 10 pt. It could have been larger, but it is still very legible. The font size is my only minor gripe, but I am middle-aged, so you know how that goes ;)

The layout of the rule book is fantastic, arranged cleanly, marking off individual sections well. Of note are the spells towards the back of the book. Finding a spell is about as easy as it can be for a spell list. I know I despise fumbling around looking for the details of how a spell works and not being able to get to it quickly. This should not be a problem for the player or Castle Keeper (GM).

Standard races and classes are deliniated with their prime requisite attribute listed near the class name header.

I am always interested in how a game describes how an RPG works. Here is a portion of the description emphasizing the role aspect of roleplaying in the C&C Players handbook:

"Most players in RPGs create a fictional character as one of the protagonists of the story. Each player envisions the character they would like to play, and creates the character using the game’s rules, recording information about that character onto paper. While the characters exist only on paper, each player helps to propel the story forward by imaginatively and actively playing the character’s persona."

I think it was a wise choice for me to back this Kickstarter project. I backed the Classic Monsters book, too; add in the Castle Keepers book and I now have a nice 3 book set... everything one needs to play Castles & Crusades :)

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the new C&C Players Handbook!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Re: Numenera – More on Experience Points

Numenera – More on Experience Points:

'via Blog this'

From the Design Diary article by Monte Cook:
"Players decide how they want to use the xp they earn. There are short, medium, and long-term uses. The short-term, immediate use for an xp is that you can use 1 xp to immediately reroll any die on the table (even one someone else rolls). This is pretty straightforward.
Medium-term uses are a bit more costly (but not much) and are usually story-based. A player can spend xp, for example, while climbing through the mountains and say that these mountains are just like those found in the region where she grew up. In those mountains, she is skilled in climbing. This helps her at that time, and any time she might return, but it’s not as though she’s skilled in climb everywhere. This might cost, say, 2 xp. Alternatively, another character, with a bunch of numenera components, might spend xp to cobble together a device that allows him to breathe underwater, because he wants to explore a submerged complex. This gives him that ability for a considerable length of time but probably not permanently. Again, the story and the logic of what’s going on dictate the parameters.

Long-term uses of xp are more costly still, and permanently affect a character. For 4 xp, you can gain training in a skill, increase your stat pools, improve your ability to use effort, and so on. When you do this four times, you gain a level (which in and of itself has some advantages)."

In my Sylvaeon campaign, I have been developing a similar idea of Wyrd Points. Each character starts out with 1 or 2 Wyrd points. They can be used to cause effects during game play. I never thought of using them for character development. I am increasingly interested in the ideas that Numenera will offer and already has offered in these design diaries. It is making me rethink things about my own game. That alone is making Numenera worth backing, but I am sure the setting and mechanics will both be worth the wait. Around a year off, I am already chomping at the bit for Numenera and it isn't anywhere near finalized yet ;)

Today I ordered some clay poker chips to give players to keep track of their Wyrd points they start with and/or earn during the game. They can turn them in to "spend" them on game effects. I need to revisit Wyrd - which variously means something akin to Fate, Doom and Luck all combined into one. I want to see if I can let players gain and use Wyrd to add to the growth of their characters in ways I might not have even remotely considered before.

- Jeffrey

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monolith From Beyond Space and TIme Has Arrived!

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A green devil-faced baby was left on my doorstep!!!

These just came in the mail today: The Monolith From Beyond Space and TIme adventure module and the Green Devil Face 5 Zine. A quick perusal of Monolith shows it to be of very good quality and in digest size, so it is just right to sit next to my Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Grindhouse Edition boxed set.

As I have said before, my now retired Cleric, Brother Damien Bernard, was created using LotFP. I have to find a way to stick him in this adventure module as an NPC! I have no review as such here. I am just glad my copy arrived :)

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

My take on "Experience Points and the Numenera GM" as revealed so far

Monte Cook wrote in his Design Diary recently about how XP (Experience Points) or the equivalent is headed towards in the upcoming Sci-Fantasy RPG, Numenera. What strikes me about the post is that it takes a fairly good Gamemaster to pull off what he is proposing. Please indulge this lengthy quote, as it describes best what the mechanic would look like:

"For the GM, experience points are a narrative tool. The GM can introduce complications into the game that affects a specific player whenever it seems appropriate, but when he does so, he offers that player 1 xp. The player can “refuse” it, but then it costs the player 1 xp.

Here’s how that might work in play. Say the PCs find a hidden console with some buttons. They learn the right order to press the buttons, and a section of the floor disappears (this happened in the second playtest session I wrote about). As GM, I don’t have the players specifically tell me where they’re standing. Instead, I give one player an XP and say, “unfortunately, you are standing directly over this new hole in the floor.” Now, if he wanted, the player could refuse the XP and spend one of his own, and then he would say, “I leap aside to safety.” Or, he could just make the defensive roll that the GM calls for and let it play out."

Ok, I can dig that there is interaction between the PCs and the Gm as to what may actually happen in play. I can dig that the player can refuse the XP award and try to avoid the complication at hand. I dig that the player, if they accept the XP award can also pass one to another player for what they deem as good roleplaying of some sort. What may be difficult for lesser-experienced Gamemasters to do is to not railroad the PCs. However, Monte deals with that in the design post rather well.

I think it is a good mechanic as so far proposed (we shall see more about this later) because it actually teaches the Gm to be a better GM. I am not saying I am the best GM, because I am always evolving as one. As a GM that likes to do as much on-the-fly game mastering as possible, keeping my prep time for my sandbox wilderness hex crawl campaign to a minimum. I like this approach, because it is interactive. It puts the story of the game first instead of only the purely random factors of roleplaying, which are important in their own right, but are not always desired for either the players or the GM.

In my Sylvaeon game, I give the players "Wyrd" points that may be used to avoid or cause certain circumstance to be. That is a bit different than what Mr. Cook is proposing, but it is similar enough to make me want to know more about this XP system, because I may well adopt/modify it for my own uses.

Monte Cook notes: "Obviously, this kind of thing requires a light hand." I agree wholeheartedly. The risk of this mechanic seems worth the outcome. I feel it will introduce into the game something that many are missing: a synthesis that creates flexibility and greater creativity for a truly interactive experience that has the best of both storytelling games and random dice games It seems to be a balanced approach, which is usually a good thing when it comes to RPGs. I am looking forward to trying it out.

That is my two cents for what I have seen so far. I could be wrong and misunderstanding things, but even if I am, this design diary entry has me thinking.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Effects Using Polearms

This is a woodcut showing an unhorsing during a joust!

I like the shattered lance that the unhorsed guy got on the opposing knight. If he hadn’t gotten unhorsed while doing so, he would have won the round for the fact that his lance splintered striking his opponent.


Draft of Custom Attack Style(s) and Effects Using Polearms for RuneQuest 6 (and similar percentile rulesets) by Jeffrey Osthoff

Factors that affect the game mechanics of using polearms against an opponent in combat:

1. The polearm has what is called a Very Long reach.

2. When parrying against a hitting attack by a polearm, a successful parry with a Medium-sized weapon deflect half damage; Short weapons deflect none. Weapons of Large size or greater deflect all damage that a polearm would have inflicted.

3. A successful “attack” with a set polearm causes doubled damage to a charging opponent.

4. An attack with a polearm against a mounted opponent that is a critical success is eligible to have the Effect of “unhorsing” or dislodging the mounted opponent from their mount if the attacker so desires. This is done by hooking the opponent with the polearm, concussing the rider, etc. as the attacking character chooses.

5. However, the mounted character with a remaining action point can attempt to parry with a Large-sized weapon or great er OR uses a Dodge or similar manoeuvre can avoid the forced dismount if they are also critically successful. Damage done during the attack is treated as per #2 above.

6. A fallen rider also takes any applicable falling damage caused by the forced dismount.

7. Any remaining actions that a fallen opponent has are lost for the rest of the combat round.
8. If charging with a polearm or using it set, any damage caused to the weapon by a shield, parry, etc. counts against the weapon's own hit points and may cause it to break. Damage caused to an opponent by impalement may also cause further Incapacitation as per the Impalement Effects Chart on p.147 of the RuneQuest 6 rules book.


This is just a draft and there are a few things I want to add, remove and refine about it. Any comments, criticism or help is appreciated!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I backed Monte Cook's Numenera project yesterday.
It was a no-brainer for me, because he is designing this Sci-Fantasy setting.

I am intrigued by the simple character creation in 3 choices and the emphasis on the actual play rather than a ton of cumbersome rules. It has a d20 mechanic, which I like; but even in my own games, I use the dice as a random factor or representative of a chance of success, not as a hindrance. I prefer more free form Gamemastering and letting the action move along at its own pace than bogging down under rules, so Numenera seems like it will be a winner for me!

Numenera sounds like the far-future setting I have been looking for. Check out the links below for more informatio.

Numenera Kickstarter Project:

What's In a Name: Numenera:

I am certain I will have more to post about this game as time goes on.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Autumnal Wonder

The magnificent Lady in her Autumn aspect
Seasons and rhythms are very important in Sylvaeon. Everything cosmological, if in harmony with the Realm, occurs at its appointed time. As such, it is only appropriate that this blog's theme change as it always does with the passage of one phase of the mystery to another.

The Autumn Court is a time of festivity for the Fey Folk of Sylvaeon, when they present themselves before the Lady, whose raiment has changed into the colors of Fall. During this season, the Lady is known as She of Auburn Hair, for her appearance has changed - and the Realm matches it with its own display. Lovely and serene as she mingles with her loyal Fey subjects, the changing of the seasons gives great pleasure to the Fair Lady. During it, she shows her most generous aspect to them. Gifts are given to the myriad citizens of the realm in appreciation of their devotion to the magical Fairy Queen. All are thankful for the peace and the magical land she has created for their benefit. All love her and rejoice.

This little fairy on the blog background is prepared to see her Queen and partake of the feast and fun that only the Fey know. Mortal man and others thank the Lady for her blessings of the harvest and prepare for the Winter ahead, confident that all will be well.

Wallpaper in public domain at:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Previously Unrevealed Region of Sylvaeon

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This is an area in the western part of the continent where my Sylvaeon campaign primarily takes place. The city of Seahaven is situated on a bay in the South Western hex side of this regional map. Seahaven is not very old, in game terms. It is populated by mostly humans. It has existed in its present incarnation for about 500 years, but the land had been settled several times before in ancient times, the city being built upon the older ruins.

Seahaven is effectively a city state. It is ruled over by a regency and a bicameral parliament - one of the noblility and the other made up of civilian merchants and many political factions).

By the way, my players have never seen a population center larger than a village at this point... though they have been told that cities do exist!

This is only a draft map of the area, made with Hexographer, which I am still learning.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another Tales From Wilderland Update

Another update on Cubicle 7's Tales From Wilderland :

Supposedly, the new release date of Tales From Wilderland core book for The One Ring rpg is now September 5th-10th according to Amazon.

Let's hope it finally comes out!

My Use of Technology For Roleplaying Games

My Nook Color ready for 2e game
Many of the Old School Renaissance folks are linked together as a community because of technology. Things like Skype or Google+ Hangouts allow gamers from all over the world to enjoy RPGs through the magic of technology [I suspect Tinker Gnomes created these things].

I use Google+ to be alerted when a fellow gamer posts on their blog, because many tell us on G+ that they have updated it. For me, it is easier than using an RSS feed application, because I just have too many blogs I like to keep track that way. I do the same thing on GooglePlus, making a note there to my Roleplaying circle that I have a new post on this blog.

There are players and GM's that use laptops and smart phones, etc. to aid in game play in face-to-face sessions. Dice rollers are a common use of tech, as well as having character sheets that can be altered fluidly during the game, available in real time to both the player and GM simultaneously. I personally have used Rock and Roll Dice Roller on my Mac and Google Docs for character sheets and other information that can be accessed from any computer. Documents in or uploaded to Google Docs can be made available to only yourself or to anyone you wish.

For my AD&D 2nd edition face-to-face game, I have decided to use my Nook Color to hold tables and my pdfs of gaming materials. RPGNow and DrivveThruRPG are merged, and are great sites to purchase gaming pdfs of all sorts. Many helpful electronic aids are also free for the downloading!

It is probably obvious that in the 21st century technology of some sort has crept into roleplaying. The types of application of tech in RPGs is almost endless. I used to be a pen & paper purist until recently. Google+ has done a lot to change my mind... which is something new my own 35+ year gaming experience. I feel I am better off as a player and GM by using such technology wisely.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Update on Tales From Wilderland

Good news was given as a response to my comment on the recent Cubicle 7 YouTube video about Tales From Wilderland:

And there was much rejoicing!!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Starships & Spacemen

Picture of the Captain of a starship having crew order pizza for lunch

I finally bit the bullet at the home stretch and contributed to Goblinoid Games reboot of Starships & Spacemen. I remember seeing it advertised in Dragon Magazine a lot back in the day, but I never had the loot to pick it up. Now I can!

The idea of playing something on the order of OST with Starships & Spacemen makes me remember playing Star Trek in the yard as a kid. I will just have to make sure that this time, there are plenty of green women and a reptilian Gorn to kill with an improvised shotgun. What is especially cool, is that it fits together with the Labyrinth Lord ruleset. Goblinoid made this statement about their fidelity of certain aspects of the game and the streamlining of certain rules:

"This second edition of the classic game is compatible with Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future. The best elements of the first edition have been kept--the classes and subclasses, the excellent starship rules, and the space adventuring rules. Classes, races, and abilities have been made more in line with Labyrinth Lord.

This second edition has elements that let you customize the style of play whether you prefer an "original series" feel, a "next generation" feel, or something in between."

Click this link for more info
Starships & Spacemen Second Edition 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tales From Wilderland Release Info

The printed copy of Tales From Wilderland, the second core book of three slated for The One Ring rpg is supposed to be released today (but I think "this month" will be more realistic... I hope I am incorrect. I have pre-ordered a copy of this on Amazon and hope to see SHIPPED appear on my order list soon ;)

Only recently, I read through my copy of The One Ring prg rules, so I am no expert on The One Ring, but I know what I like. The faithfully Tolkien flavor this game evokes is incredible. I am hoping Tales From Wilderland will sustain that atmosphere, while adding extras to one of the coolest Hobbit / Lord of the Rings derived games ever!

I will update when I actually receive my copy :)

Here is a video regarding Tales From Wilderland that was posted at Cubicle7's website this morning
With the print release of Tales from Wilderland fast approaching, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan discusses the book and his work on The One Ring line. Part one in a series:

Original link:

EDIT: I originally pre-ordered Tales of Wilderland last year when it was scheduled to come out in December. Then the release date was changed to August 1, 2012, so I cancelled. As of tonight, there is no sign of it being released on Amazon or on the Cubicle 7 forums. As a matter of fact, there is some hubbub about a cancellation of another pre-order The One RIng product that was supposed to come out at GenCon. Rumors of licensing issues with the Tolien estate abound, but there is nothing definitive being said by Cubicle 7 yet. I hope this doesn't point toward the potential of TOR products not ever being released again :(

Also, PDFs of The One Ring products are no longer for sale. Another suspicious development, to be sure.

For some of the gossip, official statements and confiding of fears that the TOR line may be dead , scroll back and forth amongst the pages of this forum thread:

Live TOR, live !!!

RuneQuest 6 Sneak Preview

Here is a video done by one of the designers of RuneQuest 6 previewing the print copy. Below this video, I will share a brief post I did on GooglePlus to my Roleplaying circle. Enjoy!

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You gotta love when "Abacus" and "Astrolabe" are standard-listed pieces of equipment that are possible for characters to purchase in an RPG ;)

The free 78pp Games Master's Pack for RuneQuest 6 is fantastic!
Free RQ6 Games Masters Pack