Showing posts from February, 2011

Notes from the Master - On Writing Weird Fiction by H.P. Lovecraft

This is not just great advice for writers of weird fiction, but could easily translate into great advice for the crafting of weird adventures.
Notes On Writing Weird Fiction by H.P. Lovecraft
My reason for writing stories is to give myself the satisfaction of visualising more clearly and detailedly and stably the vague, elusive, fragmentary impressions of wonder, beauty, and adventurous expectancy which are conveyed to me by certain sights (scenic, architectural, atmospheric, etc.), ideas, occurrences, and images encountered in art and literature. I choose weird stories because they suit my inclination best - one of my strongest and most persistent wishes being to achieve, momentarily, the illusion of some strange suspension or violation of the galling limitations of time, space, and natural law which forever imprison us and frustrate our curiosity about the infinite cosmic spaces beyond the radius of our sight and analysis. These stories frequently emphasise the element of horr…

Links of DOOM - 02/26/11

I have moved the links of DOOM to this auspicious day in the hopes of staving off the inevitable apocalypse for yet another week. As always reading the links is one of the best ways of protecting yourself and all of us from the eldritch darkness that dwells just out of mind.

Apparently D&D is dead. Someone should tell Mike Mearls.

A nice little dungeon entrance from A Paladin in Citadel.

All the best stories emerge from play.

Who is Solomon Kane? - This is how to write a proper description of a bad ass by R.E. Howard.

What do you do when the game turns dull?

The best magic sword description ever written.

The Regulars

Visit the Underdark Gazette for all your OSR news.

Chicago Wiz always has something good to say.

Visit A Paladin in Citadel, because he's awesome.


Visit my wife's adorable blog My adorable small town life.

Check out the art at J.H. Schmitz Art.

Visit Viking Dad, for a dose of Viking goodness.

Read the Happy Whisk for all the best culinary awesomeness.

Saturday Sorcery - The Ghost Scroll

This magical item appears as if it were a normal blank parchment placed in an elaborately carved scroll casement. If detect magic (or equivalent type spell) is cast, it will register a slight magical residue and after some time glowing runes will appear on the outer casing. The runes give instruction on the ghost scrolls use and dangers.

To use this item you simply write a question on the parchment. Any question of any complexity will do. When the question is written in full, the ink will absorb into the parchment. It is is then placed back in its case and left overnight. Be careful what you ask, for there are many things that should remain unknown.

In the morning an answer to the question will be written on the scroll.

The magic used to create and use this item is a type of necromancy, and like all necromancy it can be unpredictable and dangerous. The scroll summons a spirit that can see and access most mortal, astral and ethereal knowledge and then relay that information to the scro…

Awesome Pic of the Week

This is another great piece of art by my good friend James H. Schmitz. This is a particular favorite of mine. I love monsters, and I especially love it when monsters wreck shit -- and seeing that this picture shows a monster, and that monster is wrecking shit...  well my friends, that is a double awesome.

Visit J.H. Schmitz Art for more cool stuff.

Monks Suck

Continuing the idea of sucky character classes from C.D.'s last post, I humbly present the Monk.

Monks in D&D suck. They sucked bad in 1st Edition, they sucked bad in 3rd Edition, and even now they suck more than a little. The only edition they didn't suck in was 2nd Edition.

But that's because they weren't there.

I suppose my beef against the Monk class is not so much in its intended function but in the players who choose to try and play it. Never has a class been more rooted in a heightened form of reality than the Monk. Except maybe the Thief/Rogue, but I can't say anything bad about them or they'll steal my coinpurse.

Now see, I've always had this understanding that a monk was a fairly religious fellow who didn't care much for the company of those that didn't share his belief. Or, so I've gleamed from various PBS documentaries. I'm sure things are a little different in real life. But I've yet to encounter a player who understood how …

Why Clerics (Still) Suck

There are some jobs that are just terrible. Cleaning industrial septic tanks. Being that kid with the drum at the front line of those old army battles. Even working on a porno set, which one would think is the best employment in the world, has at least one position that downright sucks (pardon the pun). Seriously, would you want to be the guy that has to mop up/towel down/hose off the actors and set afterward? Depending on the genre of movie being filmed, you may have some seriously screwed up stuff to deal with.

Know what’s even worse than all of those things? Being the cleric for an adventuring party.

It used to be worse. Through third edition, clerics were treated like a walking first aid kit. You were one of those little boxes with a red cross on them like in Wolfenstein or Doom, but with sexy legs that stick out of the bottom (that’s how I always pictured clerics, anyway). Your job was to cast healing spells, and if you ran out of healing spells you got out of the way whil…

Links of DOOM - 02/17/11

Blah, blah, blah... read these, doom, something, something.

The Links

Zak of Playing D&D with Porn Stars and Greg Christopher of the Errant RPG Blog had a very long discussion about sex and gaming, at least that's what I think it's about.

Zak is also hosting a Female Gamer Roundtable discussion at his blog, be sure to check it out.

Tim from Gothridge Manor created a most excellent adventure called Knowledge Illuminates.

Favourite Mini painting Blog

Painting Mum - Ana's Blog

The guy who I blame for my current obsession with mini painting Blogs

Porky's Expanse

The Regulars

Visit the Underdark Gazette for all your OSR news.

Chicago Wiz always has something good to say.

Visit A Paladin in Citadel, because he's awesome.


Visit my wife's adorable blog My adorable small town life.

Check out the art at J.H. Schmitz Art.

Visit Viking Dad, for a dose of Viking goodness.

Read the Happy Whisk for all the best culinary awesomeness.

The soundtrack of a game

Just a short post today, posing a question I had never even considered (being the newb I am) until last weekend.

Do you use music to set the mood when you game?

To me, even the thought of music intruding upon my gaming session would have been distressing just a short time ago. Then I ended up listening to a song out of Apocalyptica's Inquisition Symphony album during a game last weekend and I must say, it actually did add to the atmosphere. Everyone agreed to try adding in a little music some other time, though I want to be very careful with it, seeing as I still think too much background noise could be utterly distracting with my group.

But now that the seed has been planted, the ideas roam rampant and unchecked. I'm thinking of using some Blue Öyster Cult for a Mutant Future game I've got planned. Can't argue that Dancing in the Ruins would make for an...interesting mood setter.

I suppose it only goes to say that as an icebreaker a bit of music can help set the tone and …

Female Gamer Roundtable

Female gamers, if you haven't already heard, head over to Playing D&D with Porn Stars and join in the female gamer roundtable discussion that's going on. Zak has opened up his blog for this important (and entertaining, and awesome) dialogue between female gamers. This has the potential to be a very enlightening and fun thing.

So if you're a female gamer, stop wasting time here, and head over to Playing D&D with Porn Stars and join in the discussion.

Love, Sex & Dice

Because of the special romantic holiday we celebrate this week, I decided to come up with a special romantic theme article. Did you know that February 15th was National Flag of Canada Day?

Of course, the holiday I'm referring to is Valentine's Day, and the special theme is lovin' and bangin' in role-playing games. For those of you who are uncomfortable with this topic, you can stop reading now, and go here instead.

Does love and sex have a place in table-top role-playing games? It obviously has a place in video RPGs, if Final Fantasy VIII and Dragon Age are any indication (WARNING: That second link is probably NSFW). But many players are uncomfortable acting this at the table and I can't really blame them. Sitting around the dining room table with four other sweaty guys drinking Dr. Pepper and eating Cheetos can make it hard to look into your friend's eyes and profess your undying love for him - I mean, his character, Mistress Clitoria Hexblade. It's…

What Makes RPG's Awesome?

Lately there's been some negativity floating around in blog land (negativity on the Internet, no way) about the relative suckiness of RPG's. I want no part of this kind of flame baiting, it's unproductive and doesn't actually inspire any type of worthwhile discussion (no worthwhile discussion on the Internet, no way... yeah I get it). I like to try and be as positive and encouraging as I can about our shared hobby. I know it's hard sometimes, but I'll take positive and encouraging over reading grown men bitch about games any day.

So lets all try and create some old school positive vibes here, and ask ourselves a very important question:

What makes RPG's awesome?

I asked the other writers here at Rule of the Dice to contribute to this post as well, and this is what we all came up with...

RPG's give you a chance to hang out with people who are your friends, or at the very least share your interests - Unless you're a sociopath or Raistlin Majere, you pr…

Dying is good...sort of.

What is the most fun part of being a GM? Creating the worlds your players inhabit? Crafting the story they will play out? No! The most fun part, as any good GM knows, is slaying the PCs in the most horrific ways imaginable. Sometimes with maniacal laughter.

But when the big moment comes and you are about to enjoy a chortlingly delightful TPK, you chicken out, or maybe one of your players begins to whine and complain that you aren't playing fair. Well, it's true. If you deliberately enjoy slaughtering the PCs that adventure in your world, you probably deserve to be called a bastard and a terrible GM. I know I do.

This is actually how most of my campaigns end.

But even assuming you aren't a psycho killer out to crush your players' will into a sticky red paste, you will most likely encounter the same problem: A player complaining you are being unfair, even if you play it completely straight and let the dice dictate the terms.

I've had a player who was an otherwise exce…

Steal This Map

I ran a short steampunk campaign a while back and whipped this up. The background is from an earlier hand drawn map to which I added the Campaign Cartographer symbols (Oh Photoshop you make my life so much easier). I usually prefer to draw my maps, but I needed something quickly (even though it still took two weeks to make... I'm a perfectionist). It turned out pretty good, but alas that campaign has come and gone, and now this map needs a new home, so please...

Steal this map.

Enjoy the map, and let me know if you use it in your game.

Several people have inquired whether they could my maps in their commercial (for profit) projects. The answer is: No, you cannot use these maps for any commercial project. Read the creative commons copyright below.

But, if you are a DIY RPG person, with little to no money, and really want to use one of the maps for something that you're working on, that might earn you a bit of money, let me know. We c…

2 Simple Rules for Being a Teenage Game Master

I don’t claim to be an expert Dungeon/Game Master. I’m not bad, and while I’ve been doing this on and off for years, I haven’t had time to play four times a week since I was seventeen. I recognize that I’m probably behind on those 10,000 hours it takes to master a particular skill. However, I have played a variety of games over that time: some great (Star Wars d6, Most version of D&D) and some god-awful (anything with Kevin Siembieda’s name on the cover). I’ve also played with a huge variety of people: from old-timers who actually played with Gary Gygax (and Kevin Siembieda, ironically) to non-gamers playing for the first time, to WoW addicts going through withdrawal to my 10-year old sister. I’ve probably had a much higher female-to-male ratio at my tables than most, which may have coloured my perceptions (and probably instilled much better manners) and I’ve led groups ranging in size from as few as 1 player to as many as 12.

(What did I learn from playing with 12 players? …

Introducing New Players to the Game - Part II

A while ago I did a post about introducing new players to the game. It was written as part of the  introduction for the RPG that I've been labouring over since July. My goal was to explain some general principles for better play. I felt that these ideas could give new players some guidance when gearing up for their first foray into the unknown world of tabletop RPG's. 

I received some comments that I feel are worthwhile adding to the original post, and have decided to re-post the central "playing well" section of the article with these new additions (names are highlighted).

Playing Well While it may be impossible to define “playing well” in a completely objective way, it is certainly possible to give general guidelines to aid new players participating in a role playing game for the first time. The following is a simple list of general principles that can help anyone play better.
General principles for better play:
Your ingenuity as a player is far more important than wha…

Saturday Sorcery - Old-Timey Magic Items

John has other commitments this week, and since my last post generated such a positive response, he asked me to fill in for him on Saturday Sorcery to talk about something magic-itemy.

If there's something I miss in 4E (well, there's a few things, actually, but this one stands out), it's the weird and crazy magical items. Nearly all the items in the latest edition are combat oriented (since nearly the entire game is now combat oriented), and without so much time spent exploring and discovering, you have far fewer opportunities to throw in items that encourage (or discourage) said exploration. Part of the problem is that they've moved the magic items from the Dungeon Master's Guide and put them in the Player's Handbook - it turned them from mysterious, forbidden artifacts of forgotten lore into a shopping list. Reading the gear section of the 4E PHB is like looking through a walkthrough guide for Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft.

Do you have a +5 vorpal holy…

Review: The Horror at Dagger Rock

Review: The Horror at Dagger Rock

(Disclaimer: When writing reviews I don't bother with a numerical rating. I give my thoughts and opinions on a product, no more, no less. I suppose you could call it an "overview" rather than straight review. If you really want some kind of verdict, skip straight to the bottom where I list pros and cons. I should also warn that spoilers are inevitable though I shall try to keep them to a minimum.)

I had four players who had never played 3.5/Pathfinder, but who all wanted me to run them a game when the holidays ended. Being at a loss as to what would be best to run for them I resorted to looking for a cheap/free module I could toss at them while they learned the basics. Free, as always, took precedence, but then I'm cheap. Yes, the kind of cheap that hasn't bought a new article of clothing for nearly three years.

And why bother when consignment stores have what I need? But I'm digressing...back on topic.

So I went with The Horr…