Statistics In Gaming

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

I've always found statistics in sports to be interesting.  The ability to step back and look at a large amount of data and draw conclusions that one might not have arrived at otherwise is interesting to me.  So it follows that I also find statistics in gaming of interest. 

I find that my interest is never so keen as when playing Hackmaster (4th or Basic).  The various weapon selections and, perhaps most of all, penetration dice, really make the statistics of the game interesting.  Recently, while making characters for our camping game,  one of the members of my group made a weapon damage spread sheet to try to figure out what type of damage he wanted to use.  He charted our the various weapons he was interested in, the types of bonuses he could expect toward damage, and also factored in the DR his foe would be receiving from the armor they were wearing.

D&D Touchscreen

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Man... this is just cool.

Surfacescapes Demo Walkthrough from Surfacescapes on Vimeo.

Website Woes

Posted by Labyrinthian in

I want to apologize for the technical difficulties we've been experiencing as of late.  The site was down for a few hours, as some of you noticed, and it was a real pain to get back up. 

But out of this mini disaster comes Polls!  Something I was unable to make work before (for reasons I still don't understand).  So please feel free to vote!  Our first poll is what is your favorite gaming system. 

D&D 3.5 is off to an early lead! 

Diary of a Gamer: Pathfinder Begins

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

My group has officially moved from Hackmaster Basic to Paizo's Pathfinder.  We have had two sessions of Pathfinder now, a session dedicated entirely to character generation and the first session of play.  

The character generation session really didn't go as well as I would have hoped.  My biggest problem was deciding what kind of character to play.  I had originally planned on playing a Half-Elf Druid and had a character concept in mind, but when I really considered the Druid I decided I didn't want to deal with all the paperwork that went with the class.  Keeping track of an animal companion, stat differences for various Wild Shapes, etc was just not for me.  At least not on the first run through the new system.  Before I move on I should clarify, I don't dislike the Pathfinder Druid.  If anything I like it much MORE than its 3.5 counterpart.  Paizo did an amazing job making the class a balanced one.

More Casting

Posted by Labyrinthian in

Some more casting news has been announced for HBO's 'A Game of Thrones' Pilot.  Here's the rundown...

Benjen Stark - Joseph Mawle
Bran Stark - Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Illyrio Mopatis - Ian McNeice
Khal Drogo -  Jason Momoa
Ser Rodrik Cassell - Ron Donachie
Maester Luwin - Donald Sumpter

Some minor characters who have been cast include...

If Gamers Ruled the World

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

 One thing that I don't believe I've ever mentioned on this site is that I am getting married in the near future. (Let the Doomsday jokes commence!) I only mention it now because it is an important fact that leads to an amusing story.

I'm not as opinion-less a Groom as are many of my friends. I have worked with my fiancée on our wedding and have made all the decisions together, at least until recently. One decision had us both digging our heels in, the photographer. We interviewed several photographers and each of us found one that we really liked.

That was in July.

Parchment Test Map

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

I figured I would throw this map up. This was my parchment test map where I was testing out some things including some custom brushes I made. The font on the map is called Hobbiton and can be found over at DaFont.

I still haven't gotten any more work done on my Caliburn parchment map... oh well.

Simple Colors

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

I've been seeing a lot of maps I like that use simple colors for a clean look. I decided to give the idea a go with a test map (seen below). The map isn't of an actual setting, it was just something made up quickly to give the style a whirl.

Overall I like the look. I may use it later on an actual map in one of my games.

The Three Pillars of GMing. Or, Why Being the Best Just isn't Good Enough.

Posted by Unknown

I’m the best writer I know. I’m sorry if that comes off as arrogant, but, truth be told, I don’t really believe in false modesty. English has always been my favorite subject in school, and, despite my atrocious spelling, it’s always been something I’ve been good at. I savor the moments when I’m standing in line at the supermarket, the DMV or wherever and two unrelated ideas come together at the exact right moment to create that spark. The flurry of action in my head as I try to create, dismiss, refine and connect ideas to that first amalgamation of random thoughts is what I live for. Putting those thoughts down on paper is another matter entirely.

By this point, you might be wondering what this has to do with gaming. Or, perhaps, you’ve seen though my flowery first paragraph and have a good idea of where this is going. To those people, I say, “Yes. You’re very smart. Shut up”. To everyone else, I must confess that the ruination of our HMB game was completely my fault. Were the final two combats overpowering to the party? I’ve thought about it a lot, and, truthfully, I don’t believe they were. Even so, the TPK isn’t what ended that game. The apathetic atmosphere I created was the death knell, and I was in sole possession of the clapper. I stated before that I don’t believe in false modesty, and it’s true. For that to be a virtue, you have to also be willing to face hard truths, and I do my best to keep that true of myself. So here it is, the cold, hard truth…I suck as a GM.

Pre-Generated HMB Characters

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Someone over on Kenzer's Hackmaster board was lamenting the lack of pre-generated Hackmaster Basic characters out there. Since I am no longer playing Hackmaster Basic I figured creating some pre-gens would be a good way to stay involved with the system.

Here is the the first of the pre-gens, Samuel Goodwin. Samuel is a human lawful good cleric of The True. I'll be posting at least three other pre-gens, a Dwarven Fighter, An Elven Magic User, and a Halfling Thief. All the characters are using the great excel character sheet that I mentioned here.

Stay Tuned...

Knights of the Dinner Table

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

For those of you who don't know I Love Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT). It is the only comic book that I still buy, and the only subscription I have to any magazine. With Dragon and Dungeon both gone, it never ceases to impress me how KoDT continues to thrive.

Recently I planned on doing a review of each issue here. The reason you haven't seen one is that I haven't seen KoDT as of late. I never got my July issue, ironically the first one I chose to review. I figured it was on its way, the mail can be really slow around here, so I gave it time. I never got my July issue, but the other day I did get my August issue.

Since I was fairly sure I wasn't ever likley to get it I called Kenzerco and let them know. Now, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I have a lot of respect for Kenzerco. I have been buying their products for years and I like what they do. KoDT, Hackmaster, Aces & Eights, they are all great products. I knew their work was good, but I wasn't sure about their customer service. I was pleased to find that their phone workers are friendly and helpful. They explained that it was no problem and that if I would send them an email confirmation they would get my issue out right away in the mail.

That was yesterday so obviously I don't have my issue yet. So no review, but like my July issue it is coming! This post was more about giving Kenzerco props on handing their business on all fronts, and letting you know that regualr KoDT reviews will be seen on this site in the near future.

Diary of a Gamer: The Best Laid Plans

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

My group had aspirations on finishing this Hackmaster Basic Game, but as I said in my last post, those went awry. One of my very good friends once said this of an unfortunate situation, "It was like a train wreck... you could see it coming, but you just couldn't stop it." And so it was with this game.

For weeks the game has been... off? I think that is the only way I could put it. The reason I haven't been updating my 'Diary of a Gamer' section is because for a few weeks there we just weren't playing. We all got together, we had our books and dice out, but the game just never started. Instead we would just sit around all night and talk about a variety of things.

That was the first sign that the game was in trouble. If the game takes a while to start it is usually because the group and/or the GM isn't that interested. In our case maybe it was both but for whatever reason the game just never started. That happened 2 or 3 times, but it wasn't as noticeable as it might have been because of the group camping trip, and problems with attendance for some players. Yet going into this week's game there was this sense that the game could end at any minute.

We were exploring a slavers dungeon and we were short handed. Bryan was at a work training event so that left only Christian, James, and myself as players. We were holding our own until we came into a chamber with a river running through it. There we were attacked by a giant crab. The crab killed MacDougal (James' character), annihilated Billy Mays (Christian's character), and nearly killed Gorman as well. Only my trusty battle axe and a well timed critical saved me from the same gruesome fate as my comrades.

In the aftermath of the fight I was unsure what the group's intentions were. I thought that was the end of the campaign right there, I was the only one left alive and not by much. But Christian and James gutted it out and rolled up new characters.

Cartographer's Corner

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

I started redoing my Caliburn map. It isn't that I don't like the old version, but I wanted a version that looks like an old parchment map. So I have the basic outline done and the paper effect looks great. Here is the base version...

I used some mountain, hill and tree bushes and just did a quick job to see what the map might look like. This was kind of a "slop and glob job" so don't read too much into it. When I go though and do it for real I plan on taking more than a few minutes to do it. Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way here it is...

Diary of a Gamer 10/08/09

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

It's the end of Hackmaster Basic as we know it. At least for my group. Last night the campaign came crumbling down around our ears. I'll get into details later, but let's just say it was a slight disaster that claimed the lives of five characters... for three players. So it looks like we will be starting the Pathfinder game a little earlier than we thought.

My opinion of Hackmaster Basic is extremely high. I remain greatly impressed with the system and eagerly await the release for Advanced Hackmaster. But for now, we turn our attention to Paizo's recently released Pathfinder RPG. I have some concerns about the system, but you really never know until you play the game.

A Dance With Dragons Update

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

GRRM has posted on his blog that A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, has just gone over 1,100 pages. That makes it longer than both A Game of Thrones and A Feast For Crows. He hopes the book is shorter than the 1,521 pages that comprised A Storm of Swords.

While it isn't news that the book is finished it is news that the end may be in sight! GRRM makes reference to finishing a Jon Snow chapter, but says that he hasn't yet worked though the chapter he calls "Meereenese Knot." Best of luck to him in his work!

Gamer Movie Review: Top 10 Sci-Fi

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

There are a ton of Sci-Fi games out there. Gamers love Sci-Fi, even those who choose not to play within the Genre. Whether you play Sci-Fi games or not there is a ton of inspiration to be drawn from the very best films the genre has to offer. Often the technology element in the story can be substituted for magic when playing in a fantasy game, making the transition easier than most people think.

So without further fanfare here is the list...


10. Back to the Future – Time travel is so rarely done well, but Back to the Future really hits a home run with it. The first one is great, but as happens so often, the subsequent films are not quite as good. Still, the whole trilogy is worth watching.

9. The Thing – Great setup for a film. This film is full of tension, as no one knows who has been taken over by the alien. One of Kurt Russell’s best.

8. Alien - Alien and Aliens are great. I try not to hold them responsible for Aliens 3, or anything AVP related.

7. Predator – Well if we couldn’t fit Conan in I’m glad we at least worked Arnold in! The Predator was a great film but those that came after it (Including the God awful AVP films) are not so good.

6. Blade Runner – Harrison Ford will always be known as Han Solo and Indian Jones, but if there is third thing he should be known for it is his role as Rick Deckard in Bladerunner. This movie is a must see for any Sci-Fi fan.

5. Terminator – Terminator 1 and 2 are great. The third film was bad (see below), but it wasn’t enough to ruin the franchise. Thus Arnold makes another well deserved appearance on our list.
4. The Matrix – Before you get on me about this one know that I am only talking about the first one. If you can think back to a time when it was the only one I am sure that you too loved this movie.

3. Star Trek – Whichever is your preference, I prefer the original. Star Trek has become a massive franchise, spanning television, movies, toys, and of course RPGs. Star Trek’s influence on pop culture and the Sci-Fi genre cannot be denied.

2. Serenity/Firefly – Yes, I put it higher than Star Trek. Let me have it, if you want, but I’m not changing it. Yes, I know I put Firefly on the Western list as well. No, I’m not changing that either. Color my coat brown, people. Serenity and Firefly are truly amazing works of art. If we have seen the last of it (God I hope not) then let me go on record as saying that Joss Whedon and Company did more with fourteen episodes and a movie than some people could do with three blockbuster films and endless resources (Yeah, I’m looking at you George Lucas). Margaret Weis Productions released a Serenity RPG in 2005. Those of you who love Serenity/Firefly are encouraged to check it out.

1. Star Wars – Ok now that I’ve ripped GL over his recent work let me talk briefly about why his older work earns the number one spot. Star Wars came from no where to have a huge impact on popular culture and the sci-fi genre. Then it did more. It has permeated our culture so much that its influence has spanned well beyond just inspiring science fiction. Star Wars is one of those timeless classics that nearly everyone has seen, and confessions of having not seen it are met with justified incredulity. As with Star Trek, Star Wars is a massive franchise now. Movies, television, books, and toys have been around for a long time. It has a long tradition of video games, the more recent Knight of the Old Republic series being extremely good. Let’s not forget the pen and paper RPGs as well. Star Wars ignites the imagination like few other things can, and it is only natural that gamers would be drawn to it.

Skip It
Predator 2
Terminator 3
The Matrix 2&3

Hackmaster Review by Gnome Stew: Part 2

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , ,

Part 2 of DNAPhil's Hackmaster Review is up on Gnome Stew and can be seen here. Again, this is a great review and I encourage everyone to check it out.

One final note is that The Labyrinth's own Revil Fox is mentioned in the review as giving the author a bit of advice on the count up system... Very cool.

Hackmaster Review by Gnome Stew

Posted by Labyrinthian in , , , ,

DNAPhil from Gnome Stew has posted the first part of his Hackmaster Basic Review. The vast majority of HMB reviews I have read (and I have read a lot) have been written by people who didn't read the book, and/or didn't play the game. I just don't understand how anyone can properly review a game they haven't read or played, but people do it. DNAPhil is guilty of no such thing and his review is very informative.

Just a reminder, this is only part one of his review, and it deals with character creation. Part two, involving a fight between the PCs and some wolves will be posted in the future (likley tomorrow).


Cartographer's Corner: Finished Stromgar

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Here is the final version of the Stromgar Map. Everything has been labeled and a few corrections have been made. The person I made it for was very happy with it, which is what matters most. Here it is...

Gamer Movie Review: Top 10 Westerns

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

Ah, the Western. An great genre when done well, but unfortunately it has been done badly and with more repetition than anyone would care to remember. When it comes to westerns and gaming I never thought the two mixed all that well. But that was before the release of Aces & Eights. That game truly blew me away, and if you haven't checked it out you really should.

With my favorite western RPG in mind, here is the list of the top 10 Gamer Westerns of all time.


10. Firefly (Series) - This one might take people by surprise, but if you haven't seen it believe me, Firefly really embraces the western genre. Yes they are in space some of the time, and yes this might appear on another list, but come on! This show did less with a full seasons than most shows do with several seasons.

9. High Noon - I originally saw this film in my Film Study Class. Classic film, with a basic but powerful premise, a showdown at High Noon.

8. Once Upon a Time in the West - Can you believe this movie was a financial flop in the US? Me neither. Many people consider this to be one of the greatest westerns of all time, and for good reason. The cast of this film is amazing.

7. The Searchers - John Wayne... nuff said.

6. Fist Full of Dollars - One of Eastwood's "Man with No Name" films. There is a reason there is more than one. The formula works and Eastwood is awesome.

5. 3:10 to Yuma - Either one. Both the original and the 2007 remake were both good. Wow... you can't say that very often.

4. The Magnificent Seven - Was a movie ever so set up to be a gamer movie? Seven men are brought together to protect a small village from a band of outlaws. Sounds like a great game to me.

3. The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly - This was my father's favorite western and we used to watch it a lot when I was a kid. In many ways this movie exemplifies everything that a western is. This movie is an enduring classic, and is heaped with praise even by modern filmmakers. Quentin Tarantino has said that he believes the film is the best directed film of all time.

2. Deadwood (Series) - This show was like a long running Aces and Eights game. This was a great series and is available on DVD. If you are planning on running or playing in a A&8 game, go pick it up.

1. Unforgiven - In my opinion the ultimate western. Eastwood is nothing short of amazing in this movie. It is gritty and realistic, and cuts through a lot of the glamorizing of how things were in the old west. This movie shows that one doesn't call his enemies out to the center of town, he waits until he is drunk and shoots him in the back. A Must See.

Skip It

Once Upon a Time in Mexico – TERRIBLE. What else can I say?

Texas Rangers

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

American Outlaws

Cartographer's Corner: Stromgar

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

This Stromgar map is a work in progress. Here is kind of the basic layout...

...and here is a more up to date version that has a "winterized" effect in the north as well as some labeling. I'm still waiting for cities, towns, forts, etc. So this is about as much as I can do for now.

Gamer Movie Review: Top 10 Children's Gamer Movies

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

Ok here is the top 10 list of Children's Movies. Remember these lists just pertain to Gamer movies, so don't be pissed when Snow White or Lion King isn't on there. This list was tough, there are a lot of good movies that could have been included, but I had to narrow it down to 10. Here goes...



10. The Labyrinth – Ok this isn’t shameless self promotion, I promise! This movie really was great, and kids still love it today. Jim Henson did an amazing job in this film… plus it has David Bowie. Bonus!

9. Conan the Adventurer – By Crom, it’s Conan again! This is actually a cartoon series that aired in the early 90’s. It should not be confused with the live action television series. To prevent confusion, and to give you a glimpse how awesome this cartoon was (It was like a D&D campaign in cartoon form) here is the intro! WARNING: Do not start the video unless you are prepared for something amazing.

8. Legend – Holy hell, it’s Tom Cruise before he lost his mind! This movie had one of the coolest and scariest looking villains in movie history.

7. The Chronicles of Narnia - Though they haven’t met with much commercial success these films are actually quite good. From magic items, to fantastic creatures, the Chronicles of Narnia have plenty of things that can be dropped right into your game.

6. The Wizard of Oz – I know some people are going to be pissed that his is so low on the list. If this was just about how great it was as children’s a movie it would probably be at the top followed by Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but this is about Gaming! That having been said there is still plenty of gamer inspiration to be drawn from the Wizard of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West is an archetype that can be used as a template for a villain in your own game.

5. The Goonies – Simply amazing. This remains one of my favorite films to this day. Spielberg and Donner really created a masterpiece with this one. It is also teeming with gaming inspiration. One Eyed Willie’s traps could fit into your own game to provide an unique challenge for your players.

4. The Harry Potter Series – JK Rowling is a very gifted writer. All of her books were very good, but the same cannot be said for the films. The first two, directed by Christopher Columbus, were excellent adaptation, but after that things get a bit more sketchy. Still the story is still there (or some of it at least) and the series has inspired millions and millions of people around the world. Voldemort is another classic villain that can provide inspiration for a villain in your own game.

3. The Neverending Story – The entire movie was meant to inspire the imagination and succeeds spectacularly. This movie really shows children that there are not limits to your imagination. It also provides a deal of bizarre creatures that can be put into any fantasy game.

2. Dungeons and Dragons – The beloved cartoon series of the 80s, not the movie, silly! Come on, you knew it was on this list! Venger, Dungeon Master, and the rest of the gang had some amazing adventures. Was it corny? Yes. Was it silly? Yes. Was it great? You better believe it.

1. The Hobbit – A timeless classic. The music, the animation, the voice acting, and the heart warming tale penned by perhaps the greatest fantasy author of all time make this a must see. Yes a live action movie is on the way, and yes I fully believe it will be amazing, but I think there will always be a place for the classic animated movie as well.

Skip It

The Return of the King (The Cartoon) – Why? Watch this.

The Black Caldron

Tales From the Table: Tucker's Kobolds

Posted by Labyrinthian in

Years ago when Dragon Magazine was still around they ran an interesting editorial from a guy who had faced a band of super vicious and clever Kobolds in a high level that had wiped the floor with his party. One of my friends emailed me a link to the editorial online. It is a good read that may have you considering using low level creatures in high level games.