Gamer Movie Review: Top 10 Medieval/Fantasy Movies of All Time

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It's been a while since I updated this section. While making a list of what movies I wanted to do reviews of I thought it would be a good idea to created a Top 10 list of Gamer Movies for various genres. First up is the classic Medieval/Fantasy Top 10 list. These are the must see movies, folks. Required viewing!

Before people freak out about this list, please remember that there are multiple categories so if you love a movie that doesn't appear on this first list I urge you to be patient, your movie may appear on a subsequent list. For fear of Harry Potter fans battering me with hate mail, I will say that the Harry Potter films will appear on a list later.

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TOP TEN MEDIEVAL/FANTASY FILMS



  1. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Most every RPG includes some humor by those playing it, and that is where Holy Grail comes in. One game, Kobolds Ate My Baby, has a rule regarding people who quote this film during play.

  1. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - This movie gets a bad rap, but really it is a great film. Great actions scenes and a great cast including the incomparable Morgan Freeman make this a must see.

  1. Excalibur - I have seen just about every King Arthur movie ever released and this is THE movie of the Arthurian Legend. Knights, magic, jousting, swordplay, this movie has it all. This movie was listed as required viewing by Hackmaster 4th Edition for anyone choosing to play a Knight and for good reason. As a side note I should mention that Bryan Singer is hoping to remake this movie. Those of us who saw Superman Returns are understandably scared.

  1. Willow - George Lucas wrote Willow and did a great job. The movie had a great script as well as ground breaking special effects, and amazing fight scenes. This was a favorite of mine as a kid. Val Kilmer's Madmartigan

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel (Television Shows) - Ok... I cheated again. These are TV shows and there are two of them. Oh well, they need to be on this list. The two shows ran for a combined 12 seasons of great fantasy action. Modern Fantasy is not easy to do, but Joss Whedon is an incredible writer who pulls it off with ease.

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - This is the ultimate Swashbuckling tale of adventure on film. Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow was an instant classic and for good reason. Keira Knightley is also astonishly beautiful... which helps.

  1. The Princess Bride - There is so much I could say about this movie, but I don't want to ramble. Suffice to say this is a timless classic that holds up perfectly even today.

  1. Conan the Barbarian - Conan is one of the most important fantasy influences there is. In a mere two hours Conan teaches us what is best in life, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentations of their women!" See the clip here... this movie is a priceless gem.

  1. The Gamers: Dorkness Rising - I've written in length about this movie here. What else can I say, it is the ultimate movie about gamers made by gamers. It would be number one if not for...

  1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - A true masterpiece. If you haven't seen it drop whatever you are doing and go see it now. These are the best films I have ever seen. The amount of work and detail that went into their production is mind blowing.

Gamer Lit: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

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A while back I read through Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. What can I say about this short story? Let me start by saying that it is bad. Why this story has endured is beyond me. Ichabod Crane, the story's main character, is a lanky jackass who doesn't endear himself in any way to the reader. The story itself is short, and yet manages to move painfully slowly. When the end does come it offers up the only interesting aspect of the story.

Gaming Inspiration
For those who have not read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and want to, please stop reading as I am about to ruin the end for you. At the end of the tale the fate of Ichabod and the real events that took place the night he was riding home are left ambiguous. Was it really the specter of the headless horseman who attacked Ichabod? Was Ichabod killed, or did he simply run away, so scared that he never returned? The author gives both a lucid accounting of what probably happened, that Ichabod was simply scared away by a rival suitor and was so ashamed and never returned, and a fantastic account that is taken up by the people of Sleepy Hollow, that the Headless Horseman killed Ichabod and carried him away.

That discrepancy between the practical and the fantastic is the interesting part of the tale, and one that would work well in a game. Consider a group of PCs being called to the town. They have people essentially telling two tales of what took place, but they are not sure which to believe. There is evidence to support both theories, but they won't be sure which is correct until they get to the bottom of it. Perhaps they believe that Ichabod was driven away by the rival suitor only to find in the end that they are facing the terrible ghost of the Headless Horseman!

The Guild: Season S03E04

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Yikes, I'm so behind that episodes four and five have already been released. That having been said, these episodes are great! The rival guide, the Axis of Anarchy, is hilarious. Check out both episodes below!


<br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&amp;vid=2db36212-baaf-4fe6-9cc5-cdefe4b27f40" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 4: Get it back!">Video: Season 3 - Episode 4: Get it back!</a>


<br/><a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-US&amp;vid=d492d422-9f08-481f-a6c7-e0f096cf614e" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 5: Application&#39;d">Video: Season 3 - Episode 5: Application&#39;d</a>

The Guild: Episode 3

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The Guild's third episode of Season 3 has been released. Check it out below!

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&from=sp&vid=80a029bc-7a7a-4f6e-b63c-8c4e73975e20" target="_new" title="Season 3 - Episode 3: Player Down">Video: Season 3 - Episode 3: Player Down</a>


Campaign Cartographer: Fantasy Grounds II

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I did a quick map for a friend of mine who is running a game online. He showed me the program he is using to run the game, Fantasy Grounds II. For those who are unfamiliar with Fantasy Grounds it is a virtual table top program that allows a group to meet online and play in an amazing environment. Check out some screenshots of the program here. My personal favorite is the the tarot card reading screencap from a Ravenloft game.

Though I've never used the program to run a game myself, I certainly wouldn't rule it out now that I am aware of it. Obviously I prefer to play games in person, but I have many friends who live too far away to meet up and game regularly. Fantasy Grounds might just be the answer to that problem.

I would also like to add that I am much more impressed with Fantasy Grounds than the virtual tabletop program that WotC advertised... Mostly because Fantasy Grounds actually exists.

Anyway, here is the map. He asked me to keep it fairly basic so that he can add things like dungeons, caves, and ruins as the characters discover them. The map features the castles of three competing lords and the wilderness that surrounds them.


New Map

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Quick map I did. Some of my gaming buddies and I were playing with the idea of making an adventure together and trying to get it published, so I did a quick workup of a regional map for that adventure.


The Camping Trip - Part 3: Day Two

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Day two of the trip started with a hearty breakfast! Once that was out of the way we moved almost immediately back to the game. We retrieved our materials from our cars where we left them overnight to prevent them getting wet, and were good to go.

When we left our adventures in the last segment they had just returned to town having saved Sir William and his squire, Kelvin. When they returned to town they summoned the local priest, Father Joseph Ellis. Father Ellis, being like most priests of the world, wielded no magic, but relied on herbs and ointments to aid the healing process. After he had done what he could for the two he informed Farley that his "fiance" who he had got together with during the feast at the start of game, had fallen very ill.

The following day Doran, the group's cleric, used his magic to revive the two unconscious warriors, though neither of them recalled what had caused them to lose their mounts and fall unconscious. While pondering that mystery the group was faced with another problem. The affliction that had befallen Farley's "fiance" seemed to be spreading. Over the next few days the disease spread like wildfire though the town, growing at an alarming pace. Following the advice of Father Ellis the group left the village of Ashvale and headed south for the Greenfield Abbey, where the monks there were legendary for their (non-magical)healing arts.

The group made good time to the Abbey and were given leave to search the records for information on the disease. Doran was the only one who knew the holy language that the records were recorded in so he alone was able to aid the monks in their search through the dusty tombs. Eventually he found a records of something called the, "Morbus Arcanus" which translated to the Sorcerer's Plague.

Armed with this alarming news the group hurried back to town, stopping only to visit the local Baron and garner some men from him to conduct their witch hunt back in Ashvale. Upon their return the group wasted no time in informing the local leaders of the situation and beginning to search homes for evidence of Sorcery. This part of the game, the mystery part, didn't go as well as I would have liked. The players seemed determined to go their own way rather than work as a group to reach a conclusion. They took a good deal of time to reach a conclusion, and that came only when they finally agreed to systematically search the entire town by going door to door and doing a thorough search (i.e. ripping up floorboards and destroying things when necessary).

Eventually they caught and burned a man for the crime of demon worship and sorcery. With this death the disease seemed to stop and those those infected began to get getter. Adding to this good news was word that Lady Enna, the Duke's niece and a reputed healer, had heard of the town's plight and was coming to due all she could to alleviate the suffering of the people.

Unfortunately, she never made it to the town. A lone soldier emerged from the forest, badly beaten and telling tales of monsters attacking their caravan and taking the lady captive. For the last time the group sprung into action and entered the forest, tracking the soldier and his horse back to the site of the ambush. There they too were set upon by demonic little green beasts with razor sharp claws. They fought their way through them and found the trail of the Lady Enna who had been dragged forcibly through the wilderness.

The group found their lair, but it was guarded by an enormous creature wielding a cruel looking club. Farley used his talent for distraction to get the creature to chase him while the others lie in wait. When the entire group surrounded him even the hulking mass didn't stand a chance. The group then wasted no time in entering the cave. They came upon an archway that lead to a large open chamber where a man in dark robes was chanting and wielding a silver dagger over a woman bound to a stone slab. Attempts to sneak were met with extreme failures and the wizard turned and lowered his hood to reveal (don don don) a women. Specifically, this woman was Sir William's lady wife, Eire.

Both sides screamed at the other to surrender, and soon people were drawing steel and casting spells. The evil Enchantress was joined by her vile Goblin minions and the group was hard pressed to win access to the room beyond the arch so as to confront the Sorceress. Eventually Lou, got a running start and charged in, blowing one of the creatures aside. Eire fought until the bitter end, but once her minions had failed her she followed close behind.

From there the group freed Lady Enna, collected Eire's treasures, and returned to the relative safety of the town. They explained the entire situation to Sir William who rewarded them hansom for returning his Liege Lord's niece, though he lamented his wife's dark path. He allowed the group to keep what they had found in Eire's lair including her Grimoire, her dark book filled with powerful secrets. Father Ellis suggested that the group destroy the book, but admitted it would be no easy task. The group agreed, but like the end of Conan, "That is a tale for another day." The Grimoire played a vital role in the game behind the scenes, but it was also in setting up a followup adventure should the players ever want to pick up these characters.

Next sement will have some out of game questions the players had in the wake of the game, and the third day of our trip which was mostly spent at King Richard's Faire!

New ASIF Miniatures

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Dark Sword Miniatures has released some new figures in their ASIF line. Victarion Greyjoy and Aeron "Damphair" Greyjoy both have figures that can be previewed at Dark Sword's website. Go on over and check them out. They aren't in color yet, but the detail is astounding as always.

Sandor Clegane Cast!

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Sandor Clegane, also known as "The Hound" has been cast for HBO's upcoming series. Rory McCann is the name of the actor chosen to play him, certainly no easy task. I have enough faith in those doing the casting that I am going out on a limb and saying he is going to be great in the role though I've only seen him in Hot Fuzz.

Here is a picture of the Scottish actor...


The Camping Trip - Part 2: Day One

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Day one saw most of us arriving late. James, Mike, Josh and myself all drove up together but didn't get there until after 8pm. Once there we spent the first hour augmenting the camp that Christian and his friend Nathaniel (who joined us on the trip) had already set up. Soon after Josh's tent went up Bryan arrived. Minus some problems with traffic and general lateness, the entire group made it without much problem.

We spent some time just catching up and hanging out before busting out our gear and getting down to the real reason we were there, Gaming. Everyone's characters were done, save Nathaniel's who still had some work to do. He and I finalized his fighter while the others laid out there gear and got cozy around the fire.

We opened the game during a small feast celebration in the character's home town of Ashvale. Sir William, the Knight who lived in the keep at the town's center had killed a wild boar and brought it back to roast for the townsfolk as a last hurah before winter. This celebration was mostly for the PCs to begin interacting with one another and with the NPCs in the town in a casual manner. Each sort of did their own thing. Christian's character Doran spent most of the celebration bemoaning the sinful way that everyone was spending their time. Josh's character, Farley, spent his time wooing one of the town's buxom young women in scandalise fashion. The other PC's action fell somewhere in between, and overall it was a good introduction.

The next few days passed fairly uneventfully as the PCs went about aiding the town in bringing in the critical fall harvest before winter. The first big event was when Sir William unexpectedly returned to the forest for another hunt. Several more days passed without his return, but eventually his horse did return to town. The PCs gathered their gear and entered the woods to find him. Lou, Nathaniel's character, thankfully took tracking and was able to follow the horses trail back to the clearing where the Knight and his squire still lay on the ground. A black bear was investigating the two men when the party entered and though they attempted to drive it off the bear attacked them.

The fight against the bear was very easy for the PCs. There were seven of them and only one bear, so they were able to quickly surround it and pummel it to the ground. I want to make some notes on the mechanics of HMB here. First, it is obvious to me that the mechanics of the game are at their very best when the party is opposed by a single foe. This fight took no time at all, and was amazingly fluid because everyone, including me, was controlling a single combatant. I'm sure that an experienced HMB GM can juggle many monsters at a time, but this being my first time I found it difficult. The second observation I would like to make is that some of the rules are just hard in general for new players to swallow. They were hard for me, and they were hard for Nathaniel whose first HMB game this was. I mention it in connection with this fight because one thing that was hard for Nathaniel to grasp was that he could be hit even on a miss because he was using a shield. There is a great side bar on page 111 that I pointed him to and I think it helped clear things up for him a bit, but I don't know that he ever really appreciated the rule. Shields in general were hard to him to handle since they are handled so differently in HMB than in other games that he is used to playing. For my part I love the shield rules. We use the AHM rule that a miss by more than 10 is a miss even if one is wielding a shield, so there are times that a miss is truly a miss even against a shield opponent. For me Hackmaster is the first game to really give the shield its due. Shields were by all account absolutely vital in combat yet D&D they are only worth a +2 (as much as leather armor) and in HM4 they were even worse. So like I said, I really like the rules, they just take some getting used to.

Back to the game.

After the party dragged Sir William and his squire back to town (along with the bear carcass) they did everything they could to revive them. They summoned Father Ellis who ran the town's church but he was unable to do anything. They were not able to revive the Knight until the following day when Doran's magic did what herbs and ointments could not. The Knight claimed he had no recollection of how he had fallen or anything leading up to it. Though Father Ellis suggested that the blow to the head could have caused him to forget the party remained suspicious.

We broke there with it being almost 3am and bitterly cold. My sleeping bag was warm, but my nose was freezing!

GM's Corner: Creating Your Own Hackmaster Basic Gods

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Creating a Pantheon is never an easy task for the GM. That is one reason why so many people opt to use pre-created pantheons no matter the gaming system. For those of us playing Hackmaster Basic the task is especially daunting because so little source material exists for which to use as a comparison. Putting Portfolio (the spheres of influence for which a god is responsible) aside, one of the main goals of the GM should be balancing the deities one another. To this end here are the most important factors one should consider when building a balanced pantheon.

  1. Proffered Weapon: Not all weapons are crated equal. Kenzerco who make HMB did an amazing job of providing a weapon list with a great deal of diversity. Most weapons have their ups and downs but some are clearly better than others. A deity whose preferred weapon is the Staff is clearly at a disadvantage against a deity whose favored weapon is the long sword.
  2. Armor Permitted: Most clerics are unrestricted in their choice of armor, however some deities are more selective. Those who offer fewer options convey a disadvantage to their clerics than do those who allow any armor type.
  3. Bonus Skills: A key area for balancing Clerics, skills can be deceiving. One should look a number of factors such as BP cost, relevant ability, and whether the skill is universal or not. Universal skills can have less value for no other reason than that anyone can attempt them. Relevant ability is important because most clerics have a high wisdom which grants them free BP to use on Wisdom based skills. Thus the value of wisdom based skills is less than a skill with a different relevant ability.
  4. Powers: This is probably the most important factor in determining potency. Powers vary greatly and can be just about anything. The powers described in the HMB handbook are extremely potent, particularly that of the Guardian.
  5. Sacrifices: Usually something minor, such as money once a month, one could use a very costly of difficult sacrifice to balance great powers or skills.

Keeping these five factors in mind you can balance your gods against one another. Now that isn't to say that you always want to have the deities be equal. Perhaps one god is more powerful and you want his clerics to show it. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that, but make sure you don't go overboard. Keep the five factors in mind and you'll always been mindful of how powerful each deity's clerics are.

The Camping Trip - Part 1: Pregame

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My group's first annual camping trip is over. It was a short trip lasting from Friday night to Sunday night, but it was a great time. The weather was a little cold at night, but we huddled around the fire for warmth, and had flashlights for light. Rest assured very few dice were lost during this trip!

As I have mentioned previously, the group decided about a month ago who was going to run what game. Our group is a fairly democratic one so those who wanted to put their name in the hat to run a game did so, gave a brief explanation of what they wanted to run, and a majority determined the winner. I volunteered to run a Hackmaster Basic campaign. The group thought enough of my proposal to pick my game and so I set to work fleshing out some of the general ideas that I had outlined.

The setting is one that was planning on using in the future, called Caliburn. I've had Caliburn kicking around in my head for a while and was very glad to get the chance to expand on some of my ideas. I started with my original inspiration, Spirit of Excalibur, a game I loved when I was a kid, and built off of the Arthurian myth. Along the way many other inspirations, such as GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire and historical sources, played a vital role in the creation of the game. The older I get the more I seem to want to play low magic games with more a more "realistic" and historical feel. That is why I opted to run this campaign with Hackmaster Basic, and why games like Iron Heroes, greatly appeal to me.

Even though HMB has magic that I would consider to be much lower than D&D 3.X or more recently Pathfinder, I found that I wanted to make magic even more rare. To that end I increased the BP cost of the spellcasting classes. Clerics were increased to 50BP and Mage was raised to 75BP.

Flavor wise, I justified these changes by describing the the limited number of clerics and mages in the world. Though there are many priests in the world, Clerics who wield magic are very rare. Because of their limited numbers Clerics are simply too limited to stop things like plagues or other widespread suffering. This was important because I felt like to get the grim and gritty feel I wanted for the game I couldn't have thousands and thousands of Clerics running around. As for mages, I took a route from old Sword & Sorcery sources like Conan, I made them not only rare, but feared and often hunted. Witch hunts are a reality in this setting and secrecy is a nessesary part of playing a Mage.

Here is a quick list of other house rules I used...

  • Spend 5BP to get out rolling a quirk or flaw or 10BP to get out of both.
  • Since we are playing straight though XP and honor will be rewarded in an ongoing fashion and not in bursts.
  • The spear can be used with a shield, but only using the jab option
  • Clerics can prepare duplicate spells
  • Ability scores increased per the Advanced Hackmaster rules
  • While under spell fatigue walking speed is max speed.
  • Attacking while spell fatigued is not possible.
  • A Mage can end any spell requiring concentration "at will." Such spells also end if the mage dies or falls unconscious/asleep
  • Time required to stand depends on armor worn. When wearing no armor it takes one second, two for light armor, three for medium, and four for heavy.
  • The Less sleep talent does not help Mages recover their spell points any faster.
  • While actively hiding behind a shield jogging is the maximum speed that can be maintained.
  • If you desire a skill not in the book speak with the GM about it. Some skills not found in the book that would be useful to someone of the nobility include Heraldry and Etiquette.

This information, along with a lot of additional information I put in a packet for the players. I working on getting a PDF that can be posted here to share. Though I put a lot of work into it, much of the packet's information was not crucial to memorizing prior to the game. Rather, it helped establish a general vision of the setting that made it feel like a real place that the players could interact with. That was a central idea for Caliburn. I wanted it to be a character driven game, a sandbox game, if you will, rather than the type of plot driven game I normally run.

Much of the setting focuses on the realm of Caliburn at large which has been fractured into many smaller Kingdoms after the death of the former King Gareth (the game's eqiveillent of King Arthur). For Basic the players were not playing Great Lords or Knights, but rather residents of a small village in a place called the North Vale. So in a way the setting was like Luke at the beginning of Episode 4. I provided a detaled map of the town, along with information on important persons living in the town in the player packet.

As I have mentioned previously the players created their characters prior to the game. Of the seven players five opted to be fighters, one opted for the theif, and the last chose to play a Cleric. These class selections fit perfectly with the setting, and all was set up to have a succesful game and a fun trip...

Gone Camping!

Posted by Labyrinthian

Alright folks, I'm off!

It's camping and gaming all weekend and a stop at King Richard's Faire on Sunday. It should be a great weekend, I just hope my first Hackmaster Basic game goes well.

Wish me Luck!

Hackmaster Basic Almost Sold Out!

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Word from Dave Kenzer is that Hackmaster Basic is almost sold out! They have a limited number of copies, so if you don't have a copy already put your order in now! The game is amazing and the book is only $20, an excellent value.

Review: Critical Hit Deck & Critical Fumble Deck

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Gamemastery produces some interesting products for those who are still playing 3rd edition, decks for critical hits and critical fumbles. Essentially the decks of 52 cards that have various effects of a positive (critical hit deck) or negative nature (critical fumble deck).

The Critical Hit deck breaks down the various effects on each card by what type of attack caused the critical hit; bludgeoning, piercing, slashing, or magic (for ray spells). With these cards damage is no longer guaranteed to be doubled on a successful critical. Many of the cards include some type of status effect instead of enhanced damage, such as making the target sickened for 1d6 rounds. Not all cards are equal either. One particularly nasty card sees the target's hand severed and he takes bleed damage in addition!

The Critical Fumble deck works in much the same fashion as the Critical Hit Deck. It breaks attacks down into Melee, Ranged, Natural, and Magic (again for ray spells). Again a variety of status effects are used on many of the cards as penalty for critically fumbling. Some make you sickened, others make you fatigued or shaken. A number of cards also cause you to drop your weapon (for melee and ranged attacks), or cause you to draw an immediate attack of opportunity (for melee or natural attacks). Again not all cards are equal. One critical fumble card sees you struck by your own spell. A nasty surprise if you were tossing around the ever popular Disintegrate spell.

Overall, if you are tired of the same old double damage, or whatever critical fumble effect you use, the Gamemastery decks are a great way to mix things up. I used both decks for my last D&D campaign and got mixed reviews. Some players really enjoyed the randomness of the decks and felt that they kept things interesting, while others stated over and over that they would rather have had the normal double damage. My own opinions was that the decks were good, though not quite as good as I had hoped they would be when I purchased them. They certainly made for some very memorable moments, and really that is the point. By randomizing the effects even when someone scores a critical hit everyone is on the edge of their seat because no one knows what is about to happen.

If you check the Critical Hit Deck and the Critical Fumble Deck on Paizo's website you can see some sample cards for yourselves. Each deck is $10.99 over at their website.

Cartographer's Corner

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Quick photoshop map. Tried some new stuff in this map, snow effects in the north for one. I tried to snow cover the evergreen forests in the north, but didn't have any luck. It just made it look like the forests in the south. Landmasses shapes are modified landmasses from the real world.


Comments!

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I finally fixed the problem that prevented comments on the site. I know... I took forever, but forget my procrastination and rejoice! Comments are here!

Fireside Gaming Part 2

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So my group's camping trip is a week away. Based on the low number of posts over the last week or two I'm sure people have realized that I've been busy working on my game. Did I go overboard? Yes. Could I have gotten away with far less work? Yes. But as I've said, I plan on running a longer game in this setting later. So it isn't as though all my work is for this particular game.

At this week's game we decided to do character creation so we can jump right into playing next Friday. I started by asking if there were any questions about the setting, house rules, or anything else. I cleared up a few minor questions, and the players broke out their dice. I had the players roll their stats round robin style, with each stat being rolled by each player before moving on to the next. Here were the results...


MikeChristianJoshJamesBryan
Str7116610
Int1114101010
Wis1377810
Dex1011131312
Con131812914
Lks81512813
Cha1313141111

Everyone, save Bryan made changes to their stats. Josh and James swapped two, while Christian and Mike rearranged everything. So Bryan got +50BP, Josh and James got +25BP and Christian and Mike got +0BP. Completely rearranging stats proved to be a very limiting decision for Christian, as I'll explain in a moment.

Choosing a race went very quickly as the player's only choice was human. This was a hard decision when designing the campaign, but adding non-human races just didn't seem to fit.

Next came the finalizing of stats. Bryan spent some BP to boost his Intelligence and Wisdom, James Boosted his Strength, Josh boosted his Wisdom and Dexterity, Mike boosted his Constitution, and Christian left his alone. Overall everyone's stats look pretty good. Chritian has the best stats overall, with his 18 looming large. Even his 15 is superior to the stats rolled by the other players.

Then it was time for the players to choose their class. This is where I should note that campaign factors caused me to modify the BP cost for some classes. Fighter and Thief cost the normal amount for the human (25) but Clerics and Mages are far more rare. While priests are quite common in the campaign world, priests who wield divine magic are quite rare. To reflect this Clerics have a BP cost of 50. Mages are feared, hunted, and killed throughout the world. As a result they are extremely rare and have a BP cost of 75. So Christian's decision to rearrange his stats completely meant that it required all of his 50BP just to purchase his Cleric Class. James, Bryan and Mike decided to play Fighters. Finally Josh decided to play a bow toting theif.

For Priors and Particulars I had several charts for things like social class that the players had to roll on. By the time they all finished rolling they each had an idea of who their character was and how they wanted to play them. Overall this part was a lot of fun for them and me.

Next up was quirks and flaws. I offered an option to pay 5BP to get out of one or 10BP to get out of both. No one wanted to pay the BP so they all rolled. I offered rerolls for duplicate quirks or flaws so each person got something different.

Starting honor took some time to calculate because we only had one calculator at the table and no one wanted to do it by hand. In the end honor varied from a low of 9 for Mike to a high of 14 for Josh and Bryan.

Skills, talents and proficiencies were next. Christian had almost no BP left (he picked up four for having two loving parents) and used it to buy a single weapon proficiency. Luckily Clerics get a number of free skills, so he didn't have to go completely without. James bought mostly weapon specialization with what he had left. Mike and Bryan bought a number of trade skills, specifically Blacksmithing and Leatherworking.

Money was hard on the group. Most were lower class and received very little money. This problem was compounded with inflated prices, especially for weapons and armor. A great deal of leather armor was purchased, as well as varied kinds of weapons.

After the characters were finalized we did some story stuff to jump start the character's backstories. We started with a round robin story. Essentially the first person begins a tale about the characters and passes it around to the next person. The tale, begun by Josh, centered a round a day of celebration six years prior to the start of the campaign. We went around the table twice with the story before finishing up the exercise. We then moved on to a very short story about how the PCs rescued a young girl who was lost in the forest from some starving wolves. We played out the majority of the story, which only took about a half an hour. It was fun and a good little introduction to running the game for me.

Overall making characters was a lot of fun and got me even more excited for the upcoming trip. I can't post too much about what I have planned for campaign because my players read this blog, but rest assured I'll post the play by play when I get back!

A Song of Ice and Fire

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Those of you unfamiliar with A Song of Ice and Fire (ASIF) should be clued into its importance simply by the fact that it gets its own banner. If you are new to ASIF, thus meaning you have been living under a rock for the last several years allow me to educate you.

A Song of Ice and Fire is an award-winning series by George R. R. Martin (GRRM). The series began in 1996 with the publication of the first book, A Game of Thrones, and has caught fire ever since. ASIF is more than just a series of books now, it is a full blown franchise.

Books - This is where it all began. GRRM is still penning his masterpiece. He has completed four of the planned seven novels; A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows. Fans have been patiently impatiently awaiting his fifth book, A Dance with Dragons for the last couple of years. There is hope of seeing the book as early as March of 2010, but considering past disappointments fans are cautiously optimistic at best. I hope to do a review of each book in the series in my Gamer Lit section but for now let me just say that those of you who haven't read these novels and enjoy Epic Fantasy drop what you are doing and run to the bookstore. I'm serious. Go.

Card Game - Fantasy Flight Games released a collectible card game for ASIF. While I have never played it and do not collect them myself let me just say the art is exquisite. If you are interested in learning to play check out the tutorial Fantasy Flight Games has on their website.

Board Game - A Game of Thrones, the board game based off the first of Martin's novels is extremely popular and ranks in the top 100 at Board Game Geek. It is also produce by Fantasy Flight games and has several expansions.

Role Playing Games - That's right games not game. In 2005 a company called Guardians of Order produced A Game of Thrones the RPG. The game was published by White Wolf and met with a great deal of critical acclaim, winning 3 silver ENnie awards for Best Production, Best Game, and Best d20/OGL Product. The second RPG spawned by Martin's work was Green Ronin's recently released RPG, A Song of Ice and Fire. They did a fabulous job with the book and the house creation system along with the rules of mass combat were highlights as was the social combat system.

Short Stories - There are also three separate short stories set in Westeros, known as the "Tales of Dunk and Egg" after the two main characters. The first two, "The Hedge Knight" and "The Sword Sword," are already out. The Third short story, the Mystery Knight, has yet to be released.

Miniatures
- Dark Sword Miniatures has produced a set of very high quality miniatures which you can see here.

Weapon Replicas - They have done Needle and Longclaw. Hopefully more are on the way!

Video Games - Cyanide Studios has announced they are developing a series of video games based on A Song of Ice and Fire. From what I can gather the plan is for the games to be available for both PC and consoles. GRRM has said that both an RPG and a real-time strategy game are in the works.

HBO Series - The more I read about this the more excited I get for it. So many book series that are translated to film simple cannot fit in enough of their source material. Yeah, I'm looking at you Harry Potter. With a series as huge in scope as ASIF a movie just wouldn't work, and GRRM knew that. What they are doing instead is a series on HBO. They are currently casting and preparing to shoot the pilot. I can't tell you how exited I am about this. I think this could really be HBOs masterpiece. Better than Rome, better than anything else they have done. Here is a look at their casting thus far.

Harry Lloyd ... Viserys Targaryen
Mark Addy ... Robert Baratheon
Alfie Allen ... Theon Greyjoy
Sean Bean ... Eddard Stark
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ... Jaime Lannister
Peter Dinklage ... Tyrion Lannister
Jennifer Ehle ... Catelyn Stark
Jack Gleeson ... Joffrey Baratheon
Iain Glen ... Ser Jorah Mormont
Kit Harington ... Jon Snow
Richard Madden ... Robb Stark
Tamzin Merchant ... Daenerys Targaryen
Maisie Williams ... Arya Stark
Sophie Turner ... Sansa Stark
Lena Headey ... Cersei Lannister

I think the casting looks great! I especially love the choice of Sean Bean to play Eddard Stark. I'll be posting updates on new about the HBO Series, A Dance with Dragons, and other ASIF news under the same header you saw above as it becomes available.

The Guild Season 3

Posted by Labyrinthian in

Season three of the popular internet show The Guild has begun. See the first two episodes on MSN Video here!

Catographer's Corner: Caliburn Political Map

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Did a modern political map of Caliburn. Just a quick overlay with the shields of the Lords/Kings on top. I used this great resource to create all the shields. If you need shields I highly recommend it. Much like Heromachine it is a flash program that is fast and easy to use. Here is the updated version of the map.


Cartographer's Corner: Caliburn Map

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Some writer's block led to another map. I think this is forming a dangerous pattern. That having been said, I like this new map much better than the old one. This map is a bit different because I started it in campaign cartographer and finished it in photoshop. I still need to add cities, forts, castles, political borders, etc. But so far so good. Anyway here's the map...