New Map

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Similar to the last map I did here is a coastal map.  Things got a little crowded while doing the labeling.  Overall not as happy with it, though I actually like the rivers better on this one.  As always please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section.

Review: In the Realm of the Elm King

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Reading through the most recent Hackmaster Basic adventure module, In the Realm of the Elm King, was yet another exercise in overinflated expectations.  In some ways it was similar to my first viewing of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where my expectations, based on the Comic which is awesome, were far too high to be realistic.

The reality of the situtation is that, though the adventure is the first HMB adventure to cost money (White Palette Ivory Horns was the first published HMB adventure, but is it free.), it was only released in PDF.  If Kenzer had more faith that Elm King was going to be an instant classic I'm sure they would have opted to distribute it traditionally.

Just so we are clear this isn't a review where I slam Elm King, it isn't a bad adventure.  My expectations, probably because this is the first HMB module that I have purchased, was that it would be amazing, which it isn't.  It is nothing more or less than a pretty standard low level adventure.  It won't be the most memorable your group will run, but it appears to be a well balanced that will present your players with a challenge and save you a lot of time.  Whenever running a new system for the first time it is often difficult to gage what will be a challenge for a group vs what will be overwhelming.  If you are new to Hackmaster Basic you could do a lot worse than to run Elm King for your players and use it to get a feel for the system prior to creating your own adventures.

HMB Combat Example

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I came across a PDF of Hackmaster Basic's Combat Exaple chapter online.  I didn't even realize that Kenzerco was hosting this on their website.  For those who don't know, the Combat example chapter is a sort of Demo for HMB's combat system as told throught a narrative featuring the Knights of the Dinner table.  It is both funny and entertainning while at the same time giving an excellent example of the fluid combat offered in HMB. 

For those of you who haven't picked up the book and are on the fence about it you should check it out here, I think you'll like what you find. 

Hackmaster Basic now Available in PDF!

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Though based on my last post at one of our readers doesn't enjoy his PDF products, I thought I would let anyone who does know that Hackmaster Basic is now available in PDF!  The asking price is 14.99 for the PDF which is a $5.00 savings over the 19.99 charged for the physical book.  For those who want to get both at the same time Kenzer has a deal for you as well.  You can purchase both the physical copy and the electonic copy for $29.99 which is $5.00 less than purchasing them seperatley. 

Do I personally think that if you purchase the book you should get the PDF copy for free?  Sure!  But that isn't very capitalist, nor very likely so head on over and pick up for PDF copy today! 

New Hackmaster Basic Adventure

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Kenzerco has released a new Hackmaster Basic adventure, In the Realm of the Elm King.  Here is the description straight from the horse's mouth:

"Though decorated for a festival, the village atmosphere seems ominously muted. Vendors relax in the shade but seem preoccupied with inner thoughts, showing little interest in you or the coins you might spend on their wares. You see no dancing and hear no song, and small groups of people only mutter as you pass, staring back at you with sad, deadened or suspicious eyes. You wonder what recent troubles hang heavy over this place..."
In the Realm of the Elm King is a new HackMaster Basic adventure featuring a variety of challenges designed for four to six 1st to 2nd level player characters (with options for higher level PCs included).
As well as detailed NPCs, monsters, maps and a battlemat, this adventure also includes a variety of hooks to draw PCs in from the village of Vew (White Palette, Ivory Horns), the mountain stronghold of Frandor's Keep or any other desired location. This allows the GameMaster to use In the Realm of the Elm King by itself or as part of an ongoing campaign.
Like all Kenzer and Company products, In the Realm of the Elm King was designed with you in mind. We prepare all the details so you can spend less time flipping pages and more time gaming. Gaming has never been so easy or so much fun! 

In the Realm of the Elm King is a 23 page full color adventure that is available in PDF for $4.99.  If you are interested head over get your copy here!  I haven't had a chance to read through my copy, but hopefully later tonight or tomorrow I can post a review of the adventure.   

Late Night Cartography

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Well I fell asleep on the couch, woke up to get a drink and now can't get back to sleep.  Yay.  While I'm up I thought I'd work on my new coastal map a little bit.  Take a look at my progress below.  Similar style to the last one I did. 

As a side note my group Pathfinder game is tomorrow.  All the players collaborated on a group backstory project that I think worked out very well.  I'll let you guys know how the GM liked it and how the first game back was. 

New Map!

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After a long layoffs in which I employed my Photoshop time making Shields for my Caliburn game I briefly returned to map making with this little map I did while watching the Jets beat the Chargers yesterday.  Overall there is a lot I like about this map, and as always there are a few things about it that bug me. 

Here it is.  Let me kow what you think. 

Diary of a Gamer: Relaunch Edition

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As you have no doubt heard the very popular film franchise Spiderman has opted not to continue with its next planed installment, Spiderman 4, but has opted instead to relaunch the franchise.  Relaunches for comic book series are not new.  Many franchises have been relaunched, and though results vary, the motivation behind these resets are largely the same; long term success.  In that respect it is not so different from the recent relaunch of my group's Pathfinder game.  The game was moving along, and did not require that we restart, but the group believed that for long term success it was in our best interest to restart.  

Pressing the Reset Button

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Judging by the emails I've gotten a few people are curious as to where the Diary of a Gamer section went.  Yes, my group has been playing our Pathfinder game, but to be honest it hasn't been going very well.  This week the group took drastic measures to improve our weekly gaming experience by doing something I have never been too fond of, hitting the reset button.

Basically we have completed started over.  Same campaign concept, same well designed very detailed setting, but a different set of characters, and hopefully a different outcome as well.  I'm actually really excited about the reset, and the new characters.  I'm hoping to do a diary of a gamer this week to detail last night game session where we designed our characters and even got a bit of play in.  

The 15 Kings of Caliburn

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Finally finished the shields for the 15 Kings of Caliburn.  First the old versions...

Click on the image for a larger version.  And here, in the same order, are the new versions.  You'll notice some have been changed quite a bit.

Again, just click on the image for a larger version.  Please feel free to leave feedback in the comments section and let me know what you think of the new versions!

And there was much Rejoicing

Posted by Labyrinthian

Well that was a pain!  I'm still not sure what happened, but we are back online, and mostly the same as before.

Let the celebrations begin!   

Critically Fumbling

Posted by Labyrinthian

As some of you have already noticed, we are experiencing some technical difficulties.  We apologize, and are working to correct the problem... just as soon as we figure out what it is. 

Thank you for your patience! 

Quality Rating

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I have been giving weapons and armor a great deal of thought latley.  Specifically I have been thinking of new ways to make weapons stand out from one another.  You'll remember that I discussed the issue in length here, but now I am considering more how to create a mechanic to respresent item quality without giving combat bonuses as a result and I think I have an idea.

Quality Rating -   Quality Ratings are a measure of both the quality of craftsmenship and the quality of the materials that go into a weapon or piece of armor.  The Rating becomes inportant in any situation where the the item is about to break, whether it be because of critical fumble or any similar mishap.  This rating would give the item a save against breaking, the better the item, the better the rating, the less likely it is to break.  Using the Hackmaster skill system this rating would essentially be a percentage.  The percentage would be the Weaponsmith or Armorsmiths skill total modified by the quality of the materials he is working with.  A sword made by Hattori Hanzō using Adamantine would have a score of like 130 (100 for his skill +30 for the Adamantine) making all but unbreakable.  However, some situations would result in a penalty to the roll.  For example; Hanzō was walking through a mountain path to deliver his new blade to a great warrior on the other side.  On his way he was buried by a great avalanche.  Though he is killed his masterly crafted sword is not necessarily destroyed.  It’s rating is 130 but it suffers a -50 for a massive bolder falling on it.  The GM rolls a d100 to see if it is destroyed.  130 - 50 = 80, so If the GM rolls a 1-80 he knows that the sword survives even the avalanche that killed its creator!  

For an added level of variance I am having the craftmanship quality rating be based on the average of the craftsman skill AND his skill roll when creating the item.  So Hanzo has 100 in weaponsmithing and rolls a 50 on his skill check.  That would be mean the swords rating would be 75 (105 with the +30 bonus from the adamantine as above).  This is just an idea... not sure I need the extra level of complexity, but it is worth considering.  

Overall I like the quality rating.  I may need to flesh it out a bit more, but I definetly think I'll be using it in my upcoming Hackmaster game.

Shields n' Stuff

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Redid some more of the shields.  First have a look at the original versions....

Again, those shields were made with this online program which I highly recommend.  But as I said, since I wanted them to look a bit more unique and have a bit more detail I am redoing them.  So here are the new versions of those three...

As you can see these "lesser" houses have shields with split colored fields.  Please feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of them.  I spent less time on these and feel they are less "cool," but I still am generally happy with them. 

Other than shields I've been developing the various religions.   Basically the two main religions found in Caliburn are Druidism, more or less what you would assume it to be, and Seraphism, which is a blend of real world religions specifically the Abrahamic religions and Hinduism.  Seraphism is the "new religion" that was brought over by foreigners while Drudism originated in Caliburn.  Slowly, over the last thousand years or so, Seraphism has spread thoughout Caliburn until now it is actually the dominant religion.

Leveling Up Caliburn

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As I mentioned yesterday I'm resuming work on my Caliburn game.  For those of you unfamiliar with it I'll save you some time digging through the archive and give a basic explanation.

Essentially the game takes on the Western continent of a world called Lothian.  This western continent is known as Caliburn and until recently was ruled by a wise and benevolent king who united all the land and brought peace after centuries of war.  Shortly before the opening of the campaign the King is killed in battle fighting one of his cousins  who was once one of his closest allies.  In the wake of the rebellion and the death of the King the once united Kingdom shatters into many smaller kingdoms much as it was prior to his rise to power.  This is the world in which the characters find themselves.

The main influence for the game is the Arthurian legend, specifically the computer game Spirit of Excalibur which I loved when I was a kid.  The King who united the land is my King Arthur equivalent, his cousin who rebelled is my Mordred figure, and there are parallels to other characters like Lancelot and Merlin as well. However, most of the major figures are gone by the time the game begins.  Caliburn is sort of a land for the taking, waiting for a new strong figure to emerge to take the Kings place. 

The more I worked on the game previously the more divorced it became from the Arthurian Legend.  Looking through the Basic version of the game that I made for my group's camping trip in September I see strong influences from GRRM's ASIF, Tolkien's LoTR, and since Religion plays a large role in the setting there are also very strong influences from real world religions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism.

My work on Caliburn Basic was fairly comprehensive, far more so than it needed to be given the fact that the game was only meant to be played over the long weekend while camping.  The Basic game is my jumping off point, my rough draft for the final Advanced Caliburn game.  As you might have guessed Advanced Caliburn is meant to be an Advanced Hackmaster game.  Since Advanced Hackmaster is not out yet (nor has Kenzerco announced a date for its publication) I can only work on the "fluff" of the game, the setting, not the mechanics.

To that end I did some work this morning on shields.  Heraldry plays a very important role in Caliburn, it is a land of Knights and Kings after all.  For the Basic version I used this free design software to create the shields of the various Kings and Knights of the land.  For a free Java program it is great, and fast which was important as I was working on a limited schedule.  The first shields I created were of the King and his two cousins (Mordred and Lancelot parallels). Because their families were the three most powerful in Caliburn prior to the King uniting the land I wanted their to be a simplicity and straight forwardness about them.  These banners would have been universally recognized and carried such a reputation as to make decoration and other such fanfare totally unnecessary.

Plain, basic, straightforward, simple, and almost primal.  The charges for each are popular symbols of heraldry and say something about the families.  The Dragon for wisdom and power, the Wolf for cunning, and the Lion for bravery.  Many of the other Kings and Knights had shields done for them as well, most had animal or mythical creature charges that similarly represented their nature in some way.  All were created using the same program mentioned above, though had a field (the background of the shield) that was more complex than the ones to see to the left.

For the advanced game I wanted something a bit grander than the generic shields I used for the basic one.  So I set out using Photoshop to create something a bit more involved and complex.  Compared to the few seconds it took to created the basic shields those created for the advanced one took forever.  I was, however, pleased with the end result which can be seen below.

Not perfect, but certainly better.

These are the kinds of things I will be working on in the near future so you can expect to see more of my progress in the coming weeks. 

A Level of the Husband Prestige Class!

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I apologize for my slight hiatus as of late.  The wedding was this past weekend and things have been crazy kinds of busy.  The wedding itself was great!  Almost all of my and my wife's (wow, weird!) family and friends were in attendance.  Table 10 was made up entirely of my Gaming group and their significant others.  It really made me think how far things have come.  As shortly as a year or two ago I still hadn't told my then girlfriend that I gamed at all. My group seemed to think that 10 years was a long time to break the news about something like that, but I'd like to think I was just pacing myself.  

To the left is a picture of my very own "One Ring."  Overall it is a terrible disappointment.  Despite massive effort I haven't been able to use it to cover all the lands in darkness.

Oh well. 

I should be able to get back to a normal schedule (or as normal as things get around here) soon enough.  I plan on resuming work on my Caliburn game soon so you'll likely see more information on that in the near future.