Final Campaign Star Map

Posted by Labyrinthian in


I more alterations to the Star Map and I think I'm happy with it for now.  It certainly has come a long way from the original I did in Paint.  I was going to toss in a nebula over the Maiden constellation, but I decided against it.  I might do a separate map that has things other than stars, such as other planets, nebulas, etc.  But I think for now this is sufficient. 

How Many Dice is Too Many?

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We as Gamers have a long love affair with Dice.  We can't get enough of them.  We roll them, collect them, show them off, trade them, convince ourselves that some are better or more lucky than others, heck some people even wear them as jewelry

But just how many dice is too many?

Next time you head off to a game count how many dice you are bringing.  I did this the other day and found that I regularly brought over 500 dice to each and every game session.  Have I ever needed them all for a game?  Of course not.  So why bring them?  That was a question I posed to myself and the answer was...
Just in Case.  
See I don't want to be caught with my pants down should my dice turn against me (See Paragraph 1).  I always want to make sure that I have backups.  So couldn't I just bring one extra set of dice?  Sure, but that doesn't seem to be enough to secure piece of mind.  I'm convinced that should I leave any of my dice at home that is one I'll need.  Even my d5 that I have never had to roll for any reason... ever. Logically I know that this is a paranoid myth that I've created and should I ever leave some of the dice behind it probably wouldn't affect the game in any way.
So does this mean that I'll give into logic and next game bring only one set of dice?

Hell no!  The real myth here is that you can EVER have too many Dice! 

New Nephelim Star

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So per Prof. Obscure's comments I decided to make some quick changes to the Nephelim star.  I filled the the middle with writing to make it seem more like the Seraphim stars, but I used a different writing.  I also changed the characters in the surrounding circles to match. 

Better, worse, or the same?

Free PDF of Green Ronin's A Song of Ice and Fire RPG Campaign Setting

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Green Ronin is having a deal over at their website.  If you preorder a copy of the A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Campaign Guide before it comes back from the printer you will also receive a PDF copy of the book absolutely free.  Whether you feel entitled to an electronic copy of any book you buy or not, the fact remains that this PDF normally costs $20 and you can get it for free.  Not a bad deal at all, one I wish more retailers would offer. Head on over and preorder your copy today.   

A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide (Pre-Order)

Do You Love the Fighter? Prepare to Love Him More!

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"I ignore all the signs of impending danger, because I'm a Fighter and not some crappy Ranger!"

For years the fighter has been under appreciated! When the Mage got his own theme song I couldn't help but wonder when the Fighter was gonna get some love. It was a long wait, but now the wait is over!

You may have heard the song if you watched Jolly's Frandor Keep Flipthough video I posted. He was nice enough to provide a link to the website where the song can be downloaded FREE.  The Song is called Fourth Level Fighter and if you haven't heard it prepare to be blown away because it is awesome.

Moving on to the next Religion

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Having completed work on Seraphism I decided last night to take a crack at redoing my mock up of the night sky.  The men of the north worship gods that they can see in the sky by night via constellations.  For the Caliburn Basic I created a diagram.  Not exactly one I'm proud of, but it gave a good idea of the constellations, what they look like, etc.  I posted the picture before, but here is a reminder of what it looked like.

Like I said, not great.  Hey, what can you expect?  I'm devoid of any semblance of artistic talent!  One of the things that I wanted to change in the new draft was to stop being so literal about the constellations.   Constellations in the real world little resemble what they are supposed to be.  So as I said, last night I had another crack at this thing.  Results were mixed, but it isn't too bad for a rough draft. 

The less literal constellations I like, but the ones I started with were far to small.  I also think I want to rearrange them a little bit.  I don't necessarily want all the human like constellations in the middle.  I think I'd like to have the Warrior constellation opposed by either the Stag or the Dragon.  Oh well, work for another day.

Why Couldn't the Dungeons and Dragons Movies Have Been This Good?

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This isn't going to be a review, so you can just fault me for false advertising right now.  No, instead this is more of a lament, for something that should have been great, but fell on its face.  
I'm speaking of the Dungeons and Dragons Movies, of course.  

The first D&D movie had promise... if you didn't look too close.  It had established actors, most notably Jeremy Irons, and it had a fairly large budget of $45 million when it was made in 2000.  Despite that the movie was simply awful.  Gary Gygax even dissed the movie in the gamer documentary Uber Goober.

What can I say about this film?  Not much that is good, that's for damn sure.  It's almost painful to watch from start to finish.  I'm actually getting angry just thinking about it.  The plot is awful, the characters are terrible, the acting is worse, the direction is a joke, and the special effects suck for the most part.  

None of that is the worst part, though.  The worst part is that the film was named Dungeons and Dragons.  For years studios have believed that fantasy movies, and specifically D&D could not be made into a successful movie.  Right around the time that this movie was made some changed their minds and greenlit a bunch of fantasy movies like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  While those two franchises soared to record box office numbers D&D grossed a whopping 15.2 million dollars domestically and 33 million world wide.  So the real tragedy is that this film seemed to confirm studio suspicions about the lack of viability of a D&D movie when the reality is that the movie just sucked because of the people put in charge of making it, most notably wirter/director Courtney Solomon.

Despite the first movie sucking lama balls a second movie was made.  This was not a big Hollywood production, but rather a made for TV film.  Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God was better the the original, which is kind of surprising, but still not very good... which is less surprising. 

The film was billed as a sequel to the first film, though nothing is the same save Bruce Payne and the name of his character, Damodar.  The film is better in that, unlike its predessor, it is the Dungeon and Dragons film.  There are numerous references from in the game including a cleric of Obad-Hai, a mage who uses standard D&D spells like Lightning Bolt and Teleport, the fighter wielding a Vorpal Sword, and a sleezy theif who specializes in finding and disarming traps.  Even with all this the film is at best a one time watch for hard core D&D fans who can appreciate all these things.  It lacked the budget of the first one, and did as much as one might expect with a total budget of 12 million dollars.  

That having been said, I'd like to see what the Dead Gentlemen could do with a 12 million dollar budget!  Their masterpiece, The Gamers 2: Dorness Rising was made on a miniscule budget and is more of a D&D movie than either of the official titiles. 

You might think that they should just scrap the idea of making a live action movie and try for an animated one.  It would certainly be cheaper and easier to produce.  Oh wait, they tried that too with Scourge of Worlds.  SoW is a little known of project that was a straight to video interactive adventure that fell flat on its face.  How could this also be a failure?  How hard it is to make a great fantasy animation video?  


Wow... I guess it can be done. 

Final Three Stars

Posted by Labyrinthian in

So I finished my work on the other two stars for my Caliburn game's primary religion of Seraphism.  I put all three together so you can see what they look like next to one another.  The bottom one is actually the Star of the Nephelim who are the seven fallen angels cast out of Heaven for their rebellion.  The Nephelim star is bolder and darker than the two Seraphim stars, a key I took from my friend who designed the fourtheen sigils for me. 

Once again I have put this on a parchment background similar to the one that will appear in the book.  As always feedback is welcome.  Click on the image to view the full sized version.

Advanced Hackmaster News

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While I was gone having the happiness drained out of my like a Fighter surrounded by Wraiths, there was some interesting news on the Advanced Hackmaster Front.

On the topic of the Bestiary Guide (the Hackmaster Monster Manual) Dave Kenzer, the owner of Kenzerco said, "If I were running a company, I'd make sure the product came out by origins." That's good news. It also means that things will be extremely busy over at Kenzerco as they have Frandor's Keep being released in March and Bestiary being released no later than June. I hope this doesn't prevent them from releasing the PHB at or before GenCon. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Another more immediate update I have for you is the release of Jolly's ranged combat aid card. It's a great tool to keep track of everything from range increments to ammo. Download it here.

I have Returned

Posted by Labyrinthian

It's true... I made it. 

Now I'm not going to say that my Honeymoon was the worst one of all time, but I will say this... We are competative.  Given everything that happened we are at least in the conversation, this is an unfortunate fact. 

The Wife an I were of one mind about the very best part of the trip


It's good to be back.

Frandor's Keep Encore

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I know, I know... I said I was leaving.  But I couldn't take off without showing you this.  It seems Jolly over at Kenzerco took a video of him flipping the soon to be released Frandor's Keep, the Hackmaster version of Keep on the Borderlands.

Just when I thought I couldn't get any more amped for this product...

And I'm off!

Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

The Wife and I are off to the Bahamas for our honeymoon.  I won't be back until next Saturday so things will go quiet here for a bit (unless Revil comes through with another amazing submission). 

Before I take off I wanted to give  you guys a peek at something I just finished for my Caliburn game.  My friend Josh, who is a very talented artist, gave me a hand by creating sigils for the Seven Archangels and Seven Archdevils from my setting.  I took those and incorporated them into a seven pointed star symbol.  This style is for the Tytherian (The resident dominant empire similar to the Romans) Church, the Church of Caliburn will have a slightly different version that I haven't had time to create yet. 

So anyway here is the rough draft of the Tytherian Seven Pointed star of the Seraphim. 

  I put the example on a parchment background because as you've seen, that's the background I used in the Caliburn book I'm creating for the players.  Let me know what you guys think, and I'll back next week! 

Dungeon Map Revision

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I forgot to include the dungeon map revision in my previous post.  If I do end up doing another dungon map for whatever reason I hope it doesn't look a whole lot like this.  I'm unhappy with so many different aspects of it.  The revision improved the monotoned pallete which was one of the thigns that annoyed me most aabout it.  In the end this map is one of those lost causes that is beyond repair, but at least I still learned a thing or two while making it.

Marching On

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The pain of the superbowl is finally starting to subside... ok not really, but it's time to move on to better things.  To that end I have attempted to fix the crappy dungeon map I attempted, resumed work on my Caliburn game, and rented BioShock 2.


Let's start with BioShock 2 as this will, like the game itself, be brief.  I know this isn't necessarily an RPG, but I know many of our readers are also video game players and I think they need to hear this.   I picked BioShock2 up on Tuesday, it's release date. I finished it on Wednesday.  Yeah.  

Now the first one wasn't my favorite game of all time, but it was entertaining and I figured since the first one was such a success and since they took forever to release the sequal that we would see all kind of improvements.  I was wrong.  Two is much the same as One.  It has a different story, obviously, but it isn't even as good as the first one.  But that isn't my main problem with the game.  My main problem is that I got it for the campaign (I don't have Xbox Live) and the campaign lasted for all of TEN HOURS.  Now I should tell you that I rent games from Blockbuster on their freedom pass, so I didn't shell out 60 bucks for this thing, and can only imagin how ripped off I would feel if I had.  While I didn't complete all the achievments in the game (I never found all 14 weapon upgrades) I did find and deal with every single little sister in the game.  I researched every plasmid.  I even opened every tonic slot.  I was pretty thourough, though not overly so.  Yet all that netted was 10 hours.  Disgraceful.  If you plan on picking up BioShock 2 for the multiplayer then fine, since I don't have XLive I couldn't even see what the Multiplayer menu incorpartated.  It could be great... Maybe that is where 2 years and millions and millions of dollars went.  But if you plan on getting the game for the campaign here is my suggestion, DON'T.  Either that or rent it like I did.  Trust me you won't be charged a late fee on this one.  

The good news is that since I've taken longer bathroom trips than BioShock 2 I was able to resume work on my Caliburn game.  Continuing to put off a final version of the map I decided to pick up working on character creation.  Part of the character creation process won't involve the player's characters at all.  Before they can get to that they must design the noble house to which they are apart or serve.  

To do this I am modifiing the ASIF RPG's House creation system.  Green Ronin did an amazing job with this innovative feature that let's the players design the House themselves from the ground up.  By making the house themselves the players feel a sense of ownership with the game and the setting, a sense of comradery with one another, and an investment in key NPCs who also serve the house.  

In creating a House I am giving the players the choice of which of the fifteen Kings of Caliburn they want to serve.  Choosing a Kind is about more than which banner looks cool.  Each Kingdom grants certain bonuses and penalties to the House's statistics (a feature that is built into the the ASIF RPG House creation system), grants a special bonus and liability, and has a completley different setting and story.  The goal is that the players are just as invested in the game, and have nearly as much control in shaping the outcome, as the GM.   Typically I run a more structured, plot driven game, but this game is more about everyone playing a role in shaping the story.  So if the players want to focus on political intrigue they will likely serve Cador Von Draken of Albion.  But if they wanted to focus more on exploration then they would choose to serve one of the Frontier Kings of a more remote region.  

Above is a preview of one of the quick reference pages in the House creation chapter of the players book.  Obviously it isn't finished and formatting is still a work in progress.  I'm using Indesign, and it isn't all that easy to use.

Dungeon Map

Posted by Labyrinthian in

Made this dungeon map last night while wallowing after the Superbowl.  I hate it, but I pretty much hate everything right now so maybe I should reserve judgment. 

Mystical Blue Horseshoe Free Custom Map Giveaway!!!

Posted by Labyrinthian in

I've never said it before, but I'll let you know now... I am a HUGE Colts fan.  Peyton Manning is my all-time favorite player, a modern Hercules in my eyes.  All of this is important because of tomorrow's big event, the Superbowl.  Of course, I would love it if they won, and should that victory become a reality tomorrow I want to spread some of that happiness around.

To that end I will be giving away a custom map in the event of a Colts victory.  That's right, if the Colts win tomorrow I will select one person at random and create for them a completely custom map.  Details on the giveaway and how to enter will (hopefully) be coming on Monday.  So pull for Manning and the Colts tomorrow and don't forget to come back on Monday to enter if they win! 


ASIF Stuff

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I've been a little lax with the ASIF news as of late so here is a list of stuff for you guys.

  • No, GRRM has not finished A Dance With Dragons yet.  However, he has made some progress.  He posted recently on his site that he has had some sucess latley and that the manuscript was "within spitting distance of 1200 pages."  Certainly all this is promising but he has yet to work out what he calls his "Meeranese Knot" that has been troubling him for some time now. 
  • There is a great site I found for news on HBO's A Game of Thrones called Winter is Coming.  Head on over and check it out.  
  • According to that site HBO is looking to premiere the pilot in spring of 2011.  This depresses me.
  • Dark Sword Miniatures has continued their line of ASIF minis.  These things are amazing, and if you haven't taken a look you really should.  They recently released the one of Sansa Stark building her snow castle
  • Speaking of Dark Sword, GRRM is currently running a poll to see which character they should do next.  Head on over and voice your opinion. Daenerys Targaryen currently has a comfortable lead.
  • One of my good friends recently bought me A Game of Thrones the board game.  I've been eying it for quite some time, but it was a little pricey.  I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but expectations are high.  It got an excellent review on Board Game Geeks.  I'll be sure and let you guys know how it is once I get a chance to play it. 
Well that's it for now.  Hopefully we'll get more good news on ADWD in the coming months!

    Hackmaster Website Levels Up

    Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,

    Kenzerco has updated their Hackmaster website.  Though their former site was fully functional I find this new look to be much better.  Head over and check it out!

    New Map... Now with Adventure!

    Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

    Continuing with the style I've been working on I present this map, the third it the series.  This map began with no purpose other than creating another map and working on things I didn't like about the previous map.  However, as I was making it I found myself creating an adventure as I went along.  It's an odd way to create an adventure, and certainly a first for me.

    Part One:
    Essentially the set up is this; the party are garrisoning a small broken down tower at the top of a lonely hill on the western border of a small Barony.  This is understood to be a very dishonorable assignment, as the Barony is currently under attack and the tower (called Highwatch) is about as far from the action as it gets.

    Who is attacking the Barony?  Well hold on I was about to get to that.  Last year during a tournament and festival a mysterious Knight clad all in Black showed up and challenged the Baron, Viktor Teague, to a duel to the death, clamming grievance against the Baron's family for some wrong done the mysterious Knight's house.  Unwilling to battle a man he did not know the Baron ordered his Knights to capture the rogue and clap him in irons.  Unfortunately the Black Knight's prowess in battle was beyond anything the Baron or his Knights had ever seen.  He slew five of the Baron's best before riding away and vowing that the whole Barony would pay.

    That fall the Black Knight seemed poised to make good his promise.  From far off he rallied an army to his banner and launched an assualt against the Barony.  He attacked from the east, taking the tower of Eastguard and slaying all who were stationed there.  Just as it seemed nothing could stop him from marching on the rest of the Barony an early winter froze the Black Knights campaign.  His army set up camp around the tower he had taken and waited patiently for the spring thaw.

    As the game open spring has finally begun to chase away the snow.  The roads and trails are still muddy and the fords impassable, but that will soon change.  The Baron has summoned all his men to him and prepares to make a stand at the town of Calton, one of the Barony's three largest towns.  As he will need all his best and most experienced soldier to defeat the Knight in the field he has summoned all veterans to his banner and replaced guard posts with green inexperienced youths.  Thus the PCs have been sent far from the conflict to guard a tower so small and inconsequential that the greatest danger seems of dying of boredom.

    But not too long after settling into their new home at Highwatch tower they find their new role in the coming conflict will be anything but small.  If the PCs do not succumb to melancholy at their assignment and remain vigilant in their duties (keeping watch, going on patrol, etc) they notice a group of strange men who have set up camp in the area.  If the PCs are not vigilant then a messenger from the nearby hamlet of West Haven is sent to let the garrison of the tower know.  Either way the PCs have a chance of spying on the men as they lay encamped at the base of the foothills.

    It quickly becomes apparent to any PCs who eavesdrops on the campers that they are part of a second army that the Black Knight summoned and is approaching from the West.  These men are the advanced scouts, sent ahead of the main army to find out what kind of opposition they can expect.  The men are laughing and joking about how easy it will be to sneak in behind the Baron and take his castle when he moves his forces east to challenge the other force.  The PCs have two main option here, let the men go, or try and take them out.  Now these men are professional soldiers so they are no pushover, but at the same time if the PCs employ stealth they can take them unarmored and unawares.  Patient players find that the men have at least one guard on duty at all times.

    Boy this is getting long... More after the jump!

    What I've Been Reading Lately

    Posted by Labyrinthian in ,

    I've been reading some great articles on the internet over the past few days.  It is cool that despite the loss of Gaming magazines like Dragon (sniff) and Dungeon, a wealth of great gaming information is still out there just waiting to be read.

    Now you all know that I love Gnome Stew and have been an avid reader of the site for quite a while now.  What you may not know is that I actually have a favorite Gnome, DNA Phil.  I have found a consistent quality in Phil's articles that always put them right at the top of my reading list.  His series 'Lessons from the Long Campaign' was awesome.  Recently he did a piece that I really enjoyed called, 'That Cool Thing You Character Does.'  In the article Phil points out that people can become dissatisfied with their characters even if the setting and story are perfect.  A player unhappy with their character looses interest and it can ruin the game.  To prevent this from happening he offers a series of ways the GM can work with the player to prevent it.  Very good read.

    Other than Gnome Stew my favorite Gaming blog is probably the RPG Blog II. Zach, the owner of the site, is extremely consistent, and his articles often offer great insight.  He is something of an old-school Gamer, one of the reasons I enjoy his site.  One of his recent articles, 'Low Magic Wizards' really hit home for me.  The article deals with the amount of magic in a game and how he constantly feels that there should be less and it should be more mysterious.  You don't have to convince me that Magic needs to be toned down in most games.  Again this is a good read, short and to the point.

    The final article I'd like to share with you I stumbled across quite by accident.  It comes from a blog that I'd never read before called The Tao of D&D.  The author has done a immense amount of historical research to provide insight into the kind of economy one would encounter in the middle ages.  A word of warning, this article is extremley long, but is worth it.  Check it out here.

    The Perfect System

    Posted by Labyrinthian in , , ,

    For most of us the perfect system just doesn't exist.  That is why so many people find they must house rule things, in a never ending attempt to reach that perfect place.  Many people are still playing first edition, using that as a launch pad and adding heaps of house rules until it is their version of the perfect game, or at least as close as they can make it.  

    I think my launch pad will be Advanced Hackmaster.  I really like what Kenzer has done, and the combat system just blows turn based combat out of the water.  That having been said, I still think that I'll end up using a number of house rules to bring it closer to what I consider to be the perfect system. 

    The other GM in my group, the one currently running the Pathfinder game that I haven't posted about in a while, feels that 3rd edition is his launch pad.  He likes the system, but there are a lot of things about it that he doesn't like.  He plans on going through the game chapter by chapter and modifing the game to his specific tastes and using his highly modified system whenever he runs a game. 

    Though some would call this extreme, I call it perfect, or at least as close as one will ever come.  Why simply put up with an aspect of a system that you don't like?  We gamers are a creative bunch, why not focus that creativity to create your own perfect game?  You can save a lot of time by using a preexisting game as a starting point, and house rules galore will get you the rest of the way. 

    Don't be afraid to change things.  Experiment to find what works for you and your group.  Perfection might be an impossible dream, but how will you know if you don't try?

    At least until you become fabulously wealthy and can hire your own gaming company to design a system just for you! 

    Blame Mass Effect 2

    Posted by Labyrinthian in ,


    That's right, blame Mass Effect 2 for my lack of posting.  I am very fond of Bio Ware games and Mass Effect one was one of my very favorites.  For those of you yet to get your hands on the sequel I won't spoil anything for you, but suffice to say it is a very worthy successor. 

    Those of you unfamiliar with the series should definetly go check it out if you are into SciFi RPGs, as this is the best series going for console of PC. 

    Rest assured, faithful readers that I am finished with the game and life should now return to normal. 

    ...That cheer you heard was actually my wife's.