Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Best Edition

This past weekend, the old gang decided to get together and play some Dungeons & Dragons. I usually DM and was casting about for ideas of what to run. Halloween is just around the corner, so running something with a horror like theme came to mind.

One of the players had a really bad play experience with Ravenloft back in the 80s. I am not quite sure of the exact story, but he really didn't like the teleporters in the module. So naturally, I said we would be playing Ravenloft.

Except, I started to think about characters and editions. 5th edition is the new kid on the block, perhaps it is time I buy a copy and give it a spin. Except, I haven't really liked what I have seen of the rules. I never warmed up to 3rd edition and the d20 system that was big in 2000, and that is mainly what sticks out to me when I read over the 5th edition rules. I know a deluge of people claim that 5th edition is like 2nd edition, but I just don't see it. All I see are boatloads of DC numbers and a reworking of the d20 system.

So thinking it over some more, I really didn't want to burden everyone with making up characters, or getting into the groove of playing 1st edition AD&D, level 6-8 characters, so I struck upon the idea of using Purple Sorcerer Games Dungeon Crawl Classics character generator. It is really very good and you should check it out (See DCC Zero Level Character Generator).

That complimented the horror theme nicely. Instead of heroes navigating the dungeon, it is going to be a horde of peasants storming the castle! And not many of them will make it.

But, alas, I don't have a copy of the DCC rules. So, in the end, I realized that I will just play the edition of the game that I am best with. It is the edition that is in my head. It pretty much goes something like this.

The players will need a 12 or higher on a 1d20 to hit most monsters they are going to face.
If it is a really tough monster, or it seems like a really difficult kind of attack, then they need a 15 or higher.

If the players are attempting to do anything else, and it seems like there might be a chance of failure, I ask them to roll under whatever ability score seems appropriate. Such as, roll under strength to push over a heavy cauldron.

Monsters have enough hit points to survive two average hits. Tough monsters, somewhere around four hits.

Thats pretty much it, and is what I have used for most of the games I have run over the years. I feel that was pretty much the standard in Mentzer era Basic D&D and Allston/Heard era Basic D&D and 1st Edition through 2nd Edition AD&D. But really, the main thing is, the best edition is the one in your head, the one that comes naturally.

I learned a few things in the game we played, and hopefully I will gather my thoughts and write more about it soon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marco Polo Discovers Alaska

Quite a few of the posts I have done over the years involve world maps (See maps label for a list). Recently, it was reported that "Marco Polo Discovered America (allegedly)". Such a title grabs attention. The proof of the discovery comes from a map that was allegedly made by one of Marco Polo's daughters, and then passed down through the years until it ended up in a trunk of an Italian living in San Jose, California by the name of Marcian Rossi.

Such tales spur the imagination and lead to investigating obscure information.

One such tidbit is an old word the Chinese used; "Fusang" refers to several different entities in ancient Chinese literature, often either a mythological tree or a mysterious land to the East. (See Fusang on Wikipedia)

The documents that came with the map also make interesting descriptions of the lands and people across the sea. The area was known as the peninsula of seals. Marco Polo's alleged description of the people reads, "They wear only seal skin, eat only fish, and live in homes under the earth".

Of course, one could get into the definition of Discover. According to the map and notes, Marco Polo was just following information already known by (some?) of the local populous. And then you get back to Vikings landing in Newfoundland in 1000 AE, and then you get back to ancient Siberian people migrating to Alaska.

Still makes for some RPG ideas for a campaign setting.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A4 versus US Letter

For the 2014 One Page Dungeon Contest, one of the submission guidelines was the following

The submission must fit on one side of one page of paper (US Letter or A4).

For the 2015 One Page Dungeon Contest, the amended guideline is the following.

The submission must fit on one side of one page of paper. The preferred size for the contest submission is A4 (210mm x 297mm). The contest also accepts US Letter (8.5" x 11"). Read A4 versus US Letter for more details.

The most important thing to state is that there is no penalty for submitting an entry in the US Letter format. The submission will be sent to the judges just as it is received.

After the contest is over, the entries will remain in the gallery at exactly the size and format that they were originally submitted as and will continue to do so for as long as the website for the contest runs.

However, here are some of the reasons the A4 paper size preferred.

It has an interesting mathematically property, in that, if you cut a piece of A4 paper in half (the middle of the longer side). The resulting 2 pieces of paper are the exact same aspect ratio as the original piece.

If you look at the map of the world, most countries use A4. There are quite a few that use US Letter, but consider the following points.

Even though Mexico uses US Letter and that is about all you can find there, the government has adopted the ISO Standard with A4

And, similarly, in Canada, US Letter is prevalent, but again, the government has adopted the ISO Standard with A4