The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 27 - If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different when you first started gaming?

The one thing I would have done differently is keep in touch with everyone. We drifted apart and did not keep in touch. Another thing I would have done differently is to ship my stuff in multiple smaller packages. As far as gaming, I do not think I would have changed anything.

Perhaps the one thing I regret is not trying to sell some of my adventures. I created a module, "The Key to Druid's Gate" in 1981. I ran it as a tournament dungeon at a local convention in Salt Lake City. We sold a few copies in the dealer's room.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 26 - Do you still game with the people who introduced you to the hobby?

I lost all contact with the person who introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons when I left Germany. I occasionally reach out to some of my original gaming group. The same is true of my collage gaming group. We spread all over the country. Children, marriages, and divorces tend to take time away from gaming.



I found the image here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 25 - Longest running campaign/gaming group you've been in.

I have never been in any campaign that has been running longer than my World of Tiglath campaign. The dates on the world maps go back to 1998. I created the video of the spinning globe in 2001. Some of the places and dungeons are much older. For example, the second dungeon I created was my Big Dungeon around 1975. My Big Dungeon has several entrances. In my current campaign, the party found an entrance through the palace of Th' Shoiz Shai Zhai.

video

Day 24 - First movie that comes to mind that you associate with D&D. Why?

The first movie I think of is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Adventures should be fun like Raiders of the Lost Ark. I love the scene with the large rock rolling after the characters. It is reminiscent of the Wile E. Coyote cartoons.

I use a similar trap in a dungeon I created to emulate Hellwell from the Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny. In the book, an on my dungeon, the door to Hellwell is inscribed with the words, "Go away. This is not a place to be. If you do try to enter here, you will fail and also be cursed. If somehow you succeed, then do not complain that you entered unwarned, nor bother us with your deathbed prayers." The inscription is signed, "The Gods."

My Hellwell dungeon has fifty-foot wide corridors winding around a huge central shaft. There are several large boulders type traps. The boulders roll down the corridors and eventually falls down the central shaft. Avoiding the boulders is relatively easy. The bigger problem is the noise the boulder causes as it warns all the denizens of the lower dungeon.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 23 - First song that comes to mind that you associate with D&D. Why?

Hotel California by the Eagles is the first song that comes to mind I associate with D&D. The lyrics give a definite adventure feel.

And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
"Relax", said the night man,
"We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! "


"Steely knives" have no effect on numerous monsters in D&D. Those monsters require silver or magical weapons. The song reminds me of Tegal Manor produced by the Judges Guild. Both came out in 1977.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 22 - First D&D-based novel you ever read (Dragonlance Trilogy, Realms novels, etc.)

I tried reading the D&D based novel Quag Keep by Andre Norton. Previously, I read many of her books. However, I could not make it through Quag Keep. I thought it was awful. Never tried another D&D based novel.

There are too many good fantasy novels. For example, I love George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. The books are much better than the shows on HBO.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 21 - First time you sold some of your D&D books -- for whatever reason.

I never sold any of my D&D books. I have all my copies not destroyed in shipping. I am bibliophile and bibliomane. I have nineteen bookcases in my apartment, most filled with books. Magazines fill one bookcase. The only reason I do not have more bookcases is adding more would make it difficult to get through the apartment.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 20 - First non-D&D RPG you played.

The first non-D&D RPG I played was Boot Hill. I had a copy of the first printing of Boot Hill. I remember the first and only game we played of Boot Hill. I believe we tried to have ten or more players in the first game. Because of the simultaneous game play, each player wrote down what his character was going to do. The result was hilarious. One of the players said they were going to buy a bath. A gun battle erupted almost immediately. The character taking a bath was out of the action until a stray round came through the window and hit the tub. Before the character in the bath could react, half the town was dead from the gun battle. It was fun to watch, but deadly.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 19 - First gamer who just annoyed the hell out of you.

I have been lucky. Very few gamers annoy me. The only gamer I remember that annoyed the hell out of me kept trying to kill my character. I was gaming with a group in a rather high level somewhat Monty Hall type game. For a chance, I was playing, not DMing.

I cannot remember why, but somehow I upset the woman. I was playing a tank type fighter. In the middle of combat, her character would attack my fighter with some spell. Only the healer kept me alive. After several games, I decided to get back at her. I previously blogged about my Total Party Kill as a Player Character.

The picture is from here.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 18 - First gaming convention you ever attended.

I have never attended a gaming convention. I attended many science fiction conventions. Most science fiction conventions have some gaming events. For years, I ran the gaming in the science fiction conventions in Salt Lake City.

Day 17 - First time you heard D&D was somehow "evil."

I first heard someone say D&D was evil in the early 80s.

I grew up in Utah. I was a non-Mormon in a very Mormon state. Without going into personal details, in-laws from both sides my family ostracized us. I grew up on a street where there were two first-degree murders, several rapes, reports of incest, and bestiality. My high school had a reputation for drugs. I went to school with Warren Jeffs. He was a year older. Warren made the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

With that background, when I heard a few people saying D&D was evil, I laughed. I have a good idea what evil is. Evil is beating your daughter to death with a baseball bat because she was on drugs. Evil is getting in a bar fight, driving home to get your shotgun, and then driving back to the bar to blow the other guy away. Evil is raping your daughter. When you have lived around people who do real evil you laugh at people who think some role-playing game is evil.

As the saying goes, I marched to the beat of a different drummer.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Agile Role Playing

I manage software development for a living. The basis for agile software development is the Agile Manifesto based on twelve principles. I believe role-playing should follow a similar pattern.

Manifesto for Agile Role Playing

Individuals and interactions over processes and a particular set of rules
Continuous delivery of interesting and fun adventures over comprehensive documentation and rules
Collaboration with the players over arguing rule specifics
Responding to change over following a plan, module, or rule

Principles behind Agile Role Playing

The highest priority is to satisfy the players through early and continuous delivery of interesting and fun adventures.

Welcome changing players and characters, even late in the campaign. Harness change for the opportunity to introduce new and exciting plot twists and adventures.

Deliver interesting and fun adventures frequently.

Build campaigns around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to make the adventures interesting and fun.

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information is role-playing. Interactions with non-player-characters is preferable to finding notes and maps.

Players coming back repeatedly is the primary measure of progress in the campaign.

The Agile process promotes a sustainable campaign. The DM and players should be able to maintain a continual adventure indefinitely. The adventure is never over.

Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Simplicity - the art of maximizing the amount of work not done - is essential.

The best adventures and campaigns emerge from the ideas of the players.

At regular intervals, the DM and the players reflect on how to make the adventures more effective and fun, then tune and adjust their behavior accordingly.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 16 - Do you remember your first edition war? Did you win?

The first edition war I remember was between Original D&D (OD&D) and Advanced D&D (AD&D or 1st Edition). I remember how many considered Gary Gygax evil incarnate for what he did to the game. I tended to side with that view. I did not like the changes Gary Gygax was pushing. I am amazed at how people now revere someone I revile for figuratively stabbing Dave Arneson in the back.

The popularity of AD&D eclipsed OD&D. Even though I ran AD&D games, I ran a much looser game, more in the spirit of OD&D. In the end, I say I lost the war. OD&D tended to foster player-vs.-player conflict. I miss the old days where a player would play an assassin masquerading as a thief so he could join the party only to kill them for the loot.

When I run a game today, I ask the players for their character name, race, class, and gender. I used to ask players to introduce their character and describe to the party what race, class, and gender they appear to be. That is a very subtle difference. You never knew who or what was really in the party.

A good assassin could tell the rest of the party he was going to do a reconnaissance of the enemy. In reality, the assassin is not only doing a reconnaissance but also sneaking in and applying poison to the enemy's weapons. That way when the character dies from the poison on the blade the assassin gets the experience points but the party assumes the enemy/monsters just had poisoned weapons and they blame the DM.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 15 - What was the first edition you didn't enjoy. Why?

The first edition I did not enjoy was the fourth edition. I play it every week. Combat takes forever. I have played a variety of role-playing games over the years. The fourth edition continues a trend of making the players stronger and stronger. A first level cleric in OD&D had no spells. A first level cleric in fourth edition is much more powerful.

For me, role-playing and complex plots are more important than the actual rule edition. Players can role-play with any edition. Creating complex, interwoven plots and puzzles do not depend on the specific edition.



Current Situation

The map below shows the world of Tiglath.

Ages

The campaign is set in the fourth age. In the first age, the gods created the races inhabiting the World of Tiglath. The rise of the Assimilator marks the second age. The Assimilator was a powerful wizard who ruled the world with his five followers called the Assimilated Ones. The third age started with the binding of the Assimilator and the Assimilated Ones.

The third age was a time of great prosperity and peace. The third age ended with the Cataclysm. The Cataclysm split the continent of Lippanit into the two continents Lipro and Pancar. The Cataclysm is a cause of the friction between the royal house of Greth and Marazzer. The constant friction between the royal houses of Greth and Marazzer marks the fourth age.

Invasions

Every forty to fifty years Marazzer invades Greth. Fifty years ago, the forces of Greth defeated the Marazzer and killed the king of Marazzer on the battlefield.

For centuries, the Marazzer royal family persecuted the tribes inhabiting the central plain of Lipro. The tribes united as the Khanate of Marazzer. The Khanate stepped into the power vacuum left by the death of the king of Marazzer and took control.

For over forty years, the kingdom of Greth assumed the threat of the Marazzer was gone. They were wrong. The Khanate became powerful and ruthless. The kingdom of Greth realized the Khanate was about to invade. They attempted to mobilize. They drafted every able-bodied man and woman between the ages of eighteen and thirty.

The kingdom of Greth drafted the player characters in the campaign and sent them to the Peninsula of Pinge for training. Too late, the kingdom of Greth realized the strength and power of the forces of the Khanate of Marazzer. The kingdom of Greth decided to attempt to use extraordinary measures. They attempted to locate, free, and use one of the artifacts of the Assimilated Ones knowing this dangerous course could possibly free one of the terrible rulers.

The kingdom of Greth came unprepared to the battlefield. The Khanate of Marazzer defeated the forces of Greth. The Khanate did not take prisoners. They flayed all the survivors taking their skins as trophies.

The characters in the adventure survived because they never finished their training. By chance, they avoid the death of all their companions. Stranded in a land they do not know, they are attempting to reach the hut of Iroine, the leader of the resistance against the Marazzer.

Appary

The map below shows the village of Appary.


The party came to the village of Appary looking for information about Iroine. They found a detachment of Marazzer occupying the town. Fearing a werewolf, the party visited Chinyere, the Apothecary in Appary. Chinyere offered to pay for all the wolf's bane the party could collect. The party learned of the poisonous effect of wolf's bane.

Erskin

A young man named Erskin approaches the party. He tries to convince the party to come to a meeting that night of the local resistance against the Marazzer. Later, the party receives a warning that Erskin may not be who he seems he is.

Death of the Marazzer

The party decides rid the town of Marazzer by holding a party and poisoning the Marazzer. They kill all the Marazzer.

Chinyere the Apothecary

The party learns Chinyere knows how to contact Iroine. She will only help the party if the party helps her. Chinyere is the Apothecary in Appary. She inherited the shop from Siminas. Unfortunately, Siminas did not give Chinyere all his recipes before he died. Siminas previously treated four of the villagers: Nani, Akil, Wilkes, and Thorsten. Each villager had a different affliction. Chinyere will provide a detailed map to the Hut of Iroine if the party specifies the affliction Siminas cured for each villager, what herb Siminas used, where to find the herb, and a sample of the herb. The cure for each affliction is a different rare herb. Each herb grows in a different location. Strox is the name of one of the afflictions. Hissing Barley is the name of one of the herbs. One of the locations is the Western Crag. Do not treat Blue Eye Chills with Blood Radish. Blood Radish does not grow in Crone's Bog. Crone's Bog is where the herb to treat Scarlet Flue grows.

The Marazzer Camp

After killing all the Marazzer, the party loots their tents. The find a receipt for one hundred gold pieces given to Erskin for information.

The party finds notes from a Marazzer solder named Carvel. When the forces landed in Greth, Carvel pillaged a mage's home. The mage was working on decoding an ancient map to a powerful artifact belonging to one of the Assimilated Ones. They map was made from five pieces of jewelry. The jewelry was only ornate copper with semi-precious stones. Carvel used the jewelry to try to seduce wives in the town of Appary. The pieces of jewelry all had a different number of semi-precious stones. The pieces of jewelry had from one to five semi-precious gemstone.

  • A necklace was one of the pieces of jewelry
  • Velda did not get the ring
  • Tanicha's piece of jewelry had one semi-precious gemstone less than the pendant
  • Parvani's piece of jewelry had exactly one semi-precious gemstone less than the amulet but exactly one more than the piece of jewelry with garnets
  • Fotina's piece of jewelry had only one semi-precious gemstone
  • The bracelet has two semi-precious gemstones
  • There are three agate semi-precious gemstones in one piece of jewelry
  • Channa's piece of jewelry has four semi-precious gemstones
  • There are five semi-precious onyx gemstones in one piece of jewelry
  • The piece of jewelry with opals has exactly two more semi-precious gemstones than the one with the amber semi-precious gemstones

Nani

The party approaches Nani, one of the women in the town of Appary in order to get information so they can get help from Chinyere in getting to Iroine. Nani says she will only help the party if they bring her one the flowers growing in Noelani's garden. Noelani is her neighbor.

Noelani

Noelani will only help the party if they determine what is causing the noise in her basement. The party investigates Noelani's basement. They find an entrance to a large ant hive.


Ants

The party enters the ant hive. The ants are about one foot in length. The party kills the ants as they reach a large chamber. The party enters the tunnel to the right. The find a group of ants tending some eggs. Some of the ants attack the party. The remainder of the ants grab the eggs and retreat against wall. The party kills all the eggs with a spell. The ants attack. The party defeats the ants. The party retreats to the basement of Valen and Noelani to rest.

The next day the party continues the assault on the ant hive. They enter the second tunnel finding more ants and eggs. The party kills the ants. They notice a collar around the neck of one of the larger ants. The collar has the insignia is of a Greth infantry unit with name of Clem on a dog tag. Again, the party retreats to the basement of Valen and Noelani to rest.

The party returns to explore another tunnel. After killing more ants, they find the tunnel leads to the basement of another house. The party then attacks the ants in the upper part of the central chamber. After defeating the ants, the party discovers another ant with a collar. The collar has the name Sal on the dog tag. The collar also has a gold locket with some brunet hair inside. The party decides to retreat to Dead Eye's Moon Inn to ask the innkeeper, Sapphire, about the collars.

Kostas

Someone is waiting in the inn for the party to return. A single Marazzer names Kostas is sitting at a table eating dinner as the party returns. Kostas is wearing skintight black leather. The leather is so black your eyes cannot focus on it. Kostas announces he was waiting for their return. Kostas places a small wooden box on the table. Inside the box is Erskin's head. Kostas says Erskin no longer has any value to the Marazzer. Kostas says the Marazzer know the party is responsible for the death of the solders. Since the death involved poison, the High Command sent Kostas to investigate. Kostas says the Marazzer will soon return because the party is too insignificant for his attention. Kostas then steps into the shadows and disappears.

The party decides to ask Sapphire about the collars then leave. They bring the collars out and show them to Sapphire. Suddenly, Kostas appears with a dagger at the throat of one of the party and asks about the collars. Kostas said the Marazzer knew a powerful wizard named Thaddea came to Appary. Thaddea was hiding under the name Judy and masquerading as a young girl. The Marazzer know the Greth army sent three soldiers named Clem, Sal, and Sander to help Thaddea in her research. Clem, Sal, and Sander are the names on the dog tags on the collars the party found on the ants. Kostas tells the party the Marazzer will leave the village and the party alone if they provide information about Thaddea's research. Kostas tells the party they have three days.

The Queen Ant

The party returns to the ant hive. They destroy the ants, the eggs, and the queen. They find the body of a woman. In the back of the chamber are a set of metal covered double doors.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 14 - Did you meet your significant other while playing D&D? Does he or she still play?

I met my significant other while at Nolacon II, the 46th World Science Fiction Convention in New Orleans in 1988. My wife says she played a little D&D but does not like it. She has never played in any game I have been in or run. She has watched a few games.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 13 - First miniature(s) you used for D&D.

I prefer the "theater of the mind" to using miniatures and grids. I never used miniatures much. Many years ago, I had lots of free time a work while waiting for programs to compile. I remember when a build would take an hour. At one point in my life, I was able read one to two books a day at work. When I was tired of reading, I prepared miniatures. I carved, sanded, and glued the miniatures. I had a complete set of fine files to work on the miniatures. I then primed and painted them. Computers got faster and faster. I had less and less time to wait.

I still have all my miniatures. Most are in good shape. However, my favorite fighter took a tumble. He is in need of some repair. I cannot remember the first miniatures I purchased. I have a foam-filled box with most of my miniatures. I dug out a couple for a picture for this post.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 12 - First store where you bought your gaming supplies. Does it still exist?

Initially I purchased my gaming supplies via mail. I started gaming while stationed in Erlangen, Germany. I never found any local gaming stores. I purchased my graph paper from a local engineering supply. I used millimeter graph paper 280 mm by 380 mm. I used 1 mm equal 1 foot scale. I made the walls one foot thick.

After leaving the military, I remember a gaming store in Salt Lake City. However, I still used mail order for most of my gaming supplies. My preference for mail order goes back to junior high school. The selection of science fiction books was always limited in the local stores. I started ordering books directly from the publisher. I did the same thing with model rockets. With gaming, I just continued the trend. Today, I use Amazon.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 11 - First splatbook you begged your DM to approve.

Since I tend to DM a lot more than I game, I never asked the DM to approve any splatbooks. If the campaign focuses on combat, I prefer to run a tank type fighter. In combat, I want to get in there and draw some blood. On the other hand, if the game focuses on role-playing and/or politics, then splatbooks do not matter.

One of the memorable quotes from the Princess Bride is, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Every group I have played with has always done something nefarious. A pickpocket tries to rob a member of the party. Instead of turning the pickpocket over to the authorities, they practice vigilante justice and execute the pickpocket. Imagine the surprise when a young man ambushes the party and shouts, "You killed my father. Prepare to die!"



The image is based on graphics from here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 10 - First gaming magazine you ever bought (Dragon, Dungeon, White Dwarf, etc.)

The first gaming magazine I purchased was the Strategic Review. The Strategic Review became the Dragon after the seventh issue. I remember issue #1 of the Dragon. I ordered my copies and subscription directly from Tactical Studies Rules. Tactical Studies Rules later changed their name to TSR.

The Dungeon and White Dwarf came years later. I remember when I first saw a copy of White Dwarf. The first thing to catch my eye was the European page size. The Dungeon never interested me. I prefer to create my own adventures.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 9 - First campaign setting (homebrew or published) you played in.

I remember the first campaign I played in. Steve and I both started playing Dungeons and Dragons the same night up in brigade operations. Steve designed his own campaign. He wanted to run a higher-level campaign. I do not remember what level we actually were. I do remember the magic user has a Staff of Wizardry.

The party came up to the first castle. The drawbridge was up. The wizard pulled out his Staff of Wizardry and used telekinesis on the drawbridge. Steve shouted, "You can't do that!" You can tell an adventure is not going to go well when the first action of the party starts a Rules War. The party finally agreed we could not use telekinesis on the drawbridge. Instead we used disintegrate. Defeated, Steven mumbled, "ok". We did not know the drawbridge was a key feature of the entire castle/adventure. Steve designed the castle with all kinds of different effects dependent on the state of the drawbridge. We disintegrated a key component of the adventure in our first action.

Things really got out of hand. We sacked the castle with little effort. Steve was disheartened. He did not run his campaign for a long time after that. I learned to expect the worst from my players. I decided to create a castle just for that high-level party. But, that is another post.


The image was taken from here:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day 8 - First set of polyhedral dice you owned. Do you still use them?

I bought a set directly from TSR along with the original books. The manufacturer used soft plastic. After a year of heavy use, they turned into marbles. I lost my original dice in the disaster of shipping my stuff from Germany.

Dice were only available in 4, 6, 8, 12, and 20 sides when I started playing Dungeons and Dragons. Twenty sided dice had numbers from zero to nine, twice. I painted half of the die to show the higher numbers. Now you can get dice with 10, 24, 30, and 100 sides. I even found a place selling dice with 3, 5, 7, 14, 16, and 50 sides.

How about a one side die? Take a Mobius strip and number the side. Now you have a one sided die. Someone has probably made it, but how about a two side die? Just take a coin and number the sides 1 and 2.



The art is from here:
With a video here:

Day 7 - First D&D Product you ever bought. Do you still have it?

The first D&D product I ever bought was the original white box. Unfortunately, I only have part of the original contents. When I left Germany, I foolishly mailed a big box of stuff home including all the Dungeons and Dragons stuff. Customs inspected the box and did not seal it back up properly. The box split open in the mail. I lost half of my books, all my copies of the Strategic Review, and most of my copies of the Dragon. I insured the package, but the Post Office would only pay for the things I could document. I got about $20.

I always preferred to create my own campaign rather than buy modules. The one exception was Tegal Manor. I still have my original copy of Tegal Manor. That was an awesome adventure from the Judges Guild.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Day 6 - First character death. How did you handle it?

Losing your queen in a game of chess can imply you are not going to win the game unless you are very careful. Losing a character in Dungeons and Dragons should be even less worrisome. You should just pull out another sheet of paper and roll up another character. I think the first character I lost was a human magic user. If I remember correctly, I did something foolish half expecting to die. When I rolled poorly, my character died. I knew the risks, but I went ahead and attacked.

I rolled up another character and asked the DM if there was a way to slide that character into the party. I ended up watching the other players and did not get back into the adventure. It provided an opportunity to study how another DM ran their game.

I always prefer to have my characters go out in a blaze of glory. As the saying goes, "No guts, no glory!" The poem Soldier An' Sailor Too by Kipling always inspired me.

Soldier An' Sailor Too

As I was spittin' into the Ditch aboard o' the ~Crocodile~,
I seed a man on a man-o'-war got up in the Reg'lars' style.
'E was scrapin' the paint from off of 'er plates,
  an' I sez to 'im, "'Oo are you?"
Sez 'e, "I'm a Jolly — 'Er Majesty's Jolly — soldier an' sailor too!"
Now 'is work begins by Gawd knows when, and 'is work is never through;
'E isn't one o' the reg'lar Line, nor 'e isn't one of the crew.
'E's a kind of a giddy harumfrodite — soldier an' sailor too!

An' after I met 'im all over the world, a-doin' all kinds of things,
Like landin' 'isself with a Gatlin' gun to talk to them 'eathen kings;
'E sleeps in an 'ammick instead of a cot,
  an' 'e drills with the deck on a slew,
An' 'e sweats like a Jolly — 'Er Majesty's Jolly — soldier an' sailor too!
For there isn't a job on the top o' the earth the beggar don't know, nor do —
You can leave 'im at night on a bald man's 'ead, to paddle 'is own canoe —
'E's a sort of a bloomin' cosmopolouse — soldier an' sailor too.

We've fought 'em in trooper, we've fought 'em in dock,
  and drunk with 'em in betweens,
When they called us the seasick scull'ry-maids,
  an' we called 'em the Ass Marines;
But, when we was down for a double fatigue, from Woolwich to Bernardmyo,
We sent for the Jollies — 'Er Majesty's Jollies — soldier an' sailor too!
They think for 'emselves, an' they steal for 'emselves,
  and they never ask what's to do,
But they're camped an' fed an' they're up an' fed before our bugle's blew.
Ho! they ain't no limpin' procrastitutes — soldier an' sailor too.

You may say we are fond of an 'arness-cut, or 'ootin' in barrick-yards,
Or startin' a Board School mutiny along o' the Onion Guards;
But once in a while we can finish in style for the ends of the earth to view,
The same as the Jollies — 'Er Majesty's Jollies — soldier an' sailor too!
They come of our lot, they was brothers to us;
  they was beggars we'd met an' knew;
Yes, barrin' an inch in the chest an' the arm, they was doubles o' me an' you;
For they weren't no special chrysanthemums — soldier an' sailor too!

To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you've cover to 'and, an' leave an' likin' to shout;
But to stand an' be still to the ~Birken'ead~ drill
  is a damn tough bullet to chew,
An' they done it, the Jollies — 'Er Majesty's Jollies —
  soldier an' sailor too!
Their work was done when it 'adn't begun; they was younger nor me an' you;
Their choice it was plain between drownin' in 'eaps
  an' bein' mopped by the screw,
So they stood an' was still to the ~Birken'ead~ drill, soldier an' sailor too!

We're most of us liars, we're 'arf of us thieves,
  an' the rest are as rank as can be,
But once in a while we can finish in style
  (which I 'ope it won't 'appen to me).
But it makes you think better o' you an' your friends,
  an' the work you may 'ave to do,
When you think o' the sinkin' ~Victorier~'s Jollies — soldier an' sailor too!
Now there isn't no room for to say ye don't know —
  they 'ave proved it plain and true —
That whether it's Widow, or whether it's ship, Victorier's work is to do,
An' they done it, the Jollies — 'Er Majesty's Jollies —
  soldier an' sailor too!

The Birkenhead is the origin of the concept of "women and children first". The commander ordered the men to stand in ranks as the ship sank. This was to avoid the men swamping the lifeboats with the women and children. The line, "But to stand an' be still to the Birken'ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew, shows the courage of the men. I want my characters to follow the same idea, But once in a while we can finish in style


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day 5 - First character to go from 1st level to 20th level (or highest possible level in a given edition)

I prefer being the DM rather than playing. I never took a character to twentieth level until playing D&D third edition. I played a human fighter. I previously blogged how this character died, Total Party Kill as a Player Character,

I remember when Dragon Magazine issue #5 came out. Bill Seligman wrote an article titled "Gandalf Was Only a Fifth Level Magic-User". As a DM, I run into difficulty handling high-level magic users. In OD&D, a fourteenth level Magic User can have a Limited Wish spell once a day. I find if you have intelligent and creative players, the campaign degenerates. The campaign turns into a Wish War or mimics the Twilight Zone episode, "It's a Good Life".



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 4 - First dragon you slew (or some other powerful monster)

A more efficient and more remorseless killing machine than a dragon does not exist in all of nature. So precisely honed are their killing techniques and instincts that millions of years have wrought no evolutionary improvements. They are as they were at the dawn of creation -- as patient, as watchful, as swift, and just as incapable of pity. By comparison, even the great white shark is second-class. The dragon is infinitely more efficient because it thinks about killing and uses practiced stealth to catch its victims. And it can do this on land, water, or in the air. A dragon can sprint fast enough to grab an adventurer before the victim gets up speed enough to escape. Hitting a dragon anywhere except the brain is pretty much a wasted effort. Unless you can blow one apart with a howitzer, the dragon's reaction to a body shot will be almost no reaction at all. (I paraphrased this paragraph from an article on crocodiles found here:)

I remember hearing the story of Jim Carmichel killing a sixteen-foot crocodile. He shot the crocodile in the head. While dragging the body of the croc from one riverbank to the other, the croc woke up. The first shot hit the croc's brain. But, the croc is too stupid to know it is dead. He emptied two more rounds into the croc's head. They got the croc to the riverbank and skinned it. An hour later they came back to find the dead, skinned croc untouched by any scavenger and with a dead buzzard in its mouth. Even without a brain, the nervous system of the croc sensed the buzzard and killed it, without thinking. A dragon is much more dangerous than a croc. A dragon will keep on fighting even after it is dead.

Personally, I cannot remember killing a dragon (except in Skyrim). I tend to play low-level fighters. They often die before they kill anything significant. I do remember playing Tunnels and Trolls with Rocky Russo. I found a wand that would "kill any monster". We fought something big and nasty. I was nearly dead. I pulled out the wand and killed it. Until I wrote this, I did not realize that Rocky passed away in 2012.




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Monday, February 3, 2014

The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge - Day 3

What was the first dungeon you explored as a PC or ran as a DM?

I created the first dungeon I ran as a DM. It was awful. A friend and I borrowed the books, gathered up all the spare change we could muster, and headed downtown. We found a copy machine. Each copy cost twenty Pfennig. That was about $0.08 per page (the exchange rate was 2.50 marks to the dollar at the time). I created copies of the original three books and Grayhawk.

A short while later I pulled advanced guard duty in Hohenfels, Germany. My duty was to guard the tent full of equipment. The bigger challenge was to stay warm. I drew up my first dungeon on graph paper. The tent did not have any lanterns or sources of light. I pulled my cot next to the flap. I had to open the flap enough for light to shine in, but not wide enough to let out the heat. I drew up a huge dungeon. There was no story. Just a large number of rooms.

I only used that dungeon once. The game was a disaster. After an hour we stopped. I generated everything randomly. The majority of the rooms were empty. I knew there was something wrong but I did not know what the problem was.

Shortly after returning from Hohenfels, my copies of the original books, Grayhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry arrived. At first, I dismissed Blackmoor. Blackmoor added the Assassin class. I keep trying to figure out what was wrong with my dungeon. Finally, I noticed the Temple of the Frog in Blackmoor.

Blackmoor is the only one of the original books written solely by Dave Arneson. That points out the difference between Gygax and Arneson. The original books controlled by Gygax imply everything is random. Arneson was the storyteller.

Blackmoor was a revelation. I learned from my failure with my first dungeon. I started making all the rooms interesting. The rooms had stuff in them. The dungeon had a reason; though, I admit some of the reasons required a lot of willing suspension of disbelief. Each room in the dungeon had something to make it interesting.

I still have my second dungeon. It is a mega dungeon by today's standards. A few months ago, in my World of Tiglath campaign, a group of players explored a small portion of it. That was fun.



Unfortunately, the US Postal Service destroyed my original copy of Blackmoor when I shipped it back from Germany.

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge - Day 2

The question is who was the first person you introduced to D&D? Which edition? What was their first character?

I introduced Dungeons and Dragons to several people at one time around 1977. I was in the army stationed in Erlangen, Germany. The Baader-Meinhof gang was captured, sentenced to life, and committed suicide. The remaining followers of the Red Army Faction (a.k.a. the Baader-Meinhof gang) tried recruit new followers by attacking some US bases. I heard they blew up an officer's club and some trucks in a motor pool. At this time, there was a serious drug problem on post. The heightened security because of the terror threat caused a disruption of the heroin drug supply.

One of the enterprising drug traffickers noticed if an opening. When there was a bomb threat at one end of the post, it was possible to smuggle a truckload of drugs on base through the gate at the other end of the post. Supposedly, the main drug traffickers on the post all worked in brigade S2. Brigade S2 is responsible for intelligence and security. The drug traffickers started calling in bomb threats. In response, each battalion headquarters company formed a bomb squad.

I was on one of the bomb squads. When you are on bomb squad duty, everyone has to stay together, all day long in the barracks. I convinced the entire squad to play Dungeon's and Dragons. I used the original Dungeon's and Dragons in the white box.

I was not very successful introducing Dungeon's and Dragons to the rest of the squad. After they caught the drug traffickers in brigade S2 and sent them Leavenworth, none of the group every played again. It was an interesting way to spend a day.

Someone called in three bomb threats while I was on bomb squad duty. The first two, the PX and the Officer's Club, found nothing. The third call was a bit different. A two-and-a-half-ton truck with a bulldozer blade was smoothing out the dirt racetrack just off post when it dug up a World War II anti-tank mine. The bomb squad had to keep everyone away until the bomb disposal unit arrived. They still find World War II bombs in Germany. In January of 2014, a construction worker near Bonn, Germany accidentally hit an unexploded bomb causing it to explode. The bomb killed the construction worker.



Image taken from here:


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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kilroy Was Here

Graffiti can be a powerful political force. Before the invention of the printing press and newspapers, graffiti was the tool to influence the masses. Graffiti can spice up fantasy role-playing.

In front of a set of double doors in a dungeon is one of my favorite places to scrawl in dried blood, "Open the other door!" This simple graffiti causes much consternation in the party. Should they heed the warning or not? Should they avoid the doors all together and go another way?

In a previous adventure in the World of Tiglath campaign, the party found some graffiti engraved in the wall. Someone used a stone shape spell to engrave, "Celadus makes the girls moan." The party heard the moans generated by a magic mouth spell. Unseen servant and magic mouth can add interesting dimensions to graffiti. The ruins of Pompeii are the source of the graffiti about Celadus.

"Kilroy was here" is a graffiti from World War II. According to the Straight Dope, numerous newspapers reported pregnant women going to the delivery room with "Kilroy was here" written on their stomachs.

The same Straight Dope article mentions Stalin demanding to know "Who is Kilroy?" after seeing the graffiti in an opulent marble bathroom during the meeting of the Big Three in Potsdam, Germany, in July 1945.

Back in the early 1980's, I dungeon mastered a game each week at the University of Utah. A friend of mine, Harley, created a human fighter named Julian. Harley came up with an interesting list of equipment. Julian, the fighter, always carried several pieces of chalk and paints. Julian left graffiti everywhere he ventured.



I took the graphic from here: http://www.planetcalypsoforum.com/forums/showthread.php?154048-*Free-Event*-Kilroy-Was-Here/page9

The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge - Day 1

The question was who is the first person who introduced you to D&D? Unfortunately, I cannot remember his name. I was in the Army and stationed in Erlangen Germany in 1975. A new staff sergeant joined the company. He was pulling brigade CQ duty. That mean he needed to monitor the phones and radio all night in case an urgent message arrived. This is a boring job most nights. The sergeant asked three of us to come over and play a game. We picked up some pizza from the local German bar and headed over to brigade headquarters.

The sergeant pulled out small white box containing the original three books, Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasure, and Underworld & Wilderness Adventures; he also had the first supplement Greyhawk. We start rolling up our characters while we ate our pizza (pizza in Germany is a bit different from pizza "back in the world" as we referred to the United States). My first character was a fighter. Grease from the pizza appropriately stained the character sheet.

We started actually playing around 7:00 PM. We ended the adventure the next morning right after reveille. I was hooked.