feedburner
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

feedburner count

D&D's 40th Anniversary Has Been A Busy One

Labels: , , , , ,

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the iconic roleplaying game Dungeons & Dragons, and thus far it's been far more than a note on the calendar. Often, a major milestone for an entertainment product will be marked simply by a commemorative badge on covers or new editions in stores. But with the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, the game is experiencing something of a turbulent year.

For starters, there's the issue of film rights, with various studios actually battling in court for the right to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie. But that's a separate issue that likely won't be resolved for some time. Aside from the film debate, Dungeons & Dragons as a game is facing the larger problem of attempting to remain relevant after a 4th Edition that many found disappointing.

To some extent, the idea of Dungeons & Dragons fighting for relevancy almost seems blasphemous. Yet an article in WGBH pointed out earlier this year that by 2012, D&D ranked only as the third best-selling roleplaying game. For reference, the wildly popular Pathfinder took over the top spot. There will always be fans loyal to the D&D brand, but at this point there's no denying the fact that other games—many of them directly imitating D&D—have succeeded in making themselves appealing to modern consumers.

Yet can Dungeons & Dragons really be struggling when its influence is so apparent across all spectrums of gaming? Think for a moment about different genres of table top games and video games—you may be surprised just how many of them trace back to the game widely credited with starting up the roleplaying genre, and popularizing fantasy models as well.

The first branch of influence comes quite simply from the title of the game! While D&D certainly didn't invent dragons, it did help introduce them to gaming spheres, and these days they seem to be everywhere. Popular video games like Skyrim and the Diablo series stand out as some of the biggest and best recent examples, but dragons have permeate all levels of gaming for years. Even in the online casino industry, the InterCasino platform—the longest running site in the industry—hosts numerous slot arcades designed with dragon themes (and titles) that you can view here. And in mobile apps (which can be said to represent the newest form of video games), dozens of dragon-related games are available in stores—some of them even playing with a roleplaying format.

Ultimately, D&D's influence in the gaming industry is so deep and broad-reaching that CNN even made it the focus of its 40th anniversary write-up. Going all the way back to 1988, the article cited Pool Of Radiance as the first video game to be developed based on D&D. Given some of the games just mentioned, it's fair to say that the video game market has been feeding off of D&D lore for over 25 years. In that regard, it's difficult to comprehend the idea of the original game struggling in any sense give that it's still being sold and maintains a passionate audience.

And right on cue, it seems that Hasbro and the folks behind D&D have created a new version to satisfy a modern market that was drifting away. To some extent, D&D may never regain its former popularity, simply because video games (and their increasing focus on online multiplayer capability) have taken over the industry. But it appears that the newly released 5th Edition of the game has at least helped to put D&D back on track, and it has received a favorable response from players.

Perhaps most importantly, the game seems to have returned to the basics in some respects, resembling all the best parts of its earlier editions. In an article titled "It's The Perfect Time To Play Dungeons & Dragons," Kotaku writer Quintin Smith noted: "This is the best, most exciting kind of D&D we've had in twenty years, and that's not all. It's never been more beginner friendly." That's about as strong a review as D&D fans could hope for: the best game in some time for experienced players, but also one that excels in attracting new players.

Whether or not the game can retake the top spot in the roleplaying genre remains to be seen. But for a 40th anniversary, 2014 has been a busy year for the D&D franchise—and possibly a great one as well given the review reviews of the 5th Edition.

Free (Old School) Fantastic Adventures Playtest Rules Available

Labels: , , , , , ,

I've mentioned that I am working on a special version of the Microlite74/Microlite81 rules for the new old school campaign I'm planning to start in October in the few posts I've managed to make since my world fell apart in April. I finally have an early (0.15) version of these rules "finished" and I have decided to make this initial very rough draft available as a public playtest. Many furture drafts will probably come out over the next couple of months -- most of the will only be released in the Donor Downloads area for RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Donors. Another public playtest draft should appear about the time the new campaign starts.

Fantastic Adventures combines some of the features of Microlite81 oin top of a Microlite74-ish base. Some of the distinguishing features of Fantastic Adventures include: only 3 classes (Fighter, Magician, and Sorcerer -- Magician is limited to white magic and can fight and turn undead); backgrounds include race, culture, and prior "profession" (and can be used to create theives, woodsmen, priests, etc.); only one spell list but three types of spells (white, grey, and black -- casting black magic can corrupt the caster). The final version of this game will be more of its own thing than an obvious version of M74/M81, however -- especially as it will be more complete (and therefore less "lite").

You can download a free copy of the 0.15 version of Fantastic Adventures here.

An ACKS Style Skill System?

Labels: , , , , ,

I'm attempting to convert my standard skill system from Microlite74 and Microlite81 to work as Adventurer Conqueror King System "throws" instead of the D20-style rolls plus bonuses because the people who want to play in my upcoming Garland campaign want to use ACKS style attack rolls, etc. I've come up with the following draft "Skill" rule and I'm looking for comments on it from a wider pool of people than the four people who will be playing in my new campaign. So please read and comment. :)

Skills
There are no skills in Microlite Old School 2014. Instead players are expected to think like adventurers, tell the GM what they are doing and the GM decides if it will succeed in the situation, taking into account the characters’ classes. If the GM decides a random success chance is truly needed he may resolve the situation with a throw or roll of his choice or he may call for one of the following throws from the table below:

Primary Class Throw: if the character is attempting something directly related to their class.
Secondary Class Throw: if the character is attempting something only loosely related to their class.
Primary Background Throw: if the character is attempting something that is not related to their class but is directly related to their background.
Secondary Background Throw: if the character is attempting something that is not related to their class but is at least loosely related to their background.
Unrelated Skill Throw: if the character is attempting something that anyone should be able to try with at least a small chance of success but is not really related to their class or background.

When the GM calls for a skill throw, he will declare the type of skill throw, which stat the skill throw falls under (add Stat bonus to throw), and any situational modifiers and the player will make a skill throw. The GM should make the throw in secret if seeing the result would give the player more information than his character should have.

Unless the GM rules otherwise, a natural roll of 20 always succeeds for a Primary Class, Secondary Class, or Primary Background Roll. The following situational modifiers are suggested for task difficulty: Easy: +1, Normal: 0, Difficult: -1, Hard: -2, Very Hard: -4, Legendary: -6, Unbelievable: -8.

If the skill throw is a success, the character's attempt to perform the task succeeds. Otherwise, the character's attempt to perform the task fails, meaning the character makes no progress toward the task's objective (or -- if the GM wishes -- makes progress but suffers a setback determined by the GM).

Skill Throw Table

Level Primary Class Secondary Class Primary Background Secondary Background Unrelated
1
10+
12+
14+
16+
20+
2
9+
11+
13+
15+
19+
3
9+
11+
13+
15+
19+
4
8+
10+
12+
14+
18+
5
7+
9+
11+
13+
18+
6
7+
9+
11+
13+
17+
7
6+
8+
10+
12+
17+
8
5+
7+
9+
11+
16+
9
5+
7+
9+
11+
16+
10
4+
6+
8+
10+
15+
11
3+
5+
7+
9+
15+
12
3+
5+
7+
9+
14+
13
2+
4+
6+
8+
14+
14
1+
3+
5+
7+
13+

Questions for Consideration:
1) Should the a Stat Bonus really be added to all skill throws? I add them to skill rolls in Microlite74 and Microlite81 so I've kept the system here, but I really am not sure it is a good fit.

2) Are the suggested task difficulty situational modifiers reasonable?


Made my Saving Roll. I'm Not Dead Yet!

Labels: , , , ,

No, I did not die with my mother-in-law back in April. However, my life has undergone some huge upheavals. We spend six weeks in a remodel of my late mother-in-law's house so it could be sold to decide we'd rather live here and sell the house in Waco. So we spent a month packing up and moving from Waco. The house there has just come on the market and we are back in Garland slowly unpacking and trying to fit two houses worth of stuff in one house. Needless to say, a lot of stuff has already been sold (generally for peanuts) or donated to charity groups for their "garage sales". As you might expect, I haven't got much else done, but life is slowly returning to normal. Here is a progress report on my various gaming projects and activities.

Wilderlands Campaign: I'm happy to say that the Wilderlands campaign I ran in Waco for about four years is still going strong. It is now two campaigns, however, as none of the players in the campaign willing to GM could handle 8 players. There are now two smaller groups, one using Microlite74 and the other using Microlite81, playing in the same world. They are even taking steps to keep the time line coordinated so events in one group can affect the other. Everyone seems to be having a good time and I even got to play in one session while I was in Waco. The first time I've ever played in one of my own settings. It was fun -- but felt very weird at the same time.

DFW Campaign: While it will still be a couple of months before I have time for a regular campaign, one is in the works. Due to physical space limitations, it will be limited to 4 players -- and it is already full. One of the regular readers of this blog got in touch with me in early June wanting to know if i had time to run any pickup old school games while I was in the Dallas area. I didn't, but I got to talking with him and his friends. Once my wife and I decided to move up here, they started lobbying for me to run a campaign up here. It looks like I'll be writing a special set of variant Microlite81 rules for it with only three classes (Fighter, Sorcerer [a fighter/mu combo], and Wizard) with everything else including race handled by backgrounds and with some of the stuff from Microlite74 Swords and Sorcery (like the White/Grey/Black magic system). I hope to start playing sometime in October (or late September if we're lucky).

Microlite81, Microlite78, and Other Design Projects: I have not made much progress on these. As you might expect I have not had a lot of computer time the last few months and most of what time I did have on the computer had to be devoted to doing work for my clients. I'm gradually getting more time and hope to be able to resume actually typing up rules soon. The goal for Microlite78 was not reached -- not surprising when I disappeared from the Net for over three months. However, a lot of the work for a draft is done, so I will likely go ahead and do it anyway, especially given that a lot of people really want to see it.

5e: I've been asked (a lot) about my opinion of the upcoming 5e. Until I actually see the 5e PH, MM, and DMG, I can't really say much. However, from what I've seen there are so many changes from TSR D&D (a "sleep" spell that only lasts a couple of minutes, for example) that I would have to heavily rewrite my campaign settings to make them work with 5e. I see no reason to do so since the rules they were designed for still work just fine. Unlike 3.x and 4e, however, 5e looks like a system I could enjoy playing given an old school style GM and group of players, so while I will probably not ever GM a campaign using the 5e rules, I could seeing myself as a player in an appropriate 5e campaign.

With luck, it will not be another three months before my next post. :)

Post Funeral Update: Sunday Game, Microlite78, and New Microlite74 ebooks

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Microlite78 mockup coverThings have been moving since I last posted. I'm still in Garland and, except for some quick trips back to Waco, I will be for the forseeable future. There is a lot of work that needs to be done on the house my wife's mom lived it before it could be sold. A lot of fondation work had to be done a few years ago. Unfortunately, her mom put off things like replacing flooring, painting, and other repairs to things that were damaged either because of the foundation problems or during the repairs (installing some 20 piers). All of this will have to be done before the house could go on the market. Also, going through her things will take weeks by itself. I expect one or both of us will be here 3-4 days out of every week for the next 3-4 months.

This means the end of my Sunday Game -- at least as it is running now. One of the players has volunteered to copy my materials and try to continue it until my schedule is able to take it back. This is a good thing. I'll be back in Waco this week and will get the needed material to him. With luck, they'll be able to resume the campaign next weekend.

I had hoped to get a lot of work on Microlite81 and Microlite78 done over the last week -- as I had little to do for hours at a stretch. Unfortunately, I left the DVD with all my files backed up on my computer desk back in Waco, so there wasn't much I could do other than think about things. Donations for Microlite78 project really dropped off when my wife's mom died and I quit posting to this blog, message boards, etc. The deadline will be extended, of course, and once I bring up our computers this week, I'll have all my files. Work will then resume. Any chance of getting Microlite81 Complete to release candidate stage this month are likely gone, however. The new edition of the Microlite20 Collection will also be delayed to sometime in May.

Speaking of donations, it looks like we hit the $300 mark yesterday. I'll do a drawing and mail out items to lucky winners sometime this week (see Microlite78 Sponsorship/RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund Drive Giveaway Items for more info or to donate). I can't say when as I don't yet know which days I will be in Waco. Thanks to everyone who has donated so far.

There is some really good news on the Microlite74 front. Shortly after all this happened, I received an email from Andy Lannan. He sent me a copies of Microlite74 Extended in epub and mobi ebook formats. I just discovered this email this morning, so I haven't had a chance to look at them, but it sounds like Andy did a great job -- even converting tables to jpgs so they would display correctly. Thank you, Andy, for what had to be a complex bit of work. I'll try to get these files uploaded soon. They will be free-to-all to download just like all the other Microlite74 materials.

Finally, I'll like to thank everyone who posted, emailed or called me with their condolences. I appreciated them and my wife was somewhat surprised that so many people she did not really know reached out to her. Thank you one and all.

My Wife's Mother Passed Away

Labels:

We get got a call from the rehab center she was transferred to yesterday. Donna's mother passed away last night. Needless to say, I will probably not be blogging much for a week or two and will be slower than normal at answering emails, including replying to donations. My apologies.

Three Days in Hospital Hell and a Microlite78 Status Update

Labels: , , ,

Microlite78 mockup coverI pushed the post on the Microlite78 giveaway items for the Would you like to see a Microlite78 RRCF donation drive on Sunday afternoon before my Sunday game. I had no idea when I did so that things were about to go to hell for a few days.

About 5:30pm with about 90 minutes left to go in the game, my wife got a phone call from a nurse's aide at a hospital in Dallas say that her mom wanted to talk to her. It turns out that her mom had been taken to the hospital from Macy's on Thursday last week and had been admitted -- and had not bothered call my wife (her next of kin) or her friend in Dallas (her emergency contact) or anyone else. If Donna's mom (who is in her early 80s) had not started feeling better and wondered why she wasn't getting any phone calls from her daughter or her friends, we might have never found out. Needless to say, our game ended for the week right then.

When my wife talked to the nurses after their shift change, she discovered that the hospital had all her medical info and records -- including next-of-kin and local emergency person contact info, but no one had bothered to use it in the 4 days she had been there. Needless to say she was not a happy camper. She (with some help from me) contacted the rest of her mom's friends and family and perpared to complain to the hospital Monday morning. We've spend Monday and Tuesday trying to get someone to admit that they screwed up but the best we can get is "protocols should have been followed" -- well, yes, but they weren't. They've also managed to lose her partial plate (which was removed in the ER and apparently mislaid. Fortunately, she is now out of the hospital and in a rehab facility. Hopefully, our life will soon be back to somewhat normal.

Things like this are particularly hard on my wife because she can't just go up to Dallas and handle things in person. The two hour drive would basically incapacitate her for several days (major back issues). A 15 minute drive around town is hard enough on her.

While all this has been going on, I've been getting a lot of support for Microlite81 both in donations (we may hit $300 in time for doing the drawing at next Sunday's game) and in emails from people saying they are interested even though they can't donate. I'm a bit surprised by the very high level of interest. I did not expect almost as much interest as there was in the early drafts of Microlite74 years ago. I have managed to put a very early (0.01) draft together. While it is available in the donor download area with the usual donor password, there is really no need to download it. At the moment it is just the 1E spells and Monsters from the M74 companions, treasure from M74 companion, rules mainly from M74 Extended, character creation from M81 Extended with the slight start on the 1E mods to character generation. I tossed this together in spare moments over the last couple of days. I'll work more on it once we hit about $400 in donations. For more about Microlite78: First Edition Lite (and to see how to donate) see this post: Would You Like to See a Microlite78: First Edition Lite?