Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nazis At Grand Central Station

"So," I said to my wife as we stepped out of the house to take a walk with our daughter, "what do you want to do tonight?"

"I dunno," she chirped, "I hadn't thought of it."

"We could take Hollow Earth Expedition for a test-drive," I suggested, even though I've been sick and I didn't know if I'd have the energy.

"We could," she agreed, and we kept walking.

We purchased Exile Game Studios' Hollow Earth Expedition (HEX) last year at GenCon, for a number of reasons: it's nicely produced, the rules are elegant, the art is gorgeous, the author was tirelessly enthusiastic (it was Sunday afternoon after all, and he was still jazzed about his game), and we love pulp.

Plus: Nazis and dinosaurs. Sold!

But owing to ferret-like attention spans, it wasn't until just last night that we sat down to play; we'd made characters before, but never sat down to run the thing. She made a brand-new character, whom she hastily described as a scholarly-type with a thirst for adventure (and looking like Rachel Weisz because that was the first thing that came to mind) while I thought up some cockamamie scene which would lead to combat.

Combat with Nazis.

I gotta tell ya, HEX runs pretty smooth. There was lots of stopping to look stuff up, because we're newbies, but she didn't mind because we do this a lot. Still, the answers to our rules questions were, for the most part, simple ones; I couldn't find any chase rules and didn't feel like making any up (sick, remember?) and she felt like she needed more skill points to build with. Other than that, though...s'pretty easy. I daresay there's nothing really revolutionary about this game's design, but it has energy and direction, and that counts for a lot.

After our brief session, I took my questions to the publisher's fora -- and I had answers by the next morning. Good fan community. That's appealing.

I think my cockamamie thing about an Old Kentucky General's notes on the fate of the Maya may turn into a short campaign for our group.

PODCAST NEWS: Closer. Much closer.

Monday, April 23, 2007

¡Los Reinos Olvidados!

Ya know...I bought this boxed set back in...I dunno, 1991, '92. I never really used it.

I've bought other FR stuff since, notably a lot of the 3rd Edition stuff (good stuff, too). My wife and I have played some of the computer games, like and Baldur's Gate, Dark Alliance and Neverwinter Nights, to differing degrees of completion (the PS2 ones we beat together, twice). I've never dug into the fiction, really, nor have I been a real fan - just kind of a passive, occasional visitor.

All of a sudden, I'm lookin' at that old boxed set like it's sliced bread.

Look - this boxed set contains a lot of info on a fantasy RPG setting, but it's far from being choked with detail. It gives you good, solid thumbnails of certain people, places and things - but they're thumbnails, providing more a general sense of the subject that an encyclopedic, exhaustive...I dunno, a textbook?

This boxed set, and its contents, feel more like a tool for playing in the Realms. It even makes me want to play AD&D 1st Ed. with it, if only I could talk my wife into it. (She actually likes the Realms quite a bit as a setting, because, as she says, "So many people have done so much work in it, that it feels like it's full of life.")

We've been using it for that D6 Fantasy game I keep mentioning, and I'm really, finally, enjoying the Realms.

Oddly, I'm enjoying it as my setting.

Yup. I can put Pat Benatar in there.


Let's call this an entry for PROJECT: MURLYND.

Somewhere along the line, my wife and I developed an inside joke about explosive donkeys. I think we saw a donkey fall off a cliff and explode on an episode of Family Guy, and the notion was so funny to us that it just kind of spiraled out from there.

Last night, while watching The Musketeer, she spotted a donkey in one of the shots, and made a joke about it being potentially explosive. In that moment, I made a decision, and spoke it out loud:

"That's it. In my fantasy game world, donkeys have a 25% chance of being explosive." This was further adjusted to "50% if attached to a cart" and "75% chance if near a cliff".

Yes, it's dumb, but it's also kinda funny. Plus, it's my game, and I think it's cool. Therefore -- IN IT GOES.

Oh, yeah. Furthering the concept, 100% of in-game burros are made of corn.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gee, I Guess I'd Better Mention The Game I've Been Running For 10 Weeks Now.

I don't know why I haven't posted about my bi-weekly D6 Space game.

It's not like the game's not fun; to the contrary, it's a bucket of fun. In fact, it's the place where I'm putting to use a lot of the stuff I've been talking about here, what with all the transcendant, GM-as-conduit-for-whatever-he-does RPG action that this blog is about.

So let me talk about it.

It's the game I mention on this thread at The RPG Site; it's also the one I talked about doing at my Friendly Local Games Store in this post from 2 Nov. 2006, only using D6 instead of d20. By all accounts it's been successful (i.e. the players are having fun), I've been having a blast with it, and one of the dudes has decided to run a D6 Fantasy game, he likesthe system so well. Aces.

I really am doing very little prep for it, and I really am stealing liberally from other sources. Just last night, I named a star system "Wiedlin" after Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Go's; there's an NPC named Nik Kershaw who is the captain of a ship called the Human Racing; The PCs' ship is named "Clear Air Turbulence", after the ship in Iain M. Banks' novel Consider Phlebas (the ship apparently is named after a jazz-fusion album, so it has a larcenous pedigree already); I have a plan to name a ship, somewhere, after a Missing Persons album.

I have turned a pair of hastily-described, inconsequential NPCs into major parts of the narrative, suddenly, and in the middle of play (Mary and Celeste Anglota, sexy twin starship thieves). I have spontaneously described the contents of a star system, thrown game stats together out of thin air, stuck in subtle clues to other adventures based on ideas long since conceived but never used, cribbed names from a list, rolled up NPC personailities on the spot...'s amazing how much solid, fun gaming we've done based on almost no preparation at all.

The key: vibe. I have an idea of what kind of game, setting, mood, feel, etc I want. I watch my players interact with it, and in some cases just improvise based on my backlog of influences and concepts.

Apart from having a simple goal for each session, a few notions of obstacles and a notebook in which to write down the crap I come up with...that's it.

That's how I run my game. And I forget to bring the same notebook most of the time.

It's a creative joy. I'm making stuff up, they're making stuff up, we meet in the middle and asses get kicked. Robots, Imperial Space Centurions, neon-lit space stations, a luxury liner defended by a colony of giant bugs and the pheromone that makes them angry, sanitary nanobots used as a weapon... D6 Space game ROCKS.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hey, mhensley!

Back on April 12th, I wasn't paying attention when mhensley said...

"I would love to read more about what you think of the D6 system. I'm currently digging into D6 Fantasy (again) and its starting to click for me as well."

Glad to answer, my good Hensley. Er. M. Yes.

Right. I'm having a great time with it, frankly. There's not much for ready-to-roll-out magic in there, but it rarely gets used in my games for whatever reason so I have had no issues; combat is pretty smooth and painless (well, except for the characters who are fighting...); the system is pretty easy to adapt to a classic D&D feel, f'r'ex, which is what I'm doing; and also the critical successes and critical failures are, I find, very inspirational.

Last night, f'r'ex, my wife rolled a '1' on her Wild Die while listening at a door. That '1' can have three results:

  1. It can remove itself, and the highest-rolling die, from the total;
  2. It can indicate that something bad is going to happen; or
  3. It can just be added in, too bad so sad.
I opted for the second option, but I was thinking, How can something go horribly bad when you're just listening at a DOOR?! I guess she could've misinterpreted a sound as something different; hear a draft but find, I dunno, a giant winged monster.

Instead I put a poisonous mold on the door, which, when the door was opened, puffed out its spores and WHAMMO! Cough-hack-damage!

Lunch is up. Gotta go. Good times!

Success or Failure?

In the comments for my last post, Jeff R. from Illionis writes to us,

Dear I Wate The Buddha With My Crossbow:

I never thought the stories I read in your blog were true, until the day I met Theatrix.

I was hanging out at my local the other day when I spott--

No, wait, that's -- Hang on.

In the comments for my last post, Jeff R. wrote,

Q: Do you feel like you have anough material from the last week to run some fantasy adventures? If so, I'm of the opinion you can count the exercise as a success.

Well, that' s a good question. I have a starting point for some fantasy adventures, but...not a whole lot. More than anything, and this ocurred to me last night as I wrapped up a game with my wife, I feel like I have a good amount of stuff with which to customize another plain vanilla setting -- like, say, Los Forgotten Realms.

I mean, why not? I can drop in the Knights of the Ring Argent next to the Harpers and the Purple Dragons of Cormyr and whatever else, right? I can have Torm appear as Abe Vigoda, maybe Sune's avatar looks like Pat Benatar sometimes, and there are some Mongolian-esque dudes out East, got a big hunk'a meteor that's drivin' 'em nuts, can't figure what to do with it.

I mean, who cares? Is Ed Greenwood gonna come to my house and uncork some Elminster on my sorry, Realms-bendin' ass?

No. He has better things to do.

BUT. I don't have my own setting. Well, I have some but I don't like them anymore, for some reason; that'd be interesting, to find out why that is.

Most importantly...I set out to focus on a task, and blew it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Out of steam already?

Man, what a bummer. I shoulda said a week.

My lack of updates is partly because I have, you know, family stuff going on, plus work, plus gaming. Actually I've been playing D6 Fantasy with my wife, using the Forgotten Realms as our setting...but using only the 1st Ed. boxed set, Faiths & Avatars for some details I didn't feel like making up, the 1st Ed. DMG for its NPC-creating powers and the 1st Ed. Monster Manual for descriptions of monsters and quick, dirty conversion.

I find that this fulfills my FRPG needs very nicely at the moment.

Also...I'm going to produce a podcast. As I mentioned in the comments for last post, I have some VERY BASIC equipstuff, and Mike From Work has agreed to write a short bit of music for it. Maybe I can talk him into a 3- or 5-second bumper to separate segments, too, if he's willing, and I'll pay him back by drawing him a picture of a Chuckle Boat Full Of DSRs (don't ask, I dunno either). Anyway, I intend to have fun with it and hopefully amuse some folks with my crazy audio antics. You know that "mad Money" guy who throws junk around on TV? I'm not like him.

More as it develops.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Today's addition is another "found" item: The Knights of the Ring Argent.

Pretty easy to find since I wrote it up. Ha-ha!

Of course I want these guys in my game. They encapsulate what I love most about RPGs: the wild adventure of discovery, the raw energy of going out and getting an adventure. They're all about the excitement of adventure, wherever it may be.

Why Ring Argent? Why did they select a silver ring as their symbol? I dunno...I thought of it some years ago, on the spur of the moment, and didn't really intend to think it through any more than that. It sounds good, it's an easy image to conjure up ("...and she has a silver ring on her shield."), and that's probably enough. If I happen to think of something really good, I'll pencil it in, but I won't have thought of it because I tried. I'll have thought of it because it ocurred to me.

I'm tempted to write up a D6 Fantasy template for them, but...naaaah. I mean, I probably use will use D6 Fantasy as my rules set, but I don't wanna go marrying up to anything just yet.

Rings notwithstanding.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


And what kind of day shall it be...? A-ha! It shall be

...for nothing says "FRPG" with quite the same tone and timbre as "You can play elves and dwarves and hobbits."

These races are mainstays of FRPG tradition; somehow, when you start adding in cat-people and haf-deva-half-fiend dragon-cat-people and stuff it starts feeling sort of...I dunno, too much, in my estimation.

A better way to say this is: To me, elves/dwarves/halflings are cool. Cat-people are not. Therefore...In They Go.

So. A few notes on the races of The Realm:

...are the predominant race, partly because their numbers multiply so quickly and partly because they're more expansionistic than the other races. [NOTE: I'm not sure that's really a word.] They are not unlike the humans that you and I know, with their ups and downs and spectrum of experiences and motivations.

...are effectively the bog-standard elves of most FRPG settings (Like the Forgotten Realms, say), but they have a unique cultural identity. Their race is old, and their works are great, and over time these factors have had an effect on the elves as a people: they are over-achievers, with an almost neurotic need to excel and do great things. They are all compulsive perfectionists to some degree, and although individuals do of course have their own identities, drives, etc., that inner elf worries at them all. This is made worse by the fact that, long ago, the elves built a splendid city of wonders and great beauty...and they lost it. No no, not "it was destroyed in the War of the Blah-Blah". More like, "We built this place behind a magical portal, hid the portal, and now...uh..." Everybody wants to find this fabled city, because if the legends are true, it's the most astonishing thing ever built. The elves want to find it because, in their minds, losing it makes them look bad.

[Those of you thinking, "Hey, he's just gonna shove in Myth Drannor, isn't he?" can have a Gold Star. Oh, and stop rolling your eyes.]

DWARVES The Realm are the bearded, axewielding underground craftsmen we all know and love, but with an interesting addendum. Dwarven culture is centered not so much on craft and achievement and family honor as it is on respect and politeness. To a dwarf, the phrase "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" isn't just a truism -- it's a way of life. It's very simple, to them: folks who show respect, say 'please' and 'thank you', don't hassle other folks overmuch and generally act civil don't get their freaking blocks knocked off. This doesn't mean that they bake each other pies and smile and put up Mary Engelbreit postcards all over thir forges, it just means that they understand (and have fully assimilated) the value of showing respect for others. They assume that every other race understands this, so they try their best to be polite (if not always pleased with) everyone else. Disappointments in this cause a certain amount of displeasure in dwarves, which leads nearly immediately to punches.

...don't live around here.

...are from Willow, and I'm using them. They're like Hobbits, only cooler; can you picture Merry and Pippin taking up pike and spear and pokin' a Death Dog to, um, death for bustin' up a hoedown? Well, yeah, but it's a stretch. Nelwyns fill the "pastoral little folk" role quite nicely, have wizards (Aldwins etc.), keep standing men-at-arms ("Vohnkaaaaar!") and don't seem to get any FRPG love. I bought the Willow Sourcebook (writen by Allen Varney) back in 1988 and by gum I'm gonna use it.

[In the aforementioned book, by the way, it's stated that, in his youth, Vohnkar totally went apenuts one night and killed his dad for being a dirty damned abusive drunk who had it coming. It has featured fiction on all of the major players and many of the minor ones, too. It's a great read and I recommend it.]

MORE WILLOW LOVE: Click here and here to see some pre-production art. And if you can't see the image abve, clicketty-click-click.

There you go. The major playable races of The Realm, which I guess is what I'm calling it for now. QUIT ROLLING YOUR EYES I SAID!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Thanks to Ronin!

Incidentally, Ronin is my cat's name.



My game world wants vikings.

It does not want real-world vikings; oh no. It wants fantasy vikings. It begs for horn-helmeted, axe-waving, braid-bearded troll-hunting giant-sea-lion-fighting polar-bear-riding badass turbo vikings, like that girl in that ad for that booze whose name evades me but which I have printed out at home.

Those vikings.

Thor. Valkyries. Giant sun-swallowing wolves and the crazy hermits that worship them. Longboats. Giants. Those three-headed witches that Jeff Rients was talking about. Hairy trolls on icy mountaintops. These things and more are to be found in Frodesland, the frost-bitten savage land north of The Realm! Here, hearty, bearded men and inexplicably under-dressed women brave the everlasting winter with axe and courage, taming the frozen wilderness and ruling a kingdom of ice and blood!


This idea is only kind of half-formed, but it's definitely exciting and evocative. It's a little over-the-top, but I think it's cool. And that's one of my key notions: if it's cool, in it goes.

Last night we watched The Brothers Grimm with Heath Ledger and Matt Damon. I won't spoil anything for ye who've not seen it but suffice to say that there's a cool magical axe in it, and it, combined with the spontaneous viking-esque chick I drew this morning, are spurring me on. Plus, I've been looking for a place to drop in that polar-bear-riding lass from the aforementioned hooch advert, and now's as good a time as any.

Now that I think of it, I have some loose notes about a sorceress named Invirana, The Ice-Queen. They include FUDGE stats, so conversion will be a snap.

I'm not. My primary choices for fantasy gaming are HERO 5th, D6 and Tunnels & Trolls, but in my heart (where it's damp and icky) I favor D6, it being the halfway point in terms of simplicity and spontaneity-readiness. At the moment, though, I'm not creating anything with any rules in mind, on purpose.

Here's a little something for my cuate The Evil DM:

Happy Tuesday. I'm calling her Gunnhild Madsdottir. TO THE FRAY!

Monday, April 09, 2007


Man, this bidness is hard to do when you got a life. Yestrday was Easter, which means it was Fambly Time, and last night after The Kid went to bed, my wife and I threw down a nice, enjoyable game of D6 Fantasy. It rocked and you should be happy for me.

Okay! Last time, an anonymous poster by the name of Pete (Spahn? I hope so) suggested that I was on the right track what with the sweeping generalities slowly sharpened into manageable specifics. So today, let's play with one of the ideas I threw down one Day 1: The Horse Tribes. Specifically, this one right here...

A nomadic tribe, strong in numbers (about 10,000 people) who ride the plains and steppes of The Realm. Formerly they were raiders, but a nasty run-in with a much stronger power gave them cause to be peaceful and non-invasive. They have a tightly-knit community and a culture based greatly on tradition and honor. They raise and herd gamms (creatures which look, and taste, like cattle but are only about 3' at the shoulder), goats and chickens. They don't farm a whole lot, being that they move around so much.

Leadership is taken (not given -- taken) by those who can command the greatest respct; among the Mogrols, respect is due to he who rides best, can shoot best from horseback, provides best for the tribe and writes the best ancestor-songs (a kind of melodic, poetic oral history). There are a dozen chiefs and they all hold equal rank, but some of them feel they ought to outrank the others. Tradition hands them the notion that internal strife is bad -- it splits up the tribe and a house divided eventually falls. Thus, unity and concord are of utmost important to them, and to their culture.

Lately, that unity has come under duress. At their last campground, the Mogrols witnessed a falling star, which fell with a great explosion upon the benighted plain. Fearful for their herds they went to survey the damages, and found that the star itself still lay in the ground.

The Mogrols ahve never seen this happen before, but some of the scouts have brought back tales of Nagrol (non-Mogrol) craftsmen who fashion star-metal into swords and plows of immense, almost magical, properties. A genuine rift has developed amongst the Mogrol, trying to decide just what to do with the thing. Some say that it is a sign (or just an opportunity) to change forge weapons and begin rading again, as they did once before in more savage days; others say it was intended as punishment for certain chiefs' leaninfs toward re-instating the raids. Others see it as a call to stay in one place and stop wandering, while others are convinced that one of thoe gods wants them dead.

A few just shrug and say, "A rock fell from the sky one night. So what?"

What decision will the chiefs reach? Will they agree? Will it tear the tribe apart? Will they begin their deadly raids anew?

Is a god really trying to kill them?

The Coolest Game You're Not Playing

Mr Chris Engle, of Hereabouts, IN, is the author of The Coolest Game You're Not Playing. It is called Engle Matrix and it has nothing at all to do with those movies that Ted "Theodore" Logan was in unless of course you like it that way.

Engle Matrix games are widely varied and ridiculously simple. They bridge the gap between role-playing-, board- and strategy games, and I reviewed them once upon a time right here on this webpage. Interestingly enough, as I post this, I do have my mouth full of tasty sammich goodness, so obviously it's an omen and it was meant to be.

Why are you still reading this?! Go, click, go! Life's too short! Alternately, look for him at Gencon, and buy some puppets, too. Oh, and his wife's a good cook and neither one of them is a dirty cannibal.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Since I gave myself the OK to use "found ideas", i.e. stuff I already have lying around, I'm gonna do just that. Here's some stuff that I'm going to pop in there because I said so:

  • Keep on the Borderlands. Classic module, and totally rad. way open-ended and just what this campaign needs.
  • The Barony of Serovan, which I mentioned earlier. I have maps of the city and of the surrounding area, so using it will be a cinch. I even have some NPCs and a little local plot: Baron Auldrec Autumnis is kind of a meathead jerkwad who has taken over for the old, beloved baron, and he's charging ridiculous and exorbitant taxes on everything. He has, at his disposal, many loyal soldiers -- he's a war hero, an athlete, a Man's Man. He thinks he's a great leader and that he knows how to run a barony, but, uh...he's a motard and he doesn't.
  • Castle Foxmoor, stronghold of the paladin Lord Obregon. Mostly a nice guy, except quite zealous here in his old age -- he's starting to feel like he's losing his edge, so he's decided to start a little crusade of his own and Clean The Place Up. He has the allegiance of a couple of local lords, and he intends to rid his lands of undesirables. Now, if only I knew who these undesirables are...*
  • Another "Castle & Lands" idea: a small system of strongholds held by an illusionist and her former adventuring cronies (a ranger, a fighter and a lady cavalier). I have no idea what's going on in there, except that the cavalier's keep is at the edge of some dry, barren hills that have a bit of a purple worm problem. I have some NPC notes, some castle notes and a map somewhere.
  • Ewoks. No, wait, that's a crappy idea.
  • The Great Wizard and his lizardman guards, stolen di-rectly from the pages of Sergio Aragones' Groo.
  • Kira, Goddess of Youth and The Arts, whose avatar looks a whole lot like Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu.
What? Stop looking at me like that. It's my game, damnit. It means something to me.

*Mike, from work, might say that this would be a great place to stick those Furries he was talking about. I wonder if he is not on to something.


NOTE: Yesterday's update was delayed by 3 factors -- Daddy/Daughter time in the morning, a D6 Space game in the evening, and a much, much needed nap in between.

As stated before, I don't want this setting to depend too much on political boundaries. I've done that before and become bored with it -- I don't know why, but I tend to lock myself into a creative straightjacket when I do that, and that's Not The Point.

That said, there's a need for cultures and societies. To work around it, I'm going to create a few kingdoms, baronies, etc., and rather than pack them all together and draw borders between them, I'm going to cast them out like islands of organized society in a sea of wilderness.

F'r'ex, let's say that you're adventuring in the Barony of Serovan, which is a pretty vanilla FRPG kingdom with a main capital city overseen by Baron Auldrec Autumnis. You're running around in the feudal area, between orchards and towns and the city of Serovan proper and so on. Well, Serovan's "borders" only stretch so far out, so when you go off to do something in the neighboring Kindom of Maur, you're gonna have to pass through a few score miles of wild, untamed land full of monsters and mysteries and crazy dangerous stuff. Their borders do not abut.

Believe it or not, this common-sense approach to world-building is something I've never really done before.


Hat over my eyes.

I don't like to lock myself in to things, so rather than say, "Okay, I'm going to detail x kingdoms and they are named A, B, C, etc.", I'm going to make a list of possible socities and choose a few good ideas out of the mix. Brainstoming, y'see, writing stuff down as it occurs to me.

Okay! Here it goes...

  • Elven nation built on the ruins of the human nation they conquered 1000 years ago
  • Greco-roman kingdom by the sea, decaying as political infighting erodes the nation's purpose and focus
  • The Troll Lands, a big chunk of wilderness dominated (if not actually "ruled") by trolls, orcs, goblins etc.
  • A landmass to the south which is populated by dinosaurs and megalithic mammals, separated from the rest of the continent by a wide chasm.
  • Vanilla-FRPG feudal kingdom of chivalry and sorcery -- basically, medieval European stuff as painted by Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, Jeff Easly and Keith Parkinson
  • The Horse Tribes, nomads who wander the steppes and wear those cool Mongol helmets
  • A barbarian tribe in the north -- Conan meets vikings, worshipping a frost giant
  • A kingdom expanding its borders towards an arid land full of savages -- basically the American Old West, with forts and homesteads, but swords instead of rifles and real savages instead of, you know, Indians*
  • The Dells, where the halflings live, eat, sleep, garden and are basically dull
  • The Plains of Mak-Nar, name which I stole from a locally-produced one-act play, and which has all your blasted wastelands and your umpassable mountains and your howling orc tribes and your undead, black-armored, fire-shooting-from-the-eyeslits-of-his-helmet guy with a bigass sword and stuff

Thursday, April 05, 2007


NOTE: As it happens, the previous post wasn't actually published until yesterday (4 April) because it was on "Draft" status until then. This, today's is the first PROJECT: MURLYND post.

Where to start, where to start...? There's a good question. When you're free-forming like this, where do you begin? Do you pick a place and go from there? Should you follow something of a pattern, just to get your thoughts organized and make sure you don't skip something important? Do you go with your gut and blaze a trail?

Hell, I don't know. It's my idea and I don't know. I could start with the campaign setting's name, its shape, a few basic assumptions...Whoa! There it is, compadre! Let's start with


  • This world has a commonly-used name, but it's not a proper name like Toril or Krynn or Faern or what-have-you; instead it's something general, like "The World" or "The Land" or "Troll World" or "The Realm". Kind of like the world of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon was called "The Realm".
  • There is a pantheon of deities, and they each have sway over certain aspects of the world and the people in it. They govern abstractions (Love, War, Peace, Justice, Luck, etc.) and there aren't that many of them because I don't want to get bogged down with gods for every little thing. People worship them openly and sometmes they appear amongst the people-- avatars, as it were. Their patron is Abe Vigoda.
  • Despite the above, this isn't a silly campaign. It ain't straight-laced and super, super serious, either, but it's not a cartoon. The infamous Wand of Castle-Killing is welcome here (and probably exists in some dungeon somewhere), but Transmute Flesh To Cheeseburger is too fourth wall and therefore not happenin'.
  • The word has one sun and three moons (again, inspired by the D&D cartoon). No, I'm not making up charts to track the moons' orbits, phases, moods and shopping habits. Screw that.
  • Types of cultures, societies and governmentts range from total anarchy to feudalism, as the needs of the story require.
Damn. Lunchtime's over. Maybe I'll add on tonight at home.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


I had an idea today. It came in part from reading an old Dragon, in part from looking at Tunnels & Trolls 7th Edition and in part from the weather (warm, breezy weather acts like a creative battery for me; science has not yet determined the process by which this occurs). I've got a lot to say about it, but I'll cut to the chase.

PROJECT: MURLYND (its working title) is a 30-day attempt at creating a FRPG campaign setting. The idea is to sketch out a campaign setting in broad strokes, and to add some bit of work (whatever it is) every day for a month. Therefore, it's as much about creativity as it is about dedication.

I'm easily distractible and lazy, so the idea of giving myself a 30-day project like this is scary and exciting at the same time. I want to get myself used to, you know, working on something consistently, so PROJECT: MURLYND is a way to do that.

Some of you old school guys and gals out there might remember Dragon #71, which featured an article entitled "Greyhawk's World" by Gary Gygax himself. The article detailed a quartet of "quasi-deities" from the author's campaign, and one of them was this guy:

Yup. That's Clint Eastwood all right. Well, it's Murlynd, and he was into the American Old West, despite being an AD&D character. He had a pair of pistols and a horse and a dancing broadsword.

In an AD&D game.

Obviously, his player, and Gygax, liked this crazy notion enough to not only allow it in the game but to publish it in Dragon as Greyhawk material. In other words, they thought it was cool so they went with it.

That my friends, is where I'm taking my major inspiration: if it's cool, put it in the campaign setting. To hell with over-thinking; nuts to fiddly-bits. Just come up with a wide framework, like girders in a building. Fill in the details later.

And add something every day, for 30 days.

It will start off with the really broad stuff -- how many kingdoms or areas, their names and general (very general) flavors, gods worshipped, and so on. Then it'll move on to some somewhat more specific things like a few notes on this Mongolian-esque nomad tribe or that hidden city. It'll end with a map, which won't even be all that detailed, because when I try to do it the other way I get frustrated for some reason.

Taking a page from Peter Spahn's Chronicles of Amherth, it'll include a series of drag-and-drop ideas not associated with any location or culture -- kind of a grab-bag of adventure fodder.

The project has a few rules:

1. Keep it broad!
Every entry just needs enough info in it to inspire detal later on, NOT to dictate it. Population distribution and stuff like that is cool, but it's cooler to know that the South Plains are inhabited by megalithic monsters and prehistoric mammals the size of SUVs.

2. Add something every day!
This is about focus more than anything. It's about actually doing it and having something to show at the end.

3. Use of found elements is allowed!
In other words: license to steal. As long as I put my own spin on it, or use it to shape something else, or at least think it's cool...then it's cool. Got a copy of Keep on the Borderlands? Put that mofo in there. Cool picture on Jeff Rients' blog? Snatch. Want Abe Vigoda and Pat Benatar to be deities? Yea, baby, you're making gravy without the lumps!

4. Don't get obsessed!
Seriously. It's just a gameworld. C'mon, it's got Pat Benatar in it!

Well...let's see how this works.