Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dawn of Worlds

This weekend is turning out to be much, much busier than I'd expected it to be, so this will probably be the only post this weekend. Sorry.

Last night we played our weekly Skype game, though we started late and ended early and so didn't get a whole lot of gaming done. The PCs are currently in the service of Damon Howell from Haldane because he previously saved them from being executed for invading his house and killing a bunch of his guards. He'd sent them to clear out a goblin warren (The Gray Goblin Warrens from the 2009 OPDC) and, since he'd heard that there had been no further goblin activity for a while (the PCs didn't completely clear it out, but the goblins left instead of sticking around to be slaughtered) he ordered them to return for more tasks. They returned, Damon Howell arranged for Xan the Ranger to have her cursed Buck's Hat of Misery removed by a magic user in his employ, and when the party woke up the next morning, Haldane had been "moved"- the surrounding countryside was completely different. The party chose to investigate a tower continually being struck by lightning in the West (yeah, I know that adventure is supposed to be for 1st level characters, but I don't see that it would really be that much easier for slightly higher-level characters). And the session ended with that.

Flynn, one of my players, though, told me about a world-building tool/RPG called Dawn of Worlds (first link on page, can't miss it). I've only skimmed it briefly, but am intrigued by the premise: a group of players collaboratively create a setting, probably in one session. This is awesome for a few reasons.

One is that it takes most of the hard work of world building away from the referee and gets it done much more quickly, in a fun group setting, than it would have probably gotten done if done just by the referee.

Another is that it makes for a fun, unpredictable setting. I'm a fan of every player, including the referee, getting surprised. Now the setting is the surprise.

Players famously (and generally) don't care about the history of whatever world they are playing in, being interested only if it nets them loot or lets them kill things more effectively. Now they would be emotionally invested in the history of the setting because they wrote it with the group. They'd be especially invested in the parts of history that they individually wrote themselves.

They would also know the history, because they wrote it with the rest of the group. No need to take up gaming time with learning history.

From what I can tell there are only really two disadvantages to the system. One is that the referee can't spring history-based surprises on the players, because they know the history from the point of view of nigh-on-omniscient gods; Hammers of the God, then, is out. The other is that it would be really difficult to play this in a non-table-top setting, like over Skype, although Flynn, who has actually played Dawn of Worlds, said that it might work to play by email if everyone had a program like Paint.

So, yeah, that's what I've got for the weekend. Off to finish a take-home test and drive a few hours to a college friend's wedding!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Skype Campaign

I know I've seen some people in this corner of the blogosphere wonder how a Skype campaign would work, and I've seen other people post some about their Skype campaigns, but more about what happens in them than how a Skype campaign works and is different from a face-to-face campaign. This post is about how my Skype Campaign works. Of course, your milage may vary.

Face to Face

One of the lamest parts of using Skype for your campaign is that, unless you're only  using two computers, you don't get to video-chat. That means you don't get the looks on your players' faces when a horrifying monster they've never encountered turns the corner, or when they find a trove of amazing treasure, or when you spring a nasty trap on them, or when they discover a cool feature of a magic weapon, etc.  That's lame.  It's one of the reasons why our group has begun looking for other VoIP programs that allow video-chatting with more than two computers. You can compare different VoIP programs here, if you're interested.


This was one area I was really concerned with before I started the campaign. I wasn't sure whether, over the course of four hours, the connection would stay strong enough for us to understand each other without difficulty.  Fortunately, this hasn't been as much of a problem as I feared.  Occasionally, we have had difficulties, but there was only really one session so far where things were so bad that it really held up play because we couldn't understand each other.  Sometimes Skype drops our calls, too, but that isn't usually a huge problem, as we can just call again.  Over-all, I'd say that the aggravation is totally worth being able to play with friends in Maine and Texas every week.


I've known two out of three of my players for years (one of them is my blood-brother), and the third player is my blood-brother's fiance and shares a computer with him while gaming, meaning that they are sitting right next to each other.  Trust really isn't an issue for me.  I realize that it is for people who might want to run a Skype campaign where they don't know everyone that well, though.  There are some online dice-rollers that make your dice rolls public, I believe, but my personal philosophy, both when gaming face-to-face and over the internet, is that if a player has to cheat to have fun, I'm not going to throw a fit.  If I happen to catch it over the normal course of a session, yeah, I'll call them on it, but I'm not going to exert energy trying to police my players and keep them honest.  Also, if I don't trust them, I really don't get why I'm gaming with them.  Thus I haven't even considered asking my players to use an online dice roller, except for a private one when one of my early players didn't have dice of her own, because physically rolling dice is, I think, an important part of the joy of role-playing.


We don't use miniatures for combat, though there are ways of doing this out there. When we were first considering starting this campaign, some of us looked into it a bit. This looked really cool, but also looked like a lot of time and work that I don't currently have, so we haven't used it. Our group always played with miniatures when we'd played in a current player's face-to-face 3.5 campaign, though I'd run one or two games where, as an experiment, we only used the miniatures to establish and remember marching order, and we prefer to play with them. We've found that they are certainly not necessary, however. We do handwave a lot of fiddlier stuff and usually assume a general melee where anyone can attack anyone on their turn- that seems pretty realistic considering that combat rounds are 1 minute. I do make a distinction between whether enemies are within melee range or not. So far we haven't really had any problems

Mapping, Exploration and Wandering Monsters

Mapping has been somewhat challenging, especially towards the beginning of the campaign. Communicating where door were was a particular challenge. We ended up deciding to use the kind of nomenclature that's used in chess and Battleship to communicate where things are in a room. Lately, they've been exploring the ungridded C. Brackeyy's Gray Goblin Warrens from the 2009 One Page Dungeon Codex, so I've just been guessing at distances traveled and telling them whenever they come to a fork in the tunnel. (There are a LOT of forks in the Gray Goblin Warrens). Usually by blood-brother's fiance maps and the player in Texas also tends to map, both so they can compare notes and so everyone has a map they can look at.

So far as time-based things go- lighting and wandering monsters, I bought Faster Monkey's Turntracker and just rotate it a unit further around whenever I feel time has passed. That's usually after a combat, while they are deliberating over a decision, when they search for secret doors and when I haven't turned it in a while. All this to say, I don't worry too much about how far on the grid they've gone for time-based issues, so not using a grid all that much doesn't really pose a problem.

So, overall, I'm happy with my Skype campaign. Would it be nice to actually see my players and play around the table with some miniatures on a gridded surface? Definitely, but this seems to be about the next best thing and for that I'm quite thankful.

Did I miss anything else about playing over Skype? Have you played over the internet, either with a VoIP service like Skype or with another medium such as IMing or with Wave? If so, what were the pros and cons of that medium?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Order of the Green Hand

Telecanter was thinking about guilds a while back.  Here's a magic-user guild I thought up between classes a while back:

The Order of the Green Hand is a well-respected and powerful order of magic-users.  It runs dormitories in all cities and large towns and in most smaller towns. Each dormitory is equipped with a small library of spellbooks and components for copying spells.  Regular circuits from dormitory to dormitory are made by Order personnel carrying any new spells that have been brought to a dormitory.  In this way, each dormitory's library is constantly being updated with whatever spells are researched or discovered by Order members.  The Order makes a practice of approaching fledgling magic-users just as they start out (that is, during character generation), when the powerful benefits they offer seem the most tempting, but also when profits the Order can expect to receive are the greatest.

Benefits of membership in the Order of the Green Hand:
  • A free Staff of Magic Missile, with the maximum number of charges. (I use LotFP:WFRP rules for a lot of magic, so that's 49 charges in my game.)
  • Magical immunity from mind-control spells cast by other members of the Order. (I'm still working out the mechanics, but this will be based on the Majestic Wilderlands' Shield of Magic.)
  • Members are issued green robes.
  • The Order is widely respected and letters of introduction can be drafted for any member.
  • Contact can be made with the Assassin's Guild, which is allied with the Order.
  • Order members may be issued magic items the Order owns at the Order's discretion. (Usually done only when sent on Order business)
  • Free room and board at any Order dormitory.
  • Free access to dormitory libraries, which include most standard spells.
  • Free materials to copy spells into spellbooks and onto scrolls.
  • Free access to dormitory laboratories, but not to components.
The last four benefits become available to members only after they have paid their first dues to the Order.

Costs of membership in the Order of the Green Hand:
  • Members must pay dues to the Order.  Dues are a percentage of the member's income equal to one divided by the character's level; at first level, members pay 1/1, or 100% of their income, at second level, members pay 1/2, or 50% of their income… at twentieth level, members pay 1/20 or 5% of their income, etc.
  • Members must surrender all magic items they acquire to the Order. This requirement lasts only until a member reaches fourth level.  They must make an effort to have a magic item as part of their share whenever a party acquires one or more magic items.
  • Members must accept quests from Order leadership. (Rare. Should only occur once every two levels.)
  • Members remain members for the duration of their lives. Contracts will be taken out with the Assassin's Guild on any member who deserts or is expelled from the Order.
  • Members must copy all new spells they research or discover into spellbooks at an Order Dormitory.  From there, copies will be brought to other dormitories and so the Order's library of spells will constantly grow.
  • Members suspected of violating the terms of membership must accept magical surveillance attached to them to determine whether they are in fact violating the terms of membership.
  • Members may not share magical knowledge with those outside the Order without the Order's explicit and specific permission.
  • Members will slowly turn green. At second level, fingernails and toenails go green.  At fourth level, hands are green. At sixth level, torso and hair are green.  At eighth level, a member's whole body is green.  At tenth level, any clothes worn or tools held turn green as long as they are in contact with the member.  This effect is the result of using the Magic Shield mentioned above.
Players in my campaign, weirdly enough, tend to shy away from magic-users, sometimes complaining that they don't want to only have one spell a day or be so fragile at first level. I figured that a guild that gave them a wand of some sort would be pretty welcome, but I also figured that there would be a lot of costs to that kind of leg up at the beginning of a magic-user's career; fully charged magic staves are expensive and time-consuming! A guild that provided staves to new recruits would need a lot of income to pay for the higher-ranking Magic-Users that spent a good deal of their free time making those staves, hence the high membership fees and the requirement that members surrender all the magic items they find during their first three levels. It makes for a guild that really takes care of its members, but asks a whole lot from them as well. I think that guilds that are big parts of the PCs' lives should be pretty interesting.

Interestingly, the only PC the Order has approached so far was an elf, who, being chaotic, declined because her player felt that she was too interested in freedom to join. We'll see if any other players create magic-users anytime soon.

    Foray into Dungeon Building, Part 4

    Having preliminarily established the three essentials of the dungeon (random tables, underlying ideas and mapping), now it's time to start mapping level 1.

    Now, obviously, the Old School thing to do is to "Jaquay" my dungeon, which is to say, try to make it as non-linear as possible, in all three dimensions.  The way I see it, that means both a myriad of entrances and exits and a myriad of ways to go when actually inside the dungeon itself.  It's also important that there be "choke points," for two reasons; one is that an overabundance of choice is disorienting to the players- I know this from experience- and the other is that it provides challenges- if players want to get somewhere, there are only going to be a few ways to do it- if the passages on this level are too well guarded, they might have to go a level or two down and see if they can come up in the middle of the area.

    The Alexandrian has written a few posts on Jaquaying an already-created-but-too-linear dungeon, but how can I go about creating a non-linear dungeon from scratch?  The key, to me, seems to be to work with circles, not lines.  Overlap a lot of circles and I'll get a lot of intersections; the lines correspond to passages, the intersections to rooms, and there's no one "start" or "finish" to the whole affair.

    Something like this:

    This, in turn, can be reduced to this, which, for me at least, is much easier to work with:

    (Telecanter could probably swipe this for a really complex version of his faction hierarchy charts if he wanted to. No sense in not re-using stuff, right?)

    Now, I can't have too many passages running all over the place; I need some choke points.  The way to do that is to eliminate some lines.  The simplest way is to get rid of each of the "outermost" lines, leaving exactly 30 lines remaining.  The important thing isn't really which lines I arbitrarily remove, but that I get to a number of lines that corresponds to the possible outcomes from the roll of one or more dice, in this case a d30.

    So, arbitrarily taking those six "outside" lines out, I'm left with this:

    The numbering is somewhat haphazard, especially since I missed a line towards the bottom left on my first pass through and had to label that "30," but that doesn't matter because I'm only using these for random rolls anyway.  The idea is that I'll remove whatever connections I roll on a d30. The number of times I roll is pretty arbitrary, but depends on how big or small I want the map to be.  If I want a smaller map, I roll more times, eliminating more connections. Nodes with only two connections are streamlined away into just being part of the connection, making the map smaller.

    I'm going to do a map not of the rooms of the first level, but a map of the areas in the first level, so I want a smaller map.  I'll roll a d30 10 times.

    [5, 7, 27, 30, 14, 19, 8, 6, 25, 6, 21]

    Actually, this is the third set of rolls I made; I didn't like the first two. That's the thing about random dice rolls- I'm totally allowed to discard results that I don't like.  In this case, both of the dice rolls cut off the top "branch" from the bottom branches.  I considered going with the dice and making this a split level, but decided against it because this is the first time I'm doing this and because there wasn't an even spread of rolls, resulting in large areas where no connections would be eliminated.

    So, I eliminate these connections.  I'm also going to eliminate those areas that now only serve as a stop-over between two other areas, but for now I'll just re-draw them as dots, so you can see what I'm doing.

    So, now I can reduce that into this:

    This is my "big idea" map for Level 1.  Each area will be distinct and will have certain unique characteristics. Different monsters, different feel, different function, etc.  I'll start filling that out in the next post.

    Foray into Dungeon Building, Part 3

    So, we've got the random tables generally sketched out and the underlying ideas for the dungeon sketched out in an even more loose way.  Time to actually start mapping.

    First off, I'm going to see about mapping multiple levels, from the side.  This is something even Swords and Wizardry, which doesn't have a single random table in the dungeon creation section, says to do- in fact, Swords and Wizardry devotes a whole page to a side-view map of a 10 level dungeon.  I don't know how many levels I'm going to aim for in the end, but Gygax and Arneson say here that I should start off with at least three levels.  I think I'll do one better than that and go with four levels to start off with.

    I envision the foundation or centerpiece of this dungeon as a huge column of the teleportation complexes I talked about last time, with each dungeon level generally shooting off in one or more directions from that level's teleportation complex.  This makes it pretty tough to map, but I'll take a shot at it.

    Well, that wasn't actually so bad. I started by drawing a dotted-lined column down the center of the map.  That is where the teleportation complexes will all be.  Then I drew the levels in, having them rotate around the column, so Level 4 is between the viewer and the teleportation column, while the column is between the viewer and Level 2, if that makes any sense.  I drew in the connections between the levels, but purposely drew them so that they made sense in 2D- there was room for them on the graph paper, but they don't necessarily make a whole lot of sense in 3D.  The prime example is the stairway or chute from Level 2 to Level 4.  In 2D, on the map, it looks great.  Thing is, in 3D, Level 2 and Level 4 are on opposite sides of the teleportation column from each other.  This means that the transition from Level 2 to Level 4 is going to be pretty long.  I should probably make it a slide or chute, to hurry it along.  This also makes it one way… I like that.

    Then I remembered that I wanted this dungeon to be by a cliff, with some of the levels accessible from the cliff face.  I decided to draw in the cliff, as well as the surface.  It looks like every third level will have an exit on the cliff face.  Drawing in the surface also gave me the idea of a tower rising up through the surface from the first level, so I drew that in as well.

    So, now I've got a side-view map of the first four levels of my heretofore un-named dungeon.  Next time, I'll see about mapping the first level itself and how I can make it "Jaquayed."

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Foray into Dungeon Building, Part 2

    Of what I decided are the three essential parts to begin a dungeon (random tables, underlying ideas and a map), I'm probably the most fuzzy on underlying ideas.  I think that might be OK.  We'll see.

    I know that I want to be creating what will eventually grow into a megadungeon.  I've got this idea, no doubt not original to me, of having a library on one level.  I know that I want the librarian to play chess with a giant spider on the level below it- I suppose I also know that I want the level below the library to be full of giant spiders.

    I know I want the dungeon to be "run" by kobolds.  How do they do this?  Well, using an idea that was inspired by FrDave in this post: the kobolds have access to all levels of the dungeon, and they use that access to control the dungeon.  They don't control everything about every level- in fact, most levels are controlled by other factions, whether allied or belligerent towards the kobolds- but they can, with varying amounts of effort, get just about anywhere in the dungeon, and exert their power on just about anybody in the dungeon.  They can do this because each level of the dungeon has a teleport complex, which is where FrDave's room comes in.  Each level will have a hallway that goes off and ends in stairs- the very stairs that lead down to FrDave's celtic knot of rooms and corridors.  Each of the #3 rooms have levers in it that, as written have no function.  I figure they could work nicely as the controls to a teleporting elevator.  1st lever down, go down one level.  2nd lever down, go down two levels. 1st and 2nd lever up, go up three levels, and so on, using binary.  With four levers, that leaves room for a whopping 15 levels!  That'll be plenty of room for expansion!!

    How do the kobolds keep this ability to teleport all over the dungeon to themselves?  Well, they have illusions all down the hallways that lead to the teleporting complex. The illusions are of dragons, and the farther you get down the hallway, the more intimidating they become: a few steps in, and you just see a dragon walking by the hallway in the distance- halfway through and the dragon is charging you, breathing fire, that kind of thing.  That keeps most everyone from figuring out what's down these hallways.  I figure that the few creatures that do find their way down the hallways and onto another level usually get killed pretty quickly by the kobolds.

    I guess the only other idea I have about my dungeon is that I want it to be close to a cliff face, or, more precisely, on the side of a canyon or a huge cleft in the earth.  I figure that will provide another way to get into various levels of the dungeon: rappelling down the sides of the cliff face to one of the entrances.

    I don't know a lot else about what I want my dungeon to be like.  I don't have a clue about who built the teleport complexes or how the kobolds came to be in control.  I guess I'll have to figure that out as I go along.

    Also, A Paladin in Citadel had a great post on the Displacer Beast. So I'm definitely adding a Coeurl to the wandering monster tables of the first three levels, and probably a lair for it someplace too.

    Next time, I'll talk about mapping, which is what kind of needs to be done before I can move forward with much else.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Metric System for Old School D&D: Weight and Encumbrance

    Call me biased (having grown up in Japan) or New School, or whatever, but I'm a big proponent of the Metric System. I'm also a big fan of how RPGs make math meaningful for kids and want to sponsor an RPG club when I'm a teacher. I think the US will, at some point in my lifetime, switch over to the Metric System, so I figure I should have a good, solid, playtested way to use the Metric System in the games I'm going to teach them.  I, and my similarly biased (having also grown up in Japan) roommate from college days, have been working on how to do this, off and on, for maybe six months now. I'm going to start posting bits and pieces of it here, as that was one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place.

    I figure we'll start with the encumbrance system.

    The base unit for determining encumbrance is the kilogram (1000 grams). Some items will weight less than a kilogram, but nothing will weigh less than .1 kg (one hectogram). Creating a long, very complete item list with weights and prices is probably going to be what takes up the most of the time we put into this system.
    We've started that process, but have certainly not finished it.

    The encumbrance system is based around the idea of a Base Movement Rate, or BMR. Each character, based on encumbrance, is assigned a BMR of between 1 and 4 (monsters, exotic or magically aided characters might have a higher BMR) which can then be multiplied to determine how far a character can move in a certain amount of time in certain situations. I stole the BMR from Swords and Wizardry and divided it by three, since it was in feet and we're using meters for this system.

    To determine what a character's BMR is, tally up the weight of what your character is carrying. Kilograms, by the way, hit a midpoint of granularity between the currently fashionable stones and the old-fashioned pounds. I actually tried using stones, but the player who is working on this with me revolted over them being too big, as far as units go, hence us working on this system to replace it.

    Once you've determined the number of kilograms your character is carrying, compare that to your character's strength score. Consult the following:

    Equal to or less than STR Score:   4
    Twice STR score or less:               3
    Three times STR score or less:     2
    4 times STR score or less:            1

    No character can carry more than 4 times his/her STR score in kilograms.
    It turns out that this makes for a simple, elegant and reasonably realistic system. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds, so an average strength character (STR 10) can carry about 22 pounds without being encumbered and can carry no more than around 88 pounds. A character with STR 18 can carry almost 40 pounds (39.6, to be exact) without being encumbered and can carry up to 158.4 pounds.


    Foray into Dungeon Building, Part 1

    I'm a bit of a perfectionist.  Sometimes that leads me to not attempt something at all if I don't have a pretty good chance at succeeding.  I think that's why I've put off creating my own dungeons so far.  I just kind of figured that I'd run a bunch of other people's dungeons and I'd kind of pick up how to build dungeons and kind of "know" when I was ready to just sit down and pump out a dungeon par excellence.  I'm starting to think it doesn't work that way. (What can I say? Sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake.)

    So this is my record of my first go at making a dungeon, and a mega-dungeon at that. (Well, that's not totally true. I tried using the really cool How to Host a Dungeon but got somewhat confused partway through.  I think I need to try a bit more of a small-scale starting point before I try How to Host a Dungeon again, which is what this series of posts is about.)

    My goals for this are two-fold: One is that I hope this will be helpful to others who, like me, don't have decades of experience creating dungeons. I might even stumble on (or be given- see next goal) something a more experienced guy can use. The second reason is that I figure that if I tell everyone how I'm going about doing this, they might give me helpful advice, tell me better ways to do things, etc. Now, I may or may not utilize all of that advice- this is a hobby, after all, where what works for me or what is fun for me may not work and be terribly not-fun for you- but I figure someone else can probably use your advice if I can't.

    So, how to go about this? I figure I need three things: random tables, underlying ideas and a map.

    Let's start with tables. Two important points about tables first, though.  One is that I won't be using them in all areas of the dungeon; I'm going to figure out and place important factions, monsters and personalities in any given level before I start rolling on tables.  The tables are for the areas in between the places I'll have somewhat figured out.  The other important point is that some tables should be re-stocked; when one result is rolled, it should be placed in the dungeon and replaced by another idea.  I figure I need five kinds of tables, which may be broken down into sub-tables:

    1. What, generally, is in the room? For this, I'm going modify the very basic table in Labyrinth Lord. Specific details in another post.

    2. Monster Tables: These I'll come up with on my own, I think.  I'll probably roll up a few monsters with James' Random Esoteric Creature Generator, and use a lot of the online resources the OSR has provided.  For the first level, I'll probably depend mostly on Roger's Varlets and Vermin.  I want to have a dungeon in which the players don't have a clue what they're running into for a good two thirds of the time.  That should make it so that when, for example, they run into the kobolds or the giant spiders they won't be comfortable enough to think they have any idea what they are capable of; I'm not saying anything other people, especially James Raggi, haven't said better than me, so I'll shut up about that for now.  I'm planning on leaving the monster tables for last, even after I've finished the map.  I'm going to take my time on them.  I think I'll re-stock only the RECG entries for this table.

    3. Treasure Tables: I'm starting out with Sham's one page Treasure Tables.  For magic items, I'm going to use the Tom Hughes' Tome of Minor Items and re-stock it with Jesse Muir's The Adventurer's Ordinance and The Adventurer's Ordinance II.  For magic swords, I'll use Sham's Magic Sword Generator.  I've got a few other treasure lists that I might use too, mainly Taichara's Little Treasures.

    4. Empty Room Tables: Empty rooms need dressing, both so I can get the players there and so that the players won't ever really know whether a room is empty or not.  I'm planning on using some of the tables from OSRIC (like the odors and noises tables), tables in both the 2009 and 2010 Beyond the Black Gate Compendiums, and tables from The Dungeon Alphabet.  I'm not sure whether I'll re-stock these or not, since I don't think I'll be using every table for every room; on the other hand, most rooms will be empty.  I definitely don't want things repeating enough that players actually can recognize what is "empty room" dressing, or that they find it boring.

    5. Trick and Trap Tables: I'll be using the OSRIC tables pretty much as-is, with the trap-disarming tables in the Beyond the Black Gate Compendium 2009.

    Well, that's enough for now- next time, we'll talk underlying ideas.

    My Story So Far

    So, to start this blog off, I figure I might as well explain how I got here.

    I've always like "fantasy," and fantasy books.  Some of my best memories from elementary school are of reading children's versions of Ivanhoe, Robin Hood, Arthurian legend, Greek and Norse myth, Narnia and The Hobbit. (I didn't get to The Lord of the Rings until middle school.)  Science fiction was always cool, too, though I discovered Star Wars in a family friend's spare room as my family was traveling around the country, rather than on the big screen of a movie theater.  That's what I get for being born in the 80's, I suppose. After reading The Hobbit, I even tried my hand at a little world building.

    Playing with Legos in elementary school also had a really heavy slant towards the fantasy genre for me. (I suppose the popularity and availability of Legos during my childhood is a decent tradeoff for the Star Wars thing.)  Knights, bandits in the forests, quests, castles, wars- Legos go great with all that stuff.  I actually still use Legos for miniatures, since I don't have the capital to start a miniatures collection and Legos are much more customizable.  They work great.

    All this time, I didn't hear anything, really, about RPGs.  That begins to become believable when you realize that I lived in Japan until I was 14; my parents are missionaries.  I spent high school just trying to figure mainstream American culture out- I didn't have a chance to try to figure out sub-cultures.

    I suppose it's actually kind of humorous that I heard about wargaming- specifically H.G. Wells' Little Wars- a few months before I heard about RPGs, but I didn't get a chance to try anything out before I heard about Dungeons and Dragons.  My roommate was playing in a campaign DMed by another guy on my floor.  I was a guest for one session, playing a dwarf.  It was fun, but I was too busy with Student Senate and school work to get too involved.

    The next year, a closer friend started a campaign with his two sisters, my roommate and me.  He was running 3.5 and figuring things out on his own, not having played, I don't think, at all before he started DMing.  I was hooked, though I found the immense amount of choices when creating a character bewildering.  Around this time, I started looking around on the internet, as did my roommate, to see what I could find out about D&D.  Initially, I spent most of my time on, spoiling what could have been a lot of cool first experiences for myself, but then I'm pretty sure it was my roommate who showed me Matt Finch's Quick Primer and what it was describing sounded really cool.  I think I bugged our GM by asking to incorporate a lot of what I read about in the "Primer" into our 3.5 game.  I tried to play more in the way it described as well.  One time, dungeon-delving, we entered a room with a monster that seemed to be all fight, no reward.  Before we started fighting, I suggested we just close the door and run away, as it was slower than us. That turned out to be a smart move, as our DM told us later that it was a Chaos Beast.

    At some point, I started looking for more stuff in the internet that had to do with what Matt Finch was talking about and discovered the OSR and I started lurking.  At some point during the campaign I was playing in, I discovered that I wanted to try my hand at running games from the other side of the screen, though I absolutely didn't have the time to do that while I was doing my undergrad studies.  Besides, I was about to graduate.

    I went to college in Texas, but my family lives in California, and I came back here to continue studying to be a teacher.  I've had more time on my hands, and I've lurked enough to "get" the "Old Ways" enough to run games.  I went back and visited my friends in Texas and ran some Swords and Wizardry for them, which they enjoyed.  Around August I went to the SoCal MiniCon III (I'm the one with the beard and the curly hair in the first two pictures) and, among other things, learned that I was, in fact, running games in an essentially "right" way, which was cool.  Armed with that confidence, along with some of the cool DMing skills I learned from playing in Tavis', Telecanter's and Brunomac's games, I decided to start a Skype campaign with my DM, my old roommate, my roommate's girlfriend and another friend from college who had only had experience with forum-based rpgs before.  We've been playing my homebrew of Swords and Wizardry weekly with one or two interruptions for a good three or four months now, which is really pretty cool.

    Lately, I discovered a FLGS not too far away (hence the "L," I guess).  It's been a cool place to pick up hard copies of RPG stuff I'm interested in, particularly old stuff re-published by Flying Buffalo (I now own Citybooks I, II and IV, for example).  Other than that, about the only OSR stuff they have is a rack of Goodman Games modules with a smattering of other OSR modules.  I'm not sure just what the people who run the place make of me, some guy who's younger than them, coming in and asking about games that are older than what they play, but they're usually pretty friendly and are willing to order what I ask for. They also let me run a game in the back room over Christmas.

    I've thought about blogging about games on and off lately, and have been encouraged to do so by some of my players, who would like their efforts at creating good metric (as opposed to Imperial) systems for distance, encumberment, etc., to be shared with the wider world. I've been lining up a bunch of posts for a while now, since I tend to let my blogs slide and write in bursts other times, and I figure I've got enough momentum now that I might as well give it a shot.  Hopefully you'll find something useful here.

    And that's about where things stand right now.  We'll see where things go from here.