Friday, December 20, 2019

Is There a Way to Make Our Hobby Healthier?

                Last Monday while I was actually in the middle of posting my Orc race as class, I started having some chest pains. I was on break at work and was rushed by EMT to the local hospital where I had to stay for 24 hours of observation. I appears to not be related to my heart directly, in the sense that I did not have a heart attack, but I still might have some blockages, tests will tell. I also noticed lately that many of our producers of content that have passed on, on average, went before a ripe old age. The doctors spoke to me about diet and exercise and the entire realm of “lifestyle” changes. The issue that comes up though, does my hobby make me unhealthy?

Trying to protect this bad boy.

                First and foremost this is not solely pointed at roleplaying games, I also have a desk job where I sit for 8+ hours a day. I have an extremely busy life that sometimes prevents any form of exercise, and not the best eating decisions. These factors weigh in far more than anything RPGs are doing to me. That being said, sitting for prolong periods of time and eating the common fair at the usual RPG session is not doing me any favors either. This does not include the time I spend reading RPG books, watching RPG Youtube shows, and writing this blog.

                I am thus reaching out to the community, have you found a way to possible make your RPG time a healthier experience? I think the obvious is to cut the poor foods out of gaming and substitute healthier options, but that only gets you halfway there. Beyond being in a boffer LARP, can you get any form of exercise in your RPG hobby? I think this issue is important to the community as it ages and we will have more and more premature deaths happening in the community.

                This was short and to the point, but I am hoping it can spawn some decent discussion in the community.

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Monday, December 16, 2019

New Race as Class - Orc


Requirements: Minimum STR 9
Prime requisite: STR
Hit Dice: 1d8
Armor: Chain, Shield
Weapons: Any
Languages: Common, Orcish

                Orcs are a warrior culture and are bred for battle. Orcs grow up rather rapidly and are expected to help with the tribal wars efforts at a young age. Thus, Orcs are exposed to battle for most of their lives. While most Orcs lack sophisticated battle strategy, they are often tactically intelligent. At times an Orc can break from their tribe in an effort to gather enough prowess to start their own tribe. This is where adventuring can come into play. Orcs can team with open-minded adventurers and start to make a name for themselves and gather riches. Eventually once the word spreads others will flock to their banner.

Any damage that an Orc deals to a foe that is over the amount needed to kill them can be applied to a different adjacent foe. This can be applied to as many foes as the damage allows. Use the same To Hit number for additional targets, if it would miss, you cannot Cleave.

When an Orc reaches 0 hit points they can roll a saving throw vs death, if they succeed they can continue to fight for one more round. After that round, if they are not healed, they will collapse and suffer the normal effects of reaching 0 hit points. If they fail the saving throw, they suffer the normal effects of reaching 0 hit points.

Orcs have infravision to 60’.

People who know the nature of the orc’s birth are often repulsed by their existence. If known, the orc will suffer a -1 penalty on Reaction Rolls with the target.

After reaching 6th the orc will attract a tribe of orcs that will serve out of respect for their martial prowess. The orc is now an Orc Warlord. The orc will have 4d6 orc clan warriors and 1d3-1 ogre lieutenants. The tribe can be mobile or settle down in an area that provides the ability to raid neighboring settlements.

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Friday, December 13, 2019

New Race as Class - Bugbear


Requirements: Minimum STR 12
Prime requisite: STR and CON
Hit Dice: 1d8
Armor: Leather, plus Shield
Weapons: Any
Languages: Common, Goblin

       These “Goblin Giants” are often merciless and cruel and for some adventuring parties that is exactly what they are looking for in a companion. Adventuring companies that are looking to hire on muscle that can also put fear into rival parties look to Bugbears. As long as Bugbears are getting good wages, good food, and good fights they are happy with their arrangements. Bugbears make surprisingly good scouts and can plot out an ambush with lethal efficiency. While not the most adept of warriors they make up for it with brute strength and cunning.

Brutal Thug
Bugbears are immensely strong for their relative size. They receive a +1 to all damage rolls.

Bugbears are extremely resilient and receive +1 hit point per level.

Bugbears have an uncanny ability to disappear from sight:

  • In dungeons, a bugbear can hide with a 90% chance of success.
  • In woods or undergrowth, a bugbear can hide in shadows or behind other forms of cover. The chance of success is 2-in-6.
  • Hiding requires the bugbear to be motionless.

When attacking an unaware opponent from behind, a bugbear receives a +4 bonus to hit and doubles any damage dealt

Bugbears have infravision to 60’.

Extreme Scorn
People who know the nature of the bugbear’s birth are often repulsed by their existence. If known, the bugbear will suffer a -2 penalty on Reaction Rolls with the target.

After reaching 6th the bugbear will attract a gang of goblinoids that will serve out of fear. The bugbear will have 3d6 goblin thugs and 1d6-1 hobgoblins lieutenants. The bugbear gang generally roams and does not set down roots, finding an abandoned dungeon or cave to make a base.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tips on Starting an Old School Group Near You

      Since the fulfillment started of Old School Essentials I have seen quite a few people attempting to start an OSE game near them. Many are finding that it is a bit harder to do, especially since 5e is the dominant D&D on the market. I recently responded to a person looking to start a game in their area, and saying that the local game store was not helpful. I gave him some advice and I wanted to share it on my blog because I think it is relevant to the greater community at large. Before diving into the OSR scene head first, I was extremely into the Indie Games scene and tried to help their popularity spread as well. I was met with the waves of Pathfinder and D&D games, and people that were unwilling to try things that were different. I did manage to get a local, loyal 30 – 40 person group of Indie gamers into a group that met on a weekly basis. These are some of the tips that worked in my personal experience to get an “unknown” game out into the community.

High quality production values

One – Start Your Own Group

  This seems pretty self-explanatory, but plenty of people just try showing up at random game stores with no organization and expect to find games. The truth is that the big companies are HIGHLY organized. Pathfinder Society, D&D Adventure League, and the Savage Worlds Society are examples of companies that have organized their most rabid fan-base to provide them with hours of free labor. The companies in turn provided them content and better yet, a community that players are often looking for in a game. You need to form your own community. 

Looking for a group is hard work

Meetup is one of the best, but it costs money per month. This allows you to schedule regular game times, allows members to chat, and focuses your search for people in your local area. Another good option that is free is Facebook. Creating a Facebook group has most of the same features as Meetup, but it does not offer the specificity of Meetup. It is very likely people in your area will never find your Facebook group on their own. People go onto Meetup because they are looking to do a certain activity. What I ended up doing was starting the group on Meetup, once it was big enough with consistent members, I made the switch to Facebook. We did lose a few members though, because some people refuse to use Facebook. 

Once you have the group, you need to advertise the group. You can go old fashion and make flyers and hang them in libraries, game stores, and recreation centers. You can also advertise online in local forums, Facebook groups, and other forms of social media. Just know you are going to get a lot more lurkers, than actual people who will show up. My Meetup had about 200 members, but I only ever had about 40 active members. People love to sign up for things, but not actually do those things. The other thing to do is advertise by running games. Many communities have local games days and are looking for GMs, run games there. You must be totally prepared to run games for very small amounts of people, like two, and be prepared to run games for parents with their children. Many times the “hardcore” players are playing 5e and Pathfinder, and you will get what you get. Occasionally though you will get a player that really takes to the system/game and you might get them on a more permanent basis.

Two – Do Not Start With a Campaign

I often see people saying, “Hey, looking to start an OSR group for the first time, I am going to run a Barrowmaze campaign.” This will actually drive people away, or make them not want to start in the first place. Even with the most experience people, Barrowmaze would take a minimum of a year to play. People do not want to make that kind of a commitment right out of the gate. I will harken back to Pathfinder Society and D&D Adventurers League. They are successful in part because they run short adventures that have a resolution at the end. Many people starting out want that kind of an experience. Your best solution is to run a series of one-shot games. This serves two real purposes, one, it is less of a commitment from new players that might not know you or the game style. Two, it gives you time to learn to run these types of games. A campaign has a lot of moving parts, a simple adventure usually follows a solid, small structured event.

I love this short adventure.

       I have run Lamentations of the Flame Princess “A Single, Small Cut” more times than I can count. I used it to introduce the concept of OSR gaming, and it can be done in about 4 hours. There are a ton of cheap or free short adventures that can be used for this kind of an adventure. The trick is to run one game, then ask people if they would like to play again. If they show up again, run another one-shot and rinse and repeat. Eventually you will have a group of regulars that does show up and is taken with the game. You will know they are really taken with the game if they buy their own books. Once this is starting to happen you can broach the subject of starting a lengthy campaign, they might even ask for it. The trick is to not pull the trigger too early, you need to have a solid base before you move into something bigger.

Three – Be Patient

This is not a fast process. It took me at least a year to get even a small, functioning group that met on a regular basis. Even with the vast success of D&D in the world today, it is still am extremely niche market. If you are trying to promote OSR gaming, you are supporting a niche within a niche. This means that it will generally take time to have people come around. The more perseverance you have the more likely this is to happen. You must be completely prepared to run a ton of games, and never play in any games. You have to be prepared to have to organize lots of events to have half of them generate no players. You have to be willing to be the sole driving force behind a group, until it become self-sustaining (which will take a long time). 

Take a moment

It is really nice if you can find a partner that is just as passionate about these games as you. When I was running my Indie RPG group, I had a second person that could help out and I trusted to do a good job. I know this might not always be possible, but it is a great resource if you can find it. This will lighten the load a bit, and you will have someone to lean on when things go wrong, and they will.

Four – Be Prepared To Get Rejected

This is the hardest part of the process. More often than not people will not even want to give your game a shot. They want to stick with what they know or they do try it, and it is not for them. It seems hard to accept because we love the games so much, how could someone possibly not like it? You will get bumped for your tables at cons or stores in order to make room for 5e or possibly Magic The Gathering. It is hard to blame the stores, oftentimes 5e does not bring in huge amounts of money, let alone a game they do not even sell. Always try and support the store and encourage your players to do the same. I always try and buy something when I am playing in a store. Dice, miniatures, or at bare minimum buy a soda or two. This goes a long way to making good with the store.

It will happen

The roughest rejection, and it will happen, is the players who you KNOW had a great time, but happily run back to 5e or Pathfinder. They were excited at the table, making great plans, laughing with the group, they even tell you at the end how much fun they had. When push comes to shove though, if Pathfinder Society is giving away a free super weapon for each character taking place in their society night, players will go to that. I will never understand why people would rather play in a bad 5e game over a good OSE game, but it will happen if you do this long enough. This is not to say that ALL 5e games are bad, and ALL OSE are good. I am talking about specific instances where players told me how bored they were with their Adventure’s League games, but still kept going over doing something different.

Moral of the Story

It is possible to get these games up and going, but it will normally take a large amount of work. Luckily now we do have other resources if this is just not happening in your area, we have the internet. I know there is nothing like playing in a face-to-face game with people around a table, but sometimes we do not have a choice. I am lucky that I still get to play D&D with my friends that I started with in 1989, but I know that not everyone has that ability. I hope what I shared here can help you in the future.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

New Race as Class - Hobgoblin


Requirements: Minimum CON 9
Prime requisite: CON
Hit Dice: 1d6
Armor: Any, plus Shield
Weapons: Any
Languages: Common, Goblin, Orcish

                These humanoids are adapted to the brutal life of a military campaign. Hobgoblins are often loyal to their tribe, and more specifically their unit. Sometimes in the course of war the unit is destroyed leaving a lone, disgraced hobgoblin in need of a new unit. "Adventures" on occasion have taken in these lone warriors and are often surprised at their level of competency. Oftentimes these adopted warriors can become fiercely loyal to their new “tribe” and make excellent bodyguards. They have a natural distrust and hatred for elves, but who can blame them for that?    

Military Training
Hobgoblins are adept in the military arts and are at constant war with other races. Hobgoblins to not walk into ambushes easily. There is a -1 penalty to surprise a Hobgoblin.

Shield Wall
When a hobgoblin is standing next to an ally with a shield, they can form a shield wall. This can be done with up to two allies all facing the same direction. Each person benefits from the AC bonus of their shield and the shields of those next to them. When forming a shield wall to receive the benefit those in the shield wall cannot move more than 5’ per round.

Detect Construction Tricks
Spending large amounts of time constructing fortifications underground, hobgoblins have a 2-in-6 chance of being able to detect new construction, sliding walls, or sloping passages when searching.

Hobgoblins have infravision to 60’.

People who know the nature of the hobgoblin’s birth are often repulsed by their existence. If known, the hobgoblin will suffer a -1 penalty on Reaction Rolls with the target. This penalty is doubled when dealing with elves.

After reaching 7th level the hobgoblin can create a fortification and start to attract a tribe. Before the hobgoblins pledge loyalty the fortifications must be complete, and must have at least 4 pieces of artillery for defense. Hobgoblins typically build these underground and are referred to as a Hobgoblin Warlord.

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Monday, December 2, 2019

New Race as Class - Goblin


Requirements: Minimum DEX 9
Prime requisite: DEX
Hit Dice: 1d4
Armor: Leather, Shield
Weapons: Dagger, Short Sword, Spear, Short Bow, Crossbow, Club
Languages: Common, Goblin

                These small humanoids make terrible adventures due to their cowardly nature, lack of physical prowess, and overall lack of any skill. This however does not prevent them from trying. Many goblin adventures have been ostracized from a large tribe of goblin and have found a way to latch onto an accepting party of adventurers. Many times the goblin in the party is used as a trap detector, walking 20’ ahead of the group.  

Pack Fighter
When a goblin is attacking the same creature as an ally in melee combat they receive a +1 to hit. When a goblin attacks a creature alone they receive a -1 to hit.

Defensive Bonus
Due to their small size, goblins gain a +2 bonus to Armor Class when attacked by large opponents (greater than human -sized).

Goblins have infravision to 60’.

Goblins have an uncanny ability to disappear from sight:
  • In woods or undergrowth, a goblin can hide with a 90% chance of success.
  • In dungeons, a goblin can hide in shadows or behind other forms of cover. The chance of success is 2-in-6. Hiding requires the goblin to be motionless.

People who know the nature of the goblin’s birth are often repulsed by their existence. If known, the goblin will suffer a -1 penalty on Reaction Rolls with the target.

P.S. I was talking with John Anthony and Michael Ramondeda on the OSE Facebook Group about some possible changes to the leveling. I originally had the goblin go to level 9, because I thought the idea of a goblin achieving naming level and being a Goblin King was cool. The idea was then floated, "Why does naming level HAVE to be 9th for goblins?" I wanted the level cap to be lower, but I also wanted a Goblin King name. Here is the compromise, which I like more. 

We saw that a Goblin King is usually about 3HD and 5d4 should be about equal. Here is a variant that is a bit more goblin-y to me. 

Also add the following rule:

Goblin Town
At 5th level the goblin achieves the status of Goblin King and can establish a lair with 5d10 goblin followers. These followers are only as loyal as they are afraid. If the PC shows any signs of weakness, it is possible another goblin will betray them.

I went ahead and created a Facebook group for the blog, if you are interested the link is here.