26 June 2010

Re-Writing Spellcasting

Taking a couple of crib notes from different great minds and some really cool ideas, my Alternate Wizard Spell List is done.

It takes a little bite out of straight Vancian magic, in that it uses a spell point system that still requires the magic user to prepare spells, but not in a straight "four 1st level spells and three 2nd level spells." In this system, each level of spell has a point value cost and the wizard can memorize any number of spells of any level, as long as the point cost doesn't exceed his total.

The Magic User can then spend his points on any of the spells he has prepared. So, for example, a level 4 MU has two 1st level spells and two 2nd level spells for a total of 16 points (3 points each for each 1st level spell, and 5 points each for the 2nd level spells.) He could prepare five 1st level spells, or three 2nd level spells, or something in between.

And when the Magicu User wishes to cast, they pick a spell they've memorized, lose some spell points, and cast. The spell stays in their memory until they "re-memorize" something instead of it. In essence, they could cast any spell as long as they have the magic for it, which I feel better fits a fantasy wizard's style.

In addition, I've re-written all of the spells; one of the things that bothers me. Clerics have interesting and useful spells, so why are Magic Users' spells so boring? I'll post the new and improved spell list tomorrow- look for it!

24 June 2010

Queen of the Demonweb Pits

Sorry about the lack of typing- I'd been extremely busy for the past two weeks, but I'll try to get typing more often than I have been.

Not really in the mood today, but figured it was about time to get back in the swing of things. Roleplaying-wise, I'm planning on running Q1- Queen of the Demonweb Pits for a group of 2-3 people. Each of them will have a small handful of henchmen and hirelings, so hopefully that'll balance things out. Having never run a published module before, it would probably have been easier to run the other module I have with me (X1- The Isle of Dread), but that's irrelevant. I want to go balls-to-the-wall, and it's been a long while since we've bothered to try running a high-level one shot. It should be fun; after all, my players have been patient and tolerant of me up to now, so here's my attempt to let them shine on.

Also, my Alternate Spell List is finished, which is cool. It takes the rather boring and bland Magic User spells of LL and basic D&D and attempts to spice them up a little bit so everybody isn't taking the same Sleep, Magic Missile, Charm Person spells all the time. Running Q1 will be the playtest of the new spells, as well, so that should be exciting. I'll post them here as soon as I get around to putting it into a nicer format. It's currently in a raw text format (via GEdit, an awesome text editor), but putting it into Open Office and prettying it up shouldn't be a problem.

06 June 2010

Why are all the good names taken?

The more work I put into my homebrew game, the more frustrated it gets that it doesn't even have a name. It has a codename, and that's about the extent of it. You see, I'm trying to avoid:


  • Alliterations. Dungeons and Dragons, Labyrinth Lords, Tunnels and Trolls; while they're all classic games, they're not what the game should be compared with. This game isn't classic, and it's not particularly old-fashioned, although older roleplaying games are its main focus. It also has a good mix of some independent games, Forge-style, if you will. But trying to have a slightly silly name reminiscent of the old classic isn't something that I relish. To people that like D&D, they'll still play D&D. For people that don't like it, they'll have to waste their valuable first impression time on insisting that it's not like D&D even though it has an alliteration.
  • Long, Wordy Names. I haven't the testicular fortitude to name a game something like Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Descent: Journeys in the Dark (which isn't strictly a roleplaying game, but c'mon), or Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. They imply a certain grandiosity that makes one think of five hundred page games with complex, interlayering rules that I dislike. If my game gets to be more than 50 pages, I'll be shocked and probably have to cut something. My inspiration is the Little Brown Books, not the Encyclopedia Britannica that is 4th edition D&D. Long titles suggest long-winded writing, and a certain lack of economy of words.
  • Acronyms. GURPS is a horrible name. Horrible. I don't care what it stands for, when one says the acronym it sounds like a vulgarism for vomit. And if you say it out, it's another Long, Wordy Name. 
  • Colons. White Wolf lives off of acronyms, and they make buyers sound like idiots. What do they call a game about Vampires? Vampire: The Masquerade or Vampire: The Requiem. I realize that the game is marketed towards people who are interested in a "gothic roleplaying game", but the game would have had a much, much better title of just "Requiem" or "Masquerade." For another stinker, try "Mage: The Awakening." Again, just Awakening would have been a much, much better name. I just don't understand the point of having such a formulaic name. No, "Subject: The Descriptor" is straight out.

I'm currently toying with sticking one-word titles on top of my rough draft and seeing what sticks. For example, the name "Portcullis" makes it sound like a game about defending keeps and "Iron Gauntlet" makes me think of power metal and arcade games.

Clearly, naming a game is an art more than a science, and unfortunately, I'm a poor artist.

03 June 2010

Inspiration for Gaming

David, from http://towerofthearchmage.blogspot.com/, let me on to an interesting question:

This month’s RPG Carnival, hosted by Campaign Mastery, poses the question:
What non-game media have most inspired your games and how?

And you know, that's a really good question. I guess for me, it'd have to be:


  • Elric of Melnibone: I know some people have issues with him telling instead of showing, and his unusual writing style, but I was exposed to this work at a relatively young age. The raw creativity of his work astounded me, and the plain fact that it was so different was really cool. Here, for the first time in my life, was a character with actual problems, a character with depth and substance. He was alternately gloomy and elated, and he had a real history. 
  • Robert Aspirin's "Myth" series: Another book that I'd read from an early age, containing interesting bits about ley lines and alternate universes and demons just being regular people. I think it helped shape my sense of silliness in my game worlds, which is probably a good thing after reading Moorcock heavily.
  • Theives' World: This book, I read heavily in. Matter of fact, the repeated readings and re-readings led to the spine caving in entirely- it's currently held together by duct tape and wishful thinking. The book featured an absolute hell-hole of a town, and the interesting characters that live in it. Because of this book, I've had a strong taste for the wierd and the very low-magic game worlds, where the sorcerers who exist are tragic figures and the theives aren't all bad. It's a really, really good read from some of the finest writers of science fiction and fantasy, in my opinion. I haven't read it in at least 5 years due to the condition of the binding, but I can still remember Jubal the slaver and the bizarre things he'd been through.
  • Conan the Barbarian: I loved this movie. I hadn't been exposed to this before I started gaming, nor had I read the books, but I'd seen the movie. You can say what you will about it, if you approach it with an open mind and a young man's imagination, it's pretty damn good.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Not the books, mind you. I've never cared for Mr. Tolkien's writing style in the least. I'd tried to get through the books, but I'll be damned if he doesn't take one hundred pages to get through what should be two paragraphs of travel, and no, the book isn't better for it. I'll argue about it until the day I die. But anyways, the movies were spectacular, filled with scenes of great battles and bizarre sorcery and incredible landscapes and cities and monuments. It's a movie filled with a sense of wonder. In my games I don't like epic fantasy, but that doesn't mean that there hasn't been a location from the movie quietly cribbed for use in my games. 
And that's that. Looking at it, I realize that there's a good bit of old books up there, which makes sense. The only modern fantasy writer that I particularly enjoy is George R.R. Martin, whose works, I think, one has to enjoy or resign one's Fantasy Lover badge and shred it up.