Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Wizard/Lawyer dual class


Things have changed a lot in the real world where the roleplaying industry is concerned. Things will always change of course which is not a bad thing but the internet has I think been a positive force overall for the hobby despite the primary weapon for a warrior tending to be the keyboard these days. Having said this the global medium has provided a new publishing landscape and with it an ever growing pool of litigation issues out of which crawl the usual suspects.

The big story erupting at the moment is a rift between Wizards of the Coast and the creators of the fabled world of Krynn. Dragonlance is no small brand having begun releasing novels in the early eighties with Dragons of Autumn Twilight it has now spanned over 190 novels that include its content under the umbrella of TSR which was of course absorbed by Wizards of the Coast in 1997 - the brand is considered to be one of the major pillars of the D&D game alongside classics such as Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk and will have accounted for hundreds of thousands of gaming hours over the decades. Tracey Hickman and Margaret Weis who were co creators of the brand still support the fan base today and recently secured a deal through Penguin Random House with WotC to produce a further three novels. 

This is where things unravel however as WotC are accused of  breach of contract following their termination of the agreement. This has not pleased fans as this was supposed to be the capping of  legacy work by the creators and eagerly awaited. The fallout seems to have happened over the summer when WorC was undergoing some public relations issues as well as taking on a senior exec that seems to have taken the company along a politically correct course resulting in the retro editing of many of the Magic the Gathering cards as well as the cultural modification of some of the classic D&D5e  races.

At $10 million dollars the lawsuit is non trivial and this is not good for fans. Whilst I am sure that there is a lot of money pumping though WotC it is not inexhaustive and the more troubling aspect is that the company is viciously  turning on part of its own customer base as well as beloved TSR content which will have ongoing repercussions. I cant see D&D disappearing in any event as it can always be sold on if not re-released but it is indeed ironic that hubris and greed are also the primary characteristics of Dragons.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Technological Traps

Last Saturday saw the continuing voyages of the USS Lyonesse lovingly recreated by GM Jon in the Roll20 environment to at least the production standard of the late 60s, although we are playing in the 80s era of course, our adventures nevertheless continued in the appropriate fashion. And fashion is very appropriate when one considers the correct uniform designations as demonstrated by several new avatars Jon had put together representing our characters - whilst they look fantastic I am slightly concerned as the the space left to add more. I do know that additional crew members are written up into the story as time goes on so the roster will populate, its just that the the supporting cast are also there for promotion should the main characters get 'written out' in an unfortunate circumstance.

We had left the last episode exploring a Vulcan archeological away team that had been compromised when investigating a subterranean seed vault. It had transpired that the vault itself was just a front for a an even more extensive underground military like structure designed both to withstand a nuclear attack as well as keep a small contingent alive with supplies. The installation was however drawing power from the fusion core of the Vulcan exploration habitat so it was a matter of cautiously investigating the long dormant structure until we found a mysteriously sealed level as well as a service robot that was trying to take us to a hidden lift to the same location.

As if following some scripted plot we then merrily wandered into the dilemma, or more accurately, the trap. The unseen level consisted of hundreds of now failed suspended animation capsules, as well as the eviscerated corpses of the missing Vulcans wired up in a failed attempt to connect their brains to a huge central computer system that seems to have been hosting a hive mind that has presumably been ticking over for millennia as some forgotten project of a sinister black operations division. The issue is that the computer now wants to feed on our minds as well as the rest of the crew and in due spirit, it managed to synthesize my voice in order to beam down Lt Valik  which will do nothing to stem his nerves following the trauma of his previous encounters. Not sure how this episode will end but its not looking good as we have several primitive but effective defence robots bearing down on as as well as a partially insane hive mind demanding the rest of the crew join it. I am sensing that the next episode may be more Borg like than Beverley like and we'll find out who does the crushing.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Like Rogues


I did manage to reach one of my life goals about five years ago which was to attain the hitherto fabled Amulet of Yendor. This particular quest began back in 1990 when I was twenty one and eventually completed in 2015 at about two o'clock in the morning in the middle of Ashdown forest. Some of you may know of what I speak which is a legend in itself dating back to the early 1980s. It was at this time that Michael Troy and Glenn Wichman created the the game Rogue for UNIX mainframes that began a genre that thrives today in many popular and cutting edge forms.

Inspired by role playing games the visually primitive yet highly complex interactive environment tries to capture the rough end of life at the dungeon face. More specifically the game entails descending through many levels to seek out the amulet and return to the surface with it intact. Its name, Yendor is just Rodney spelt backwards which was supposed to be the default name of the character that you play. The point of Rogue and roguelike games is that they are both extremely difficult to win and result in permadeath whenever the player dies of one of the many unforgiving challenges. It is currently evolving in the form of Nethack which I am about to get into but its complexity has grown such that the random character generator does spit out some wonderful characters if you are looking for inspiration for your scenario.

Despite being inspired by rpgs I am curious if there is some feedback here that might be useful. There is a very special feeling for a player when success is attained against all odds and with the right frame of mind, a truly challenging game is sobering and will get the focus of players. Pain is a part of an authentic roleplaying experience and the death of ones comrades is character building in and of itself both mechanically as well as narratively. I think it comes down to respect as its often the case that you can feel the GM changing down the gears and back peddling when a situation is seriously getting out of hand for players. Whilst the 'not fair' brigade will always roll the eyes of experienced GMs I do like the systems that think ahead of these sort of players - the Star Trek is very noteworthy here as development is predominantly narrative rather than skills based and as the game progresses other crewmembers are brought into being and can, ultimately step up if the primary character suffers one of the many rogue like traps out there in the galaxy. It all adds to the richness of the adventure and GMs should always have a community context for their players as this approach would be useful whether you are based in a village or starship. Life is hard but rewarding, in part, because it is hard.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Coming soon again

Whilst business are crumbling under the weight of the pandemic I have commented on concerns over the viability of our local Dice Saloon gaming store. Fundamentally a business based on social interaction it would seem like a target demographic for the inevitable economic scarring but as it had moving plans at about the same time as lockdown began, it may well have bought a little time and what can be built and lost can if necessary be built again. In their own words

Hello to all our patrons, I hope lock down has been treating you well. As the country comes out of hibernation and stores begin to open people have been asking about Dice Saloon and when we are scheduled to open. 

As many of you know our old home (unit 6, longley) is being demolished and we have been working on 88 London road. We have had a lot of trouble getting plaster and plasterboard and this has given us some serious delays. We are now aiming to open up in august our webshop has been live for  few days and we are working on redesigning the navigation and usability, more products will be added daily and we hope you can use this to get your hobby fix. 

Today we are excited to share some progress pictures, we have attached some from when we took the site on and then some from today. Scaffolding will be out of the main hall in the next week and we will try do a weekly update. 

Thanks for the support!

Dice Saloon Team