August 29, 2008


Today is the closing day for the RPG BLOG CARNIVAL #1, "Character Death, Resurrection, and The Undead". I announced this new carnival earlier this month as an open event for all the bloggers in our burgeoning RPG blog community. So far, I think this has been a great success - especially since I am so new to the 'scene'. Frankly I wasn't expecting anyone to take me up on my idea, but much to my surprise we received over ten entries! OK, that might not be earth shattering, but its definitely a solid start to something good. If you are an RPG blogger, please link back to this post from your own blog so that people can find links to these great articles that were contributed to this carnival. The more noise we make, the better this carnival will become.

Now, before I (briefly) summarize the posts from each of the participating blogs, I have two things to say:
  1. THANK YOU! and HATS OFF! to all the bloggers who participated. The participating blogs included: Tenletter, MadBrewLabs, Greywulf's Lair, Imaginary Vestibule, Fantasticate, Netherworld Stories, Malevolent & Benign, Paper & Plastic, and of course The Core Mechanic. Each of their posts are summarized, and linked, below. CHECK IT OUT!
  2. DONNY_the_DM WILL BE HOSTING THE NEXT CARNIVAL. The whole idea behind a blog carnival is to stimulate your blogging community to all write one, or a few, post(s) about the same topic; then sum them all up at the end of the event and spread the "link-love" around. For this event to continue to be a success, a new host is selected for each carnival. Thus, RPG BLOG CARNIVAL #2 will be hosted by Donny_the_DM at his blog The Art of the TPK. The topic for the blog carnival is completely up to Donny too; so... keep you eyes peeled for his announcement. The third (#3) RPG Blog Carnival, we have Bryant signed up. After that .. it's open to anyone who wants to host it.
Character Death, Resurrection and THE UNDEAD.

  1. Tenletter's entry titled "Who Wants to Live Forever?" discusses the careful balance between GM/DM vs. Player expectations of Character Death. He writes, "... DnD is game that is inherently filled with danger and the threat of death. If it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t need the dice..." A good point; often forgotten.
  2. MadBrewLabs' contribution to the carnival is likely the most comprehensive. He covers nearly all the topics suggested by the initial announcement. My favorite section? Fossilfungus as a "fungus that has evolved into a near symbiotic relationship with the undead, specifically zombies." This is just simply so cool.
  3. Greywulf's Lair offers up an entry about "Death & Superheros". While I've never played an RPG about superheroes, his closing remarks hold true for all RPGs: "when a character dies, it’s a world-changing event, at least for the folks around them." True dat!
  4. Imaginary Vestibule sent in a post titled "The Wages of Death are Sin" where he provides an interesting game mechanic that could be used to increase the significance of a character's death in the game.
  5. Fantasticate's blog contributed "D&D: Handlign a Character Death" where he suggests that a good course of action is to make the death "part of the story", even if its not something the DM planned/expected to happen. So often - this is the case. There's also a funny Roll or Die d20 graphic...
  6. Netherworld Stories writes about the undead in "Blog Carnival: There Goes the Zombiehood" and makes an excellent point: "Why are undead things near-universally assumed to be evil?". Its always good to think of bad things in good ways - makes ya think, eh?
  7. Malevolent & Benign presents the Zombies of Vanth in "Now We're Feeling Zombified", part of the Encounter Critical project. Play a Zombie character with these d20 (?) rules. This wins the Most Unexpected Contribution Award - its like Lovecraft meets the Jetsons. Awesomeness... chuckled about 100 times.
  8. Paper & Plastic adds the Rotten Carcass and the Upper Carcass as two additional zombies usable in 4E. There's also a nice discussion about Minion experience points in 4E in the comments section.
  9. The Core Mechanic wrote a three part series titled The Dead Queens of Morvena, detailing two sister-queens who were betrayed by their king and died to rise again as a pair of liches. Part 1 has backstory, Part 2 adventure hooks, and Part 3 statblocks for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Enjoy!
Well, that wraps it up for the RPG Blog Carnival #1. Altogether, these post produced 45 comments from blog readers following the carnival. Heck.. that's almost as many comments from one post by The Chatty DM or Critical Hits! Wohoo! The power of 9! Heh... (/wink)

Thanks again to everyone who participated, and I'm really looking forward to Donny_the_DMs announcement and NEW TOPIC for RPG Blog Carnival #2!!!

Let's keep this thing going... so let us know if its going to be you...

August 28, 2008

That'll Learn em! WotC puts the smack down on McCainculus

The president of Wizards of the Coast tell's the McCain camp to STFU. Nice!

(shortest post ever? sry.. I'm at work)

August 27, 2008

Ars Magica Players & Info about Troupe Style Playing

Yesterday I posted about an alternate style of running your Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition role playing game (ok.. take THAT search engines!). Or any RPG for that matter. Unfortunately... nobody bit. Maybe it was the International Take a Break From Your RSS Feed Reader Day - I dunno. Nonetheless, being the stubborn type, I blog on.

I mentioned that I had nearly zero success looking with Google for more information about "entourage gaming". Now, the interneTz are huge. Massive in fact. And there BILLIONS of board people in the world - someone had to of come up with this idea before; I just knew it. I mean - maybe Sham came up with this idea. It was possible, but given the millions of people who have played RPGs in the last 40 years, it was also very improbable.

Fortunately, ChattyDM mentioned in a recent post of his about ars ludi's West March campaign which uses a troupe/entourage style of game play (only with 1 DM). I've added these links to my growing Google Notebook on the subject.

Also, an eagle-eyed patron of the Gleemax forums pointed out that Ars Magica introduced something very similar to this back in 1987. The reason I missed it was because they referred to it as "Troupe System" or a troupe system for RPG gaming. Ars Magica is still around (5th edition), but its a game I've never played. I'm curious about how Ars Magica's troupe system would be adaptable to a similar game like D&D. In any case, I now have half-a dozen web articles to read about the troupe/entourage system for role-playing games. While I'm not convinced that the Ars Magica troupe system, as written in the rules of the game, are the same as what I'm looking for - at least it is a solid start. And now that I've got the materials in hand to explore this idea further - I'm definitely going to be writing about my findings here on The Core Mechanic.

When you are trying to break in something new, explore a new idea, or try a new style for game table - its better to stand on the shoulder's of giants, than build your own step-ladder, IMHO. Why reinvent the d20 when you don't have to?

So, are there any readers of this blog out there that have played Ars Magica? If so, I would love to hear you comments about troupe-style gaming. Good? Bad? Hard to manage? What are the pros and cons?

Entourage Gaming?

A few weeks ago, Sham's Grog'n Blog posted about the "Entourage Approach". Ever since reading his post I can't get the idea out of my head. It just... won't... go... away. I'm thinking that, if extended, this approach could be a boon to all those people who can't get a regular weekly game together because they are just too damn busy with work/life. I'm going to start digging around the internetZ about this approach to running a game (because everything has already been done before) and, hopefully, I'll have enough material to start a series about it summarizing my findings.

In the meantime, I've also started a discussion over at (gulp) Gleemax: "Entourage Gaming: Designing a campaign with large cast of PCs".

So... have you ever run an "Entourage" campaign? What were the pros and cons? What sort of things did you like about this style of play? What did you hate about it?

August 26, 2008

"Tinglefoot, Tinglefoot, Tinglefoot Cube" Rediscovered...

Many moons ago I submitted an adventure to DUNGEON magazine. I think it was sometime in 2001. It was the only (gaming related) thing I have ever written that I felt was worthy of possibly being published. I was sure that it would get rejected. I was a complete amateur (still am), and had zero experience with creative writing or formal adventure design (still do). But, much to my surprise my proposal was returned with positive reviews from the Editor (Chris Thomasson), only he suggested I rework the ending a bit and then resubmit. I was stoked. My inner-geek was all giddy with nerdrenaline.

There was a 'problem' though. I was in the middle of working on my doctorate at the time and I ended up not being able to find the time to put the new revisions together. The material I had produced ended up buried in some folder on an external firewire drive. After a while, it was a forgotten brick of text. It may have been forgotten forever too, if I hadn't been poking around on said harddrive last weekend.

Here's an excerpt from my DUNGEON proposal:
"... At the adventure’s start the heroes meet Beret Tinglefoot at a roadside tavern while on their way to Enstad. They find him to be a talkative gnomish merchant with a dark sense of humor. He explains that he has traveled far and wide the known realms, selling everything and anything that can be carried on the back of his pack mule, Gordi. On this particular occasion, he suggests that he “quite assuredly” has things of interest to a group of “heroes” such as themselves (which he does, but at slightly inflated prices). During this encounter, the PCs undoubtedly notice an unfinished, yet ornate, wooden cube among his wares. After quickly hiding it from further scrutiny, Beret explains it is absolutely not for sale, being a present for one of his nephews in Tarkenook. The cube, however, serves as an important clue for the upcoming adventure.

Beret has a soft spot for conversation, no matter how trivial. Through role playing, the PCs may discover that he often travels to Enstad and Verbobonc for business. If asked about the trouble in Enstad, they find Beret knows only the common rumors. Inquisitive players find that he resides in Tarkenook, a small gnomish community in the Kron Hills, and that he maintains a shop in nearby Enstad, “The Tinglefoot Tinkerer”. The Adventure Prologue should provide the PC’s with a memorable encounter with a rather unusual gnomish merchant, as well as give them the opportunity to lighten their purses a bit with some new gear ..."

With the rediscovery of "Tinglefoot, Tinglefoot, Tinglefoot Cube", I remembered that I invested a respectable chunk of time with it. Having it "go to waste" would be a shame - so I was thinking that I might solicit the opinions of the few readers I have of this blog to see what I should do with it.

Should I...
  1. Put all the materials together, as suggest by Chris Thomasson in 2001, and submit them to the _new_ DUNGEON magazine (aka DDI)?
  2. Trickle out the materials here at The Core Mechanic, and get feedback from the community at large? This seems viable, I only wonder if this is the wrong venue for it.
  3. Package the materials into a nice and tidy PDF with the help of my sister (she's an illustrator) and then sell it _cheap_ on with a free-preview via the blog?
  4. Submit the adventure to KOBOLD, or some other small-press magazine?
  5. Or something else?
The adventure is basically a 3E adventure that was set in Greyhawk - but it could be easily ported to some any other setting or even a generic setting.


August 25, 2008

SLASHDOT RULZ Teh InternetZ DooD: WotC Declares Gleemax Site a Critical Failure

I know.. for us in the RPG blogosphere this is "old news" (what.. last week?). Anywho.. I just thought I would share the link to the /. (Slashdot) article even though it is a bit off topic. I was laughing my arse off.

What I found REALLY funny was the comments people are leaving... it sounds exactly like the same sort of crap the McCain blogger came out with last week.

Here are some samples, real gems IMHO:

"Do you really think your D&D character who you've been playing off and on for 30 years since BECMI is so much more legitimate than someone's Tier 6-geared character with thousands of hours of play time? Hint: it's not. Disclaimer: I play WoW. I have 2 70s, neither of which are geared for raiding (yet...). I also run a weekly D&D game and I started a board game club at my college. So if you want to try and argue I'm not a gamer... Well, go right ahead. I don't need your validation. Oh, and my penis is HUGE (in Japan). " -- Asmor


"...who remembers a slashdot-like site named Planet Crap, where gamers, game webmasters, and game developers gathered, posted, discussed, flamed, and trolled? I'd say 1999 called and wants its idea back!"-- sm62704


Even More Fun with Fonts...

I posted twice last week (here and here) about some cool fonts for gaming. Well, thanks to a tip sent in to Roleplaying Tips 2.0 I also picked up some very cool new True Type Fonts from All together, there are 15 free TTF fonts to download - all available here. My favorite? Well, that would be Dragon Font, pictured below.
In addition, a comment left by an Anonymous visitor pointed me Omniglot. The website's tagline is "Writing Systems of the World" and they have detailed information on hundreds of writing systems and links for font files associated with them. They even have links to fictional fonts from fantasy or sci-fi settings too (Aurek-Besh anyone?). Very cool. Very cool indeed...

get all the posts I've made about fonts in one fell clik.

August 23, 2008

Square, Hex, Anything Generator

Nothing much to say today - only that I stumbled across this page today that generates hex paper (or whatever else you want) on the fly as printable PDFs. The PDFs can easily be cut/cropped and then dropped into any image editing software for maps as well. Very useful little tool for all your home-brew gaming needs.

Incompetech Graph Paper Generator

The hex paper generator is schweet...

August 22, 2008

RPG Blog Carnival: One Week Left

On August 7th I announced the RPG Blog Carnival. So far, it is shaping up to be (in my opinion) a solid success for being so New. We have had over ten, excellent submissions to the carnival thus far, but MORE is BETTER. Right? So I want to put a shout out to the RPG blogosphere to jump in and contribute to this months topic: Character Death, Resurrection, and The Undead. This first installment of the RPG Blog Carnival closes on August 29th, so you've got just one week left to be included in the final write up, summary, and link out carnivalia! Hope to see more of you adding to the stream...

Original Art by Nightflower (used without permission, I should add).

The Dead Queens of Morvena (Part 3)

This is the third part in a series on The Dead Queens of Morvena. After the series is completed, I will repost a combined (and likely reedited) version that will serve as my own entry for the RPG Blog Carnival that I am hosting. I want to encourage critical comments, opinion, advice, or praise (might I deserve it) for each part of this series. Your input will no doubt influence the final product.

In this last installment of The Dead Queens of Morvena, I will be presenting the statblocks and some "fluff" for each of the two dead sister-queens, Aveldina and Nemala. For anyone who is reading this series for the first time, the first part of this series can be found here, where I introduce backstory of how The Dead Queens came to be. In the second part of the series, found here, I suggested two adventure hooks that might be used to introduce The Dead Queens and the lands of Fetherruin into any new or existing campaign. Finally, in this last installment (for now) I'll present The Dead Queens as 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons statblocks so that these two NPCs might be dropped into any campaign.

An Unliving Transformation
The two sister-queens, Aveldina and Nemala, suffered a great injustice just prior to their deaths. Their newborns turned out to have the mixed bloodline of the Abyss, and once born, the two queens gave up their children in the hopes that they might live in obscurity. The Ritual of Exchange put great stress on the two mothers, but with the help of the Arcanist Boolabk Manger they were able to hide the identities of the newborns by exchanging their souls with those of two pure-blooded human newborns born in Morvena on the same day. Then, to add insult to injury, King Mindenáron declared that his queens were heretics and ordered that they and their children be executed immediately. He then falsely mourned their death, and placed their remains in a series of royal tombs originally built for his father Erushai.

Such an ordeal had a strong,
pernicious effect on both the queen's souls. Their hearts were broken from grief at losing their children. Their bodies were corrupted from carrying the demon's flesh in their wombs. Their minds were filled with hatred and rage against their husband's betrayal. It was too much. Their souls would not rest until they were reunited with their children and found the satisfaction of revenge against their monarch. This was enough for the evil, the Incubus, that had plagued the Fetherriun once before to seek out their souls in the Afterworld and offer their souls the gift of life once again. The Queens accepted its offer and were soon awakened in the darkness of their graves. The Incubus raised them up from the dead as the unliving Dead Queens of Morvena. It fed their rage with the power of the unliving. It caressed their burning hatred of Morvena with an undying flame of revenge.

Locked in their graves for eternity, they learned to wait patiently for the day when some foolish living mortal unearths their buried tomb.

The Dead Queens Statblocks
The sister-queens are both L11 Solo Controller types with the Lich template applied. Each of them also has a class-template applied as well: warlock (Aveldina) and wizard (Nemala). Now, in the backstory I developed earlier I never explicitly indicated that these two women were sorcerers of anykind, but that is not to say that were not. Alternatively, you could simply use these "rules" as means-to-an-end crunch and disregard that they are 'liches' or 'wizards' and just simply play them as some really angry undead queens. This latter approach works better, in my opinion.

Each statblock is followed by a TACTICS block, to help guide any DM wishing to use these NPCs in their game. Also, the ommission of the Implement keyword on many of the powers is by design, since these NPCs have no need for such trappings.

Avildena, The First Mother of the Demonborn
L11 Solo Controller

Medium natural humanoid (undead), human lich warlock XP 3000
Initiative +5
Senses Darkvision, Perception +7;
Necromantic Aura (Necrotic) Aura 5; any living creature that enters or starts its turn in the aura takes 5 necrotic damage.
HP 204; Bloodied 102; Healing Surges 2
AC 24; Fortitude 27, Reflex 23, Will 30
Immune disease, poison; Resist necrotic 10; Vulnerable radiant 10
Saving Throws +2
Action Points 2
Regeneration 10, If the Avildena takes radiant damage, her regeneration does not function on its next turn.
Speed 6
(MB) Claws (standard; at-will) * Martial: +9 vs. AC, 1d6 +4 damage.
(RB) Eldritch Blast (standard; at-will) * Arcane: Range 10, +16 vs. Reflex, 1d10 +11 arcane damage; This power counts as a ranged basic attack. When a power allows Avildena to make a ranged basic attack, she can use this power.
(R) Hellish Rebuke (standard; at-will) * Arcane, Fire: Range 10, +13 vs. Reflex, 1d6 +8 fire damage; If Avildena takes damage before the end of her next turn, the target takes an extra 1d6 +8 fire damage.
(R) Fiery Bolt (standard; encounter) * Arcane, Fire: Range 10, +13 vs Reflex, 3d6 +8 fire damage, and creatures adjacent to the target take 1d6 +8 fire damage.
(B) Howl of Doom (standard; encounter) * Arcane, Fear, Thunder: Close burst 3, targets each creature +13 vs. Fortitude, 2d6 +8 thunder damage, and Aveldina pushes each target 3 squares.
(R) Iron Spike of Dis (standard; daily) * Arcane: Range 10, +13 vs. Reflex, 3d10 +8 arcane damage and the target is immobilized (save ends). On a miss, the target takes half-damage and is not immobilized.
Warlock's Curse (minor; at-will) * Arcane: Range nearest enemy; Avildena does +2d6 arcane damage to a cursed target. If that target reaches 0 hit points, her pact boon is triggered. Avildena may choose to immediately gain 11 temporary hit points or use her Rod of Corruption (see below).
Shielding Shades (immediate interrupt; daily) * Arcane: If Avildena is hit by an attack, she reduces the attack's damage to 0. If the attack targets other creatures, they take damage as normal.
Shadow Form (minor; daily) * Arcane, Polymorph: Avildena assumes a shadowy form until the end of the encounter or for 5 minutes. In this form she is insubstantial, gains fly 6, and can’t take standard actions. Reverting to her normal form is a minor action.
Rod of Corruption (property): Whenever Avelina's pact boon is triggered, instead of taking its normal benefit she can transfer her Warlock’s Curse to each enemy within 5 squares of the original target. In addition, whenever she scores a critical hit on a target (cursed or not), they take +3d6 damage of the same type.
Spellmaster (minor; recharge 4 - 6): Avelina regains the use of an expended encounter power.
Necrotic Master: Avelina can convert any attack power she has to necrotic. Change a power’s energy keyword to necrotic, or add necrotic energy to an attack power that does not normally deal energy damage.
Skills Arcana +12, Intimidate +15, Thievery +10
Alignment Evil
Languages common, elven, abyssal
Str 9 (+4)
Dex 11 (+5)
Wis 13 (+6)
Con 14 (+7)
Int 14 (+7)
Cha 21 (+10)
Equipment Ceremonial Burial Robes, Rod of Corruption +3 (L13)
TACTICS: Having been freed finally from her tomb, Aveldina holds nothing back against those who opened it. She does not give the players any opportunity for dialogue. Instead, she howls and screams "Where are my children, betrayers?!" and then opens up with her strongest abilities. Her first tactical objective is to deal with the least armored, ranged combat opponents first. She opens up by placing a Warlock's Curse and using her Howl of Doom, centered to strike as many opponents as possible, and then follows with immediately using her Action Point to make a second attack against the same group with Fiery Bolt. If everything goes well, the target of her assault will be cursed and receive 9d6 +18 (plus a possible 3d6 damage per attack if she scores a critical hit with either of them). On the subsequent round, she will use her Iron Spikes of Dis on the same opponent (3d10 +2d6 +8 damage). She will attempt to use her Spellmaster power every round, so long she has at least one cursed opponent to focus on. Once she drops below 50hp, she will use her Shadow Form and attempt to flee.

Nemala, The Second Mother of the Demonborn
L11 Solo Controller

Medium natural humanoid (undead), human lich wizard XP 3000
Initiative +6
Senses Darkvision, Perception +7;
Necromantic Aura (Necrotic) Aura 5; any living creature that enters or starts its turn in the aura takes 5 necrotic damage.
HP 81; Bloodied 40; Healing Surges 2
AC 28; Fortitude 27, Reflex 26, Will 30
Immune disease, poison; Resist necrotic 10; Vulnerable radiant 10
Saving Throws +2
Action Points 1
Regeneration 10, if the
Nemala takes radiant damage, her regeneration does not function on its next turn.
Speed 6
(MB) Claws (standard; at-will) * Martial: +6 vs. AC, 1d6 +5 damage.
(RB) Ray of Frost (standard; at-will) * Arcane, Cold: Range 10, +15 vs. Fortitude, 1d6+10 and the target is slowed until the end of Nemala's next turn
(R) Icy Rays (standard; encounter) * Arcane, Cold: Range 10; targets one or two creatures; +15 vs. Reflex, one attack per target. 1d10 +10 cold damage, and the target is immobilized until the end of your next turn.
(A) Winter's Wrath (standard; encounter) * Arcane, Cold: Area burst 2 within 10 squares; Target: Each creature in burst; +15 vs. Fortitude; 2d8 +10 cold damage. A blizzard erupts in the designated area and continues until the end of your next turn. It grants concealment, and any creature that starts its turn in the storm takes cold damage equal to your Intelligence modifier. You can end this effect as a minor action.
(A) Ice Storm (standard; daily) & Arcane, Cold, Zone: Area burst 3 within 20 squares; +15 vs. Fortitude, 2d8 +10 cold damage, and the target is immobilized (save ends). Miss: Half damage, and the target is slowed (save ends). Effect: The burst creates a zone of ice. The zone is difficult terrain until the end of the encounter or for 5 minutes.
Invisibility (standard; daily) * Arcane, Illusion: Range 5; Target is
Nemala or 1 other creature; the target is invisible until the end of your next turn. If the target attacks, the target becomes visible. Sustain Standard: If the target is within range, you can sustain the effect.
Resistance (minor; daily) * Arcane: Range 10; Against a particular damage type chosen by Nemala, the target gains resistance 16 until the end of the encounter or for 5 minutes. Choose the damage type from the following list: acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder.
Staff of Defense (immediate interrupt; encounter) Arcane: Nemala gains a +2 bonus to defense against one attack. She can declare the bonus after the Dungeon Master has already indicated the damage total. She must wield her staff to benefit from these features.
Spellmaster (minor; recharge 4 - 6):
Nemala regains the use of an expended encounter power.
Necrotic Master:
Nemala can convert any attack power she has to necrotic. Change a power’s energy keyword to necrotic, or add necrotic energy to an attack power that doesn’t normally deal energy damage.
Skills Arcana +15, Insight +13, Religion +15
Alignment Evil
Languages common, elven, abyssal
Str 11 (+5)
Dex 12 (+6)
Wis 16 (+8)
Con 15 (+7)
Int 21 (+10)
Cha 13 (+6)
Equipment Ceremonial Burial Robes
TACTICS: Like her sister, Nemala offers the PCs no quarter. The first actions Nemala will take include casting Resistance (cold) on herself, using her Action Point to take two standard actions to use both her Winter's Wrath and Ice Storm spells on the same area. Having resistance against her own blizzard, she then will move into the blizzard and fight from inside it for the remainder of the combat so that melee opponents will have their movement hampered and take damage every round. She will use her Spellmaster power often in the hopes cast additional Winter's Wrath spells to extend the affected areas. During combat, she will also take advantage of her immobilizing spells and focus on Strikers and Defenders first. Once bloodied, she will use her Second Wind to heal herself. If bloodied again, she use Invisibility and try to escape.

Well.. that is the end of this series. What did you think?

Creative Commons LicenseThe Dead Queens of Morvena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

August 20, 2008

McCainculus - A new D&D Humonculus

Watching John McCain and Barrac Obama have a discussion about religion and leadership - zero dollars.

The price to fill my "economy car's" tank up after eight years of tyranny bliss - $65

Seeing John McCain's face in the page of the Monster Manual - priceless

OK... the image at left was taken from this article over at Wired magazine.


Hats Off to MadBrewLabs - and ..|.. Off to McCain's Blogger

I just had to share this - check out this post over at MadBrewLabs about McCain's asshat blogger. Then read the actual stupid shit the blogger actually said about us. Good god - will the fucking stereotypes ever end?

Seems like The Geek Project also picked this up. Ahhhh.. the fury of a gamer is unmatched... I'm sending a crate of d20's with 20 ones on them to the McCain office right now...

thanks MadBrewLabs for pointing this out (and thanks to your friend for pointing it out to you as well).

August 19, 2008

Your Game World is (NOT) teh SuXXorz

Got your attention? I just finished reading an essay on world building from The KOBOLD Guide to Game Design, Vol 1 (which is worth the money, btw). Then I pop open my browser and, viola, Uncle Buck just posted about Vanilla Game Worlds, and how they all must include all 31 flavors of Dungeons & Dragons... or it isn't D&D. And people want D&D, that's why they are playing D&D. To quote his (funny) D&D is Vanilla Ice Cream analogy:
What you end up with is vanilla. No chocolate. No other flavors. Like ice cream, you can customize it with toppings, and like ice cream, toppings can make it unique and yummy. But underneath, it’s always gonna be vanilla.
I disagree. Much like statblocks are just numbers on a page that can be remolded into anything a DM wants (see my previous post about this), so too are all the campaign elements of D&D. You do not need elves, clerics, magic wands, portals in your game if you create a well conceived internally consistent game world.

By example, I'll make my point: you have a player who wants to be an elf but your campaign is set in the New World of the 16th century? Easy - let them make "an elf" but have the character be a Mayan hunter who escaped from a Spanish prison or something. Another player in the same campaign wants to be a "wizard" ? No problem: he's an English scholar who happened upon a rare set of Middle Eastern texts that he's been studying for a number of years. Now that he's in the New World, he feels liberated to try his "witchcraft" without the prying eyes of his colleagues.

Now of course, not all recasting of game mechanics and campaign elements will be successful for all settings. But - with some creativity and a well designed back story, the internal consistency can be maintained in most settings and, IMHO, you can still have your vanilla ice cream from the PHB. Only, in your new setting - it will be chocolate, or strawberry, or double caramel mint swirl.

Just my 2¢

August 18, 2008

Jabberwocky & The Origin of Vorpal

The poem "Jabberwocky" is read by Alice early in the Lewis Carroll book "Through The Looking Glass", the sequel to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". What I find interesting here is that this is the first usage of the word 'vorpal' in the English language - a portmanteau of voracious and corporeal. As gamers - we just know the word to mean "really super badass sharp".

What other words do we commonly think of as "unique" to the RPG gaming community? Which of them are truely unique, or (more likely) actually derived from some other source? Are there any examples of words or phrases that truly have its roots in the RPG community that have moved into the main stream? I can think of a few, but first I want to hear what you have to say. In the meantime, I'll leave you with the Sir John Tenniel illustration of the monster (circa 1871) and original Lewis Carroll "Jabberwocky" poem.

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

August 16, 2008

The Dead Queens of Morvena (Part 2)

This is the second part in a series on The Dead Queens of Morvena. After the series is completed, I will repost a combined (and likely reedited) version that will serve as my own entry for the RPG Blog Carnival that I am hosting. I want to encourage critical comments, opinion, advice, or praise (might I deserve it) for each part of this series. Your input will no doubt influence the final product.

In my previous post on The Dead Queens of Morvena, I provided a detailed back story on who the two queens were, where they lived, why they were murdered, and what happened to their half-blood demon children. This series is part of the first RPG Blog Carnival. Today I'll be offering up some additional back story and development (i.e. adventure hooks) that could be used to integrate The Dead Queens into your existing RPG campaign, or even to start a new one. The back story for two sister-queens should be enough to provide any campaign with a rich and detailed foundation on which to build at least one, if not many, adventures. What follows is a couple of examples where an adventure might 'hook' the characters. Of course, there are endless possibilities of other hooks that might also be used; if you have an idea for another hook - please share it!

Hook #1: Accidental Tomb Robbers
Old Fetherruin is once again a well traveled, yet sparsely populated, wilder-land. Merchant caravans and traveling tradesman from nearby lands frequently pass through Old Fetherruin with minimum protection or aid. The long journey is often uneventful and even pleasant at times, for the lands of Old Fetherruin seem like a timeless place of nature's primal majesty. The old growth forests that fill its valleys and the rocky summits of its wind blown hills speak nothing of the evil that lurks there. The mires and bogs that swallowed up the last ruins of Morvena have all grown in, only to be replaced by thick stands of high-canopied trees. Wildlife abounds, and the lakes and streams of Old Fetherruin flow with clear, cool water into other lands. Where once the main passage through Old Fetherruin was a narrow path winding its way through the valleys, it is once again a wide and beaten dirt road. Some might even say that Old Fetherruin is safe enough for lone travelers to pass through. They would be wrong.

Thieves and bandits have discovered Old Fetherruin as well, and recently several groups have been terrorizing and robbing the merchants caravans passing through Old Fetherruin along its main road. Merchants who can afford the protection are doing so, but the guild masters of a merchant's guild from a nearby land have decided that the rogue bandits roaming in Old Fetherruin are far too organized to be merely passing through as well. They believe the bandits have set up a hideout somewhere in the hills overlooking the main road. The PCs are hired to pose as unguarded merchants passing through Old Fetherruin so that they might bait the bandits into attacking them. This works, and once they have captured a few of the bandits and interrogate them, the PCs discover that they do indeed have a hideout in hills: a series of old tombs and catacombs one of the bandits discovered by chance. The PCs then seek to track down the remaining bandits and bring them to justice, but a few of them, fearing for their lives, flee deeper into the catacombs. As the PCs chase the bandits into the catacombs, and in doing so, discover a secret passage that leads to an even larger, undisturbed, tunnel and tomb complex. Possibly one of the party members 'realizes' that these older tombs were constructed for royalty. They may even discover that these tombs are the burial site for The Dead Queens of Morvena. In either case, opening the secrete door lets loose hordes of undead set on seeking revenge on the living, and now the bandits are the least of the heroes problems.

Hook #2: Hostage to the Sister-Queens
Old Fetherruin is once again home to a few, scattered pioneering families who farm and herd their flocks in relative piece. A small inn, The Lonely Roadhouse, has even been established along the main route through Old Fetherruin. Its a humble establishment, that serves as both a welcome rest stop for weary travelers and a meeting place for the region's populace. The PCs find themselves in this inn during their travels, and this is where this particular adventure hook begins.

No one has seen anyone from the Angra or Mainyu families in over two months. If it were the winter season, this might not be so surprising as each of the families live in a remote highland area of Old Fetherruin. But it is the summer harvest season, and now is the time that the farmers come to The Lonely Roadhouse to sell their surplus crops to merchants and travelers. A tenday ago, Frezwick Angra (the nephew of Helios Angra) stopped in at the Roadhouse and, after hearing of the lack of news from his uncle's farm, became strangely worried and left immediately to venture up into the highlands to see if there was trouble. He has not since returned. The innkeeper, Margen Dunwielder, is now becoming concerned that something horrible has befallen these families and wants the PCs to investigate. He's willing to pay them, if need be.

The farmers are all pure- or mixed-blooded teifling. The presence of tieflings in the region, while somewhat unusual to outsiders, has been accepted by locals as "normal" - to the point that this is not even mentioned unless the PCs inquire about it. What the PC's also don't know is that the previous spring Frezwick and his cousin Kirin (the daughter of Helios Angra) discovered a series of old and abandoned catacombs in the hills that obviously looked as if they belonged to some royal family. Their curiosity peaked and they decided to open several of the tombs in the catacombs hoping to find treasures of a buried king or better. All the young cousins found, however, was howling masses of undead that had been waiting for centuries to seek revenge on the living. The Dead Queens, whose minds had lost all trace of reason, immediately assumed these two half-blooded tieflings as their children and tried to capture them. Fortunately, Frezwick and Kirin managed to escape with only minor injuries. They fled back to the Angra Farmstead and, not thinking the undead would venture out of the tombs, swore never to tell anyone what they had done. This proved to be a major mistake, as the Queens and their small army of undead began nighttime searches of the hills and valleys surrounding their tomb. The undead scourge discovered the Mainyu ranch first and received the full force of five centuries of rage and revenge. Not one soul was left living there. The Queen's have continued to search in ever widening circles around their tombs, stopping at nothing until their "children" can be returned with them to their grave-beds. Only the worst outcomes can be expected for the Angra family, and it is up to the PCs to stop the The Dead Queens' madness.

Well, that's the end of the second installment of this series. I hope you enjoyed it. The final and last installment will include stat blocks for The Dead Queens of Morvena using 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules. Until then, GAME ON!

Creative Commons LicenseThe text of The Dead Queens of Morvena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may are available. The artwork included is this post is by Joel Thomas (The Barrow of the Forgotten King, WotC), Daarken (Dungeonscape, WotC), and one of the artists from the Races of Faerun. In case you are wondering, the names Angra and Mainyu together mean "evil spirit" in Avestan. In Persian mythology Angra Mainyu was the god of darkness, death and destruction, the enemy of Ahura Mazda.

August 15, 2008

More Fun with Fonts

OK, yesterday I posted something about Cirth and Old English runes and Tegwar script; all of which have been used in various stages of Tolkein's trilogy. Doing some more digging LATE last night, I discovered the awesomely simple, crunchy but good, TSR & WotC Font Usage FAQ. It has link outs to just about every font ever used in any D&D product. And most of them are true-type; for those who care.

Love the 3E Forgotten Realms font? It's a modified Masonic font. The Mad Irishman fixed us up with a shareware download for this as well, he calls it "Splendors" font. He also has the new 4E Game Icons as a true type font.

Love the font used for all the 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons magazines, adventures, and supplements? It's called Vitriol. Hmmmm....

August 14, 2008

Cirth, Tegwar, and Old English Rune Generator

For those of you who like to use the occasional prop at your role playing game table, I've found a nice little online generator that produces .png image files for what ever you want to write out in Tolkien's Cirth runes or Tegwar script. Old English runes are also available. It may not be the Dungeons & Dragons specific Forgotten Realms Masonic font (aka SPLENDORS font), but I think it works great for just about all those other "I want my secret puzzle to look cool moments".

For example, here's "The Core Mechanic" written in
Dwarven Cirth
TegwarOld English Runes

Anyway, I just thought this might be a cool tool for any of you DM's out there interested in this sort of thing. Best of luck, and until next time: Game On!

August 13, 2008

Welcome to Carnivalia (+ a few tiny blogger tips)

The RPG Blog Carnival for this month is going well! So far we have six submissions and a few promised more on the way (listed in the comments of the initial announcement). Major thanks go out to everyone who is making this great! The inaugural issue of the carnival has the topic "Character Death, Resurrection, and The Undead". Maybe I should have said "or The Undead", as blogging about all three can be daunting (even though some have already done just that). Personally, my own entry is going to be more about The Undead than anything else. So, I'm looking forward to more entries, especially as the closing date approaches (August 29th). Afterwords, I'll write up a summary of the carnival, complete with all the links, and then pass The RPG Blog Carnival off to someone else to host and choose a topic for issue #2. Any takers?

So, while I continue to write up the remaining sections for my carnival entry, I'll leave the RPG bloggers out there with a some tips I've picked up in the short time I've been blogging The Core Mechanic:
  1. Use Google Blog Search with "link:yourblogsURLhere". For example, when I search "", it comes up with 45 entries - these are all blogs that are linked back to RPG Network. What's even cooler is that the search results for can also be syndicated as an RSS feed like this. You can even sign up for email alerts so that you will know as soon as someone links to your own blog.
  2. Have some game advice? DM advice? original content? Submit your story to The Gamer Report. For example, when I submitted a story about my post on "Statblocks : They're just numbers on a page" my traffic doubled for the next two days. How did I know?
  3. ... I use Google Analytics to track my blog's traffic. This is a must do. Although my traffic is still light, its still nice to see a week-by-week increase (percentage wise) in the total traffic I'm seeing. I can even "benchmark" my site's traffic against other RPG sites that "are of the same size" (whatever that means), which gives me something to shoot for.
  4. StumbleUpon your own blog articles. Do you think you've written something that is good? maybe even useful to other RPG gamers? Well, there's nothing that says you can't StumbleUpon your own blog entry. This also has been a great way for me to boost traffic.
Well.. i gotta go run a gel.. So, in the meantime, what tips do you have that might be useful for other bloggers in our little community?

August 12, 2008

The Dead Queens of Morvena (Part 1)

This is the first part in a series on The Dead Queens of Morvena. After the series is completed, I will repost a combined (and likely reedited) version that will serve as my own entry for the RPG Blog Carnival that I am hosting. I want to encourage critical comments, opinion, advice, or praise (might I deserve it) for each part of this series. Your input will no doubt influence the final product.

The Dead Queens of Morvena (Preface)
The Dead Queens of Morvena [1] are intended to be used as source material for DM's looking for some fresh ideas, or maybe a new pair of BBEGs that can drive an ongoing or new campaign's storyline. This series will be broken down into four sections. First, I'll discuss the background I've developed for The Dead Queens and comment on my sources for the idea. In Part 2, I'll go into some possible hooks on how The Dead Queens may be incorporated and adapted into your existing campaign, or how they could be used as a seed for an entirely new campaign. Part 3 of the series will cover 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons specific stat blocks for The Dead Queens, as well as their minions and other various lackeys. Thus, for those of you who play 4E I'll be leaving you with something you can work with right away.

My goal is to provide everyone with some (hopefully) useful source material, that is largely system independent (save for the last part). If I succeed in crafting something useful, and you enjoy this post, then please leave a comment and let me know. You may even choose to consider contributing something of your own to the RPG Blog Carnival. If this post doesn't "do it" for you, then let me know as well : this is my first attempt at posting a creative work (if it can be called that) so any and all criticism is welcome - even from trolls, but especially from lurkers.

Centuries ago, a maleficence hunted the valleys and hills known as Fetherruin, a wilder land that served as a trade route for the hardiest and most courageous merchants of the day. They braved dangerous, rarely traveled routes through Fetherruin so that their goods might reach their destinations days or even weeks sooner.

In the earliest days of Fetherruin, the men who travel its paths were unaware of any specific or pointed source of evil. The occurrences of misfortune were thought of as just that: bad luck. But as the years passed on, and the hidden paths through Fetherruin became better traveled, the baleful nature of the region grew. The merchants who survived the dangerous route through Fetherruin began to suspect the ill fortune that befell many of the travelers in the region had a name, and that it was intent on claiming the land as its own. Thus, as news of the growing evil spread, so did the calls for even braver souls willing to destroy the source of this unnamed evil.

Brave souls did come, and many died seeking the rid Fetherruin of its resident evils, but these loses did not come without any fruit. It was revealed that the hills and valleys of Fetherruin were indeed home to a sentient evil: Incabus, a primordial demon that fell from the celestial heavens [2]. After some time, years some say, one hero did make his way into Fetherruin and for the first time Incabus was met with a force greater than its own.

Erushai "Maghammer" Dismas was the champion of Lathner, God of Truth & Light. He had a long and colorful career as an adventurer and herald of his faith, tirelessly seeking to crush false godheads and demons wherever he encountered them, and Fetherruin should have been different. This time, however, Erushai was reaching the end of his career, and was looking for retirement. He saw the lands of Fetherruin, once freed from the malignant will of Incabus, as the place he would make his home. So alone, and in the dead of winter, Erushai set out to destroy the demon that ruled Fetherruin. No stories are told as to how he succeeded, but word spread that Incabus had been evicted from Fetherruin, and that Erushai had been the who who drove it out. It is also said that the spirit of Incabus was held at bay only so long as the bloodline of Erushai desired to keep it that way. Some might have even forseen what was to come next.

In the years following, Erushai recruited a small following and built a church along one of the more common trade routes through Fetherruin. It was an ideal way to spread the word of his faith, as there were no other rest stops in Fetherruin and soon the merchants looked forward to the clean beds, hot soups, and (for some) the powerful sermons delivered at his parish. The land was rough, but resources were plentiful. With hard work, Erushai's people tilled the earth and built farms and pasturelands. A village grew up around his chapel, and this village soon grew into a small town. He named the town Morvena, after his mother [5].
Erushai married and fathered six children, and his small town continued to grow into the tiny Kingdom of Morvena. His people, devoted to his faith, knighted him their king and thus was the birth of a new monarchy. Little would anyone have suspected his lineage would come to an end so quickly.

Erushai's first born was his son Mindenáron Dismas [3], and at the age of 19 he assumed the throne of Morvena after his father's death. There was a brief time of strife while the people of Morvena struggled with accepting their new, and very inexperienced, king. Mindenáron, however, had a sharp mind and a skilled tongue and soon his people's fears were put at ease. He was not his father, but neither was he full of greed or hungry for more power. He loved the lands in which he was born. Mindenáron sought nothing more than to protect the Kingdom of Morvena, and to raise a family who would continue his father's lineage. To this end, he chose a wife who was also born in Featherruin, a commoner named Avildena.

Unfortunately for Mindenáron and Avildena, after ten years of trying, they were unable to bear any children together. So, on the advice of Avildena, he took on a second wife: her younger sister Nemala. The king and his two queens lived in more or less happiness for two years. Then, Mindenáron realized that is was he who was unable to father children, and this drove him mad. Unable to cope with his inability to father his own children, he placed the throne into the hands of Avildena and fled the country in search of a solution. After three years of traveling and chasing false hopes, he eventually met a man named Amel [4].

Amel claimed to represent an exiled sorcerer who was seeking a place to live out the last of his days in peace & quiet. Amel's master, Cabunis, offered Mindenáron a magical elixir that would restore his vitality if, in exchange, Mindenáron offered Morvena as the place where he could "take permanent residence". Mindenáron agreed, consumed the elixir, and extended an open door to Amel and his master whenever they should arrive in Morvena. He then promptly returned to Morvena to share his good fortune with his wives.

But Amel and his master Cabunis never arrived in Morvena, at least not in the way Mindenáron thought they would.

Less than a year later, both Avildena and Nemala were with child. As the day of births drew nearer, terrible long-standing storms passed over Fetherruin, and much of the kingdom's yearly harvests were destroyed. As it became clear that the two queens would give birth at nearly the same time, the number of natural disasters befalling the tiny kingdom could no longer be attributed to bad luck. There were murmurs and whispers of the return of Incabus among the people. Mindenáron slowly pieced together his trail of errors and suspected that he had been tricked by Amel and that his children may show obvious signs of infernal blood. Wanting nothing more than to clear his name and protect his once fair kingdom, he made plans to murder his queens and the children soon after the they were born.

The queens gave birth on the same day, minutes apart, during a flood like no other than any living Morvenian had seen.

The children bore obvious signs of being infused with the blood of the abyss, most notably they had tails and tiny horns on their heads. The sister-queen's surprise was, however, overshadowed by their strong maternal instinct to protect the newborns; demonic or not, they were their children. So, Avildena named her son Agrona, and Nemala named her daughter Maeve. The two sisters also made a pact to protect the children at any cost. Using powerful ritual magic to switch the identities of the newborns with two other newborns born in the kingdom on the same day, their children were be safe from the angry, righteous mobs of Lathner believers.

The plan worked. The queens' children were sent into the homes of two unsuspecting, ordinary families and appeared as normal human infants. The infants taken from the new foster parents of Agrona and Maeve were made to appear as half-demon children. Thus, Cabunis's plan, or rather the demon Incabus's plan, had succeeded.

Mindenáron knew his people would never accept half-demon hiers to the throne. So, in his madness, he decided to carry out his own plan, and ordered the murder of his the sister-queens, the newborn children, and everyone involved in their devlivery. His most trusted knights did as they had been commanded, and they were all executed before they had time to flee the royal lodge. The king then announced to his people that his wives and their stillborn children had died in childbirth.

A state funeral soon followed. The bodies of the queens were buried deep in a set of royal tombs that had been dug for his father, Erushai, high up in the hills of Fetherruin. The day after the funeral, the very grounds of Fetherruin shook as a second natural disaster befell Morvena. The town was laid into ruin, and a massive landslide buried the tombs forever.

Afterwards these disasters, many of the people of Morvena fled the region to seek safer lands until better times. Mindenáron, his mind shattered and his heart broken, did what he could to repair the temple his father had built. The townsfolk who remained slowly rebuild the town, but it was never as pristine as before. The kingdom seemed to be, once again, a source of bad luck and ill fortune.

Mindenáron never married again and never fathered any heirs. He died not five years later, only to have his throne fought over by distant cousins seeking a stake in the family fortune. Within a decade of his death, the entire Kingdom of Morvena had fallen to infighting and civil strife. Then, the fields began to go foul. The local lakes began to dry up and turn into marshland. Rumours spread that a pair of demon children lived among the people. Some claimed to have seen the ghosts of The Dead Queens searching the towns and villages at night for their children. Sightings of ghosts in the hills overlooking the valley became commonplace. Soon, the Dead Queens' Omen became legend and a deep, sourceless feeling of fear and anxiety crept into the hearts and minds of all who lived in Morvena. Afraid of what the future might bring, the people started moving away in droves and the kingdom slowly slide back into ruin, Fetherruin.

Within a few decades, the lands had been nearly abandoned [6]. The fields had turned back into the rocky, windswept scrub land first seen by the pioneering merchant trains before Morvena's time. The lakes then turned into deep swamps, thick with bramble weeds and razor grass. After a century, only two families remained living in the lands of Fetherruin - and they both shared some uncommon physical features: tails and small horns on their heads.

Footnotes & Art
[1] The image at the start of the document was drawn by Phil Gonzales. ( )
[2] The name Incabus is a variation of the word incubus, a demon said to impregnate mortal women with half-demon children.
[3] Mindenáron is a Hungarian word that roughly translates to "by any means".
[4] Amel is the name of the demon, who in Anne Rice's vampire novels, is the source of the curse that brought the quickening to Queen Akasha (The Queen of the Damned).
[5] Picture of
Eilean Donan in Scottland (
[6] The inset photo is taken from some random Google Image search (

Creative Commons LicenseThe Dead Queens of Morvena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

August 11, 2008

GSL, SRD, Stealth, New Rituals, and DRAGON Editorials - oh my!

A big batch of updates hit the Dungeons & Dragons website over at Wizards of the Coast today. So, while everyone else is talking about the upcoming changes to the GSL and the SRD (any change is a good one at this point), I'm just pointing out that there have been some game related updates as well.

Stealth & Other Errata: The new stealth rules have been clarified (finally) in the latest updates to the Player's Handbook. The new 4th Edition rules for the Stealth skill include Opposed Checks, Becoming Hidden, Success, Failure, Remaining Hidden, Keep Out of Sight, Keep Quiet, Keep Still, Don’t Attack, Not Remaining Hidden, and Enemy Activity. Its a full friggen page in the Errata, not to mention that 2 months later there are 22 pages of Errata already. Can you say "Oops!? I guess we messed that one up, eh?" Maybe once the new GSL or SRD is available I'll acutally be able to legally reprint the rules errata here. I'm such a complainer...

Dragon - Ritually Speaking: There's a new (well written) article from Peter Schaefer entitled "Ritually Speaking" that includes 33 new Rituals. Considering the PHB only contained 49 Rituals, this is a 67% increase in the total number of rituals in the game. So, grab this quick before they make you pay for it. All in all, this is a very nice addition to the existing RAW ritual set. Here's a summary list in the same format as the one in the PHB (click to make it bigger):
Dragon - Editorial: A brief editorial by Chris Youngs entitled "Fatality!".
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide Excerpts: Finally, don't forget to grab a few new Warlock powers while your at it. There are six total, three in the PDF file and three more directly on the web page. They all work with the new "Dark Pact", which is part of the PDF as well. All Must Sacrifice (Warlock (Dark) Attack 13) is going to be so fun to play with once my players are up to that point. Better yet - use the pact as a BBEG finale power, wohoo!

August 10, 2008


I'm working on a contribution for the RPG Blog Carnival - so, in the meantime I thought I would share a link a friend of mine sent to me...

I... don't... even.. know.. what ... to.. say...

... speechless.

August 7, 2008

The RPG Carnival #1, Resurrection

The RPG blogging community is no doubt a fantastic source for gamers across the globe. This community has brought together gaming minds from all over the globe - and is no doubt going to be a source of inspiration, tips, advice, concepts, mechanics, and material for game masters and players of PnP RPGs everywhere. Our blogs serve as a permanent source, for all time, of creative effort bent on making gaming better.

So, today I would like to propose we start a blog carnival. If you are not sure, a blog carnival is a collection of blog posts that focus on a chosen topic over a short period of time that are then summarized on the blog hosting the carnival. There's an excellent discussion of blog carnivals over at A Blog Around the Clock, a science blog I follow.

My plans for The RPG Blog Carnival are small. I basically want to host the The RPG Blog Carnival for 1 month, summarizing the content at the carnival's conclusion in one big post, and then pass the carnival off to someone else to host. In this way, the RPG carnival can be something that we all take turns hosting. Each blogger who hosts The RPG Blog Carnival will have the freedom to choose the topic area for each carnival as well. Heck, maybe even the RPG Blogger Network will participate in some way (hint hint).

Now, this idea (IMHO) is a good one, but it will fall flat on its face if there's no participation. The RPG Blog Carnival is a revival because I think one of the the first attempts at this sort of thing did fall flat. I don't know why (I wasn't into bloggin at the time), but it seems defunct now. If it is not defunct, then can someone please let me know?

As far as topics are concerned, they could be simple topics like castles, fairies, trolls, weapons, new powers & abilities, new monsters, wilderness encounters, unusual locations, artifacts, etc. Or they could be more complex topics such as how did you get into gaming, your most precious gaming memory, the longest journey for gaming, history of a game, opinion about this or that, predictions on the future of RPG gaming, why play fantasy/scifi/horror/genre, etc. etc. The main point here is that each RPG Blog Carnival will have ONE topic, chosen by the host of the carnival. And then, hopefully, everyone chimes in on the same topic and offers up their own slice.

OK, if you have read this far then you are probably thinking "Hey, this might be a good idea..." Well it is, and this is how it is going to work.

  1. There's no submission guidelines per se. Simply blog about the chosen topic (see below) on your own blog, and leave a comment to this post letting me know that you would like your post to be included in the the carnival. If you don't have a blog, make one.
  2. Limit your submissions to one post, so make it good. This will encourage people to write well and offer a wide variety of authors.
  3. This carnival closes on August 29th, 2008.
  4. Once closed, I will post a summary and linklist of all the carnival's submissions and announce who will be hosting the next one, what the closing date will be, and what the topic is.
  5. If you are interested in hosting the next (or any future) carnival, please send me an email or leave a comment here so that I can sign you up.
  6. I'll maintain a list of who will be hosting each carnival, and the order in which they will hosting them. I'll also make that list public as soon as I have it.
  7. Other than the chosen topic, that's about it.
So, whats the topic of The RPG Carnival #1? It is of course...
CLOSING DATE: August 29th, 2008, Last Friday of August.
How do you handle character death in your game? What about character resurrection? Have you ever had characters come back as The Undead? How have you incorporated The Undead into your game's adventures? What are some new Undead monsters, diseases, or other Undead afflictions of your game world can you share with us?
Take the above topic as a general guideline for your post. When you have written something that you want to have included in the first of the newly resurrected RPG Carnival, please leave a comment here linking me and the rest of the RPG blogger community to your post. On the following Monday, after the closing date, I'll post the RPG Blog Carnival #1 here at The Core Mechanic. I'm looking forward to reading all your posts!

Happy Blogging!

More D&D Magazine Goodness: Kobold Quarterly. Any Others?

I'm always amazed at how market forces work, and how products appear wherever there is a demand for it. Yesterday I posted about the magazine Fight On!, and commented on they were "keeping the tradition of a printed journal alive in the RPG community". One of my sharp eyed readers was quick to point out that Fight On! is not the only magazine in print to fill the void of DRAGON. There's also Kobold, the cleverly titled decedent of DRAGON. Some of you are no doubt thinking, "Yeah, we already knew that!", but what you didn't know was that I have been hiding under a D&D rock for the better part of 4 years (thanks to a horrible fixation on some time sucking game I will only mention in passing). I only reentered the PnP gaming scene about 3 months ago (this is where my gaming roots are; great to be back). So much has changed! No more DRAGON, and all these new zines. So, before I fire up Google to see what else is out there, am I still missing something? What other gaming zines have you come across in the wake of DRAGON's 'electronicafication'? What are your favorite so-called 3rd party products that support your D&D game table?

While I wait for your reply, I'm heading over to Kobold to pick up a couple copies. I'll no doubt offer up some reviews once I recieve them. Until next time: GAME ON!

August 6, 2008

Miss DRAGON? Grab a copy of Fight On!

A few days ago I offered up an idea about forming a new magazine dedicated to Dungeons & Dragons or PnP RPGs in general; especially now that DRAGON and DUNGEON magazine are out of print and relegated to a purely electronic format. Well, today Jeff Rient @ Jeff's Gameblog pointed out that he recently received Issue #2 of Fight On!, a new RPG gaming magazine published via This is awesome! Now I don't have to do this myself because the good folks over at Fight On! are keeping the tradition of a printed journal alive in the RPG community. Each issue seems to be "system neutral", so regardless of what system you use to game (DND, Pathfinder, etc) its going to serve as a nice accessory. I'm going to pick them up and (probably) offer a review once I get them. In the meantime, it is money well spent in support of "the little guys" of gaming.

Issue #1 is 30 pages, 8.5" x 11", saddle-stitch binding, black and white interior ink. ($6)
Issue #2 is 88 pages, 8.5" x 11", saddle-stitch binding, black and white interior ink ($7.50)

118 pages of pure geek - well worth the 13.50 bucks IMHO