Saturday, July 4, 2020


A couple days ago, I decided on the site of the "tent-pole dungeon" for my Red Earth setting: the Licancabur volcano on the Bolivian-Chilean border. It's a little farther inland than what I originally envisioned, but it has many of the traits I was looking for: a good amount of height, eruption activity back in the early holocene epoch, superstition and legend from the locals, and ruins of ancient communities on its slope...and being part of the Andes gives me lots of justification for expansion of the subterranean realm, should that become necessary. It's definitely workable for my reimagining of South America circa 9,000 B.C.E.

It's also just a lovely mountain:

Elevation 19K feet

[yes, and I've started mapping; got one whole level complete]

Today, the fam and I will be hiking up our own local volcano: Mount Rainier. It's not nearly as tall (about 5,000 feet shorter) but it's ours, and it's still spectacular. We, of course, won't be scaling it's peak...we'll be less than halfway up the side of the thing...but it's still a little daunting. "Expect winter conditions" is what the National Parks Service advisory says.

At least it's outside.
; )

Later, folks.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

What I Need

This isn't really a blog's a shopping list of sorts, that I'm just writing down now so I can remember my thoughts for later.

- Equipment list, encumbrance/movement rates
- Experience tables, including spell acquisition rate/thief skills
- Combat (attack) tables, clerical turning matrix
- Saving throw tables
- List of spell descriptions, well-curated

I think that if I have these five references, dice, and an adventure (see below) then I should be able to run D&D. Everything else I need to know is firmly lodged in my noggin.

Racial special abilities, reaction and morale rules, "special" combat rules, adjudication of various exploration systems (traps, light, food, doors, etc.)...all that stuff is solid in my skull. Books (other than my "spell book:" about 16 pages long) need not apply.

Note: this is what I need to run the game. Seven or so (A5) pages of reference charts. The systems and procedures are easily remembered and explained, when explanation is necessary. These days...and, really, for most of my gaming history upon reflection...the players at my table(s) have taken the vast bulk of my rulings at face value without explanation. They have had faith in my basic competence (or, perhaps, relative expertise to their own). And I don't think this faith is misplaced: many of these "cheat sheets" that I want are for my players' benefit...I know the prices of equipment without looking, for example, but it's easier to hand someone the list to peruse when they're creating their character or "shopping in town."

The "adventure" part is the trickier bit. Maps are necessary, of course. Keys for referencing/remembering what's on the map. Some quick monster and treasure notes (when/where appropriate), a wandering monster chart for the area, and perhaps some notes regarding special areas and NPCs. When histories and backgrounds need something more than "vague," additional notes might be needed for reference...probably nothing more explicit than a sketchy outline.

Hmm. Okay, maybe not that tricky.

Yeah, I don't know why I worry so much about this stuff. Looking at what I need to run the game, I see that it's really not all that much. Not much at all.

And like I said at the beginning, this isn't much of a blog post. And, unfortunately, this is all I've got time for at the moment. Right now I need to go draw a map.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Faking It

Trying to find climate maps of South America from the end of the Pleistocene has been...challenging.

I've got the area of the map I want to work with, but the temperatures aren't quite right (current climate is too warm for the setting I want). Problem is, moving to a colder time period throws off the environment, and while that' of fine, I'm not a climatologist or archaeo-geologist and trying to figure exactly how tundra turns into arid desert turns into grasslands (and vice versa) is painfully complex.

I'm on the verge of just faking it.

*sigh* But at least I'm happy with the geography. Finally.

[this is what I was working on most of the morning]

My world...more or less.