Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exhausted and Elated

[actually wrote this a couple hours ago, but wanted to give my earlier post a chance to “digest”]

It has been a looong week, between work (real work), writing, and feting the in-laws. I’ve been to a Sounders game, a Mariners game, am going to another M’s game (tomorrow), went to Canada, got turned back at the border, spent half my day off at the Canadian consulate getting travel visas, had to deal with beagle allergies (allergies OF the beagles not allergies TO the beagles), as well as coordinating transportation, logistics, and house sitting for yet another trip up to B.C. THIS weekend.

Anyway, what with all this going on I am EXTREMELY tired and run-down.

On the other hand I am extremely elated at the progress being made to my B/X Companion. Sorry, folks, I can’t help but get excited at my own work (it’s like listening to someone laugh at their own jokes, I know). I’ve got 88 magic item descriptions done, with only the two needing new rules invention (the ring of warlords and the rod of ruling) to be completed.

But, I’ll tell you looking over what I HAVE got makes me want to play D&D…ha!

Do folks remember what it was like the first time they got their hands on the Expert set rules? I’m sure you remember some of those feelings. For me it was like, “wowie-zowie, I can’t wait to try THIS out,” whether “THIS” was a new spell or new magic item or new monster.

With the advent of D20 I think the main “wowie-zowie” factor was the new feats…oh, maybe some prestige classes, too. But for the most part all the "goodies" in the D20 game…spells, monsters, treasure…were all just re-hashing of previous editions. And for some things (spells and treasure) items got toned down (“nerfed”) while monsters got statted UP to…well I suppose to make the system more consistent, but the end result is a big increase in Search & Handling time.

Anyway, I personally don’t give much of a shit about “game balance;” my concern is more of, ‘does this appear to be in line with other stuff, but on a higher level? Does it contribute something to D&D games run at a higher level? Does it feel true to the original rules/concepts of the game?

So far, it does to me. And like I was saying, I’m getting that excited- “wow I can’t wait to put THIS in the game” -feeling that I haven’t had since the first time I picked up the Cook Expert Set… or the 1st edition DMG. Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to start throwing artifacts into every medium-size treasure horde you scripted for an adventure? Just because they were so cool? Welcome to my euphoria!

(no, there are no artifacts or relics in my treasure tables, but there are some cool items reminiscent of 1st edition artifacts)

Unlike the BECMI/Rules Cyclopedia version of B/X, I have NOT gone the route of “magic items are simpler than AD&D with only a single power per item.” In general, they ARE simpler, but that’s not a firm or fast rule by any means. Higher level play has greater expectations associated with it, and one of those expectations is players (including the DM) have the ability to deal with more complex items. And yet, I am still attempting to leave some room for interpretation to DMs (it’s the only way to condense some of these descriptions!).

I should probably give you all another “taste,” right? That’s what you all want to see. But it doesn’t really do justice to the feeling…I mean, you REALLY need to see a page of this stuff. Maybe I should post a whole category?

What would folks want to see? Rings? Armor? Miscellaneous magic items? How about one of each? Maybe I should take a poll….

[by the way, I think I’m beginning to make in-roads into the “mass combat system;” it starts with going back to Expert set rules including: fortress building, ship combat, and mercenary hirelings. In other words, I’ll be starting with siege warfare FIRST, and then backing up to “open field” mass combat, reversing Mentzer’s progression in BECMI]


  1. Ooh, Ooh, Ooh! Miscellaneous please! This sounds like such a cool project.

    You know what I've been meaning to do for the longest time now, well, maybe not THAT long. But, is to take all the material out of the FightOns, the KnockSpells, the ODDities, the Footprints and so on... and organize it into single documents arranged by "Adventures", "Magic Items / Spells", "NPCs", "PCs", etc. It would take me a god's age...but it would be worth it in the end.

    One thing I abhor is having to leaf through numerous different sources to find that one thing for your adventure that you remember reading about a month ago.

    I'd love to see the end result of your project. I looks wicked cool.

  2. I vote Miscellaneous as well. I love intoducing magic items that don't have an obvious use at first and seeing what players make of them.

    As for my first time with the Expert set; I was playing a Halfling who had just reached third level when we got the Expert rules. Needless to say I was not quite as excited as my Cleric and Fighter party members.

  3. I like weird armor and miscellaneous magic items myself, which I am sure shows in the blog.

    Somehow the b/x/Labyrinth Lord system has a sort of gonzo feel to me. Magic with quirks and kinks. Slippery characters all around, that sort of thing.

  4. @ Blu...ha! But so sorry! I hope there is something in my B/X Companion that warms your halfling heart.

    @ All: just pulled out my old copy of the Mentzer/Gygax "Book of Marvelous Magic" and want to peruse it before I post anything (checking duplicates). Hopefully I'll get you a taste today.