Sunday, October 27, 2013


The word 'profile' has such a bad ring  to it after all the years of police racial harassment...
Be that as it may, this little exercise is right what I need to scratch the gaming itch and blow off some phd steam. Without further ado, here is Tedankhamen's profile:

I'm currently running (at home): Nada. I'm 100 pages in to a 240 page PhD, with a 4 month old boy to look after, so not running anything for maybe 6 to 9 months. Last thing I ran was a short-lived Call of Cthulhu game.
Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (at home) include: Zip, see above.
I'm currently running (online): Nil. Sigh.
Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (online) include: Rien, ditto. Last thing I played in was Justin's Vaults of Ur.
I would especially like to play/run: Stormbringer, Unknown Armies.
...but would also try: anything but Maid
I live in: Japan, just outside of Kyoto.
2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like: I have been a cheap cnut and haven't bought anything in ages, but Death Frost Doom, Pornheim (sorry, Vornheim), Anomalous Subsurface Environment and Barrowmound sound awesome, along with a dozen other things. Time for a shopping spree when the degree is done.
2 or 3 novels I like: Elric cycle, Foucault's Pendulum, Ringworld, the one I am writing...
2 or 3 movies I like: The Thing, Conan, Paris Texas, The Audition
Best place to find me on-line: This blog, for games.
I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: Stormbringer, Unknown Armies, free & half decent
I really do not want to hear about: How cool you are because you've published a game and how nobody who hasn't isn't entitled to an opinion...
I think dead orc babies are ....well, ok, it's complicated because I've never eaten any
Game I'm in are like this
Free RPG Content I made for BRP/Stormbringer available at this link.
Free RPG Content I made for Palladium is available somewhere out there. I posted a Palladium Patch on Scribd years back and it got good reviews, but seems to have disappeared. Time for a new version?
Free RPG Content I made for AFMBE, Robotech, and Stormbringer available on this blog.
If you know anything about converting Phoenix Command to BRP it'd help me with a project I'm working on
I talk about RPGs on this blog under the name Tedankhamen on this blog. Also under my real name at coffee shops and bars around Kyoto with my mate Sunglasses Jerk.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


So I am in ‘OSR Lurker’ mode as a few Real Life deadlines and challenges have jumped up on me, and the other day I dropped two innocuous questions on the blog of one of the OSR leading lights, “What do you get out of D&D?” and “Are all the different books & editions just grist for the mill?” To the first query I got the snide-sounding “Some of your questions make no sense.” I resisted the urge to reply in a snarky way “What word are you having problems with? Maybe a remedial reading course would help.” To the second question I got “I keep the good and drop the bad.” A blindingly obvious answer, to be sure, and also obviously impossible for us humans, as the plethora of heartbreakers, Synnibars, WTF D&D and failed Kickstarters attest.

Basically, someone just tried to OSR butthurt me. Who? That’s not important, I won’t call out anybody, but I am sure Google will help you if you want to now. Prepare to be unsurprised. The more interesting question is why, and by answering this we can also uncover some rules to help us survive the inevitable OSR Butthurt when it happens to us.

REASON ONE – None of us are friends, all of us are strangers

Responding to blogs is a funny type of interaction in two ways. First, we have no qualms starting an online conversation with a person we’d never talk to on the street, or one whose house we’d never think of entering. Commenting online disarms us against strangers, we let our guard down thinking they will be courteous and kind when we may have just inadvertently challenged a major tenet of their belief system and set them into attack mode in their own territory. Add to that the fact that the emotionless & contextless nature of leaving online comments is like trying to teach the lyrics of a song with a kazoo in your mouth, then the possibility of misunderstanding and conflict is obvious.

Remember, none of us are friends, all of are strangers, and the chances we will misunderstand or argue are greater than those that we will get along.

REASON TWO – All of us are trolls at one time or another

I dimly remember making a positive comment about a blogger a few years back to which my butthurter objected. The details elude me now, but I remember not saying anything abrasive, and quite oppositely trying to calm down or show support for someone who had been riled up. Although this incident was unimportant to me, the OSR leading light seems to have remembered and decided to shoulder a chip and exercise a grudge against me.

Which, if you think about it, is pretty sad. Holding a grudge about an insignificant comment about roleplaying games for years is a terrible waste of a person’s energy and emotion, and brings me to my next point:

REASON THREE – The Smallest Thing In Real Life Is Bigger Than The OSR

Right now, I blog to let off steam and have a quasi-creative hobby while I finish a PhD on US economic discourse (don’t ask), look for a new uni to work at for the next 4 to 5 years, and simultaneously raise my beautiful 4 month old son.

The OSR and my blog is pretty far down my list of priorities. I enjoy the boundless creativity of many fine blogs out there, the amusing personalities and insightful comments, and even the scandals and flamewar of the week. But I never take any of it seriously. Sadly, over the years the OSR has lost some great biggies (ChogWiz and James M to name a few), and doubtless an uncounted number of unknowns to its frequent waves of drama. Me, I’ll take the good and leave the bad, just as my butthurter advised me.

REASON FOUR – Don’t Monetize Unless You Can Deliver the Prize

This last one has nothing to do with the incident that inspired this post, but as I have resolved not to charge for any material I produce, I thought I’d say a word about the OSR as business. I admire the heck out of people who do great work and deservedly make a living off the OSR in particular and RPGs in general. But there are far too many out there who think game design is a quick, fun job. A quick glance at Tenkar’s list of failed Kickstarters sadly reinforces this reality, and I for one both admire Tenkar for holding people’s feet to the fire while at the same time feeling what a great waste of his time and talents it is to keep the list updated.

Ask James Raggi – he may personally be having fun producing LoFP, but he’s also working his arse off. The two aren’t incompatible, but like any creative endeavor you can’t succeed in games without hard work.


Finally, in a non-sarcastic way I’d like to ask you dear readers the same two questions that set off the OSR bigwig: “What do you get out of D&D?” and “Are all the different books & editions just grist for the mill?”

For me, D&D is both pleasant nostalgia for the games of my youth, as well as a great mental exercise that takes my mind of the depressing things I find in my thesis. Economics is starting to look like the greatest scam ever perpetrated to me, so the idea of bashing down doors and braving monsters and traps for gold is refreshingly pure and simple.

I’d have to say that with the exception of the Midnight campaign setting, which I L-O-V-E, I enjoy the mishmash of anything pre-3e. I have tried 3e and 4e, and maybe if they hadn’t been sold as D&D I would have liked them more, but playing them after years of 1st and 2nd edition was like switching to new Coke or Crystal Pepsi. Might have been fine if I hadn’t known better, but once you taste that classic stuff, new is not always better.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mountains and Valleys and the 30 Day Challenge

There is an old Japanese saying, 'yama ari tani ari' (There are mountains and valleys), which basically means everything has its ups and its downs. I am approaching a mountain in my work and studies, so my blogging will be low for the next month or two. Expect maximum a post a week.

I was glad that the 30 Day Challenge ignited my interest and enthusiasm. As much as I joked about its non-OSR taxonomy, I found it a great community building exercise for the OSR, and made me feel part of something while giving my mind something to chew on.

Anyway, all this blogging has revved up my writing muscles to where I feel I can blast through this next knot of work. I still have lots of gaming projects - finish my Stormbringer adventure 'Spiders & Angels', re-do my Palladium patch, playtest my DIY Robotech, and publish my D&D houserules (which will form the engine of Iceships & Inuit, my very own heartbreaker), among others. Once (If?) I pass my final mid-November work deadline I'll take a little break from everything and then find my way back here.

Until then, keep reading, writing, and most of all, gaming.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ever Wonder Why Your Runeweapon is Trying to Kill You?

In my experience, runeweapons are too often poorly run by the DM, and give an unfair power boost to one character without any drawbacks. As I said in an earlier post, “Basically, if a player is happy to get a rune weapon, you’re running it wrong.” Since Elric’s Stormbringer is the model for rune weapons, they should be equally treacherous and perilous to the wielder. What follows is some tables to determine your runeweapon’s secret agenda, the overt power it can use on behalf of its wielder, and the covert power it holds in reserve to advance its own schemes.

The tables are descriptive and system-free so as to allow easy use in any system.


1) Revenge! The weapon seeks to destroy the foe of its last wielder. This foe is at least twice as powerful as the current wielder and has minions or allies equal in strength to the player characters. It cares not whether its wielder wins or loses, just that the battle continue.
2) Return! The weapon seeks to return to its last wielder. To determine former wielder’s location, roll 1d6 = 1 Wandering amnesiac somewhere in the world 2 Trapped in hell 3 Lost on another plane 4 At the deepest level of a dungeon 5 Imprisoned by the ruler of the land 6 In plague-infested City of Beggars.
3) Immolaton! The weapon seeks its own destruction, and doesn’t really care if the wielder is taken along for the ride. Roll 1d6 to see the only way it can be destroyed = 1 Thrown into the lava of Mount Badoom 2 Frozen and cracked by the Witch of the Wastes 3 Reforged by the King of the Deep Dwarves 4 Sucked dry of dweomer by an Enchanteater 5 Thrust into a Nullstone in the Faerie Realm 6 Skewering the Lord of the Undead.
4) Armageddon! The weapon seeks to bring about the End of the World! If the PCs are trying to stop this, the weapon will thwart them and aid their foes, or else set the chain of actions for Ragnarok in motion.
5) War! The weapon thrills at battle and will always seek to drag its wielder into any altercation it can, the larger the better. It will seek to persuade or kill a cowardly wielder.
6) Deicide! The weapon seeks to kill all gods and demigods. It will actively seek out the nearest target and commence hostilities regardless of the wielder’s intent or abilities.
7) Freedom! The weapon is a bound demon, and seeks escape from its current shape. Roll 1d6 to see how it can escape = 1 Exorcism by Great Leader of the largest Church in the land 2 Trading places with another soul using a Spirit Gem obtained from the Lichking Lair 3 Being destroyed (see Immolation above) 4 Undergoing purification in the hidden shrine of the Scarlett Swordmaidens who slay all men and enslave all women on sight 5 Striking the Great Golden Gong jealously guarded by the Fighting Tiger Monks of the Hidden Temple of Song Ho 6 Bathed in the acid blood of a freshly slain 7-headed Hydragon.
8) Allegiance! Will try to bind the wielder to the same force it serves. Roll 1d6 – 1 Law 2 Chaos 3 The Balance 4 Hell 5 Heaven 6 Itself!
9) Home! The weapon seeks to return to its home, and will desert the wielder should it get there. Roll 1d6 = 1 Armory of The Entropy Lords at the End of Time 2 In the hand of the Eight Armed Death Goddess Khali 3 With the Deep Dwarves who dwell below Mount Badoom 4 In the Tomb of the Hero Beneath the Hill from whence it was stolen 5 In the hidden shrine of the Scarlett Swordmaidens who slay all men and enslave all women on sight 6 In the Plane of Things were people don’t exist and all objects are sentient.
10) Nemesis! The weapon has an identical opposite wielded by another hero somewhere. The weapon can feel where its nemesis is and nudges its wielder towards a confrontation with it. It cares not whether its wielder wins or loses, just that the battle continue.
11) Blood & Souls! The weapon feeds on the flesh and spirit of those slain with it, and must feed upon a dozen souls every fortnight or turn on its wielder.
12) Roll twice and apply both. If the same agenda is rolled again, substitute with the next down the list.

All runic weapons share certain basic abilities.
1.        They can either do maximum damage or roll double the amount of dice for damage.
2.        They cannot be thrown away or destroyed, and will magically appear back in the wielder’s sheath.
3.        They cannot be surprised, and will automatically attack first against surprise attackers.
4.        They will kill all opponents, and will refuse to do stunning damage, instead always going for lethal hits.
5.        On a fumble, they automatically attack the closest ally of the wielder, some say out of jealousy.
6.        In addition, they have one Overt Power which they usually let the wielder know about and use, and one Covert Power which they normally keep to themselves and employ when it furthers their aim. Weapons can withhold or use either type of Powers at any time so long as it furthers their aims.
7.        Runeweapons can talk, but only do so the moment they slay their wielder.

OVERT POWERS Can be used once per session. Roll 1d12.

1) Blind – The weapon creates a dazzling sparkle that temporarily blinds 1-4 foes instead of an attack.
2) Elemental Attack – The weapon can cause an attack. Roll 1d6 = 1 Flame Burst (damage and item destruction) 2 Wind Blast (damage, blindness & knock back) 3 Water Punch (damage & drowning) 4 Rock Barrage (damage & concussion) 5 Lightning Bolt (damage & blindness) 6 Ice Dagger (damage & immobility).
3) Celerity – The weapon doubles the wielder’s speed and attacks.
4) Vorpality – The weapon breaks through mundane weapons, armor and shields. It can also negate the effects of magic armor.
5) Berserker – The weapon makes the wielder immune to all pain, fear, and sleep effects, and can fight until literally hacked to pieces.
6) Summon Allies – The weapon summons the undead corpses of the last creatures it slew to fight at its side.
7) Elemental Shield – The weapon can make a shield of one type of element that nullifies its opposite. Roll 1d6 = 1 Flame Buckler (vs plants or flesh) 2 Wind Target (vs arrows) 3 Water Wall (vs fire or insects) 4 Rock Wall (vs charging creatures) 5 Energy Field (vs firearms) 6 Ice Blockade (vs reptiles).
8) Duplication – The weapon can make 1d6 duplicates of the wielder appear to confuse its enemies.
9) Vampire – The weapon steals vitality from foes it kills to heal the wielder.
10) Levitate – The weapon can slowly lift the wielder, or slow their fall.
11) Recall – The weapon can be thrown or launch itself to attack an enemy in sight then return to the wielder’s hand.
12) Roll twice and apply both. If the same power is rolled again, substitute with the next down the list.

COVERT POWERS Can be used once per session. Roll 1d12.
1) Intangibility – The weapon can pass through solid objects, dropping through floors, hiding in pillars, etcetera.
2) Invisibility – The weapon can pass from sight, although it stays in the same place.
3) Charm Person – The weapon takes control of an NPC and has them do its bidding for a day.
4) Teleport Self – The weapon instantly disappears in one spot and reappears in another in the same building, dungeon or forest.
5) Polymorph Self – The weapon takes on the appearance of another object. Roll 1d6 = 1 Old rusty shield 2 A pair of boots 3 A dead rabbit 4 A head of lettuce 5 A spinning wheel 6 A bear trap.
6) Insect Swarm – The weapon summons 1d10x100 insects who attack anyone it chooses.
7) Wall of Blades – The weapon is surrounded by a whirling wall of magical blades who slice anyone attempting to pass through them.
8) Illusion – The weapon creates an illusion in the mind of all onlookers. Either reroll on this table and use the result as the illusion or make up a suitable one yourself.
9) Animate Objects = All objects in the room come to life and do the weapon’s bidding for one day. Curtains can strangle, chairs kick, and tables ram foes.
10) Fire Body – The weapon sprouts a pair of legs, arms, and head made of flame that can carry it around, pick up inflammable objects, and attack foes.
11) Demon Servant – The weapon summons a demon servant who will do one task for it. Roll 1d6 for demon type = 1 Imp, weak but can fly 2 Satyr, equal to men but can Mesmerize with its pipe playing 3 Hellhound, larger than men with flame breath 4 Firedrake, great fire-breathing flame serpent with wings 5 Balrog, strong, winged and flamewhip wielding 6 Flame princess, kind yet can steal the heart of any man who then immolates himself in her arms.
12) Roll twice and apply both. If the same power is rolled again, substitute with the next down the list.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

30 Day Dance Finale

30 Best DM

I’ve been lucky enough to have two ‘best’ DMs who show equally how different DMing styles can still make for a great game. Fred was my first long-term DM back in the early 90s, and was a technically brilliant game master. He knew every rule, had the adventure set in his head, and gave us a mathematical breakdown of the chances for every action we proposed. He was so good that I thought D&D a perfectly balanced and coherent system, until the 2000s when I went back and read my old RC to find it was a bit creaky in places. If Fred had any failing, it was that the gameworld as such was just a backdrop for the characters and the dungeon. Towns were nameless as were most NPCs, and served only to give us a place to procure or sell items and stash our booty. I am not sure if any of my characters even had names.

It was the 90’s, and we had no clue what we were missing. I knew lots of groups like us.

Last year I played a few sessions in Justin’s Vaults of Ur, and his style is almost the antithesis of Fred’s. Justin’s gameworld is rich and alive, every character has a name, and the actions of the PCs have repercussions on the web of power relations between groups in Fort Low, the Ruins and the Hive. On the rules side, Justin hand waves, or seeks input from players, or allows votes on houserules. He has also gone through a few rulesets for the same game – from a modded Labyrinth Lord when I played, to Stars Without Number by the latest reports. Justin’s DMing style immerses the players in his world – although I jumped in mid-campaign, I learned the party was intent on traveling to Orc Heaven to rescue the soul of their comrade-at-arms, Ripper. Since I had rolled up an orc, I immediately proposed my character as Ripper’s little brother, Digger, and joined the adventure (which inspired the art that graces this blog).

And I think that is what the OSR gives us (or rather asks of us) – to replay these old games, but add in the life experience and depth we missed when we were young. If you want to become someone’s best DM, know the rules without being a slave to them, and immerse them in a world grown from the seeds of your own imagination and experience.