Monday, December 22, 2014

Two for One

I have added my first Patron Book to the “Plunder” section. I picked the Order of the Crimson Sun as this is the Patron most closely associated with the Cleric as presented in B/X rules system. This book includes all the rules for using patron magic (divine or cleric) as presented in the Peril and Plunder Playing Guide. The rules in this patron book (and all other that will be added) can be used in other OSR rules systems as an alternative to the standard Cleric rules.

I have added both a standard (page in order) edition and a version ready to be printed and folded into a booklet (print and fold).

I am very happy with the booklet edition; I suggest you print the cover in color on higher weight paper, probably a tan, and the remaining pages in black and white.
Personally I need to go buy a better stapler to bind my copies. I intend to send some out to my players as gifts.

I expect to have two or three more patron books out before 2015.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Test Printing

I have worked my way through the over 200 Patron Invocations and I will take advantage of the holiday discounts on Lulu to print out a copy of Appendix One: Sample Patrons.

Once it arrives I am sure I will find 1,000 items to re-edit for layout, clarity,etc.. But now that spells are done I can work on print, fold, and play PDF copies of the Patrons so players can have a 8 to 12 page book dedicated to their character's spell lists to use at the table.

I did a proof of concept of this about a year ago for one of my play-testers and it worked out well.

I will offer these as free products, and will start adding them as links on the side.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why does WOTC only make one RPG ?

I think the same question applies to Pazio as well.
In the “Good Old Days” the game company TSR had its flag ship, D&D, but owning the world’s first roleplaying game made them the de facto authority and they used that to promote other systems. The first game I owned was Gamma World (the second edition from 1983), sure my first game was Moldvay Basic, but my brother owned that I just got to borrow the books. The games we played the most were D&D, Star Frontiers, and Top Secret. And we bought those games because they were from the makers of Dungeons and Dragons, TSR made D&D so in our minds they were the authority on roleplaying games.
I had seen Palladium and Tunnels and Trolls systems growing up, but they looked like cheap D&D knockoffs to a kid like me, If D&D was Transformers, they were GoBots. I can’t remember ever seeing Traveler or Call of Cthulhu or Warhammer other than in adds. I do remember see Runequest, but the Ducks soured me on taking that game serious. I would have loved to play Twilight 2000, Red Dawn holding such a treasured place in my childhood, but it was not something my brother or I would risk spending our hard earned money on when it could be used for a TSR product instead. We put our trust in TSR.
I think the first non TSR game that I played was Shadowrun sometime around 1989. I know my brother and his friends played Cyberpunk, but I was never invited to those sessions. Once I embraced Shadowrun I had broken the chains of TSR, and went on to play numerous games by numerous companies in the 1990’s. But TSR was still making more than one game, I never played Alternity more than once (I didn’t like the system) but I know people who did, I bought the Amazing Engine system books and still would like a chance to play Bug Hunter. Fasa was making Shadowrun and Earthdawn, West End Game had Star Wars and Torg, White Wolf had a whole range of games. Companies put out multiple games using multiple systems.
So what happened? Why does WOTC just make D&D and Pazio just make Pathfinder?
WOTC had the license for Star Wars and judging by the price of the books online it is still semi popular and they made D20 Modern, but both of those were just reskinned 3.5 edition D&D not unique systems. The D&D 4e spin off for Gama World got decent reviews, but I never purchased it (The gonzo style of Gama World probably fit the zany power system of 4e better than a fantasy game, but that is only my opinion). Top Secret, Alternity, Amazing Engine, Marvel Superheroes, didn’t use the D&D mechanics they were their own game. WOTC has not tried to make another game system just houserule the current version of D&D to other settings.
Pazio has done even less. They have Pathfinder, a very extensive house ruled version of 3.5*. Personally I think Pazio has the following to at least attempt to design an original game. They make very attractive books and have a large following. The Pathfinder Basic Box was an amazing product, so good I have a sealed box waiting to give to my children someday to introduce them to Role-Playing. Why haven’t they tried to make something original? Craft a system, build an adventure path around it, and see if it sells. People love adventure paths (I hate them but I see the appeal), so why not make a post-apocalyptic quest through a broken southwest or a high adventure space opera? Build a system not based on d20 to run more modern settings and see what happens.
Why do I care?  I am just curious. The mussing above are directly related to my own gamer ADD. as I put finishing touches on the Peril and Plunder: Appendix One Sample Patrons I keep thinking about crafting a simple western game to run as a one-shot. I will stay focused; I just wonder how Pazio and WOTC can put out the same game year after year.
*Peril and Plunder is a extensively house ruled version of D&D, I think everyone should have their own version of D&D, it is not a knock on Pazio just a statement of fact

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

5e DMG Delay is a Good Thing

I am glad WOTC is taking the time to get it right (here)  For something as important as the DMG taking a few extra weeks or even months to get it right beats putting out a product that is below par. Kudos to WOTC for making the right choice and not feeling pressured by a deadline.
With that out of the way I am putting the finishing touches on Peril and Plunder ‘s first appendix, Sample Patrons. I have completed the writing and I am focused on adding art (I am 90% done with the cover) and editing the 200+ spells which we take at least a few weeks unless I take a PTO day from work.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons is a Boon for the Hobby

As I take a hiatus from play testing Peril and Plunder, I am involved in three separate games, one of them is a run through of the Dungeon and Dragons 5e Starter Set. I have also been reviewing the Dungeon and Dragons fifth edition Players Handbook and the following are my notes, almost exclusively related to Player character generation. These are of course just my opinions, and early ones at that.

OverviewDespite my critiques below overall I like 5e. It is still too crunchy for me, but I have enjoyed playing it and it is a vast improvement over 4e. I would run 5e, with only slightly modified house rules. For the record I won’t run 3e, 4e, or pathfinder, I have in the past and they don’t suit me as a DM. 5e won’t replace Peril and Plunder as my go to system, and I can’t imagine a system that would, but on the surface 5e is good enough I could see a mini campaign if players wanted it.

-I can make a character without using software: This is the first test of any system, can I use the players handbook to make a 1st level character in 20 minutes or less. 5e passes this test as 1st level characters are fairly simple. I imagine as the game grows they will add more wrinkles, but the PHB does a god job of facilitating fast generation.

-It is Build not Roll: Ability Scores are the third step of  character generation and this is the problem as it encourages building a character around a concept not forming a concept after you roll. In Peril and Plunder I include 100% random character generation and then less random options, but they all include random ability scores. In 1e and 2e where the barrier to entry on classes was ability scores and good rolls pushed you towards a Ranger or a specialist Mage, I never liked that concept as I always felt good stat rolls were their own reward and that the barriers to entry on classes like the Ranger just made the “rich get richer” as this class in 1e was in almost all ways superior to the fighter. Now the default is assumed you will buy your stats after you have come up with a character concept. The rule for rolling is included and is 4d6 drop the lowest, but the sample character is made by using the standard array as are all of the Pregens.

-Trying too hard to be Balanced: I think the reason Random ability scores are discouraged is that they can lead to very powerful characters. For example an Elf who rolls an 18 dexterity can bump it up to a 20 at first level, if he is a Fighter and takes the Archery ability he is +9 to hit with a bow at 1st level. Deadly, especially as firing in to melee is a -2 or -4 as only cover applies not a set negative modifier.  You also add your dexterity bonus to damage on missile weapons which would allow our elf archer to do 1d8+5 points a round.

-The Fighter and all other classes have an equally chance hit: An elf or dwarf who are automatically proficient with a few martial weapons get the same To Hit bonus as a fighter and can cause the same damage. This is odd especially as it stays true even as the characters level and only the special abilities of the fighter make him a better fighter not his attack bonus.

-You Don’t Need Strength to be a Fighter: My Pathfinder fighter has a 9 strength and can hit ok with finesse weapons as they use dexterity, but still has a damage penalty due to his strength. 5e makes this character very viable as a two weapon short sword fighter as you can add your dexterity bonus to your attack and damage with finesse weapons. I like this as a player, but the difficulty is that it makes the thief with the high dexterity a very capable fighter (see my point above) especially as sneak attack damage is added whenever a combatant is in melee with multiple P.C.s A thief with a short sword will most likely do 2d6+3 damage a round versus a fighter at 1d8+3 a round, both with the same chance to hit.

- Attack Cantrip turn the Cleric into fire support: I don’t like the fact my playtest cleric can cast a ranged attack cantrip at will that does 1d8 points of damage that feels wrong to me. I only somewhat accept it in the wizard and warlock classes and I imagine the effects with the wizard cantrips slow the game as the DM has to remember who is effected by the secondary effects of their cantrips.

-Cleric and Wizard spell use is too similar: Yes I know that this is the case in most editions, but I was hoping they would change the feel. I think the sorcerer, Warlock, and wizard all present unique magic systems but wished they would have made cleric magic feel more like a mortal calling on divine assistance and not a wizard with different spells. In Peril and Plunder I am proud of how the two classes play and feel different.

-Monks: I have never been a fan of eastern monks in European fantasy, but the Players Handbook does a good job in the art of portraying non-western settings. Because of the art I am less bothered by this as it looks as if the Players Handbook is presenting a generic rule set.  I assume the DMG will cover running in non European areas like Mesoamerica, Africa, Asia, and the Arabian peninsula as well as standard European fantasy.

-Human are not powerful enough: Using the standard array adding +1 to every ability score does little for a character it gives them one ability at +3 and two abilities at +2, the same results that a demi human will most likely get once they arrange their scores and add their two bonuses. As I  see it a dwarven fighter will have better abilities scores than a human fighter plus the other dwarven racial benefits. This is the 1e and 2e problem all over again.

-Dwarves are too Strong: Giving mountain dwarves a bonus to strength makes dwarves the strongest default race. Personally I think human should have a chance to be as strong as a dwarf at creation. Humans are twice the size and should have the chance to be as strong as a dwarf. (I know that chimps and other primates have amazing strength for their size, I get it, I just think Human should be able to start as strong as Dwarves. In Peril and Plunder I caped demi-human ability scores, for example a dwarf cannot have a strength score over 16. They can be strong, but never as strong as a Half Orc or Human.

-Dragonborn, Drow and Teiflings: These three races are everything that I see wrong with mainstream D&D and I don’t think they have a place in the player’s handbook. Dragonborn feel like they are based on a carton for 10 year old boys. Seriously a crappy  Dragonborn cartoon series  with one of each of the metallic colors where they fight the chromatics practically writes itself. Gold is the wise leader, Silver is the lady, Copper is the hot shot reckless one, etc. I have nothing to say about Drow that has been said a million times, and I think the same misunderstood hero applies to Tieflings as well. Stick to the classics. Also the art shows that Tiefling have large unarmored tails, this should be an easy target in melee.

-It Needs More Backgrounds: We know they will be coming in splat books, but with only 12 it is highly likely a party will have duplicates. A solid set of 20 would have been nice. Also where is farmer? it was the most common profession in medieval Europe and should be on the list with fisherman, header, etc. all three could be combined probably as agrarian?  The idea of a kid from the farm who makes good doesn’t work without this background. Other backgrounds that I would like to see: Nomad/Gypsy, Hunter/Trapper, Student/Apprentice, Slave (Darksun needs this), Miner, and I’m sure others if I thought about it. I know Outlander covers some of those, but it is too broad a background.

-Inspiration: Roleplaying is its own reward.  I don’t understand how giving players a mechanical advantage encourages them to do anything but whine until they earn it. Roleplayers will roleplay those that don’t will do the minimum to meet the requirements or just pick inspirations that are easy to achieve. I have no love for this kind of mechanic.

SummaryAgain I think overall it is a good system. No system is perfect for every user, and I am sure my detractors are other folks benefits. I think the system will get a fair amount of traction in the community and be a success for the Dungeons and Dragons brand.  I still think simple rules systems like Peril and Plunder have a place in the hobby. But I am excited that these rules will bring in more role-players.

Last Thoughts
I hope in 2-3 years they release a 5.5. Yes I know people hate new editions, but I think a $50 investment every 2-3 years to fix small problems in a system is a benefit, versus making large a paradigm shift in editions like between 3.5 and 4. For example if my theories are correct research will show Humans need more love as a race and a 5.5 can fix that, while still staying balanced.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Playing Guide is Done (Time For Me to Play)

After an extensive re-edit for grammar and a second test printing to fix the image quality of the back cover, the Peril and Plunder Playing Guide is now officially off my plate.

I am happy with the results but would have loved to get professional art. I didn’t Kickstart Peril and Plunder because I wanted to take the time to do it right and extensively playtest the rules without a deadline hanging over my head. Maybe after all four initial books are completed I will revisit the playing guide and think about a Kickstarter so I can add professional art.

To celebrate the books official release I have taken a hiatus from GMing my playtest sessions and I have joined three games as a player. I have joined a Pathfinder game as a straight class fighter with a 9 strength, a 5th Edition Starter Set game playing two of the pre-gens, the ax fighter and the dwarven cleric, and on Thursday an Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborean with a yet to be determined character.

I figure a good month of playing and working on Appendix One: Sample Patrons should allow me the time to finish it up and recharge the DMing batteries. I have all 32 pages of Sample Patrons written. I just need a solid edit of the content, work out the layout, and create the art.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


By mid May I had redone all of the art in the color version of the Peril and Plunder Playing Guide and reposted it on Lulu. I think the improvements were worth the energy. I then decided to spend money to hire an editor. I know throwing money at a vanity project is a bad idea, but if it has my name on it I want it to be worthy. Yup vanity.

I worked out a deal with a friend who was a journalism major and had worked for a while on a professional magazine to give me a bargain price edit as a favor, but is they are doing it in their spare time so I can't really rush them.

My playtest party hit 50 sessions a week ago. The real number including the zero level games to learn and the sessions that ended up being us B.S. for 90 minutes because we were missing a player is closed to 60 sessions, but I can say we have played 50 legitimate games of Peril and Plunder. Session 51 was last night and the only character to survive through all sessions, including the zero level playtest made 6th level. Congratulations Ragnor the Dwarf.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Good is not Good Enough

I finished the Peril and Plunder Playing Guide and made it available for sale on Lulu in both color and black and white early last month.
Unfortunately when my copies of the books arrived the interior illustrations where pixilated and this is why the links are not listed here.
I then made a huge mistake; I purchased Publisher 2013 for my laptop. I had been using publisher I had running on my ancient laptop from 2005. I thought I would treat myself to an upgrade, especially as my old laptop was unable to connect to the internet and I was constantly moving files via jump drive between my two computers.
Once purchased I discovered Publisher 2013 does not allow you to wrap texts around pictures the way previous versions do. The options and commands are still there, but it doesn’t work, you cannot edit wrap points in Publisher 2013, despite the options to do so. The internet confirmed I was not mistaken and I was not the only one ticked off by this. My advice buy Publisher 2010 not 2013.
I have slowly gone through and added higher resolution illustrations to the document. I have manually wrapping the texts around the pictures by moving them to the back ground, but this was time consuming and frustrating especially after paying money for a program that should do this automatically.
I plan on sending the updated document back to Lulu next weekend and getting a second set of documents, hopefully these will be worthy.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Coming Soon

When I started this blog in May of 2013 I used it as a resource to store download resources for the playtest versions of the Peril and Plunder™ rules and not as a forum for actual blogging. I am now proud to announce (with my first post on this blog) that after months of play testing and small tweaks I will be offering Peril and Plunder™ for sale on DrivethruRPG in February 2014.

The version offered will be an art free low cost version of Peril and Plunder™ starting with the 32 page playing guide and followed up shortly by Peril and Plunder™ Appendix One: Sample Patrons and Peril and Plunder™ Appendix Two: Arcane Magic.
The Peril and Plunder™ Playing Guide provides rules on building characters and using them in adventures, including rules for combat, casting spells, henchman, advancing in levels, environmental hazards, overland movement, poisons, disease, and the ever popular accidently falling long distances.
Peril and Plunder™ is a rules lite fantasy roleplaying game compatible with almost all versions of classic and modern RPG systems relying on the D20. Peril and Plunder™ is designed to allow players to create customized characters but still jump into the action quickly. In Peril and Plunder™ players build their characters by choosing building blocks, called proficiencies, to represent what their character is good at instead of choosing a traditional class. For example a character may be proficient in melee combat and defense, or melee combat and ranged combat, or melee combat and divine magic. Peril and Plunder™ also has a different (but easily houseruled back to the classic) version of casting divine and arcane spells than traditionally presented.
I will be removing the playtest download links from this site.
Peril and Plunder™ is a trademark of Raven and the Flame Games LLC.