Lydia Bucktooth, Dwarven Veteran, RIP

The second session of our Old School Essentials (BX dnd) Roll20 game saw the unfortunate demise of Lydia Bucktooth, a stalwart dwarven fighter. It was Lydia’s first foray out on the road east of the Keep on the Borderlans.

The party consisted of Lydia (dwarf), Fodder (druid), Tad (hireling), and Yersan (hireling). The group walked along the road to the east until evening. They made camp upon a hill known as “Overlook”. It was then the had their first random encounter. Result was four giant shrews.

This was the first time I had ever used giant shrews against a party. Four of them were quite a challenge. The druid cast entangle but only caught one in its viney snare. The others attacked the party. An interesting note about the giant shrew…when they attack, the target must make a save vs death or flee in panic! This happend to Fodder the druid and Tad the hireling. Lydia and Tad did well against two of the shrews, but one was still able to attack. Poor Lydia fell to the vicious bite of the creature as the others fled in panic!

A good time was had by all!

Quite deadly but it could’ve been worse. The shrews weren’t hitting very well. Our poor PCs had lower hit points. We agreed to play rules as written, so hit points would be as they come (re-rolling 1 or 2).

Fun little foray and more to come!

A Tavern Notice Board

DIY Notice Board for your Game

We’ve started a new campaign using Roll20. The rest of the fatbeards want to explore the Caves of Chaos (Keep on the Borderlands, module B2). I’m happy to oblige, having recently visited the caves in my solo play using Pits & Perils Rpg.

This time, we are using the B/X edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Basic game but with the Old School Essentials rulebook (a modern layout that is in essence the B/X rules). In addition, we are adding the Advanced Fantasy Genre rules (with some new character classes). So far, my pal Doug is running a female dwarven veteran (race is a class in B/X) and a male druid.

This past weekend, Doug and I ran a quick session, the other fellows were unable to join us this weekend. Lydia, the dwarf, and Fodder, the druid (gotta love that name!) made their way through the front gate of the Keep and quickly found the tavern.

None of the characters or establishments are named in the module. I decided to call the tavern the Egg & Goat. This is in honor of Egg Barkley and Goat Bentley, two of the henchmen I played in my Pits & Perils solo game.

Anyway, the tavern has a notice board (and grand place to hand out rumors and adventure threads). I’ve seen some nice looking tavern notice boards (obsidian portal has an example and drivethrurpg sells some pre-made boards) but I wanted to make a good looking board that I could customize.

Using the internet and MS Paint, I was easily able to make the board (pictured above) in little time and no cost. I searched online for “textured wood background free” and found a few sites that had images without watermarks. Here’s an example. Instead of downloading any image, I just snipped it using the snipping feature on windows 10. A screenshot would work just as well.

I dropped this into MS Paint and then did a search for parchment paper images. I snipped a variety of these onto my paint workspace. Make sure you open the cavas up extra wide to allow you to give you room for the images.

Tavern Board Template

Once I have the tavern board and the parchment, I made a duplicate tavern board to keep blank for new projects. I then had a neat idea to use the free-form select tool in MS Paint. This allowed me to make the rough and jagged edges of the notes that I post on the tavern board. Make sure to click transparent selection as an option when copying them.

Add your text and you’ll be all set. Just select the finished tavern board and paste in a new paint file, save it, and use it for Roll20 or print a handout for the table top. It really was a lot less work than I thought it would be, and I’m really happy with the results. I know that this and so many cooler things can be done with other drawing programs but this is free and simple to use.

Let me know what you think and how your make your own tavern notice boards.

More later and thanks…

John

The Keep on the Borderlands with Old School Essentials

Tonight I started a new campaign using module B1 The Keep on the Borderlands. It will be different than my solo play with Pits and Perils. For this, we are going back to B/X rules but using the Old School Essentials by Gavin Norman. This is like coming home to me. My first game of dnd was with the red box rules (Basic Dnd) with Tom Moldvay. And B1 was the very first module I ran. I guess I love the game and this particular module so much due in part to the nostalgia factor. I still get that warm fuzzy feeling when looking over those blue maps and perusing the artwork.

It’s a great time for Dungeons & Dragons and a great time for Old School gamers too. I’m probably playing as much if not more now that when I was a kid. I’ve got plenty of projects to keep me busy inbetween roll20 sessions. I’ll continue to tinker with my Fatbeards RPG rules (purely for my own enjoyment) and continue to play variations of rules (Whitebox, Old School Essentials, Pits & Perils, and many more.) They’re all great games and will continue to give me years of enjoyment.

More to come…

Happy New Year!

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

Greetings and good wishes to you all for the coming new year!

I have put the blog on the back burner to simmer for awhile. I imagine many of us do this with projects they’ve started. It’s not for a lack of gaming that I’ve been silent, but on the contrary I’ve been gaming once a week on average.

My roll20 group, we call ourselves the Fatbeards, has been a wellspring of joy and relief from the soul sucking grind of real life. Actually, life is not that bad, but it gets stressful and escape into the world of table top gaming is a true respite.

With the new year, I find myself contemplating my direction in life and how to maximize my happiness and contentment. My son recently married a wonderful girl and we are so very happy he has found the love of his life. They are true soul mates and meant for each other. When I see them together, I know they are just right.

In the new year, all I can hope for is continued health and happiness for my family. As I’ve grown older, I’ve made a decision to limit my hobbies to music and roleplaying games. Both are going just fine. I have a life’s work ahead of me in gaming and am looking forward to more time playing and running games.

Recently, I’ve been working on a Frankenstein’s monster type of creation with rules. I’m calling it Fatbeards Style Rpg. I’ve discovered the Youtube channel DungeonCraft with Professor Dungeonmaster. If you get a chance, you will enjoy the videos he is making on DIY crafting of terrain and also rules that he uses at his table. So much of it really speaks to me. I like the usefulness and rules lite method he employs. There is something about rules lite gaming that I really enjoy.

My rules are a combination of Whitebox Dnd (Charlie Mason) mixed in with Index Card Rpg, Five Torches Deep, Pits and Perils (James and Robyn George), Helmets and Halberds (Alex Schroeder) and other houserules (such as luck points and rolling with advantage). My goal is to distill the rules down to just a few pages (including spells and monsters). I’d rather not even have to look at the rules when the game is on.

In addition to this, I’ve been running a Whitebox play by post on the Smoldering Wizard Forum. It is set in a new campaign world of my own creation called Thaerene. I’ll be working on this more in the new year.

The Perils on the Borderlands posting that I’ve done on this site had been on hold, but I will try to play and post more adventures of Arden and Company. This and the Roll20 sessions with my Fatbeard pals give me much to look forward to.

Here’s hoping all the best for each of you in the New Year!

John

As a sidenote, after publishing this post I learned that this is my 100th post. That is kind of a fitting way to end the year. Hope to have many more posts in the year’s to come.

Day 5 of my coding life…

I put in a lot of time tonight. I understand some of the pieces of the puzzle, but it always feels like someone took one piece away when I wasn’t looking.

I read a great article about the fallacy of motivation. It seems that motivation will only get you so far. The thing that gets you there is persistence…setting good habits and digging in when you don’t feel like doing anything.

I’m really happy with the amount of time I’m able to put into study. If I get up just a wee bit early tomorrow to code, I am starting a new habit that will pay off. Slowly I want to increase this time from 15min at the keyboard to 1 hour each morning. This combined with another evening session will get me in shape to do this thing.

I’m still hitting a brick wall on some parts of the lessons. I had to check out the forums for advice and managed to see my errors. Today I went back and rewrote the code from scratch for a quiz and it worked out just fine.

More later…

Things accomplished today….

  1. I made a new gmail account (much more professional sounding than the yahoo mail account I’ve had forever. Evidently yahoo extensions tag you as old and out of the loop!
  2. Join GitHub
  3. Worked on Udacity tutorials (JavaScript)
  4. Joined freecodecamp (Thanks, Paul for the tip. My son reminded me that he had given me the same advice! I’m glad I have smart people in my life…

My Coding Journey ~ The First Day

Today I began the first step on a new adventure. I’m making a commitment to 100 Days of Code. I’ll need to code at least one hour per day and tweet my progress. I will document my progress here with posts every few days. But first a little about me.

I’m a teacher, middle school math and computers. I’ve done this for about 20 years, but I’m exploring a new career in programming. Can a 53 year old school teacher turn the page and become a programmer?

My coding skills are minimal, but I am familiar with computers, especially in education. This is my chance to take my technical skills to a new level. Today I finished my application for LaunchCode, a non-profit coding class based in St. Louis, MO. It will be several weeks before I learn if I am accepted. Meanwhile, I am working through a free course in HTML through Codecademy.

If anyone out there has a similar story or advice to share, I’d love to hear it.

Thanks,

John

Beyond the Borderlands Play by Post

I’ve been busy setting the table for a new campaign on the Smoldering Wizards Forum. The campaign world is based on much of the content I’ve written in this blog.

Running a play-by-post is a great way for me to build on the campaign world. The play-by-post is using Whitebox rules, but I want the campaign world to be easily adaptable to other games (Pits & Perils in particular). I want to build a world filled with ideas, interesting people, places, and dangers just waiting to be explored.

My intention is to release finished pieces of it to my blog for use by others. I don’t think that making it into a commercial product is really my cup of tea. I can’t get past the constant drumbeat needed to promote anything commercially. It takes the fun out of what is meant to be a great hobby.

Who knows? I may write an adventure set in this campaign world and do a pay want you want online or publish a compiled version. But for now, I’m enjoying the chance to work on the campaign.

Here is a link to the current play by post game.

I can alway use a few more players. Take a look at it and see what you think. Hopefully it is a fun read.

More to come…