Monday, June 20, 2011

Some Odds and Ends

-This pdf is the most useful game tool I've come across in a long time. And I don't even have a d30. Download it and check it out. It's free.

-Anybody remember a 2e-era module with like a dwarf city with giant worm tunnels all over it? What's it called?

-So, like I said, Connie and I played in a Type IV game yesterday. We had fun. Was talking to the DM, cameraman Darren for a bit after, I've played Type 4 twice, he's played Type 4 since before it came out (he was a beta tester) and we agree--the fun of Type IV is like this:

It's fun while you're taking your cleric and slowly finding a way to turn him into a perfectly-tuned chess piece. But if and when you ever finish doing that, you look at your character and it's suddenly not a cleric anymore, it's just a chess bishop. Your powers are in general so much more powerful than any lateral-thinking tactic you could think up, so you just gotta use 'em. Then hopefully you level up and there are new fiddly bits and it's fun to figure out how they work again if they're interesting fiddly bits.

Anyway, it was me and Connie and a bunch of D&D newbies. We pretty much just fought 3-and-a-half rounds of a bunch of kobolds invading a village and it took four hours and it was lovely.

-Transylvanis 1600 seems oddly compelling. Despite the fact that I usually think having more than one vampire in a story ruins vampires. Thing is: James' version will probably contain lots of (eww) rural peasantfolk and (double eww) Renaissance stuff. So I may have to make my own doubly-decadent Hungary-1600-that-only-exists-in-my-head version.

The phrase "anti-Camelot" keeps popping up in my mind.

I've been there--Hungarian Renaissance sculpture is actually really interesting. It looks, superficially, like Italian Renaissance stuff and is just as technically polished, if not better--but it has this creepy, downcast angsty look to it and lots of sharp edges. One of those things they don't teach you in art history class. Fucking Vasari.

--The hack Vornheim contest is still rolling.

-Another thing still rolling is Gigacrawler. Some of you left additions in the comments in the last few months and had them swallowed up by the spam filter--but I just found that part of blogger and cleaned it out, so your comments are back and that won't happen again. Sorry bout that, and thanks!

-If you took a look here yesterday and saw me making a head, you might be interested to see how these things end up. Here's Connie's head, done the same way......and here's the finished piece...-And here is a work I just finished entitled "Furries Undermine Legitimate Cosplay"


Anathematician said...

I love that picture of Connie and her surroundings. Can that be purchased as a print?

Zak S said...

sorry, nope...
maybe it'll be in my next book

Anathematician said...

Poop. It is really wonderful, I mean it.

ravenconspiracy said...

Is "anti-camelot" where most people are ugly nasty pricks but everyone lives happily ever after and nobody has an affair with the king's wife?

fireymonkeyboy said...

Was the module the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth?.

Gnomes, not dwarves, but maybe?

Daniel Dean said...

I always thought of Aquilonia as anti-Camelot, which I guess isn't entirely on the mark.

Barking Alien said...

That illustration is absolutely amazing. Breathtaking in fact.

This..."Anyway, it was me and Connie and a bunch of D&D newbies. We pretty much just fought 3-and-a-half rounds of a bunch of kobolds invading a village and it took four hours and it was lovely."...astounded me in a very different way.

I'm glad you guys had fun and all but I have to ask, did it really take four hours just to fight some kobolds? Three and a half rounds took four hours?

I am not that familiar with 4E combat having playing the game only twice when it first came out. Is that normal? As in, is that how long it would usually take?

Zak S said...



4 hours for a buncha kobolds isn't normal--

there were 10 of us in the party (and more kobolds--some were "elite") and of those I'd say like 5 were totally new to d&D period and the rest of us were new to 4e.

plus there was some interrogation of the kobolds after and one of those "oh hey, howya been, mmmmm nachos" slow rolling intros, so maybe more like 2 1/2 to 3 hours of combat. An hour per combat round, maybe.

Adam said...

Hey, Zak: I'd like to look into this creepy, angsty Hungarian Renaissance sculpture stuff. Can you give me any names in particular?

Zak S said...


frustratingly enough, i can't. most of what i saw was public statues in budapest and gyor and there weren't any nameplates. i might start with tourist guides and go from there.

if you do find any good books on the subject, lemme me and Mandy know.

darren e said...

I believe you and the dark-skinned woman of many names arrived around 3:05... snacks were nibbled, a character was selected and printed out, minis chosen, and introductions made by 3:45ish. The combat started around 3:50ish and ended around 5:15ish. The looting, interrogation, and skill challenge lasted till 5:50. And finally, pastrami was devoured by 7ish.

This was four of the players' very first game of D&D ever. One other player had played a lot of AD&D as a kid and had about as much 4th edition experience as Zak and Connie. And the final player at the table had been introduced to D&D very recently, had only played about half a dozen games before, and was playing her first Rogue.

The fight definitely was a bit longer than normal for a low level kobold raiding party, but a significant portion of the time was spent explaining which dice were which, how to determine initiative, how movement worked, what an attack is, how the math for attacks, defenses, and damage works, what hit points are, how to use action points, and what various combat conditions mean. It was actually a half of the table's first D&D combat ever!

I think we managed to fit in almost every basic mechanic of combat into 3-4 rounds in about an hour and a half. It'll be a minor miracle if anyone remember anything next time, but it was a good start.

Zak S said...

Pastrami? Me? Never! Get your own gameblog you leech!

trollsmyth said...

Raggi might surprise you. He seems to have been bitten by the 17th century, Early Modern bug pretty badly. I'd expect lots of frock coats and crazy wigs, myself.

Zak S said...


Sure, but my point is:
my interest level in any historical era is directly proportional to the likelihood of a PC bleeding to death in a moat after getting hit in the head with a battle axe.

JasonZavoda said...

Hungary then has ample historical precedent for your interest. From its inception Hungary has an extremely strife torn and bloody history. The Magyars poured across the Urals and carved a section of Eastern Europe for their own (the name Ogre is coined from Magyar)and proceeded to lose their country many times over the intervening centuries only making enough of a pain in the ass of themselves in the 19th century to regain something of self-rule. The siege of Budapest by the Russians was an incredibly viscious battle, and the failed revolution in '56 brought the remnants of most of my own family to the USA.

Plenty of moats, axes and blood in Hungarian history, and of course Renaissance architecture imported from Italy by Matyas the last king before the Turks.

Cygnus said...

Shows how carefully I read! After skimming Raggi's list of new projects last week, I thought this new concept was based on this shlockfest! Well, at least we won't have to see NPC stats for an Elvis impersonator werewolf. (Though, hmm...)

Anonymous said...

@ravenconspiracy: Most people in Camelot are nasty pricks. Handsome and strong, but nasty bastards nonetheless.

You know how the Pharaoh tried to kill Moses by murdering all the boy babies in Egypt? Arthur did that too, when he heard that his son would eventually kill him.

@Zak: I like the grayscale close-up. Very nice.

Also, is there any reason you folks refer to editions as types and use roman numerals rather than numbers? Just curious, as this is the only place I've ever seen or heard it. (I have a mild preoccupation with words and language.)

Zak S said...


"Edition" implies progress. "Type" implies one of a set of options.

Plus it makes them sound like the demons from the original Monster Manual.

semiprometheus said...

In our brief Type IV game, I came to dread combat; the fun roleplaying part of the afternoon paused and the pushing minis around a diorama and scanning for the optimal power part began. Plus, everyone scattered when combat begun, so my Warlord chess piece was less than effective.

@trollsmith: While I see Raggi's point about the real Middle Ages, the Renaissance is a little too close to modernity for my fantasy gaming. Does alternate history or a wholly invented world screw up the "Weird" contrast too much? (I'm toying with a mashup of Byzantium, the /Carolingian/ Renaissance, and medieval Russia.) I would hope that a few anachronisms wouldn't overwhelm the appearance of walking dead, serpent people, eldritch horrors, and gateways to other worlds. R. E. Howard got away with it.

@JasonZavoda: FWIW Chaosium sells a Hungarian supplement for Call of Cthulhu. I never bought it though, between disclaimers about the translation and the general hit-or-miss quality of monographs. Other resources would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

Hm, that makes sense.

I wonder what demon each type would be if they were named directly after demon princes?

richard said...

those things they don't teach you in art history class. Fucking Vasari.

Word. The main thing that makes me want to teach architectural history is the prospect of telling people how patronizing "architecture without architects" was and then opening their eyes to tents and ships and Thai funeral pyres and carnival floats and giant food sculptures.

I thought you were a fan of WFRP - isn't that exactly the crossover of traumatic brain injury and the 17th century? The more I research the period the more convinced I become that it's a good home base for D&D (obviously not the only good home).

Zak S said...


I love WFRP but mostly on the Realms-of-chaos-mohawked-dwarf end of things. The gunpowder i could give a fuck about either way, really.

Menace 3 Society said...

Weird Hungary actually seems like a *great* setting for a game. There are all the things so far mentioned, plus the simple fact that this is a country that lets mold grow on grapes just to make better wine. I feel like that alone could be the conceit for an entire setting: The cuisine is simply bizarre, perhaps, or Hungarians are willing to put their lives at risk in the name of epicurean pleasure. If you want to dial up the early-Lovecraft horror, the nobility feel themselves at liberty to do the same to everyone and everything, inflicting diseases or deformities on peasants and soldiers to make them tougher or faster or stronger or more compliant. Or, you, know, all of the above.

sad_genius said...

Apropos of nothing, my early teenage roleplaying education was turned upside down when I played a game of WFRP that felt more like Cthulhu in an early-modern Germany surrounded by orcs than D&D with Games Workshop trademarks and a critical hit table. Then I moved to Germany a few years ago, and that whole perceptual shift happened again. So many fucking trees, and a brief consideration that there might be beastmen and goblins and unholy shrines in amongst that trackless vastness that begins about 10 minutes walk from your house is, I think, the key to that Grim World of Perilous Adventure.

Lord knows where that came from.

richard said...

Martin Heidegger, beastmaster.

Mydrynn said...

"Anti-Camelot" reminded me of the book by David Gemmell - Knights of Dark Reknown (I love that title)