Bat in the Attic

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A blog on 40 years of gaming and Sandbox Fantasy.Rob Conley
Updated: 1 week 1 day ago

Some bad news about Google Plus

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 18:09
Google Plus was Google's answer to facebook. It never got widespread adoption but among specific niches of internet it was heavily used compared to facebook. One of those niches is the OSR.

And now it appears the Google is shutting it down or at the least radically changing it.

Damn it. I really despise the Facebook interface and because of that I have not kept my Facebook account as clean as my Google Plus setup. I guess my wife, Kelly Anne will be happy as facebook is her primary home on social media.

Well it was good while it lasted.

The link to the annoucement

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Original Southlands Map redux

Sun, 09/02/2018 - 01:29
Back in 2009 I released my take on the Outdoor Survival Map mentioned in ODnD. Modifying the map using the guidelines found in Book 3 Underworld and Wilderness Adventures along with substituted Judges Guild icons in place of the original.

Since then it made the rounds appearing in projects like Autarch's Dwimmermount.

Recently +Nathan Jennings requested a version that didn't have the title block in the upper left. Since I still had the original files it was easy make a version that does just that.
So here it for everybody else to use for whatever project they have in mind. Just click here to get the full resolution version.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The next five maps are avaliable! Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde is released

Wed, 08/22/2018 - 22:24

I am pleased to announce the release of the Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde. This is one of four products covering the eighteen maps that encompasses the Judges Guild Wilderlands setting. This product covers five of the maps as detailed below. The four sets combined will cover a region equal in size to Western Europe providing years and decades of adventuring for you and your group.

Unlike many setting products, the Wilderlands sketches out the overview and history in light detail. Then presents a comprehensive list of local detail in a compact format that is customizable. This eliminates much of the tedious work involved in creating a setting and allows the referee to focus on the campaign and the grand adventures the players face as their characters.

This is presented at two products both in PDF and Print on Demand.

This product is a 38 page Guidebook for the five maps of the Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde. The books has an introduction and commentary by Robert S. Conley who has used the Wilderlands as his main fantasy campaign for nearly forty years. Each map is detailed with the following listings: Villages, Castles and Citadels, Idyllic Isles, Ruins and Relics, and Lurid Lairs.

Included with the Guidebook are letter sized blank map of the Wilderlands that can be used to take notes during a campaign. A PDF with the map legend. A letter size black and white guide to the placement of each of the 18 maps within the Wilderlands. This guidebook covers the City State of the World Emperor Map Six, Desert Lands Map Seven, Sea of Five Maps Map Eight, Elphand Lands Map Nine, and Lenap Map Ten.

Finally a giant sized preliminary version of the master map that I used to crop the individual maps from. With the right printer this can be printed as a full scale map 5 feet wide and 8 feet long. With the PDF you can selectively copy out regions as complete maps that overlap the borders of the 18 maps. After the release of the final set of maps this file will be updated as a layered PDF allowing for custom maps of the Wilderlands to be copied or created.

The second product is a set of five maps:  City State of the World Emperor Map Six, Desert Lands Map Seven, Sea of Five Maps Map Eight, Elphand Lands Map Nine, and Lenap Map Ten.. When ordered via print on the demand they are printed in two overlapping halves each on a 12" by 18" poster. In addition each map is presented as a 22" by 17" PDF file.

The maps have been redrawn from the original in a color style. Instead of the distinct symbols of the original maps, terrain has been drawn as a  transparent fill and vegetation represented by colored areas. This allows both terrain and vegetation to overlap. Representing more accurately the complexity and diversity of the Wilderland's geography.

This release will be followed by the Wilderlands of the Magic Realm in a few weeks covering the next four maps of the Wilderlands.

A preview PDF

The Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde Guidebook

The Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde Color Map

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Updating the OSR Survey

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 15:39
For a long time I had this page attached to the blog. It is a survey of selected sites and links that promoted themselves part of the OSR or were about playing, publishing, or promoting a classic edition of D&D. It needs updating as it still get a significant number of hits

So  calling on the wisdom of the crowd for updated links and additional links to be included. The criteria is either it promotes itself explicitly as part of the OSR or the link is about playing, promoting, or publishing something based on the classic editions of DnD. This includes material like White Star or Star without Numbers.

I will look at the comments made for the next two weeks as well add in my own decisions.

My goal for the survey to give a novice a taste of the range of material and fuel further searches on their own. Along with selected items of personal interest that I wish to highlight.

With 3,000+ works identifying as OSR on RPGNow alone there no way a single individual can hope to present a comprehensive list unless that their primary interest. Even Guy Fullerton with Hoard and Hordes with a narrower focus on material supporting Gygaxian DnD, had to switch to a methodology of "stuff I am aware of" after 2012.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

SJ Games opens the door for The Fantasy Trip

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 01:09

In a very interesting bit of news, SJ Games announced they are going to instituted a limited publishing agreement where fans of TFT can publish on Warehouse 23 and earn royalties.

SJ Games is a pioneer in selling games and gaming PDFs on-line. At first through their e23 site and then later through their combined Warehouse 23 store. And both were open to other publishers and their games.

I had the opinion for a long time, that unlike other game companies their existing infrastructure allowed them open out their RPG and give them additional options than just throwing everything into the OGL or into the hands of another company. I am glad they are taking advantage of that for the The Fantasy Trip.

And hopefully if TFT goes well, GURPS is next. Expect a post breaking things down when the Limited Publishing Agreement is posted.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How much detail at the start of a campaign?

Mon, 08/06/2018 - 15:19
One thing many referee wrestle with is how much detail to give about the setting? The short answer is that as much as they need. Yet that not helpful because the execution can be challenging. Why? It not a one size fits all. Different players have different level of interest even within the same group.

What I been doing for the past five or six years is regardless of the system I am using I try to come up with a concise list of classes/templates, and races/cultures. I pitch possible areas of the setting where they can start at along with various initial situation. Through a back and forth conversation we arrive at a consensus.

Then I do a informal pre-game interview with each player to gauge want they want to play and their level of interest. From that I give them what they need to generate the character, write up a background giving what their character know from their point of view. Both presented as tersely as possible.

Example from a recent campaign
  • a halfling knight riding a pig as a mount from Limerick Shire. 
  • A cleric of Hamakhis, a death god, who left temple and the demands of his father to become a pirate on the high seas. Still wants to serve Hamakhis and eventually gain enough power to become the next Vecna (i.e. my setting's equivalent). for the greater glory of Hamakhis.
Two of the players had a greater interest in their character background.
  • A merchant adventurer striking out on his own from his merchant house. He is not one good terms with his father. This was followed by a two page write up of what he knew about the economics, merchants, and trade details of the region. Most of it was traveller style lists.
  • The second player wanted to play a full blood Viridian, a demonic race that part of my Majestic Wilderlands. He is essentially a underground mage. He was bought by his master and trained as a artificer, a type of magic user in my setting, eventually winning enough of his respect to win his freedom. They parted on friendly terms and have a patron client relationship. He got a page on how the underground magic society of black magic, demonic sorcery, etc of Viridistan the City State of the ex World Emperor (killed by PCs two decades ago in real time). 

I tweaked each of their backgrounds so they had reason to cooperate on their broad goals .

Beyond that all I gave them a concise write up of the larger world. i.e. City State of the Invincible Overlord to the east, Desert to the south, and so forth and so on. Try to limit to a paragraph or two.

Basically a even more concise version what I wrote in my Majestic Wilderlands supplement throwing everything that a inhabitant of Viridistan Region would not know.

Oh and there were maps accompanying all this just because I like doing that sort of thing.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

My first Fantasy Trip Aid also useful for GURPS and Dungeon Fantasy

Fri, 07/27/2018 - 19:11
A long time ago I made a set of customized graph paper to use with GURPS after I purchased the Cardboard Heroes: Dungeon Floors.

As you can see from the image below, SJ Games cleverly squashed the hexes to allow them to align with a rectangular grid. I drew up some graph paper so I can easily draw dungeons for my Majestic Wilderlands when I used GURPS as the rules.

After pledging to the The Fantasy Trip kickstarter I found a copy of In the Labyrinth for a reasonable price on eBay and bought it. In there and in the original Wizard which I also have. The Fantasy Trip has the concept of magahexes, a larger hex encompassing seven small hexes. It is used to adjudicate long ranges, area spells and other effects.

So I pulled out the old file and added a layer with Mega Hex border.

You can download it from here.

It is layered with the border, hexes, megahexes, and grid on separate layers. The advantage of this is that you can draw or transpose dungeon laid out on a grid to use with the hex map format of GURPS or The Fantasy Trip.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Fantasy Trip Kickstarter is live

Mon, 07/23/2018 - 17:28
The Fantasy Trip, Melee, and Wizard are among the first games designed by Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games. They fairly rule lite using 3d6 (roll low) to resolve combat and magic. It is also one of the first line of games to straddle the line between RPGs and Wargames. Melee and Wizard are two standalone wargames. Melee focuses on a quick system to resolving melee fights between combatants. While Wizards focuses on magical duels with spells.

Into the Labyrinth combines and extends these wargames into a complete RPG known as the Fantasy Trip using Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard to handle combat and magic along with additional rules like talents.

It was originally published by Metagaming but went out of print when the company went under in the early 1980s. US copyright laws allows authors after several decades (30+ years in this case) to recover copyright to their work. Steve Jackson took advantage of this provision to acquire the rights to the original rules of the Fantasy Trip along with the right to other parts of the line he wrote like Tollenkar's Lair, and the two Death Test solo adventures.

Now Steve Jackson Games has launched a kickstarter to get all three games including Tollenkar's Lair back in print.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Perfect Storm

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 01:51
So the complications are stacking up in my friend Dwayne's Middle Earth campaign using his 3d6 house system.

At one particularly dramatic moment a NPC received shocking information from a PC. I quipped "You should roll percentile and if a 1 come up the guy has a heart attack".

Dwayne rolled a 1.

The NPC died of a massive heart attack right then and there.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and the Hall of Judgment

Fri, 07/13/2018 - 12:27
The latest from Douglas Code is a kickstarter for an adventure for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy called the Hall of Judgment. It is an adaptation and revision of his earlier adventure Lost Hall of Tyr for the GURPS system. It is noteworthy because in part it is an experiment by SJ Games to see how 3rd party publisher support will be received by the fans of GURPS and how it will work out in the long run.

So far the kickstarter has been a success and it is now in it's last 24 hours. If you are a fan of GURPS and fantasy I recommend checking it out. Doug has a passion for Viking myth and legend and it shows in his previous works giving them a distinct feel. He knows GURPS inside and out and the mechanics side of the adventure will be solid. Finally he mastered the tricky art of making full color layouts and his books are a treat to read.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

It goes where? An idea seed for a science fiction campaign.

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 19:23
In the late 21st century, humanity has a tentative foothold within the solar system. There are thousands of humans living off planet scattered throughout the Earth-Moon system and a few transitory outposts on Mars and various near earth asteroids.

On July 6th 2089, observatories and astronomical satellites start tracking a high energy source inbound into the Solar system. Within 5 years it was clear that it was decelerating and would soon enter solar orbit. Over a dozen probes were developed and launched. Finally in 2098, the object entered into a solar orbit between Neptune and Uranus and ceased emitting energy. What remained was a small localized area where gravity was distorted. Barely detectable as stars and planets moved behind the object and then suddenly shifted back to their normal position once they emerged from behind.

The first probes reached the object in May of 2101, what they detected amazed everybody, it was a mechanism of alien manufacture creating an opening to a stable Rosen-Einstein bridge or wormhole several hundred meters in diameter. Upon further investigation the first transit was attempted and when the probe return and its data was analyzed the results were electrifying. It was not just a bridge through space but time as well.

The other end of the wormhole was in the orbit around Earth, Earth of 65 million years ago.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Recommendations for the original Wilderlands of High Fantasy

Mon, 06/25/2018 - 13:37
On a forum I was asked for a list of what original Judges Guild supplements were useful for a Wilderlands campaign. So I made a list along with my recommendations.  I may have missed one or two.

You can read the details on each of these at the Acaeum's excellent reference site.

The City States
City State of the Invincible Overlord
City State of the World Emperor (includes Map 6)

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy
Wilderlands of High Fantasy
Map 6 is found in CSWE
Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde
Wilderlands of the Magic Realm
Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches

The Wilderness Series
Mines of Custalcon
Spies of Lightelf
Pirates of Hagrost
Shield Maidens of Sea Rune
Witches Court Marshes

Book of Treasure Maps
Book of Treasure Maps II
Book of Treasure Maps III
Lost Man's Trail
Prey of Darkness
Tegel Manor

City State Adventures
Glory Hole Dwarven Mine
Wraith Overlord: Terror Beneath the City State

City State Warfare
Fantastic Personalities
Sea Steeds & Wave Riders
Wondrous Weapons
Ready Ref Sheets

Pegasus Magazine
Each had a Wilderlands supplement/adventure

Some issues had Wilderlands info.

For a novice looking at the originals my recommendation is to get them in the following order:

  • CSIO
  • Wilderlands of High Fantasy
  • Ready Ref Sheets
  • Book of Treasure Maps
  • Mines of Custalon
  • Tegal Manor
  • Glory Hole Dwarven Mine

If you find them useful and fun then get the rest of the Wilderlands Maps, and whatever else interests you.
The hardest and most expensive to find will be the City State of the World Emperor which has Map Six CSWE,. Luckily my revised Fantastic Wilderlands Beyonde will be out in a few weeks and will Map Six in it.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs