10 April, 2009

Today’s Tabbloid
PERSONAL NEWS FOR riorio2@rogue-games.net ROGUE FEED

More Sad News
APR 09, 2009 07:20P.M. Jerry Mapes, founder of the Knights & Knaves Alehouse, one of the primary forums of the old school renaissance, has passed away. Like Dave Arneson, I suspect many gamers, even those of the grognard persuasion, have no idea who Jerry was or what he contributed to this hobby. I never met him in person and my dealings with him were limited to a few emails here and there, along with posts over at K&K. But Jerry’s work in establishing the Alehouse, as well as his tireless efforts to keep it running smoothly, helped create some of the conditions that led to OSRIC and I dare say much of what we now term “the old school renaissance.” He may not have been a household name, even in our little corner of the Web, but he contributed far more than most of us realize. His loss will be felt deeply and all of us who have derived fun and enjoyment from the resurgence of old school gaming in recent years should mourn his passing.

launch this new project. Dave Arneson is the patron saint of, among other things, dungeons. He’s the original Dungeon Master, the creator of the first dungeon ever published in an official D&D product from TSR. How better to honor his legacy than to begin a new dungeon? Amityville Mike of The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope seems to agree with me. Megadungeon.net will be dedicated to Dave Arneson’s memory. I have several ideas about how I plan to do so, but I’m going to take some time to sort through them all. The megadungeon of Urheim is going to grow slowly and organically anyway, so there’s no rush in settling on a fitting memorial to the co-creator of D&D. At present, what you’ll find at Megadungeon.net is the structure on which the whole project will be constructed. There are maps, background information, introductions — overview material, by and large. The “meat” of Urheim will start appearing over the next few days. I encourage anyone who wishes to add to it to send me their ideas and I’ll do my best to include them somewhere in the dungeon, with attribution. I’ve already posted some rumors I received from readers. If you’d like the attribution to include a link to a website, blog, or email address, please let me know and I’ll make sure the site is updated accordingly. I sincerely hope that Urheim will grow immensely with the help of others and that the end result will be something that pays tribute to the “founder of our feast,” Dave Arneson, without whom none of us would be here.

ROGUE FEED

Megadungeon.net
APR 09, 2009 02:33P.M. Megadungeon.net is now online. I’d intended to announce this much sooner, but the news first of Dave Arneson’s turn for the worse, followed soon thereafter by his death, gave me pause. I continue to believe that Dave was one of the great unsung heroes of this hobby. It’s a pity he wasn’t more well known and regarded before he passed away. If there’s any consolation to my having announced his death several hours early, it’s that he might have had the chance to see how beloved he was by many of us. I like to think that he embarked on his greatest adventure knowing that he’d done good in his life and touched more people’s lives in a positive way than he could ever have known. I don’t want to take anything away from the focus on Dave and his accomplishments. He deserves all the attention and accolades he’ll be receiving in the coming days and weeks. That’s why I initially planned to hold off on getting Megadungeon.net up and running this week, as I’d originally intended. But then I realized that, as “the innovator of the ‘dungeon adventure’ concept,” there was probably no better time to

ROGUE FEED

RIP Dave Arneson
APR 09, 2009 02:27P.M.

By now the news has been heard. Dave has passed away. I was very lucky to have the privilege of working for him when I was employed by Zeitgeist Games. Having the change to speak with Dave and learn from him is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I still remember the shock of having a figure from my childhood call me. I am very sad by this. I have no words to express what I am feeling like.

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10 April, 2009

James said it best when he wrote: I can’t help but think the hobby might have been richer had Dave Arneson’s vision of fantasy not been relegated to the sidelines. ROGUE FEED All I can add. All I can say is: Thank you. Thank you for your creation. Thank you for your time. Thank your for lessons. I learned a lot from talking with you, and working for you. I roll the dice in your honor and memory.

Rogue Games bids you to enter the dungeon.
APR 09, 2009 12:25P.M.

Posted in Life Tagged: thoughts (Chicago & Toronto) April 8, 2009. The Rogues of Rogue Games is please to announce the launching of Megadungeon.net. ROGUE FEED First conceived on James Maliszewski’s Grognardia, Megadungeon.net is an exercise in collaborative dungeon building. Over the course of the coming weeks and months, the site will present a growing old school megadungeon. Although its native rules set is Swords & Wizardry, available as a free download from Mythmere Games, rules content will be light, making it usable with almost any fantasy roleplaying game. More importantly, the entirety of the content on Megadungeon.net (except artwork and cartography) is designated Open Game Content under the Open Game License. This means that anyone can freely use content from Megadungeon.net as they wish, including their own published products, provided they abide by the terms of the OGL. More importantly, Megadungeon.net is free of charge — no subscriptions, no fees, no cost. Once content is done and posted, it is there for anyone to use in any manner they choose. In addition, everyone is invited to contribute to Megadungeon.net, providing room descriptions, monsters, spells, magic items, maps, artwork — you name it. The goal of this project is to produce a dungeon resource unlike any other. So the question remains. Do you dare to enter the dungeon? Posted in Games, Rogue Games Tagged: © 2009 Rogue Games, news, Rogue Games

Rogue Games bids you to enter the dungeon.
APR 09, 2009 01:00P.M.

(Chicago & Toronto) April 8, 2009. The Rogues of Rogue Games is please to announce the launching of Megadungeon.net. First conceived on James Maliszewski’s Grognardia, Megadungeon.net is an exercise in collaborative dungeon building. Over the course of the coming weeks and months, the site will present a growing old school megadungeon. Although its native rules set is Swords & Wizardry, available as a free download from Mythmere Games, rules content will be light, making it usable with almost any fantasy roleplaying game. More importantly, the entirety of the content on Megadungeon.net (except artwork and cartography) is designated Open Game Content under the Open Game License. This means that anyone can freely use content from Megadungeon.net as they wish, including their own published products, provided they abide by the terms of the OGL. More importantly, Megadungeon.net is free of charge — no subscriptions, no fees, no cost. Once content is done and posted, it is there for anyone to use in any manner they choose. In addition, everyone is invited to contribute to Megadungeon.net, providing room descriptions, monsters, spells, magic items, maps, artwork — you name it. The goal of this project is to produce a dungeon resource unlike any other. So the question remains. Do you dare to enter the dungeon?

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10 April, 2009

ROGUE FEED

An Early Testimonial
APR 09, 2009 12:16P.M. Dave Arneson ... Is there really such a creature? Yes, Gentle Readers, there is, and shudder when the name is spoken. Although he is a man of many talents who has authored many historic rules sets and games, Dave is also the innovator of the “dungeon adventure” concept, creator of ghastly monsters, and inscrutable dungeonmaster par excellence. He devises complex combat systems, inexplicable dungeon and wilderness areas, and traps of the most subtle fiendishness. Herein you will get a taste of these, but he never reveals all. This writer always looks forward with great anticipation to an adventure in the “Blackmoor” campaign, for despite the fact that I co-authored the original work with Dave, and have spent hundreds of hours creating and playing DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, it is always a fresh challenge to enter his “world”. I can not reccomend him more highly than simply saying that I would rather play in his campaign than any other - that other dungeonmasters who emulate Dave Arneson will indeed improve their games. While eagerly anticipating yet more material from dread “Blackmoor Castle”, the following pages should satisfy your immediate craving for new ideas. Those of you totally committed to the fantasy adventure game may expect additional supplements from time to time; and isn’t that dark shape crouched over the desk of blackened oak laughing fiendishly as glowing runes flow from his quill, remarkably similar to Arneson’s? E. Gary Gygax TSR Games Editor Lake Geneva, Wisconsin 1 September 1975

We are in the process of making final arrangements and will provide additional details as we work them out. We will continue to receive cards and letters in Dave’s honor. We are planning to hold a public visitation so that anyone wishing to say their goodbye in person has the opportunity to do so. Cards and letters can continue to be sent: Dave Arneson 1043 Grand Avenue Box #257 St. Paul, MN 55105 Visitation will be on April 20th Time: yet to be determined Address: Bradshaw Funeral Home 687 Snelling Avenue South St. Paul, MN 55105 Link to the original post (which the family checks regularly).

ROGUE FEED

[Lost Works] Lustria, Part 1
APR 08, 2009 11:57P.M.

One of my favorite games, to play and run, is Game Workshops Warhammer FRP. This game taught me a lot, both in structure and setting. It also is the game where I cut my design teeth, and it introduced me to the concepts of dark fantasy. It was also the game that inspired me to design games as a vocation, and I owe a lot to WFRP for introducing me to people who I count as some of my best friends. For as long as I can remember the concept of Lustria has been one that I could not shake. I worked with it in many forms, and what follows appeared in the fanzine Carnel (which by the way, I cannot recommend this fanzine enough) , as well as the long running Alarums and Excursions (A&E). Since both of these two publications are hard to come by, I felt this is a perfect example of what I should run as a Lost Work. If you are new to the concepts found in old school GW WFRP, or if you want a walk down memories lane, this is going to be a treat. For me it is strange seeing this appear again — I am no longer the person who once wrote this. Discovery of Lustria

ROGUE FEED

David L. Arneson Passed On
APR 09, 2009 03:14A.M. From the family: Shortly after 11pm on Tuesday, April 7th, Dave Arneson passed away. He was comfortable and with family at the time and his passing was peaceful. The Arneson family would like to thank everyone for their support over the last few days, and for the support the entire community has shown Dave over the years.

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10 April, 2009

The first known record of Lustria’s discovery was -4419 I.C. when the High Elf explorer Anurell Seaspirit set foot on the southern tip of the continent. On the tip of the peninsula the High Elfs built what is known as the Citadel of Dusk. The citadel was initially established to monitor activity in the Southern Chaos Wastes. Thousands of years later it still stands protecting a critical point of the Ulthuan-Cathy sea lane and providing a safe port for all sea-faring Elf ships. It was not until the spring of 2410 I.C. that the Norse adventurer and pirate Losteriksson set foot on the shores of the Isthmus of Lustria. How or why he set sail for here is unknown. Some believe that Losteriksson’s boat was caught in a storm and blown off course. Turned around, he sailed where he thought Norsca was only located to find himself in a strange land. Some contend, actually it is the Norse who contend, that it was a vision from Ulrich that pointed Losteriksson toward this new land. Some joke that Losteriksson was simply drunk, and sailed west instead of east. Regardless of why he sailed there, a small colony named Skeggi was founded and to this day the Norse are still based here. Skeggi trades with Hexoutl, and fends off occasional attacks by High Elfs and Dark Elfs. Six months after the Norse arrival, the Tilean explorer Marco Columbo “discovered” Lustria. Columbo claimed the land in the name of his sponsor the Queen of Estalia and became wealthy from the gold and jewels discovered. Columbo did not deal fairly in his trading with the Slann. To make matters worse, he sent his men into the jungles to steal gold works and other sacred objects from the cities. After many years of dealing with these raids, Lord Crok of Tlaxtlan sent a large force to Columbo Island to kill the humans. It is because of Columbo’s actions that the High Elfs consider the Old World explorers interlopers and nothing more than pirates. It is Columbo’s actions that caused the Elfs to institute their policy of sinking any Old World ship bound to and from Lustria. This policy worked for many years, but it has been only in the past twenty that the Elfs have shown an inability to maintain it. With the success of the Skeggi colony it was decided that the Norse should establish further colonies in Lustria. The first colony was founded in 2442 I.C. at the mouth of the Amoco River and named Iquitos. With its prime location at the mouth of Amoco River, Iquitos became a major trading port. Regular shipments of goods leave the cities docks for the Old World; in addition barges can be seen sailing up river to the Lizardmen city of Chaqua. Iquitos success led to another settlement founding. Located on the Ljunger River, a tributary of the Amoco, Vastervik was established in 2498 I.C. The settlement is located to the north of Iquitos, and is nothing more than a heavily fortified village. Vastervik is a major farming region and this is due to its prime soil. The bulk of the Lustrian Cigars that are shipped to the Old World originates from here. The High Elfs hold the exclusive rights to all goods in Lustria try to keep others out of the land. Yet the Elfs are a dying race and their ability to limit Old Worlder activity is slowly weakening. Still explorers from the Old World have come and pillaged some of the ruined Slann cities, and

these thieves are always hunted down and killed. The Lizardmen track down the warm bloods that manage to escape the jungles to their own lands. How the Lizardmen get there is anyone’s guess. It is rumored that the Slann use ancient magical gates to send the Lizardmen war parties after these thieves. Birth of the Lizardmen My brothers we are Slann. Though the young races may not know us, or if they do, they underestimate us. We are Slann; we are the children of the Old Ones. It is us who they entrusted The Great World Plan. It is us who have worked all these years to ensure it is carried out. Do not talk to me of the upstart Elfs. We are older. We have endured. When the Elfs are no more, it is we who will still be here. - Lord Rupt, Slann of the 2nd Spawning In days long ago a frozen wasteland of a planet spun in the cosmos untouched. The only life found was Lizardmen, Troglodytes and Cold Ones living deep underground. A group of travelers known as the Old Ones traveled to this via the Wrap Gates. Once they arrived they began the process of encouraging the development of the races that exist today. Their first task was to make the planet habitable. To do so they shifted the orbit of the planet. This shift melted the ice, and created an environment hospitable to life above ground. The Old summoned through the Warp Gates the Slann, who helped in carrying out The Great World Plan. Realizing that more Slann would be needed, the Old Ones constructed breeding pools throughout Lustria the long Slann spawning process could begin. While waiting for the New Slann to emerge from the breeding pools, the Old Slann saw a need for servants. These servants would help in the day-to-day operation of the empire and would free the Slann to meditate on the teachings of the Old Ones. Seeing a need for strength and power they decided to tinker with the Troglodyte genetic code to create a new race. Great breeding pools were created and experiments were conducted. It took many years of experimentation until success was achieved in the form of the Kroxigors. Tall and powerful the Kroxigors were ideally suited for heavy lifting and as troops in the Slann’s armies. In addition, due to some quirk in the maturation process, the Kroxigors were able to swim and breathe both above and below water. There was one drawback to this race-they were stupid. Disappointed, yet not discouraged, the Old Slann started another round of experimentation. This time the Slann adapted the underground living Lizardmen to a life above ground. The goal was to breed a strong, yet smarter Lizardmen. The results were a partial success when the Saurus emerged from the pools. Weaker then the Kroxigors, the Saurus were smarter, but only by a little. Saurus were able to take orders and follow directions, but could not reason for themselves. The Saurus made perfect laborers and guards for the Slann, and it was decided that the bulk of the Slann armies would be made up of this race. Still not happy with their results, the Old Slann went back to the pools one more time.

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10 April, 2009

A new set of breeding pools were built and this time the Old Slann looked to the newts populating the surrounding jungle. Using powerful magic and technology the Old Slann mutated the brain of the developing race known as Skinks. Emerging from the pools the Skinks were smaller and weaker than the other Lizardmen. What they lacked in muscle, they made up for with their increased brain matter. Like the Kroxigors, the Skinks were able to breathe both above and below water. They were also able to read and write in their own language and learn how to read and write the language of the Slann. The Skinks were perfectly suited to serve not only as scribes, but also fill administrative roles within the Slann Empire. By the time the first spawning of Kroxigors, Saurus and Skinks were in place the first native Lustrian Slann emerged from the pools. The Old Slann who traveled through the Warp Gate were known as the First Spawning, and this new group became known as the Second Spawning. More Slann were spawned until they reached the Fifth Spawning. These Slann emerged from the pools after the Warp Gates collapsed and the Old Ones disappeared. The Old Ones were pleased with their success, and taught the Slann the ways of magic. The Old Ones also shared The Great World Plan with the Slann as well. This was done so that the knowledge of the Old Ones would live on, so that each new spawning would know what is to come and what needs to be done. The Slann of the First Spawning inscribed on plaques of gold The Great World Plan, and every temple city regardless of size and importance, has a copy of these plaques. The plaques are sacred to the Slann, and are guarded at all times. Because the plaques have been copied so many times, no two copies are alike. This lack of quality control has led to discrepancies in the interpretation of The Great World Plan. Often, as was the case with the Prophecy of Sotek, Slann in neighboring temple cities find prophecies that no one knew about. It is the discrepancies in the plaques that have prevented the Slann from rising to a greater position of power in the world today. Posted in Games Tagged: Games, Lost Works, Lustria, thoughts, Warhammer FRP

ROGUE FEED

Sadly, This is Accurate
APR 08, 2009 11:36P.M. I just received an email directly from Dave Arneson’s family, who asked me to share the following: Shortly after 11pm on Tuesday, April 7th, Dave Arneson passed away. He was comfortable and with family at the time and his passing was peaceful. The Arneson family would like to thank everyone for their support over the last few days, and for the support the entire community has shown Dave over the years. We are in the process of making final arrangements and will provide additional details as we work them out. We will continue to receive cards and letters in Dave’s honor. We are planning to hold a public visitation so that anyone wishing to say their goodbye in person has the opportunity to do so. Cards and letters can continue to be sent: Dave Arneson 1043 Grand Avenue Box #257 St. Paul, MN 55105 Visitation will be on April 20th Time: yet to be determined Address: Bradshaw Funeral Home 687 Snelling Avenue South St. Paul, MN 55105 Farewell, Mr Arneson; you will be missed. I hope that, at the very least, yesterday’s outpouring of affection for you and your contributions to our hobby cheered you in your final hours. You were one of a kind.

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10 April, 2009

ROGUE FEED

Role-Playing Must Be Fun
APR 08, 2009 10:27P.M. This gradually became, within the past few years, how all instances of evolution of the game’s design have been explained to the masses. D&D is a game that ought to be fun. To increase the fun, it thus needs to be faster in game play. It needs to be easier to grasp. It needs to provide all sorts of elements that help players and DMs imagine as quickly as they possibly can, with the most “fun” value out of it. Okay, I guess, but... what kind of “fun” are we, in fact, talking about? Never, in the last edition’s text, do we get a comprehensive explanation of what, exactly, is supposed to be fun when playing role-playing games. I suspect that’s where the fallacy of Fourth Edition began: the challenge of 4e’s “design team” was to pick up Third Ed and instantly wonder “how do we get this game to be more fun?” rather than “what makes roleplaying games fun?” in the first place! I suspect that the fun that makes one play role-playing games has in fact nothing to do with “game balance” (which truly means “rules’ balance in a vacuum” - maybe more about this later). It has nothing to do with the relative complexity of a game system, though it can affect the long term engagement of a player with a particular game. Nope.

This “wow” factor of “Yes! This time and forevermore, *I* get to be Jack climbing the beanstalk!” This has been ignored in game design for some time now in favor of a self-contained, self-contaminated, self-inflicted obsession about the rules and how these rules bring about fairness, choices, support to the fun of the game. This is my theory, and this is why I think it is valuable to get back to the Lake Geneva campaign as a sort of cartharsis to our own first roleplaying experiences. A way to understand why role-playing was so fun in the first place, and how, so that we can make our own games profit from this experience and become more “fun” themselves. I suspect this post may be quite controversial to some people, and to tell you the truth, this is fully intended. Am I wrong in thinking this way? Then please, tell me so by leaving your comments! Whatever your thoughts may be, I hope you will share them and fuel this conversation. I feel this is part of the reasons why we are all here.

ROGUE FEED

AGP Customer Appreciation Sale
APR 08, 2009 05:17P.M. James Mishler of Adventure Games Publishing has announced a Customer Appreciation Sale. All sixteen of AGP’s products are now reduced in price as a way to say thank you for those who’ve purchased them in the past. I’ve reviewed most of AGP’s products here in the past, so here’s a handy set of links to the individual reviews: 100 Calamitous Curses 100 Exciting Encounters & 100 Treasure Troves 2008 Wilderlands Jam Adventure Games Journal, Issue #1 Aendryth’s Eldritch Compendium Barbarians of the Wilderlands I Forn Sidthr: The Old Custom Martial Artist Class Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands I (Revised Version) Wilderlands Maps James Mishler is one of the hardest working guys in the hobby. His output is amazing both in terms of volume and quality. If you’ve ever thought about buying one of his many terrific products, now’s a good time to do so.

The Fun of role-playing games has to do with that very first day we were given the occasion to play them. It surely varies in tone, feelings and experiences for each and every one of us, but I suspect it always come down to “wow. I can actually be part of the fantasy world“. Some will call it immersion. Others will call it escapism. I prefer, like others, to call it Enchantment with a capital E. Yes. Enchantment.

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10 April, 2009

ROGUE FEED

New Judges Guild Site
APR 08, 2009 03:59P.M. Judges Guild has a very attractive new site. It’s still under construction, but I hope that its appearance presages lots of good things to come from the Guild.

Judges Guild in 1977. Part gazetteer of Blackmoor and its famed dungeon and part rules supplement, FFC is a remarkable peek into another take on D&D, one very different than the Gygaxian paradigm that most of us, consciously or unconsciously, take to be its native idiom. For those of us in the old school movement, this is an invaluable document, not just for the information it provides about the earliest campaign setting in the history of the hobby, but also for the way it presents another way to play OD&D, making Arneson the patron saint of rules modders and home brewers. The First Fantasy Campaign begins, appropriately enough, with an overview of “Blackmoor, the Campaign,” which was a series of wargames scenarios that provided the backdrop for the setting. FFC includes extensive army listings for all the various forces involved (Egg of Coot, Duchy of Ten, Great Kingdom, etc.), including notes about their incomes and costs of upkeep. There’s also an overview of domain management — constructing roads and bridges, laying down sailing ships, exploration, farming, fishing, and much more. It’s a fascinating reminder that D&D‘s roots are in wargaming and not just in a vague “it’s about killing bad guys and taking their stuff” sort of way. As presented in this book, Blackmoor was at least in part an honest-to-goodness exercise in strategy and tactics by the players, as the armies of good and evil contended to determine the fate of the northern provinces of the Great Kingdom. Unfortunately, for all this information, it’s unclear what rules set Dave and his players used to adjudicate these battles. One assumes Chainmail but that’s not a certainty. FFC continues with descriptions — but no stats — for “Blackmoor’s More Infamous Characters.” These characters include heroes and villains alike, at least some of whom, such as Mello and the Great Svenny, were PCs in the Blackmoor campaign. Following it is a description of Blackmoor Town, along with a map. Blackmoor Castle itself also gets a description, complete with a history and sketches of its “haunted rooms and the like,” as the text calls them. After that, there is a large section devoted to the “outdoors in Blackmoor.” This section includes methods for generating your own wilderness map and encounters that are similar to but differ from those included in OD&D. They’re quite fascinating in their own right, but are even moreso for insights into the almost-improvisational way Dave ran and developed the Blackmoor campaign. This was not a campaign with a grand plan or story but one whose elements evolved through the rough and tumble of actual play, with luck playing as big a role as choice by players or referee. I found this section very fascinating. The “Blackmoor Dungeons” section begins with a brief historical overview of the dungeon (starting in Winter 1970). This is followed by discussions of notable inhabitants, such as Sir Fang the Vampire and the elves who maintain the barricades preventing the dungeon’s inhabitants from terrorizing Blackmoor Town. Gamers used to a more straitlaced and serious approach to world building will no doubt find much that offends their sensibilities (turnstiles to enter the dungeon, holy water hoses, souvenirs, etc.) and I’ll admit that it’s a fair bit more over the top than I’d ever use in my own campaign. But one must remember that Blackmoor predates all the conventions we’ve come to associate with fantasy gaming; its participants were creating it on the fly, drawing on every inspiration available to them and without regard for concerns

ROGUE FEED

Retrospective: The First Fantasy Campaign
APR 08, 2009 02:45P.M.

Although Supplement II to OD&D was entitled Blackmoor, the book described very little of the setting of Dave Arneson’s fantasy campaign. That task was taken up by The First Fantasy Campaign, published by

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10 April, 2009

other than having fun. I think we need reminders from time to time that the true origin of our hobby is fun and all the philosophizing and debating in the world is but straw in comparison. Two dungeons are included in FFC. The first is Castle Blackmoor itself, consisting of 10 levels, although the text indicates that there are at least 15 more levels beyond what is described. These levels each get a map and key, along short entries detailing monsters and treasures. The second dungeon is a small one beneath Glendower, which consists of only four levels. Both dungeons are not highly detailed and their maps are more like sketches than exhaustively drawn works of cartographic art. Again, many gamers might be disappointed with these maps, but to expect precision from them is, I think, to misunderstand the nature of early gaming, which was much more “seat of the pants” than many realize. Notes were kept but they were brief, intended to jog the memory more than anything else. This section of FFC reflects that. The final portions of The First Fantasy Campaign are a grab bag of rules and ideas: magic swords, Gypsy sayings and chance cards, a discussion of how the OD&D magic system is interpreted in Blackmoor, the “wine, women, and song” rules for earning experience points for gold. There are also maps of Svenson’s Freehold, expanded rules for dragons, vampires, and other creatures, among other tidbits. FFC truly is an eclectic product. What I think is most notable and praiseworthy about The First Fantasy Campaign is the way it preserves and communicates, warts and all, what it was like to play at the dawn of the hobby. The rules presented here are quirky and flavorful, one part Chainmail, one part OD&D, and one part imaginative improvisation. The setting itself is highly impressionistic. Macro details are few and far between; most of the information pertains to individual locations within the setting, with the implication that other information will be created as needed rather than determined in advance of use. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate this style of gaming much more than I would have in my youth. Consequently, I am sure that many will look on FFC with some disappointment at its seemingly random approach to a variety of topics, including world building. For me, though, that’s part of its charm. This most emphatically isn’t a polished product or an attempt at brand building. It’s the notebook of one highly imaginative and eccentric referee, offered up for the world to see rather than to pick up and use “out of the box.” Like OD&D itself, using The First Fantasy Campaign for onself is an exercise in active engagement with the text rather than simply reading it and following its instructions. There are no instructions in this book, just as there were no instructions to OD&D. Each person who reads it must of necessity make of it what they will. Like Dave Arneson himself, it’s a pity more people aren’t familiar with this product and its unique approach. I think the hobby might have been a very different place if they had been.

ROGUE FEED

The Latest — and Accurate — Information About Dave Arneson
APR 08, 2009 02:49A.M. The following information was passed on to me directly by a member of Dave Arneson’s family: As of this writing, Dave is still with us. We have moved him into a facility where we can focus on keeping him comfortable. We have been and will continue to watch the forums and blogs and are passing along everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Right now our focus is on getting Dave into the best possible position to maintain his comfort and his dignity. We will update the community as we can. We want to thank everyone for your thoughts and prayers and ask that you continue to send Dave your support in whatever form that means to you. An address has been established to receive messages to Dave. Dave Arneson 1043 Grand Avenue Box #257 St. Paul, MN 5510 The family has asked that all of us who care about Dave wait patiently for news from them, as they are the only wholly reliable source of information. Given the misinformation to which I contributed today, I think that’s a very sensible policy and one by which I’ll happily abide. My thanks to his family for contacting me directly and for being very understanding about the mess I contributed to. I still feel very bad about it.

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10 April, 2009

ROGUE FEED

Dave Arneson is Still with Us
APR 07, 2009 10:46P.M. The report of Dave’s death I received was apparently mistaken. I had been told by someone who had worked with Dave in recent years that Dave had passed away earlier today, but this seems not to be the case. He is currently in a hospice where he is being cared for at this time. I am both glad to hear that Dave is not dead, as I was led to believe, and rather mortified at my having posted this information before it had been confirmed by a second source. I had no reason to doubt my original source, given his close proximity to Dave, but apparently I should have. My apologies to everyone to whom my post has caused distress. I can’t begin to describe how embarrassed I feel right now, particularly since I should have known better.

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[Thousand Suns] Foundation Transmissions Beams August 2009
APR 07, 2009 10:43P.M. [BEGIN TRANSMISSION] [HUD CHANNEL ALPHA 4.3.2] [DISPLAY FOUNDATION] The Encyclopedia Galactica Foundation, more commonly known simply as the Foundation, is neither an organ of the State nor a great commercial enterprise. Established shortly after the signing of the Concord, the Foundation produces an encyclopedia of all knowledge, selling it to eager readers throughout the Thousand Suns. Here is your chance to read a sampling of the innumerable articles Foundation researchers produce each standard year. [DISPLAY CONTENTS] The Foundation’s mission is an important one: collect data, document it, and codify it for the betterment of all species. This latest regular update to the Encyclopedia continues that mission by providing information on many topics of interest, including • The Aurigan: A new alien species/encounter

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• Moving Through the Ranks — Military Ranks in Thousand Suns • Custom Weapons • Custom Protection • A Spacefarer: Introduction to Lingua Terra • The Ways of Scheming • Robots • Guide to the Core Worlds These articles are ready for immediate download to all subscribers of the Encyclopedia Galactica. [END TRANSMISSION] $9.99 RGG 1030, 96 Pages, 6×9 BW Softcover In stores August 2009. Because I tend to write rather dense posts, I like to include illustrations or photographs with them to break up the walls of text. Usually, finding an appropriate image isn’t too hard, but it was in the case of this entry. Type “Dave Arneson” into Google Images and you’ll find comparatively few clear photographs of the man who co-created Dungeons & Dragons. Many of them are impromptu snapshots taken at conventions, often from a great distance. In some ways, that’s a metaphor for Dave’s place in the hobby. Most gamers, even those who joined the hobby after its heyday in the 80s, have at least a vague sense of who Gary Gygax was. But Dave Arneson is probably a mystery to them. They might recognize the name from the title pages of their Third Edition rulebooks or see it as one name among many cursorily listed in Fourth Edition, but it probably doesn’t really mean anything to them. Part of that is because Dave never had a company of his own or a regular magazine column to use as a bully pulpit. Even in this wired age, he rarely ventured forth to answer questions on forums or blogs. He was a very private guy, humble even, and he tended not to toot his own horn, even when he probably ought to have done so. That’s why news of his death hits me harder than I ever expected it would. Unlike Gary, with whom I did have personal interactions, I never met Dave or exchanged emails with him. The extent of my connection was a very brief stint working as developer for the 3e line of Blackmoor products, where he approved an outline for a product I submitted. Beyond that, I knew him only as other gamers my age did: through his writings. Dave’s output was all-too-brief in the field of fantasy roleplaying games. Much of Supplement II is not in fact his work and very few gamers, even older ones, owned his First Fantasy Campaign or

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In Memoriam
APR 07, 2009 08:12P.M.

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Dungeon Master’s Index, let alone his Adventures in Fantasy. His earlier wargames work is even more obscure. It’s a shame that Dave was not better known and appreciated when he was alive. That’s why news of his death hits me harder than I’d imagined it might. It was Dave, after all, who created the concept of the dungeon, without which D&D as we know it would not have been possible. Dave was also the originator of the cleric class, having added it as a foil for a vampire PC, Sir Fang, after having watched one too many Hammer horror films starring Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. Blackmoor was also the first campaign setting and its idiosyncratic character was an inspiration to many people in the early days of the hobby. Dave’s masterpiece was surely “The Temple of the Frog” adventure in Supplement II. I know that, when I read it as a teenager, years after I’d been playing D&D, it came like a bolt from the blue, an amazing piece of creative genre-bending that made a profound impression on me. As I’ve gotten older, I can’t help but think the hobby might have been richer had Dave Arneson’s vision of fantasy not been relegated to the sidelines. I had some hope that Dave’s health might have improved and that he’d take the opportunity to step out from the shadows to tell his story to the gaming public. Goodness knows he deserved more time in the spotlight than he ever got during his life. Till the end, though, Dave remained very private and avoided self-promotion. Psychologically, I guess it just wasn’t in his nature and I can hardly blame him for that, even if I selfishly wish otherwise. There are lots of gaps in our understanding of the early days and Dave was in a unique position to fill them in. That possibility is closed to us and I’m sorry for that, not least because it might have helped people understand the role this man played in founding our collective hobby. He was one of the Titans and now he’s gone. Farewell, Mr Arneson. Thank you for everything.

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My Take
APR 07, 2009 05:28P.M. By now, pretty much everyone with a presence online has weighed in on the latest news from Wizards of the Coast: the company has halted the sale of PDF versions of their products through RPGNow/Drivethrurpg and Paizo’s online stores. As a general rule, I’ve avoided commenting much on what WotC does, primarily because I’m no longer have any interest in their products. My opinion of 4e isn’t a secret, but, since I don’t play the game, I rarely have anything to say about it or the company that produces it. I think this is a pretty good policy. I catch enough flak as it is just talking about old school games and the history of the hobby without inveighing against WotC’s current products and I don’t need that kind of grief. I’m not at all convinced that this move has anything to do with trying to prevent piracy. They may claim that is the case and it’s a convincing claim in light of its occurring on the same day as lawsuits against eight people across the world for illegal distribution of electronic copies of the Player’s Handbook II. But, conspiracy monger that everyone knows I am, I suspect there’s more going on here than that. Most likely, WotC wants to shore up its bottom line and thinks bringing the PDFs back in house, either through their own online storefront or, more likely, as a feature of DDI, is a way to do that. A far more outlandish scenario is that this could be connected in some way to re-organization of the company late last year, when it ceased to be Wizards of the Coast Inc. and became a LLC. I don’t give much credence to the notion that this move was intended to deal with the growing popularity of older editions of the game or to force gamers to migrate to 4e. In the first case, I don’t think WotC cares much about the older editions of the game, which I suspect represent such a tiny fraction of the D&D-playing public as to be insignificant. Likewise, by all accounts, 4e is doing well — perhaps not as well as some in WotC had hoped or expected, but well enough. I doubt that making AD&D or 3e unavailable in PDF is going to convince their buyers to suddenly adopt the new edition if they weren’t interested beforehand. Even if it did, such gamers aren’t numerous enough to make up the difference between 4e’s current level of sales and the hoped for Second Coming of the 80s. That’s why I suspect the move is most likely motivated by a desire to squeeze every last ounce of profit out of “legacy D&D” as they can and that necessitates cutting out the middle men and, quite possibly, using these older products as a carrot to entice their fans into giving DDI a whirl. That said, I think this could, potentially, prove a boon for the old school renaissance. I think there are people out there now who might be more inclined to give Swords & Wizardry or OSRIC a look-see than they were before this announcement. Again, I don’t expect there to be sudden deluge of newcomers to our little corner of the hobby, but I’m sure we’ll see an uptick in sales and interest, at least in the short term. It’d be terrific if it was a lasting surge in our numbers, but I’m not naive enough

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RIP David L. Arneson (19472009)
APR 07, 2009 06:50P.M. I’ve just received word that Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, has passed away. When I have additional information, I’ll post it here, along with a longer post about Dave and his contributions to the hobby.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat ei.

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to believe, let alone hope, that it will be. And that’s about all I have to say on this subject.

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[Rogue Games] Our Pledge to the Gamer
APR 07, 2009 02:43P.M.

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[Rogue Games] Our Pledge to the Gamer
APR 07, 2009 02:44P.M.

So the news about Wizard of the Coast pulling their PDFs and running has hit the web, and gamers are angry. Fear not gamer, because Rogue Games is here, we are still selling our PDFs, and guess what? They are still as affordable as ever, and we still treat you, the Gamer, with respect. When the Rogues started Rogue Games, our goal was was simple: make our games affordable. We strive to keep our prices low. In addition, we

So the news about Wizard of the Coast pulling their PDFs and running has hit the web, and gamers are angry. Fear not gamer, because Rogue Games is here, we are still selling our PDFs, and guess what? They are still as affordable as ever, and we still treat you, the Gamer, with respect. When the Rogues started Rogue Games, our goal was was simple: make our games affordable. We strive to keep our prices low. In addition, we want you to play our games, and we feel that we should not get in your way when doing that. How are we doing this? Simple: • Every time you buy a hard copy of our games at IPR you get the PDF for free. Forever. Ever. • Our PDF pricing is as follows $9.99, $6.99, $4.99 and $1.00. These prices hold no matter if you buy your PDFs from Indy Press Revolution, Studio 2 Publishing, Drivethrurpg.com, RPGnow.com, e23, and Yourgamesnow.com. • Finally, over the next few weeks our PDFs will be DRM free. Starting with Transmissions from Piper and all products here on out, will be DRM free. Call us crazy, but, we do not care. Why all of this? Simple. We. Want. You. To. Play. Our. Games.

want you to play our games, and we feel that we should not get in your way when doing that. How are we doing this? Simple: • Every time you buy a hard copy of our games at IPR you get the PDF for free. Forever. Ever. • Our PDF pricing is as follows $9.99, $6.99, $4.99 and $1.00. These prices hold no matter if you buy your PDFs from Indy Press Revolution, Studio 2 Publishing, Drivethrurpg.com, RPGnow.com, e23, and Yourgamesnow.com. • Finally, over the next few weeks our PDFs will be DRM free. Starting with Transmissions from Piper and all products here on out, will be DRM free. Call us crazy, but, we do not care. Why all of this? Simple. We. Want. You. To. Play. Our. Games. Strange concept, we know, but that is the truth.

ROGUE FEED Strange concept, we know, but that is the truth. Posted in Games, Rogue Games Tagged: © 2009 Rogue Games, news, Rogue Games

[Colonial Gothic Revised] Skill Cost
APR 06, 2009 10:15P.M.

One of the things I wanted to do with Colonial Gothic Revised was make skill buying much clearer and easier to understand. When writing the book, I thought I hit the right tone, but then when play testing

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started, I learned that I did not do the job. This is a good thing, learning that something is not clear, and it allowed me to see an issue from a different perspective. When you work with a game for as long as I have, you start to become blind to some problems. This happens because as a designer, or gamemaster, or player, you already know the rules, and you know how they work, even though they might not be clear. So, after learning that a section was not clear, I went a rewrote it. I like the changes I made, even though I did not change anything. I simply clarified and removed a lot of confusion — I hope. Here is the new section I wrote, I still need to edit it a little more, but this is now added to the game. As previously mentioned, all Heroes begin with 55 Skill Points, which are used to buy skills, as well as to buy additional Ranks in current skills. All skills are associated with one of the five Attributes, and this association is what sets the Skill Cost for the Skill. What is the Base Rank? When purchasing a new skill, the number of Skill Points it costs is equal to half the Skill’s governing Attribute. When purchasing a skill, you have it Rank 1. To raise the number of Ranks in the skill the cost to do so is half cost to buy it at the Base Rank. No starting skill can start more than 1 Ranks above the governing Attribute. To make it easier calculating the Skill Costs, refer to the Skill Cost Table below. By finding the governing Attribute Ranks you can quickly find how much it costs to buy a skill, and how much it costs to raise a skill’s Rank. Skill Cost Table

10 11 12 Base Rank 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 5 5 6 6 Raise 1 Rank 1

Attribute Rank 1 1 1 2 1 3 1 4 2 5 2 6 2 7 3 8 3 9 3

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3 Let’s use an example.

a barbarian? Create a fighter and call him a barbarian. Sometimes the rules at hand are all you need. Posted in Games, thoughts Tagged: game design, Rogue Games,

You want your Hero to able to shoot a bow, so you decide to buy the Archery skill. Archery is associated with the Nimble Attribute, and your Hero has Nimble 6. Using the table above you see that to buy a skill at the Base Rank cost 3 Skill Points. Spending 3 Skill Points you purchase Archery at Rank 1. This Rank now sets all Target Numbers in all Skill Tests associated with Archery. Realizing that Archery 1 is not good enough, you decide to spend more skill points and raise Archery to Rank 6. Using the Skill Cost Table, you see that to raise a Skill costs 2 Skill Points (your Hero has Nimble 6), and to raise Archery to Rank 6 costs 10 Skill Points (2 Skill Points per Rank, 5 Ranks multiplied by 2 Skill Points per Rank equals 15 Skill Points). For more on skills refer to Chapter 3. Ok, so that is the new section. Later this week I want to write about magic, and a slight change I made to it.

thoughts, thousand suns

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Dwimmermount PCs
APR 06, 2009 07:39P.M. I was asked in the comments to my earlier thread to describe the player characters in the Dwimmermount campaign. At present, there are five PCs. They are: Brother Candor (Cleric 3) Str 13 Dex 9 Con 15 Int 12 Wis 15 Cha 16 As you can see from his rather impressive ability scores, Brother Candor was blessed by Lady Luck from birth. He’s the de facto leader of the party of adventurers. He’s the adopted son of an itinerant cleric of Tyche, who followed in his father’s footsteps after he died. Candor recently formally joined the hierarchy of the Lady’s church. His only magic item are a pair of boots of levitation.

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An example of my game design approach
APR 06, 2009 09:52P.M.

Dordagdonar (Elven Adventurer 3) Str 11 Dex 15 Con 9 Int 12 Wis 6 Cha 15 Dordagdonar claims not to have a lot of use for “ephemerals,” as he calls mortal races, but he spends all his time with them. He’s implied that he’s older and more knowledgeable than he appears, but no one else believes him. They keep him around because he’s a good shot with a bow, but his use of magic is much less certain (he cast sleep on Pike, while he was engaged in combat). His magic items consist of chainmail +1 and a wand of paralyzation. Pike (Fighting Man 2) Str 16 Dex 9 Con 14 Int 7 Wis 9 Cha 10 Pike was once a grave digger and took up adventuring as a way to make more money than he earned in his former profession. He still carries the shovel he used in those days. Semi-literate with a weakness for gambling, Pike is nevertheless no fool. He distrusts Dordagdonar and is wary of any plans that involve his entering a room alone without a visible means of escape. His magic items consist of a longsword +1 and a hand axe +1. Iriadessa (Magic-User 2) Str 8 Dex 13 Con 14 Int 14 Wis 10 Cha 8 Iriadessa is a 12 year-old girl who claims she’s actually 15. She joined the

We are releasing a new Thousand Suns supplement this August. The supplement is going to be a meaty little tome filled with new rules and options for the game. Among the rules are rules for robots as player characters. Yes. It will be a simple set of rules to allow for them as playable characters. James did not like my version of the rules: “Create a character, call it a robot.”

Hence, James is writing these rule up. Still, my rule highlights something about me. I feel that any type of character concept can be captured with basic rules. You want to play robot? Create a character like normal and call it a robot. You want to play

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party so that she could escape the wizard to whom her parents had sold her in exchange for a small amount of gold. Rather than wait to see what the wizard had in store for her, she swiped his spellbook and fled, teaching herself the rudiments of magic. She’s cowardly and wary of anything remotely dangerous, which makes her decision to explore Dwimmermount somewhat nonsensical but her command of sleep and charm person spells means she’s occasionally proven her worth. She currently possesses no magic items. Vladimir (Dwarven Warrior 1) Str 13 Dex 11 Con 14 Int 8 Wis 9 Cha 9 Dour and greedy, as you’d expect from a dwarf, Vladimir remains a bit of a cipher compared to his fellow party members. He spends most of his free time — and all of his wealth — carving a son for himself, in accordance with dwarven custom. He’s fond of bad jokes and puns and speaks Common with a peculiar accent. He also doesn’t like goblins, which is why Brakk often disappears whenever Vladimir decides to rejon the party. He currently possesses no magic items.

missed some secret doors or other means of lateral movement, they’ve concluded that “Level 2” is in fact a small sub-level rather than something as extensive as Level 1. Without revealing whether they’re correct or not — my players read this blog — I will say that this line of thinking pleases me, if only because it means they’re thinking of the dungeon as something more than a succession of neatly stacked levels, one on top of the other. The players also concluded that the only way down from “Level 2” is via the passages leading to the pool of black oil. Brother Candor did some investigation into this and determined that the oil is pooled in a large cavern with several connecting passages, some of which also contain oil and some of which contain dry rock. He could see no inhabitants in the oil cavern but he spent minimal time exploring it. He did collect even more of the oil for analysis. In large quantities, the party noticed that the oil isn’t just black but has a sheen to it not unlike quicksilver. When the characters returned to Adamas (which I’ll describe in a moment), they wanted to hire an alchemist to help them identify it. Unfortunately, alchemists are very expensive (250 gp/week) and the characters are cash-poor at the moment. Their explorations of “Level 2” involved a fight with some more beastmen and a giant spider. There were also some fatalities. A poison gas trap claimed the lives of Erik, Ethil, and Hrothgar. It also nearly killed Brother Candor and Iriadessa, both of whom made their saves by the thinnest of margins. The loss of not one but three of their front-line fighting men was a serious blow to the party. They decided they couldn’t continue without first replacing their hirelings (since both Pike and Vladimir were absent this session), so they knew they’d have to ride back to Adamas to do so. They did dispose of all three northern warriors outside of Muntburg, on an alcohol-soaked funeral bier set aflame. These deaths hit home a bit more than had previous ones, partly because Erik and Ethil were jovial, goofy NPCs who talked like Arnie and had quirky personalities. As it turns out, a pair of women’s boots Erik found — and wore — were magical boots of levitation. These were removed from his body and replaced with a different pair of women’s boots before his body was consigned to the flames. “At least he died with his boots on” was a source of several jokes this session. Brother Candor wears the boots now, but claims his plate mail greaves hide their appearance to anyone who doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at his feet. The characters spent time in Adamas hiring new mercenaries. Brother Candor now employs Wulfhere and Dordagdonar employs Brandis. Both are mighty fighting men and cost a fair bit more to hire than did their deceased comrades. Dordagdonar also “upgraded” Henga the ShieldMaiden to the status of henchman. She is now the longest serving NPC in the party, having been used continuously in every session since she first appeared (unlike Brakk, who was absent in two sessions). While in Adamas, the party spellcasters also learned new spells and Brother Candor formally joined the Church of Tyche’s hierarchy. He’s now expected to give over 10% of his loot to the high priest in the City-State in exchange for access to the temple libraries and reduced rates on spells, such as raise dead and the like. I’m not sure he’s convinced it was a good deal in the end, but it’s still too early to tell.

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Curious
APR 06, 2009 05:09P.M. Getting lots of hits from Livejournals today. Not sure what’s up with that.

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Dwimmermount, Session 9
APR 06, 2009 02:01P.M. The ninth session of my Dwimmermount campaign was, once again, given over mostly to exploration. As I’ve mentioned before, the party has been keeping rather detailed maps of the levels into which they’ve ventured. This has proven a boon for them, since these maps have given them a better sense of where secret doors might lie, for example, as well as how features on each level interrelate. I’m positively tickled by this, since it means that the players are paying attention to the environment I’ve created rather than just treating it as scenery in a succession of fight scenes. What the players have noticed is that the level they’re currently on seems rather small compared to Level 1. The first level contained many staircases and other forms of descent that seem not to connect to the portion of Level 2 they’ve explored so far. Indeed, Level 2 appears to have only one direct connection to the level above it. Unless they’ve

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Once again, a good session and one that helped further develop the characters and better establish their place in the world.

ROGUE FEED

distinct ones — all read the same books and authors, creating the common literary culture out of which D&D arose. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a lot of variation from fan to fan and from place to place, but the underlying foundations for those fandoms showed a high degree of commonality. Thus, allusions to certain characters, situations, and authors were all broadly understood rather than being opaque or outright impenetrable. The death of that common culture has, in my opinion, led to the distancing of D&D from its roots to the point of unrecognizability. The story of Baum’s novel is another example of a common culture. I suspect most people in the English-speaking world — certainly in the United States at any rate — know the story and characters of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. When I was a child, in the benighted days before VCRs and cable television, watching the 1939 Victor Fleming movie was an annual ritual, broadcast each year as a network TV special. People could and still do reference this story with the expectation that just about everyone knows what they mean when they do so. That’s what many fantasy and SF stories were like at the dawn of this hobby and it was that kind of ready familiarity that allowed the ideas contained in those three little brown books to catch fire and spread so easily. There’s a catch, of course. When I say that everyone “knows” the story and characters of Baum’s novel, that’s not entirely truthful. The reality is that the 1939 film changes many elements of the original, just as earlier dramatic productions of the story did, often with Baum’s blessing, who regularly wrought his own changes through sequels to the initial book. In Oz fandom — yes, such a thing does exist — there are discussions and debates every bit as vociferous as those in this hobby regarding the merits of such changes, not to mention continuations and reinterpretations by later authors. The Oz books are all in the public domain and have been for some time, allowing the original ideas to be picked up and developed further by any author who wishes to do so, leading to a wide variety of non-Baum Oz tales, some of which stray very far from the original intent — not unlike D&D itself. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is, if nothing else, a powerful example of fantasy world building. The Land of Oz and its inhabitants have no doubt exercised a powerful influence over the imaginations of many a participant in this hobby, including some of its earliest writers. Oz is a “pure” fantasy world — a dreamland (though not literally so in the novels, where it’s clearly a real place) that obeys its own laws and confounds expectations. It’s thus about as far from a naturalistic world as you can get and yet it’s drawn so colorfully that one forgets its inherent unreality and simply accepts it for what it is. This approach to fantasy was much more common in the hobby’s early days, as anyone who reads the ‘zines of the period will know. That’s probably why you can find lots of references to Oz-inspired adventures, items, and monsters in their pages. A full treatment of the Land of Oz as a D&D campaign setting was, in fact, promised in the pages of Dragon for many years but never saw print so far as I am aware. I don’t think there’s any hiding the fact that I miss the days when the hobby had a stronger common culture — when one could allude to “The Tower of the Elephant” or “Ill Met in Lankhmar” and not be met with

Pulp Fantasy Library: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
APR 06, 2009 05:07A.M.

You know me; I love to stretch definitions to the breaking point. In this case, though, I won’t even attempt to argue that L. Frank Baum’s 1900 tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is a pulp fantasy book, because even I’m not addled enough to make that claim. That said, I do think this children’s novel is an important one for our hobby, for reasons I’ll now elucidate. I often say that one of the reasons Dungeons & Dragons has been misunderstood by many gamers (and designers) is because they misunderstand its cultural roots. In the late 60s and early 70s, fantasy and science fiction weren’t as diverse as they are today. Fans of those genres — which were generally considered the same genre rather than

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blank stares, when we could cite Manly Wade Wellman or Henry Kuttner and people would not only know to whom you referred but had actually read their fiction. To the extent that such a common culture exists anymore, it comes from the ouroboros of D&D itself, a substitute for the books and authors that once formed the Common Tongue by which gamers conversed. I’m not sure such days can ever return — the hobby is simply too diverse now — but I long for it just the same.

that led many to seek an education, and often this education was not one based in theology. With the high cost books have in the era before printing, most students could not afford their own books. Students studying theology at a monastery might be given their essential books from the monastic order. In 1228 the General Chapter of the Dominicans ruled that all brothers sent to study at a university had to have three books. These books usually consisted of the Bible, Book of Sentences and Peter Comestor’s Historia Scholostica. Students not attending monasteries or church run universities relied on lending libraries for their books. Lending libraries were private libraries maintained by stationers, who for a fee, copied books and rented text books out by sections. Students would rent a book section by section and make their own copy. This gave the student access to the needed books and allowed them to build their own library of books. University authorities supervised this closely and regulated the fees stationers could charge and the worthiness of the rented texts. Before movable type was invented all books were copied by hand. Monks, or stationers, would copy a book word for word and the process could take months, and in the case of the Bible. Monks would not only copy the text, but illuminate the pages with illustrations and create a work of art. The act of copying was such an expensive endeavor that only the very wealthy could afford to own a book. When movable type was invented this changed, and allowed books to cheaply and quickly be reproduced. In the early Middle Ages the rarity of books, meant that most of a library’s collection consisted of scrolls and loose pages. The contents for these pages were ancient texts dating to the time of the Greeks and Romans and the organization of them was often haphazard. Libraries of this time were very small, and most could store all their books in a locked cabinet. By the late Middle Ages collections became large and libraries were divided into two sections. The main section of the library was known as the magna libraria or public library. This section was a large room where scholars could go to consult a large reference collection of important books. These books could not leave the library and in the case of Merton College, Oxford, the best copy of each book the library owned was chained to the shelves. The second section was a communal library, or parva libraria, and was open at regular hours and loaned out duplicate books and specialized works to members of the institutions. Others could consult these books, but they could not remove them from the library. Libraries spent a great deal of their time safeguarding their collections. From chaining books and locking extra copies in chests, libraries wanted to ensure their books stayed in the library and remained intact. Libraries throughout Europe had many rules dealing with book treatment and storage. In the Sorbonne library, rules prohibited anyone from carrying a light into the library for fear it would cause a fire. Some libraries had rules stating that books had to be arranged in such a way that they were separate from each other. This prevented tightly packed shelves from damaging books as they were used. Swearing of oaths to not damage

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[Lost Works] Libraries and their use in Fantasy RPGs
APR 05, 2009 01:38P.M.

I have a lot of stuff rattling around in my various notebooks and folder. Most of this will never see the light of day. A lot of this material is simply notes for ideas, that at the time of their creation, I thought were good. Sadly after reading through them, most are not worth the effort to type, revise, or even edit Some however, are either small pieces that had no home, or fleshed out articles meant to go someplace else. This is an example of a small piece that had no home, and deals with a subject near and dear to my heart, libraries. Libraries and their use in Fantasy RPGs With the amount of books PCs come into contact with during the course of their adventuring career, the utility of the library is often overlooked. From serving as a springboard for adventures, to research tools for scholarly PCs, the library offers many options to GMs looking to interject something new into their game. Since most fantasy based RPGs are set in a pseudo-Medieval world, libraries from our medieval history can be used as templates for libraries within the game. The question remains: what were libraries like during the Middle Ages, and how can they be used in the game? This article attempts to answer this question. Historically, libraries as we know them, were mostly rare in medieval Europe. When they existed they were typically connected to a monastery, cathedral or church. It was not until the High Middle Ages that libraries became more widespread. The early libraries were mendicant’s libraries. Friars established these libraries and since their vow of poverty did not allow for owning books, friars relied on donations to build their own libraries. The mendicant library was used for education and is considered by many scholars to be the model used for university libraries. During the High Middle Ages, education moved away from the monastery to urban universities. It was the growth of these universities

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Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR riorio2@rogue-games.net

10 April, 2009

books was not unheard of either and the Heidelberg library required anyone wishing to use their library to take such an oath. For people wanting to borrow a book it was customary to pledge another book or item of equal value as a deposit guaranteeing the return of the borrowed book. For some libraries, this was an acceptable arrangement and allowed access to new titles. Monasteries did not lend out their books and threatened to excommunicate monks caught lending books. The church frowned on this and encouraged leniency or annulled penalties so that poor scholars could have access. Some libraries went further and required all borrowers to return a new copy of each book borrowed along with the original. Introducing libraries into a fantasy RPGs is an easy task and all it takes is a little work on the GMs part. Libraries can be a source of adventure. New books can be added by the PCs who are hired by a library to find them. This can be accomplished many ways, but perhaps having the PCs steal books from other libraries offers the most opportunity. Besides being hired to acquire new texts, PCs can be hired to track down books thieves, book vandals and delinquent borrowers. Besides their source of adventure libraries can be used by PCs for research. From researching new spells, or historical facts dealing with a current campaign, the library can be a viable tool for GMs to dispense information. Libraries are a great device for GMs and with a little work they can add a new dimension to games. Posted in Games Tagged: Games, Lost Works, thoughts

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