Sunday, September 26, 2010

Still no Session 9

We got together this past week, but had one no show. I wasn't feeling it with only two players so we broke out a board game instead. It may be two or three weeks before we can try again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Session 8 -- Brief Recap

Two weeks ago, we managed to game, and we are gaming this evening as well. There were only three of us. The session was a bit subdued, it takes time to get back into the dynamic. This is a busy time for all of us, so following is a brief recap.

We picked up at the entrance of the Labyrinth. Nancy, Hargreave, Malic and Osamu pressed forward. There were two brief encounters with fire beetles. An encounter with a grand total of three minotaur nearly did the whole party in. I did not have copies of Osamu nor Malic's stats, I gave the the benefit of the doubt, but most likely, they should be dead. They spent two days healing before pressing onward. Eventually, they mapped out the labyrinth to their satisfaction and found more loot.

Meanwhile, back at the camp, the henchmen had two sets of visitors. First there was a traveling elf with a human porter. The elf has heard rumor that an elf named Malic is nearby. He wishes to find him. The elf and human are staying with the henchmen in hopes of Malic's return. The next day, the henchmen were visited by a mixed bag group consisting of: former members of the Fortunate Fools, former members of the Blade of the Spear and a large band of bugbears, along with a half-ogre. They took them captive, made them carry as much loot as they could and took them to their leader: The Silver Mane, former leader of the Fortunate Fools. His advisor is his cousin, Joss the Yellow-Mane.

I apologize for the lack of detail.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Giant Green Bunnies

James Maliszewski of Grognardia started a thread that got me thinking about this guy, and how cool I thought he was when I was eight. My opinion, he could kick Jar-Jar's ass any day (I'd help him).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Appendix N from The DMG

Listed is the Appendix N from the 1st edition Dungeon Master Guide by Gary Gygax. Note some titles are in italics while others are in bold type while some are in both. These are added by me and are explained below. Dates are added by myself and are for my own reference.

Poul Anderson: "Three Hearts and Three Lions" (1961), "The High Crusade" (1960), "The Broken Sword" (1954)

John Bellairs: "The Face in the Frost" (1969)

Leigh Brackett (as early as 1943 to as late as 1971, but I believe most of her works were written prior to LOTR, but I will have to check my facts on that).

Fredric Brown (~ 1941 to 1963)

Edgar Rice Burroughs: "Pellucidar" Series (1922 -1941), Mars Series (1917 -1941), Venus Series (1934 - 1946)

Lin Carter: "World's End" Series (1969 - 1978)

L. Sprague de Camp: "Lest Darkness Fall" (1941), "Fallible Fiiend" (1973), et al. (many pre- 1966 works).

de Camp & Pratt: "Harold Shea" Series (1941 - 1953), "Carnelian Cube" (1948)

August Derleth (~1934 to 1961)

Lord Dunsany (~1915 - 1957)

P.J. Farmer: "The World of the Tiers" Series (begun in 1965, so I'll let it stand), et al. (many pre-1966 works)

Gardner Fox: "Kothar" Series (begun 1969), "Kyrik" Series (begun 1975), et al. (five works written prior to 1966)

R.E. Howard: "Conan" Series (Howard killed himself in 1936).

Sterling Lanier: "Hiero's Journey" (begun 1973).

Fritz Leiber: "Fafhrd & Grey Mouser" Series, et al. (F.L. published his first Fafhrd and Grey Mouser story in 1939 and continued publishing those and many other stories until his death in 1992; I've read enough of his literature to say without a doubt he didn't become a Tolkien imitator after the publication of any of Tolkien's works).

H.P. Lovecraft (died in 1937).

A. Merritt: "Creep, Shadow, Creep", "Moon Pool", "Dwellers in the Mirage", et al. (He died in 1943).

Michael Moorcock: "Stormbringer", "Stealer of Souls", "Hawkmoon" Series (esp. the first three books). M.M. will take further thought and investigation. He published his first Elric tale in 1961. I've read enough of his literature to say that despite the fact he no doubt has read Tolkien, I don't believe it influenced him, but I will leave his name un-bolded for now.

Andre Norton (A.N. published as early as 1934 and was with us until 2005. While I have read some A.N., I have not read enough to make an informed opinion. For now, she is off the list).

Andrew J. Offutt, editor: "Swords Against Darkness III" (1978)

Fletcher Pratt: "Blue Star", et al. (Died 1956).

Fred Saberhagen: "Changeling Earth" (1973), et al. (some pre - 1966 work, but not much).

Margaret St. Clair: "The Shadow People" (1969), "Sign of the Labrys" (1963). Note, most of her major works were prior to 1966.

J.R.R. Tolkien: "The Hobbit", "Ring Trilogy"

Jack Vance: "The Eyes of the Overworld" (1966, however part of a series started in 1950), "The Dying Earth" (begun 1950), et al. Luckily, Mr. Vance is still with us as of the writing of this list. He began publishing in 1950.

Stanley Weinbaum (died 1935).

Manly Wade Wellman (began publishing in 1927).

Jack Williamson (began publishing in 1928).

Roger Zelazny: "Jack of Shadows", "Amber" Series, et al. (most of his work was published from 1970 onwards, but I have to say there is a definite lack of Tolkien influence in his works).

The appendix notes that de Camp & Pratt, REH, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, HPL, A. Merritt had particularly significant input to the game.

The italics are added by myself and denote those authors/works I have read to date. While I'm sure I have read more then listed here, I have not seriously read fantasy for a number of years, so in some cases (such as de Camp and Burroughs) I left them listed as unread. What I find embarrassing is my essential geek reading is lacking. In a previous post, I stated that I was going to put together my own Appendix N, but before doing so, I wanted to read G.G.'s list, with particular preference given to de Camp, Pratt, REH, Leiber, Vance, HPL and A. Merritt, for Gygax noted that those authors in particular had helped shape the face of Dungeons and Dragons. Now of the big "seven", I have read three, in the case of Howard and Lovecraft, I have read extensively.

I still intend to finish the original Appendix N, but do to my growing interest in all literature "pre-Tolkien" I am giving particular attention to all literature written prior to 1966. Just about any Tolkienite can guess why I chose 1966. While JRRT published The Hobbit in 1937 (Britain - it was released in America in 1938), it was The Lord of the Rings which made him famous. While LOTR was first published in hardback in 1954-55 (again in Britain, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers were published in 1954, The Return of the King was released in 1955. Rights for publication in America were sold in 1957), it was not until Ace came out with their pirated paper backs in the states in 1965, and Ballantine released the "official" paperbacks in 1966 that the trilogy set fire to the fantasy reading community.

Now Gygax did not name JRRT as one of the big seven; however, do to public opinion, Dungeons & Dragons and JRRT are linked in the minds eye. This is not my larger reason for concentrating on fantasy literature pre-1966, my main reason is the publication of the Ballantine paperbacks in 1966 forever changed the face of fantasy literature. In my opinion, not for the better.

Thus, the bold authors/titles are those works that were published prior to 1966, and are at the top of my Appendix N. It is not always easy to make the call as to who is on the list, versus who is off. Not to mention, Gygax made no attempt to separate science fiction from fantasy. If he liked it and it influenced him, then it made his list. Sometimes on my part, authors/works are included due to my ignorance of their work. Hopefully I can revise this after becoming better well read.

No doubt, many would disagree with the decisions I've made. After a bit more research, I plan on revising this into my own Appendix N. Right now I am still sampling and unable to make an informed decision.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Absence, Lin Carter and my Appendix N.

Not that I have lots of followers, but to those few who do stop by here every now and then, and to those who have never been here until now, I want you to know I'm still here.

Sadly, there has not been much gaming in my life as of late. Summer is always difficult for me. I travel all year long, but summer is my busiest season, with often no rhyme nor reason as to when I will return home. Over the past five years, this has led to often several weeks, and sometimes months without gaming, which in turn often fuels my gamer ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and too frequently leads to the premature death of a campaign before its due time. It is often too hard to return to a game where that initial spark of energy is gone.

I don't think that will happen with my Darkling Ways campaign. The spark is still there for me; however, this summer bleeding too soon into fall (and I don't want to think about the looming Alaskan Winter just around the corner) it is not just my schedule which is hectic. One of my long time gaming buddies has returned to school, and can not make our regularly scheduled night (Tuesdays) for the foreseeable future. Another player is bogged down in school work as well, and working his ass off to graduate sooner versus later.

We've looked at changing the night in the past, but for some reason, Tuesday always pops up as the best night, so I'm not sure if we will investigate that proposal further. I would love to game on a Friday or Saturday night, but those are reserved as date nights for my wife and I (and as much as I love gaming, I love kindling our relationship even more); Sunday afternoons would be keen, but we always seem to have family stuff going on that day, as does everyone else. So Tuesday it will most likely remain. This means Osamu the Cleric of Solomon will be handed into my not-so-tender hands as an NPC (I've had a bad track record with NPCs and/or henchmen in this campaign, not intentionally, I have adopted a strict policy of "let the dice fall where they may"--this has also led to two character deaths). Osamu will, hopefully, be there for when his controlling player can join us again.

I'm still plugging away at world creation, but have not had the time nor inclination to post anything lately. More will come.

I have been busy reading. Initially, I was reading Appendix N from the DMG; however, by pure chance this has led more into an interest in literature "pre-Tolkien" and not necessarily Appendix N (although the two often collide). My sole inspiration for this has been Lin Carter. I picked up a copy of his "Imaginary Worlds" a non-fiction speculation of his written about fantasy and part of the famous "Ballentine Adult Fantasy" series of which he edited (1969 - 1974).

Carter is an author that I had always marginalized as a simple hack; and not unfairly. As an author, he rarely rose above the average author of fan fiction, and as a Robert Howard enthusiast, his name along side L. Sprague de Camp, lives in infamy for me. Carter had another side: he was amazingly well read, and had a love for the genre of fantasy that is inspiring and admirable.

This has led me into a side project. I'm exploring what fantasy was before Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings forever changed it. It is a not a slam against JRRT. I love LOTR and have a particularly soft spot in my heart for The Hobbit. It is undeniable that the genre of fantasy changed after the immense popularity of LOTR took the world by storm, and has degenerated (in my opinion) into the realm of Tolkien impersonation.

In effect, I'm building my own Appendix N. There is more to come on this in future posts.

As to gaming, the gang is getting together Labor Day for a board game. Talisman I believe and I hope to have a session of Darkling Ways as well.