A Sword By Any Other Name

The Sword of Ash, by ashpwright

While crawling the web for an old school D&D mystery I stumbled on a pdf of Different Worlds No. 4 from 1978. In those pages are plenty of insights of the early days of the hobby. Most exciting to me was an article by J. Sapienza with many d1000 tables to “produce interesting and unique magical weapons”

To the Google Sheets! We now have a tool to quickly produce magic weapons in-line with Sapienza’s original ideas. Find that tool here.

Some examples of the tools output follow and while the formatting is a bit rough the text can be easily captured and modified to suit any need.

Finally, Sapienza mentions that his article was originally published in issue 32 of “The Wild Hunt”. Another old school D&D mystery that requires investigation – RPG Geek gives a clue here, but I’m no closer to reading those ancient pages.

If you can help with digital scans of The Wild Hunt I would be most interested.

What’s in Your Spellbook

Illustration by Gary Chalk

Wizards, Magic-Users, Sorcerers, and Spell Casters – what clearly makes them unique are the spells cast, enchantments woven, sorceries worked, and mysteries unlocked. Though many magic-users are painfully similar to any other when it comes to the spell book itself. Level 1 is more than likely to contain tried and true favorites: sleep, detect magic, protection from evil perhaps.

Campbell has already written eloquently on the subject and there is perhaps little I can offer when compared to this opus.

No Wizard is happy.

Imagine a doctor, years of study. Chooses to become a proctologist. There’s a reason. Yes: money, job security, comfort. Still, to devote so much time to assholes, looking at asses of mostly older men and women, thinking about what the health of a colon really means, nobody that has the opportunity to become a doctor would choose something like that if it didn’t resonate with them at least a little.

So it is with wizards.

https://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/2018/02/on-wizard.html

What I can offer is a tool that will provide access to over 2000 magic-user spells compiled over a 20 year period from a variety of AD&D resources. 254 level 1 spells alone, astonishing. Certain to bring some variation to any spell book.

Find it here, the Wizard Spell Compendium

The story is this…

  • In 1996 TSR produced the AD&D Wizard Spell Compendium, a remarkable summary of AD&D spells published during the period of 1975-1995 and now available digitally on DriveThruRPG.
  • In 2017 the blogger “Delta” published a .csv of key of the entire compendium, providing spell details along with some data analysis. Their work here.
  • My effort was to consolidate “Delta”‘s .csv & convert to a traditional “workbook”, while also adding some lookup funcitons for random spell selection by level.

With this tool magic now appears weird, unexpected, and new. I hope you too will find it so.

Adventure!

Unknown landscape & forgotten Prisma filter

Last year I was inspired by some one page adventure work going on in one of the OSR fragments. There was much talk about ‘zines, booklets, and pamphlets. One of the best ideas from Cody M. was a single sheet pamphlet folded into thirds, that kind of thing you might find at a county park.

I had been pondering a ‘zine and settled on this 1 page pamphlet format as a focused delivery. My friends Peter & Nils coined this pamphlet an “adventure trail-head”. Perfect! Gather you paper, pencils, and dice – set a course for adventure.

Print run for DunDraCon 2019 – end of an era…

The concept here is to provide a jumping off point for the GM of any table top role-playing game. The setting itself is cribbed from some AD&D 1e adventures notes I compiled in the early 90s – distilled down to a few key ideas, with some loaded questions for the GM or PCs to drive the fiction forward.

One final bit of graphic design shenanigans is a game board for some tavern gambling. A game within a game!

You can download a copy of this pamphlet here.

Roll20 Warmaster

Top down photo of a Warmaster Empire command stand w/ iOS Prisma Gothic filter

I’ve been chasing the online miniature wargaming dragon for a good while now – have had experience with Cyberboard, Vassal, Full Thrust Java Client, Table Top Simulator (unsucessfully), and now Roll20 (successfully). 

For me Roll20 get’s closest to pushing units on the table top realtime with reasonable graphics.  My first real implementation here, beyond the standard RPG, has been for Warmaster. This post describes that process of setting up such an environment.  

Example of what’s been produced with this method

Tools Used

  • iPhone – camera & photo edits
  • Tripod – platform for the top down photograph
  • Prisma iOS app – photo filter
  • iPad – tablet based graphical editing
  • Apple Pencil – fine point stylus
  • Magic Eraser iOS app – transparency editor
  • Desktop PC – runs Roll20 in any web browser
  • MS Paint – creates the basic template
  • Roll20 – the tabletop platform

Photos

  1. Shoot top down photos of a Warmaster army – 1 photo for each unique base type
  2. Crop all photos to roughly same dimension
  3. Push these photo through a filter – a bit more illustrative than photographic
  4. Export filtered photos to iPad
  5. Remove photo boarders with transparency editor – use Magic Eraser or similar
  6. Import photos to PC
  7. Create a “scaling reference” – 40x20mm = 280x140px – save this as a png – use MS Paint or similar

Roll20 Game

  1. Create new game for Roll20
  2. Configure new “map” – no grid – 5cm = 70px – 6×4 foot table = 37×25
  3. Drag & drop appropriate texture or aerial photo to map, ensure it is on the “map layer”
  4. Go to the “journal” – create a new “character” – edit that character so that Name = Basic Template, In Player’s Journals = All Players, Can be Edited… = All Players – save these changes
  5. Again open & edit the “Basic Template”, click duplicate button x times
  6. Drag & drop stand scaling reference to the table top
  7. Drag & drop appropriate unit photo the table top
  8. Scale the unit photo to the scaling reference
  9. Select the re-scaled
  10. Open one of the “Basic Template” copies and edit – Name = appropriate unit name – click “use selected token” – ensure that “all players” is set for journals & controls – save changes
  11. Repeat

Roll20 Macros

You may wish to create the following macros – ensuring that they are shared with “all players” and marked as “in bar” – these provide a simple button to throw x dice.

#1d6
/r 1d6

#2d6
/r 2d6

#3d6
/r 3d6

#Attack
/em attacks
/r ?{How many attacks}d6s>4 
***Note: 5+ vs defended & 6+ vs fortified***

#Save 
/em saves
/r ?{How many saves}d6s>?{Armor value}

#Drive-Back
/em checking drive backs
/r ?{How many hits}d6s
***Target confused on any d6 = 6***
***Target driven off if result greater than its movement rate***

Unit Photos

Here are my unit photos for: Tomb Kings, Vampire Counts, Empire, Dwarves, & Dark Elves. Also included are a hit token and a scaling refernce when 5cm = 70px.

Update – April 19, 2020

There is a nice selection of paper tokens for Warmaster Fantasy & Ancients available here. Helpful if you don’t want to photograph your own units.

Video Walk-through

May illustrate some of the description above.

Update May 18, 2020

Have created Mighty Empires assets and kicked off a 5 player campaign. Mighty Empire tiles are available here. Use them as a deck of cards in Roll20 on a unique map.

Have also posted a new video an actual play from the first battle fought in our Mighty Empires campaign. Empire(1185 pts) vs Empire (1500 pts). This condensed to 30 minutes to provide a good overview of Warmaster game play on the Roll20 interface.

Hammer of the Gawds

Prisma Canoe filter iOS – WHFB 1e cover – original art by John Blanche

In 1980-something I started going to my first game conventions. These were not just for Dungeons & Dragons, but full of so much more. One of these things was a tabletop game played with toy soldiers – hundreds of them really. This was Warhammer and this game inspired me in new ways.

Miniature wargaming is one aspect of my tabletop gaming hobby, perhaps a smaller part these last few years, but extremely influential in how I enjoy these games. Warhammer was clearly the culprit that propelled me down this path, inspired me to pick-up a brush, amass hordes of “lead figures”, and build railroad scenery like a man processed.

Warhammer during this time was… odd. Army composition was left to the players, there were few restrictions on how games were organized and even fewer supporting materials beyond the core rules. The good ‘ol days.

The first Citadel book I cherished after the rules – more cover art by John Blanche.

This magazine provided a complete scenario; 3 unique forces each with competing objectives; card stock buildings to cut, fold, and assemble; advertisements for special miniatures; comics strips…

This was the begining of the end.

Today one can flip through the virtual pages of this journal. Such a joy, and it was during one of these flights of fancy that I decided recreate that game of my youth with the mastery of the hobby I now possessed. It was successful – it was glorious – the game was a bit awkward.

Video journal for the centerpiece for this scenario – YouTube playlist

Below is a photo gallery of the game in action. Fun project – fun times.