Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Orcs and Dragons

All apologies for dropping off the face of the Earth (and not yet writing a single #RPGaDay post). Until a few days ago, I thought my August was going to continue much the same as my July. Instead, my wife's work plans changed and, as a result, my entire family got bundled off to Paraguay for three weeks, leaving me all on my lonesome. Just dropped 'em off at the airport yesterday.

So I spent the last few days spending quality time with the wife and kids prior to their departure. 

Yesterday would have been my first chance to write, but instead I spent most of my free time catching up on my reading or boozing...a lot of the latter actually. It takes me a little time to adjust to being single (it doesn't happen all that often) and I get a bit of separation anxiety. Plus, with no one to come home to (besides the beagles), I have a penchant for staying out waaay too late. And then even after I come home I stay up later. It's like I'm afraid to sleep or something.

Anyway, that's my baggage (and hangover) to bear. Today, I am all set to get back on track. A little breakfast at the Baranof, a bit of black coffee, and a lot of rehydration (via water), and I'll be fit as a fiddle. I still have a lot of things to do around the house, but I should also have plenty of time to blog the next few days. Heck, I may even get in some gaming. Hung out with my old college buddy Joel last night, and talked a lot of gaming stuff. Mostly, Star Wars (he's been running the Fantasy Flight edition lately), but also Spirit of 77, which I just picked up at Around the Table yesterday. Turns out his friend wants to run a short campaign of funky action thrills, and I might show up for that. I mean, my evenings are free for the next couple weeks, right?

In D&Dish news, I'd direct your attention once again to Jeff's blog where he's followed up last month's random class advancement tables with a killer version of the half-orc for B/X. Over the years, plenty of folks have tried their hand at writing up a half-orc class for the basic editions of the game (i.e. any edition that treats player species as a class). Vaults of Pandius (the old BECMI repository) had two or three versions, if I remember right. But Jeff's solution is both simple and elegant: it basically assumes you're human (i.e. pick a human class) but allows you to roll on a special "orky" advancement table (instead of your normal class table), provided your charisma score is low enough. In this case, 12 or less.

This is really great, for a number of reasons. It adds flavor to the game without wrecking the whole species as class dynamic (it's the human half that allows the character to become an adventurer). It provides a "perk" to a character that rolled a low stat (charisma in B/X is very helpful, both in negotiating encounters and in determining the number and morale of retainers). It feeds into the classic orc trope of creatures with low morale and untrustworthy followers (I'm not a fan of orcs with "honor" or "warrior traditions"). It adds choice for the player rather than "buffing" an existing class (for example, adding infravision, languages, and orcish bonuses to an existing class).

Anyway. really well done, definitely worth stealing (or deconstructing for my own design purposes). 

The other thing on my mind is Sunday's Game of Thrones episode. Again I was struck by how many "D&Disms" are part of the show's makeup...a lot of it really feels like an OD&D game (one that is drawing heavily from Chainmail for its combat system). I won't drop any "spoilers" here, but I will say that the handling of dragons in the series is the best I've seen since Dragonslayer, the film I hold in highest regard when it comes to portrayals of the legendary creature. Well done, folks!

It is a little sad (well, not really but whatever) that the intellectual property of Martin's work isn't "OGL;" it would be a lot of fun to adapt the series as a setting supplement for S&W, or even B/X. Yes, yes...I know I've written (more than once) that D&D isn't a great fit for the Game of Throne's setting; that's why I spent a bunch of word count writing up a version for Pendragon. But Martin's world isn't one that features characters venturing into supernatural underworlds, looking for ancient treasures...and folks who see a wight (or a giant or a dragon) are generally running for the hills, not blasting it with magic missiles. Still, while some rewriting of the basic rules would be necessary (changing the advancement system), it could be possible...

But that's not something I plan on working on right now.
; )


  1. Would have thought there would have been more running. I always think of the morale destroying aura of fear, caused by fell beasts (Pelennor field).

  2. As we go along over the next decade, I predict that "orc" will no longer be a species, but rather become an affliction men contract. What do you think?