The Tufty Terror’s secret remains unknown most of the year, appearing as it does to be nothing more than a common squirrel. For several weeks every Autumn though, its head enlarges and mutates to become indistinguishable from one of the undead. At this time it also becomes highly territorial and carnivorous. The Dordogne’s inhabitants make sure to avoid where known infestations of these creatures have occurred in past years and in the weeks leading up to their re-appearance they remind one another to be on the look out - with the rather crude (but wise) advice to “Mind your nuts.”
Tufty Terror: HD d4 hp; AC 8 ; Atk 1 Bite d3 + Special (Disease 10%), Move 13; Save 18; CL/XP A/5
Whoa - quite a different post interface at blogger now huh? I guess it's been a long time since I've put up anything new here... Our regular games ran out of steam due to work and other distractions, though just the other day an old pal mentioned some interest in playing an old school game of one kind or another. Maybe I'll manage to bash out some new entries here after all...
There were two different servers that hosted most of the files I linked to from this site - I've moved all those files to new hosts. Please let me know if you find any broken links!
Minecraft players! Have you ever thought to yourself how cool it would be if you could export your creations into a 3d physical model to share with your pencil and paper rpg players? For visualization purposes, wouldn't it be great to hand them a small model of the dungeon, castle, or valley?
Meet Mineways, a free program that allows you to "interactively select a model from a Minecraft world map and render it, or send it to a 3D printer or 3D printing service such as Shapeways." Looks like a lot of potential here... Minecraft modeling is very intuitive - you could easily create your own miniatures. Even cutaway views are possible.
Well, I've been outed as a fan of Minecraft. Yet another barrier to regular blogging, it would seem... It took just a few minutes of playing to begin thinking about recreating TSR modules. I knew I wasn't the only one - check out the above, a recreation of the castle from B2's Keep on the Borderlands. Is that gorgeous or what? Then there's this guy's recreation of Tomb of Horrors. Anyone else addicted to this game (or recovering)? Yikes.
Here's the text from a handout given to those taking a self guided tour of Chateau Beynac in the Dordogne - it isn't copyrighted and was probably created by the Ministry of Culture. I've been on the lookout for an actual blueprint or plan of the place for some time but it's proven very elusive. Perhaps it's due to the fact that the castle is privately owned - the owner still lives there and doesn't wish to see it turned into too much of a tourist attraction.
I saved my copy of the handout as a memento and scanned it for a fellow blogger who's also been searching for a layout. Maybe it will be of interest to someone else out there as well...
Please pass through the door in the second line of walls, dating from the 12th century. You are now entering in the lower courtyard of the castle. On your left stands the 12th century keep with the master’s chambers on the top floor and his family’s lodging on the lower floors.
On your right, the ramp leads to the upper courtyard and you are passing along the 17th century stable, the building date of which is engraved in the keystone (1650). This stable will be roofed again in the next few years.
When arriving on the upper courtyard, on the WEST side, you’ll see the extension of the 12th century wall, which fell down in the 19th century and is part of the restoration programme initiated in 1980 to last until 1995. On the SOUTH side the former manorial chapel, built in the 13th century with some additions in the 17th century. It is covered with a flat stones roof (local name : lauzes). This chapel, even though it is located on the estate, is presently the parish church and is open for Services every Sunday. One has access to it from the outside of the castle.
Lower donw flows the Dordogne river which has been the border between the French and the English possesions in the 13th century. On the opposite side at the foot of the hill, the castle of FAYRAC, on the shoulder of the second hill : CASTELNAUD. On the same bank as Beynac, on your left another castle : it is MARQUEYSSAC.
Now, please enter the castle through the door of the 14th century machicolated keep, probably built by the English. As a matter of fact, the castle had been taken by Richard lst of England (the Lionheart) in 1189 and was kept by him until he was killed during the siege of Chalus (next to Limoges) in 1199. The castle then retumed into the hands of the French until the signature of the treaty of Bretigny in 1360, when it was occupied by the English until the French victory of Castillon-la-Bataille which brought the 100 years war to its end.
Here you are in the guards room. In the left comer of the back wall, the narrow and steep 13th century staircase used to connect all the different levels of the castle (do not use it, it is blocked by works under process in the upper levels). Just next to this staircase, in the lower room of the keep, were kept the battle horses. Moving back to the large window (it will shortly be replaced by the original 13th century slit) three steps and a door on your right will lead you to the l4th century section of the castle. Full restoration of this section has just been completed. The floor of the first room is a beautiful “pisé” (paving made of toothlike shaped stones which are nailed vertically into a bedding of clay and lime). In the second triangular room, 13th century latrines may be seen.
Please climb up the wooden staircase to the second floor where you’ll see a beautiful spiral staircase recently rebuilt in solid oak, according to the rules of the art of the time : one man, one tool (the adze). This staircase leads to another floor where restorations are under process, not yet open to the public.
Leaving this 14th century section, please proceed to the large mediaeval state hall, remodelled in the 17th century (large windows were opened and a fireplace built) to become the meeting room of the States General of Perigord. This is the place where the nobility of the four baronies of Perigord used to meet : BEYNAC and BIRON who controled the South, BOURDEILLES and MAREUIL the North. Their flags may be seen on both sides ot the fireplace.
Opposite the fireplace a small oratory has been opened in the 14th century tower and frescoes painted at the same period. These frescoes are presently under restoration by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
On the back wall a large crucifixion dating from the end of the l8th century. On its left, the flag of the BEAUMONT-BEYNAC who owned the castle until 1961. On its right the English banner of CASTELNAUD, direct rival of Beynac for over two centuries. Facing this back wall, on your right, walk up the 16th century staircase (totally rebuilt in 1902), to the top levels of the castle : keeps and terraces. Walk carefully along the curtain (WATCH YOUR CHILDREN) and step in the l4th century keep (PLEASE DUCK, THE DOOR IS VERY LOW). Go through the little guards room and step out on the southern terrace. Lean over the wall at the extreme end of the terrace : you are 450 feet above. the river and facing one of the most beautiful panoramas in Perigord.
Moving back to the large staircase. Half-way down, through one of the windows, you’ll notice a charming Florentine Renaissance staircase built in the 17th century in the center courtyard. It leads to various 17th century rooms, presently occupied by the owner (these will be opened later to the public).
All the way down, you’ll step in the center courtyard : the heart of the castle. Here all the rain water falling from the roofs and terraces was collected, filling large underground tanks, still in function, which were the only source of drinking water in the feudal times.
Originally the center courtyard had only one door and one opening. The door is next to the stone water basin and opened to the guards room and to the only staircase serving the various levels. The opening, presently under the Renaissance staircase, was much larger and allowed to ride to the center courtyard without dismounting, thanks to a ramp which climbs through the 12th century kitchens.
All constructions posterior to the 12th century has been dismolished in this large room and all the levels and floors will be reestablished as they were originally. The exit will be enlarged back to its original size, which may be seen from the inside and the draw-bridge will be rebuilt. This large door and the draw-bridge were the one and only entrance in the castle in the 13th century.
Looking up, we see two hoardings projecting out on corbels, where archers and crossbowmen were stationed to defend the ramp (the only entry to the fortress). Left of the iron-shod door by which we have left the barbican, we notice openings through which boulders and quicklime were thrown on enemies forcing their way through.
You have just read a few explanations about the feudal fortress of Beynac. We have tried to make clear the goal of both the owner and the Ministry of Culture and Communication : reestablish the three main periods of the life of Beynac : 12-13th centuries, 14th and 17th.
The inside restorations and the rebuilding of the outside line of walls will extend to the end of the present century. The historical reconstitution of the lower and upper yards will take place in the early part of the 21st century.
I've only recently heard about the Vintage Arcade Museum in the Whitaker neighborhood here in Eugene, OR. I hope to get down there and take some video before too long - this old school pencil & paper gamer's heart is warmed to hear that someone wants to keep these old arcade machines alive!
The nearness of the Ninkasi Brewery and Izakaya Meiji (whom I've previously posted about here) is convenient - some brief liquid encouragement and its off to the arcade! Oh yeah. Right down the street from some excellent soul food, I should add...
Thursday Update: KVAL (local TV station) picked up this story for their 5 and 6pm news broadcast. They have some pictures up on their website, including this one - looks like they've applied for a liquor license. Nice.
Wow, it’s been nearly two weeks since my last post… Not a lot of excuses really - a little more work than usual, the same bug that everyone’s had recently… watching way too much DS9 (see previous post) which still feels a bit silly. Things are starting to pick up in season 3 for sure - Jem’Hadar and all. Oh, and I actually bought Duke Nukem Forever, which so far is pretty terrible. I had no idea that Duke’s line “I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubble gum” was taken from John Carpenter’s “They Live”… Or was it the other way around? Stumbled on the below clip recently…
In other news, we finally managed to play a short session of S&W where I was able to introduce Sir Froig. The PbP game also continues at its glacial pace, which I've come to enjoy on its own terms; it's a very different style of game and I appreciate the additional time to really think about descriptions and the various possibilities between exchanges.
At the risk of going over some well trod territory, I thought I’d share some notes I’d jotted down as something worthy of investigation - The section entitled Avoiding Monsters in the Underworld and Wilderness Adventures book (volume 3 of the original D&D booklets). The rules laid out there are very specific - some of them I’ve used and some of them I haven’t (probably since I originally started playing with Moldvay’s rules). Now that I play S&W: Whitebox, it’s interesting to more closely examine the beige books’ idiosyncracies.
One item of note is that monsters in OD&D will automatically attack and/or pursue unless their adversaries are obviously stronger and the monsters would know better. This is versus Moldvay, where some monsters always act in the same way and attack, but the reactions of most vary: “The DM can always choose the monster’s reaction to fit the dungeon, but if he decides not to do this, a DM may use the reaction table…”
So basically, Moldvay says “Use your best judgement” whereas OD&D says “Monsters are monsters - their raison d’être is to attack you. If it was otherwise, they’d be potentially dangerous animals or perhaps intelligent beast-men. We’re not on a zoological expedition kids, we’re monster hunting.
Also, Moldvay has a Reaction Table but OD&D has a Random Actions by Monsters table. In Moldvay, the monster might even become your friend! In OD&D, the monster might respond positively to something, but we can still assume that it wants to kill us. This seems contradicted by the inclusion of neutral and lawfully aligned creatures listed in Monsters and Treasure (volume 2). Maybe those should just have been listed separately as “Other, Non-human Beings."
One might conclude at least a couple of things from this reading: First, that OD&D as written is decidedly more hack and slash. Second, that there isn’t as much moral ambiguity in OD&D as there is in later editions. Maybe it was the fact that the game was becoming popular with kids and criticisms were being raised at the time that led to these particular rules being revised. Nobody wants to be accused of teaching children that there are intelligent beings not worthy of moral consideration precisely because they don’t consider you worthy of moral consideration (they just want to kill you). But…that’s just what monsters are - that’s what they do.
Maybe all subsequent hand wringing about goblin baby killing could have been very easily avoided if the term "monster" had simply been better defined. Or maybe it’s not that easy... just easier to let the dice be the judge.
The small town of Belves is host to a coven of witches which meets there at least four times a year. There are currently eleven members, led by the redheaded enchantress Lucienne.
The coven is divided into four groups of three members, each group corresponding to one of the four seasons. Each of these has a member aligned with one of the forces of law, chaos, or neutrality - though the members frequently argue and scheme against one another, they also see the wisdom of periodically coming together to pool their individual magical powers and support the current season’s three members.
Every year they elect a leader whom they then gift potions and various abilities. In this way, though they’re considered an equal, their leader is also more powerful and better able to resolve any serious disagreements.
Several years ago though, a dispute within the coven led to a leader being exiled. Known as Hecatha, she was eventually overtaken and cast out by the others when she refused to relinquish the power with which they'd entrusted her… To this day, the Great Druid still searches for a cure to her self-inflicted curse, which manifests in both physical deformity and madness.
With the witches’ number and power now diminished by the loss of a member, Lucienne seeks someone to fill Hecatha’s shoes. She fears what might happen if Hecatha was somehow able to regain her mind and former power… and Hecatha’s season approaches.
click the thumbnail image above for a closer look or to download the 4x6" (index card formatted) paper miniPDF
I’ve been watching a lot of Deep Space Nine on Netflix over the last month. Back when it premiered, sitting through the CGI intro wasn’t so bad - after all, it was only on screen for a few minutes once a week. Now though, when watching an episode every other day or back to back, having to wait for the music and opening credits to finish is painful. Or rather, it’s painfully obvious that the whole sequence is ridiculously overdramatic. The wormhole’s depiction begins to seem less like a triumph of computer special effects and more like a giant bowel movement, opening up as it does to drop a spaceship deuce from time to time. Consider that the Bajorans' prophets live inside the wormhole - apparently talking out of their ass.
How much edgier it could be with the proper soundtrack...
Aside from that initial unpleasantness, it’s sometimes fun to take a short nostalgic trip back and watch this show. DS9 is less of a hex-crawl, if you will, than the other Star Trek series. Supposedly it was more critically acclaimed than those other series too - I wonder how much this has to do with the ability to create more complex and interwoven plots due to the stationary setting. I keep making mental notes to use this or that element in a Traveller game I'll never actually play. One of my favorite episodes is when a priestess from a fundamentalist branch of the Bajorans’ religion has a fit because they’re teaching kids on the space station that the wormhole is host to aliens (rather than “prophets”). Then someone blows up the school with hilarious consequences.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that the Ferengi “Rules of Acquisition” could be converted fairly easily into a Thieves Guild’s (or a god of thieves’) Rules of Wisdom. Just change “latinum” to gold and “sale” to “theft” and you're halfway there...
Corrno’s Lesser Rules of Wisdom
1. Never allow family to stand in the way of theft. 2. A man is only worth the sum of his possessions. 3. Keep your ears open. 4. Greed is eternal. 5. Anything worth doing is worth doing for money. 6. A deal is a deal - until a better one comes along. 7. Nothing is more important than your health - except for your money. 8. There’s nothing more dangerous than an honest thief. 9. She can touch the family jewels, but never your gold. 10. Theft is its own reward. 11. Never trust a man wearing better clothes than you. 12. The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife. 13. Never ask when you can take. 14. A good set of tools is as good as gold. 15. Keep your lies consistent. 16. Home is where the heart is, but the road is made of gold. 17. Enough is never enough. 18. Nature decays, but gold lasts forever. 19. There is no honor in poverty. 20. Dignity and an empty sack is worth the sack. 21. Even a blind man can see the glow of gold. 22. There’s nothing wrong with charity, as long as it winds up in your pocket. 23. Let others keep their reputation - you keep their money. 24. Underlings are rungs on the ladder of success - do not hesitate to step on them. 25. Always know what you are stealing. 26. Gold lasts longer than lust. 27. More is good… All is better. 28. A wealthy man can afford anything but a conscience. 29. Never allow doubt to tarnish your love of gold. 30. When in doubt, lie.