Iolta and Thrain

Rilmorn, as I conceived of the world, has three times the surface area of Earth, so it always seemed logical that there would be continents that were yet unaccounted.  I had hinted about another continent.  Robert Hegewood, a friend from college worked up an invader’s history for that unnamed continent.  I had long wanted an area that was deeply Celtic in tone. It appeared as Iolta and Thrain.

In early to mid 2013, a fellow member of Old School Gamers asked what people thought about the module Shadows of Evil.  I own it, Evil Ruins, and Throne of Evil; all works by Stephen Bourne.  I told the OSGers that I liked the book and planned on using it, Throne of Evil, C4: To Find a King, and C5: The Bane of Llywelyn as the basis for a new campaign.  Rhonda Hanyes Koti expressed an interest in the final product, so I told her that I would send her a link when I was done.

Around this time, Chris Perkins, in his DnD Online column: The Dungeon Master Experience, posted a link to his new campaign.  It had a flavor that I liked and the map was wonderful.  I stole it; flipped the map, renamed it, and called it mine.  (Yes, I contacted Mr. Perkins and told him about my conscription of his work.)  The rest of the information may be mined at a later date. (Updated link 2014.08.12)

I named the continents Iolta and Thrain and labeled the large island between them Avalian.  The name Iolta (pronounced  ee ole TUH) was taken from the legal acronym IOLTA (pronounced eye ole TUH) meaning Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts.  Thrain is an old name for Wales.  Avalian is at alternate spelling of Avalon.

Now, that I had a continent, I needed a more detailed map of the campaign area.  I took the overland maps of the four modules I had mentioned plus Evil Ruins, Elven Banner, and N2: The Forest Oracle and began mashing them together in GIMP.   I had to fiddle with the scale on occasion, but for the most part it was a simple cut and paste.  I prettied up later and here is the link I sent Rhonda.

Now, that I had my maps, I needed a background for my game.  So, I took all my source material and my limited knowledge of Celtic myth and history and wrote out a History of Iolta and Thrian.  This document is way too long and covers too much to give to most Players, so I will have to chop things down to a minimum and focus the background for any Players in this campaign.  This is far more background than I ever build into most campaigns before they begin.  There is a great chance that the Players will never learn or have need of most of it.

That just left me with putting together a Gazetteer.  I had plenty of places taken from my many maps and so I filled out the information.  This was in many ways the most fun.  I got to lift histories and etymologies from  multiple sources and to editorialize about some locations.  It was really neat.

I’ve added some stuff, since I posted it on Live Journal and I’ve altered a good deal more.  It is a good example of planning too much before a game begins.  There is more information here than I ever had at the beginning of a campaign.  I’ve got multiple plots.  I’ve got loads of NPCs.  History is overwhelming.  I have huge numbers of sites for plot hooks.  It is overwhelming, but if I get to run this campaign, it will give me a Great Cauldron from which to pull ideas and plans.

When I wrote this yesterday, I failed to talk about what changes I have made in this setting since I posted it and what source materials that I am looking to use in this setting.  None of my games are ever created in a vacuum.  I am grateful for my sources and look forward to taking the original material and blending it to fit Rilmorin.  Every time, I read something or watch a movie or video or even listen to music, I can find something that leads me into new ideas for my game.  Since I posted the original Iolta and Thrain stuff back in June of 2013, I have done the following

  • Decided that the founders of The Dwarf Crown were survivors of a Aegol a dwarf kingdom from another world.  This comes from the book Kingdom of the Dwarves.
  • Decided to use a combination of profiles from Deities and Demigods, Dragon Issue 65, Legends and Lore, and Celtic Age to fill out the ranks of the Tuatha De Danu
  • Got out my Ironclaw books and decided to change the walls at the edges of Inverness and Warfield to the Wall of Calabria.  These walls, ancient and mountainous in scope, once marked the boundaries of Calabria.  Calabria, as a kingdom is long vanished, but its Great Houses with their animal standards and totems remain.
  • Added the city of Triskellian from Rinaldi: Supplement for Ironclaw to the map.  It was the capital of Calbria.
  • Changed a line in the descriptor of the Dwarves of the Dwarf Crown to read:  “Insular and slightly xenophobic, the Dwarves of the Dwarf Crown only deal with outsiders at specific trade moots and as members of small, but highly sought after mercenary bands.”  This change came about because my wife wished to play a dwarf in this campaign.

 I’ve done a lot of development on both continents, but where is the action to take place?  It should take place in Pellham (the most detailed area of the map) and Montforte (since one of plots comes from that area and is the location of a premade adventure site).  I may send the PCs into Inverness, since it is the location of the infamous Ghost Tower of Inverness.  Finally, the PCs may end up on Thrain.  The premade adventure that starts in Montforte ends on Thrian.  Anything else will be the work of the Players and their interests.

I’ve been gathering an Iolta and Thrain collection on LibraryThingPlease feel free to check it out (in the upper left corner of the screen, you will see a drop down menu under the name LibraryThing, go to Iolta and Thrain).

Game On!


DM’s Rant: A Response

This post is a direct response to my friend Matt’s request that I comment on his post DM’s Rant. I originally was going to post in his comment section, but my train of thought derailed and I was spilling verbage onto his site. I removed the debris and started over. Here’s the result after the cleanup effort.

First things First, Matt, I agree with your premise that the Game Master should not be bound to the book. The Game Master should of course use the rule to run a fair and honest campaign, but there are so many more things to a good game than adherence to the rules.

Now, onto the part of my post where I point out (not always with the best of tact, but with the best of intentions) the errors I see in your self-admitted passionate rant.

To begin, Matt you appear to be contradicting yourself in the middle of your argument. In your fourth paragraph you hold forth with this:

I’m reading this thing and I’m scratching my head, thinking, why is this guy awarding XP based solely on how much treasure the players find or how much of a body count they rack up? Because the book told him to? Is this the kind of gamer we have now? Slaves to the Almighty Rule Book? In the seminal guide to D&D, the 1st Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, Mr. Gygax says over and over again, “All of this is optional. Do what you want.” He says it in many different ways, usually with some much prettier language – some would say overly obscure, and I tend to agree in most places, but this is clear as blue skies.
All. Of. This. Is. Optional. Do. What. You. Want. When it says “all”, it means all

Then in your seventeenth paragraph you say:

This notion that this rule and that rule doesn’t work and this and that doesn’t fit is so much lazy bullshit.

If I have taken this out of context, please forgive me and correct me, I think you are off on this. If everything is optional, then any rules one finds cumbersome or annoying can be tossed as needed or desired. I believe that anything that doesn’t work for your personal Table should be dropped. If a rule is too cumbersome, trim it down or cut it out. I did this with weapon speed, wandering monsters, one minute combat rounds, etc. Also, Gary Gygax may have changed his mind later in life, but early in TSR’s run, he held a play my way or you are not playing D&D attitude. I’ve quoted part of an essay from Dragon 63, here, which makes this very clear. Also, I went back and reread the preface to the First Edition Dungeon Masters Guide and Mr. Gygax seems to be very intense on uniformity of rules across the board. If you are not playing with the rules as written, then your game will collapse or be so esoteric that no one outside of your limited community will want to play it. I feel that he was a rules guy and he would expect the GMs and the Players to use the Rules at their Table.

Now, let’s get to the meat of your rant, Matt. You are frustrated by GMs who can’t go Outside the Box of Rules. I’m with you on this. You focus on the idea of how Experience Points (XP) are awarded in your rant. Here is my take on it.

Every game has rules. Be they, pretend games from our childhood: “House” or “Cowboys and Indians” or complex games from our board games heyday: “Axis and Allies” or “Diplomacy,” games have rules. We are taught to play by the rules. When we don’t play by the rules, we are called cheaters.

1E D&D told us that the rules said Experience comes from Killing Monsters, Collecting Gold, and Having Magic Items. So, we played that way. Gygax even used a jeweled man as a lure to get PCs into a dungeon, because of all the XP that automaton offered. The progression tables in 1E expected PCs to get gold and count it toward their XP advancement. There was no XP for overcoming traps or parleying with NPCs. 1E was a game about Slaying and Looting; a dragon was the best target for any group of PCs…It offered Monster XP, Gold XP, and Magic Item XP. Players looked at every encounter as a potential combat.

By the time 3E hit the scene, we had Call of Cthulhu, Vampire, and other games focused on story and player options beyond the standard D&D formula. While the rules for awarding XP changed to shift away from Gold XP and Magic Item XP, not everyone wanted to let go of the way they learned to play years before. It is similar to growing up playing Original Rock/Paper/Scissors and learning that in 2nd Ed. R/P/S Rock beats Paper, Paper beats Scissors, and Scissors beats Rock. It is in the rules and it is perfectly legal, but it is not what you grew up with and it flies in the face of what you believe is core to YOUR game. This, I believe, is what is at the heart of the Edition Wars and nearly every Grognard Complaint.

Matt, it appears that you want a game wherein the PCs are rewarded for experiences that they have. Thus to you XPs mean “real experience;” RPGs are not really about the “real” (The Games Librarian has a good post on this), they are about the “simulation of the real.” The rule set of a game really doesn’t define the laws of that particular universe. The rule set gives Players and GMs the tools to simulate those laws.

Jason Holmgren (Designer of Ironclaw) told me that rule sets determine the style of play for a game. I think he’s right. In 1E, the rules lead to a game with wild, unexplained magic and every encounter was expected to turn into a combat encounter. In 3E, magic was a regulated, understandable force with crafting classes taught at the Co-Op. Gone were the days, when Players had to take the Great Weapons of Power from their fallen foes; they could now craft the uber-weapon they wanted from their “Experience” and components bought at the local mage shop. The style of play had changed and some liked the change and others did not, but they played the game anyway. This is not to say that people didn’t Play Outside the Rule Box. Rule sets determine the style of play, but they can’t chain players or GMs to that style.

Monte Cook (my Go-To Guy when it comes to game design) has written about simulation in role playing game design and about how rule set can affect game play. I think both of these posts reflect on the topic of your rant and offer better explanations than I can devise. It is the application of these two ideas that I believe embodies your rant.

Matt, we agree on the most important piece of your rant. This a game and it should be fun. Thanks for asking my opinion.

Game On!

Mea Culpa (or What do I Want in my Game)

On 4 April 2014, I post an entry about why I felt Dice Fudging was bad. It started a heated and acrimonious debate. I feel bad that my post was the sulfur and bat guano that started this fireball. Since that blog post went up the following things have happened:

All of this has led me to reexamine my game and how I run it. I asked myself several questions. Have I ever fudged dice? YES. Did fudging dice ever improve a particular encounter? YES. Did fudging Dice ever worsen an encounter? YES. Was there ever a time that I wished I had fudged dice? YES   Did my players ever know that I fudged dice? PROBABLY. Did my Players ever suspect that I fudged dive? YES. Did that knowledge or suspicion have an effect on my game? YES. Was the effect positive or negative? NEGATIVE.

I lost the trust of my players. They couldn’t never be certain that a lucky series of rolls was just a lucky series of rolls and not a grudge attack? Did Hil get randomly shot at by the drow sniper or was I still mad at him, because he got a wild hair and murdered an NPC on which I had worked too hard. Did the ettin really miss hitting James or did I fudge on his behalf because he is my best friend? Did I randomly roll on the 1E DMG magic items tables and get a +5 Holy Avenger for Christina or did I give it to her because she is my wife? They may have believed that it actually happened the way I said it rolled, but there was always a shadow of doubt.

I am not perfect. I try very hard to be completely fair to my Players, but life gets in the way. Some days, I get mad at a Player. Some days, I feel bad about hurting a particular Player. Some days, I want the background on which I worked so hard to shine. Not always; not even most of the time; but SOMETIMES, I fall down. My Players are smart, educated, empathetic people and they SUSPECT that I fall. Do your Players SUSPECT you of fudging your die rolls? If they do, you may not have their trust in the game. They play your game because they have fun, but they may not believe that you are fair.

Having admitted that I fudge dice and not always for the right reason, I now ask myself, “Gregory, why did you roll the die in the first place? What was the purpose of that die roll that I now want to fudge?”

I am not a slave to my dice nor to the Rules As Written (RAW). I discarded the rolling for Wandering Monsters back in First Edition (1E) AD&D, just as I discarded weapon speed and the one minute combat round. I choose when or if to roll a die to get a randomly determined result. I choose what table to roll against. I choose what monsters the PCs encounter.

What if, when I roll the die, it comes up an undesirable result? Why roll the die, if I am not going to use the result? Am I trying to give the illusion of fairness? Am I trying to shift the blame of my choices to Random Chance? Am I just trying to give my Players the facade of free will; pretending that I am not railroading them along the path of my desire to fulfill the Story Arc that have, so cleverly, devised? The answer to the question of why I rolled the die is this: I rolled the die to place a random element into the game, so that my Players and I could react to the result and create the next element in our shared Story.

I was trying to expound upon 3 reasons why I felt that fudging dice led to a less awesome game. If fudging dice improves the awesome in your game, then fudge. Do whatever makes your game better. I will.

Game On!

Blogs of Valor (or People With Whom I Agree)

Yesterday, I posted about Why One Should Not Fudge Dice in their Games.  That post has introduced me to two new bloggers Matt Harris and The Games Librarian.  They, both, have recently posted about DMs in the 21st century and Setting the World before Breaking it.  Both of these posts describe things that good Game Masters should think about in running their games.

Once again, I am going to direct you all to Monte Cook.  He boils down my entire post from yesterday into a single paragraph (the sixth one) in a larger post.

There is no single style of gaming, nor should there be.  I do not agree with everything in this post, but it covers the topic well.  Just as in the days of 1E, when people took sides on the Hack and Slash, Monty Haul, or Thinking Man’s Dungeon, people are still dividing themselves into camps and shouting, “My way is better!”  After D&D came out, Runequest, Arduin, and Rolemaster all followed.  Proponents of all those games touted their superiority to dumb, old D&D.  2E followed Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and grognards (me among them) came out against changes in “their” game.  3E, 4E, and DnD Next have all brought forces into the Edition Wars.  It’s time to live and let live, gamers.  Enjoy what you enjoy and let others do the same.  We do not have to do what others do, nor do they have to do what we do.  (Lord have mercy, I sound like I’m discussing Gay Marriage)  I do not have to be wrong for you to be right.

Blogs of Valor are really Sunshine Awards.  (2014.06.14)

Sorry, if I soap boxed; Game On!

Peanut Butter Fudge (or Let the Dice Fall Where They May)

I’m writing this post to get a few things out in the open.  1.  D&D is a game, not a novel.  2. If you are the Game Master and you feel that you need to fudge the die rolls to beat your Players, then you are playing the Game wrong.  3.  If you are making ANY of your game up on the spot, for any reason, fudging your dice rolls is just unfair.

Monte Cook posted a great article about Numenera and how dice work in that setting.  Reading it led me to write this tangential post.  Please check it out.

First things first, of the multiple reasons and excuses to fudge dice rolls in a game, wanting to tell a Story with character development and overarching plot lines is the least egregious.  A GM that is proud of his or her campaign and wants to share the breadth and depth of the world with his or her players wants to tell a good story.  That Game Master wants everything to according to a script.  Fudging dice does not make the Game a Good Story.  Fudging Dice makes the Game a Poor Game.

Not to dismiss White Wolf and the Storyteller System, but if you running a Game, then you are not telling a Story.  The Players are not telling a Story.  Story is what happens in the space between the GM and the Players.  The GM reveals the setting or stage, if you will, and the Players strut about upon it.  The Story is what happens as the Players strut about and run up against the setting.  NPCs, Big Bosses, the Environment are setting.  Players send their PCs into the setting to tear things down, to change the view, to build new structures out of the existing pieces , or to hit their heads on the  Setting.  If you want certain things to happen in your game setting and you want the PCs to do it, you are not running a Game.  You are trying to write a short story, a novel, or an epic and are using the PCs as the protagonists and it is not fair to your Players.

Telling a Story takes the danger out of the Game.  If you are running a Lord of the Rings, a Wheel of Time, or a Game of Thrones and the PCs are needed to fulfill some destined role at the apex of the story arc, then any combat, trap, or natural disaster is just fluff.  There is no danger, no chance of failure, until the final Big Boss and, even then, it may be a joke, if you want a Glorious Ending for the Party.  Roll the dice, let every combat make a difference.  Have your villains and your set pieces and know that the Players may go the path you hope they will trod or they may make a mockery of your well laid plans.  If the paladin, whom you wanted to slay the Lich-King and restore the kingdom, gets killed by a lucky roll of a goblin bandit, DEAL WITH IT.  It is a game and there is chance, in any combat, that the PCs will come out the losers.  If you fudge the dice in their favor, then the defeat of the Tarrasque, the death of the Lich-King, and the overthrow of the Arch Devil are ultimately meaningless.  The Players will never know for certain, if they truly won day through good luck and planning or if you threw the Game for the Story.

Secondly…This one is just sad.  You’re the Game Master.  You can always “win.”  You know all the secrets and plots of the campaign.  You can create NPCs with more power, more magic items, and more numbers than the PCs.  If you need to fudge the dice to kill off PCs or even to just challenge them, then you are thinking on the wrong scale.  You do not have to fudge the dice to best the players.

This point is doubly troubling to me.  It presupposes that there is a conflict between the Players and the Game Master.  This is a false assumption.  The GM certainly runs the challenges and plays the agents opposing the PCs, but he or she is not out to defeat the Players.  The GM is there to provide the setting, to offer plot lines, to fold what the PCs do into the over all working of the campaign.  There is no win or lose clause between the Players and the Game Master in D&D or any other Role Playing Game.  This is not football or chess.  If everyone at the table has fun, then it is a win.  If one person has fun and everyone else is miserable, then it is a loss.  Even Total Party Kills can be fun, if the Game is played fairly and for enjoyment.  A good GM makes Awesome happen for the Players.  Here is a good example of that in DMing with Charisma.  The play is the thing.

Lastly for this post, this point is, mostly, for me.  As I said before, I create much of my game on-the-fly.  It seems to me that if I’m making things up and fudging my dice, my Players don’t have a fair stake in the game.  If I decide to suddenly drop a vile dragon into a game and then regret it because it is too powerful or too weak to oppose the PCs, I might be tempted to fudge the dice.   Others may say, “So what?  As long as, the Players have fun what is the difference?”  If I do that, then I take away the Players’ power in the game.  I’m no different than the Storyteller in my first point.  If the Players decide to explore a series of caves that I have not filled in yet and I decide that goblins own the caves, it is not fair for me to fudge the dice, when the PCs start wiping the floor with goblin guts.  If I do that, then I am acting like the GM in point #2.  If I have to or want to make it up on the spot, then I’ve got to let the dice be the arbitrators of the outcome; otherwise the PCs are no more or less than puppets on strings.  The Players never have a chance to shine.  There is no challenge.  Players have the right for the GM to treat them fairly.  The GM has to be honest in all things.  It is all too easy to for GMs to overpower the Players in the game.  Keeping the dice honest gives the GM the power to drop challenges, too great and too small,l in the PCs path on a whim and let the Players decide what to do with that challenge.  It lets everyone at the table have fun.

Until next time, Game On!

Here’s a follow up post, I wrote on this subject.

Red Ragged Fiend has a good post on this topic (2018.08.20)

Thoughts on the Loss of an Artist

Yesterday, I learned about the death of David Trampier or “D.A.T,” as he signed much of his work.  Before Elmore and Parkinson, before Lockwood and Reynolds, there was Sutherland and Trampier.  David Trampiers’s work in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons still sings to me.  In black and white, he drew the imaginations of many gamers and was a well-liked cartoonist for his comic, Wormy.  He painted the scene on the first ever Dungeon Master’s Screen (I still own 3 copies).  Trampier,Sutherland, and Otus are the ones who gave vision to many of my encounters and in my minds eye, it is their work that I first see when I think of traditional D&D monsters.  Trampier’s winged, black panther, Solomoriah, may have been the first of its kind and his ability to fly between the spheres is an image that has haunted my daydreams for years.  His art remains, but the artist is now gone.

It appears that Mr Trampier had a troubled life.  I and others have wondered about what caused him to separate himself from the gaming community; he had a lot of gaming credits to his name, when he withdrew from public life.  I never knew the man, but   his death at 59 bothers me greatly.

David Trampier was 22 or 23, when he and his brother-in-law, Tom Wham had illustrations published in the Monster Manual in 1977.  I was 12 or 13 and wouldn’t hear of D&D for another 3 years.  He wrote and illustrated a wonderful comic.  He seemed to have a great career.  His last published work of which I know is the Wormy comic installment in Dragon 132 in April 1988.  What happened in those 11 years that made him leave his public life and his art?  Where did the artist that gave me the rakshasa go?  Did he have a good life?  Did he regret his choice to leave?  Was he happy?  Who mourns him?  What do I do now?

What do I do?  I share my feelings about David Trampier with the world.  I game on and use his illustrations to enliven the imaginations of new players and old.  I continue to enjoy the great D&D artists that followed him.  I live my life to its fullest potential, create, and share.  After life is for living and living well, may I never forget that and do my best to do just that.

Kevin Gisi has a great You Tube response to mourning celebrities.  He is speaking about Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but I feel much the same about Dave Trampier.

Until next time, Game On!

A Probably Not-so Secret Secret (or Making it up as I go Along)

Want to know a secret.  I make it all up.  Nearly every bit of my D&D game, I improvise.

I have idea and plans, but when I sit down at the table, ninety percent of what goes on is created on the spot.  There are multiple reasons for why this is the case.  Often, my players head off in directions that I never imagined.  Other times, I get to the table and realize that what I created and built, just isn’t going to work.  Occasionally, I just don’t have anything ready; I have good intentions, but like the Road to Hell, I get paved with them.  Sometimes, I just want the thrill of creating on the fly.  Sometimes, it makes me feel like I am a huckster selling snake-oil.

Now, in my defense, I do create NPCs, and towns, and monsters with which the PCs may interact.  I love making and twisting maps and often have those on hand to help orient the PCs.  I design cultural touchstones, so the Storm Kingdom is different than Neverwinter.  I have been making secret cards for the NPCs and special places and items that exist on Rilmorn.  I craft magic items, sometimes before the game and sometimes during the game.  I plan combat and social encounters to challenge my players.  Yet, despite doing that work, I still seem to be making things up at the table.

There’s my secret.

Game on!

Beginnings and Endings

On Wednesday, February 26 in the Year of Our Lord 2014

Happy Fiftieth Birthday to Me!

When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, on that rainy, Sunday afternoon in March (which I’ve referenced so many times already) so many years ago, I never imagined that I’d end up with a library of 132 (if I counted correctly) hardcover books, numerous softcover books, hundreds of pre-packaged adventures, and reams of hand-drawn or photocopied maps.  I, also, never imagined that I would be still playing this game 35 or 34 years later.  It has been amazing.

I’ve traveled a long way, since those early days.  Rilmorn has been named and mapped.  I’ve had friends craft maps for me (Special Shout Out to Thom Thetford and John Hesselberg!).  The solar system in which it resides is defined in broad strokes.  TSR is gone.  Tens of thousands of words have been written about its history.  I have written blog posts as a traveler in Ryllmorrin.  Wizards of the Coast are set to release the fifth edition (DnD Next) this summer.  I’ve ran games in Rilmorn in at least fourteen cities in three states for an uncounted number of people.  I’ve a blog about gaming and designing Rillmorinn.  So far, I’ve had a series of world-spanning wars and two cataclysms (The Great Cataclysm and The Great War) to account for edition changes; this coming Saturday, I’ll be wrapping up the campaign that is paving the way from 4E to DnD Next, as part of my 50th birthday party.  It has been a long path, but I’m glad I traveled it. (2015.04.16)

Saturday, March 1, 2014 around 1 Post Meridian, Eastern Standard Time, we will begin the last game in my Giants in the Earth campaign.  The players will be trying to prevent three super computers from opening portals to the Far Realm and thereby destroying the world.  They are also going to have to save the dragon Dhivanara of the Purple Sands, as she gives birth.  All of this is tied up with the restoration of Castle Timeless and the Quan.

Way back in the 80s, I gave two friends of mine the opportunity to choose and define two parts of Rilmorn.  Mike and Thom chose to fill out the Seven Races of Marn and to give parameters to Inner World of Rylmorn.   Rillmorn is shaped like Skartaris with openings at both poles.  Three colonization crafts (that bore humans from other Earths which ultimately seeded humanity on Rilmorin) are crashed on the inner surface of the world.

Each of those ancient crafts (now, mostly buried and brutally scavenged) was controlled by a super computer.  Colossus, Goliath, and Titan still exist and are active.  Their AIs warped by millennia of neglect and magic, these super computers seek First and Final Theorems and in their despair are attempting to open gates to realms beyond mortal comprehension.

E3 and their allies cannot use standard adventurer logic and “Kill the Giants in the Earth.”  Destroying the super computers will not stop the Far Realm from ripping into the universe; the millennia of spells cast by the Giants themselves have already cracked the fabric of reality.  E3 Plus must “ground the giants” by planting magical/holy trees in the right spots.  After the trees are planted, they must be quickly aged, so the roots can intertwine with the system.  Once that has happened, each tree must be magically bound to the Quan – A mystical realm already restored by E3 member Feldspar von Quan.  All the while this is going on; yochlol demons and vile dragons will be attacking to stop the heroes, since they want reality to shatter.

Because I ran too subtle a plot, my players missed that Iomaudra the Iron Dryad, whom they saved several games ago, has the power to magically increase the age of a tree, when she sheds her blood upon it.  They may need to get her from Occipitus to complete their quest.

In addition to everything else, Dhivanara will seek out Surana.  Dhivanara is about to give birth to Chronepsis, the Triple Dragon of Fate.  E3 encountered Chronepsis during their “World Tour,” when they took their magical, steam-powered airship on an extended trading mission.  Dhivanara is being attacked by servants of Linden the Mistress of the Centre of Time, who sees Chronepsis as a threat to her dominion over time.

E3 also has to gather the three saplings before they can begin the saving process.  They need the Holy-Oak of Meliki (the only surviving cutting of the Holy-Oak in on Laurant in the Rilmoré Cluster), the Dreaming Tree of the Sleeping Gods (the seed of Dreaming Tree grew out of a magical working and vanished hundreds of years ago), and the Ivory Pine (Feldspar has a seedling of the Ivory Pine, but they need a sapling; the dryad Amarantha has one, but E3 doesn’t know where she is).

This is to what my gaming has led me: an epic, convoluted final showdown with the fate of the world on the line.  Isn’t that the way of all D&D?  It is going to be a great party and I’m going to enjoy it all!

Then it’s on my way to DnD Next!


Not a D&D Post

Live long enough and you will get old.  It’s a fact…or, at least, as close to a fact as I can see.  If You are like me, You look back on your youth and those days past and most days, You wander in happiness.  There are other days, days, like today, where happiness is entwined with a bittersweet longing.  I am nearing my half-century mark and (though I believe that I have seventy years left after Wednesday) today is wearing heavy on me.

This coming Saturday, my wife, my best friend, and two other close friends (and maybe my brother-in-law and nephew) will be getting together to end a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I have run, since May 2009.  I may also throw myself a birthday party.  (I started throwing myself birthday parties when I turned 18, because that way I got to do exactly what I wanted and it was done the way I wanted.  That said, Christina, my wife, has always gone out of her way to make my birthday special and I’ve not thrown a party for me, since we got together.)  Fifty years of living and the end of a long running campaign has gotten me to looking back into the past.

I’ve been trying to find the actual dates for CoastCon in March of 1979, because I’ve been claiming for years that the Sunday following that convention in Biloxi, Mississippi was the first day I played Dungeons and Dragons.  I think I was wrong.  CoastCon held its first convention at the Buena Vista hotel is 1978.  I went on Sunday of that first convention.  With that bit of knowledge, Davy couldn’t have gone to CoastCon in 1979, since I went to the 2nd one by myself for the weekend.  I must have been 16, when I started D&D and it must have been in 1980.  Oh, Well.

All of that is just preamble for what led me to start writing this.  I am feeling nostalgic today.  I look back at pictures of people I never knew and remember the days when I was young.  I remember the days when it was all new.  Everything had a sheen on it.  I remember being scared.  It was all brand new and I was (and often still am) terrified of being laughed at as I weeded my way through new situations…

Christina called and we visited for over twenty minutes.  During this conversation I talked my way around to things from the internet: a quote and a vlog.  They are relevant to the way I feel today.

Things change.  It is a part of life.  Day rolls into Night.  Seasons move steadily from one to the next.  That things are different than when I was younger is not the issue with my nostalgic sadness.  My sadness stems from the fact that those days can never be experienced again.

I spend much of my time these days watching my granddaughter discover the world.  I laugh with delight every time she sees something new and expands her worldview to make that new thing fit.  I love going to new conventions and taking Christina to DragonCon in 2006 was as fun as the first time I went so many years ago.  Every new person that I teach how to play D&D is a joy in my life.  Several years ago, I chose to live in the present; always seeking out new music, new genres of films and books, going to places which I’d never been before, and living as much as possible in world as it is today.  Even with all of that, some days I grow sad that life can never be experienced twice.  “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on.”

There is something profound which I am failing to say here on this page.  I do not seem to have the words to describe why I miss days which I never experienced.  I miss the days when my parents first met.  I miss the days when my in-laws eloped to South Carolina.  I miss the days when Nana and Papa were young and couldn’t go off Keesler Air Force Base, because Papa had been scheduled to ship out within the week.  I miss the days when Warm Springs, Georgia and Tallulah Falls, Georgia were happening places.  I miss the Sunday where Uncle Dale forgot to take up the Tithes and Offerings and his Uncle Fred called out to him at the end of the service that he “forgot to pass the plate.”  I miss the days when my parents were children and everything was new to them.

I miss the days, because we will always have them, but can never live them again.

Two Score Years Ago…

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson brought forth a new way to play make-believe.  It was called Dungeons and Dragons!

Jon Peterson says that the best guess for the release of Dungeon and Dragons is late January and the last Sunday in January 2014 is the day we can celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of D&D.  So, I did.  I celebrated the same way I do approximately every 2 weeks; I invited family and friends into my home to play D&D.  My Saturday group (Tasque Elzeny) consists of Christina (my wife), Spencer (my brother-in-law) and Clint (Spencer’s eldest child).  We are playing DnD Next.  My Sunday group (E3 Trading Company) holds my wife, Christina, and friends: James, Hil, and Matt; we are near the end of my Big 4E campaign: Giants in the Earth!  And now, I present to you my view of D&D:


Tasque Elzeny


E3 Trading Company

Yes, I still use my 1st Edition DM Screens.

I encountered out a few other people’s experiences with D&D.  Feel free to check out what Monte Cook, Mary Hamilton, Kobold Press, and RPG Geek have to say on the subject.  Like many people on the net, I, too, have gained great friendships through D&D.  I got to introduce friends to D&D.  My first days in D&D were, of course, among friends.  Without friends and players, I could not run a game, but that is not the best thing I get out of D&D.

I get to create.  I get to build.  I get to be every non PC in the multiverse.  I get to share in an interactive story crafted between my players and me.  I get to mess with maps.  I get to drop challenges into my games and watch amazing people completely bypass them by thinking of things of which I never conceived.  I get to play with languages.  I get to have fun.

Thank you, each and everyone on my players, past, present, and future.

Cross posting this on my Live Journal.