Available now at your FLGS… An all new regional sourcebook for the Kingdoms of Kalamar. This tome includes: Imagine, if you will, equatorial Africa with cities and cultures that rival the ancient Roman world for their glory. Now, in your mind's eye you have a glimmer of what is Svimohzia, a land of diverse cultures, shining cities, terrifying dangers and ancient wonders. This is a land unlike any other - and a land that's waiting for you. Whether you hail from the massive hobgoblin kingdom of Ul-Karg, a savage wild elf tribe deep in the Vohven Jungle, or one of the vast human kingdoms from mercantile Ahznomahn to war-torn Zazahni, this supplement allows you to create and equip any character for endless adventures in this incredible setting. This fascinating 256-page hardcover is compatible with the current edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game, and provides players and Dungeon Masters with a fully realized island continent for only $34.99! Vast savannahs, deep jungles, detailed city and regional maps, along with historical, cultural and geographical information, provide the DM with unlimited adventure options! Plus, an array of regional prestige classes, feats, career paths, weapons, armors, equipment and spells, lets players easily customize their character, whether hero, villain, warrior or scholar! • Races and Regional Feats! Learn about the variety of player character options for human, humanoid and monstrous races, and build your character with over 23 feats! • Classes and Paths! With details about 17 different classes, and 12 career paths with feat progressions, easily customize your character, whether hero, villain, warrior or scholar! • Prestige Classes! Become a Disciple of Zhulurahn, a ferocious Meldiz savage, a transforming primal warrior, a vigilant savannah stalker or an elite Sedizehn killer! • Weapons, Armor and Equipment! Equip your character with a wide variety of weapons, tools, armor, musical instruments, mounts, ships and other special items found herein! • Spells and Magic Items! Unlock the arcane power of cheetah’s speed, nemesis, Onahu’s cloak of courage, and over a dozen other new spells! • Detailed Kingdoms, Towns and Cities! Along with information on each kingdom’s history, rulers, noble houses, topography and other details, you’ll discover dozens of cities, all with information on population, government, economy, temples, underworld, interesting sites and more! • Culture and Society in Depth! Learn about each land’s nobility, social castes, military forces, religion, clothing, culture, diet, trading practices, recreational habits, architecture and more! • Easy-To-Use Quick Reference Sections! Whether you need a new name for your character, a listing of noble houses, or how to pronounce and translate an unknown word, these sections give you the information you need. • Monsters and NPCs! This ancient land can be quite dangerous for the unwary, and some of its terrors lie in wait for you here! • Adventure Hooks and Tips, Detailed Maps of Svimohzia and Much More! KENZER AND COMPANY © Copyright 2007, Kenzer and Company, All Rights Reserved. Knights of the Dinner Table™ magazine (ISSN 1526-307X) is published monthly by Kenzer and Company, 511 W. Greenwood Ave., Waukegan, IL 60087. Periodicals Postage Paid at Libertyville, IL. Postmaster: Send address changes to: KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE 511 W Greenwood Ave. Waukegan, IL 60087 Internet: [email protected] (editorial inquiries only) or [email protected] (all other inquiries). World Wide Web: http://www.kenzerco.com Submissions: We accept submissions for strip ideas, jokes, cartoons, etc. We are interested in running anything that other gamers and fans would enjoy. Check out our website for writer’s guidelines. Legal Notice: Knights of the Dinner Table, HackMaster and Kingdoms of Kalamar are registered trademarks of Kenzer and Company. Take the Money and Run, Cries from the Attic, Table Talk, KODT, RetroKODT, Hacklopedia of Beasts, Off the Shelf, Tales from the Table, Adventurers for Hire, Summon Web Scryer, GameVine, Weird Pete’s Bulletin Board, Back Room at the Games Pit, Brian’s Small Press Picks, Disks of Wondrous Power, The Gamer’s Rant on the Movies/TV, Parting Shots, Hard Eight Enterprises, One-Two Punches, Gary Jackson Files, SpellJacked, GameMasters’ Workshop, All Things Magic, Players’ Advantage, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Rustlers of the Night, Game Mechanic the Kenzer and Company Logo, kenzerco.com, Radio Free KODT, RFKODT. Celebrity Hack, Gamer’s Rant and all prominent characters and likenesses thereof are trademarks of Kenzer and Company. Dungeons & Dragons and D&D are trademarks owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and are used by Kenzer and Company under license. © 2007 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. PRINTED IN U.S.A. TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN Issue #132 • October 2007 THE KODT DEVELOPMENT TEAM IS J OLLY R. B L ACKBURN • B RIAN J ELKE S TE VE J OHANSSON • D AVID S. K ENZER TABLE OF C ONTENT S DEPA DEPA RTMENTS Cries from the Attic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Table Talk™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Game Vine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 Back Room at the Games Pit™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 Brian’s Small Press Picks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 Weird Pete’s Bulletin Board™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 Parting Shots™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 ™ GAMEMASTER’S WORKSHOP Rustlers of the Night™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38 Treasures and Mysteries: Part VI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Deadly Trappings™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Casting Call . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Bait and Tackle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 All Things Magic™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Close Encounters of the Random Kind . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 Dungeons: Ready to Occupy by Craig Zipse . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58 REGULA REGULA R CO LUMNS Tales from the Table . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Hacker’s Guide to Garweeze Wurld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .57 Lost Game Safari . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60 Lookin’ at Comics™ by Tony Digerolamo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62 A Gamer’s Rant on Movies™ by Noah Antwiler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Summon Web Scryer™ by Kenneth Newquist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65 SUBSCRIPTIONS: A one year subscription (12 issues) is only $48.00 (US $66.00 in Canada and US $98.00 Overseas). To subscribe, send a check or money order (made payable to Kenzer and Company) to: KENZER & COMPANY KODT SUBSCRIPTIONS, 511 W Greenwood Ave.Waukegan, IL 60087 You can also subscribe by credit card directly on our online store at www.kenzerco.com. BACK ISSUES and other KODT merchandising is also available. First Class Subscriptions are available for an additional charge. Geek Fu Action Grip™ by Mur Lafferty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66 Disks of Wondrous Power™ by Rick Moscatello . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .67 Off the Shelf™ by Paul Westermeyer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 Board Squawk™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 FEATURES FEATURES Players’ Advantage: Lusting for Evil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35 Game Designer (filk) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Exploring Viking Themes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52 Players’ Advantage: A Character Driven Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 THE STRIPS: by the Usual Suspects The Dining Room of Horrendous Doom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Seven Gates, Seven Fates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Owner of a Broken Heart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Journey of Discovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27 One-Two Punches™ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75 HOMEBREW STRIPS A Convenient Truth (Fuzzy Knights) by Noah Chinn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72 Fantasy Wrongness by the Brothers Grinn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Unnamed cartoons by Bill “Indy” Cavalier, Joseph Hellar, Scott R. Krol, Chris Aviello & Sean Keith Williams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80 CREDITS PUBLISHER Kenzer and Company EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jolly R. Blackburn [email protected] ASSISTANT EDITOR Barbara Blackburn [email protected] PROOFREADER Bev Shideler PRODUCTION MANAGER Steve Johansson SALES AND MARKETING Jennifer Kenzer [email protected] SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES [email protected] STRIP WRITING Jolly R. Blackburn Brian Jelke Steve Johansson David S. Kenzer KODT STRIP ART Jolly Blackburn COVER ART Talon Dunning COVER WRANGLER Mark Plemmons CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS Brendon Fraim Brian Fraim The Brothers Grinn Craig Zipse Angi Shearstone Bill “Indy” Cavalier James Montney Jerry Duginski Jolly Blackburn Sean Keith Williams Joseph W. Hellar Scott R. Krol Chris Aviello ABOUT THE COVER Talon Dunning has been a professional illustrator since 1997, working for West End Games, Wizards of the Coast, Kenzer and Company, Green Ronin, and many more. His website is http://www.talonart.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS D T was accidentally created by Jolly R. Blackburn way back in 1990 as ‘filler’ for his small press magazine, K S It was something of a ‘creative burp’ and Jolly really didn’t give it NIGHTS OF THE INNER ABLE™ 9• 99 •1 CHARMED PERSONS •2 00 3• •1 8• 99 •1 99 7• HADIS™. much thought. Perhaps that’s why he was just as surprised as anyone that soon KODT was overshadowing everything else he’d ever done and that the created was now controlling the creator. Fortunately, writing and drawing KODT strips isn’t the lonely job it was in the past. Hundreds of fans have contributed to the beast over the years and since joining the ranks of KENZER AND COMPANY and the formation of the KODT D-TEAM, the Knights have gone far beyond anything Jolly or fellow D-team members, Steve Johansson, David S. Kenzer or Brian Jelke ever imagined. With over 120 issues under their belts, it’s been a wild ride and the D-Team looks forward to seeing where the gang takes them next. In 2006, Jolly was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Barbara Blackburn Jolly R. Blackburn Tony DiGerolamo Paul Westermeyer The Brothers Grinn Rick Moscatello Kenneth Newquist Mur Lafferty David S. Kenzer Ann McIntosh Michael Sharp Noah Antwiler Nick Medinger Craig Zipse Brian Smith Noah J.D. Chinn Andy Miller David Reeder Ann Jenks Mike Carniello Scott James Conover Kevin Vance Jack Grayson ™ READER QUESTIONS... omebody pointed out recently the we haven’t dug through the stack of Reader Questions in a while. Since it’s deadline time and I have nothing as far as a subject for an editorial — well, looks like a good time to chip away at that pile. Q: Why don't we ever see Whitey Moran or Logan Foremax at the midnight “Gathering of GMs” at Hawg Wallers? A: Actually Whitey was shown bellying up at Hawg’s bar in Last Call (BOT #17). After the local memorial service for Gary Jackson. Although readers may have missed it since he only had one line and nobody referred to him by name. As hinted in many strips over the years — neither Whitey nor Logan seem to get along very well with the other groups. Chances are they aren’t a part of the “Gathering of GMs” because they’ve never been invited. Observant readers may have noticed Logan made an appearance in a recent strip (albeit a brief one). He will be figuring in a story line more prominently very soon. Q: Who is “Our man in Muncie” referred to by the Hard Eight staff...? A: You don’t really expect us to answer that one do you...? Q: How in the world did Pete come to own a Chimp? A: You can find a bio/backstory on Squirrely on our website under “Who’s Who in KODT.” But the short answer is Squirrely was purchased by Pete for the sum of $586 at a military surplus auction. Which obviously begs further questions. Q: Any chance of seeing Knights of the Dinner Table as an animated series/feature...? S A: This comes up a lot. The truth is we’ve been approached by several studios and interested parties over the years. As much as we’d love to see it happen — the right person hasn’t come along yet. Our insistence of having at least some level of approval/input has probably been the biggest stumbling block. Dave Kenzer loves to tell the story of the studio suit who was interested in KODT but wanted to make changes to the characters (Bob, Dave, Brian, B.A. and Sara). Namely making them more ‘heroic’ and successful in their real lives. That pretty much sums things up. Obviously we’d like to see it happen. Who knows. Q: I was reading some old issues of KODT the other day and was shocked/surprised to learn that Gary Jackson has other children besides Timmy. What’s the deal with that? A: It’s been hinted that Gary had been married several times and has other children. It’s also been hinted that his relationship with those children was estranged — which is why he had taken a special interest in Timmy (hoping not to repeat the mistakes of the past). Other than the brief mention you refer to, those other’ children have never figured into the strips. That’s it for this Q&A I’m afraid. Hope you enjoy the issue in hand. And yes -- the last few issues have been running a bit late. Blame the summer con season. We should be back on track by next issue. Thanks for your patience. Game on! Jolly R. Blackburn October 2, 2007 hey -- LIL’ KNOBBY FOOT is always WHINING because we NEVER let him do anything -- let’s have HIM do it. \ got a BETTER idea. let’s make GILEAD do it. he wants to CONTRIBUTE to the SUCCESS of this party here’s his BIG CHANCE. \ tell him if he can RETRIEVE the helmet he can KEEP it. um. sara -- don’t forget. you’re STILL unconscious from the SLEEP GAS TRAP bob set off. \ PROTEST!! you can’t use my HENCHMAN like a LIVING mine-sweeper. good thinking, bob. if the HELMET turns out to be WORTHLESS -no loss. and we can check this room off on the MAP as being CLEAR. above: ten years ago this month -- from \ssue twelve of KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE: JUST FOR THE HELM OF IT. the KNIGHTS inadvertently create an ARCH NEMESIS out of a LOWLY henchman. 4 ——————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run ™ It’s the GIFT * that KEEPS on GIVING A twelve issue SUBSCRIPTION to KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE for the GAMER in your life. Go to www.kenzerco.com for details or look at the bottom of page two * Well — at least twelve times a year. ™ Our Readers Talk Back! episodes (the biker bar exit was brilliant) or “Sara Saves the Knights from the Evil Goths” (her deprogramming in Brian’s basement was purely sadistic.) In any case, you always make me laugh, chuckle and guffaw. To dish out so much pleasure is a wonderful gift and I just wished to thank you for all of your truly funny insights. Like most fans, I also have an imaginary episode I would like to see done up. It was prompted by Dave and Bob’s grousing about other peoples’ online bragging about their exploits and by a real gaming situation I didn’t believe I could ever pull off. EDITOR’S NOTE: The mail just never seems to stop. While we make every effort to read each and every letter, it is not always possible to give a personal reply. So even if your letter isn’t published or if you don’t get a direct response, rest assured you ARE being heard. Remember, KODT is an interactive magazine. We want you, the reader, to be involved. So keep your suggestions, thoughts and opinions (constructive and otherwise) coming. Opinions expressed by readers are not necessarily shared by the editor or Kenzer and Company. Please be aware that due to space considerations, some letters have been edited and/or trimmed. — Jolly My Son. My GameMaster. i! My name is Tina Fitch. I live in Bella Vista, Arkansas, am 62 years old, a gamer and mother of Ford Fitch (aka The Demon GM from the Lowest, Deepest, Darkest Pit of the Seven Levels of Hell) who has kindly agreed to deliver this missive. As if you haven’t already guessed, this is a fan letter. I really love, admire and get a kick out of “The Knights of the Dinner Table.” H Several concepts from “Knights” have become household sayings around here, such as “Stay out of the steam tunnels, dummy!”, “Look out for the Killer Gazebo!” and, “Don’t kill the llamas!” come readily to mind. Truly, I can’t decide which “Knights” is my favorite episode. It is either: all the “Steam Tunnel” related Here it is: What if HackMaster had a contest to pick out “The Greatest Gaming Coups of the Year?” People could submit their greatest feat (attested to by their duly-certified GM and in 200 words or less) and the feats would be posted online at the official hackmasters.com web site. The voting could be by a panel from Hard Eight, a selected board of say five certified GMs picked at random, and by a popular vote on line. The prize could be something really “kewl” and be presented by Gary Jackson himself at Gary Con. The kicker is that both Dave and Bob are in the final four for winning. The sad news is that they lose to me. My greatest coups happened when my dear son had us all on a quest to find several artifacts, that put together would save the world. In his typical devious way he had the last artifiact guarded by a dragon. Not just any dragon, but the biggest, baddest, smartest, most-talented, evil, people hating (and eating), powerful, nasty, sadistic, greedy, canny, deranged, all out vile, eat-yourheart-out B.A. Felton, demigod of an elder dragon. Ford created this monster for the express purpose of killing, seriously maiming, degrading, make the players go broke, lose it all, and teach you the lesson that you can’t outfox this GM. was no way that we were going to get out of this mess alive, let alone with our mission accomplished. Therefore, I rolled for a chance to talk the dragon into giving my companions an hour to prepare to die, while he and I played cards and talked. I rolled a nat 20 and accomplished what I wanted. In short, my character, a Ranger, talked the dragon into: not fighting, killing and eating us, going into partnership with us in opening a casino, hotel and bar in his cave, thereby becoming a business dragon and president/CEO of a major corporation, getting richer, feeding off of human greed and frailty and creating more misery than just killing people. Also, I convinced him to give us the artifact we needed, and showed him how he could become a king, make laws and have all sorts of fun playing bureaucracy and politics. It only took throwing six nat 20s in a row, with my sacred, mottled orange, hand-me-down dice. Afterwards, I could just hear Bob groaning, “Six nat 20s in a row by a 62-year-old woman in Arkansas? It’s not natural!” (This of course is a pun on that fact that nat stands for natural. It is also a bad pun for the little-known fact that Arkansas is called “The Natural State,” which naturally makes me a Naturalhum maybe “The Natural” yeh- this is bad, real bad. Please forgive my natural inclination to make puny efforts at humor.) I also heard Dave screaming: “How can she have won? She didn’t hack anything! You have to hack something. You can’t just talk. You have to be a hacker to win at HackMaster!” Sorry, Charlie, er…sorry, Dave, you should have read my bio, then you would have known that my maiden name IS Hacker! For better or for worst, that’s my dream episode and if you don’t believe it, ask the GM from you know where. Thanks for everything! Respectfully, the Vice President of the Over the Hill Fan Club of “The Knights of the Dinner Table” (Weird Pete is President, but I’ll get him next election!) Tina Hacker-Fitch What happened was that I knew that there HOW TO CONTACT US : Via ONLINE FORUM — Just pop over to www.kenzerco.com and visit our discussion forums. : via E-MAIL — Send your strip ideas, reader mail, back room fodder and questions to [email protected] : via SNAIL MAIL — Or write to us at KODT c/o KenzerCo, 511 W Greenwood Ave., Waukegan, IL 60087. 6 ——————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run ™ some drastic change in the landscape (such as readers no longer picking up the magazine) we’ll continue to bring you strips and content month to month. A Hard Day’s Knight absolutely love the cover for issue 131 — A Hard Day’s Knight. My wife pointed out something that I hadn’t immediately noticed. The artwork shows Sara, Bob, Brian and Dave portraying their characters from the current storyline and NOT the Untouchable Trio (+1) as they normally do. Nice touch (Although, Brian in fur undies sort of creeps me out). I There’s something else unusual about the cover. I had the unshakeable feeling I’d seen it before. Finally, it hit me (Thanks to the little clue the Fraim brothers hid in their by-line). It would appear the cover is a homage to the classic Larry Elmore painting that appeared in the AD&D 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook years ago. Again — nice touch. Of course it’s fitting that the Knights’ dragon would be BIGGER than the orginal (and hence the bragging rights are bigger). If you ever saw fit to produce a poster of this particular cover I would definitely buy it. (I’ve made it available on our Cafe Press storefront. -Steve) I would love to see more classic art parodies in the future. In fact here’s an idea for you. I hear Elmore is a fan of KODT. Have you ever thought about having him do a cover? I would love to see his take on the characters. Not to mention Parkinson, Caldwell, Otus, Easley... I’m sure I’m not the only fan who would appreciate such greats lending their talents to the magic that’s KODT. Keep up the good work. I’m enjoying the Temple story. And the wife loves the occasional strip with Bob’s niece and nephew. G.A.R. Glad you liked the Elmore tribute, Greg. Hey, I’m with you. I’d love to see a genuine Elmore gracing the cover of KODT. Just as soon as we scrounge up a Wish Ring we’ll make that happen. — Jolly : State of KODT...? ey question: With Dragon, the magazine KI grew up with and that has always inspired me, dead — how viable is a PRINTED version of KODT? I have my trusty check book out to once again start subscribing but I have to know, will you survive this "on-line displacer beast" that appears to have gotten the best of Dragon? Will KODT break my heart the way Dragon has? I want to support a PRINTED gaming magazine and KODT has fit the bill very nicely. I miss it. It is far more than a mere comic. Marv No fears, Marv. We understand your concerns and you’re definitely not alone. With several gaming magazines folding in 2007 a lot of readers have been left wondering if dead-tree gaming magazines are destined to become extinct. The answer in a word — no. Still — the question keeps coming up. Even one of our regular columnists pulled me aside recently at GenCon because he had heard rumors KODT was ceasing publication. Pay no heed. Frustrating as they may be they are rumors and nothing more. — Jolly : KODT on Bob and Tom Radio Show... ust thought you’d like to know that JKnights of the Dinner Table and Kenzer and Company were mentioned on the nationally broadcast radio show, Bob and Tom the other day. I was driving back to Indiana University with my roommate when a caller broached the subject. It was a brief mention but hearing the name of my favorite comic book on the radio really made my day. I yelled out a proper “Hoody Hoo!” to celebrate the moment. Several in fact. Very cool. I’m sure by now someone else has already pointed out but I thought I’d drop you a note. Jay Shelby Thanks for the heads up, Jay. Indeed, several people alerted us (including my Uncle). No idea how the subject came up but I’m sorry I missed it. — Jolly ❑ why don’t you WRITE US? we’re HUNGRY to HEAR from you. [email protected] KODT is doing just fine and we have no plans on going to an online only format. We enjoy what we’re doing and barring Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ————————————— 7 The Dining Room of Horrendous Doom with steve johansson and barbara blackburn okay -- so, you step up to the EDGE of the gate and ENTER.... it’s almost as though you are SUCKED in as you LEAN FORWARD... of the FOUR GATES; trial, tribulation, ordeal and judgement only ORDEAL remains standing. surrounding the ruins of the gates is a VAST battlefield with dead orcs, hobgoblins, ogres and giants piled high. then EXIT this PLANE of EXISTENCE with an AUDIBLE pop... just as the KNIGHTS were preparing to ‘clean up’ and LOOT the battle field dead -- a LARGE ARMY of ORKIN reinforcements arrived on the scene. taking the ONLY apparent avenue of escape the PARTY leaped through the PORTAL OF ORDEAL... you have just been PLUCKED from the world of LIGHT!! you have the UNEASY sensation that you are being PULLED through a LONG DARK TUNNEL... h-hey!! what GIVES? who turned out the LIGHTS? you would be WELL ADVISED to STAY put and REMAIN seated, brian. oh gawd... * CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ RECAP: the KNIGHTS arrived at the GATES OF HARBINGER -- only to find THREE of the portals had been DESTROYED. by jolly r. blackburn ummm -- did anyone happen to bring TORCHES? \’ve got a BAD FEELING about this... \’m gonna grab a soda. anybody WANT anything? things are about to UNFOLD at an INSANELY rapid pace. to REFLECT that you’ll be REQUIRED to make some QUICK and SNAPPY decisions for your characters. casting a LIGHT SPELL here, b.a.!! good idea, dave. * The sound of B.A.’s “Klap-On” turning off the lights. “…so then ATHENA turned to HERA and said, ‘let’s get KRAKEN’ -snicker- GET IT? let’s get ‘KRAKEN’?” —Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #23, Filler 8 ——————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ your SPELLS are USELESS, dave. you find yourself in PITCH BLACKNESS... so DARK you can FEEL it on your skin -- a CRAWLING SENSATION -- like one gets when WALKING through a DOORWAY blocked by COBWEBS. you can’t even see your HAND before your face. all around you -- deep gutteral SNARLS, GRUNTS and GROWLS from unseen HOSTILES. at times you can FEEL and SMELL the damp hot breath of SOMEONE or SOMETHING panting over your shoulder -- just for a MOMENT. as though you were being TAUNTED. FEAR grips you. SEIZES your mind.. you TRY to SCREAM but there is only SILENcE. \’m trying to build a MOOD here, brian -- you’re just going to have to DEAL with it. um, b.a. -- would it be POSSIBLE to turn on some lights? \ can’t see to WRITE. somebody should be taking notes -- this could be IMPORTANT INFORMATION. as \ was saying --- the SILENCE has become DEAFENING!! you can FEEL your hearts THUMPING madly in your chests -- but you can’t HEAR them. you feel like you are HALLUCINATING -- troubled memories and UNRESOLVED ISSUES from the WORLD you just LEFT behind HAUNT you... feelings of REGRET...? or are you being JUDGED? this is like that bad ACID TRIP nitro laid on my CHARACTER once. cripes -- this is a LOT of detail. c’mon b.a. -- \ need to WRITE this down. SSSSHHHH!!! you’re being SUCKED through a VACUUM. we’re going to observe a few seconds of complete SILENCE to help PROPERLY set the.... CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ “\ got three cracked ribs last year after we BIG FOOTED the RISK TOURNAMENT!” —Dave Bozwell, Bundles of Trouble #18, A Question of Honor Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ————————————— 9 quit clowning around -- your characters are DISORIENTED. -sputter- what the HELL do you think you’re doing...? yeah yeah -- just give me a SEC -- WOULD ya?? \’m trying to CONVEY that. \ JUST wanna get that part DOWN about ‘troubled memories’ and ‘unresolved issues’.... scribble scribble CLAP!! CLAP!! aaaah --- c’mon, b.a. -- WE GET IT!! -spit- -sputter- it’s DARK. REALLY, REALLY DARK!! HEY!! NOW YOU CUT THAT OUT!!! yeah, yeah, just let me finish making a few... ewwww --- SCARY!! you’ve properly set the tone. can you turn the frickin’ LIGHTS back on NOW...?!! CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ DAMMIT, BRIAN -- no, \ can’t. you’re just gonna have to DEAL with... now -- as \ was sayng... CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ this reminds me of the SPELL DUEL between the two MAGES in CONAN the DESTROYER. why are you being so childish, b.a.? CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ CUT IT OUT!!! it’s a player’s RIGHT to be able to take proper NOTES!! so -- it’s a PISSING CONTEST now is it? FINE!! CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ I-I’M WARNING YOU BRIAN! we can keep this up ALL night. CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ hey -- what the hell...?? why ain’t it WORKING....? oh NICE going FAT HEAD -- CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ you BROKE my mom’s KLAP-ON!! \’m deducting the REPLACEMENT cost from your “TABLE DEPOSIT”. * CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ CLAP¡¡ * Brian has destroyed so many tables over the years, B.A.’s mom requires a “Table Deposit” be maintained. “leadership must run in the family!! \ have an uncle in the idaho national guard!!” —Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #3, Balance of Terror 10 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ perfect -- now MAYBE we can get THROUGH this without any FURTHER interruption... oh don’t go gettin’ your DICE BAG all in a WAD. wait?!!! we’re actually FALLING...? probably just a FUSE. as you FALL in COMPLETE silence into ETHEREAL NOTHINGNESS -- you sense bits of MATTER, DEBRIS and gawd knows what else passing THROUGH you -- like LEAVES through a SEWER GRATE. we talkin’ all out FREE FALL...? as in ‘TERMINAL VELOCITY’? \ was under the impression we were FLOATING? * -fumble-rummage-fumble- FINALLY -- you see a faint CIRCLE of light form beneath you. it’s just a dim SPECK really. or a sort of FLUTTER-FALL? but within a matter of SECONDS it GROWS. to the size of a RIPE MELON. well -- you can’t be QUITE sure... your clothes are RUFFLING. it suddenly DAWNS on you that you are falling toward it -- you feel your HAIR being SWEPT back. -fumble-rummage-fumble- at a GREAT rate of... but with no VISUAL points of reference... -click-click- what the...? -switch- q unbelievable... -scribble-scribble- * For those interested — see Bundles of Trouble Volume Fourteen: Temple of Horrendous Doom to compare B.A.’s set up with Weird Pete’s “SHE WAS NAKED? you had my character running around the dungeon NAKED??” —Sara Felton Bundles of Trouble #10, Shouldda Been There!! Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 11 -firk- -ding- -blastyou REALLY take the CAKE -- how ‘bout \ start DOCKING E-PEES...? you KNOW that BRIAN...? don’t mind me, b.a. -um..., keep a MINER’S LAMP in your BRIEF CASE do ya? PLEASE... huh...? crud! how would you like thaa... the BATTERIES went DEAD. -fizzzt- CONTINUE... -blink!!- wonderful... now just SIT there and let’s get THROUGH this. okay -- so it suddenly DAWNS on you that you are falling toward this rapidly growing “SPECK” of light at an INCREDIBLE rate of SPEED. the circle of light appears to have MASS and TEXTURE. YOOWWWL!!! GEEZUS, JOSEPH MOTHER OF...!!! and QUITE SOLID as you DRO.... s-something just BIT me on the frickin’ ANKLE!! very, funny, bob. GAAAA!!! nice try but... WHAT THE FLYING SAM FRICK...?!! da-dave...?!!!! cripes, dude!! what the hell’s wrong with you? s-something just RAN across the TABLE -\ SWEAR to GAWD!! RY!-SCUR “but they’re on a perpetual KILLING SPREE. \ can’t even introduce an NPC without one of the guys pulling a gun and BLOWING him away before he can get TWO WORDS out.” —B.A. Felton, KODT Issue #63, Nudge in the Right Direction 12 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ whoah -- EASY everyone. oh -- just CALM down. gawd!! my -- if this is someone’s idea of a JOKE... um -- b.a...? this is a SILLY question. but you DID put PROWLER in the GARAGE before you decided to TURN out the lights... P-PROWLER...?!! b.a. -- please -- TELL me you did. um.... er... you know that FREAK-ASS CAT goes into ‘BEZERKER PREDATOR’ MODE when the LIGHTS go out!!! HOLY CRAP ON A STICK¡¡¡ THE C-COLONEL IS LOOSE IN THE HOUSE¿¿¡¡ IN TH-THE oh gawd B.A., DARK¿¡¡ what were you THINKING?!! OH GAWD¡ OH GAWD¡ WHADDA WE DO...¿¡¡ someone’s gotta make a RUN for that FUSE BOX... heh -- if yer lookin’ for VOLUNTEERS, MISSY look SOMEWHERE else. -gulp- eeeeeasy -- everyone. EASY... let’s just STAY calm... oh this is bad. this is so-SO bad. meowwwrrrr.... ‘member that time we had a BLACK OUT in the MIDDLE Of a game of RISK?!! \ was TRAPPED the better part of FOUR HOURS in the LAUNDRY ROOM n-no SUDDEN movements. he’s ALL ABOUT -gulp- movement!! nobody MOVE until we THINK of something. “think of something”...? well HERE’s a thought... “\ had to take FEAR OF WATER and IMAGINARY ALLERGY TO GRASS on the P SERIES CHARACTER PSYCHOSIS TABLES.” —Brian Van Hoose Bundles of Trouble #10, The DeathMaster Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 13 oh gawd -- he’s just SITTING out there -in the DARK. shya’right -- like \’m THAT stupid. no way. YOU’RE the GENIUS who TURNED out the LIGHTS -- you’re the JERK who BROKE the KLAP-ON. now why don’t YOU be the HERO and make a DASH for that FUSE BOX, b.a.!! why don’t YOU go....? guys! guys! this isn’t helping. \ can FEEL his eyes burning a HOLE in me. SIZING US UP!! d-did you HEAR something...? SHRIEK!!! RY!-SCUR -SL AP¡ ¡- G-GEEZUS!! he just made a “RAKING CHARGE” on me!! oh -- t-thank gawd he only has ONE EYE and no DEPTH PERCEPTION... bob’s right... he’s just trying to LURE out the WEAKEST target... let’s just SIT here quietly for a few moments... maybe he’ll get BORED and go away... meowwwrrrr.... it was just a GRAZE. \ picked a BAD DAY to wear SHORTS... he’s TOYING with us -- stay put everyone... -rustle-whimper- SIXTEEN MINUTES LATER... hey bob -- maybe you could use the LIGHT from your CELL PHONE and... been pretty QUIET for a while... maybe someone should make a DASH for that FUSE BOX...? no way, bro. that BASTARD is PATIENT he’s been know to LIE IN WAIT for HOURS... it’s YOUR house, b.a. -you got the BEST chance of making it in the DARK... man - \ gotta GO. really bad... ME...?!!! no way -- it’s in my POCKET -\’d have to MOVE my arms sure wish \ hadn’t had that third DIET FAYGO... “okay as you reach the center of the canyon you hear a mocking voice coming high up from the rim of the canyon. looking up you see ahk-tang mooning you!!!!” —B.A. Felton Bundles of Trouble #3, An Orc Too Far 14 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ LUCKY ME -- trapped in a ROOM filled with HEROIC MEN TYPES... huh...? oh -- just ME, dude. CHARLESTON CHEW. oh --- right. g-guys....? well we can’t just SIT here for... WAY to play the “\’m just a GIRL” card. really SLOW -munchhand-to-mouth movements... -munch- \ HEAR something... oh -- t-thank gawd nice try SARA -- won’t work. -crunch-chew-munch- oh SUNUVA... damn DEMON SPAWNED BASTARD OF A HELL CAT!! hey -- there’s an idea. he LOVES dice. \ think he got my DICE BAG on that LAST charge. maybe we could HURL a few across the room and DISTRACT him -- then make a BREAK for it. \ gotta couple of BAD-DICE here -- LOW rollers. shya’right... if \ could just SORT ‘em out from the GOOD ones... and you can KISS those DICE goodbye. just do it! he’s DUE for another CHARGE! the COLONEL NEVER gives up his SPOILS. let me try something... hmmmm... lemee check my HEAD LAMP... sometimes the BATTERY CASE just needs a... worst case scenario -- my MOM gets home around MIDNIGHT. -fidget-twiddle-shake- KLICK -- SWITCH¡¡ sara may be ON to something -frippppmeowwwrrrr.... “\ don’t know who started that ‘BOB PUTS HIS SKIRT ON ONE LEG AT A TIME’ thread, but he’s a DEAD MAN \ tell ya!” — Bob Herzog Bundles of Trouble #23, Filler Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 15 Seven Gates, Seven Fates looks like \ came out okay. later that same night... by jolly blackburn RAT BASTARD!!! how does that CAT do it...? okay guys -you’ve had time to take INVENTORY... oh somebody KILL me -- PLEASE!! let’s get back to the game. he got the MATE to my NUBIAN D-TWENNY WIDE ROLLERS. -- \ lost a few SIX-SIDERS -- nothing \ can’t LIVE without. he COMPLETELY ignored my crappy MUD DICE and went straight for my matched CRYSTAL CASTLE meteor-iron set... sounds like MAYBE it’s time to organize another EXPEDITION into the CRAWL SPACE. okay, so lesee -it’s been TWO YEARS -- he’s probably rebuilt his HOARD considerably by now. what...? are you NUTS? where were we...? bob’s right -- BACK BURNER that idea for ANOTHER day. oh -- RIGHT. the GROWING circle of LIGHT. he’d be EXPECTING us. DAMMIT! \ can’t believe he took my GARYCON ‘94 NUMBER 2 PENCIL. a few moments later... as you FALL the circle continues to GROW and GROW and begins to take on greater SHAPE and DETAIL. finally you see it -- the “object” below you is a vast SEA of MOLTEN LAVA. there also appears to be an ATMOSPHERE forming around you. the SILENCE is broken by the ROAR of WIND as it tears at your FLAPPING clothing. and set adrift in the MIDDLE of it...? \ hope somebody brought some BLANK character sheets -we’re gonna NEED em. definitely an “E” ticket ride. floats an ISLAND!! lava CRASHES on its rocky shores sending showers of SPARKS and FLAME into the sky. “\ was UNTOUCHABLE until that THRALL-SQUIRREL made a MEAT SNACK out of me.” —Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #17, Bad to the Gnome 16 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ as you CONTINUE your PLUMMET you pass through a THICK bank of BLACK CLOUDS -- your NOSTRILS filled with the smell of SULPHUR and FOUL gases. but only for a MOMENT... for everything around you “BLINKS” and is gone. once THROUGH the clouds the VISTA below is even MORE spectacular. you SUDDENLY find yourselves STANDING in the relative calm of a small ENCLOSED HEPTAGON-SHAPED court yard. high on a ROCKY CRAG you spot this ENORMOUS STRUCTURE... whoah! whoah! back up. hold that MAP-LOOKING thingy back up again. \ BARELY got to see it. that’s EXACTLY right. you were TELEPORTED seconds after it came into VIEW. sorry -- but your CHARACTERS really only got a BRIEF glimpse. oh..., very well. \’ll show it again - but VERY briefly... oh, c’mon, b.a. so SHOW it again. \ REALLY shouldn’t because the ENTIRE point of pulling it away was to.... we were HANGING on every WORD of your FLAVOR TEXT. you just BARELY held it up -- we were DISTRACTED. yeah! HEY!!! HAAA!! GOT IT!!! sweet q what the HELL do you think yer DOIN’?!! thanks for the MEMORY, b.a. -snicker- FLASH¡¡ “what you did to TRISH? that wasn’t right. what good is a DOUBLE AMPUTEE THIEF with GLAUCOMA?” —Eddie Ramirez, KODT Issue #129, Fistful of Drama Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 17 -sighjust “CAPTURING” the moment with my CELL PHONE CAMERA. yeah -me too. dude -you RULE!! what’s the big deal? can you EMAIL me a copy? you’re really PUSHING it, bob. so you are STANDING in this HEPTAGONAL COURT YARD. \’ll blow it up and ENHANCE it and print out COPIES for the NEXT session. there are SEVEN huge DOORS. heptagonal...? what the hell is that? SEVEN SIDES you moron. an UNUSUAL SHAPE. there’s more... the SEVEN highly ORNATE doors are about fifteen feet in height and are BRIGHTLY painted -- EACH door a DIFFERENT color. \’d be willing to bet it’s an IMPORTANT detail. RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO and VIOLET. in the MIDDLE of the COURT YARD is a BRONZE OBELISK -about 20 feet high. hrmmphh. the same PAINTING scheme of my SISTER’S bedroom when we were growing up. hmmmm --the SEVEN colors of the SPECTRUM? maybe brian’s on to something. images of the great THREE-HORNED predator demon, PANG, are adorned all over the column... along with strange RUNES and disturbing images of tortured creatures, and scenes depicting the “EXPULSION” of the predator demons to “THE PLANE OF DESOLATION.” okay -- if \ recall correctly -- SIX predator demons were BANISHED to the PLANE OF DESOLATION along with PANG after the WAR OF TWILIGHT LAST.. seven demons -- b.a. -- \ try reading what’s on the OBELISK. the strange characters and runes are unintelligible to you, bob. \’ll give it a try. again that number comes into play. me too. \’m VISUALLY checking out those DOORS but not TOUCHING them. “cripes -- he’s like a ‘MINI-ME’ version of BRIAN.” —Bob Herzog KODT Issue #121, A Khaki Situation 18 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ unfortunately -- none of you are able to make out what the WRITING says. brian, looking at the doors you DISCERN that except for their COLOR -- all the doors appear to be IDENTICAL... the DUST and ASH that has settled on the COURTYARD floor has been RECENTLY disturbed -- there are hundreds a LARGE foot prints of BARE-FOOTED SOLES. can we make out what sort of creatures may have made them, b.a.? and you notice something else... those made by the HOAR GIANTS on the BATTLE FIELD. actually -- they look VERY similar to tracks you JUST saw recently back on your home plane. not only were they trying to DESTROY the portals… but they APPARENTLY USED them. as you guys are STUDYING the foot prints you suddenly hear RANDY’s voice. turning you find he and BUCKY standing before the OBESLISK. hoar giants…? you mean they came through the PORTAL…? we’re MISSING something here. what on earth were they UP to...? no idea. but for SURE cosm was behind it. interesting. “BANISHED though \ be -\ PUNCHED a HOLE into your world and LURED thee....” the HALFLING appears to be ‘reading’ the writing OUT LOUD and TRANSLATING. damn -- \ forgot ALL about those two. “Choose FAST-but CHOOSE WISELY…!!” “and HERE you shall stay -unless back HOME you find a way...” “SEVEN DOORS -- SEVEN GATES SEVEN PATHS -- SEVEN FATES.” okay, sara. that’s your CUE. * “ONE color you must CHOOSE... and QUICKLY -- or your DECISION you will LOSE…” “one last bit of ADVICE for thee…” TO BE CONTINUED... * See KODT #130: Shift in the Wind Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 19 Owner of a Broken Heart by jolly blackburn we’ve been looking for you EVERYWHERE. what’s it LOOK like \’m doing...? dude...?!!! what the HELL are you DOING here? how’d you guys KNOW where to FIND ME anyway...? \’m tryin’ to TIE one on. bob -- we’ve been callin’ your CELL PHONE for HOURS. we didn’t. hrmmmphhh... what the HELL, bob.... but when we SPOTTED a SCOOTER parked out front -- we figured it MIGHT be yours. \ KNEW \ should’a -hic- rolled it out back BEHIND a DUMPSTER. we were THIS close to calling your DAD. dude, you didn’t show up for WORK at the GAMES PIT yesterday... no, bob -- we didn’t. but WHAT were we to THINK..? we’ve been worried SICK. oh -- THANK gawd. coz’ that’s ALL \ need -the OLD MAN gettin’ involved. and your LANDLADY said you didn’t do your PAPER ROUTE this morning. m-my DAD?!! oh gawd... p-pwease tell me ya DIDN’T. HEY -- \’m a GROWN MAN, bee-yaay. when you didn’t show up at the GAME tonight -- we KNEW something really BAD must have happened. -belch\ COME and \ GO as \ PWEEZE. “one minute \ was bringing up the REAR, the NEXT \’m sewing my own wounds and doing a BODY COUNT.” —Ty Ferfel, Bundles of Trouble #19, Ready, Set, Bet 20 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ grown man my EYE!! dammit, bob. whoah.... you’re right, bob --\’m not your MOM. what the hell’s going on here...? BACK OFF, JACK!! but \ AM your friend. you don’t even DRINK. now SOMETHING is OBVIOUSLY troubling you -- you wanna TALK about it? you ain’t my MOM. oh no....? well pay up... HAA! well, \’m doin’ a pretty good JOB of it. we’re here to take you home. a fella can git ha... -grmmsh- HAMMERED if he WANTS to. look -- dis is a p-p-PRIVATE PARTY. \ didn’t send out -hicany ENGRAVED invitashions. psst -- hey barkeep -just LEAVE me alone... awwright? a GUY doesn’t want an AUDIENCE when he’s WALLOWING in PAIN and... -chokeSELF PITY. this isn’t about VERONICA MARS getting canceled is it? how many BEERS has my FRIEND over here had tonight...? how many....? um, just the ONE. he’s been NURSING it for THREE HOURS. c’mon, dude... TELL us what’s got you down. -sip-slurp-sip- dude -- you can tell us -- it won’t go any further than this bar. ease off, guys. might HELP to talk about it. seriously. whoah! yer drinkin’ BEER with a BENDY STRAW? promise. -sigh\, uh, \ dunno... \’m a REAL good listener bob. it’s sort of PERSONAL. -sip-slurp-sip- “… \ ALMOST got the part of RUM TUM TUGGER in CATS -- but the damn SUIT was too small.” —Pete Ashton KODT Issue #100, Role Me Over… Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 21 okay, okay. -- if you MUST know. it’s SHEE. nothing like THAT you IDIOT. she, um.... she BARTENDER.... -choke- another GUS for my FRIEND here!!! shiela...? what about her? is she SICK or something? REMEMBER...? no, no.. dude -- it’s OKAY. my gawd... WHATEVER it is... you’re really HURTING -arent’ you? ah man -- you guys -belchyou guys are the BEST... huh...., oh. right -- SHEE. really. \ MEAN that. \ do. -sigh- \ think it may be OVER -- that’s what. forgidabout what \ said -‘bout wantin’ to be alone... over...? what do you mean? there, there, bob -- you just take your time. want me to WRITE ya a book? huh...? PAINT a frickin’ picture? O-V-E-R!! OVER!! as in HISTORY!! \’m really GLAD yer here. sure, sure... so what’s this about SHIELA... hey -that’s what FRIENDS are for. \ need to SPELL it OUT For ya? a CLOSED DOOR! GAME OVER!!! SAYONARA. \ mean, so what the hell happened? YEAH...?!! DAAAAAMN.... you guys have been gettin’ along so GREAT. that’s AWESOME!!! that’s HARSH, dude. dude \’m SO HAPPY for, um, er... \, um, \’m SO sorry to HEAR that. whoah -- you and SHEE are breakin’ up...? the UNTHINKABLE. that’s what happened. really. “dude, \ once had a CHARACTER who drank a POLYMORPH POTION with a BAD expiry date -- \ ended up with FOUR ARMS!!” —Bob Herzog, Bundles of Trouble #22, One-Two Punches 22 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ that’s right... aaah, the OLDEST STORY in the world... poor sap. the UNTHINKABLE? oh gawd... the TWO-TIMIN’ SNEAK. you don’t mean... and to think \ TRUSTED her!! SHEILA didn’t... x tssk tssk bob, are you saying SHEILA actually... and if \ hadn’t been GOING through her BOOK BAG looking for a STAMP..? you know what HURTS the MOST...? the fact that \ was BLIND SIDED by it. she’d STILL be playing me for a CHUMP. my gawd... what did you find....? \ was CLUELESS. no idea it was happening. are you leaving out an IMPORTANT detail? a HACKMASTER 4.85 EDITION PLAYERS HANDBOOK -- that’s WHAT!! um.. say again...? you found a GAME BOOK? that’s it? \’m a little CONFUSED here, bob. yeah. did it belong to some other GUY or something? did you not HEAR what \ said? “…you gave up ALL five senses? good luck fighting crime -- in a flippin’ NURSING HOME.” —Pete Ashton KODT Issue #116, Justice Prevails Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 23 it was the FOUR-POINT-EIGHTFIVE EDITION!! don’t you GET it??? my LITTLE SHEE.. my LITTLE LOVIN’ SPOONFUL... wait a minute... s-she’s an... you mean that’s IT? -choke- the reason your WHOLE WORLD is falling apart? GEEZUS, bob -- that’s just plain... oh don’t you DARE, b.a. don’t DOWN PLAY it. but, bob. EARLY ADOPTER. coz’ SHEE picked up the NEW edition of HACKMASTER? that’s EXACTLY what SHE DID!!! FOUR-POINT -EIGHT-FIVE...? she claimed it was just a “READING” copy. damn, dude. that she had NO intention of actually playing. did you CONFRONT her about it? oh sure... “reading copy” but surely there’s nothing wrong with... be reasonable... you’re NOT a player, b.a. \ don’t expect you to UNDERSTAND. \’ve heard THAT one before. hell yes \ did. “except for BUCKY cold cocking you with a FRYING PAN and trying to ESCAPE it was an UNEVENTFUL four hours.” —B.A. Felton KODT Issue #127, Spirit of Fair Play 24 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ oh gimme a BREAK!! \ don’t know what FOUR-E is SUPPOSED to be but it SURE as hell ain’t HACKMASTER. we had an agreement! that we WOULDN’T upgrade. not by a LONG SHOT!! ALL our memories are wrapped up in 3E. the game is FINE JUST the way it is. like GARY wrote it. \ mean the THINGS they did to the RANGER CLASS in 4.50. not to MENTION the ASSASSIN. well, \ hear 4.85 fixes some of the... well if she was JUST reading it, \ don’t see the harm. word, dude. word. yeah well TRUSTING fool that \ am... oh right... just “READING” it. for “CURIOSITY’s sake”. \ BOUGHT that line of CRAP -- hook line and sinker. a few days later...? \ found a copy of the “PLAYER CHARACTER 4e CONVERSION pamphlet” among her ADVENTURE NOTES. oh it’s WORSE than that. intent to use!! uh oh -- that can only mean one thing. tucked in the BACK...? \ found THREE of her 3e characters transferred to NEW sheets -- FULLY CONVERTED. you got THAT right. darn. \ was actually HOPING we could upgrade this time around. and get this -- in her GAME ROOM...? all her 3e books have been moved from the FIRST SHELF to the top... with YAY so much space set aside -- as though WAITING to be filled with NEW books. no she didn’t. “NEXT TIME you see a sign that reads ‘PRESS FACE HERE’… don’t do it.” —Sara Felton, KODT Issue #121, One-Two Punches Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 25 big deal! what.... are you NUTS? so what if she DOES upgrade to 4e...? it’s a TRUST ISSUE. what are we GOING to talk about? she KEPT it from me. well... you guys don’t even play in the same group. besides -- no RELATIONSHIP can survive with MULTIPLE editions in the mix. you got a POINT there. my 3e stories aren’t going to MEAN anything to her if she’s playing some JACKED-UP, DUMBEDDOWN version of the game. alright, alright... yeah...? well when THAT happens...? \’m not going to get into another “EDITION DEBATE” with you guys. okay -- \’m OUTTA here. just KICK some DIRT in over my DEAD BODY. you wanted to stick with OLD SChOOL hackmaster -\ got no problem with that. coz’ you won’t be able to PRY my 3e books from my FINGERS. you got that right. but \’m tellin’ ya.... sounds like this is a PROBLEM you and SHEE are just going to have to WORK out. dorks! oh..., okay. keep REFUSING to “ADAPT” and SOMEDAY you just might find the GAME has LEFT you behind. \ don’t expect you to take my advice, bob... oh say -- can you SPOT me two bucks for gas? just until FRIDAY...? but \ wouldn’t let some silly EDITIONS WAR muck up my RELATIONSHIP. right -- coming from a guy who DOESN’T have a girlfriend. sure. see ya. my SCOOTER’s out of gas. \ had to PUSH the damn thing SEVEN blocks to get here. \ got a roll of PENNIES you can have. several minutes later... \’m just gonna have to LAY down the law... it’s ME or 4e. that’s just the way it is. frickin’ a, dude! “\’d like to STICK your POOHBEAR LOOKIN’ BUTT into that corner myself for TALKING me into COMING to this CRAP!’” —Stevil Van Hostel Bundles of Trouble #17, Heart of a Warrior 26 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ Journey of Discovery by jolly blackburn shield time...? what the hell do you mean...? hey guys -- BEFORE we get to tonight’s game we’re gonna be doing something a little DIFFERENT. \ came READY to RACK up some E-PEES tonight. don’t you think you should’ve CONSULTED us first? sara has REQUESTED a WEE bit of “SHIELD TIME.” \ told her it would be okay. easy bob -- it’ll only take about THIRTY minutes. we’ll be doing SARA a HUGE favor. a little ADVANCE WARNING would have ben nice. \ want to use you guys as GUINEA PIGS... \ had to come up with a GROUP EXERCISE as part of my FINAL grade for my PSYCH CLASS. what kind of exercise? you really WOULD be helping me out. so what’s the deal? is this like that “JOURNEY” thing you ran us through that ONE time? * sort of a DRY RUN to see how it works before \ turn it in. EXERCISE...? \’m sorry, guys. well -- it’s a “DISCOVERY” exercise. coz’ we NEVER did get our EXPERIENCE POINTS for that one. \ kicked ASS in that adventure. well..., sort of. it won’t take long at all. whoah! it’s of a SIMILAR nature \ suppose. only INSTEAD of learning about YOURSELF you’ll hopefully be DISCOVERING things about EACH other as FRIENDS and the “GROUP DYNAMIC.” is this like that TEAM BUILDING exercise they made us do at the HOE AND HARNESS? interesting. gawd -- that was the WORST form of HUMAN PUNISHMENT. \ was on my dad’s TEAM -- we had to figure out how to use a BUNGEE CORD and ROPE to transport a BUCKET of simulated "TOXIC WASTE" and tip it into a “NEUTRALIZATION BUCKET”. forty-five frickin’ minutes of getting YELLED at with, “hey MEAT HEAD -- tip it the OTHER way!!” well it’s not really THAT kind of exercise, bob. we got in a BIG FIGHT. * See Bundles of Trouble Volume 9 Project Projective: Sara runs the group through a little ‘self-discovery’ exercise. “\ got a COUPON here that’s gonna make your last five CHARACTERS run CRYING for their MAMAS.” —Bob Herzog KODT Issue #127, Spirit of Fair Play Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 27 if you ask me -that so called “SELF-DISCOVERY JOURNEY” was a COMPLETE waste of time. just a series of QUESTIONS -the answers to which -- when looked at as a WHOLE -- say something about you as a person. you sure that’s a GOOD idea...? keep it up wisenheimer. brian got all BENT out of shape over that ‘imaginary’ girlfriend thing. you’ll discover my “FIST” in a moment. \ didn’t learn a THING about myself. and \ NEVER did learn how much that souvenir SHOT GLASS from the TOMB OF HORROR was worth. oh, c’mon guys... sure - why not. \’m game. it’ll be FUN!! maybe \’ll SCORE another PORSCHE. it might be a NICE change of pace and we’ll LEARN something about each other in the process. well -- if it only takes THIRTY MINUTES... \ guess it would be okay. thanks, guys. that’s the SPIRIT. \ take after my DAD in that regard - a real PEOPLE PERSON. that’s why he was such a GREAT salesman. oh dear.. maybe this wasn’t such a GOOD IDEA after all. will there be DICE involved...? \ happen to be a KEEN judge of CHARACTER. \ doubt \’ll learn anything that \ don’t ALREADY know... and \’m an ASTUTE OBSERVER when it comes to people and HUMAN NATURE. several minutes later... okay guys -- before we get started let me REMIND you. this ISN’T a contest. there are no WINNERS or LOSERS. no RIGHT or WRONG answers. yeah... um, yeah. well -- that’s good. you might have some good INSIGHT should \ need feedback. well there’s a THOUGHT. \’ll be PRESENTING you with a SERIES of QUESTIONS -- just ANSWER them as HONESTLY as you can. so we running our OWN characters? PRE-GENS? what..? maybe \ can help REDLINE things for ya. and MOST importantly -just BE yourself. dave... “the flesh is SUCKED from your bones like JUICE from a POPSICLE and then your remains are RUDELY deposited BACK out the breach.” —Pete Ashton, KODT Issue #100, The Breach 28 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ pay attention... now \ WILL warn you... she already EXPLAINED -- this isn’t a GAME. some of these questions might seem a bit ODD -- perhaps even DISTURBING. okay... just be yourself. then WHY is she sitting behind a GM SCREEN? they’re MEANT to provoke THOUGHT and force you to make DIFFICULT choices. three years from today the WORLD has a date with FATE. hush. the trick is to go with IMPULSE and use the RESPONSE that comes immediately to mind. holy crap!! this is EXACTLY how NORMAN BOWZER’s “DEATH BECOMES ALL” adventure series started out. given a choice between KNOWING or NOT KNOWING what’s to come.... so FIRST QUESTION. we ARE going to have a chance to EQUIP first -- right? -ahem- as \ was saying given a choice -- would you... A -- want to KNOW about the earth’s imminent destruction. kewl! sounds like this could be a ZOMBIE scenario. guys, let her finish. it will totally and utterly be DESTROYED. or B -- remain IGNORANT and continue on with life as usual. we’ll start with you bob. what kind of QUESTION is that? it’s really not IMPORTANT, brian. it’ll go EASIER if you don’t try to ANALYZE the questions too much, guys. just give the ANSWER that comes most natural. those are the only CHOICES \ have? A or B...? for this particular question --- yes. say this could actually be FUN. just HOW is the WORLD going to meet its DEMISE? the WORLD’s going to end - that’s all that matters. whoah -- hold on sara. \’ll need more INFORMATION to go on than THAT. well SURE it’s important. “hey mister, da ZOM-BEE grabs you by the HEAD and SQUISHES it with his HAMMER. -snicker- you CRY like a GIRL ‘coz it hurts so bad.” —Timmy Jackson Bundles of Trouble #22, Filler Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 29 is it a SUPER NOVA of the SUN? possibly SECURING myself a SEAT on an EVACUATION SHIP constructed to save MANKIND and to RESEED humanity elsewhere...? is the world SNUFFED out in an INSTANT? or are we talking some sort of GLOBAL WARMING scenario that takes DECADES? the WRATH of an ANGRY GAWD...? gawd -- \ was AFRAID of this. look -- guys. \ APPRECIATE the fact you like to THINK things through. -sigh- okay -- you are going WAAAY beyond the scope of the exercise. would \ have a FULL three years of PRIOR KNOWLEDGE before the EVENT if \ choose “A”? just pick A or B. hold on -- he’s got some VALID points. if there’s a LIFE BOAT \ want on!! can DISASTER be STAVED off? really. yeah. me too. what if \ were able to CONVINCE the SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY that it’s coming? A or B, bob. pick. but this is a VERY simple exercise. all that’s required are BRIEF and SIMPLE answers. otherwise you’re going to SKEW the results. or \’m moving on. cripes. \ feel like \ have a GUN to my head. alright, alright -\ guess \ pick, “B” what if \ make the WRONG choice? keep me in IGNORANT BLISS. c’mon, bob. give me a RESPONSE. A or B. \ don’t wanna be stuck on an EXPLODING FIREBALL if there’s some chance BRIAN goes FLYING off to some NEW paradise. \ got too much to LIVE for. \ don't wanna MUCK up my last few years worrying about DOOMSDAY. \ wonder how much BAGGAGE \’d be able to bring along? perfect. scribble scribble. hey-- what’s with all the SCRIBBLING? okay davester -- how ‘bout you? what are you putting down there? heh --no brainer -- a three year HEADS UP? \’d DEFINITELY wanna know. huh? oh -- \’m just RECORDING your response. seems like a LOT of CHICKEN SCRATCHING just for the letter “B” but that’s what makes it so GREAT -- KNOWING!! bob -- please. he’s given his ANSWER. just taking notes, bob. nothing to be concerned about. dude that is so WHACKED!! how can you LIVE with the shadow of DOOM hanging over your head? scribble scribble. “how ‘bout when you PULLED A GROIN MUSCLE climbing upon your dwarven warhorse, PETEY?” —B.A. Felton, Bundles of Trouble #22, Say Uncle 30 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ think about it... \ can live like a freakin’ ROCK STAR!! and ANSWERING to NOBODY!! okay -- so MOVING along. sara -- \’m changing my ANSWER to “A”. what about YOU, b.a. that’s REALLY not a good idea bob. RACK up a WORLD OF DEBT. live off CREDIT CARDS. your FIRST response is more indicative of... WINE, WOMEN, ROOM SERVICE and GAMING all day long!! screw that -\’m CHANGING my ANSWER!! parking tickets left UNPAID. what’s YOUR response? -sighfine. ummm -- put me down for “B” no way \’d WANNA know. \ had NIGHTMARES for WEEKS after seeing “DAY AFTER TOMORROW”. put me down for “KNOWING” sara. it’s like those reports of “NEAR MISSES” with CELESTIAL OBJECTS -- \ really don’t NEED that much information. gamin’ all day with my FRIENDS day in and day out and livin’ off PLASTIC sounds good to me. \’d be more worried about some SUPER VIRUS -- much more LIKELY to happen. heh! and \ won’t be making any more STUDENT LOAN payments. they can BITE me! fact is -- my STOMACH hurts a little bit just THINKING about it. s-super virus? okay -- NEXT question. you are MAROONED on a DESERT ISLAND... hopefully a PETER JACKSON version of “THE HOBBIT” will come out first -- then \ can die HAPPY. hey, \ guess \’m up. it’ll ALSO save me some BIG BUCKS -no need to RE-ROOF my house now. yes bob -- what is it? how many POINTS do \ have so far? yeah, who’s ahead? whoah -HOLD UP, sara. -sigh- “sorry sara. \ HAD to do it. \ LIKE your character and all but \’m just not DOWN with her radical views of LUVIAN DOCTRINE -- she HAD to go.” —Brian Van Hoose, Bundles of Trouble #19, Filler Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 31 bob -- there’s NO score. this is SIMPLY a DISCOVERY EXERCISE. \’m ignoring you. NEXT QUESTION... it means you can CHOOSE anybody to be on the ISLAND with. if you were MAROONED on a DESERT ISLAND -- what PERSON -- living or dead -- would you want to be MAROONED with? oh -- well -- \ guess if \ can only take ONE person... \ wanna change my answer back to B. it’d have to be my BUDDY dave here. well that’s a STUPID question. who the hell would wanna be MAROONED with a DEAD person? sweet! okay. thanks dude. DAVE...? seems like | would be the OBVIOUS dave...? choice. scribble scribble. how ‘bout we stick to “REAL” people and leave FIcTIONAL characters out of it, dave...? okay -- dave...? how ‘bout you? who would you CHOOSE? man -- it’s really TOUGH to decide. \’m leaning between MACGYVER or “THE PROFESSOR” from GILLIGAN’s island. \ guess \’ll just go with MACGYVER. oh -- then how about BILL NYE - SCIENCE GUY? he’s REAL isn’t he? hey -- \ thought you said there were no RIGHT or WRONG answers...? you’re right. MACGYVER it is then. WHAT...? \’m MAROONED! what the hell, dude... \ pick YOU and you PASS me over for some stupid TV character? \ was gonna pick GARY JACKSON you know. sorry dude. \ gotta think about SURVIVAL. \ saw an EPISODE once where MCGYVER made a LIFE BOAT out of some old MILK CARTONS and some DUCT TAPE. don’t talk to me. sara -- scratch DAVE’s name -- \’m going with GARY. excellent choice, bob. not only could he run you through ADVENTURES every day but he ALSO wrote the HACKMASTER WILDERNESS SURVIVAL GUIDE. “\ can’t believe we let a MONKEY get one OVER on us like that! if WORD of this EVER gets out, we’ll be the LAUGHING STOCK of MUNCIE!” —Dave Bozwell Bundles of Trouble #21, “Some Monkey Business Goin’ On…” 32 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ \ SUPPOSE that says “something” about the TWO of you. aaaah -- that is SO sweet. gee..., \ dunno. well, \ guess \’m up again. \’m not picking ANYBODY. we never really got time to HANG OUT after he and mom DIVORCED. MAROONED, huh....? -sighhow about YOU, b.a.? well -- \ guess \’d wanna be MAROONED with my DAD. sweet my ass!! being MAROONED could be a long and painful ordeal. \ wouldn’t SELFISHLY choose to make someone go through that just so \ could have COMPANY. SUCK UP!! great. now the BIG GUY is WHORING for POINTS. you CRACKED the system didn’t ya? \ thought we HAD to choose someone? goin’ for points? shya’right -- “HONEST” response. sara, \’m changing my RESPONSE. hey she said to “GO” with your the first HONEST response that comes to mind. well TWO can play THAT game. \ got a DEAD AUNT -- \ wanna be MAROONED with her. \ should PROBABLY change my response to “CLAIRE” from HEROES then. no wait -- GHANDI!! how about HIM? that’s the FIRST person \ actually thought of. dude she’s like FIFTEEN. okay -- sticking with the “MAROONED ON A DESERT ISLE” theme... NEXT QUESTION. if you were allowed to bring ONE luxury item and ONE item of NECESSITY -- WHAT would they be? she seems like a really NICE person. how ‘bout it bob? how come | have to always go first? \’m just going to stick with FIRST RESPONSES, bob. well that’s not fair. okay? it’ll be SIMPLER that way. \ got no problem with that. not that it matters -but FINE. if it makes you HAPPY we’ll start with BRIAN and work the other way. lesee -- for my LUXURY ITEM.... would my HACKMASTER books, dice and CHARACTER portfolios count as ONE item...? wait -- what am \ saying? \’m ALONE on my island. they get to HEAR my answer and have MORE time to think of a GOOD RESPONSE. who would \ PLAY with...? “note how our COSTUMES have a SIMILAR color scheme -- it’s SYMBOLIC of KINSMANSHIP” —Gordo Sheckberry KODT Issue #116, Cirque Bizarro Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 33 \ guess \’d just bring a copy of the PORTABLE WORKS OF HEMINGWAY. and for my necessity item \ guess \’d take an activated GPS equipped SATELLITE PHONE with a new and FULLY charged battery. yeah, right. so you’re the big LITERARY type now are ya? and my NECESSITY ITEM...? \ guess that would be a copy of the BOYSCOUT MANUAL -- proper FOOT WEAR is very important. and what about you, dave? maybe \ should’a picked HIM to be MAROONED with. pity \ can’t bring my POCKET FISHERMAN too -oh well. well -- \ guess MY luxury item would be a pair of GOOD comfortable SHOES. shoes? dude yer going to a DESERT ISLAND -- not the BATAAN DEATH march. he’s QUICK on his feet - \’ll give him that. not a BAD choice actually. it’s FILLED with survival tips and what not. hrmmpphh... he’s CRAB FOOD within five days of hitting the ISLAND. foot related injuries and infections are problematic in hot, humid climes. \’d bring a GLOCK semi automatic 9mm combat finish, polymer grip --double action 4 and half inch barrel pistol with a 10 round magazine. what about your LUXURY item? that WAS my luxury item. if \ pick CROSSBOW OF SLAYING as my LUXURY ITEM can \ take the “POUCH OF MANY BOLTS” as my necessity ITEM...? for my NECESSITY ITEM \’m gonna go with HARPANG’S MAGICAL CUBE OF OPULENT LODGING. \’ve ALWAYS wanted one of those BAD BOYS. you’re choosing a MAGIC ITEM? you can’t do that. \ think \ wanna CHANGE my answer, sara. no WRONG ANSWERS, dude!! dorks. “it doesn’t take him LONG to SPOT the cowering FAT MAGE in the SHREDS of what once was his tent. the PACK APE mercilessly BEATS the mage with his ‘mallet.’” —B.A. Felton, Bundles of Trouble #19, Pack Ape Surprise 34 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ LUSTING FOR EVIL PLAYER’S ADVANTAGE ™ The Downsides of Playing an Evilly Aligned Character by Scott James Conover or many players, the typical campaign consists of a group of nice, happy adventurers on their way to their next dungeon. They might take a few pack animals, a few hirelings, maybe even a protégé or two for training. They sign a party charter, they act in concert when in danger, and they cooperate for the best interests of the party. This is a tried-and-true formula for success in the dungeon, in the overland world of the GM, and even in the political arena of the overarching campaign. Yet there are some who wish to break from the cast, and play an evil character. To put it simply, this is not a good choice for anyone who plays realistically and who enjoys playing well with others in the long-term campaign. You can play by yourself and be evil, or you might enjoy the power-gaming version of playing evil, but it is essentially impossible to foster a fun gaming environment and to portray evil realistically as a player character, or as a party of evil characters. A similarly aligned party of good and neutral characters is one particular commonality of the majority of successful adventuring parties in Hackmaster. Characters who are good can work together easily, as their moral codes promote group welfare, general weal (i.e. good for most everyone), and overall cooperation during the adventure and otherwise. Neutral characters can work towards each other’s goals in order to serve some personal need or self-centered motivation. F However, some players are not satisfied with playing those sorts of characters — they want to play something with more “freedom” and more power, someone who can fulfill them in ways that their normal characters cannot satisfy. They want to play a character that is evil; someone with the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want- with a hack and a slash and an echoing, disdainful laugh following their path of victory. To be specific, the so-called “freedom” of evil characters is the ability to inflict harm upon others without a perceived moral consequence or restriction on your soul or penalty to your character level. To clarify, the “freedom” of evil characters isn’t truly freedom, partially because most societies are generally built on benign rules and edicts (one must stress “generally” here), and on following those rules and edicts. Just because you refuse to obey those nice, happy rules of the goody two shoes, does not mean that you are unconstrained by their consequences and subsequent punishments. Moreover, other people who are evil within a goody-goody society are not automatically allied with your cause in terms of alignment, because by definition, an evil person’s cause is only their own. Evil people also tend to not normally cooperate in concert, because as individuals and as disparate groups, they tend to solely support their cause at the expense of everyone else. This is yet another reason that if you choose not to follow a good or neutral alignment, you probably can’t count on other evil people to rally to your banner and to your cause. This is also why evil groups do not normally ally for very long periods of time, because they will turn on one another in the case that the betrayal will benefit their cause and harm the maligned party in question. Basically, if you are an evil character, you are not only Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 35 looking out to be number one in the pack, you want everyone else to be lesser than you. This will rarely foster cooperation in adventuring parties of more than one person. Although many of theses cases apply strongest to those who play chaotic evil, they apply to neutral evil and lawful evil alignments as well. Generally, a neutral evil character will betray you to their gain, especially if it is harmful to you in some way beyond the act of betrayal itself. So while a neutral evil character will tend to avoid the psychotic nature of chaotic evil play, they will still betray you when the time comes. Lawful evil characters are often worse, because they hide behind lawful and good institutions in order to twist them to their benefit, and they often contrive strange excuses and reasons for their actions. Essentially, lawful evil characters the most subtle, as they often wait until they can use legitimate rules or legal boundaries to do evil unto others and to their benefit. Basically, any form of evil lends itself to do harm unto others, to their sole benefit alone. As any of the evil alignments are not suitable for longterm gaming, a party of all evil characters is just a death trap waiting to go off on itself. The basic flaw with adventuring with evil characters is their very nature. Evil people tend to betray and harm everyone around them. They are not concerned with the welfare of the group — they are concerned solely with their own benefit. They are not concerned with the general weal of everyone involved in their excursions; in point of fact, it would best if their fellow party members somehow came up short — or didn’t even show up at all — at the division of treasure and spoils. Basically, an evil character is out for himself at the expense of others, which is why he is EVIL. Generally, evil characters that cooperate only do so in the presence of a dominating and strong leader. On a societal scale, this usually only occurs with the aid of a “deus ex machina”, a god or god-like entity who says to their followers that “thou shalt be evil”. The societies of the Drow are an excellent example, as are the Grel and the Grevans. They are driven by a powerful god-like entity who also gives out special powers and abilities to their mortal representatives (clerics/zealots), who in turn enforce the will of the god strictly and in a fashion consistent with that god’s alignment. In this case of the Grel, it is through violence, intimidation, cruelty, and a twisted code of honor that serves primarily to preserve the social order and prevent the total breakdown of their chaotic evil society into total and complete malevolent anarchy. As an interesting parallel, lawful evil and neutral evil societies to tend depend on their base, that is, the peasants, serfs and freemen, to be good or neutral, in order for the social order to remain stable. Generally, this occurs when the aristocracy becomes corrupt and malign, or when the society itself begins to decline as a power, and the upper classes begin to engage in degenerate practices and behavior. In this case, the majority of the population (the base), maintains a good or neutral social alignment, and the ruler(s) take on an evil alignment. In a stable society, this can be a long-lasting situation. If this is not so, and the societal morals themselves are evil, there are other, more stable societal parallels to grel, grevan, and drow society that engage in neutral evil and lawful evil behavior as a society, without the necessary intervention of a deux ex machina. In general, neutral evil societies function on stable hypocrisy that is contained to the higher social classes and to their direct subordinates, and lawful evil societies function by doing evil to outsiders, and by engaging in social class stratification. Neutral evil societies tend to center around officials and politicians being bribable, corrupt, and fickle. The system of law within a neutral evil society is ostensibly functional, but it all involves individual bureaucrats who have strong control in their sphere of influence, and who must be interacted with in order to accomplish anything of importance. In essence, a neutral evil society functions on the basis of corrupt government, in that while the basic societal roles are the same, they are perverted to the benefit of a select few, who use their power covertly and overtly for personal gain. Lawful evil societies generally function on a subtler level of hypocrisy, as the evil is generally contained as a form of social stratification, in which evil is done to a specific or select group of people and the rest of society benefits from their suffering in some way. In addition, lawful evil societies generally function as expansionist entities, as they must do evil to outsiders only in order to maintain peace and law within the society itself. In Garweeze Wurld, the nation of Darkhaud is 36 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ an excellent example of this mentality of chauvinistic expansionism put into practice as a societal value. In the perspective of a player character, how are any of these behaviors “free”? By definition, in such terrible societies, a character is pretty much a total slave to the social structure and to the mentality of “Might make Right”, and that the strong shall dominate the weak. At the very least, it requires a character to be constantly on his toes and willing do anything, even betray, murder or enslave a fellow party member to get ahead. This might be fun for a little while, but eventually one player will emerge as supreme, and he will dominate the campaign, which isn’t any fun for everyone else. It must be noted that unless you play your new character(s) like a “Matrix” style agent always out to kill the main PC, you will end up dominated as his slave or minion, because the surviving evil PC will generally get to write the new party contracts and agreements, and they will generally favor the surviving PC in question. Moreover, playing evil can be a little sickening from a moralist perspective. Evil characters, although they are generally censored and toned down in Hackmaster, are people who willingly commit rape, murder, child sacrifice, and possibly even incest for their personal benefit and pleasure. In Hackmaster, many people might be driven to extreme acts of blackmail, murder, or deceit in order to protect themselves or their friends, or they might perform morally compromising acts in order to get ahead. Evil characters, whether NPCs or PCs, are people who enjoy committing evil, especially on people who do not necessarily deserve it. Furthermore, many evil characters justify or rationalize everything they do to the point that when they commit evil, it’s the victim that caused it. They tend to depend on the logic of “he/she deserved it, or he/she would have liked it anyway, or they made me do it because of x and y”, to the point that they themselves become victims of their circumstances, forced to do bad things for all the right reasons. This process of rationalization tends to demonize their victims and justify their actions to very extreme ends. The most extreme exception to this mindset is the dark knight, who represents a very “pure” evil, that is, an evil person that acknowledges evil and loves the evil in and of itself. Ironically, the pure evil nastiness of dark knights that allows them to cooperate and do evil is the very thing that illustrates the master/slave relationship of evil characters. A dark knight is promised to an evil demon prince, and he is enslaved to a code of ethics and behavior that dictate his lifestyle. In many ways, he is a religious figure, and he follows his doctrine to the letter, if only because he fears the wrath of his respective demon prince, and because he lusts for the power that the demon prince gives. He might cooperate in a party of other evil or neutral characters, if only to subvert them or convert him to his will, in the name of his evil master, and for his own lustful purposes. However, he is still a slave, and he is chained to the will of his master, who dictates how he will carry out his will, and to what extent he must go to do so. In the end, an evil character is not a good choice for fun, role-play oriented game play. A party that focuses only on the dungeon adventure aspect of HackMaster can survive a bit longer and enjoy themselves for a while, but when the chips come down the evil character will always bet on his. And the methods he uses to make sure his chips pay off are less important than whether or not he wins, because for an evil character, success is all that counts - that it should come at the expense of others is even better. So unless you are sure your GM will force your party to cooperate and survive, or unless you enjoy harming others to the point of their personal resentment outside the game, you are far better off playing a knight errant and using the methods of villains against them, rather than joining the side of darkness and becoming the epitome of pure darkness that is the evil alignment.❑ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 37 ™ Hoar Giants AKA: N/A Hackfactor: 9 EP Value: 2200 Climate/Terrain: Sub-Arctic/Arctic (Temperate) Frequency: Rare Organization: Tribal Activity Cycle: Any Diet: Omnivore Intelligence: Average (8-10) Alignment: Neutral No. Appearing: varies, 1-8 usually Size: L (12’) Movement: 14” Psionic Ability: Nil Attack/Defense Modes: Nil/Nil Morale: Fearless (19) Armor Class: 3 (8) No. of Attacks: 2 Damage/Attacks: by weapons +7 Special Attacks: Nil Special Defenses: Impervious to cold Magic Resistance: Nil Hit Dice: 9+1-2 DESCRIPTION: Hoar giants are smaller kin to Frost Giants, typically living in the same frigid climes. They are approximately half the size of Frost Giants, but are still extremely muscular and strong (19/01 STR). Their skin is cobalt blue, and is marked with intricate tribal tattoos. They wear their hair, and sometimes their beards, braided and beaded with the vertabrae of enemy combatants, such as polar bears and winter wolves. COMBAT/TACTICS: The traditional fighting style of the Hoar Giant is to use two stone axes* at once, with great effect. They fight ferociously, and rarely, if ever, retreat from a battle. They have a highly-developed sense of honor, and would rather die than surrender. Their hide is robust and offers some protection in and of itself, but they usually wear thick, rugged furs when on the warpath. They appear in great numbers when there is a call to arms, with entire tribes showing up to a battle if need be. Even the women and children have been known to muster to a threat against their interests. They are a race with deeply-ingrained ties to nature. They abhor magical or unworldly tampering with the elements and are known to perform great and hazardous quests at the behest of their gawds or in tandem with a powerful cabal that shares a common foe. Some Hoar Giants are druids and have powers to heal and to protect their frigid and desolate lands. These individuals are rare and are staunchly revered and protected. Like their cousins the Frost Giants, Hoar Giants are immune to cold. Some tribes have settled in northern temperate areas provided the summers are short and not overly humid (and the winters are very snowy and cold). They have been encountered in warmer climes while on quests or other vital business, but they do not settle in such environments. HABITAT: Most Hoar Giant tribes settle in frigid, arctic lands where few other sentient species venture. However, as stated earlier, some tribes have migrated to more temperate regions and they will not shy away from traveling to nearly any type of climate if they feel their intervention is warranted. They construct large dwellings made from tree branches and covered in furs. Several families will dwell together in an extended family home, with elders playing an important role in the education of the young. They have adapted to snowy conditions, and have little trouble traveling across frozen wastes using large sleds pulled by dire wolves or dire elk trained for such tasks. Their large broad feet also help them maintain stability when trekking across the tundra. They have mastered the art of survival in harsh conditions and as such are excellent herders, hunters and fishermen. ECOLOGY: Hoar Giant society is noble, very religious and filled with a love for courageous battle and legendary heroes. Tribal ceremonies often involve the retelling of the accounts of famous battles, with re-enactments common. Defeated kinsmen are not spoken of, and their families live in isolation from the rest of the tribe, but are otherwise not mistreated. Family life is also very important to the Hoar Giant. Tribal tattoos depict famous past victories. * treat as standard battle axes for damage but as hand axes for speed factor due to their size Creature Field Researched by Jolly and Barbara Blackburn Medicinal: Nil Spell Components: Nil Hide/Trophy Items: Nil Treasure: D Edible: Nil 38 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ tm GAMEMASTERs’ WO R K S H O P Treasures and Mysteries: Part VI Real Life Inspiration for your Adventures By Noah Chinn More Treasures: Some Lost, Some Found t’s the de rigueur of many RPG adventures. No matter how you try to spin it, it all boils down to a map with a big “X” on it. But in many ways it’s hard to have a less interesting payoff than just a big pile of gold at the end of all your hacking and slashing – or alternately, your complex investigation. What makes a treasure interesting is a combination of the unusual items found in it and the back-story of how it got there in the first place. Sometimes it’s the map itself that holds the intrigue. So this month we’ll look at a few real treasure troves, some of them found, some still missing. I THE PRESLAV TREASURE This treasure was hidden in what is today Bulgaria towards the end of the 10th century (969-972). Preslav had been conquered twice in this time – once by Prince Sviatoslav I of Kiev, then two years later by the Byzantine Emperor, John Tzimisces. The treasure consisted of a variety of jewelry – gold earrings inlaid with emeralds and pearls, double sided necklaces with pictures of the Virgin Mary on them, the delicate jewelry used intricate techniques involving small gold balls and fine gold wire. It’s believed many of these artifacts were a wedding present first given to the Byzantine princess Maria-Irina in 927. In all, over 170 gold, silver and bronze objects were hidden here to prevent them being looted. This included rare silver coins and other artifacts dating as far back as the 3rd century. In 1978, this treasure was found in a vineyard in Castana (2 miles north-west of the second Bulgarian capital, Veliki Preslav). greedy bastard he was, agreed, but had no intention of letting Atahualpa leave. In fact, he had him garrotted the following year, fearing the influence he had over the Incan warriors. One of Atahualpa’s generals, Rumiñahui, was on his way back with 750 tons of worked gold when news of the murder reached him. He then returned to Ecuador, took the treasure up into the Llanganatis mountain range, where it is supposedly buried. Though he was later captured and tortured, he never said where the treasure was. So many people have come to tragic ends while searching for the treasure that many believe the treasure is cursed (naturally). In 1860, the Royal Geographic Society published an account of the story and a map, drawn by an Ecuadorian named Don Atansio Guzman. THE AMBER ROOM The Amber Room was a complete chamber decoration of amber panels backed with gold leaf and mirrors. It was built between 1701 and 1709 in Prussia and remained there until 1716 when it was given to Tsar Peter the Great of Russia, where it was installed in the Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo (near Saint Petersburg). Due to its beauty and craftsmanship, it was sometimes referred to as the "Eighth Wonder of the World". THE TREASURE OF LLANGANATIS You probably already know of El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold, which supposedly exists in Columbia. But another Incan treasure is said to be hidden in Ecuador: the treasure of Llanganatis. Here a vast treasure of worked gold was said to be hidden away beneath the Llanganatis mountain range by the Inca general Rumiñahui. When the Spanish invaded the Incan empire in 1532, Fransisco Pizarro first founded the town of San Miguel de Pirua, then captured the Incan Emperor Atahualpa soon after. To try and gain his freedom, the Emperor promised to fill a room with gold. Pizarro, being the Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 39 The mystery doesn’t begin until World War II, however, when the Germans looted it and brought it to Königsberg (renamed Kaliningrad after the war). What happened to it as the war ended is unknown, however it may simply have been destroyed when Königsberg Castle was burned out, shortly after Königsberg surrendered to occupying Soviet forces, between April 9th and 11th, 1945. This theory has been challenged, but it’s possible that is due to pressure from Soviet officials who didn’t wish to appear responsible for its loss. Because of the bureaucracy and denial-of-responsibility inherent in the Soviet government of the time, other theories have emerged. One of which still exists in Kaliningrad. They believe at least part of the room survived in good condition in the cellars, but this was not admitted at the time so blame could continue to be put on the Germans. Access to the ruins was restricted for decades after the war, even to historical/archaeological surveys. Then in the 1960s all access was withheld and the ruins blown up by the Army, sealing any access to the underground area, and a building (the still incomplete Dom Sovietov) built on top of it. It’s believed the room may still be intact underground. However, amber that is not cared for will crumble into dust. It’s believed that even the current government is unwilling to admit what has happened. A reconstructed Amber Room was inaugurated in 2003 in the Catherine Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. THE STECHOVICE TREASURE Tied into the Amber Room mystery is the story of the Stechovice Treasure in the Czech Republic. Supposedly Emil Klein, a Nazi general, buried war booty in the tunnels in Hradistko (near Stechovice) including gold, diamonds, art, secret files, scientific documents from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, and perhaps even the Amber Room itself. THE RMS REPUBLIC This steam-powered ocean liner was built in 1903 and sunk in a collision with the Lloyd Italiano liner Florida six years later while sailing for the White Star Line (of Titanic fame). She was one of the largest and most modern passenger vessels of her day, but what makes her of interest to us was her rumoured cargo: a quarter of a million dollars worth of gold. The collision happened on a foggy morning on January 23, 1909, when the Florida hit the Republic on a right angle. Only three people from each ship were killed, and the passengers were evacuated to safety. Despite the best efforts to keep her afloat, the Republic sunk the next day. But what about her cargo? Exactly what was carried on the RMS Republic isn’t known. Some say she carried a quarter of a million dollars in gold coins to payroll the US Navy’s Great White Fleet. The money might have been part of a relief effort for the 1908 earthquake in Messina, Italy. A final theory is she carried three million dollars worth of gold coins as part of a loan to the Imperial Russian government. But remember, these estimates are in 1909 dollars, when gold was worth $20 an ounce. Today the value of the treasure could be hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps billions if it were marketed correctly. The Republic was found in 1981 by Captain Martin Bayerle. The ship lies approximately 50 miles south of Nantucket Island at Latitude 40° 26' N, Longitude 69° 46' W, submerged under 270 feet of water. Attempts to find the gold have so far been unsuccessful, though it carried many artefacts of historical interest. But what if someone found the wreck before Captain Bayerle? THE BEALE CIPHERS The Beale Ciphers are a set of three encrypted messages, which are supposed to indicate the location of a buried treasure of gold and silver worth over 30 million dollars in modern day currency. The first of these ciphertexts is supposed to state the location of the treasure, the second describes the contents of it, and the third is a list of the treasure owner’s next of kin. The ciphertexts originate from an 1885 pamphlet detailing treasure buried by one Thomas Jefferson Beale somewhere in Virginia in 1820. The encrypted messages were encased in a box, which Beal entrusted to a local innkeeper, Robert Morriss. Beale disappeared, never to be seen again. The innkeeper gave the encrypted messages to a friend before he died, who then spent twenty years trying to decode the messages. He only managed to decode one, the second of the three, which reads: I have deposited in the county of Bedford, about four miles from Buford's, in an excavation or vault, six feet below the surface of the ground, the following articles, belonging jointly to the parties whose names are given in number "3," herewith: The first deposit consisted of ten hundred and fourteen pounds of gold, and thirty-eight hundred and twelve pounds of silver, deposited Nov. eighteen nineteen. The second was made December, 1821, and consisted of nineteen hundred and seven pounds of gold, and twelve hundred and eighty-eight pounds of silver; also jewels, obtained in St. Louis in exchange for silver to save transportation, and valued at US$13,000. The above is securely packed in iron pots, with iron covers. The vault is roughly lined with stone, and the vessels rest on solid stone, and are covered with others. Paper number "1" describes the exact locality of the vault, so that no difficulty will be had in finding it. The ciphers are made using a series of seemingly random numbers which relate to a particular published work. The second letter was decrypted using a particular edition of the United States Declaration of Independence as the key. The other two have yet to be decoded. Without the exact edition of the proper book, it seems impossible they will ever be. While, this has all the hallmarks of a hoax on it, but would make a great adventure for an Old West or Modern campaign. Hey, it’s a hell of a lot more believable than that movie National Treasure. ❑ 40 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ GAME DESIGNER Sung to the tune of Nickleback’s “RockStar” I'm through with shoppin’ online For games my Pete’ll never get in It’s like I’m on my last hitpoint And I'm never gonna win This life hasn't turned out Quite the way I want it to be (Tell me what you got) I got big frickin’ house With an indoor pool in it Some kids that I can play baseball with And a king size bed big enough For all of them plus me (Been there, done that) I've got 10 credit cards that got no limit And a big black Lexus with a Nav System in it Gonna join the mileage priority club And I get my phones for free (So what you want?) I want a new game room full of Hall-of-Famers A forum full of witty, sarcastic gamers Another Origins award or twenty, Game of the Year again is fine for me (So how you gonna do it?) I'm gonna trade this life of fortune for fame I'd even grow a beard and write a western game [Chorus:] 'Cause we all just wanna be game designers And live in rundown houses driving rusty cars The dice come easy and the games come cheap We'll all get chubby from the junk we’ll eat And we'll hang out at the GenCon bars At the White Wolf party with all the LARPers Every good dwarf player’s Gonna wind up there Every gamer buddy With a story to share Hire freelance writers to design my castles Sign a couple autographs So I can eat my fast food for free (I'll have the quesadilla, on the house) I'm gonna choose my class From an old copy of Dragon Get a front door key to the Arneson mansion Gonna get a gamer girl that will Paint my minis for free (Does this color make my elf look fat?) I'm gonna trade this life of fortune for fame I'd even grow a beard and write a western game [Chorus] And we'll hide out in the HMA rooms Read the latest dictionary and thesaurus, too They'll get me anything with my evil smile Everybody's got a game store on speed dial Hey hey I wanna be a game designer I'm gonna write those games That offend the grognards Gonna sling my dice with my best friends I'll get washed-up designers sending in submissions Have gamers playtest ‘em and pay ‘em in commissions [Chorus] And we'll hide out in the HMA rooms Read the latest dictionary and thesaurus, too They'll get me anything with my evil smile Everybody's got a game store on speed dial Hey hey I wanna be a game designer Hey hey I wanna be a game designer By David S. Kenzer Hey hey I wanna be a game designer Hey hey I wanna be a game designer I wanna be great like Gygax without the hassles Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 41 THE PIT OF DESPAIR AKA: Slampan’s Sinking Sorrow MECHANISM: Natural hazard INTENT: Death LETHALITY: Medium to High ENGINEER: Ann McIntosh SUGGESTED DAMAGE: see below 1 asty old Slampan the Miser has accumulated, it is rumored, scads and scads of treasure in his 110 years of existence. Known as a scrounger, Slampan is now content to sit back in his festering fortress and fondle his treasures until he dies. Slampan built his fortress on the edge of a swamp that has been visited so infrequently that it has not been recorded on any maps. N 1.Well, this looks pretty good. Nice clean room, shiny treasure. Finally, I’ve hit the jackpot! There’s got to be a catch. And, because Slampan is a cheapskate he decided that a perfectly awesome way to guard his treasure is to build his treasury room right on top of the swamp. Putting only a thin layer of shale and slate over the top of the swampy bog, the miser has placed his treasure in a place where he assumes no one can get it. Designing the room so that anyone heavier than a pixie fairy will fall through the thin floor into the quicksand of the swamp, Slampan doesn’t really care if he can get to his own treasure or not. He doesn’t plan on using it, he just likes looking at it. Anyone who falls through the floor into the quicksand has only a few minutes before he drowns in the sinking goop. The heavier the person, especially those weighted down with equipment, the faster they will sink. A person who falls into the quicksand will last for a number of rounds equal to his Constitution divided by 3. For three rounds he will be visible above the surface. After that he will sink below the surface. He will black out one round before death. His only way out is to be rescued, and, well, that will be difficult since the entire room is in a similar condition. So far, no one has even found Slampan’s swampy fortress to try to loot it. But, the miser figures he will actually gain wealth with this trap if anyone does try to steal from him because he will fish the bodies out of the swamp and loot them. 2 2. Doh!!! I knew it! Too good to be true. Anybody got a rope? through, but, he’s hoping some will try to traverse the unbroken parts of the floor and also wind up with their lungs full of goo. Flying is about the only way to get to Slampan’s treasure without falling through the floor. Slampan has a way of getting to his treasure, should he ever need to. He has a group of pixie fairies imprisoned in his fortress. He keeps them so that they can retrieve his possessions should he need them. However, unknown to him, at least two of these small creatures have escaped. Slampan’s secret lair may not be kept secret much longer once these angry pixie fairies tell everything they know. He could be receiving company any day now. ❑ He’s not quite sure he will be able to patch up the floor to fool the next person, after one has broken 42 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ Casting Call GAMEMASTERS’ WO R K S H O P Barlton “Buddy” Stimble Occupation: Bartender/Saloon Owner (0 level Human) Age 38 hp 23 STR 15/49, INT 15/69, WIS 10/21, DEX 9/44, CON 13/56, CHA 19/14, COM 12/33; FAME 21 QUIRKS: Absent Minded, Greedy FLAWS -; SKILLS Brawler (46), Brewing (68), BACKGROUND: Barlton is considered a great bartender. Not only does he brew some of the finest ale in the land but he can also can cook scrumptious food — meals finer than one would expect to find in a back water inn. The Yellow Eagle is a popular watering hole because of his skills. Buddy, as he is popularly known, is a very likeable fellow, a lover of conversation and good jokes. He’s extremely friendly, and is known as the kind of guy who would offer the shirt off his back should someone be in need. He is also known to be a wealth of information, with plenty of rumors and treasure maps to make any adventuring party drool.The only problem with his information is that at least half of it is not entirely accurate. That’s because Buddy will say anything to get a little extra gold. He doesn’t really see it as lying. He’s just passing on a rumor, afterall, not giving someone a guarantee. Not only is Buddy’s information unreliable, but he is completely unreliable himself. Many a time has come when the loveable bartender has agreed to help a group of people, been paid up front to show up at a certain location, or given money to hire torchbearers, animal handlers, etc., only to completely fail to hold up his end of the deal. When confronted about this, he will always have a perfectly good excuse. A sick wife. A dying friend. Some strange ailment that kept prevented him from keeping his word. With Buddy’s less than stellar record for accuracy and reliability, one might wonder why he hasn’t been killed, or at least beaten to a pulp, a long time ago. Somehow, Buddy (with his enormous charisma) is almost always able to talk his way out of sticky situations. When that fails, he’s not too bad with a Cooking (66), Culinary Arts (55), Haggle (54), Joke Telling (42), Liar - Skilled (81), Poker Face (57), Reading/Writing TALENTS: POSSESSIONS: The Yellow Eagle Inn, 718 g.p., 4,978 s.p., 15 assorted gems punch. Buddy is currently offering a map to a place that he claims is “bursting at the seams” with treasure and magic. It once belonged to an extremely wealthy and evil mage who died without an heir, according to Buddy (who heard the tale from a friend of a friend who knows). He says the treasure is lying untouched until now because no one has known the secret location. He says it is just waiting to be hauled off by the right group of people. It is possible that he is telling the truth this time, but, it is also possible that Buddy is lying through his teeth to get another handful of gold. Sometimes Buddy will actually have an accurate bit of information, but will not remember every fact correctly. For example, he may remember the location of a rich treasure trove, but, will forget that there is a band of extremely powerful, hideous creatures, guarding the treasure. One reason Buddy has not been taken to task for his wrong information is because the victims of this misinformation often do not survive to get revenge. There have been a few rare occassions when Buddy has gotten, and given, completely accurate information.And, those who have been fortunate enough to have received this type of info from Buddy have been so thrilled that they have built Buddy’s reputation up beyond what he deserves, luring more unsuspecting victims into his web of lies. If you don’t mind getting fed a handful of lies along with a great bowl of stew and a pint of ale, then by all means, stop by the Yellow Eagle. Buddy’ll be waiting for you. By Jolly and Barbara Blackburn Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 43 The Good... GAMEMASTERS’ WO R K S H O P Capt. Hurk U. Leon AKA: N/A Occupation/Class: Spaceship commander Skills/Talents: Piloting, oratory skills, leadership, law, shirtless brawling. Motivation: Advancing the cause of the federation/republic/empire. To establish a legend in the history of space travel. Safeguarding his ship and crew. Weaknesses (including Quirks/Flaws): Hourglass shapes, monologuing, can’t think “outside the box,” self absorption. Background: "Well, there you are. It looks like I got here just in time.Yes, your worries are over. It is I. Captain Leon. Captain Hurk U. Leon, of the SS Preponderance.We were just passing by this sector when my ensigns told me of your plight.Yes, this must be your lucky day. "But where is your ship? I would have thought that someone of your... ah, there it is! Oh, and over there as well.Why captain, I am impressed. Clearly I underestimated your skills that you could salvage anything at all from that wreckage, much less so many of your crew. I salute you, sir. But this - this situation won't do at all.You must come aboard my ship. We shall transport you all back to safety at once. Oh no, I see your reluctance, but I must insist. Why what kind of captain would I be to leave a fellow citizen to such a ghastly fate as you have obviously fallen into? "Come, my shuttle awaits me. Bring your command crew along and we shall supervise your rescue from the comfort of my bridge. I think you will be impressed. It is certainly the fastest and most modernly-equipped ship of its size in the fleet Out here on the edge of civilized space, appearance is half the battle sometimes, and this ship reflects that. Reflects power. Reflects.... competence. “Yes sir, a lot of captains were trying for this ship. But they weren't willing to make the sacrifices that I was. A lot of good men gave their all for this ship. Some still do. But that's not to say life is too hard for us. Oh, no, I go out of my way to give my crew members everything I can. Nothing is too good for my crew, I always say.Treating your crew well is its own reward, I always say. "What? Covert mission? Good gracious no, we are delivering medical and food supplies to orbital station 344. Seems some space pirates hit them pretty hard last week. Yes-sir, we are loaded down with goods and have got the ol' firepower to back it up. Mission of mercy.Yep that's what it's all about. One big fleet. Helping each other out whenever we can. "Oh I see. You got yourself some classified marching orders. Well we all have to do our part, don't we. Hey there, partner, I'll be sure to put in a good word for you when we drop you off at the station. "Use My ship? Heh heh, well no, I'm sorry, No can do. Now don't misunderstand.We're happy to help out where we can. It just tears me apart, seeing your loss scattered about the landscape like this, but I'll tell you what. I just happen to have a few connections and can arrange to have a new ship meet you at the station as soon as possible. You know: something more suited for reconnaissance-level action. You understand. Well, here we are. Watch your step going up the ramp. "Oh, and captain, I don't believe I caught your name?" By Michael Sharp 44 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ THE BAD... Lt. Richard “Rich” Hurt AKA: Clax Orion Occupation: Navigator, 2nd Class/First Mate Skills: Piloting, Marksmanship, Computer programming, hacking. Motivation: Earning (or stealing) enough to buy his own ship. Weaknesses (including Quirks/Flaws): Impatient, careless, hunted by authorities (Clax). Background: "Look, don't get your G-force in a knot.You said 'only call if there's a problem.' and I'm calling.You figure it out. .... "No, nothing serious. Captain Dudley had to divert and rescue some amateur spacehacks from themselves. ... Oh, I don't know, tried to fly their grannyship thru an asteroid belt. Look, who cares? They got nothing. The point is we'll be about 12 hours behind schedule. No, No, he still doesn't suspect a thing. "Hey, I told you it'd be simple. The computer on that spaceport was at least 2 versions out of date. I inserted my stats, introduced myself to the captain, and boom. Two hours later I'm navigator for the night shift. "What? Oh, no worries. He apparently goes through support crew faster than dirty socks. And your little 'distress call' came at the perfect moment. 'Oh boo hoo we've been robbed by pirates.' Yeah, it should work just like that job we pulled last fall over in D sector. No one ever considers we would hang around until the relief ships come, and grab that booty too! "No changes, just keep to the plan, and keep the attack fighters WELL out'a sight until we are fully docked and unloading all the goods.This ain't no battle cruiser, but it can do us a world of hurt if we aren't careful. Its sensors are state of the art, too, so I'm telling you, we.... "NO! That's what I'm telling you.This delay means I won't be on the bridge when we reach the outpost. I can't disable the screens from here, so we will have to play it cagey until they are busy unloading supplies. Concentrate all fire on G Deck. "... No, NOT the weapons deck. G-Deck.. I've been studying the power grids. Everything runs through there. Yes, I know that's not what the 'schematics' say. Trust me. It should work. And remember. I get TWO shares this ti "Because I planned the whole bloody thing, that's why! This operation is my baby, and I have it signed in blood: two shares! I didn't get to be second in command by hiding in my stateroom, playing it safe, and waiting for others to tell me when I get paid. I'm making my own future. What? Glory? pfah! Keep it. Glory brings attention, brings trouble. You think I'd be on this ship right now if I was vain enough to use my real name? Cap'n can keep the glory. I'll keep my 2 shares. "Hmm? Disable the screens from engineering? Err, I don't know. That chief engineer scares me. Now that is one duck who has been in space too long, if you know what I mean.Well, I'll see, but for now just stick with the plan as is. Trust me. We are loaded down with enough stuff, 2 more hauls like this and I could buy this ship outright. Just tell Cap'n Jack that when he gets the "Hold on. I think I heard something....." By Michael Sharp Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 45 ® ...The UGLY Dmitri Popolopus AKA: N/A Occupation: Chief Engineer: SS Preponderance Skills: Invention, Engineering, Mechanics, Math theory, Drive system. Motivation: Transferring as much theoretical science into physical existence as possible. Weakness (including Quirks/Flaws): Extreme agoraphobia, hard of hearing, mild paranoia, anti-social (to all but engineers). Background: “NORTON?!?” “You know Professor Norton? Well why didn’t you say so?!” "Come in, come in, it's such a pleasure to finally speak face to face with another of the Doctor's proteges (watch those wires). Come. I'll give you the tour. "Forgive my ... brusqueness just now, (that's very hot, by the way), but YOU know how those pilot types are, always thinking they can come in here to engineering and tell you how to run things. I mean, like they would know their DalseKrwuuyk Triality vertices from their m-state algorithms. HA! I finally had to ban them all from GDeck completely a year ago or so. So when did you study under the good doctor? Hmmm? "Oh, sure the cap'n raised bloody heck, but when I pointed out that his visage on the monitor -ahem - encouraging me on, during the last three crises had worked just as effectively as when they came down here... and this way saves them the extra walking... well, the "truce" has held this long, anyway (watch that swing radius, there.) I keep that alcove over there nice and clean. Yes, that one with all the... ummm... water pressure gauges, I think, on its back wall, yes.Whenever they call, one of us can stand in there and reassure them that we have all the problems contained in a nice little 3-dimensional box. "FRANK, you tocker, you left the gate OPEN again! It's slithered OFF! Go get it before its matrix collapses again or I'll re-graft your OLD arm back on! "Idiot.Anyway. this way seems to ease most of the surface tension we used to have on the ship. You know. Now they can pretend punching holes through hyper-space isn't insanely dangerous, and we can (oh crep, it's boiling over again. Hang on.) we can pretend our efforts are going towards something more than a glorified taxi service between tin can space stations. Huhn. You wouldn't catch me stepping foot on one of those low orbit balloons. "Or most planet surfaces, for that matter.... "Or other ships. "Or... "Well anyway, who would want to? Why, I haven't left this deck in 296 days, and I'm doing great! Just look at this place! I've turned a static, boring engine bay into the galaxy's most exciting transdimensional petri dish. "And this.And this.This is IT! Do you see? Do you see how I was able to bypass the ‘Doctor’ Norton U-barrier? Look! No event horizon. It's stable! I did it! Can't you just see the old man's face when I finally show him he was wrong? "AH HAHAHAHAHAHAH! "OOOOOOOOOOHHH...... I can." By Michael Sharp ™ BAIT: to lure, tempt, or entice. TACKLE: to knock an opponent to the ground. BAIT & TACKLE ait and Tackle™ presents a series of brief adventure hooks that a GM can take and flesh out on the fly. They can be useful if the GM finds he’s short on ideas when preparing an adventure, or finds his group has outpaced the night’s adventure and he suddenly finds himself having to improvise. Each hook is presented in a simple three-part format. SETTING: This is simply a tag identifying the setting or type of adventure hook, i.e. wilderness, city, subterranean, etc. BAIT: Exactly that — the situation or carrot used to lure or ‘bait’ the players and prod them in the right direction. TACKLE: This is the hammer or twist that makes the situation dangerous, exciting, or challenging. Without the tackle what’s the point? As with other features in the magazine, readers are encouraged to submit B&Ts of their own. Hooks should be generic in nature and brief. way, the bones will assemble into skeletons and an army of 1040 skeletons will arise to attack. If the skeletons are defeated and the adventurers recover the rings, they will find that two of the rings are +1 Rings of Protection. The rest are worth 150 g.p.s apiece for their gems and gold. S NACK S HACK T ESTING , T ESTING B SETTING: Countryside By Ann McIntosh BAIT: As the adventurers travel through the countryside, they may notice a shack out in the middle of a field with no other signs of civilization for miles around. It is possible that they may want to explore it, or use it as shelter for an overnight stay. TACKLE: Once any living being walks into the shack, it transports to the mouth of a cave, where a large dragon waits for its next meal. The shack is a sort of trap set by the dragon to get dinner, nothing more. Once the dragon has eaten his dinner, the shack will transport to the same location, or another remote location similar to the original one. B EG T HIS ! SETTING: Town By Ann McIntosh BAIT: Outside the gates of the town the adventurers will be accosted by a group of ragged beggars. The beggars will pull out every stop to act pathetic and tug at the compassion of those they accost, crying, acting faint, etc. TACKLE: The beggars are really just a gang of thieves and cutthroats who use begging to catch marks offguard. If the adventurers give the beggars any gold, the thieves will know they have riches to take, and will attack. If the adventurers give no gold, the thieves will attack, saying, “You stingy no good scivvers, you deserve to get robbed!” So, no matter what a person does, the beggars will attack, unless it’s obvious someone has no wealth at all. B ONY S ITUATION SETTING: A graveyard By Ann McIntosh BAIT: While traveling, the adventurers will stumble across a remote and unkempt graveyard with toppled grave markers and bones exposed to the elements. It appears some of the bones have been gnawed by animals. The bones are scattered all over the three acre square graveyard. Several skeletal hands appear to have sparkling rings (4-8) on their fingers that seem to be valuable. TACKLE: If at least two of the rings are touched or moved in any Generic Adventure Hooks and Encounters for the GM to run with. SETTING: Training School By Ann McIntosh BAIT: The next time one of the adventurers goes to train for their next level, their master will have a proposal for him. The master will offer to train the student free of charge on a onetime basis, if the student will pass a difficult test of skill. TACKLE: The master will have a gladiatorial arena set up in which the student will have to pass three tests in order to receive his free training. In the first test, the student must fight two fellow students of his same level at the same time, and win. In the second test, the student will have to defeat one fellow student of one level higher than himself, and win. In the last test, the student will have to fight and defeat an enraged lion, bear or tiger of the master’s (GM’s) discretion. (The GM can select different tests at his discretion.) The master has been charging admission to these tests and that is how he is able to offer free training to certain victorious individuals. T IME IS OF THE SETTING: Town on the coast E SSENCE By Ann McIntosh BAIT: The temple priestess within a town has been kidnapped by a gang of pirates, who are holding her on their ship for ransom. The adventurers have been hired by the temple clergy to rescue their priestess from the pirates and are promised a great reward as long as the priestess is alive when she is returned and as long as she is returned within a week. TACKLE: The adventurers will have to ensure that they return the priestess by the end of the week or they will not be paid. That’s because the priestess must be present at the full-moon ceremony to take place at the end of the week. If she is not returned by that time, a new priestess will be named to take her place. The priestess’ job during the ceremony is to become the bride of the temple deity by diving into a pit of fire and dying! She may not want to be returned. The temple guards may try to recruit one of the adventurers to take the priestess’ place.❑ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 47 ™ Krigg Stones By Jolly and Barbara Blackburn rigg Stones (also known as ‘moonstones’) are unique and special magical gems forged in the UnderMountain magic studios of the Circle of Sequestered Magicks on the Island of the Veil. K To the thief (or the uninformed) who might get his hands on a pouch of these unique stones, they will appear to be nothing more than walnut-sized rocks. In the light of a moon, however, they reveal their true nature — brilliant blood red gems of exquisite beauty and value. . COSM created the stones for a specific purpose — to use as payment for the many clandestine services they farm out. When someone is hired by COSM to perform a certain task they are paid in Krigg Stones prior to the job’s completion The person under contract is able to examine the stones under the moonlight to ensure that they are more than rocks and that payment has been secured. Once their mission is complete and the contract fulfilled, the stones dispel their illusionary magic and appear as gemstones (200 g.p. value per stone) forever more. Krigg Stones are not awarded for simple or mundane tasks, however. Krigg Stones are often used by COSM agents and emissaries to help identify each other when in the field. Those who have been paid with moonstones have usually been tasked with extremely grave and important assignments. Because of this, many agents of COSM are killed, permanently crippled or rendered helpless, or imprisoned, and are unable to complete the missions they have been hired for. If an honorable person should come upon stones that have been abandoned by an agent of COSM due to death or other mission-stopping circumstances, they may find themselves tasked to complete the mission that was left undone. Such persons will discover the nature of the mission and how they will be rewarded if they sleep with one or more of these stones under their heads at night. Visions will be transmitted into the minds of such persons in the form of dreams in such an instance. Because of the supposed divine nature of these stones, or perhaps because of something done by COSM, detect magic spells will not reveal the nature of these stones. It is rumored there is a second variety of Krigg Stones associated with black gemstones that are cursed. Those who find themselves in possession of this variety are compelled (against their will) to do the stones’ bidding and are not ‘freed’ until a specific mission/task is complete. (EPV 100 each, GP 200 each) 48 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ Close encounters ™ of the random kind Quick & Dirty Aces & Eights Encounter Table By Brian Smith our players are breezing through your adventure and are itching to lay down some lead. They shot the wrong feller and never found the plot-important telegram. Maybe even you didn't plan on them ignoring the poor Widow Jenks pleas for help and instead wandering aimlessly around the general store. Y Table One Your salvation is at hand. You hold the Aces & Eights GM's best friend. Table 1 is the suggested number of hombres the PCs have gotta contend with. Balance with the party size by adding or subtracting as appropriate. Table 2 has Column A & B, the folks they are going to end up staring down. A is more aimed at PCs of the more law-abiding types, while column B is aimed at PCs of the less-than-savory stripe. Which isn't to say a party of do-gooders wouldn't butt heads with a crooked deputy or the like, so roll as you see fit. Column C is what they're armed with. Most folk on the prowl carry one or more weapons. In the case of multiple opponents the first one rolled is the leader, with d2 weapons, the rest have one weapon each. In the case of multiple baddies, they follow the lead of the head honcho, mastermind or what have you. See notes below. Column D is an outstanding physical trait that sets this feller apart from the average citizen, other than the fact that they're blasting on the PCs. So a few rolls show how many they're up against, how much iron Table Two 1 FLASH – The weapon in question was undoubtedly custom-made. It doesn't shoot any better, but it's Shiney with a capital “S”. Roll d6 for weapon (from the first 6 entries on column D), it retails for roughly d100% over new value. Pearl grips, gold filigree, etc. 2 TO THE TEETH – This feller doesn't mess around, he's packin' enough heat to melt the entire month of December, January and half of November. He's packing d3+1 weapons. Roll d6 for individual weapons. 3 SLOPPY – Some folk just don't take good care of their gear. Mechanical mishaps occur a bit more frequently with the weapon in question, mishaps on unmodified 1 or 2. A good gunsmith could probably salvage it. Roll d6 for weapon. 4 TOOLED UP – Who's to say how much of a good thing is too much? This dude has got double standard ammo for all his weapons. 2 boxes of ammo per weapon. Roll d6 for the weapon too. 5 EXPLOSIVES ?!?! - Most sane folk know better, but some loco people play with dynamite, but never for too long. Mostly appropriate for the inhabitants of Column B. Re-roll otherwise. Or not. 6 OTHER – Roll on table 6.2 – 6 Prejudiced Toward Profession Table in the A&8 core book. Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 49 they've got, what they look like and who there are. Now for why; if they're up against the good people of column B, cries of “They're outlaws!” or “Bounty!” is sufficient, but for the outlaws of column A roll on Table Three. Keep in mind that this is the excuse, to be utilized in case of the law showing up. Their actual motivation is covered in the next table (Table Four). The smarter the outlaw, the more elaborate the story. Now for the actual why of why they opened fire on the party. EXAMPLE: Your party is lounging in the noonday heat outside Rosa's Cantina and down the street comes an unlikely pair, a squat bandito and a lanky feller with a scattergun balanced over his shoulder. They advance, hefting their weapons as their eyes never seem to stray from your own. The bandito senses your discomfort and remarks, in broken English, that if you toss 'em your gunbelts and gold then hightail it outta town they'll let you live... probably. That's it, an encounter that fits. Amazingly the bandito has the important telegram that the PC's should've found at the Widow Jenk's homestead! The plot stays on course and the game keeps up a good head of steam! Now the PC's are probably off to the sawbones to get healed and see what happens next. Maybe to collect a bounty on those two unsavory types too...❑ Table Three Table Four 50 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ sorry, bob -- your KRELLIAN WAR CRUISER explodes. the BLAST taking out your HOME PLANET as well as your COLONIES on its SECOND MOON. looks like STOCKPILING your DOOMSDAY TORPEDOES on your MOTHER SHIP was a bad idea, dude. \ saw it RIGHT from the START. Actual Home-brewed Legends from our readers. THE ROMULAN MASS SUICIDE MANEUVER y friends and I, years before "Federation M and Empire" came out, tried to stage a Star Fleet Battles campaign embracing the entire General War. Early in Y168, Tom took a Gorn Light Cruiser and conducted a recon-inforce across the Romulan frontier. There, he was ambushed by three Warbirds --- each of which carried the devastating Type-R torpedo as their main weapon. Dan placed his three ships in adjacent hexes to prevent Tom from turning multiple shields to take the damage, brought all three out of cloak at the same time, and fired the Type-Rs from the two flankers. Tom had no chance to do enough damage to the torps to prevent his own death, while Dan's reserved third torp ensured that using the "wild weasel" defense would just prolong things a bit. Instead, Tom kamikazed and unloaded everything he had on the third Warbird before buying the farm. It was enough to take out the small, lightly shielded-and-armored vessel, but a poor trade all in all for Tom --- until we calculated the Warbird's blast strength. Under the rules of the day, an unfired plasma torpedo added its full strength to the explosion. As did the Nuclear Space Mine that every Warbird carried. This quadrupled the Warbird's normally-modest explosive value, with the effect that each of the neighboring Warbirds took 50 points on their flank shields. BOOM BOOM. A full third of Dan's Gorn-border Type-R torps went away in a lovely flash. I couldn't help myself. I began howling with laughter, pounding the side of my bed where I was perched watching the game unfold. Tom looked positively embarassed at his good fortune. And Dan? Dan stood slowly, shakily. He was actually blanched white. He raised one trembling finger and asked politely if he could use the bathroom. Still clutching my stomach with laughter, it was all I could do to point at the door. Dan gathered himself, strode into the bathroom, and closed the door. We could hear him screaming into the towel for the next three solid minutes. — Calbeck CREATIVE CARNAGE was playing a pick-up game of 2nd Ed. back in the late '80s while staItioned at Fort Bliss, Texas. The main group was already mostly 9th and 10th level, and on a mission to finish clearing out a mountain stronghold, their goal nothing less than an Orb of Wyrmkin. As per the group's rules, I rolled up a first-level character, and based on his high INT decided to go with an Illusionist just for the heck of it. After all, it was only a one-off. I was summarily kicked to the curb for the duration of the crawl, made to follow behind the party as little more than a pack mule. From a tactical standpoint, it made sense: I couldn't sling any heavy magic, and I couldn't even absorb more than a couple hits at most from the baddies we ran into. But I still resented being left with nothing more to do than watch as the game went on. Finally, the group came to a corner, turned it, and discovered a long hallway ending in an ornate door complete with brass knocker, doormat, and bell. The big shots walked cockily up to the door while I waited around the corner to file my toenails. After all, I'd just get in the way. So what did these guys do? Rang the doorbell, of course. And who should answer? A vampire, who nodded politely and asked "May I help you?". The party promptly focused on Ol' Drac as the End Boss, ignoring the fla- vor text about how he was attired in black and white livery. Several rounds of vicious combat later, huzzah! The vampire was duly vanquished and the party collectively (sans me) stepped over the body towards the open door. Where then appeared the head of a big fat Red Dragon. "Ol' Drac" had been his butler. There was a great "WHOOSH", which surprised me as the very tip of a hellish gout of flame licked around the corner and singed my eyebrows. The party was ash, leaving little old me as the sole survivor. Immediately, the other players began pelting me with directions and orders. How to cart out their bodies, which cleric in which town to see for the best rates, how much to pay for bringing them back from the dead...I looked to the DM. "Can I speak to the dead?" He grinned. "Nope." I walked up to the dragon, who watched my approach with obvious amusement. "Whadda YOU want, shorty?!" he roared. In a single round, I cast three successive Cantrips: Spice (Pepper, inside of Dragon Nostrils), followed by Salt (inside of same Nostrils) and Tie (Dragon Whiskers over same Nostrils). Miraculously, the DM blew all three resistance rolls for the drac (or maybe he was laughing too hard to remember). Twin jets of flame flashed to either side as the huge beast sneezed through his twin portholes, then actual tears sprang to its eyes and it backed out of the doorway to try and fumble at the difficult human-style knotting with its oversized talons. With effort, it waved one claw at me while holding its schnozz with the other. "Just take what you want and GO!" I really wonder what I did with that character sheet after all these years...and whether or not any DM today would dare let me play that sawed-off first-level Illusionist with his pretty Wyrmkin bauble." — Calbeck ❑ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 51 EXPLORING VIKING THEMES by Mike Carniello “Hearing I ask from the holy races, From Heimdall’s sons, both high and low; Thou wilt, Valfather, that well I relate Old tales I remember | of men long ago.” The Poetic Edda, “The Wise Woman’s Prophecy” (Völuspá) nd so begins the story of the Northmen, dwellers of the northern lands of Scandinavia and Iceland ... the Vikings! The Poetic Edda (there’s also a Prose Edda) contains a creation myth – creation of the Universe, the Earth, big gods, little gods, villains. As you might expect, it also contains a destruction myth – Ragnarok. The Viking tale-tellers were more than just focused on gods, though: heroes also got their due, through a storytelling object called a “saga.” These were stories about gods and heroes, men and beasts – some connected, others not. This brings to mind a campaign which takes place in your favorite role-playing world. This article is an exploration of a few Viking themes and how these can fit into your campaign – both as a player and as a GM. Vikings were the Norsemen – descendants of the Germanic peoples who started exploring the European continent some 3,000 years ago. Some of those same peoples were considered “barbarians” later to the Roman Empire. Settling in northernmost Europe, they became famed fighters and traders. Eventually, they turned south and invaded England and other parts of southern Europe in the 800s. They adopted Christianity in the 900s – which led to a transition from local chiefs and tribes to a more centralized authority – call it civilization. During that time, then, their approach to life and adventure morphed from honor and retaliation to submission and forgiveness. Heroic individualism – once treasured – was gone, and things were never the same again. A LONGSHIPS Vikings were famous for their seamanship. The waterways allowed them to migrate from their northern lands in Europe west to Iceland and Greenland, and south to England and France. A mechanism which facilitated this was the longship. Living up to their names, these ships were long – typically having a 7:1 length to width ratio. Built for speed and efficiency, they are considered today to be aesthetically pleasing as well. The combination of sails and oarsmen were the secret of the ship’s success - speeds of 11 knots were possible in good conditions. Longships used a single steering oar instead of a rudder. This made the ships extremely adaptable, able to handle raids up rivers, and travel in the open sea as well. RPG HOOK: A “Great Race” on the sea is being sponsored by a local noble. The players have been given plans for a new kind of ship – a longship – and charged with exploring the local forest and village to find/buy/loot pieces of wood which will construct that ship. GODS If you’re a comic book fan, chances are you’re familiar with Thor, the so-called god of thunder. And not only Thor, but his arch-enemy (and brother) Loki, his pop Odin, his buddy Baldur, and several others. Actually, Marvel got it pretty much right when it comes to Asgard. What happened before Asgard was created was this: the vast chasm of nothingness eventually produced ice (certainly a dominant landscape feature for the Vikings), which led to clay, of which was formed Ymir, the Frost Giant. Other creatures were formed, eventually begetting Odin, the greatest of the Norse gods. Ymir himself was 52 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ later fashioned into Earth, and Odin and his brothers later created dwarfs (underground, to dig for gold) and men (in Midgard, connected to the gods’ home Asgard by the rainbow bridge called Bifrost, guarded by Heimdall). RPG HOOK: The players are solicited by a pretty big gawd to take on the biggest task they’ve ever faced: they are charged with restoring Midgard to its rightful place. Not being of the superhuman ilk, this may be less a hack/slash quest and more a diplomacy/charismatic adventure. In any event, they (hopefully) comply, under the threat of losing their lives. RAGANAROK This is the battle at the end of the world. In the battle, gods will fight gods – with the ramification that the world will end. Unlike other cultures, the Vikings had this story pretty much nailed down – who was going to fight who, the winners and losers, and all that. One might argue that this reflects the fatalism of the Viking culture – men know their destinies, gods know theirs – and there’s not much any one of them can do about it. The good news is that after Raganarok, a new fresh earth will arise. RPG HOOK: The players are made aware of events portending the end of the world (Raganarok), and must take certain steps to prevent it. Depending on a GMs taste, this might place as participants in a battle, or perhaps as undercover spies trying to prevent the war before it starts. RUNES There wasn’t exactly a lot of pen and paper around in the Vikings heyday. They wrote using sharp pointed objects and carved lines (along with slight variations of lines) into wood, stone, bone, etc. These were called “runes” - and were thought to have magical properties. Being more or less straight lines, they could be easily chiseled in stone or wood. As Christianity was adopted by the Vikings, the runes brought together religion, language, and art into a single medium. Nonetheless, the magical properties remained. From the 13th century Egil’s Saga: “Let no man carve runes to cast a spell/Unless he first learns to write them well.” RPG HOOK: The players pay big money to a fellow traveler for a treasure map; they later find out that it’s written using runes. They have to find the old Viking Theobald Mikelson to help them decipher the map and find the treasure. WARFARE Vikings were notorious hit and run raiders; their mobility was a key to their success. They had command of the seas, which led to surprise. But they were also familiar with more static forms of warfare like hand-to-hand fighting. The Vikings were big people, impressive physically – perhaps due to a high protein diet of meat and dairy; they averaged 5 foot 8 inches, quite large for that time. They prided themselves on being impervious to pain, frequently working themselves during battle into a frenzy immune from pain – the original berserkers. They were also fond of fighting drunk; again perhaps to ease the pain. Swords were highly valued possessions, and nicknamed with appellations “Leg-biter” or “Golden Hit.” They also used javelins and spears. Axes were also in their armories, but generally kind of cheap and mainly for those who couldn’t afford swords. Vikings who died in battle were taken to Valhalla. Not a heavenly paradise per se, Valhalla was literally a hall – holding 540 doors, each wide enough to allow 800 warriors enter simultaneously abreast. There, fallen warriors would feast daily on on boar and mead (drunk from cattle horns). RPG HOOK: A local noble enlists the players to convince warring bands of nomad to turn from their ways of war to agronomy and the ways of peace. EXPLORATION Vikings were a restless folk, and on the seas they used their longships to explore and conquer. Going north and west from Scandinavia, they were the first peoples to encounter Iceland then Greenland (and America, their modern descendants claim). They also went south – to mainland Europe for conquering, and east as well – through modern-day Russia and far down, some say, as Baghdad. RPG HOOK: The players encounter a band of Vikings who seem convinced that they’ve discovered a new and prosperous land. No one seems to believe them, however. The players must figure out that where the Norsemen landed is indeed America. This might be a bit risky, RPGwise – acknowledging someplace “real” in an otherwise fantasy game. On the other hand, it’s worked in other media (e.g., the old “Earth Prime” concept in the DC Comics multiverse). FROST GIANTS As mentioned previously, these giants were yet another race considered real by Vikings. Considered to have superhuman strength, they weren’t quite gods though, and frequently opposed them. RPG HOOK: The players encounter a weak coward who is on way to fight a Frost Giant. The players may voluntarily take pity on him – or get paid to help him – defeat the giant. This can be played as a spoof on the most famous Frost Giant story, which concerns the fictional hero Conan of Cimmeria. A FINAL NOTE (LITERALLY) The Vikings were not considered particularly lighthearted types, by themselves and especially from those whom they conquered. Nonetheless, perhaps their spirit best captured by considering the final song of one Ragnar Lodbrok, a warrior thrown into a snake pit for offending a king: Gladly shall I drink ale On high with Aesir My life-days are ended. I laugh as I die. ❑ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 53 A CHARACTER DRIVEN GAME: PLAYER’S ADVANTAGE ™ Developing a Relationship with Your Character by Ann Jenks t the end of Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker, impetuous and headstrong, leaves Yoda and his training to help his friends. Yet at the opening of Return of the Jedi, Luke stands before Jabba, confident, calm, a Jedi master. Red Riding Hood’s wolf takes a short cut to grandmother’s house then shows up in Grannies clothes to trick Red, the old woman having disappeared from the scene. A Romeo and Juliet meet, talk in her room, share moonlight soliloquies at her bedroom window and end the scene determined to marry. Clearly in film, stories, and literature, much plot and character development happens in cracks – between movies, between scenes, between the lines. We know that Luke has practiced his Jedi training and gained self-discipline. We know that the wolf ate the Grandmother in a no doubt heated battle, and we know that Romeo and Juliet shared more than just a pleasant conversation in the privacy of her bedroom. How do we know all this without narration, without screen time? Quite simply, we see the results of the characters’ lives outside the narration. Just as in movies and books, game time passes in creeps, jolts, and everything in between. Likewise, the narration of a game never covers every aspect of your character’s actions, thoughts, reflections, or interactions. Much of what develops your character happens in the cracks - in his head, between turns, or between sessions. Role playing every thought and action of every character would quickly become tedious. However, each player should be aware of her character’s between scene activities - what she thinks, when she thinks about it, what she does during down time, and why. In short, player and character must develop a relationship. Why spend time fleshing out actions for your character that will likely never be seen in game? Character development. Creating a rich history, habits, and codes of honor gives you a solid base for a character. However, unless your character develops, she will soon become flat, dull, and predictable, her own cliché. While your character’s between scenes thoughts and actions may never see game time, the results of those thoughts and actions will, if you know what they are. Developing a relationship with your character will help you develop your character more easily and believably. Played well, the other players will see glimpses of your character’s between sessions life that will leave them interested and curious. Your character will become an evolving personality instead of a set of stats on a page. GETTING TO KNOW YOUR CHARACTER Start a relationship by getting to know your character. Be aware of what he is doing both between scenes and between sessions. Think about the down time your character had last session. Did a four-hour walk through the wilderness zip by in five minutes? Did your super hero go to his day job then fast forward to evening? Did your cowboy spend a week home between jobs with his family in less than a minute? If so, you have some action to fill in. Quite often, players need to fill in rough details on the fly. You need to know to some extent how your character was affected by her between scene actions by the time the GM moves on to the next scene. If you’ve developed a solid base for your character – history, habits, etc. – you should have a rough idea of what your character would likely be doing and how that fits into his past, present, and psyche. Start by getting an idea of what your character was doing. No, you don’t need to fill in every mundane detail, but try to come up with some. Did he let his mind wan- 54 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ der on the walk, talk to someone, play I spy? How was work? Did he stock shelves, deal with an unpleasant client, or have a conversation with a close coworker? What was the week with the family like? Did he do chores, help the kids with schoolwork, or just try to get time by himself? Once you figure out rough details of what happened, think about the effects of that action. Pick up cues from other players. Their characters are also living between scenes. If a player announces that his bard is practicing his flute during that four-hour walk, your character may just be looking for some peace and quiet when they finally reach the inn. Maybe he’ll announce, “No, actually, I don’t want to sit at the group table, I just want to be by myself!” If your character spent four hours playing I spy with the half orc in the party, maybe he’s debating whether adventuring is really as exciting as he thought it might be. If your character’s actions involve another player character, try spending some time jointly thinking about how the interaction went. Often times your character’s between scenes actions involve no other PCs. The results of those actions, though, are just as relevant. For instance, if your hero received a compliment from his day job boss and had a great conversation with a close coworker during lunch, maybe he’s having second thoughts about moonlighting as a superhero. Maybe he won’t jump on that next call right away. On the other hand, if he stocked shelves all day and got lectured about not shaving that morning, maybe he’ll throw himself into crime fighting. In short, all that your character does with or without other PCs affects how he behaves in the game. Often larger chunks of bypassed time fall between games. Try to take some time before the next game to flesh out that time for your character. Again, think about what exactly your character was doing during the missed span of time. Sometimes no time passes between games. However, your GM may decide to end a game at the end of one successful run for your cowboy and announces that the next game will start a week later, game time, when the characters are ready to head out again. Your superhero team might take two weeks off for training and miscellaneous personal business between sessions. In such cases, the players have a lot of time to fill in to make their character’s actions in the next game interesting and believable. you, do it. If you keep a journal of your game sessions, write your between sessions activities down too. Identify your character’s key activities. Next think about how your character felt, acted, or reacted during those activities. For instance, it probably isn’t necessary to decide how your spy felt at the grocery store while he bought ketchup, then cabbage, then turnips, then cheese spread. But it may be very useful to think about how he felt talking to his wife about his latest “business trip” that he concocted as a cover for his recent spy job. Throughout this process keep in mind the direction in which you want to take your character. Remember, you, the player, are ultimately responsible for keeping your character interesting. If your character’s impetuous tendencies are starting to bug you, find a way through your character’s experiences in or between sessions to change that behavior. If your character’s surly, loner behavior is getting old, decide what experiences might open him up, then manipulate him into those experiences. As long as you’re patient and wait for appropriate timing, the character development will feel natural and believable. When you’re finished analyzing the key actions, decide how other party members might perceive the change in your character. For instance, if your superhero is having trouble in her relationship, she might feel stressed. The other team members might perceive her stress because she starts showing up slightly late to scheduled meetings. Or maybe she used to bring in snacks for the group, but stops because of her relationship turmoil. On the other hand, if her relationship is going particularly well, she might show up a headquarters a bit early, she might be more chipper, she might show up with a round of coffee for everyone in the morning. Any of these changes in behavior give the other characters a chance to perceive a difference and give the other Start by blocking out what your character did. How you do this depends on personal preference. Some people like sketching out planners, parceling out activities into time slots. Others prefer to simply think about it and keep track in their heads. Others write out a list of activities and don’t worry about designating exact times or durations. Whatever way works best for Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 55 players a chance to believe that your character is part of a world larger than the game time realm. And suddenly your character becomes deeper and more interesting. That having been said, remember that sometimes down time really is just down time. Not every shopping trip, research work, or rest time is life changing. Leave room for the daily grind in your time calculations. After all, you want your character to be interesting, not manic. HOW TO FIND TIME FOR A RELATIONSHIP Many people feel overwhelmed by the idea of working on their characters between games, beyond adding points or leveling up every now and then. After all, we all have commitments, work, or family. Each player has his own between scenes life that needs to be lived. How can you find time to keep your interesting character interesting? Begin with brainstorming immediately before game. Most games have at least five or ten minutes before things start. Try using some of that time to think about your character. Not only will that give you some time to fill in between scenes action, but it will also help you get into your character before the game starts. Follow up game sessions with thinking too. Use the time you take driving home from game, cleaning up after game, or collapsing into bed after game to think about your character. This time can be advantageous because your character is fresh in your mind. If you need more time than before and after game allows, multi-task. Make use of time that your are occupied, but not mentally engaged. Think about your character during your commute to work, while raking leaves, washing dish- es, or any activity that requires little thought. If you come up with ideas, jot them down as soon as you get a chance. You may even decide to carry a small notebook with you for such purposes. Time for developing your character is important, but it doesn’t need to dominate your schedule. WHEN THE RELATIONSHIP BECOMES TOO CLOSE You may find that once you invite your character into your head, he might build a hitch for his horse, change his mailing address, and simply refuse to leave. Creating an interesting, well-rounded, and changing character can be exciting, but it can also get irritating when that character starts interrupting or dominating your non-game pastimes and thoughts. No, you probably won’t start storming the sewers, but if you find that half your conversations revolve around your character, or if you just start getting irritated with how often thoughts of your character pop into your head, it’s time to back off. In such cases, try limiting your character brainstorming. Maybe immediately before and after game provides ample time for developing your character. If not, expand your time to only the day before or day after a game. Set a schedule, then stick to it. Regardless of when you take the time, getting to know your character helps keep a game fresh and interesting for everyone involved. An evolving character can engage players and inspire GMs. So get your character off the paper and start developing a relationship. It will be well worth the effort.❑ 56 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ A HACKER’S GUIDE TO GARWEEZE WURLD By James Montney. he Ape Gawd chose the great island of Skarish as the birthplace for the Ape Shaman Warriors and modified it to his will. Volcanoes, rifts, and boiling lakes dot the interior bringing nutrients to the extremely dense and bountiful vegetation. The Apes honor their gawd with many shrines depicting His grumpy aspects and with large stone temples. The steaming cold Gawdsblud River rushes from a large cavern. A failed Fangaerian expedition searching Skarish's vast caverns also left a ruined keep and a few destroyed villages upon the land. Apes leave the Drunken Monkey Monastery alone believing that the monks also worship the Ape Gawd. T Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 57 Generic dungeons and floorplans for the GameMaster to run with. By Craig Zipse Buckville: Black Eyes and Apple Pies Map 4 in the Wily West Series omewhere way out west, in bygone days, one could find adventure to rival any found elsewhere. This series of maps will serve to try and capture some of that sense of adventure and assist GMs looking to run a western themed game. Doubtless, not all the ideas presented here will fit the feel you want to convey, so feel free to drop and add as you see fit. These maps are based in and around the fictional town of Patience located in California along the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains near the end of the famed California Gold Rush (sometime in the latter half of the 1800s). There is no significant effort here to be historically accurate or technically correct, only to present ideas and themes to be used by GMs as they see fit. Time to saddle up! S The small town of Buckville is a very loose knit community of farmers and their families. The town itself consists of a bustling general store, church (with funeral parlor), mill and schoolhouse (where all matters of import are held). There is no official leader in Buckville, but the locals look to Jeremiah Stone (owner of the mill) for guidance. Jeremiah, a failed banker from back east, is a stern, but fair man whose bark is fiercer than his bite. Just about everyone is a farmer, kin to a farmer or going to be a farmer when they grow up. It’s just what these folk do. Once a year, they locals hold a relatively large apple festival. It’s their opportunity to relax, get tipsy and eat some of the best apple pies west of the Mississippi (or so they say). Dr. Clyde Wainwright is the lone physician that serves the community and he acts as the veterinarian as well (a critical role in these parts). Clyde makes regular rounds through the hills and valleys around the area and is well thought of and respected by the community. As with Jeremiah Stone, his wisdom is held in high regard. The ladies especially speak highly of him, for though his bouts of heavy drinking are frowned upon, his handsome features and bubbly wit are the talk of the one-horse town. Also from back east, the good doctor rarely speaks of his past and with good reason. It seems Clyde Wainwright is actually a wanted man! Having taken up the knife late one night to treat an emergency case of appendicitis, he’d had too much to drink and did far more harm than good. It was a shame indeed, for the victim was none other than Shannon Holbert, eldest daughter of renowned Senator Henry Holbert of Richmond. Terrified, Wainwright said goodbye to his family and headed west in desperation. The wealth generated by the Holbert Shipping Company along with Senator Holberts unflinching need for justice have ensured bounty hunters from Virginia have been after him ever since. Clyde is a good man with a bad habit that will eventually spell trouble for the locals of Buckville. As for the farmers themselves, they keep busy near year round and feed most folk for 50 miles distance. Outside of the troubles that corn whiskey and an active rumor mill can bring on, the farmers have 3 major problems: Cowboys, Indians and Coyotes. The cowboys are thugs from the Circle M ranch who seem to delight in terrorizing the community. There is always a black eye or shot hog to mark the path of Bart McDermott’s men. Finding a way to rid the community of the ruffians has long been the aim of Jeremiah Stone, but he has never had much luck. Riders who can manage to pull off this task would surely earn the eternal gratitude of the locals (pie for life). The Indians, led by the formidable Shoshone warrior Ravensky, raid the outlying farmhouses on occasion. Though rarely is anyone hurt, the Indians are a terrifying lot to the helpless clod-busters. Women have been kidnapped, but are always released for a small ransom (usually consisting of food supplies for the Indian band to help them get through the winter). All attempts at setting up trade agreements in the past have failed, but if one could be put in place, the Indians could make for a strong ally (see Shadow Canyon next issue for more details). Despite all their carrying on about ruffians and redskins, the farmers know the coyotes are the most sinister threat to their lifestyle. Lairing in the safety of caves located in the nearby mountains, the vermin are rampant throughout the farming community. They reap havoc on the farmer’s livestock which are critical – especially in the cold winter months and a regular ransom is offered for the culling of the devils. ❑ Next Month – Shadow Canyon! 58 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ ©copyright 2007 Craig Zipse Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 59 LOST GAME S A FA R I The Hunt for Out-of-Print Games Worthy of a Second Look GREYHAWK ADVENTURES: WARS PUBLISHER: TSR TYPE: Board/Wargame NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-6 PLAYING TIME: 3+ hours DESIGNER: David “Zeb” Cook DATE PUBLISHED: 1991 FREQUENCY: Rare GOING RATE FOR A USED COPY: $20.00+ on eBay SCOUTED BY: Andy Miller he World of Greyhawk is known for its wars, having been wracked with them throughout its history. The campaign setting originally conceived of and published by Gary Gygax has always been one of good versus evil with a strong core of neutrality trying to maintain the balance. However, war has always played a major part in that campaign. T The Greyhawk Adventures “Wars” boxed set is no exception ... but that’s obvious, isn’t it? Wars is a board game with an “Axis and Allies” feel that allows the players to build up armies and send them across the Flanaess to fight their enemies. Players can take one of the six major countries involved in the Greyhawk Wars or any other countries or battles they wish to recreate and play them out. They can initially choose between the good countries of Furyondy, Keoland, and Nyrond, or the evil countries of the Great Kingdom, Iuz, or the Scarlet Brotherhood, with the chance to send out heroes to make allies, find magic items, or hire mercenaries; or send their armies sweeping across the land to conquer their country’s enemies to win for the side of good or evil once and for all. The boxed set comes with two large map sheets showing the entire Flanaess; army, hero, and troop chits; numerous country, event, mercenary, and treasure cards; an 8-page rule book; an adventure and scenario book, and two 10-sided dice. The maps show a large portion of the continent of Oerik in the World of Greyhawk, breaking each country down into sections and marking off the world with its terrain. Depending on the country he begins with, each player starts with a set number of troops, broken down into light, medium, or heavy infantry and cavalry, scouts, marines, and ships. Add to that a mix of elves, gnomes, dwarves, orcs, ogres, giants, and even dragons among others, and each country starts with a decent-sized army. Each country card shows exactly what troops that country starts with. Army units begin positioned in the initial countries that the player starts with although no more than five troop units can be placed in any single section. These individual armies of up to five troop chits are each marked with an army marker with the coat of arms of their controlling country. We found that little rule very useful to help determine who had actually gone. The scenarios start the players with specific countries, the big six being the most prevalent in the four scenarios provided. For example, in the two player game, the evil player controls Iuz and the Horned Society while the good player begins with Furyondy and the Shield Lands and their respected troops. Additionally, each player gets a certain number of heroes who can lend their strength to battles or perform other actions. The turn sequence starts with the turn order, essentially an initiative roll, making the order of play different every turn. Next, players place their heroes on the board anywhere they want not already occupied by enemy units. Heroes can go to the capitols of unaligned countries to try to act as diplomats, they can search for 60 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ treasure, try to hire mercenaries, or bolster the strength of the player’s various armies. Once the heroes are placed, each player draws an event card for that turn. These cards are many and varied and can aid the player, work against him, or be used against other players. Some event cards allow for the addition of counters such as giants or dragons when going into battle, some cause rivers to flood, the Bandit Kingdoms to attack, alliances to be broken, or even force units to stay in battle. There are many event cards and though some must be played immediately, some can be held for later use. Then comes the action phase in which most things happen. Armies can move, attack, fortify, or disband and heroes can practice diplomacy, look for treasure, or hire mercenaries. Army movement is simple: Infantry can move three spaces and cavalry can move four. Terrain modifies that: Moving through forests, hills, or desert counts as two movement places and mountains and swamps halt any movement for the rest of the round. Certain mountains are impassable along much of their length and only a few passes exist. Sea areas can only be entered by ships, which can move up to six spaces while ferries marked on the map allow troops to move across water spaces. Ships can also transport up to two other units and this is actually the only time more than five units can occupy the same area. However, if the ship is sunk, the units aboard it are lost too. Combat is very simple. Once an army moves into an area occupied by an opposing army, the defender lines up his troops in a battle line. The attacker lines up his troops to oppose the defender and any extra troops are allowed to double up on the enemy. Before the battle is joined, each player can put down up to as many event, mercenary, or treasures cards as they have in their hand to bolster their troops with mercenaries, extra creatures, or even magic items. Once the cards are in place, the actual combat begins. The player indicates the unit attacking and rolls a 10-sided die. If the die roll is equal to or less than the number on the attacking unit, a hit has been scored. Weaker units such as light infantry and cavalry or goblins have lower numbers. If they are struck, they are destroyed. Many chits actually have numbers on both sides and if those are struck, the chit is overturned to the weaker side to indicate that battalion or platoon is injured but can still fight. These can take two hits before they are removed. Battles can be fought for three rounds, four rounds if a hero is involved. All combat is considered simultaneous except for certain conditions. Attacking over a river or by using a ferry to cross a lake allows the defenders a single free shot, use of scouts allow them to actually get their attack off before the enemy, and if one side withdrawals, the other can send cavalry to try to run down their forces, also with a free shot. Friendly cavalry can be used to screen the retreating forces if any are available to those troops. Heroes, in addition to allowing battles to go longer, increase the strength of one unit he’s placed by one during the fight. Such heroes aren’t affected by battles and escape regardless of how the battle goes. Unactivated armies can then try to fortify an area, building castles, or they can be disbanded. Heroes are more of the meat of the game. Though the battles are fun, heroes can actually make or break the game. Acting as a diplomat is as simple as rolling a die and comparing it to the red or green marked number at the top of the country card (for evil or good) the hero is trying to ally with. A die roll lower to or equal to the num- ber means a success. Countries are marked as good, evil, or neutral and that affects those numbers. Gaining a country allows the player to use the country’s troops, which are activated and put into play at the end of that turn. Heroes that search for treasure turn the top treasure card, the top of which lists a monster name, a strength number, and a treasure number. Another simple 10-sided die roll against the monster’s strength indicates if the creature defended its treasure or was defeated. If the creature is defeated, the card shows the number of treasure cards the player then draws for himself. Heroes can recruit mercenaries at military crossroads where they tend to congregate. When a hero recruits mercenaries, the player draws a mercenary card, each of which are marked red for evil, green for good, or white for neutral. If the alignment matches the player’s or is neutral, he can keep the mercenaries for later battle. If it is the opposing alignment of the player’s country, it must be discarded. Any army or hero units that have not been put into play during the beginning of the phase can be used to heal units that are injured or add or raise new units from home or allied countries. A few special rules at the end of the book indicate how players can work together and ways to determine whether a country has been allied with or conquered. The rules finally end with a few optional rules for the six main countries. The adventure book has a detailed timeline and history of the Greyhawk Wars and contains four scenarios for two, three, five, or six players. Each scenario includes set-up and victory conditions though players are also encouraged to devise their own battles. In play-testing, we found that the rules, though simple, took a little time to get a good hold on. However, the simplicity of combat combined with actions heroes are allowed to perform made for a fun game. Greyhawk Wars is somewhat complex overall but the rules for anything requiring die-rolling are fairly simple. Combat is easy to pick up very quickly. As each of the units is marked with its strength, you can quickly gauge what kind of forces you want to put and where and how you want to fight against your enemies. You end up with a lot of chits on the board. We ran out of the army markers (though not troop markers) a couple of times. The top troop marker can be used as an army marker so long as each player remembers where their troops are located. In play testing two separate games of Wars, I still feel I barely scratched the surface of what is possible with the game. Combat is very dependent on the dice but requires some strategy as well. Each game I played lasted about three hours and only got about three turns in. Another great feature of the game are the country cards marked each country’s initial forces (somewhat reminiscent of the original World of Greyhawk Folio released in 1983). With those cards, players can start with any country and essentially fight any other country on the board, making up their own scenarios. The game is also useful for Greyhawk DMs wishing to more randomly figure out what is going to happen to future of the world or even how things went in the past. Since each turn represents a year, the results of the game can actually be used to figure out (roughly) what overall political action took place that year. The game is simple enough that it can be enjoyed by just about anyone though the strategies are complex enough that even hardcore wargamers will enjoy it and could spend hours if not days playing out a full-scale war.❑ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 61 ™ By Tony DiGerolamo DRAGON CON ’m at Dragon Con this month. I had $20 and five minutes to purchase. Here’s what I got for my twenty bucks: I Owly; Helping Hands is a free comic book for Free Comic Book Day from Top Shelf Productions (topshelfcomix.com). This issue is b/w and 32 pages with no ads. Creator Andy Runton’s Owly is brilliantly cute. There is no dialogue, just pictures and punctuations in the word balloons. In this story, Owly and his friend the worm meet a girl bunny who doesn’t want to get her hands dirty. Owly is gardening. Girl bunny is buying a gift for her dad. It’s an explosion of cuteness I highly recommend. The six page back up story featuring a dog called Korgi, was interesting, but confusing. It’s about a dog that chases an evil goblin, I think. Anyhow, Owly rocks. Go buy it. Not much Gaming Fodder Potential here, the GFP rating is only 1, maybe 2 or 3 if you’re running an impossibly cute Toon campaign. Tabloia #576 is from Salt Peter Press (www.tabloia.com) and is $5.95 for 46 b/w story pages. This is an anthology comic. The big story centers around grave robbers and the cops trying to solve the mystery of the missing corpses. The thread seems to meander with secondary characters and the art isn’t as clean as I like it. The ideas had some potential, but the dialogue didn’t grab me. This issue featured pin ups from Mike Mignola and Tony Millionaire. Kudos to Salt Peter Press for pushing an anthology with several continuing stories. The GFP rating is a 4 for your d20 Modern campaign. Sorrow #1 of 4 is from Image Comics (www.imagecomics.com) and is $2.99 for 22 b/w story pages. A couple and a girl pick up a mysterious hitchhiker then get into a car accident in the middle of what turns out to be a strange town. Stranded because of their car, the hitchhiker gets arrested and the sheriff is more than he seems. I’m not sure, but this may be a town full of smart zombies or cannibals. It had an opening similar to an obscure horror movie called “10,000 Maniacs”. Rick Remember’s story is okay, but just getting started. It’s mildly interesting, but I’d have to see the next issue for a real sense of where the story is going. The GFP is 5 for your Horror RPG. Mystery Manor Haunted Theater #3 is from Silver Phoenix Entertainment (www.silverphoenix.net) and is $3.95 for 40 color pages. This is a horror anthology and a “Collector’s Ashcan Limited Edition”. I wish it were limited to only one so no one else had to suffer through this. Despite competent artwork from the varied list of artists (including two pages from my buddy Chris Moreno) most of the stories go nowhere. There’s an okay story with the Krampus demon that steals kids, but it shifts abruptly like there is a page missing toward the end. Some of the stories don’t even keep continuity from page to page, as characters clothes and hair change. Brutal. I give it a GFP of 2. ON $20 Kabuki #8 is from Icon (www.marvel.com) and is $2.99 for 26 color story pages. Okay, this review will probably totally anger the many David Mack fans out there, but let me assure you that I think he’s a very nice person. I think it’s cool that he’s trying different art styles. That being said, I found this issue pretty pretentious. Basically, Kabuki tells her friend that they’ll use the media as a propaganda weapon against their enemies. I guess the implication is that the Noh (the enemy) is real and that the comic is being drawn by David Mack at the behest of the “characters” who are real. There’s a lot of quotes and philosophizing going on. Maybe it’s lost on me. It’s hard for me to empathize with what feels like the creator’s musings. It’s like he’s working through his thoughts as I’m reading them. I guess I’m more of an “end results” fan, so I’d rather not hear all this rambling. Quite frankly, I’ve probably jumped on board way too late in this series. The GFP is 0 unless you can find someway to use philosophy in your RPG. O.C.T. Occult Crimes Taskforce #4 is from Image and is $2.99 for 22 color story pages. Rosario Dawson lends her likeness to this comic book about magic cops that chase down magic bad guys. It’s like Law and Order, but with magic spells. I enjoyed this a lot. There’s lots of rich detail in this world, especially with the spells. Writer David Atchison, with Dawson’s help, really have something here. Additionally, the art consisted of what looked like photos transformed into art. It’s a shame this has to end at four, but hopefully Image and 12 Gauge (the studio) will bring it back. GFP is 10 as the back contains descriptions of the spells. The Mice Templar #1 is from Image Comics. It’s $3.99 for 50 color pages. I know Mike Oeming, who drew this and created the story with Bryan Glass, who is the writer. That being said, it’s awesome. Mike and Bryan are already getting comparisons to Mouse Guard (which I still haven’t read). The epic story is about a group of kids training under a Mike Templar Knight. When the rats, who are like orcs, attack, they are forced to grow up fast. It’s just a sweet book. Pick it up. GFP is 8. Finally, my webcomic pick is Where the Buffalo Roam www.shadowculture.com/wtbr/index.html. According to Wikipedia, this is one of the oldest webcomics around. It’s a story about college students, although the current strips are stand alones. It doesn’t have much of an archive, but I thought it was funny. The GFP is 3 or 10 if I ever get off my butt and design the Super Frat RPG. Until next time fanboys, see you at the con. ❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖ Tony DiGerolamo is the writer/creator for The Travelers, Jersey Devil, The Fix and Complete Mafia for d20. He is also a writer for the Bart Simpson and the Simpsons comic books. Don’t miss his webcomic Super Frat at www.superfrat.com and look for Complete Mafia: West Coast coming soon. To see more of his deranged scribblings visit www.thefixsite.com. Complaints and comments can be sent to Tony DiGerolamo c/o SJRP, PO Box 839, Hammonton, NJ 08037you’d like to see covered, please e-mail him at [email protected] ❑ 62 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ A Gamer’s R a n t on t he M ov i e s TM By Noah Antwiler Babylon 5: The Lost Tales ou really want to know why I'm such a surly fellow? Why I sit on the sidelines of endless partisan nerd bickerings like Kirk vs. Picard, Mike vs. Joel, Ginger vs. Mary Ann and deride both sides for their mutual short-sightedness? It's because I belong to a forgotten, displaced minority of sci-fi geeks, long pitied for our inability to let go of the past. Star Wars? Star Trek? Hah! It's true, at one time I counted myself among the loyal cults of Roddenberry and Lucas, but that was before I discovered the glory of the greatest television program in recorded history: Babylon 5! You want best captain? I got your Captain Sheridan right here. Q has nothing on Kosh, and I'll take Michael Garibaldi over Worf any day. Sure, the guy is a drunk, but he's got instincts and can whip up some mean Italian cuisine. B5 isn't even mentioned in the same breath as those other sci-fi posers. I'm from the old-school clan who still refers to Joe Michael Straczynski as “God Himself ” and will utter “praised be His name” whenever even his initials are mentioned. You don't even know the schism that occurred recently within the ranks of his own fans, when most of them in a stunning display of disloyalty jumped off the bandwagon after his notorious run writing The Amazing Spider-Man comics. Damn cowards. Fifteen years of staunch faithfulness and all of a sudden they turn on JMS (praised be His name) because they don't like Peter Parker having bone spurs and organic web-shooters. Cry me a dang river! All right, the bone spurs were pretty stupid. I consider Babylon 5 to be the last Hate the Gamer’s Rant on Movies? Cut along dotted line to remove it completely from your copy of KODT. Y truly good sci-fi on television until Firefly came along. That was a ten-year gap. You can imagine why B5 fans are a generally prickly sort, defending a show that hasn't seen regular airtime in a decade aside from irregular runs on satellite and cable. Even Farscape gets network airtime, and don't think that doesn't stick in our craw. We can catch Space Muppets and two versions of ✁ fricking Stargate any time but you want Babylon 5, you have to get some DVDs. You're telling me they'll show Lexx and Painkiller Jane, but B5 isn't good enough to work into a lineup. Fantastic. Imagine my surprise when I heard the news that there was a new Babylon 5 DVD scheduled for release a mere month before it hit store shelves; news that would have set the nerd community ablaze years ago but barely warranted a mention on my own message boards, and didn't even register on the Sci-Fi Wire. It's times like these that make me embarrassed to count myself among the geek community. To think: we traded B5 for Stargate Atlantis and the new Flash Gordon series. It makes me weep. The Lost Tales is a little hard to describe. It's JMS's (praised be His name) way of developing a new series without actually calling it a series, because the networks still own the rights to the television show, but not the motion picture rights. The general premise is that this disc (subtitled Voices in the Dark) is the first in an anthology, each with a theme, each with character-driven episodes that tend to focus on what's happened to each individual cast member ten years after the conclusion of the television series. In this case, Voices in the Dark is a skillfully-written two-part episode. The first half features (the promoted) Colonel Elizabeth Lochley as she deals with a threat quite unlike anything the other station commanders have ever encountered. Apparently the station endures, but she's got a crew member locked in the brig who openly claims to be a demon named Asmodeus. It's a hard claim to dispute when the man radiates a field of intense coldness and a foul stench, and can conjure of hellfire and brimstone at will. It's got Lochley weirded out enough to call for a priest to perform the first official exorcism in a hundred years. Even I'm a little surprised to say that it's good to see Lochley back. I don't think anybody ever really welcomed her character since she was introduced so late in the series. Even then, she was little more than a placeholder to fill the station's chain of command, and was never given anything interesting to do during the series' run. Her episode doesn't tie in to galactic politics or any Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 63 focus on individual characters, but B5 like a lot of science fiction had charm because of its ensemble cast and their unique interplay. JMS is doing the best he can, but he may have written himself into a dozen corners. I don't think he ever sincerely planned to return to B5. At the end of the series most of the characters went their separate ways and said their final goodbyes. But even so, no Delenn? She's his wife. It's also empty in other ways. The computer graphics are leaps and bounds better today than they were when the series was new. So good, in fact, that it makes the old CG look downright childish. And it's so good that almost the entire series is filmed in front of Vancouver's biggest green screen. I'm sure it saved a lot on production costs, but no matter how good your chromakey work is, when you do this much of it the show looks fake and vacant. What few actual sets they use are barely serviceable blank walls. There's barely even any furniture! Most of Sheridan's half of the episode is filmed in the middle of a completely black room occupied only with a pair of small chairs, because the Minbari are “minimalists.” Uh huh. The other interview segments on the DVD make it clear that JMS does not intend for this to lead into a resurgence of the television show. “Hell no!” he says to the question. This attitude annoys me a fair bit. It's painfully obvious that Joe is highly resistant to the idea of pitching a new series because he wouldn't retain full creative control over it. And that's understandable; his work is a disaster when networks meddle with it. He's been bitten several times before with the criminally-bungled Crusade series, the failed Legend of the Rangers pilot, and the blink-and-you-missed-it conclusion to Jeremiah. Yet, as good as this DVD was, and don't think I'm not grateful, what's the point? He just wants to bring in old actors from the show to fiddle around in front of a green screen for a while? There's no money in this. It's just barely above a Brady Bunch reunion in terms of credibility. If he's not building up to something greater with all this, why bother? Hate the Gamer’s Rant on Movies? Cut along dotted line to remove it completely from your copy of KODT. never find anything out about the technomages, what they want or how they can do what they do. This is by design, of course, but it's a little frustrating to know that Galen only now reveals that he can see at least thirty years into the future, never mind how. This might have been useful to know during the Shadow War. And if technomages are sworn not to interfere in such matters, why now is he attempting to alter future events by telling the president to discreetly assassinate people? Of course, that's assuming Galen really can see the future, and isn't just screwing with people, which is entirely possible because Galen is, overall, a smartass with nothing better to do. The real question posed here is, if you could have killed Adolf Hitler as a child- someone who hadn't yet committed any crime, but would set into motion untold atrocities in the future-- would you? My question: if you could punch Galen in his smug bald head, how many times? Anyway, Bruce Boxleitner's performance is a comparatively complex one. His relationships with the other characters are very complicated, given his position of authority, and he's mentally worn thin by the constant responsibility of maintaining the alliance and his own rapidly-diminishing mortality. Peter Woodward is also effective as Galen, but it's amusing to watch him speak with Straczynski in the DVD's special features, as even he says he knows nothing about his own character's background, desires, or drives. Woodward is basically relying only on his natural charisma and sheer guesswork. If you ask me, it's inexcusable for a director to leave an actor hung out to dry like that. How is an actor supposed to do a good job if he has no clue who he's trying to portray? The homecoming to Babylon 5 is very bittersweet, however. The nowdeceased actors Richard Biggs and Andreas Katsulas are dearly, dearly missed. One almost feels like it isn't Babylon 5 anymore without G'Kar and Doctor Franklin. The characters refer to them as having gone “beyond the rim, out there...somewhere,” which is a classy way of giving them a sendoff, but going back feels like ripping open old wounds. In many ways, they'd become the heart and conscience of the series. It's just not as fun anymore without them. Likewise, while these episodes were well-done, they seem empty. I understand that these episodes are meant to ✁ of the deep signs and portents we're used to, but actually for Lochley that's okay here. It's the first chance Tracy Scoggins has had to shine, and she proves herself well here. Lochley was simply not a part of the overarching storyline and it would have felt wrong to force her into that role. In fact, I was rather impressed with how quickly the script gave her that elusive sense of importance she'd been lacking until now. There are a few rare moments early in the television series when you see or hear something ominous you know will have an awesome payoff later. I got that rare chill again when Asmodeus looks Lochley square in the eye and reminds her “We will remember you...” It's a bit silly, I guess. I doubt we'll return to her story. But man, that tingle was still there. Lochley's episode has reportedly turned a lot of fans off for being preachy. The decline of faith is a central focus here. Not many people believe in the divine as technology has marched onward and humanity has colonized the stars. Religion struggles to survive as space, the final frontier is explored and we find only void awaiting us. Does faith lose relevance as science explains those things we could only attribute to God centuries ago? Personally I don't care if the episode is preachy as long as the matter is respectfully handled, and it is. I'm not a religious sort, but I'm grateful for the chance to find out who Colonel Lochley is. It helps that the episode is superbly acted by everyone involved, as this material could easily have degenerated into camp and scenery-chewing given the wrong actors. The second half reintroduces us to John Sheridan, longtime president of the Interstellar Alliance. He departs from his base on Minbar, due for a reunion on Babylon 5 when he starts having vivid prophetic visions brought to him by the inscrutable and impatient technomage Galen (veteran of the failed and mostlycrap B5 spinoff series Crusade). He warns Sheridan that the Centauri Prince Regent, his guest, will in thirty years become Emperor and wreak untold destruction upon Earth. He gives Sheridan the chance to avert this genocide by providing the opportunity for an “accident” that will prevent the nightmare before it begins. I found this episode to be a little weaker of the two, if only because I could never fully appreciate the Galen character as much as others seem to. We (http://www.spoonyexperiment.co)❑ 64 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ ™ By Kenneth Newquist R ETURN TO THE FA NTASTIC R EALMS OF R UNE QUEST R uneQuest is back in print thanks to a new edition from Mongoose Publishing. The venerable gaming system uses an updated version of familiar percentile rules and is set in the established world of Glorantha. Mongoose's official web site for RuneQuest contains news about the product line, free downloads (including a previews for most products and character sheets) and the SRDs for the core book, companion book and monster book. If you'd rather have the SRDs in a more web-friendly format, then check out the MRQ Wiki. It features a mediawiki-powered version of the complete RuneQuest SRDs as well as links to publishers, products, magazine articles, and web sites. If you're looking to go old school, visit the Runic System Reference Document, which presents an OSRIC-style take on the original Runequest rules. It's got everything you need to role up a character, but it's been stripped of everything save game mechanics. For still another take on RuneQuest, visit RuneSlayer. This game was originally called RuneQuest: Slayer and was intended to revitalize the Avalon Hill role-playing line with its publication in 1998. Then Wizards of the Coast bought Avalon Hill and the project was canceled. The game lives on as a download from the RuneSlayer web site, with complete rules, two WarClans source books, a character sheet, and a sample adventure. Glorantha.com is the home of Issaires, Inc, the copyright holder for RuneQuest. Here you can learn more about the mythical fantasy world that's the site's namesake, as well as HeroQuest, an alternative set of rules for playing in the Glorantha setting Delving beyond the publishers turns up Ultimate RuneQuest Resources, a fan site packed with runic goodness. Here players will find archives of mundane and magical items, myriad kinds of magic, and alternative rules. Maps of fan and official worlds can be found as well as sample NPC statblocks. There is 10 years of history behind Pete's RuneQuest & Roleplaying web site, and it shows. The site hosts a small horde of old gaming zines from the 1990s, dynamic lists of found items, mutations and magic from the Chaos Project, numerous variant rules and much more. GBC's Portal to RuneQuest & Glorantha easily has the most comprehensive list of runic sites on the web. There are dozens of links to sites supporting all major editions of the game as well as variants such as a RuneQuest-powered Middle-Earth. Those seeking campaign inspiration can stop by David Dunham's Gloranthan Page, which contrary to its title is a sprawling site including summaries of a half-dozen cam- paigns. There's also a huge index of Gloranthan products, including print books, computer games and board games and write-ups on everything from subcults to pilgrimages to Elric rules variants. Basic Role-playing is a web site for Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying RPG system, which is a generic, percentile based offshoot of its familiar Call of Cthulhu rules (an evolution of the self-same rules that powered the Elric-themed Stormbringer and the original RuneQuest. It has reviews of BRPG rules supplements, a fanzine dedicated to the system, and a growing list of system-related links. ❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖ Ken Newquist is the editor of Nuketown (www.nuketown.com), a webzine dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of geekdom. He’s also the host of Nuketown Radio Active, the zine’s sort-of-weekly geek podcast. Ken's always looking for new “WebScryer” suggestions, so if you know of a cool RPG web site, or have a subject you’d like to see covered, please e-mail him at [email protected] ❑ MONGOOSE PUBLISHING: RUNEQUEST www.mongoosepublishing.com/home/series.php?qsSeries=3 MRQ WIKI www.justanotherwebsite.net/mrqwiki RUNIC SYSTEM REFERENCE DOCUMENT www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/srd/srd_runic/ RUNESLAYER http://www.thalcos.com/rq.htm GLORANTHA http://www.glorantha.com ULTIMATE RUNEQUEST RESOURCES http://www.runequestrealms.org PETE’S RUNEQUEST RESOURCES http://www.maranci.net/rq.htm GBC’S PORTAL TO RUNEQUEST & GLORANTHA http://www.runequest.info DAVID DUNHAM’S GLORANTHAN PAGE http://www.pensee.com/dunham/glorantha.html BASIC ROLE-PLAYING http://basicroleplaying.com/ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 65 I THINK IT STA RTED WITH O RKUT . by Mur Lafferty got involved in Orkut, the social networking site, years ago, when I think there was just Friendster and Orkut. The minute I got into this social networking thing, I started to feel it. You know: IT. I If you’re a geek, you know what I’m talking about. If you ever saw a poster for an upcoming dance, you know what I’m talking about. If it ever became time to pick sides during recess? Definitely. It’s the social anxiety that we geeks grew up with, the, “oh crap no one likes me and here’s another event that will showcase this.” Orkut was the worst, where you could rate your friends based on how sexy they were, how cool they were, and how deserving they were of 1 – 10 smiley faces. This caused great anxiety in me, as I watched obsessively to see how my friends considered my scores. I watched my icons line up – ice cubes for “cool” and hearts for “sexy” – noticing that I was getting many more cool points than sexy. I found this distressing (you can take the wallflower out of high school but you can’t take the high school out of the wallflower. Or something. That made sense when I thought it in my head…) but it also amused me that someone thought I was cool. Me, the geek with the glasses and mousy brown hair, cool. Hah! The fools. I finally decided it wasn’t worth it and stepped away, thinking it didn’t matter. It would blow over. Ah, the naiveté of youth. I never even stopped to consider that ‘net trends are like mice. Or cockroaches. Or crime dramas. If you see two, many more are going to spring up soon. MySpace, Friendster, FaceBook, Pownce, Twitter, etc. They’re everywhere. Everywhere I turn, I’m being invited to join another site that will do nothing more than give me anxiety about whether people like me or not. It will make me obsess over my number of friends and wonder if my best friend/worst enemy has more than I do. (Not that I talk to her anymore – that’s another story.) I’m supposed to get AWAY from this anxiety as an adult, right? Get this confidence thing, this feeling of how other peoples’ opinions of me don’t matter as much as my opinion of myself, and if I am a happy geek, confident in my abilities, my intelligence and my beauty (or, if not beauty, my complete mastery of personal hygiene), then that will show through and people will like me because of that alone. People like confident people. That’s why cons are so much fun; we can be confident with our fellow geeks around us. I may not be able to discuss the latest Gray’s Anatomy, but damn can I talk Arkham Horror strategy. And now we have the strange issue of the fact that the Internet was ours to begin with. It belonged to the geeks. Sure, they laughed at us when we stayed up all night chatting on IRC, but now that there’s Second Life and MySpace, it’s cool to be online all the time. So we should own those networking sites – no, we should PWN them. But the networking sites still stink of popularity contests from high school and therefore I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach as I think about running for student council (I lost to Valerie Rupert) or the race for homecoming queen (hah – never was even in the running, never got a date for the dance, even). Or even though I was a pretty good kickball player, I was still firmly entrenched in the third tier of people picked: athletic boys, then popular girls, then athletic girls. MySpace, for all its flaws, at least is better for my fragile ego than Orkut. It’s me and my #1 friend, Tom, together in our never ending quest for friends. No one rates me, no one decides to give me cool points, and all that matters is my number of friends. No, wait, that’s like high school too. How many valentines did YOU get, Mur? logo by angi shearstone But MySpace plays on one of our greatest flaws as geeks – the desire to be liked is so strong that we’ll friend anyone that comes through. Bands and skanky models are the worst, I don’t even know how they go through the site and randomly friend people, but I go to their site and realize, with shock and dismay, that they don’t really want to be my friend, that I’m not special, cause they have 20,000 friends and I’m but a voice in the wilderness. With 20,000 friends, it will be quite difficult to set up a lunch date with them. It’s the typical geek response of, “gasp! You used me!” and the popular kids laughing and going off with Andrew McCarthy to have a root beer float while I go home alone and drink YooHoo. What really surprises me is people who put utterly offensive stuff on their MySpace page – sexist images and/or music – and then try to friend me. Are they stupid? Oh sure, some people say that the sites are good for connecting with people you’ve lost touch with. I’ve discovered LinkedIn is a good place for former coworkers that I didn’t like in the first place to get back in touch with me. MySpace is an excellent tool for a semi-stalker I had in high school to keep pinging me, calling me by my legal name as if we share some sort of bond and he’s privileged to use it. Yeah. They’re fantastic for dredging up the silt that you had hoped had settled from your past. OK, whine whine, I know. Facebook has proven to be a useful tool, helping me connect with people on a more professional level. I’ve met several podcasters through that site, as well as some people with whom I attended the scifi workshop Viable Paradise last fall. Although people keep attempting to turn me into a zombie, vampire, werewolf, or pirate (how come no one’s tried to make me into a robot? I’d be a robot…), overall I find it worthwhile. I just try not to watch too obsessively to see who’s added me to their top friends, or who has compared me in the super-friendly “compare your friends” app. And yes, I have several listeners to my podcasts who want to connect with me via these sites, and that proves a useful outlet to communicate. Although, these podcasts do have websites… with blogs… and comments… It’s becoming too time consuming, honestly, to keep up with them all. I have a limited amount of time to worry about whether people like me or not, and that angst is spent mostly in real life. Once we get online, it becomes a time-suck to check all of the sites to see if I’m liked or not. I focus mainly on Facebook, but peek into myspace every once in a while to clean out the friends requests and see if there are any new ones. But really, these networking sites are both a blessing and curse for geeks. Sure, it’s an online tool, which makes us automatically comfortable with it, but the playground team-picking, first-second-and third-best friend-ness of it all lands us squarely back where were half a lifetime ago. And by “we” I mean “me”. I bet you don’t have this problem. I bet you were the homecoming queen/king. Dangit. It’s you and me against the world, Tom.❑ 66 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ ™ By Rick Moscatello STRATEGY TIME T wo strategy games crossed my desk this month. Normally, I favor the old turn based stuff…it’s just cool to have an opportunity to think about your moves, and the big bully in me loves to play a solid hour after the game is won, and the computer is more than obliging. This time around, though, neither really rocked the boat. The first strategy title was Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space. This is your basic solitaire rpg/exploration game. Usually, this stuff is done in the fantasy or borderline fantasy genre, such as the excellent Oasis, or Fastcrawl, to name a pair of examples in a genre that dates back to the earliest days of computer gaming, but this game takes the experience to a sci-fi milieu, with limited success. The backstory is your basic “we’ve lost track of the universe, go take a ship and explore everything” storyline, with financing provided by criminal-esque thugs. You score points based on what you find, from technology to alien races, to alien bugs, and other stuff. The economic system is very crude; everything is rated from 1 to 5 points. When buying or trading, you just trade an equivalent amount of points…a 3 point laser cannon is worth a 1 point space bug and a 2 point space trinket, for example. When you explore a new system, a variety of things can happen. Most deadly is encountering an alien race; your ship is flat out pathetic, and, even with mercenaries (hire for a random item), and top equipment, your chances are low. Luckily you always have a chance to run away before the shooting starts. There are a couple of naturally friendly alien races; one is particularly important, as they trade item for item, so you can trade a 1 point item in for a 5 pointer, and reap mega rewards. Usually you find random loot on each planet you visit. Granted, space bats and giant snails and such are reasonable enough, but random hyperdrives seems a bit odd for a regular event. Getting superior engines is pretty much the way to “win”, and score maximum points. You have 10 years to complete the game. If you never upgrade your engines, that’s about how long it takes to visit most of the star systems; a hyperdrive lets you go from system to system in 2 days, allowing you to explore everything with loads of time to spare (although, even with everything explored, you still generally can’t fight off aliens). There are loads of little ‘random’ events in the game, but it’s just not enough. These types of games live and die on variety, and you’ll see 90% of the possibilities in the first handful of games. You’ll always find that silly item-trading race, you’ll always get the ‘random’ thief, you’ll always get the ‘wish-granting’ dude, you’ll almost always find the hyperdrive, and so on. There are some extreme events, such as suns systematically going supernova and alien races living in black holes, but your chances of fighting off such menaces are so slim that these are pretty much ‘game over’ situations, unless you get extraordinarily lucky. Once time starts to out, you need to get back to home base—you suffer a penalty if you’re late. Then, your score is tabulated based on an unknowable formula (although I believe ‘more is better’ is the basic theory), and your final career is chosen. Game over. Granted, Weird Worlds is a fast game and never plays exactly the same way twice…but it does play a very similar way very often, making it just a beginning when it comes to making a fine solo game in the sci-fi genre. Next up is Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword. Civ4 is a great timesucker, and horribly addictive, but the one big flaw it possesses is it doesn’t really handle modern combat well. A system that works for axes and bows just can’t handle tanks and bombers smoothly. Apparently I’m not the only one who believes so, and this expansion, as one can tell from the title, attempts to address this issue, along with a whole lot more. The first big change is the addition of spies; old versions of civ allowed for the stealing of technology, and it’s good to see this fun idea (and a way to keep up with the still madly cheating computer) finally make a comeback. You can get spies once you research Writing, so this really affects the whole game, and not just the ‘beyond the sword’ era. Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 67 Spies can do a wide variety of things, including even forcing an enemy civilization to change religion to yours (probably the biggest deal, since diplomacy is MUCH easier with shared religion), as well as civics. your priests asking you to settle a city WAY outside your boundaries), usually it’s just little stuff like mines and buildings blowing up, or forests burning down. Again, late in the game, you’ll usually have the money to cancel the event. The computer, of course, gets a massive bonus with spies, and you’ll be overrun with them from time to time. Luckily, it favors poisoning the wells, causing a horrible pollution/growth penalty to a city for decades, and blowing up buildings, along with occasionally blowing up your important improvements, such as oil wells and gold mines. You do have the option to do the same, sort of, but the computer’s growth and production penalties makes doing so mostly pointless—the turns you spend manufacturing a spy and moving it out to perform a risky sabotage will be canceled by one turn of success by the computer, which also is VERY good at assassinating your spies (I’ve yet to pull this off, myself ). In theory, the one game change that could most affect things is corporations. Corporations are great wonders, although they’re only built by great people—an extra precious resource late in the game, where great people are far more seldom born. Building such a thing grants some small bonus to cities where the corporation is located. Alas, corporations are a little bugged, and have tremendous overhead costs; rarely do the benefits (a few extra research or food) sufficiently pay for the massive expenditure of gold. I’ve never built one, as there are already too many uses for great people by the time the option for corporations comes up. While spies do add a bit to the game, the computer AI does spend too much time dealing with it; a new player can simply ignore them and play a perfectly good game (in fact, except for the Super Spy great person, the only way to seriously steal technology, it’s probably best to do so). Spies don’t much affect the modern era, either, where improved technologies can negate many of their actions. There are also ten new civilizations, but, again, the emphasis is on ancient/pre-modern cultures like Babylonians, Byzantines, and Mayans. The most advanced ‘special’ unit belongs to the Ethiopians, with their Oromo Warriors replacing Musketmen (yes, that’s beyond the sword, but this is the only firearms based land unit in the new mix). Another addition to the game is random events. Alas, they are primarily bad, although you can spend money to negate them. While some events can be interesting (such as Some new wonders are tossed in; the highlight is the Apostolic Palace (i.e., the Vatican), a medieval-era United Nations that’s well worth controlling, as you can enforce peace and grant cities to yourself, among other little useful abilities. The best new national wonder is the Moai Statues, like the dudes on Easter Island. Curiously, they grant a production bonus to a city’s water tiles, something coastal cities often need since they’re usually in the lowlands, away from production-useful tiles like hills. There are, at least, a few useful modern-era units. Most amusing is the zeppelin, a feeble way to bomb enemy stacks. Anti-tank infantry is a close second—before, if one guy had tanks and the other didn’t, the latter was pretty much screwed, but the AT infantry gives at least a slight chance to hold off the treaded menaces. Finally, there’s the paratrooper, a way to finally get some infantry at the front lines, a difficult premise, especially on land maps. There are other units, although only the cuirrasier, a cavalry piece between knights and late 19th century cavalry, will see much play, the others being even more specialized than the AT infantry. There are also a bunch of scenarios, although such things are an acquired taste; many of them have very special rules, a lot to learn for an 8 hour game you’ll only play once. Still, the zombie-horde scenario Afterworld does merit a mention. I dispute that Beyond the Sword really adds much, well, beyond the sword, and it’s not as absolutely critical as the Warlords expansion. Now’s a great time to pick up that earlier expansion, especially if it’s already packaged with Civ4. BtS, as the fans call it, while nice, isn’t necessary, and it’s worth waiting a few months to get it at a better price. ❑ 68 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ ™ A review by Paul Westermeyer T HE H ISTORIA N The Historian By Elizabeth Kostova n October ghosts and ghoulies usually troop about demanding candy in the voices of children, or haunt the airwaves in cartoon form. But despite the commercial glitter and traditional fun, at heart Halloween connects to our deepest fears about the dark, about the sacred, and the profane. Vampires have stood near the center of the holiday’s stranglehold on the modern imagination throughout the twentieth century, that bloodiest, most savage period in human history. Indeed, history has revealed the deepest, ugliest wells of the human spirit and we have, in essence, personified that lust for blood and power in the mythical vampire. I One novelist has taken this juxtaposition of cause and effect to its logical point, placing the vampire within the history of religious and ethnic atrocity which so bloodily stains the century. Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel is a remarkable effort in the highest traditions of fantasy, employing the struggle against a fantastical monster of mythology and legend in its quest to understand issues of history and family. But the fantasy is very low key; the magic is offscreen, obscure, and unexplained. Kostova’s novel follows three strands of events through history, as three generations of a family of historians struggle to unravel the mysteries surrounding Vlad Tepes, Dracula, and his remarkable ‘Dragon Books’. One strand wends its way through the turbulent 1930s, the most detailed account plows through the 1950s, and the third account ties the threads together diffidently as it meanders through the 1970s. The story is further connected in time to the first decade of the twenty-first century as the narrator recounts the tale. The novel is full of mysteries, and the reader must explore them alongside the narrator as she uncovers evidence piece by piece, much as a rose unfurls slowly over time. The cast of characters is remarkable for containing three historians who act like historians, Bartholomew Rossi, the narrator’s father, Paul, and the narrator herself each pursue the mystery of the Dragon Books with scholarly precision, there are no archaeological bullwhip’s here! Each displays, moreover, considerable unwillingness to acknowledge the supernatural nature of the mystery, the supernatural aspect is virtually unspoken for most of the novel. The style is very ‘European’ and thus quite appropriate to the subject but it is also homage to Stoker’s original Dracula. As in Stoker’s work, much of the story is revealed through letters, journals, and other finds. There is a cryptographic and riddling edge to the story, quite reminiscent of scholars struggling with ciphers and lost ‘Rosetta Stones’ but the hints and allusions tie together well so that the plot, when finally revealed, is quite seamless. Moreover, like Stoker, Kostova uses Dracula himself quite sparingly, he appears in only a very few scenes, always mysteriously, and always to great effect. His conversation with Rossi is a purposeful echo of the first meeting between the vampire and Jonathan Harker. For the game master, the story presents a text-book example of how to construct clues and hints that should lead the players from point A to point B while leaving them with an illusion of free will. Moreover, it is an excellent example of the sort of shadowy, mystical warfare that might take place between an ancient lich or vampire, and the foes that might hunt him. As a modern campaign example it presents a pleasant alternative to the hormone drenched adolescent angst of the World of Darkness and most other modern gothic horror. The novel is far from action-packed. The excitement and drama comes most often from the uncovered page or recently recovered folk-song, rather than machine gun bullets and flashing swords. For some, this will be reason enough to leave it alone. But if you find philosophical debate, and spiritual peril thrilling, and if you enjoy examining recent history through unusual prisms, then pick up the The Historian. I’ll be very surprised if you can put it down again. ❖❖❖❖❖❖❖❖ Paul Westermeyer is a professional military historian for the United States Marine Corps. He’s read fantasy and science fiction voraciously since the mid-Seventies, and has played role-playing games since 1979. ❑ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 69 GAMEVINE KODT SEEKING A FEW GOOD COLUMNISTS e’re exploring the possibility of adding two new features to the KODT Wline-up (to be rotated with existing semi-regular columns). The gaming industry has been experiencing a lot of exciting changes in recents months/years and we’re looking to cover various aspects of the market we don’t feel have been getting adequate coverage. Games released in PDF only format has become an increasingly popular trend. We’re looking for someone to provide thumb-nail reviews for such releases. Another change in the industry is the growing “Indie” movement. Games that aren’t likely to be found on the shelf at your favorite local game shop but attracing fanatically loyal followings none the less. Sample columns and proposals can be sent to [email protected]❑ SEND YOUR NEWS items to: GAMEVINE, c/o kenzerco, 511 w. greenwood ave, waukegan, IL 60087 or email [email protected] GREAT SPACE RACE STILL AVAILABLE Back Yard Artillery ne of our readers turned us on to this interesting website; backyardar- Otillery.com. The features a collection of toy weaponry ranging from rubber band guns, to camp guns to 1/20th scale siege machines. They even have toy crossbows!! Our favorite is the Rubber Band Gatling gun (pictured below). Twelve barrells (each of which can hold 12 rubber bands) can fire up to 144 rubber bands as fast as you can turn the crank. You can order a finished model for a whopping $395.00 or build on yourself from plans ($29.95) Check out their website — a gamer can truly get lost looking through their gallery. ❑ ne thing that sur- Oprised us during the summer convention season was the number of people who came by our booth to grab up copies of the award winning Great Space Race and reporting they had been told the game was ‘out of print’ or ‘unavailable’ when they asked for it at their FLGS. This game is STILL in stock. Plesase help get the word out. ❑ Rubber Band Gatling Gun: Once assembled the wooden kit Fires 144 rubber bands!! Fearsome “Stirling Warwolf Trebuchet” kit. Working model is 32 inches high. KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE MAGAZINE TO NO T CEASE PUBLICATION aukegan, Illinois, September 15, 2007 — In the face of rampant rumors of doom and gloom Win the gaming industry, Kenzer and Company would like to announce that Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine has NOT been canceled. The popular gamer comic/magazine continues to do well and we have no plans to close shop and get real jobs. “With so many dead-tree gamer publications folding and closing shop recently a lot of concerned readers have been worried about KODT’s future.” says Dave Kenzer. “Add to that the fact that a lot of game companies (as well as local brick and mortar game stores) have been going MIA in recent months I guess it’s natural for people to wonder, “who’s next?” “So we want to publicly reassure our customers that KenzerCo and KODT are doing well. Aces and Eights: Shattered Frontier was a big hit for us. It sold out but a reprint is on the way (along with several new and exciting supporting products). Meanwhile we’re busy working on the next stage of evolution for both HackMaster and Kingdoms of Kalamar as well as a few secret projects. So stick around. You won’t want to miss what we have coming down the pipe.” ❑ 70 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ B OARD S QUAWK by Nick Medinger HOLIDAY ROUND UP t's that time of year again, time to give all your friends games for the holiday. Not sure what to give, never fear this guide will give you a quick look at some of the best holiday games, from the perpetually popular to the best newcomers there's a game for everybody this holiday season. I THE CLASSICS: If you read the holiday guide last year feel free to skip right to the next section because the classics are still pretty much the same as they were 12 months ago. There are three dominant classics in the designer game world, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Ticket to Ride. All three titles won the coveted Spiel des Jahre (Game of the Year) in Germany and all have spun off expansions and become money making franchises for their publishers. Catan is the most complicated of the three (though not by much) and the oldest at the ripe old age of 12. Carcassonne arrived on the scene in 2001 and Ticket to Ride is the late comer, having debuted in 2004. Any of these games will please the marginal or casual gamer. If you picked up one last year for a friend consider getting another. The Settlers-Carcassonne-Ticket to Ride triumvirate are great for casual gamers but those who enjoy a longer, more complex game also have their own set of classics to choose from. Try Puerto Rico, Caylus, Tigris & Euphrates or Power Grid. All four games have been available for years now and continually rank among serious gamer favorites. My personal favorite out of the four is Power Grid, but any of them will serve a nice present. PARTY GAMES A party game for the holidays serves 2 purposes. First you can give it as a gift and then it can be immediately played with all those at your holiday gatherings. Catch Phrase, which went electronic a few years ago has a new music only edition that should provide a welcome update for fans of the game and music fans alike, plus the game is so easy literally everyone can play. The best really large group game is still any of the available games based on the game known as Mafia/Werewolf, where players are assigned a secret identity and a gamemaster is needed to run rounds of the game. My personal favorite is still the Mayfair Games distributed, Lupus in Tabula, an Italian version from daVinci games. There is even a Cthulhu version available for those who tire of werewolves. My favorite new edition to the party game genre this year is easily Cash 'N Guns. The irreverent game where players portray gangsters while pointing foam guns at one another. The game is extremely simple and just plain fun. If someone you know enjoys games like Bang! or "out guessing" games this one is for them. EXPANSIONS Never overlook game expansions. Like movies and video games if a game is popular publishers will often follow up with an expansion, and if your giftee likes that game consider your problems solved! All three of the classics mentioned at the beginning of the article have expansions and spin-offs with Carcassonne easily having the most. Need a gift for someone who loves little minis games? Both Battlelore and Heroscape have several new expansions which have been introduced in just the past few months. Last year's Spiel des Jahre winner has an expansion too, look for Thurn & Taxis: Power & Glory. There's also an expansion to one of the most interesting new titles released in 2007, Stonehenge. Stonehenge is being billed as an anthology game. Inside there are rules for 5 different games, all from big name designers (Richard Borg, James Ernest, Bruno Faidutti, Richard Garfiled, and Mike Selinker). All games use the same pieces but none of them play the same. Stonehenge: Nocturne adds 3 new games plus pieces for players 6 and 7. It's an interesting concept and for the $50 price tag on the main game that's only $10 per game. KIDS Kids play a lot of board games. Even with Xbox and Wii, board games still occupy a large portion of especially younger kids’ time, so a game gift for kids at the holiday season is a good idea. There are a few kids game manufacturers which produce high quality good kids games, if all else fails simply pick a game which shares a theme with the child's interest and get that one. The publishers to keep in mind are, Haba, Ravensburger, Gamewright and the Bright Ideas line by Playroom Entertainment. While most kids games are either matching or memory games there is one in particular which doesn't fall into these genres and is very fun. Dancing Eggs by Haba has kids rolling large dice and then whoever acts the quickest to the dice roll gets an egg. Players might have to shout "cock-a-doodle-doo," or run around the table to satisfy the dice roll. Eggs must then be held in various ways (under the chin, in an elbow) until someone drops an egg. The kid with the most eggs at that point wins. It's a fun game is a little different than a normal "sitting at the table" game. Games make great gifts. With today's bumper crop of well designed modern games there's a game for everyone, including people who are only casual gamers. The problem is picking the right game for the right person. If those people are already gamers the choice probably isn't that hard but if there's not the challenge is a little greater. Luckily there is a fountain of knowledge around. If your area has a good local game store the employees there should be able to provide some help. Hopefully the store will have a gift section to help alleviate the issue. If you are without a good local store (and even if you do have one) www.boardgamegeek.com is the place to go. Boardgamegeek is full of information about almost any game you could think of, including reviews, and it can lead you to other resources, such as manufacturer websites. ❑ Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 71 GAMER BILL OF RIGHTS...? you’re JOKING. our inalienable rights as players are no JOKING matter, b.a. -- you going to SIGN off on it or not? right...? be advised we are prepared to WALK if our DEMANDS are not met. do the right thing, b.a. -sign off. A n Opinion A r ena and Open For For um MAGIC tournament; it's just the same old stuff. s the subheading indicates, this is a sounding board where gamers can give their two-cents’ worth on whatever seems to rile them. So pull back the curtain and come on in the Back Room.You can leave that thinskin at the door, but be sure to bring your opinions with you. Note that due to space limitations some letters are edited. Got something to say? We wanna hear it. Just use one of the following options; : Via ONLINE FORUM — Just pop over to www.kenzerco.com and visit our discussion forums. : via E-MAIL — Send your strip ideas, reader mail, back room fodder and questions to [email protected] : via SNAIL MAIL — Or write to us at KODT c/o KenzerCo, 511 W Greenwood Ave, Waukegan, IL 60087. A ❖❖❖❖ FLGS EVENT SUPPORT? : 'm wondering: How much or little sup- Iport does your FLGS give towards official tournaments and gaming events? There are two big Gaming stores in NYC -- the Compleat Strategist, which has an awesome inventory but a very small playing space and short hours; and Neutral Ground, which has a small inventory but massive playing area and open to midnight -- and the only official events they sponsor are CCGs and the official WizKids Clix Games. There are no board game days or specific game days (all-day PUERTO RICO, MISSION: RED PLANET tournament), no MUNCHKIN events when a new game or expansion comes out. And at Halloween -- my favorite holiday! -- there's no CALL OF CTHULHU or VAMPIRE rpg, not even a monster-themed I can appreciate the difficulty of determining a winner in a rpg -- is it the player who stays in character but dies early? the one who acts very munchkinly and ends with the most treasure and XP? the coward who survives to the end? -- but these stores offer very little support for the numerous boardgames and card games that they sell. Does your FLGS supply events and tournaments for more than just the current big CCG? — Jim Lynch. GAMER BILL OF RIGHTS : recently decided to stop larping with the I group around, as I had numerous problems. The root of it, though, is that my local area seems to be suffering from an abundance of poor GMing skills, and I have formed up a new role-playing, deciding that I would form up a group based around the kind of gaming that I want to be doing. To that effect, I took the step of writing out my house rules, so that everyone would be on the same page there. What came out became known as the Gamer's Bill of Rights, which I am pasting in here: GAMER’S BILL OF RIGHTS: We, the Gamers of this group, The Companions of the Shield, do hereby lay down the rules and rights of our table, that we might form a more perfect gaming society than has been seen before. These inalienable rights are as thus: 1. The GM is NOT always right: yes, once, 20+ years ago, Gary Gygax was famed for saying that the gm is always right, back when there were only three levels, and your race was your class as well. It was necessary for the GM to make an interpretive call on rules back then, because many things had not been laid out in the rules. Well, we have better books, with full rules now, and yes, we can even check those during game real quick. No more of this “The GM is always right, even if he’s wrong, he’s still right” crap, we’ll run it by the numbers, and move on. 2. No Character dies by rules gaff: Which way to die sounds cooler, and is more likely to bring you back to the table: Spiking the door shut, the party safely on the other side, you turn to face the onrushing trolls, brandishing your flaming sword as you tear into them, until you finally collapse, the trail of troll bodies behind you a final testament to the strength of your life. Or this: The GM forgot to figure in your Mage Armor when he was rolling the trolls to-hits. 3. There will be no fudging: I don’t fudge behind the shield, if you are near death, and there’s a trap there, guess what, if you don’t check for it, or didn’t bring a healer along, then you’re screwed. On the other side, if we’ve got a paladin in the group, I am not rerolling that Holy Avenger cause it’s “Too powerful”. 4. GM-Player argument, is just that: I’ve had too many points where extra people jump into the conversation between GM and player who are not involved in the argument, therefore, we will be setting down a rule by which only those actually involved in the problem are going to address it. By all means, if you want to speed things up, look up the rule, but no more of this one player having to fend off multiple people while trying to address the GM. 5. The GM is not responsible in any way, shape, or form, to keep the party together: Y’alls differences are yours to work out. I will not take part in it. 6. Doing disrespectful/embarrassing things in front of people will have consequences: Jokes are one thing, but I’ve seen far too many players that get cozy with the notion of mouthing off to kings, or interrupting repeatedly, especially when it’s one of their own party talking to an authority figure. If you need to figure out how rulers are expecting you to act in front of them, there is a perfectly good book for that called Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 73 George Washington’s Rules of Civility, and I can get it for cheap at Border’s. Acting like an ass to your employers is a terrific way to no longer have employers, as is bickering in front of them. These are things Heroes have to deal with, and so, you have to deal with them. 7. What your character knows is not what you know: Just as your character has no conceivable way of knowing the formula for gunpowder, nor are any of you professional fighters, martial artists, or master thieves. Providing more information on just how you intend to pull something off can help you out with the roll, as will more indepth intended effects, but it will not hinder you to simply say, “I want to do this”. 8. Character background is always appreciated: It does need to be written down though, so that I can look over it. Just keep in mind that if your background all takes place ways away from where we’re starting, you’re not going to be dealing with it for a long while. Bonuses do come for those who write up backgrounds before the start of game (spelling and grammar do count), and the better the background, the better the bonuses. Bonuses include personal story arcs, magic items, small to moderate amounts of starting exp, as well as possible cohorts, and other followers. Yes, someone else can write up your background, and I encourage the group to work out the story on paper of how you guys got together. Even a simple “We met at a tavern” can be funny if written properly (Note: 10% writer's fee to the person who writes your background, minimum 1. ex: you get 100xp for the story, you get 90 personally, and the writer gets 10) 9. No “I’m just playing my character”: If you designed a character who’s a complete jackass, do not be surprised and offended when you are treated as such by the public at large. A jackass character can lose the group jobs they would otherwise get if he is unable to watch his mouth, and keep in mind, in most settings we’ll play, dueling is completely legal, and even expected for insulting someone’s honor. You can still play a jerk, but don’t expect that the GM is going to mystically keep you in the group. The party CAN fire you, and keep in mind, you have to be unconscious around these people for 8 hours at a shot, and are most likely dependant on them for healing, so, uh, just watch the degree to which you’re a jerk. There’s Jayne (firefly/Serenity) being a jerk, in which he is simply crass, yet still loyal in the end, and then there’s just being a jerk period, regardless of class. was to address the numerous problems I’ve had with GMs over the past few years, and these rules are a necessity to that end. Rules for a particular setting are up to the GM running it, as long as they do not contradict these first ten rules. — Sean McTiernan THE MUNCIE GAMES KEEPER : I loved issue 130 of the Knights. The usual good stuff and a few surprises to boot. I found myself very envious of Bob as he roamed the aisles of the “new game store at the mall.” What an amazing place. Glorious gaming goodness! The thought of a gaming store that’s “Walmart Huge” with laptop centers, free soda, on-site minicon space... My mind soared at the thought of hidden treasures lay tucked away on the shelves of those endless aisles. Could such a game store work? 10. Respect one another: It would be great if you liked each other, but frankly, it doesn’t matter to me if you do, but respect is a necessity, and if you have to ask if you are being respectful to someone, then, no, you probably aren’t. I have to ask. Since so many things in KODT are inspired by real life places, people and events — is the Muncie Games Keeper a real place? These rules are the base line from which our group will work, the reason being that the whole reason I assembled a new group Sorry, Jeff — if there’s a real store like the Games Keeper I haven’t personally seen it. But one can hope. — Jolly Please tell me it is. — Jeff T. 74 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ um, \’m sorry, dave. my character doesn’t DATE outside her SPECIES. \ don’t wanna DATE ya -- \ just wanna MARRY you. the BRAVE fighter FLEXES and strikes a POSE... immediate PLUS two to my SOCIAL CLASS. ONE-TWO PUNCHES that’s right.... the corridor opens up to a large SHARK INFESTED pool. the only way to get ACROSS is to JUMP. my gawd... it’s ACTUALLY happening. it was BOUND to happen. shya’right... eventually. not on MY watch. b.a., \ use my RING of TELEPORTATION!! we’re about to JUMP THE SHARK. no -- \ DON’T wanna ‘try my luck’ and do a ROLL OFF for DOUBLE OR NOTHING. just gimme my frickin’ CHANGE!!! \ have to STOP coming here on the day his RENT is due. \’ve got a NINETY-SIX PERCENT in EQUESTRIAN MASSAGE. equestrian massage...? then how ‘bout a SPIN on the “WHEEL OF DEEP DISCOUNTS”...? up to 5 percent off on your NEXT pre-order. is that even in the BOOK? part of the CIRCUS-slashCARNIVAL career skill suite. FREAK SHOW skill suite he means. Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 75 Listen to Kenzerco forum member Edgelett and her band, The Irresponsibles, at Triple J Unearthed.com! Vote and review the band’s kewl songs. Become a FREE LANCER for K Download our O Writer’s Guidelin DT. es at WWW.KENZE RCO.COM WEIRD PETE’S BULLETIN BOARD is a meeting place where readers may pass along information, barter, trade and gossip. Readers are invited to place classified ads, announce group meetings, seek out other players, etc. Subscribers of KODT may place classified ads free of charge with a limit of one ad per issue and a maximum of twenty-five words. Non-Subscribers may place ads at the rate of 50¢ per word with a limit of 25 words. Companies may place ads at the following rates: [5.5” x 2” - $160], [2.75” x 2” - $80], [1.5” x 1” - $40]. Non-profit organizations (serving the gaming community) and Conventions or Seminars may place ads for free. All ads are placed on a first-come first-served basis with subscribers having priority. 76 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ SMALL PICKS BRIAN’S PRESS SEND REVIEW COPIES TO: KODT: BRIAN’S PICKS Kenzer and Company 511 W Greenwood Ave Waukegan, IL 60087 SKALLYWAGGS Bent Castle Workshops • www.skallywaggs.com ith loads of piratey badness, Skallywaggs is a complete 120-card game that lets 2-4 players “put pirates in their place.” When this game talks about putting a crew of pirates together, it really means it. The 90 crew cards are divided into 30 heads, 30 bodies and 30 legs. You have to put them together and build enough seaworthy characters to set sail, while using event cards to keep the other players’ crews landlocked. Besides the game itself, there’s one more thing you’ll need to play — lots of room. You need a large space on a table or on the floor. The game designers say that this game is actually played best with three players, by the way. You can build pirates into your own crew, or into an opponent’s. Certain pirates cannot sail, and they are impossible to change or swap parts on unless you have the right cards in your hand. So watch out. There are so many twists and turns, complexities and strategic possibilities in this fun game that it can become addictive. W Brian’s Rating: Set sail with this game, or, it just might be Davy Jones locker for ya, Argh! TREEHOUSE Looney Labs • www.looneylabs.com rom the makers of Fluxx comes another Icehouse game involving colorful plastic pyramids. In Treehouse between 2-4 players use a stash of 15 gaming pyramids to try to be the first to make their trios and the House look the same. The “House” is a set of three pyramids set up in the center of the table at the beginning of the game. A diagram is provided to show how this House is to be set up. Players start out with a trio of pieces stacked in the “tree” formation, one on top of the other. On each person’s turn, he rolls the die provided in the game and performs the action dictated by the die roll. This could be Tip, where a player knocks over any upright piece or stack, seperating the pieces. Other actions include: Swap, Dig and Wild. Each one of these can get a player closer to victory. It’s another game designed with elegant simplicity that has become the hallmark of Looney Labs’ games. In fact, the game is so simple that the rules are printed on the sides of the pyramid container. Short and sweet. The game’s simplicity does not come at the expense of strategic play or playability. In fact, it is the simplicity of the game which gives it so many possibilities. Brian’s Rating: Go crazy with Looney Labs’ great pyramid game. You won’t be disappointed. F DON’T BE A BUTT-IN-SKI Northern Games Co. Ltd. • www.northerngames.com O kay, I’ll admit the title is weird. I was taken aback by it myself, yet inside of the raucous looking box is a social party game that is a whole lot of fun, and can jump start any party if you give it a chance. Basically, it’s a game of telling stories. Between four and 15 people can play this game, but really, who has a party with four people? I digress. Spinning “The Wheel of Fun” included in the game, a player whose spinner stops on “Story” becomes the “Storyteller” and gets five minutes to tell an entertaining story, choosing one of his story topic cards. The story can be true, exaggerated, or not true at all. It can be about the person talking, about someone they know, or something that they’ve heard about. It can’t be longer than five minutes however. (This could make character stories actually bearable.) Everyone else must listen to the story. Those who butt in may be judged to be “Butt-in-skis” and be issued penalties, accordingly. Other violations also result in penalties. These penalites are in the form of taking additional Story Topic cards. The player who successfully uses all of his Story Topic cards is the winner of the game. Brian’s Rating: Don’t be a Party Pooper, try this game for your next get-together. Knights of the Dinner Table® Magazine • October, 2007 ———————————— 77 Player 1: “I’ve made a halfling thief called Roscoe Tealeaf. I’m going to play him with a cockney accent, like ‘heyup, I’m Roscoe Tealeaf Gov’na!”” SHOTS Player 2: “You COULD do that. But, then I would have to stab you in the eye with a pencil.” Player 1: “ok….no accents.” “THAT’S WEIRD -- THIS POLISHED BOULDER HAS A STRANGE RUNE ON IT.” “yes sir - \ KNOW \’m the LOWEST form of life. \ AM a GOBLIN after all, sir.” 80 —————————————————— Issue #132: Take the Money and Run™ By Sean Keith Williams By Chris Avellone one GOLEM + one CONTROL GOLEM SCROLL = ZERO BAR TAB By Joseph W. Hellar By Scott R. Krol P ARTING OVERHEARD AT THE GAMING TABLE™ disc rupturing, hernia generating HEFTY SWAG-in-a-Bag GOODNESS... Check www.kenzerco.com for details Available for a Limited Time only! FROM THE MARKETING DEPARTMENT… hope you enjoyed this free issue of Knights of the Dinner Table. For those of you unfamiliar with KoDT or if you haven’t read a copy for years, you can see that there’s a lot more to the magazine than gamer gags. This is the reason we started calling it a magazine rather than a comic book. to the store owner should suffice to get him to carry it). For those of you inconveniently located or with a preference for subscribing, we can fulfill that need as well. Each month we aim to deliver a full featured gaming magazine that has a little bit for everyone. Although Kenzerco does have a few RPG lines, KoDT is not a house organ. Yes, we do run articles that support our systems but we also run a great deal of content that is either not rules dependant or is written for d20 and other game systems. Economics and technology have conspired to eliminate many of the old stand-by gaming magazines. That’s really a shame as we strongly feel that the gaming community will be worse for the passing of a real monthy publication - something that you can read away from the computer screens that so many of us find ourselves trapped behind for hours both at work and home. And, if I may be so bold, passing along a magazine at the gaming table still beats lugging a laptop around. Speaking of sharing, please pass this file (or a link to it) around to your buddies! We want to spread the word that there is still a general interest gaming magazine being published monthly. It’s amazing to learn how many people are unaware of this after Dragon’s passing. If you haven’t read KoDT for awhile and want to catch up on what you’ve missed or if this is your first exposure and want to read more, we offer a line of trade paperbacks called Bundles of Trouble. These package up three to four issues of KoDT and are available at the same gamestores carrying KoDT (or from e-tailers like Amazon or on our own website). I http://www.kenzerco.com/index.php?cPath=22_23_30 Are you a veteran or aspiring writer? We are always on the lookout for interesting gaming material. As stated earlier, we are not a house organ and want to publish solid material that will appeal to a wide gaming audience regardless of rules system. If you’re interested in writing for KoDT, please read further as writer’s guideline and submission information can be found on subsequent pages. In conclusion, if you liked what you’ve seen in this PDF, take a moment to visit our website (http://www.kenzerco.com) and check out what we have to offer as well as our notoriously friendly message boards. And spread the word that “dead tree” magazine publishing is alive and well. If you like what you see here, KoDT is carried by most gaming shops that stock RPG books. (If your particular store does not carry KoDT, a gentle nudge wait a minute -- you KILLED the guy...? a FELLOW teammate? in the MIDDLE of a TOURNAMENT? eh -- no idea wasn’t gonna the bottom of out AFTER \ if he DIED -- \ CLIMB down to that PIT to find shoved him in. well the guy DID touch your dice. like you said... he had it coming. A N EWBIE ’ S G UIDE TO ased on the letters we’ve been receiving (as well as reports from accounting that sales continue to rise), it’s become very apparent that there are a LOT more of you reading this magazine than ever before. That means we have some fresh meat in the ranks. So if you’re reading this, it’s quite likely this is the FIRST time you’ve ever seen a copy of KODT. Welcome! You’re among friends here. Make yourself at home, take off your shoes and kick back. Stay a while. If this is your first time with us (or, if you just recently started reading KODT) you’re probably feeling a little lost. Jumping in on Knights of the Dinner Table midstream is like tuning into a soap opera for the first time. The cast of characters can be intimidating to the Newbie and trying to match names to faces is a bit daunting. One of the best ways to get up to snuff on KODT is to pick up a copy of Tales From the Vault 1, 2 or 3, or one of the ten Bundles of Trouble (these are compilations of earlier strips and back issues). Not only are they great reading but they include detailed bios for almost ALL the characters that have appeared in KODT over the years. Chances are you’ll find these books at the very same place you found your first issue of KODT. If not, simply ask the friendly guy behind the counter if he can order them for you. If that doesn’t work, then you can pick them up at www.kenzerco.com. In the meantime, the following information will help get you started. We’ve included some abbreviated bios of the five primary characters along with some background notes. B WHO’S WHO IN THIS CRAZY RAG? of the Dinner Table (KODT) began life as a poorly drawn, one page strip in the back of a gaming magazine (Way back in 1990). Okay, it’s STILL Knights poorly drawn, but for whatever reason it’s managed to gather and hold onto an ever growing audience for nearly 13 years. The name of the comic is taken from a gaming group comprised of five misfits that seem to enjoy each other’s company. (Though it’s not always apparent based on the way they behave toward one another.) The ‘Knights’ are, and always have been, the central focus of KODT. So if you get to know them, you’re half way there to coming to understand the series. Over the years other characters (and groups) have been added to the mix. At last count there were over FIFTY characters in the cast. Don’t worry — you’ll get to know them in due time. B.A. FELTON BOB HERZOG DAVE BOZWELL SARAH FELTON BRIAN VANHOOSE B.A. is the group’s GameMaster. He lives with his mom and it’s his ‘Dinner Table’ where most of the action in the strips unfolds. B.A. is a night manager at a local 24 hour Pizza Shop. Somehow he manages to prepare and run an adventure for the group week after week. His players give him a tough time. It’s a constant battle — trying to win them over to his style of role-playing. Bob was the first dues paying member of the group. He’s from the old school of role-playing and believes it’s all about breaking things and killing people. He’s made the local papers twice for getting lost in the steam tunnels under Ball State. He’s known to excite easily and has a bit of a temper, and everyone knows not to touch his dice. Dave claims to be a student at BSU (though no one has ever seen him crack open a book). He was introduced to role-playing by Bob, who he met at a local paintball tournament. He’s a true blooded hack-nslasher who becomes bored easily if the experience points aren’t flowing. He has a reputation for being ‘clueless’ at times. Sara is B.A.’s cousin. She moved back to Muncie, Indiana from Wisconsin a few years ago and is the newest member of the group. Unfortunately, Sara is also the only female in the group and fights a lonely battle to bring more roleplay and less hack-n-slash to the group’s gaming sessions. So far, it’s a losing battle. Even so, Sara continues to set the example and hope. Brian lives alone in the house he inherited from his parents (they died in a car crash a few years ago). He manages to make a modest living operating a fee-based gaming website and selling painted miniatures. Brian can’t remember his own phone number but he can recite entire passages of various rule books from memory. He’s the classic ruleslawyer and is proud of it. your FLGS needs you NOW more than EVER!! TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GAME SHOP LOOKING FOR BACK ISSUES of KODT? no need to embark on a MAJOR QUEST. we’ve GOT THEM!! www.kenzerco.com Back Issue Blowout! Looking to get your hands on some back issues of KODT but unsure which ones to get? Well, problem solved. For a limited time, we're selling two massive collections of vintage Knights of the Dinner Table magazines. Collection #1 includes 27 issues and weighs in at over five pounds. This includes issues 31-39,41-42,46-48 and 51-63. Over 450 pages of strips and gobs of gaming material! Collection #2 includes 24 issues and tips the scales at over six pounds! Included are issues 64-68,70,72-74,77-78,80-85,88-91,93-96. Over 500 pages of strips, and gobs of gaming material! Each collection is shipped via Priority Mail (US customers) WHICH IS INCLUDED IN THE SPECIAL PRICE. Get yours today - only $24.99!! Knights of the Dinner Table MAGAZINE Subscription Shipping is included in the price. BULK MAIL – Knights of the Dinner Table™ Magazine (monthly): Domestic (USA) 6 issues - $24.00 12 issues - $48.00 24 issues - $80.00 FIRST CLASS – Knights of the Dinner Table™ Magazine (monthly): Domestic Canadian 6 issues - $32.00 6 issues - $34.00 12 issues - $60.00 12 issues - $66.00 24 issues - $110.00 24 issues - $120.00 All Others 6 issues - $52.00 12 issues - $98.00 24 issues - $190.00 UPDATED SHIPPING RATES: As of October 13 2006, we have updated our Canadian and Foreign shipping rates to more accurately reflect shipping costs. If you are purchasing a renewal, or new subscription for an address outside the USA, please note the new shipping costs above. Military subscribers who have their subscriptions forwarded by a US address (APO, FPO, etc.) should continue to choose the US shipping option. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Are you planning to move or have you just moved? If so, don’t forget to send us your new address right away. Issues that are sent via BULK MAIL will NOT be forwarded by the post office (even if you put in a forwarding request) nor will they be returned to us.The only way we will know to change your address is if you notify us via email at service(at)kenzerco.com, or by phone, fax or postal mail. Please inform us of your new address, so your subscriptions will not be interrupted! RENEWING AFTER A LAPSE OF ISSUES: If you let your subscription lapse, please note that your subscription will begin with the next current issue number - your subscription will not retroactively restart where you left off. You should order your missing issues separately. Contact us at [email protected] if you have questions. Bundles of Trouble Twenty-three Volumes in all -- Each bundling THREE or FOUR classic issues of KODT between TWO covers. The perfect way to catch up on all those OUT OF PRINT back issues you may have missed. Bundle # KoDT Issues Price 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 1-3 + ~20 page special section 4-6 + ~20 page special section 7-9 + ~20 page special section 10-12 + ~20 page special section 13-15 + ~20 page special section 16-18 + ~20 page special section 19-21 + ~20 page special section 22-24 + ~20 page special section 25-27 + ~20 page special section 28-30 + ~20 page special section 31-33 + ~20 page special section 34-37 38-41 4245 46-49 50-52 53-56 57-60 61-64 65-68 69-72 73-76 77-80 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $9.95 $9.95 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 $11.99 Tales from the Vault These hefty volumes compile all those hard to find Knights of the Dinner Table strips that have appeared outside the comic book throughout the years. Ripped from the pages of SHADIS™, Dragon™ and RIFTERS™ magazine among other places. FIVE VOLUMES in all. Bundle # Featuring 1 A complete compilation of all the KODT strips appearing in other magazines: 1990 - 1997 A complete compilation of all the KODT strips appearing in other magazines: 1997 - 1998 A complete compilation of all the KODT strips appearing in other magazines: 1999 - 2000 KoDT webstrip storyarc KoDT webstrip storyarc 2 3 4 5 Price $9.99 $9.99 $12.95 $9.99 $9.99 Knights of the Dinner Table Submission Guidelines So you want to submit an article to Knights of the Dinner Table, eh? That's great, because we're always looking for new material to cram between the covers of each issue. The door is wide open - we accept articles on any game system or game-related topic of interest to Joe and Jane Gamer. Following these simple guidelines is no guarantee that we'll publish your work, but it is the best way to hedge your bet and see your name in print. GENERAL GUIDELINES We accept for consideration articles on any game system or product, articles pertaining to any game-related topic, game rules or mechanics, and anything of interest to the general game-playing community. Please use common sense and courtesy when writing your submission. Since Knights of the Dinner Table readers are of all ages and backgrounds, please do not include any questionable or offensive material. Your article must represent your own work, and not infringe upon the work of others. We accept submissions of all lengths, but reserve the right to edit your work for space and other concerns. Please include, along with the submission, the following information: 1. Your pen name as you wish it to appear in the magazine; 2. Your legal name and mailing address where we can send payment and a complimentary copy of the issue in which your submission appears; 3. Any other necessary payment information; 4. The name of the game(s) or game system(s) that you've written the article for (or the genre type, for generic articles); 5. A description of who the article applies to, i.e. GameMasters, players, everyone, etc; 6. Credits including all contributors; and 7. A Submission Release form and/or an Assignment of Rights form. If your submission uses or references rules from a published game, be sure that the game information included in the submission is correct. Also be sure to include all the necessary game information including game statistics, quirks/flaws, abilities, equipment, attacks, and any pertinent personality information. Do not reprint material from published works or material that is not your own original work. All submissions become the property of Kenzer and Company, and Kenzer and Company is under no obligation to publish any work. All article submissions will be paid a standard rate of $0.03 per word published (excluding letters to the magazine and similar categories as noted below). Payment will be sent, along with a complimentary copy of the issue in which the submission appeared, after we receive the issue from the printer. Payment may take up to four weeks to arrive after the release of the issue. SPECIFIC CATEGORY GUIDELINES A Hacker's Guide to…: If you like to draw maps, this is the feature for you. Send us a map (with key, if needed), along with a 75-100 word background history or description of the area. Your map (including key) must fit within a 6" wide x 7 7/8" tall space, and be easily legible. Submissions should be for HackMaster's Aldrazar, Kingdoms of Kalamar's Tellene, or Aces & Eights' western frontier. Payment rates may vary. All Things Magic: We accept descriptions of any new magical item, weapon, or device for this section. Each item should have all the necessary game information, and a description of its appearance for art purposes. Items may include extraordinary items, not just those that are strictly magical. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Your article should be between 300-350 words, including game statistics. If the item has unusual features not described in the article, be sure to include a full description so that we can commission artwork. Bait and Tackle: This feature presents a series of brief adventure hooks a GM can take out and use on the fly. They can be useful if the GM finds out he suddenly needs a quick adventure idea. Each hook must be presented in three-part format: Setting, Bait, and Tackle. Setting: a short tag identifying the setting or type of adventure hook. (Examples: city, wilderness, rural, subterranean, any treasure chest, in an empty room, etc.) Bait: The situation or carrot used to lure or 'bait' the players and prod them in the right direction. (Example: The adventurer's have just completed combat with a monster, gaining access to its treasure. A massive oaken chest is part of the haul. It is filled with gold coins, some of which have a large, deep cut on their edges.) Tackle: This is the hammer or twist that makes the situation dangerous exciting or challenging. Without the tackle what's the point? (Example: The coins are old pirate treasure, and have been cursed. Every eighth coin in the hoard has the cut along its edge, and whenever the coins are counted, any counting of one of the edged coins causes eight uncut gold coins to disappear from the hoard.) Submissions should be generic (not tied to any particular game system), but can be of any genre (fantasy, western, espionage, etc.). Each submission should be brief in nature (200-250 words). Board Squawk: If you've got a review of a board game that's still in print, this is the place for it. Try to briefly discuss previous editions and changes in publishing houses (if any), give a synopsis of how the game plays, what components are included, what makes certain rules (and the game overall) so good, and any complaints or problems. Be sure to include the game's: Name, Number of Players, Designer (if known), and the retail price. A typical submission should be within 750-850 words. Casting Call: This semi-regular feature presents NPCs that come from the lower rungs of life (hirelings, merchants, minor officials, city guards, etc). Characters the party is likely to deal with on a one-to-one basis during their daily travels, so the GameMaster can simply drop the NPC into his campaign. Submissions must consist of one such NPC with the appropriate game statistics and background story. Articles are usually 600-750 words, including game statistics. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Close Encounters of the Random Kind: If you've got a fun and exciting random encounter chart/table you want to share with the rest of world, we can use it here. Please keep in mind that, due to space limitations, we cannot print giant encounter tables. As a general rule, your chart must fit within a 6" wide x 7.5" tall space, and be easily readable. Critical Mass: This is our independent reader review column. Write a review, fill out the form (at the end of these guidelines), and send it all in. Remember, be as honest and impartial as possible, making a point to inform the reader rather than just praise or complain. Submissions for all games and game systems are welcome, and should be between 750 to 800 words. Deadly Trappings: Invented a special trap you enjoy springing on your players and want to see it in print? Deadly Trapping submissions must include: Trap name (such as Marklem's Slimy Golden Death Trap), AKA (trap nickname), Lethality (Low, Moderate, High, Certain), Intent (Entrapment, Injury, Humiliation, Transport, Liquification, etc.), Mechanism (Pressure Plate, Trigger, Hydraulics, Rope Release, Weakened Floor, etc.), and Suggested Damage (2d8 fire damage, 1d6 acid damage, turn to slime in 1d4 rounds, per system rules for crushing damage, etc.) Include a simple sketch showing how the trap works so we can commission art. Submissions should be around 300 to 350 words. GameMasters’ Workshop: This category covers all general submissions that would be of interest primarily to GameMasters. This includes articles specific to any game system, as well as articles of a general nature. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Submissions for all games and game systems are welcome. Minimum article length 600 words (no maximum). Game Mechanic: Have a house rule for your favorite game? This is the perfect place to share it with the world. Any rule is welcomed, and there is no limit to the number of rules or games. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Keep article length between 800 and 1,000 words. Gamer's Pulpit: We occasionally run guest editorials, written by gamers who feel strongly about a particular topic. Typical word count 700 to 800 words. Good, Bad, and Ugly (GBU): Submissions for this section must consist of three NPCs, each with the appropriate game statistics and background story (the story should connect all three). They must include one “good” NPC, one “bad” NPC and one “ugly” NPC. How you choose to interpret those words is up to you, but you need to indicate in your submission which NPC is the good one, the bad one, and the ugly one. You should also include a physical description of each, so we can commission art. Submissions for all game systems are welcome. Each NPC should be between 500-600 words, including game statistics. Homebrew Art Homebrewed, un-commissioned 'filler' artwork is not paid for but, if published, the artist will receive a complimentary copy of the issue in which the artwork is published. Lost Game Safari: This popular feature presents reviews of out-of-print games that are worthy of a second look. Be sure to include the game's: Name, Type (board, card, miniature, role-playing, etc.), Number of Players, Designer (if known), Date Published, Frequency (common, uncommon, or rare), and the Going Rate for a Copy (the average online or game store prices). Articles should be approximately 600-700 words, or 1,300-1,400 words if you're verbose. Off the Shelf: For this feature, write a review of a book that you believe will be of interest to many gamers. The book could fall into one of many genres (although these are typically fantasy or science fiction novels, you need not limit yourself to those). Be as honest and impartial as possible, making a point to inform the reader rather than just praise. Be sure to include your thoughts on how this book could provide ideas and inspiration for role-players, with specific examples. For example, the book might mention a cool magic item, discuss a new aspect of alien life, provide specific adventure hooks, and so on. Submissions should be approximately 450-500 words long. Be sure to include the name of the book and its author, and please let us know if you can point us to a good cover image of the book. Players’ Advantage: This section covers all general articles that appeal primarily to players. They can be general articles or game specific. Submissions for all game systems are welcome, as long as it is indicated in the article. Minimum article length 600 words (no maximum). Rustlers of the Night: New monsters or creatures should include all the necessary game information, a reference to the game system(s) it is designed for, and a physical description to help us commission artwork. Be sure to separate the game statistics from the descriptive text so that we may format the submission easily. Submissions for all game systems are welcome, and should be about 650-750 words, including game statistics. Under the Hood: This section is for the designer notes and behind the scenes history of published games, and is open to any professional game designer or publisher. Talk about how you designed your game, letting us look behind the scenes of its history, and at the how and why of rules creation. Minimum article length 600 words (no maximum). Other Articles: This category covers all submissions that do not fit into one of the previous categories. Any material that you believe would be of interest to gamers is acceptable. FAN CATEGORY GUIDELINES These categories include letters, stories and other details you just want to share. You can send letters to [email protected] or just pop over to www.kenzerco.com and visit the appropriate forum for each category. Note that all these are unpaid submission categories. All entries become the property of Kenzer and Company. Back Room at the Games Pit This is a sounding board where gamers can give their two cents worth on whatever seems to rile them. Leave your thin skin at the door, but bring your opinions with you. Brian's Picks In this feature, we review games that we like. This feature is not currently open to freelancer submissions, but if you've got a game you'd like to see featured, you can ask the manufacturer/publisher to send us a copy. (We can't review it if we don't have it!) If we don't like it, sorry, it won't appear in Brian's Picks. Face Off! This semi-regular feature comes from our Face Off! discussion forums at www.kenzerco.com, where each month we instigate a question and then step out of harm's way. Face Off! articles reprint well-written, insightful or just plain funny views and opinions of our readers, on both sides of the discussion. Visit our Face Off! forum to see the latest question. Game Vine You can send us newsworthy items, rumors, press releases, announcements, and so on, for publication in the Game Vine feature. KODT Strip Ideas We also welcome any ideas, anecdotes, experiences, or stories that you think might make a good Knights of the Dinner Table strip. Strip ideas need not be scripted or complete. Sometimes a good idea or punchline is just as good as a fully fleshed-out strip. If your idea is used, you will receive a complimentary copy of the issue in which your strip appeared. Table Talk This category is for letters to the editor. You can send letters to [email protected] or just pop over to www.kenzerco.com and visit our Table Talk forum. Tales from the Table Tell us about a special character or event that happened in one of your games. We accept stories about any and all game systems. While being published is not guaranteed, those who write shorter tales have a better chance, due to space limitations. SUBMITTING YOUR ARTICLE Articles should be sent electronically to [email protected] The subject line should read: YOUR NAME HERE, ARTICLE CATEGORY submission (for example: Barbara Blackburn, Rustlers of the Night submission). Format: Files should be attached as a Microsoft Word or text file, without art or special formatting. Be sure to include your name and all contact information in the body of your email AND in your document, since cover letters and emails can get separated from the document, leaving them in limbo. Artwork: If you have artwork that you would like to accompany your article, send it separately in .jpg or .tif format. If you are submitting art with your article, include the name and address of the artist. Release form for Submission: You should include the following text with your submission. _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Kenzer and Company Submission Release Form I, _____________________________________________ , am submitting this work known as _________________________________________________________________________to Kenzer and Company with the understanding that it will be considered in whole or in part for publication as an adventure, fantasy world supplement or fantasy role-playing game aid. I certify that it is my own original work and is not published or submitted for publication elsewhere by any individual or organization. I agree to exclusively grant all rights to Kenzer and Company for all work which they agree to pursue for publication. I further understand that my work may be edited at the discretion of Kenzer and Company. Signature: _________________________________________________________________________ Date: _____________________________________________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________________________________ Phone: ( ________ ) ___________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________________ Release Form for Publication: All writers and artists should fill out and submit the Assignment of Rights form (see the following page) before we can publish your article. This form grants ownership of your submission to Kenzer and Company, and is a necessary condition of publication. Before sending, put the name of the article or a brief description in the form's project line. The completed form can be faxed, mailed, or even scanned (72 to 150 dpi; JPG) and emailed along with your article. KODT Submissions 511 W Greenwood Avenue Waukegan, IL 60087 847-662-6600 (phone) 847-680-8950 (fax) Remember that the most important guideline is that you enjoy writing and reading your article! Good luck! Assignment of Rights The following should be printed, filled out and signed for each Project. Compensation will be triggered by receipt of properly executed Assignment document. ASSIGNMENT AND RATIFICATION OF TRANSFER 1. I, ______________________________________________________________, an individual residing at ________________________________________________________________________________, herein referred to as “Assignor,” hereby grant, transfer and assign to Kenzer and Company, an Illinois corporation, with offices at 25667 Hillview Court, Mundelein, Illinois 60060, its successors and assigns, all right, title and interest in and to all work and materials relating to Assignor’s creative work known as Project _________________________________________________ including the copyright, patent, trade secret rights and all other right, title, and interest therein and consisting of all existing written materials relating thereto (collectively the “Works”). This exclusive grant of rights shall include, but is not limited to, the rights to publish, reproduce, transmit, adapt, prepare derivative works, sell or otherwise make use of the Works (including all subsequent additions, revisions, supplements to and versions of the Works, regardless of length or nature) throughout the world, in any form or medium and in any language, and to license or otherwise transfer to others the rights commensurate herewith in connection with the Works, for the entire term of the copyright or patent, including any renewals and extensions. 2. I hereby grant Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns, the right to file copyright or patent applications in the United States and throughout the world for the Works in the name of Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns. I hereby agree that Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns may act as attorney-in-fact to execute any document that Kenzer and Company, it successors and assigns, deem necessary to record this grant with the United States Copyright Office, the United States Patent and Trademark Office or elsewhere. If requested, I agree to execute any and all copyright, patent or trade secret documents requested by Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns. The cost of recording and registering ownership rights in the Works shall be borne solely by Kenzer and Company, its successors and assigns. I hereby confirm that this assignment of rights is fully supported by consideration that I receive in the form of salary, royalty payments or other compensation. Date: Signature: ________________________________ Printed Name: _____________________________ STATE OF _________________ COUNTY OF _______________ KenzerCo Confidential Proprietary Information Critical Mass Game Review Form Game Title:____________________________________________________________________ Publisher:_____________________________________________________________________ Retail Price:______________ Category:________________________________________ Reviewer:_________________________________ Overall Rating:_________________ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Writing:____________ Art:________________ Overall Production:______________ Rules Presentation:______________________ System/Playability:____________________ Replay Value:__________________________ Entertainment Value:__________________ Would you recommend this game to a friend? Y N Grading Scale: (feel free to use fractions) 5: Excellent - I am always willing to play this game 4: Good - I am usually willing to play this game, and will only object in unusual circumstances. 3: Average - I like playing this game regularly, but not too often. 2: Fair - I will play this game only occasionally. 1: Poor - I avoid playing this game if possible. Rating Categories: Basically, rating each category is a judgement call. Opinions among gamers vary greatly. Put two gamers in a room and toss them a new game - chances are they won’t agree on its merits. For some gamers art is not as important as the writing. For others it is equally important. For most gamers it’s ‘how it plays’ that matters above all else. The Review Ballot box is not meant to replace the good old-fashioned game review. It is meant to supplement the review — to provide an impression-at-a-glance of how other gamers feel about a specific game. The following are only suggested guidelines for rating each category. Writing: This is a measure of the overall quality of the writing. This could include typos/grammatical errors as well as the author’s basic writing skills and his ability to engage the reader and convey his message. Art and Illustrations: Was the quality of the art sufficient for the product? Did it lend itself to the game and its presentation? Did it detract from the overall quality of the game? Overall Production: This would cover the quality of such things as printing, packaging, binding, components etc. Keep in mind that this is relative. A five-dollar El Cheapo game should not be expected to have the same production qualities as a thirtydollar core-rules book. Rules Presentation: Did the rules adequately explain how to play the game? Were there omissions? Were they confusing or incomplete? Keep in mind that while the game itself may rock, poorly written rules could impede learning and raise the frustration factor. System/Playability: Okay, so you have finally learned the rules and have sat down and actually played the game. This is what everyone wants to know - is it playable? Is the game unbalanced or otherwise flawed? Replay Value: Now that you have played it, is there enough to the game that you would play it again? Is this one of those games that will quickly be banished to the games’ closet or will it get played over and over again? Entertainment Value: Was it worth the cost of admission? Forget poorly written rules, bad production qualities, etc. Did the game entertain you and your friends? Overall Rating: This is an average of all your scores above. This is the rating that will be used to stack the game up against all others in its category. Play Fair We ask that you do not evaluate games or game product which: 1. You haven’t taken the time to actually play in the environment they were designed to be played in. (For example: Don’t review a set of Live Action Rules if all you did was read the book in the comfort of your favorite easy chair.) 2. The game/product is of a genre and/or gaming-form you dislike by nature. (For example, if you hate the AD&D™ system, please don’t evaluate an AD&D™ boxed adventure.
* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project