Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Barbarian for Dragon Warriors

Here is the first character I created for Dragon Warriors. I rolled pretty good stats for him. It was actually the second set I rolled up because the first ones were not so good. So, following the suggestion in the rules, I discarded them. So I now present:

Ulf son of Egil the Wolfkiller


Strength 15
Reflexes 15
Intelligence 11
Psychic Talent 10
Looks 10

Health Points 13

Attack 15
Defense 7
Magical Defence 3
Evasion 6
Stealth 13
Perceptions 5

Ride Warhorse

Battle Axe
Full Mail Armor
Flint & Tinder

Florins 29

Ulf is the son of a Egil, a minor chieftain in Thuland. Egil is long on reputation but short on wealth. Egil earned his appellation as a young man during a hard winter. A large pack of desperate wolves attacked his village and Egil slew 10 of the beasts before day's end.

Ulf is a headstrong and impetuous youth who has trained as a warrior since childhood. One day, in a fit of anger, he killed the son of an important visiting chief. Not wanting to start a blood-feud but unable to pay wergild, Egil had him outlawed. Ulf now wanders Ellesland seeking adventure and gold. His goal is to earn enough gold to not only pay the wergild and return to his village but to build several raiding vessels to further increase his wealth and status. In his travels he has kept his eyes open for future raiding opportunities. Ulf's most prized possession is his axe. His father gave it to him as a parting gift and Ulf has optimistically dubbed it "Bloodspitter".

Friday, December 25, 2009


As Calvin of Calvin & Hobbes (my favorite comic strip of all time) used to say: I got some good loot for Christmas. Including Dragon Warriors. I can't wait to give it a complete read-through. I'm sure I'll be posting a couple of characters soon.

We had an excellent day at our household. Hope your day was just as nice.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Golden Age

There is a saying about science fiction: The golden age of science fiction is twelve.

I think the same applies to role-playing games. Right around the age of twelve or thirteen is when I enjoyed rpgs the most and the time I look back on most fondly. As much as I enjoy them now, it doesn't seem to hold a candle to then.


Note to self: Remember name Spearhafoc. Anglo-Saxon name. Contemporary of Harold Godwinson. Very cool sounding.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Week Off from Work

...and I am sure looking forward to it. I may be able to squeeze in a bit of gaming with the boys too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits!

Man, I hope so because I've become fascinated by this game. It's even on my Christmas list though its not published. I don't quite know why because there is very little information out there. There is a short preview at the publisher's website. There are a couple of threads on here and here. But that's about it. I think there are two reasons. First, it is supposed to be a simple game meant for beginners and dungeon crawls. I don't have the time or energy for complex systems at this point in my life. The second reason is related. I've been reading the rules and adventures for Advanced Fighting Fantasy lately and it turns out it is one of the inspirations for Treasure Awaits!.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inspirational Fiction - Space Viking

Periodically I would like to highlight various works of fiction that have inspired or influenced my rpgs.

First up is Space Viking by H. Beam Piper. This was originally published in the '60s but I did not read it until the early '80s. Right about the time I started playing Traveller. Space Viking and Traveller go together like (insert your own comparison here. They go together really, really well.) In fact Space Viking and H. Beam Piper influenced Traveller. The most obvious example of this is the Sword Worlds located in the Spinward Marches. I also think the round 800 ton Mercenary cruiser is modelled roughly after the ships in Space Viking.

Set during a "dark age" after the destruction of an interstellar entity, Space Viking is the story of Lucas Trask, his very short marriage and his search for revenge against the man who disrupted the wedding. While on his search he manages to begin the re-civilization of a planet, trashes several more by raiding them and plants the seeds of an interstellar empire.

I loved the battles, the adventures and eventually, as I got older, I came to appreciate, if not agree with, the political discussion. I wanted to create a Traveller campaign exactly like it. Not the Spinward Marches version of the Sword Worlds but one exactly like the one in the book. I never did though. Much to complex for me at the time. So many details that I couldn't or wouldn't work out. The faster than light drive wasn't the Traveller jump. Ships in the Space Viking universe could travel at about 1 light-year an hour. The characters would spend 2000 or 3000 hours travelling between stars sometimes. I didn't successfully translate it into game terms. And then there were all the planets mentioned and figuring out how far they were apart. To much for my poor, young teenaged mind. Then there are the societies, governmental relationships, etc. I wonder if I could wrap my poor, adult brain around it. Anyone know of a conversion floating around out there? I have a feeling I'm going to write more about Space Viking on this blog in the future.

You can still get hard copies of the book or you can read a version at Project Gutenberg.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Out of the Pit

I received my copy of Out of the Pit in the mail today. It is the monster guide for Fighting Fantasy. My collection of Fighting Fantasy RPG books is almost complete. All I need is Allansia but it is much too expensive, $65 U.S. dollars and up.

I hadn't planned on buying them all but as I recieved each one my curiousity grew about the rest. I may try to persuade my sons to give it a try.

Poll Results

With a total of three votes - Fantasy beat SF two to one.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Have I expressed my love for Melee on this blog yet? My undying love? If not, then surely it is time. I had to think really hard to remember if I got my copy of Holmes D&D first or Melee. I'm now sure it was D&D but it couldn't have been by much. I bought Melee in the Fall of 1979 or early 1980.

Now for those of you who may not know, Melee is a game of man-to-man combat (or man-to-creature for those so inclined) published in the late '70s by Metagaming. It was designed by Steve Jackson of GURPS fame. In fact it was the basis for GURPS. Melee was a microgame and came in a clear plastic pouch which contained a 4 x 7 inch rulebook, with a whopping 18 pages not counting covers, an 8 x 14 in. hex map and a sheet of cardboard counters. Small package, big fun. I think the hours, nay days, weeks even, of fun I derived from this $2.95 purchase is the best ratio of cost to entertainment value of anything I have ever purchased. The beauty of this game is that it was a simple game that could easily be played solo and Metagaming supported it with several solo adventures.

Although Melee itself wasn't a full blown role-playing game it did have several qualities that made it rpg-like. The combatants had two characteristics, Strength and Dexterity. Each starting character began with 8 points in each and distributed 8 more points between them. You then selected weapons and armor. Each weapon had a minimum strength rating. Strength also determined how much damage you could sustain. Armor affected your Dexterity. The heavier your armor, the lower your adjusted Dexterity. Your last statistic was your Movement Allowance. This was also determined by your armor. The heavier the armor, the slower your Movement.
Melee is a roll under system. To hit in combat you needed to roll equal to or under your adjusted Dexterity on three d6. You automatically hit on a roll of 3, 4 or 5. You automatically missed on 16, 17 or 18. Combat was divided into rounds. You rolled for initiative and the winner had a set list of actions he could take depending on in game circumstances. Then the other side went. Once the actions were determined and any movement executed then combat rolls were taken in order of adjusted Dexterity. Each weapon did a certain amount of damage. For example, the short sword did 2d6-1 damage. Armor reduced damage by a certain number of points. Chainmail absorbed 3 points worth of damage. Any damage that got through was subtracted from your Strength. When your Strength reached zero you were dead. Good, solid, gladiatorial fun. The other rpg-like trait the game had was experience. You received a certain number of experience points for surviving and/or winning the combat. Accumulate 100 experience points and you could increase one of your attributes by one point.

Metagaming came out with a companion game of sorcerous combat called Wizard. It was based on the same system as Melee but added an attribute: Intelligence. Intelligence determined the number of spells available to a wizard as well as the level of the spells. An Intelligence 9 character could memorize nine spells of 9th level or below. Each spell cost a certain amount of strength to cast. The wizard who’s Strength dropped to zero was either dead or unconscious. Although I own and like Wizard I have always preferred the straightforward combat of Melee. Just my preference. I have a tendency to prefer fighter-type characters in general and low magic settings.

As I mentioned early, there were several solo adventures published for the games. I originally owned Death Test, Death Test II, Grail Quest and Treasure of the Silver Dragon. Years later, I picked up Security Station and Master of the Amulets at a thrift store. My favorites were Grail Quest and Death Test. In Grail Quest you played an Arthurian knight attempting to find the grail. Good fun.
Melee and Wizard were stand-alone games that could be combined but they were turned into a full-fledged role-playing game called The Fantasy Trip when In the Labyrinth was published. Metagaming also published Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard which expanded on the combat and magic systems of the originals by offering more options. Apparently a skill system was added as well. Oddly enough, I never owned any of these three. I don’t know why. I played it a little with a friend but only a touch. Someday I would like to get a hold of In the Labyrinth just to see what I missed.
Melee died with Metagaming but has two successors. As mentioned above, GURPS is based on Melee. Recently, however, a company called Dark City Games has started publishing adventures that are compatible with Melee. Ostensibly the adventures are for their house system called Legends of the Ancient World. Having read the rules for this system I think it is nothing short of a retro-clone for Melee. I own one of their adventures, Wolves on the Rhine but have yet to play through it. I am really excited to see that people are not only keeping the flame alive through personal websites but also publishing new adventures.

I’ve played Melee for nearly 30 years and still break it out occasionally. I’m going to introduce my oldest son to it soon. This game also had a long term effect on my life. The introductory fiction and the sample battle at the end of the book tell of a fight between a Roman legionary and a Germanic tribesman. This piqued my interest in the history of the times and history in general. I spent time researching the arms, armor and tactics of the era. This helped fuel a lifelong love of history, particularly ancient history, in me. I eventually went to college and majored in history, concentrating on ancient Rome and Greece. Not too bad for a $2.95 game, eh?

I love Melee.

Some Links of Interest:
TFT Codex 2000
An Review
A Fantasy Trip Site

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My RPG Christmas List

Oh, there are so many things I want for Christmas. Here are the RPG related items:

Dragon Warriors
Barbarians of Lemuria - hardcopy
Legends of Steel BoL Edition - hardcopy
Barbarians of the Aftermath
Ancient Odysseys: Treasure Awaits! - if it is published before Christmas.
Savage Worlds: Fantasy Toolkit.

(This list is subject to change. Particularly additions. I'm sure I'm missing something.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I put a poll on the right. Just curious.

Fighting Fantasy on

I ran across a review of Fighting Fantasy on here. The reviewer uses the word simple frequently also.