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Jeff's Gameblog
Monday, 22 March 2004

So here's a scan of my prototype Spacewarp 44 board. My big concern, not having done any playtesting yet, is that giving pieces on a warp square access to all seven other squares may be too overpowering. I may end up with a tw color scheme, one color for the inner four squares and another color for the outer four squares. Warping would occur from one color to the other.

Now that I own a copy of Savage Worlds, I have discovered that Rondoo as built can't cast any spells. Apparently wizard-type spellcasters need a Spellcasting skill and a Knowledge (arcana) skill. Here's Rondoo revised:

Rondoo the Learner
Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d4, Vigor d4
Hindrances: Clueless, Loyal, Poverty
Edges: Arcane Background (Magic), Scholar
Guts d4, Healing d6, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Arcana) d8, Knowledge (the Gods) d8, Notice d4, Repair d4, Spellcasting d6, Stealth d4
250 cash

Posted by jrients at 8:55 PM CST
TSR fever #4 of 4: Gangbusters
I saved Gangbusters for last because I have a little bit of hesitation regarding getting into it. Boot Hill I'm already on the road to owning, since I now have a gratis copy thanks to my friend Pat. Gamma World ought to play easily as sci-fantasy D&D, the Mutants & Magic angle also opens up the possibility of a Thundarr the Barbarian type scenario. Dawn Patrol is just a single boxed set and that's it.

But Gangbusters leaves me a bit indecisive. First off, I once owned a copy and long ago sold it. I've already bought back too much of my childhood as it is. Second, it uses a system of classes, levels and xp's. I'm not one of those rabid anti-class-and-levels people. I'm running Heroes Unlimited right now, for gosh sakes. I just worry about getting into a level and xp system because they are invariably designed for long-term play, and I don't run long-term games anymore. For my last two class-and-level campaigns we simply advance a level between each session. Which might be the solution to that particular issue in this case as well. Third, and perhaps most importantly, I find modern games are tough for me to run. Call of Cthulhu is hard and Gangbusters is like CoC without being able to fall back on magical deii ex machina.

Still, the reference works seem to like this game. Swan calls it Gangbusters "an overlooked gem, a minor classic". Schick calls the rules "well-done, underrated". Swan recommends the adventure GB5 Death in Spades, which looks like an oddball mystery scenario. "[P]lot elements vary depending on what the GM draws from a deck of playing cards" according to Schick. Could be hokey, or it could be great. GB1 Trouble Brewing is an intro scenario describing Lakefront City (a cheesy Chicago knockoff) in more detail. And GB1 was written by my main man Tom Moldvay! GB2 through 4 look decent too.

What's nice is that some of these products are starting to appear as downloadables.

Posted by jrients at 3:02 PM CST
TSR fever #3 of 4: Dawn Patrol
Okay, so Dawn Patrol might say its a role-playing game right on the box, but it's about as much of an RPG as Car Wars or BattleTech. No I don't mean GURPS Autoduel or MechWarrior, I mean Car Wars or BattleTech. Still, it's a one-box game from the good old days that I never quite got the hang of as a kid. I'd like an opportunity to try again. On eBay it seems to fetch about a ten spot plus shipping. Besides, it wasn't that long ago that I was chiding myself for not playing enough historical wargames.

Posted by jrients at 1:42 PM CST

Hey! I got my copy of Savage Worlds in the mail today, along with my 4 d20's marked 0 to 9 twice. Yippee! Now I need to sit down and type up my ideas for my PC Rondoo the Learner, so I can email the GM.

Posted by jrients at 1:22 PM CST
FASERIP is the abbreviation used to describe the game system for the first official Marvel Supersheroes roleplaying game, as opposed the the later Marvel rpg products. "FASERIP" refers to the sevem main attributes of characters: Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition, and Psyche.

FASERIP was the only one of the TSR universal color-coded chart systems that I cared for. 3rd edition Gamma World left me cold, while the Star Frontiers: Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space and the Conan rpg both actively pissed me off. I wasn't wanting a rules revision disquised as a supplement when I purchased Zebulon's Guide. Some of the ideas were good but I didn't like the stupid color chart and even worse, you couldn't use the new guns as present without the freaking chart. And the color-chart mechanics just don't fit in with Conan. Full stop.

It was pretty darn easy to play FASERIP and making PCs and NPCs were a cinch too. Since game mechanics can't be subject to copywright protection, I think someone could publish a little free PDF encapsulating the FASERIP system. As long as the care was taken to avoid lengthy quotes, rules specific to Marvel comics were omitted, and new charts were drawn up, I think FASERIP would be legal to publish.

Posted by jrients at 1:02 PM CST
TSR Fever #2 of 4: Gamma World
Gamma World occupies a similar place in my heart as Boot Hill. It was a TSR rpg that I never owned as a kid, but a member of my gaming group had a copy. This was back when we were all young and stupid. I'm not sure we realized that just buying an RPG wasn't enough. Someone had to break down and run the mofo. Usually that someone was the owner of the game. Gamma World and Boot Hill also share a connection in that official conversion rules to and from AD&D were provided in the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide in the wonderfully named sections "Sixguns & Sorcery" and "Mutants & Magic". I've sometimes wondered if a hybrid game of all three ("Sixguns & Mutants?") would be feasible.

According to informants on RPG.net the first two editions are very similar rules-wise, the second edition merely provided clarifications and an intro scenario. The 2nd is what Shawn Watson owned back in the day as well. Five additional products appear to be relevant, modules GW1 through GW4 and the inevitable judges screen and mini-module.

Posted by jrients at 12:53 PM CST
TSR Fever #1 of 4: Boot Hill
I already have a 2nd edition boxed set and the other editions don't particularly interest me, so I'll just look at the supplementary material. As I mentioned in my last post, I have 3 reference works available. [EDIT TO ADD: I have no idea why there is so much blank space between this text and the start of my table. I guess that's what I get for trying to get MS Word to help me make a table.]





Referee's Screen

"Mini-module included--Shootout in Northfield and Other Famous Gunfights"


Notes that it is designed for 2nd edition rules

BH1: Mad Mesa

"Solo or multi-player adventure"


"Solo scenario set in an exceedingly trigger-happy town, with rules for running it as a game-mastered group adventure."

BH2: Lost Conquistador Mine


"not only the best of the Boot Hill supplements, it's also the best Western adventure ever published"

"originally used for the Boot Hill tournament at Gen Con XIII. A treasure map leads the players to a lost gold mine - if they can get past bushwhackers, con men, bank robbers, Apaches, and aristocratic European hunters."

BH3: Ballots & Bullets



"7 miniscenarios, involving an election conducted with lead-slinging enthusiasm by thevoters of Promise City. Includes over 300 NPCs and instructions on how to conduct a crooked election: dirty tricks, stuffing ballot boxes, disrupting rallies, etc."

BH4: Burned Bush Wells


"a classic Western scenario set in the dead of Winter"

"Campaign setting that describes the town of Burned Bush Wells, the setting of a number of miniscenarios. It's the dead, and the town is divided between 2 rival factions."

BH5: Range War!



"a guide to the town of Promise Cityduring a cattlemen/sheepherder range war, with a town key, PC and NPC lists, and a number of miniscenarios."

Mad Mesa looks dubious, but between Swan and Schick they manage to sell me the rest of the product line. Range War is apparently rare enough to drive up the prices on the eBay, so I doubt I'll be getting that one unless I can find it at bargain price.

The three guides also note that Fantasy Games Unlimited made a competitor product called Wild West, with a single adventure module Trouble on Widow's Peak. Both look interesting enough to warrant a purchase at cheapy-cheap prices.

Given the fact that I'm going to get such a big chunk of the product line, I think I will bid these game systems consecutively rather than in parallel. I.e. once I'm done with Boot Hill, then I will move on to Gamma World.

Posted by jrients at 11:18 AM CST
Updated: Monday, 22 March 2004 11:33 AM CST

This morning I worked up a cheap-n-sleazy prototype board for my chess variant, Spacewarp 44. I'll scan it in a post it later. I need to get together with my sister to try it out.

Now that I got TSR fever, I figured I'd do some research into the old games Boot Hill, Gangbusters, Gamma World, and Dawn Patrol. I already have a sizable Star Frontiers collection and most other early TSR roleplaying games don't interest me, other than D&D of course.

So to help me peg down what edition and supplements and whatnot I should look at, I dug up my rpg reference books: Dicing With Dragons by Ian Livigstone, The Complete Guide To Role-Playing Games by Rick Swan, and Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games by Lawrence Schick. These books are great for learning about the early history of the hobby and they provide overview information for a LOT of rpg stuff. Heroic Worlds is especially good. Anyway, I hope to collate these three sources into a little guide to the early TSR rpg stuff I'm interested in.

While looking for these three volumes in my game room I stumbled across two other books about gaming, the Gary Gygax how-to guides Role Playing Mastery and Master of the Game. I really need to reread them.

Posted by jrients at 9:49 AM CST
Sunday, 21 March 2004

It occurred to me today that there are two other chess games I could do writes-up on to send to the Chess Variants page. Sid Sackson did a little chess variant in a book of games he wrote. Also, I have a copy of an ancient TSR game called 4th Dimension.

I got a new Monster Cards page up today at The Erol Otus Shrine. I need to remember to scan in the pictures in the Fiend Folio. Here are my short term plans for the Shrine:

1) Updated index page, with new logo

2) Update to the DDG page, with better cover art

3) Add missing non-Otus minigame covers to the minigame page

4) Otus miscellany page, I might be able to spin this into 2 pages, with one devoted to just module art

5) Links page

6) Non Otus art page, with a piece or two from TSR contemporaries

I also had an idea for a webpage dedicated to my brother-in-law-in-law's old school munchkin character Zal. Stuff like 30th level wizards with superpowers and artifact swords need to be preserved for gaming posterity.

Posted by jrients at 5:44 PM CST

So it turns out that two of the Ancients scenarios I'm interested use blank maps (Leuctra, a Sprtan/Thebes throwdown and Sambre, featuring Julius Caesar in a steel cage against some Gallic types). This turn of events allows me to concentrate on producing some counters, since I can use my old BattleTech megamat for the map. I just have to make up my mind whether I want to take the time to do custom counters, or maybe I should just concentrate on a workable set of generic guys with sword type counters.

Posted by jrients at 10:16 AM CST

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