Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Martin v. Tolkien

Martin has written more and has Tolkien beaten on sheer size, but he is also a Jets fan, so he loses points on this score.

Time has called Martin the “American Tolkien,” which is an interesting comparison between two great authors. However, they are very different in terms of style and flavor. Tolkien is the master as epic high fantasy, bringing forth noble ideals of good and evil. He writes with a style similar to the sagas of old, and is closer to mythology in terms of content and flow. Martin is writing a fantasy soap opera that specializes in political intrigue and ambiguous morality.

I am almost done with A Feast for Crows, and I suspect that I will be done before the weekend. This will mean that I would have read it in just under 3 weeks, which is pretty good considering it is just shy of 1000 pages. Unfortunately, Dances with Dragons is not out yet, and my bold and fearless prediction is that we will see it next year. While I have no inside knowledge on how the book is coming, I suspect that it is about 80% complete, and that Martin is struggling with completing the final 20% or so. With a work as monstrous as A Song of Ice and Fire, getting the internal consistency right is probably a major under taking, and is easier said than done. It sounds like he worked hard on Dances in the first part of last year, and then slacked off in the second half of the year. I am not sure how he is doing this year, but I have not heard any significant updates, which means that he is still working on it, and it is going slowly. I am hopeful for a 2010 release. As for the final two books, hopefully we will see them before 2020.

I started reading A Game of Thrones about a year ago, and now I finishing up with Feast, which has given me time to reflect over the body of A Song of Ice and Fire. Without a doubt, it is a very ambitious project. In The Lord of the Rings, the scope of Middle Earth is epic, in that the entire history of the work has been laid out, and there are tales within tales of heroes and their triumphs and tragedies. Tolkien’s appendix found at the end of The Lord of the Rings and his companion works, contain exhaustive details on Middle Earth, and contains a very extensive time line of events. This goes to show the amount of detail that Tolkien put into the overall world. There is a depth of history and story contained within their pages. At its root, it is a tale of good and evil, where both are clearly defined, and their struggle is eternal. The theme of corruption is woven throughout the story, and the tragedies are in watching good men fall in with the manifestation of evil.

Martin is completely different. I used the term fantasy soap opera to describe A Song of Ice and Fire, which I think is very accurate. While there are struggles between the various houses, the story is really about the characters. The people in the story are neither good nor evil, but are playing the hands that they are dealt with to further their own person agendas. It feels like the young are innocent (or good), until they fall into their own ambitions of status and power. Once this happens, they fall into the inbetween category that can only be classifed as grey. Even the worst of the characters are not entirely evil, although, some of their actions are extremely vile. It’s this fuzzy nature of the morality of man that holds appeal, and that I think makes the story work. The reader can relate to the characters making mistakes, as there is a reflection of real life woven into the plot.

Martin has a number of strengths as an author, but his ability to turn a line is amazing. He can be funny, witty and sharp all in the same paragraph. His writing has an edge to it that makes it a very enjoyable read. Tolkien’s writing does not seem to have quite the same sharpness that Martin has, but it is still elegant and at times it is very bold in narrative. Tolkien really shines when the main character, representing the force of good, confronts the darkness and calls out the foulness of its being, often with reference to earlier heroes. In this regard, Tolkien is more related to Milton than to other writers of the fantasy genera. There is deepness to his story that is not commonly found in other writers.

With A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin has woven a tale that could easily have been pulled from medieval Europe. There is a certain attraction to the pageantry of the various houses and knights, and I found myself wondering what the jousting tournaments of Europe were like. This element clearly added to the enjoyment of the story.

One of the first 1000+ page novels that I read was Shogun, which checked in at about 1210 pages. To be honest, I read it after seeing the miniseries back in 1980, and I think it took me several months to read the entire thing. Shogun is just a massive literary work. I really enjoyed the political jockeying that was present between the Toranaga and Ishido as they fought for the right to be called Shogun. Now there were other factions present, including the Roman Catholic Church, which exercised considerable power in a non-Christian country, which I found very interesting, but Toranga and Ishido were the major players in the book. In some ways, A Song of Ice and Fire is very similar to Shogun, and one can see a number of common themes between the works.

As a final note, George, just write the book.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


It’s good to be home.

I spent a number of years in the Navy, and the return from deployment was always special. There was a special feeling that accompanied stepping off the plane and on to your home ground. I would picture it similar to the feeling of knights returning home to their lord’s castle after a successful campaign. For that brief shining moment, there is a heroic feeling. There is a taste of victory and accomplishment. Now I can say that after being in the business world for a number of years, there is nothing that compares to that feeling. Yes, we have good quarters, and yes it is good to get a big bonus, but nothing compares to the feeling of stepping off the plane, having your commanding officer telling you “well done,” and having friends and family greet you. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. Its a great feeling.

So coming home from China was not quite like that, but it was still a good feeling.

At last they rode over the downs and took the East Road, and then Merry and Pippin rode on the Buckland; and already they were singing again as they went. But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal as ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in the chair, and put little Elanor up his lap. He drew a deep breath. “Well, I’m back,” he said. Lord of the Rings - JRRT

This is perhaps one of my favorite paragraphs in all of literature. Sure one can argue that there are more heroic passages, and there are. One argue that there are passages that more elgantly captures the spirit of humanity, and there are. One can easily argue that it is not written very well, and I agree with that too. But this paragraph captures that special feeling that comes with homecoming, and there is nothing better.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Final day in China

A year goes by very quickly. We are in the middle of packing our suit cases and we just have stuff everywhere. I suspect that today will be a long one. It seems like every time we travel the night before is always a bit crazy. I will be glad when we are safely back in the US.

I started blogging a little over a year ago partly to document my time in China. Once I started to blog, I realized I wanted to blog about a number of topics, but mostly about game related stuff. Next week I will return to blogging about game topics, but I will also post some additional pictures from China. I have a long list of stuff that I will be covering, and I should have plenty of time to cover this stuff!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Xi’an – The City Wall Pictures

Enclosed are more pics from Xi’an. These were taken while walking on the wall and in the park at the base of the wall.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Just returned from our trip through Beijing and Xi’an, and I have to say that it was awesome. Everyone knows Beijing, but not many folks may know about Xi’an. Sure folks know about the terra-cotta warriors, which are really cool, but the city itself is amazing. The inner city is surrounded by a 600 year wall that is still in great shape. The enclosed picture is from the wall. I probably could have spent the entire day taking pictures of this wall. Wikipedia has a nice summary of the city. As a quick footnote, the “X” is pronounced as “SH,” so Xi’an is pronounced “she-ann.”

Expect to see more pictures this week from Xi’an.

This one is taken from just outside the wall.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Great Wall - more pics

More Great Wall pics...


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Goblin Cave…A study in over design

It was almost a year ago, well maybe more like 10 months ago, I had this idea for creating a lead in dungeon for my 2009 Golarion Campaign. I wanted to begin in the middle of things, and basically be able to tell the players to start rolling initiatives because they are under attack, and then fill in the details afterwards. I was leaning towards using Paizo’s upcoming Council of Thieves (CoT) as the basis for my campaign. It was going to be the first AP specifically written for the Pathfinder rule set, and I was excited to use the new rule set with the new adventure that was written for it. No problem..right?

I started out with an idea of creating a small two level dungeon, which would just serve as an entry point to the larger Adventure Path. As I was designing it well ahead of time, I could run my son and his friends through it and get some feedback on it. The idea was to keep it fairly generic, in order to maximize its use as both a small stand alone dungeon, and a lead into to the larger adventure path.

As I was getting more and more into the creation phase, I realized I wanted to add a mega dungeon into AP, as I wanted to have both an AP and a sandbox, just to give the players more choices. With this in mind, I started thinking about linking the dungeon to other dungeons. All of a sudden two levels did not seem like enough. Two levels became three, but I was not fully happy with the way they ran together.

The more I read about Council of Thieves, the more I decided that I did not want to run a strictly urban adventure. I wanted a bit more diversity than just an urban adventure. In general, I like a good mix dungeon and wilderness adventures with a little bit of urban thrown in. Now I have not seen the final AP, so I could be totally off base.

I have just recently decided to go with Legacy of Fire (LoF), which of course required a bit of a re-write to align it to LoF and to give it an Arabian and Egyptian feel. Ten Thousand words has quickly become sixteen thousand, with more being added every day. Now just this past week, I am leaning towards adding potentially two more areas, which would mean at least another four thousand words, and I am not finished will all the hand outs. I have some rough sketches that I am still playing around with, so we shall see how it all plays out.

As I am not slated to start until August, this means I have another 2 months to think about this. As I am fleshing out this out, I am finding myself going back and adding new stuff to the older levels. For example, I really like the idea of the Harrow Deck, so I just added that as one of the magic items that could be found. I have a really cool idea on how to add this in, which I am rather excited about.

Of course I suspect that once I get back to the US, and start looking through my other books, I will add even more stuff. And this hits on the theme of the blog. I think that things tend to grow as you have more time to just think about them. With a year to think about a dungeon, it takes a life of its own. A couple of months ago, I thought I was basically finished except for the handouts, which I knew would be the last things I would be finishing. I have a tendency to just keep adding more and more stuff right up until the last minute. I am wondering if I am not alone in this?

What once started out as a small simple dungeon is now turning into its own mini mega dungeon. I suspect that my players may not get much past level 2, but that does not appear to be stopping the construction project that has become The Goblin Cave.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Great Wall


That’s a big WOW, not a little wow. The Great Wall is just impressive. Pictures do not do it justice. It is a wall with numerous guard towers running along the length of it. The terrain that it sits on is rugged hilly terrain, which makes it all the more impressive. When one is actually on the wall, the verticle nature of the wall as it climbs the hills is an amazing view. Needless to say, it is a bit of a bear walking up and down all the little steps, but it is a great workout.

Now I have a soft spot for the European style castles. I love everything about the old castles, and Europe has a number of really interesting ones. The multi-floor designs with the guard towers resonate well with me. One can picture knights going forth into battle with their pageantry held high. It’s all good stuff.

But the Great Wall is a bit different than that. Looking out over the hillside is an awesome view. A number of trees have grown up very close to the wall, which I suspect were not there several centuries ago, add to the scenic view. It seems hard to believe that this was built so long ago. It would be quite an undertaking now to build something that is 4000 miles long with modern tools and equipment.
I found the guard towers to be very interesting. The inside was not just one big open area, but rather bunch of smaller areas. There where a number of walls in the towers that divided up the inner area. In most of the towers, there must have been ladders leading to the roofs, as they were all gone, except for the open hatch that lead to the roof. I was actually a bit disappointed that a ladder way was not still present to climb up to the roof.
I have enclosed a number of pictures that we took today, and I will try to post some more within the next day or two.

Enclosed is a snippet from Wikipedia.

The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built, rebuilt, and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire from Xiongnu attacks during various successive dynasties. Since the 5th century BC, several walls have been built that were referred to as the Great Wall. One of the most famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains; it lay farther north than the current wall, which was built during the Ming Dynasty.

The Great Wall stretches over approximately 6,400 km (4,000 miles) from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Nur in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia, but stretches to over 6,700 km (4,160 miles) in total; a more recent archaeological survey using advanced technologies points out that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi). At its peak, the Ming Wall was guarded by more than one million men. It has been estimated that somewhere in the range of 2 to 3 million Chinese died as part of the centuries-long project of building the wall.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

China - less than 2 weeks to go

China – 2 weeks left

Well two weeks left in China and then I head back to the US. It has been a fast year. There are going to be things that I will miss and there are things that I am looking forward to back in the US. Shanghai is actually a very interesting place to live. My boss has a saying that all things are possible here in China, but not necessarily easy.

I suspect that my blogging over the next two weeks will be rather light, as I work on getting ready to leave. Once I get home, I should be back to my normal schedule of blogging. We are spending this week in Beijing and Xian, which will be our last trip we take inside of China. We waited until the last minute to travel to Beijing, but we wanted to make sure that we visited the numerous sites about Beijing, including The Great Wall, prior to coming home.

Overall, I think this has been a good experience for the family. I think the kids will really appreciate it as they get a bit older. I think any chance to do something a bit out of the ordinary is a good thing.


On a similar note, one of the things that I am missing this week is Paizocon. There were a couple of conventions that I really would have liked to have attended, and this was one of them. Gencon will probably be the only convention that I will be able to attend based on my schedule. Next year, I am hoping to attend this one, as well as a couple of other ones. One of the things that I do like is the number of postings on the Paizo boards about the various updates and such.

This brings me to a general comment on conventions. One of the things that I really enjoy about a good convention, besides meeting tons of folks that like gaming, is attending the seminars. I will be honest on this one, playing the games is fun and all, but I really like attending the seminars that give an inside look at what is coming down the pike. For some reason, and I maybe totally alone on this one, I really like hearing about all the new stuff, and in some cases being able to buy advance copies of gaming material before it hits the shelves.

The second thing I really like about conventions is wandering about the vendor booths and talking with the folks that actually are creating the material. I could spend hours just looking at the miniatures on display. The stuff on display is just stunning to look at. At my last Gencon, I stopped by the Green Ronin, and ended up talking with one of the folks there about the Dolphins for about 30 mins or so. It’s all good stuff.

As a final note, yes living here in China is cool, but I am looking forward to getting back to the states.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Fantasy Internet of Magic

Magic is such a great topic to blog a bit about. I think everyone thinks about it a little differently. I was skimming through the Paizo message board and one post popped out at me, so I will write some of my thoughts on magic in general.

One of the things I actually liked about Forgotten Realms was the way they approached magic. Basically the premise was that there is a weave that flows through everything, and magic users tap into it to perform magic. There is probably more to it than that, but that is my take away on it. This is a simple, yet elegant way of describing how one can access magic. What I really like this is that it becomes really easy to show how dead magic areas can come about. The weave goes through almost everything, but there are some areas that the weave does not go through, and in these areas, magic is not accessible. In modern terms, it’s like not having good reception on your mobile phone. In some areas, the reception is just terrible. As an aside, I am sitting in my concrete office and the mobile phone reception is horrible. However, my internet connect is great as my wireless router about 2 feet from my notebook. This is basically how I think about magic. You are tapping into a magical wireless internet.

In the real world, sometimes the internet connect gets a bit flaky. I see magic the same way. Sometimes things do not quite work the way you expect them to. It’s not really explainable, it just is. I really like the idea that there is always a small chance that magic just does not work right. In 20 sided die terms, I am thinking a 1 or a 2. If the player or GM (for monsters/NPCs) rolls a 1 or a 2, nothing happens. With a roll of a 2, nothing happens, but the character does not lose the spell. With a roll of a 1, it’s a total dud, and you lose the spell. Same with monsters. Now as I take away, I have to give back. With a die roll of a 20, the effect or range or duration is doubled. I like that randomness of this. It’s a bit like critical hits and fumbles, only with spells.

On the Paizo board, there are folks that like this type of mechanic for magic, and there are some that just hate it. I like it as it adds a bit of flavor to magic. There is an unpredictable element to it. It is powerful, but at the same time sometimes it is a bit flaky. Now I totally understand some folk’s opinion that this punishes the magic user. So I have to agree with this, however that is why I like the idea that a natural 20 is like a critical hit.

In my games, a 20 is a critical hit in terms of using weapons, and a roll of a 1 or a 2 is an automatic miss. The concept here is that no matter how good you get, there is still a 10% chance that you miss regardless of how many pluses you have. Nothing is a sure thing. Now, the probabilities maybe very good, but they will never exceed 90%. I personally think this is a good thing. Hits should not be automatic. There should always be a chance of failure. If there is no chance of failure, then the game loses something. That feels too safe. When I play D&D, I want to know that I have accomplished something in game, and to have that feeling, there has to be a risk, otherwise the reward does not mean that much. It always feels better to earn something, rather than just be handed something.

I feel the same way about magic. I do not like the concept that it always works. I think that’s because in real life, there are no guarantees. There are no sure things. You have to weigh the probabilities and take some chances. I think this adds a dimension to D&D, and does not detract from the game.

However, with that said, I do understand the other side of the argument which says that this penalizes magic users and hurts the group. So this argument has merit. That is also why I like the idea that a roll of a 20 results in something very favorable. It becomes a bit like gambling. The payoff is huge, but there is a chance that something could go wrong. I also believe that it is the players that make up the game not characters. As the players start to run low on resources, they have decision to make. It does not mean that they have to pack it up. I am a believer that if there are any specialty item required, it should be found in the dungeon. A dungeon should not be just a hack and slash fest, but rather should have interesting and challenging rooms that require something more than just a strong sword.

Anyway, I will be adding this as a house rule and we shall see how it plays out.

The Hobbit Updates

Last week the packers came to pack up our stuff to take it back to the US, and unfortunately I had to pack up my copy of The Hobbit. I will be back in the States in about 2 weeks, and then I will start blogging again on The Hobbit. My goal is to write a blog on each chapter, which might take awhile to write up, but that is still my goal.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Future of Gaming

This week, I have been thinking a bit about the pace of technology and its effect on gaming. Clearly video games have been getting better as the hardware has been more powerful. I can remember when my buddy Doug’s dad bought their Apple II, and a new game called Ultima. Ultima was cutting edge at the time, and we all would spend hours watching him play. Doug was a good sport, and we took turns getting behind the keyboard. Fast forward ~25 years and the graphics in today’s games are just eye poppingly good. Today I do not play computer games that much, although I am looking forward to seeing Bioware’s Dragon Age game. I am sure that I will be spending some time playing around with Dragon Age. But gaming is more than just computer gaming, even though that is the obvious example.

When D&D first hit the street, the PC had not yet hit main stream. It would be the introduction of the Apple II that really got the ball rolling. Since then, everyone has a PC, and in most cases folks have a notebook computer that they send a significant amount of time on. The emergence of cloud computing has led to a dramatic increase in the ways that we communicate and share data. When I think of the greatest inventions of the past 2000 years, I have to rank the personal computer, and by extention the internet, in the top 10. Our ability to collaborate without even seeing the other person we are talking to is amazing when you think about it. I suspect that this trend will continue.

But what does this really mean at the game table? I am not sure, but it is interesting to speculate on what it could mean.

1) Technology has enabled virtual gaming. One can host a game over web with folks in other countries. I see this trend increasing. WotC is trying to get their hands around this one with their DDI, as they see possibilities of the virtual game table. I agree with them on this point. However, virtual gaming leaves me a bit cold. I like the direct interaction around the table, and virtual connectedness lacks something. It’s just not the same. But, if one cannot find a group in their local area, virtual gaming creates possibilities. My gut feel though is that computer games like WoW will rule this space, as the user experience is better.

2) Information sharing through the web. If one goes back 30 years, there was no internet. To be honest, looking back at that period it feels like the stone age. It is amazing at what is available at my finger tips in seconds. I just have type an idea, and content is available instantly. As a result, our ability to react to this information has become a lot faster. Scanning through message boards and blogs, I can find a number of good ideas for game encounters. If I am willing to engage, I can get more insight on the information that is being presented. This brings me to the topic of data. Data is just that …data. Not very useful in its raw form. The key to data is to transform it to information and to insight. The tools on the web allow us to do that very well. This really has created cloud computing.

3) The tools are changing. When I first started playing, there were no computers at the table. Now it seems that most tables have at least one, and I have seen tables with multiple computers on it. The notebook is an amazing tool to bring at the table, but it can also be a big distraction. Where I work, meetings are an interesting experience. Everyone brings their notebooks, which as a result, most folks are paying more attention to their notebook than to the speaker. The notebook brings distraction with its email, web surfing and IM’s. I can see this play out at the game table too. I mention notebooks, but the smart phone falls into this category too. This challenge will increase over time.

There are some advantages to having these tools at the table, so it’s not all bad. Regardless of which version of D&D one likes, there is a significant amount of material available. Let me say it like this. I suspect that no one has a complete collection of everything D&D. It’s just too much. However, most of us own an embarrassingly large collection of D&D material, most of which we probably do not even use. The ability to use technology to shrink the number of books used at the table is a good thing. In my lat campaign, I had a crate of 10-15 books which I had standing by for reference, as well as my notebook computer for taking notes and cross checking my campaign outline. Management of the data was critical. For my next campaign, I will greatly simplify which books I am going to use.

Staying on this subject, I am very curious to see how folks will use smart phones and netbooks at their table in the future. They are limited in what they can do, but they are highly portable and can be used to bring up specific information very quickly. I suspect that they will not be a standalone tool, but they can augment what is already being used.

4) Tactical mapping. One of the comments I see again and again pop up is that folks want tactical maps. 20 years ago, we just scribbled on a piece of paper and that was good enough. We have always had strategic maps that showed an overview of a town or a wilderness area, but these were not tactical maps. It seems like most tables have some sort of battle mat tool to help with combat. I am going to go out on a limb and say that 4th edition was designed with the battle mat in mind. That was a core feature that they wanted to include in the game. It was with the 3.5 edition that the battle mat was recognized as a highly recommended tool, and that diagrams were shown with the grid lines. Even though some us (me included) will rant against this, when push comes to shove, we will be cranking out our mats and putting the mini’s on them. To be perfectly honest here, I have 2 large battle mats. I suspect I am not alone here.

5) On demand printing. Printing is an interesting beast. Everyone has a printer. Anyone can print out a nice looking document. However, what has really exploded is the digital document. With the digital document, one does not have to print it out. With a digital document, a 3rd party can print in a variety of formats and send out to anyone. I am thinking of Lulu, but I think there will be other companies that will offer this service. Print on demand offers a number of benefits including lower inventory costs, and custom print solutions. It will be interesting to see what the effect of this new print model will have on the gaming industry. Potentially we could be moving to the growth of the smaller game publishers which can take advantage of these new tools and effectively out maneuver larger companies in some niche areas.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

2009 Golarion Campaign – The Forgotten Gods

I have a working outline for my campaign which will formally kickoff after GenCon. I will be using the new Pathfinder rule set and I will also have a set of house rules. Once I have the new rules in my hands, I will be finalizing the house rules. There is a certain feel that I am looking for. As I have stated in my earlier blogs, I want an “Indiana Jones” feel to the campaign. By this I mean that the characters are explorers rather than heroes, each with his/her own reason for wanting to explore. I will be using guilds, and the two that I am thinking of introducing right away are the Pathfinder Guild and the Delver’s Guild (from Ptolus). I like the concept behind them. The Pathfinder Guild is about exploring to gain knowledge, particularly lost knowledge, while the Delver’s guild is more about exploring in general. It’s this gritty hands on passion for lost treasure and artifacts that I want to be the player’s focus.

I finally decided on a name for the campaign, “The Forgotten Gods,” which I think sums up the overall plot arc very well. I like to have background plot arc that helps to give the campaign a bit of flavor. My last campaign was called, Rise of the Chaos Lords, in which a number of Chaos Lords from the abyss where making a power play that was spilling into the material world. While the adventure was centered inside the city of Ptolus, there were a number of chaos factions both inside the city and outside the city that ultimately had an impact on what was going on inside Ptolus. In essence, Ptolus became a smaller version of the larger conflict. It was this larger conflict that gave context to smaller things that were going on. I thought this worked out very well, and it was very interesting listening to them try to put the pieces together.

For this campaign, the overall plot arc will take the characters through Legacy of Fire (LoF) and on to Necropolis, with a stop in the City of Brass. This will campaign will definitely have an Arabian Nights/Egyptian feel to it, which will a first for me. In the past, I have run European style campaigns, so this is definitely new territory, which I think is good. One of the strengths of D&D is that one can pick from any number of settings, and each has a different feel to them. At some point, I want to run a Viking style adventure, but that will probably be a few years out.

The campaign will start out in media res, meaning that I will start them right in the middle of the action. One of them will have acquired a “treasure” map that leads to a lost artifact called the Rod of Rahotep, which has lead them to northern Katapesh and the Brazen Peaks. The actual starting point will be in front of small hidden cave that leads to a multi-level dungeon that has the working title of “The Goblin Cave.”

The Goblin Cave started out as a 3 level dungeon, but I have expanded upon it quite a bit. Now that I have decided on an overall campaign arc, it is undergoing a face lift to give it the appropriate feel of dungeon in northern Katapesh, as well as tie it in to the overall campaign. At the moment it is 15,000 words, and growing.

From here, the characters will meet up with merchant princess Almah and that will formally start the Legacy of Fire AP. Now I want to play the AP very loosely, meaning that if they want to deviate from the plot line, I am going to let them. There are a number of breaks in the AP, and I have plans to fill them with smaller quests and adventuring possibilities. Through all of this, I want to keep to the theme of Indiana Jones style adventuring. Without giving away too much, I can say that there are a couple of artifacts that play a major role in LoF, which I think will work out well with the feel that I am trying to capture.

Once LoF has played out, it is off to Osirion and the providence of Khemit, which will host the mega-dungeon of Necropolis. Necropolis is a very challenging dungeon in terms of play for both the players and the GM. After Necropolis, I have a couple of ideas kicking around, but I probably have a year or so to think about that. My thought is that after Necropolis, the characters would be 20th level, and it would be time for some epic adventuring.

One of the things I want to be very careful with is the LoF AP. While I want the players to go through it, I do not want to create a rail road that handcuffs them. With this in mind, I have a couple of ideas. The first part of LoF is actually rather loose, with plenty of options available to the players. With this in mind, I want to create meaty side treks that they can explore as much or as little as they want. I am also thinking about creating a completely different alternate adventure option that is more of a sandbox just in case they just really want to do their own thing. In other words, their participation in LoF is really up to them.

We shall see how it all works out. I have another two months to bring it all together.

General Stuff

I have been fairly lazy with my blogging this week. My motivation has been lagging a bit with the other activities that have been occupying my time. I have three weeks left in China before returning to the US. My remaining time left will just fly by. Yesterday the packers came and now we are living out of suitcases until we leave. Most of my game stuff that I brought with me will be intransit for the next 2 months or so. Hopefully we will get it soon, along with the rest of the stuff.

I was also able to close on my new car when I get back to the States. I had sold my old one before going to China, so I need a new one when I arrive back. I am picking up the Toyota Venza, as it is a good mix between fun and utility. Yesterday I received confirmation that they had acquired the car I was looking for and it will be ready when I get back. I am actually really excited about this. While I do not consider myself a car buff by any stretch of the imagination, I do enjoy getting a new car. I have a tendancy to keep cars for ~8 years, so this does not happen that often. At the moment, I have a driver and a silver mini-van, so it will be fun to get behind the wheel again. I am convinced that in China, mini-vans only come in one color and that is silver. Although, there are a couple of blue and white ones, but for the most part, they are silver.

My son has been getting back interested in playing D&D again. With him, his interest comes and goes, but he has been back interested again. When I mentioned in passing Tomb of Horrors, he immediately wanted to play through. I did give him fair warning. He and his friend created 4 10th level C&C characters, and I am using the 3rd edition version that was published on the WotC website. We played for an hour or so this morning, and they have figured out the right entrance to in, after hitting the traps on the other ones. They know to look for traps, and they have found a couple, so we will see how it goes in the next session.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pictures and Such

Just because I am feeling lazy today. Enjoy the pictures!

As an aside, these guys really know their bamboo!