What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Valiant Defenders of the Castles & Crusades Society

The origins of the Castles & Crusades Society was formed by Gary Gygax back in 1968 as a chapter of the International Federation of Wargamers.  The C&CS published a newsletter called the Domesday book which contained amongst other thing various rules.  These formed the basis of 'Chainmail' which would form the basis of the original Dungeons & Dragons RPG.

In acknowledgment of these roots, Troll Lord Games named their flagship product after the society.  The game, Castles & Crusades, was one that sought to keep the spirit of an older style of play alive and was inspired by the creations of Gygax and Arneson.  The development of the game also had a lot of input from the gaming community.  If you look at the player's handbook, you will find a list acknowledging and thanking many people.  This community formed the basis of the new society which adopted the old name as well.

At first, there were numerous fansites devoted to C&C and there were proclamations and updates as well as a few initiatives to kick the society into high gear and spread the word.  But somewhere along the way, the small crew at Troll Lord Games got busy and concerns for the society fell to the wayside.

After floundering for a couple of years, one member of the society (and co-author of the Monster's & Treasure book) stepped forward and breathed new life into the society.  He tried to give it purpose and direction.  A few stood by his side to try and make something more of it.  They started putting out a fan-based electronic publication named the Domesday.  The efforts to carry the burden seemed to be shared by few though and while there was an effort to even put a contest in place, support from the rest of the community seemed to be a bit sparse at times.

The torch to keep the society together passed onto another member and just a few months ago, Troll Lord Games pledged some support anew and a bit of life and direction was breathed into the Castles & Crusades Society once more.

Up to the announcement, there were four issues put together by members of the society, and the fifth is still being finalized.  The few who have contributed have helped to keep the flame burning and their contributions are appreciated.  In 2010, the Domesday returns in a format more fitting to a newsletter with a page count of no more than 10 pages per issue but much more numerous (and possibly monthly).  Earl Seskis, the present High Squire of the Society, has been forming and finalizing the shape that the Domesday will take.  The contest that was started to help bolster the society now has winners which appear below:
  1. Grand Prize - Belinda Kelly (Storm Queen)  for "Damek's Fujara"
  2. Michael Spires (DangerDwarf) for both "Nastala's Lament" and "Grimslade's Grimoire"
  3. Patrick Wong (Ssfsx17) for both "Crown of the Troll Lords" and "Rorzak's Pendulum"
  4. John Wright (seskis281) for "Baetylus of Nindaral"
  5. Chris Maler (thegreenman) for "Mixwell's Legendary Tube"
  6. Daniel Corwin (Frost) for "Manistus the Scriviner"
The winner receives a copy the "Umbrage Box Set" from Troll Lord Games and every one of the finalists also receives a copy of "The Ruins of Ramat" from Arcana Creations.  These entries will be published in the upcoming volume of the Domesday.

To sign up with the Society, view past issues and material created by them, or catch up on some news, please visit their site HERE.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Secret of Ronan Skerry Sale

While plugging AGP's clearance sale, it would be maybe wise to plug the one that Brave Halfling Publishing and Arcana Creations is doing. ;)

You can visit the BHP site HERE to purchase.


AGP's Last Call?

Earlier this week, James Mishler of Adventurer Games Publishing made this announcement. Basically, four of their print products are being cleared out. These are the only full-sized products AGP has done since they've started doing business a back. They are 'XXXI', the '2008 Wilderlands Jam', 'Monsters & Treasures of the Wilderlands I', and the first (and sadly only) issue of the 'Adventure Games Journal'.

When he made this post, he included the numbers he had remaining but warns that any copies still left on hand would be destroyed when the sale end on January 4th. A few thoughts crossed my mind when I read about this clearance sale. One was naturally was 'why'? After discussing this with a couple of my peers, it was suggested it may have been for tax-related purposes. Now, I know that retail stores have to account for their store inventory at the beginning / end of year and that inventory is effectively taxed. Taken in that light, it makes sense.

I shudder to think of the alternative though. Personally I think AGP has a future despite the problems it has faced in the past couple of years. The last thing I would like to see is Mishler throwing in the towel. I don't think that's happening though I think AGP is continuing to change how they operate. The newer digests are an example and I would be surprised if he had many copies of the digest books printed in advance.

As it turns out, the other books which had a print run of sorts have proven to be the exception. Though I hope these four are not the last (I'm personally hopeful we'll eventurally see issue 2 of the journal), it may be a while before AGP's foundation is secure enough to try again. While I have no idea what the sizes of most of these print runs were like, I do know the size of the print run for the first.

'XXXI' was a print run of 310 copies. The obscure looking name is derived from the fact that the release coincided with the 31st anniversay of Judge's Guild. It was released for GenCon 2007 and, based on the post, has sold 236 copies since it was released (up to December 15th, 2009). Personally, I would rather see 310 copies sold before the deadline imposed (January 4th, 2010) and if there is only one thing you were considering buying from his sale, let it be this one.

It will not be reprinted... it will not be held back... it will simply be 'gone'.

I own a couple of copies myself and I own at least one copy of the other products. I heartily recommend all of them and, if my own finances were a bit better this season, I would glady buy more.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time Really Flies...

Especially when your days have looked something like this:

  • Get up at 7:00am to get ready for work (currently still on a contract)
  • Travel to work (time it takes varies on the day)
  • Work from 9:00am to 5:00pm
  • Try and get home for 6:00pm
  • Fix Supper for myself and my significant other.
  • Eat and try and relax until 7:15 - 7:30pm
  • Go to the Veterinary Hospital to visit my cat for 8:00pm
  • Stay till 9:00pm (visiting hours are one hour in the evenings)
  • Arrive home around 9:30 - 9:45pm
  • Catch up on a few emails and try and wind down.
  • Try and hit the sack around 11:00pm
This was pretty much repeated every day since we initially took her in.  I'm really please to say that Medea *is* back home and we've had her back since Friday night.  I still think there's not enough time in my days as it is but at least having her back will free up a bit of time and I can actually sleep easier.

Now, I spent a good chunk of my weekend getting caught up on a few things and one of the things I did do a lot of was going through some more gaming material.  Basically, I'm pulling stuff from shelves and putting them aside, cataloging and pricing a chunk of it for that sale I alluded to a week and a half ago.  For those waiting for this, I should finally have the first batch of stuff posted online in a couple of days.  The majority of this batch are AD&D / D&D / d20 material.

On a different note, Brave Halfling Publishing and Arcana Creations is having a small sale to celebrate the release of "The Secret of Ronan Skerry" into stores.  Details will be posted here tomorrow as well as the BHP site.  A link will be provided as soon as it's set up.

Thanks for the support!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kitty Update...

A week after surgery, Medea is now out of intensive care. She still has a way to go but if all goes well, we may finally have her home by the weekend.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Sourcing from the "World's Most Popular FRPG"

These days, I'm going through much of my gaming collection and while I've settled on Castles & Crusades a couple years ago as my fantasy RPG of choice, I am reminded of my tendency to use material from various editions of Dungeons & Dragons. 

When I started AD&D, my first PHB and DMG were 2nd Edition books.  I picked up 1st Edition material but it was all used within a 2nd Edition game and didn't really pick up the little differences since there was almost no work involved to use older material with my 2nd Edition game.  While I loved AD&D, I got burnt out on it around the mid-90s.  Little did I know then that TSR's days were numbered.  It was with excitement that I picked up 3rd Edition when it was released in 2000 and I loved many features of the new game.  The reliance on miniatures was a bit off-putting since I never really bothered with them in my AD&D games to begin with but overall, a lot of good stuff.  As time wore on, I became increasingly dissatisfied with certain elements.

C&C gave me a couple of the refinements I liked from the newer edition of the games yet had it's design firmly set in the past.  Because it seemed to bridge the editions as well as it did, I began to use material to supplement my C&C games from AD&D, classic D&D, and 3rd Edition.  However, depending on what I used tended to indicate where I would look first.

For instance, I don't tend to bother looking for monsters in anything from 3rd Edition or afterward.  I do appreciate certain books that have come out for 3.x that exist to create and modify creatures as well as the thought out concept of templates.  I believe this is a reflection of a 'free form' sense of design versus a structured and systematic one that fans of the later editions demanded.  The monsters seemed tougher in 3rd Edition than they were in previous editions and older versions seems to be a better match to a C&C campaign.  That's not to say that they were impossible to use -- they were very easy to use if you simply ignored certain things like the detailed attributes and Feats.

Of course, when it came to adventures and campaign material, it didn't matter what edition it might have been written for.  A good story remains a good story and the systems were all closely related enough to run them with very little effort.  In my current C&C campaign, I have probably run more of the Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games written for 3.x than any other edition -- they were just that good and that much fun.

If I was looking for ideas for rules, options or variants, I found that I looked more towards 3rd Edition for guidance more than anything that predated it.  Once again, this was probably because it seemed there was a more concentrated attempt to design and balance the mechanics in this edition more so than other previous ones.

When I look at what some others do, I know some that prefer sourcing from the Metzer D&D sets or 1st Edition AD&D to supplement their C&C games and others who know little of D&D before 3rd Edition and use what they are most familiar and comfortable with.  In that way, some C&C games have Feats where as others adopted the old Weapon Mastery system.  The great thing about all of this is that no one who plays C&C seems to mind what various people are doing with it.  It's all done in an attempt to make the game their own -- even if it becomes reminiscent of just another edition of the "World's Most Popular Fantasy RPG".

The question you have to ask yourself is if this is a strength of Castles & Crusades or a weakness?


Sunday, December 6, 2009

TLG's Annual Holiday Sale

For the past couple of years, Troll Lord Games has had a '12 days of X-Mas Sale' which usually was a great way to get some of their product at fantastic prices.  This year is no exception -- you can view details of the sale HERE.

While my own finances are quite tied up, I know others who would love to take advantage of this.  Some of these would make excellent gifts for your fellow gamer or even yourself.  The $10 'Christmas Cheer' is certainly good value for the dollar with three print modules/accessories and are a safe bet for the collector since these aren't out in stores yet.  What's really impressive though is the 'Yuletide Gem' at $20.  For $20 you get both the latest revisions of the PHB and M&T together in one 'flip book'.  For someone looking for an inexpensive play copy to kick around or knows someone else who is looking to try C&C, you just can't go wrong with the value.  Finally, the 'Crusading Noel' is a couple of perfect bound compilations that brings together the first 20 issues of Crusader Magazine -- a great way to get the early issues of the Crusader and keep them on the shelf.

There are a total of 12 different offers to look through and consider.


Some News...

In the past few days, I've received some kind words of support from my readers and friends.  For that I really do thank all of you for the time you've taken to pass on those words of encouragement.  I've also had some requests for updates amongst some of those well wishes.  Medea is still at the hospital and being cared for 24/7.  She is still in intensive care and seems to be improving but there was a little 'blip' which had the veterinary doctors a bit concerned.  That said, at this stage it's just a case of a 'wait and see' scenario.  The nature of the hospital enables us to visit her everyday and we take advantage of that.  While in our presence, we do see her force of character and will to live.  This is perhaps the most encouraging thing for me right now.

As for myself, I feel lost without her around but I'm still able to do what needs to be done.  I'm still trying to get that list compiled and thrown up for those interested in the sale and, all going well, I will at least have part of it up during the course of the week.  I've been fighting a nasty cold since Friday so things have moved slower than I would have liked.

I remain hopeful and optimistic and I really hope that she'll be home with me soon...


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Personal Update and Challenges...

Well, for those who have been following regularly since I've started this blog, you may have noticed a genuine attempt to update it often enough. I haven't updated it as often as I would like in the past week and a half. A month ago, I had mentioned some of the problems we have been having at home with my cat and though we had what looked like a happy ending was actually an indication of other problems.

She fell ill once more this past weekend (Sunday morning to be exact) and it quickly went from bad to worse. By Tuesday (yesterday) morning, she was already taken in to the hospital to see a specialist. My cat... her name is Medea... was also jaundiced when she was taken in. I suppose the good news is that a clear determination was able to be made with the problem which was confirmed with a few more tests but was starting to look quite grim. She went into Surgery today and then a complication gave her a 50 / 50 chance at best but she made it out of surgery and though her blood pressure is quite low and her condition is still precarious, her heart is strong. Her status is being carefully monitored and will be over the next few days. Hopefully Medea will make a full recovery because I so miss her very much.

This all comes to a cost though... I've had to take a very hefty financial burden in order to cover all the costs incurred with this visit. While Canada has a great public healthcare system, my cat doesn't fall under that plan even if I consider her a member of my family. This debt I've accepted needs to be dealt with swiftly though and the sooner, the better.

In the next few weeks and months ahead, I've decided to have a bit of a 'fundraiser' of sorts. I had already though of doing one before any of this had happened. The difference is that, at the time, it was intended to solely fund future projects, software, and equipment for Arcana Creations. Now I have another purpose as well and this one is a bit closer to the heart. I have amassed an interesting array of gaming material over the past few years and I'm certain that other gamers will appreciate some of these more than I. I figure that these can help pay the bills or other things I either want or need.

This sale will be posted here (of course) and a couple of the forums I frequent. Probably all will lead to a page I'll set up with items... prices... and other pertinent details. Items that don't move will either have a price revision or wind up on ebay since different gamers and crowds focus on different things. The only other thing I'll add is that it won't all go up at the same time. Trying to part with a book is like pulling teeth. I expect I'll try and get this done in small batches.

Should I falter, I guess all I need to do is consider her to strengthen my resolve a bit:

News of the sale will be up when it's ready I guess. I'm not sure when this will be.

Now... in the next few days, I seriously owe my readers a couple of interesting posts. I will deliver these posts. Thanks for reading!



It's been confirmed.  I've received word that the full sized edition of the 'Secret of Ronan Skerry' has been sent to the distributors a few days ago which means it's just a matter of time before it starts showing up on the shelves of reputable game stores.

Aside from that:
  • 'DB6: Dwellers in the Darkness'  is out and should soon be announced as available from TLG for C&C
  • 'Of Gods & Monsters' has also been made available in PDF format at various electronic retailers such as RPGNow!  Actually, it's been available for a week or two...
  • The next Dragons of Aihrde accessory should be out soon and I suspect will make it out before the end of the month and the next Dwarven Glory installment is also rumored to be coming out in the next little while.
I hope to have more news soon...