Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clerics, Alignment, and things like that

There are these people in France, you see. And they've decided to build a castle.

Sure, I hear you say. Them and William Randolph Hearst (or was that Charles Foster Kane?). Seems like everybody with a couple of million dollars to rub together wants to build a castle.

I've been in the SCA; the topic of discussion whenever anybody discussed the Lottery was what sort of castle they'd build if they won. (Not whether; only what sort.)

And that always seemed a bit off to me.

Okay, so these people in France are using actual Medieval construction methods and no new technology. Great for a research project, but still a bit off.

Y'see, the main, major, life-changing, everybody-and-their-brother-gets-involved construction project of the Middle Ages was NOT the construction of castles. They were a dime a dozen; anybody with a pair of spurs to his name built one of those.

No, the real big deal in construction back then was a cathedral.

(See how I got Clerics in there? Pretty sneaky, huh?)

Now, a lot of people in the old school renaissance (okay, on the Original D&D Discussion Forum, and really not all that many, but go with me here) want to do away with the poor Cleric. "He's just not Swords & Sorcery," they say, "he's just not pulp."

Well, no, he's not. But he's very Middle Ages.

The one constant in the Middle Ages was the church. Kings would come and go, local lords, populations, etc. Even your parish priest, or his boss the Bishop (dun duh duh DUH dun! Sorry.) They might come and go. But the old mother church? Always there. Omnipresent. Churches were more than a place to kill an hour on Sunday. You went there for village meetings, christenings, weddings, funerals -- everything! It was THE social center of the Middle Ages (and the reason they didn't invent Facebook back then.)

So, why is the Cleric not shown more love? It's because they are invariably treated as a combat medic, the guy with the band-aids, nothing more. And I think that's just sad. (Not that I haven't done it, mind you. But as often I'd be the guy playing the Cleric.)

So, how do we reconcile this? The Fighting-Man is a blast to play at low levels, because he can always do stuff. The Magic-User is a blast (literally...) at high levels, because he can lay waste to everything at a whim. And what can the Cleric do?

Well, for one thing, he can turn undead. That's nothing to sneeze at. (BTW: For those of you playing with the Moldvay/Cook or later rules, you seriously need to look at the earlier rule sets. When you turn, you don't roll 2d6 for the number of hit dice of undead you turn; you roll 2d6 for the number of undead you turn. Otherwise, you'd only ever be able to turn a grand total of one (1) vampire, since they have 9 hit dice. Do the math for yourself; you'll see.) Those level drains (if you'll pardon the expression) suck!

But there's more than that. Clerics can perform masses (such as the last rights, which you'll need if you aren't on your toes). They can hear confessions (which you'll need; see previous point). And they provide a great amount of conflict to a game.

What's that you say? That it's up to the monsters to provide the conflict? Why, gentle reader, who on earth do you think I'm talking about?

Y'see, there are these guys called Anti-Clerics. It's right there in Men & Magic, page 34:

Note: There are Anti-Clerics (listed below) who have similar powers to Clerics. Those Clerical spells underlined on the table for Cleric Spells have a reverse effect, all others functioning as noted. The chief exception is the Raise Dead spell which becomes:

The Finger of Death: Instead of raising the dead, this spell creates a "death ray" which will kill any creature unless a saving throw is made (where applicable). Range: 12". (A Cleric-type may use this spell in a life-or-death situation, but misuse will immediately turn him into an Anti-Cleric.)

Anti-Clerics: Evil Acolyte, Evil Adept, Shaman, Evil Priest, Evil Curate, Evil Bishop, Evil Lama, Evil High Priest.

Where do these guys hang out? In dungeons only? I don't think so!

When I was starting out in adventure gaming, in the 80's (yeah, I'm old; get over it. I have.) I would play pretty much any game which looked interesting. So I got Steve Jackson's Illuminati! because it looked cool. And later on, I picked up the Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson (and immediately understood more about The Fantasy Trip, but that's another story...)

Anyway, there's a point in there with a Satanic ceremony, and one of the characters says that a lot of Satanists get positions in Catholic churches so they can steal consecrated items to desecrate in their rituals.

That's what an Anti-Cleric would do. (Remember, in OD&D, there's no Know Alignment spell...)

So: Law is the good guys and Chaos is the bad guys (see, you knew I'd bring Alignment into this...) Well, the Christian Church is based on the Bible. Why couldn't the D&D Church be based on, I dunno, "The Book of the Law?" This would be a Bible-equivalent for a D&D world. Anti-Clerics (chaotic) would profess piety, but secretly work toward the downfall of the church. (Check out the Bishop dude in the movie Ladyhawke. An EHP if I ever saw one. And don't even get me started on Cardinal Richelieu...) And of course the Lawful (i.e.; good guy) Clerics would be on the watch against ALL THE EVIL IN THE WORLD. Including, of course, the Anti-Clerics.

(I'm not advocating McCarthyism, but wouldn't that be a fun scenario for you push-the-envelope type DMs? "The Inqui-SI-tion, what a show!")

Anyway, that's how I'd run D&D if I ever run D&D. (I've been toying with the notion of running a game on the aforementioned OD&D Discussion Forum. If I did, would any of you reading this now be interested in playing? I'm just curious.)

And that's what I have to say on that. Not especially earth-shaking, I know, but hey, I'm just one blogger.

And now, I think I'll have another beer.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Overcoming inertia and new pictures!


I've gotta say, it seems my only problem in working on games and gaming related matters is to just get started. I have this incredible inertia -- if I'm at rest I really tend to stay at rest.

On the other hand, once I get going, watch out! I do tend to get going much like a juggernaut, running over everything in my path.

Case in point: One page wilderness and quarter-page villages. See previous posts.

Another case: Painting figures. I have a bunch of new ones pictured here, all done in the last few days. Seriously, I've done more gaming related stuff (painting, writing, etc.) in the past week than in any week since my gaming heyday of the mid 80's. It's pretty cool.

Anyway, at the top we have some new fighting-men. (As usual, click to embiggen.) These are designed to be player character types, but can be stand-ins for NPCs should the need arise.

Next are some more undead types, to bolster the skeletons I painted quite a while ago. I don't honestly know what D&D monster type these guys are supposed to represent. Are they wights? Wraiths? If anyone has any suggestions, I'm open...

And then we have a goblin standard-bearer. What? Why would you need a standard bearer? You only need them if you army.

(See what I mean about getting a lot done?)

Bloomin' 'ell, 'e's done it again!

Well, this one page thing seems to have gotten in my blood. I was worried about those villages, you see, in the Barony of Northmarch. I didn't want them to go out into the world without some more attention, so I hacked Chgowiz's lovely dungeon level template and made a village template. Well, sort of. Take a look; it's here, on my Google Docs (and I think I set it up so anybody can get it, but I'm not sure).

In other news, I went to a birthday party today. The guest of honor was an old DM of mine who I haven't seen in a couple of years -- and haven't gamed with in far longer. Well, his son has been bugging him to do some DMing (he's probably the most Gygaxian DM I ever knew). And he might join us for Kesher's Otherness game sometime. That'd be cool.

And in other other news, I'll have more pictures up, probably Sunday night. I've been painting again...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Northmarch (One-Page Wilderness) reposted

Thanks to Kesher, Northmarch is now also available here!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Pictures -- as promised!

Here they are, my new pictures. As usual, click to enlarge.

For those of you who read my last post, you'll understand why I didn't get more painting done. But I got the important stuff done, at least for Kesher's Otherness game: I got a figure painted for my character, Melvin. He's the guy in plate and the red and white surcoat on the end. I also painted my other Mage figure, because we have two of them in the party (and now we'll have two painted figures). And the dwarf, because we have a dwarf (sometimes).

I have an elf and some more human fighter types to paint up before the next game (maybe more than one elf -- we seem to have a few of them).

We haven't faced any orcs yet, but when we do, I have some figures ready!

One Page Wilderness

Since everybody else in the old school renaissance seems to be putting out their own one-page items, dungeons, cities, wildernesses, even whole games!), I thought I'd join in the frenzy.

Actually, it was a guy on the Original D&D Discussion forum that got me started. He said what I felt, that he had the creativity of a lump of mud. Well, he doesn't and neither do I.

So I took it as a challenge, and here it is: The Barony of Northmarch.

You can get the pdf here (which gives a legend for these symbols, as well as an encounter table and hex by hex descriptions).

Thanks to Chgowiz, for the One Page template.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

There will be more pictures...soon

I had the day off from work today. And I'll have tomorrow off, too. The warehouse I work at is moving, and all our stock is on trucks, waiting for the pallet racking to be installed, which will happen tomorrow.

So, having some time on my hands, I primed a whole bunch of my figures today. Tonight, I started (barely) painting my orcs. Since I have tomorrow off as well, I hope to finish the orcs and do the goblins and the rest of the undead.

So, there will be pictures of the rest of the Caesar Fantasy miniatures line coming in the near future!

Monday, September 14, 2009

More gaming

You may remember this post. Or you may not. Anyway, they have a permanent opening in this game so they gave me a call. So now I have two games (in addition to various online things), although neither of them is weekly.

So, Yay! It's a good year for gaming, apparently.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I can has table!


Finally, after all these years, I have in my own home a table big enough that I can host a gaming-type activity. I also have six matching chairs (not shown). That's enough for a game, just not a huge game. To show the size of the table I took a pretty universal constant: The Holmes-edit D&D Basic Set box. Everybody should be able to judge relative size from that.

This was my dining room table while I was growing up. We moved Dad out of the house two years ago now, after Mom died, and we've been cleaning it out and hoping to sell it. But in this economy, and in that market, I don't know.

But I do know that I can has table!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Booklets! Pictures! Pictures of Booklets!

This is in response to Jeff's Gameblog, wherein he posted pictures of his booklets. Now I have to do the same, so here you go.

These are my D&D books, printed from the pdfs. But these are different. These are the deluxe versions.

I got the leather-style heavy paper for the covers as packing material in something at work, there were about 10 or so of them (and several have already gone away, so I'm nearly out...). The interior pages are done on parchment paper I had for a calligraphy project (that never went anywhere, but so what). The open booklet is on a piece of white paper to show the difference in color of the pages.

Hope you like them!

And finally, a picture of my new dice rolling area for taking to conventions. Cost in materials: five bucks at WalMart. The looks on people's faces: I hope it will be priceless. If you can't read the sign (I can't), it says "Kids! Stay off my lawn." (See, 'cause I'm older than they are and ... well, either you get it or you don't...)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fight On #6!

Fight On! number 6 is out, both in print and PDF. I haven't read every page yet, but it looks at least as good as the previous issues. There are some very nifty things this time, as well as another Education of a Magic-User (which introduces a new character!)

Check it out at all the usual places.