hairylarry's blog

Gamer+ News November 25, 2019

If You Play You Win Monday night!

Swords and Wizardry - Lost Lands
DM SD Houston
Monday, 2019-11-25 6:30 pm

The game is held in the gamerplus chatrooms at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord and is preempting Inspired Unreality this week.

If You Play You Win last Friday night!

We played The Chronicles Of Ember, Mine. We explored. We discovered. We nearly got killed. Some of us did get killed. Fortunately we had a wand of ressurection.

ZDL wrote Fringe Review: Spark, on her blog. She says "This is like RPG meets collaborative fiction with a dash of improv..." I hope she does more Fringe Reviews. Give it a read.

On Inspired Unreality, November 18, 2019, Masked and Danger, Vivian, and I discussed Keeping It Real. This may be fantasy roleplaying but the DM and the players can't let it go too far over the edge without ruining the willing suspension of disbelief. A lightly redacted transcript can be found here.

Come and play. Come and chat. Write some stuff. Keep us up to date on your games. Promote your products. Spread the word. Stay in touch.

Hairy Larry

hairylarry at 9:17 PM
Keeping it real. There is a point in fantasy fiction or gaming where even the willing suspension of disbelief fails.
I think when world building the reason the magic system is so important is because magic must be constrained and to a certain degree predictable.
If anyone can just wave a wand and do anything without consequences there isn't much room left for a story.
Masked and Danger at 9:20 PM
Same with sci-fi settings technology too
Consistency is the most difficult part
hairylarry at 9:20 PM
yes the system has to be established before the world makes sense
vivian at 9:21 PM
I've played in games where I just shook my head and said whatever.  I like  some sense of  plausibility for  sure.
Masked and Danger at 9:21 PM
At the same time, magic is the one area where internal setting consistency can be thrown out
Sure, doors don't open due to magic words on a certain night in Hobbiton, but out there?  Beyond the hills?
hairylarry at 9:22 PM
I think it's more interesting if the system of magic in use is well understood
Magic can open doors or bar doors. And an axe can open doors and a door spike can bar doors. But magic can't just do anything. In huge quantities. All the time.
Or wizards always win. And we can't have that.
Masked and Danger at 9:26 PM
At the other end of that, you have RPGs like Dungeon Crawl Classics, which features random magic effects and mutation
hairylarry at 9:26 PM
In DnD combat is often less plausible than magic.
Masked and Danger at 9:26 PM
hairylarry at 9:27 PM
I don't really get random magic but I get wild magic. Wild magic is powerful and unpredicatable so it's shortcoming is built in.
Masked and Danger at 9:28 PM
I suppose that's the difference between a novel or film and an RPG
A game is built on systems
systems that must be consistent
hairylarry at 9:29 PM
I read an sf short story where cause and effect was suspended on Earth for a period of time. Made for an uncomfortable interim for the reader.
It's hard to follow a narrative where there is no cause and effect.
Even rules light games have rules.
When the DM throws out the rules entirely then it's just make believe and consistency is lost.
Sarah runs DCC. I'll ask her about random magic.
Masked and Danger at 9:33 PM
What it mostly comes down to is that each individual spell has many ways it can backfire horribly
I suppose that in itself is it's own system of magic
hairylarry at 9:34 PM
Oh yeah. I think I know about that. I heard Sarah talking about it. There's a lot of death in the funnel.
Masked and Danger at 9:35 PM
DCC was designed to replicate the feeling of B/X play before retroclones got super popular.  The funnel was a logical progression from old school games where level 1 characters would die quickly and be replaced in dungeon with living hirelings
hairylarry at 9:35 PM
Spells go awry in DnD too. Scrolls aren't always what you think they are.
Masked and Danger at 9:36 PM
True.  DCC uses spellburn as a limiting tool since it removed vancian casting
Sure you CAN keep casting, but you're more likely to mutate or blow up
hairylarry at 9:37 PM
I think the DM should be careful with low level characters but still, bad rolls are bad rolls and when you don't have hit points to spare you can die on a couple of 1d4 damage rolls.
Masked and Danger at 9:38 PM
I once read an analysis of 5e that said that the Bugbear in the Lost Mines of Phandelver adventure might as well be a dragon for how much damage it does
hairylarry at 9:38 PM
To me old school magic systems are all about vancian magic.
Masked and Danger at 9:39 PM
Level 1 characters vs a 2d8+2 melee weapon attack
hairylarry at 9:39 PM
Yeah, that's tough even at 5e level hit points
Masked and Danger at 9:40 PM
A martial character with a poor con score can die from that even if it's not a crit
hairylarry at 9:41 PM
And in old school you'd be rolling a new character. In 5e you're making death saves.
Masked and Danger at 9:41 PM
hairylarry at 9:42 PM
But I think it's good to roll new characters at low levels when you're still at the approximate level of the party.
If the party has all leveled up to 4th or 5th level and you have to come back in at 1st level that can be tough.
Masked and Danger at 9:43 PM
Experience differences are the worst.  Gold for XP systems can mitigate that if the rest of the party is willing to chip in
5e's milestones are also good, although it does get a little noticeable when a convenient back up shows up
hairylarry at 9:44 PM
Again I think the DM can help the new character level up by rewarding for role playing.
It won't make the rest of the party mad when the new guy can be more helpful.
Masked and Danger at 9:45 PM
WFRP 4e has a rule, available to humans only, where if a character dies under very specific circumstance, their next character starts with half the XP of their previous character
hairylarry at 9:45 PM
I think that's better than rolling up a first level character and yet you still get punished for getting yourself killed.
Masked and Danger at 9:46 PM
Humans begin with the "Doomed" trait, where a cleric used the Emperor's Tarot to predict how they would die.  Players are told to say what that was
hairylarry at 9:46 PM
I will curse you with knowledge of the day of your death
Masked and Danger at 9:46 PM
For example, my graverobber's Doom was decided to be "Buried Alive"
Her player came up with that
And I approved it
hairylarry at 9:47 PM
Oh hell. What a thing to look forward to.
In Douglas Adams Hitchhiker series the protagonist knew where he was going to die. Of course he entirley misinterpreted it.
vivian at 9:48 PM
Boy I'm glad I DMed back in the old days.
hairylarry at 9:48 PM
I'm glad I DMed back in the old days when we got to kill people (I mean characters)
I've been talking to Vivian about my new game, Just Quest, and I've been really strong on character death.
Todd brought up the idea of slow poison at the RPG Breakfast Club.
My idea was if you didn't get an antidote or healing by your next round you're dead.
Masked and Danger at 9:51 PM
I've considered adapting the Death's Door mechanic from the video game Darkest Dungeon
vivian at 9:51 PM
Remind me not to play in one of your quests.
hairylarry at 9:51 PM
The problem with slow poison or resurrection is that it puts the player out of the game.
If the character dies the player can roll a new character and be brought right back into the game.
Masked and Danger at 9:53 PM
Basically, characters in Darkest Dungeon when dropped to 0 HP don't immediately die.  They instead make a roll every time they take damage of any type, and either live or die.  I'm considering hacking it into 5e to compliment Death Saves
hairylarry at 9:53 PM
So you drop to zero and then every time you're hit it's 50 50?
Masked and Danger at 9:54 PM
You can choose to drop and it acts like normal, but you can also choose to keep fighting in which case it's every time an enemy attacks you, with instant death as a cost
hairylarry at 9:55 PM
Oh, I'd keep fighting. I have a healthy fear of death but not in role playing games.
Masked and Danger at 9:55 PM
Do you risk keep fighting despite being at 0, and being killed without the buffer
hairylarry at 9:55 PM
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Yes, I was on the head of the Kraken sticking my rapier in his eye at one hit point.
Every third or 4th round he'd reach up with a tentacle and nick me for a couple of points of damage.
So I'd be at 0 until someone threw some healing on me
Then I'd be at 1 hit point so I'd go back to stabbing the Kraken
Masked and Danger at 9:58 PM
Sounds like a recipe for getting grabbed and ate
hairylarry at 9:58 PM
If he had put me in his maw I would have cut his tongue off
The soft place at the top of the mouth is an easy way to hit the brain.
Masked and Danger at 9:59 PM
hairylarry at 9:59 PM
I played a adventure struck halfling who wasn't even a warrior, just an idiot.
I had a ring of invulnerability.
When we came up against the giant I ran up with my hatchet and hacked on his ankle
He never even tried to hit me because I was hardly a nuisance
But when the other players wrapped him up in rope and knocked him over he fell on me and I died.
That wasn't 5e either. BX. I was dead.
Masked and Danger at 10:02 PM
I don't think I've ever lost a character I was invested in... but then again I also DM more then I play
hairylarry at 10:03 PM
Some guy said my halfling was a hero. No. Just an idiot.
Masked and Danger at 10:03 PM
An absolute maroon
hairylarry at 10:03 PM
Oh I wasn't invested. He was an NPC and Carl invited me in to play him.
Masked and Danger at 10:04 PM
hairylarry at 10:04 PM
So I went whole hog.
It was a convention one off.
Masked and Danger at 10:04 PM
My last player death was in a con game of Delta Green
My character was crucified
hairylarry at 10:05 PM
Ring Of Invulnerability. And a scissors and a kitchen knife.
Oh damn. If I got to choose my doom it wouldn't be crucifixion.
Masked and Danger at 10:05 PM
Probably not
hairylarry at 10:06 PM
I understand that if my character dies I can no longer bring him back in that campaign. But I can still play the character later in another game.
Masked and Danger at 10:06 PM
As a player, I'm generally playing support or ranged characters, never the first target of a DM
hairylarry at 10:07 PM
Yeah I never played fighters for years.
Still not my favorite but at ARPGCON I played two barbarians.
Masked and Danger at 10:08 PM
Barbos can be fun
hairylarry at 10:08 PM
Yeah. Strong and not necessarily stupid. But down to earth.
These archetypes are what keeps it real.
Players have an idea of what barbarians are like.
So when they go berserk it's like, Ok, I get it.
Masked and Danger at 10:10 PM
I've heard certain folk complain that Barbarian should be a fighter archetype, but I'm not so sure.
hairylarry at 10:11 PM
Well, they are fighters but with a difference.
In Just Quest if someone wants to play a barbarian they choose fighter and then put barbarian down as a trait.
Same for palladin or ranger or knight of the realm
Masked and Danger at 10:13 PM
Five Torches Deep makes Fighter, Barbarian, and Ranger a Warrior archetype
hairylarry at 10:13 PM
or warrior
Masked and Danger at 10:13 PM
Barbs get access to 19-20 crits with melee, Rangers with ranged, and Fighters get social bonuses
hairylarry at 10:14 PM
So even though the rules only support 7 character types the other archetypes come alive through the traits
Masked and Danger at 10:14 PM
Trait based systems are very good for that kind of thing
hairylarry at 10:14 PM
And the DM can say, Oh, I see you're a barbarian so you get plus 2 when fight more than 2 adversaries at once.
Masked and Danger at 10:15 PM
Not needing a whole skill list that your idea for a character needs to break up in order to fit the archetype is nice
"Oh, my cavalier needs Wis for those Animal Handling checks, shoot"
hairylarry at 10:15 PM
There's no dragonborn or tiefling but if someone really wants to they can put it down as a trait.
They won't be a 5e dragonborn but they can pretend
All that crap is DM adjudicated so anything goes but it doesn't always get you what you think it will.
Yeah and my mods bottom out at -1 so even if you lack in an ability it doesn't mean you just can't do something.
Masked and Danger at 10:19 PM
Makes sense
hairylarry at 10:20 PM
Yeah, it's very Just in the sense that the stats don't limit you too much.
Masked and Danger at 10:20 PM
It's one of those pushes and pulls of RPGs
hairylarry at 10:20 PM
I like low stats. It gives me something to work around.
Masked and Danger at 10:21 PM
The bigger the difference between ceiling and floor of stats, the more specialization is possible BUT also the more chance you can end up as garbage
hairylarry at 10:21 PM
in 5e you spend forever building a real powerful character because you really want to be a superhero
Masked and Danger at 10:21 PM
Smaller variation might not feed "monkey brain like big numbers", but does give a more even competency curve
hairylarry at 10:21 PM
In OSR, roll the stats and play the game. So what. You're all mortal.
Masked and Danger at 10:22 PM
Powered by the Apocalypse goes -2 to +3 on stats
hairylarry at 10:22 PM
Yes, a more even competency curve.
In Just Quest I go from -1 to +2.
I mean +3 if your stat is 18. If your stat is 18 do you really need +3?
Masked and Danger at 10:24 PM
Prolly not
hairylarry at 10:25 PM
It's based on Carl's Wizards and Heroes game mechanics. D6 and D20.
Masked and Danger at 10:25 PM
You've talked about that before
hairylarry at 10:25 PM
Again a more even competency curve.
Masked and Danger at 10:26 PM
hairylarry at 10:27 PM
So I'm more about rewarding role playing than in building super heavy duty fighters or wizards.
And I hate a bunch of rules because I can't keep up with them
At the same time I enjoy playing 5e
But I'd have to study for a year to be a DM.
Masked and Danger at 10:27 PM
One of the reasons why Gygax switched from 3d6 to d20 as standard rolling is because the d20 had an exactly 5% chance of landing on any given result rather then weighting heavily toward 9-12
hairylarry at 10:28 PM
right, linear instead of the bell curve
So stats are 3d6 and are weighted toward the average.
Hit rolls and checks are D20
Against AC or against 20 minus the ability or an arbitraty difficulty level.
damage is a D6
fighters get advantage and wizards get disadvantage
Masked and Danger at 10:30 PM
Nice and simple
hairylarry at 10:30 PM
Yeah, that's what I like about it. And if you have 3d6 and 1d20 that's all you need.
Masked and Danger at 10:31 PM
The weirder dice required to an rpg, the harder it is to get people invested
hairylarry at 10:32 PM
I don't think anyone will ever play Just Quest rules except me. But since we've been writing quests I want to run them so I had to dumb down the rules to where an unruly DM could keep up.
Masked and Danger at 10:32 PM
Makes perfect sense.  Playing RPGs is hacking together your own rules, sooner or later
Whether that's adjusting monster stats in 5e or putting together your own retroclone
hairylarry at 10:33 PM
My grandson Conley will read a rule book and then cite that stuff back at me. I can't remember rules for anything.
House rules or your own system.
Masked and Danger at 10:33 PM
Both.  Either
My variation on B/X rules steals Shadow of the Demon Lord's initiative and traits, and WP&WS's Flesh and Grit
hairylarry at 10:35 PM
I made a character sheet this morning and I have the minizine done. I just want to let it settle in my brain so I can think of everything I left out that I really need. I might get to play it over break.
Masked and Danger at 10:36 PM
I'll keep an eye open

hairylarry at 10:37 PM
Yeah, Carl plays what he calls BX Redbook. And he plays Wizards and Heroes with kids.
I like the Wizards and Heroes rules but I want to do traditional fantasy roleplaying so Just Quest is my variant.
Masked and Danger at 10:38 PM
Fantasy roleplay is a pretty easy sell to anyone
Trying to get people to move out of that is harder
I've been on a cyberpunk kick recently, and was looking at various RPGs that try to gamify that
hairylarry at 10:38 PM
I've done two SF games now and I liked them. I played a computer hacker both times.
Masked and Danger at 10:39 PM
It's been a city of nightmares
hairylarry at 10:39 PM
On gamerplus they've been discussing cyberfeypunk
cyberpunk with elves
Masked and Danger at 10:39 PM
I'm guessing this is different then Spreadsheetrun
I mean Shadowrun
hairylarry at 10:40 PM
I've never played Shadowrun.
Masked and Danger at 10:40 PM
I played it... once
It's a labyrinthine tome
hairylarry at 10:41 PM
Yeah, I see these huge rulebooks and I wonder, who has the time?
Masked and Danger at 10:41 PM
My measure is always the character sheet
hairylarry at 10:42 PM
We're playing Universe Unleashed Thursday and Chronicles Of Ember Friday.
Universe Unleashed is rules light and Chronicles Of Ember is a whole world.
Well, Shadowrun's not 5e but it looks pretty extensive.
Masked and Danger at 10:44 PM
Very.  Cyberpunk 2020 is slightly better, but is a little outdated
I mean, it's idea of the far future is a month away at this point
hairylarry at 10:44 PM
(displays Just Quest character sheet.)
As you can see, 5 minutes or less.
Masked and Danger at 10:45 PM
Very nice
hairylarry at 10:45 PM
Yeah, I love reading science fiction set in the 1980s.
I have a black and white version too for a laser printer.
Looks less 5e
Masked and Danger at 10:47 PM
I always get frustrated when no printer friendly character sheets are provided
hairylarry at 10:47 PM
Homebrewery - low ink option
Masked and Danger at 10:47 PM
hairylarry at 10:51 PM
Well, thanks for chatting tonight. I think I'll read Andre Norton until I fall asleep.
Masked and Danger at 10:51 PM
Night Larry
See you next week
hairylarry at 10:52 PM
see you later
Masked and Danger at 10:52 PM
subaltari at 12:11 AM
To be fair, you can make a charsheet much smaller than that.


Thanks to Masked and Danger for joining Vivian and me. And thanks to subaltari too. A little late but still welcome.

Gamer+ News November 18, 2019

Two games this week on If You Play You Win.

Thursday, November 21, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Central
Universe Unleashed
DM - RobboG

Friday, November 22, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Central
The Chronicals Of Ember
DM - Larian

If you are interested in playing get in touch with the DM or me. Or you can just show up at Tenkar's Tavern on the night of the game and jump in.

I had a blast at ARPGCON last weekend playing Wizards and Heroes, Chronicles Of Ember, and some OSR games run by Carl Heyl and DM Crafty. Pictures have been posted on Gamer+ and in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A new Related To Geeks Podcast has been posted at

Rather extensive show notes with about 100 books listed are here.

And Megan has suggested a new project, the Related To Geeks Book Club where we get together once a month and discuss a book we've all recently read or reread. If this interests you join the group.

Check out Mark's new game, Gangbusters B/X.

And RobboG's Tumbleweed Tales Volume 3 - Welcome to the Four Color Western. Inspired by the garishly colored and fast paced comic books of the 40s.

So that's what we do on Gamer+. Write games. Play games. At conventions. On the internet. And read books too. So if you know someone who likes this kind of stuff turn them on to Gamer+. We want to meet them.

I added content by HexedPressman and DualClassic to our RSS feed found in the footer on every page. If you have something for us to include let me know.

Hairy Larry

Show notes for Fantasy and Science Fiction Reads

We discussed:

Universe Unleashed by RobboG

Star Wars: Edge Of The Empire



Home School Game Club at Game Goblin

Dragon Truck

Isaac Asimov

Mary Shelley - Frankenstein

Greek Tragedies


Edward Dunsaney



Honor Harrington

Martha Wells - Murderbot Diaries

Isaac Asimov - The Robots Of Dawn

J. Jacques - Questionable Content


Sylvain Neuvel - Sleeping Giants

Nicky Drayden - The Prey of Gods

China Mieville

Neal Stephenson - Seveneves

Jim C. Hines - Janitors Of The Post-Apocalypse

Ann Leckie - Imperial Radch

Clarks Law - Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Poul Anderson - The Chapter Ends

Neal Schusterman - Arc Of The Scythe

Yu Godai - Avatar Tuner - Digital Devil Saga

C.S. Lewis - The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe

Pratchett, Gaiman - Good Omens

Chuck Palahniuk - The Fight Club

Tamora Pierce - Tortal

James S.A. Corey - The Expanse series

Nicholas Eames - Kings Of The Wyld

J.R.R. Tolkien - The Hobbit, The Trilogy

David Eddington

Terry Brooks

Jack Vance - The Green Pearl, The Dying Earth

Anthea Sharp - Feyland

Fritz Lieber - Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser

Poul Anderson - The Broken Sword

Fred Saberhagen

Dungeons and Dragons

Edgar Rice Burroughs

L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt

Robert E. Howard - The Tower Of The Elephant

Jon Peterson - Playing at the World

George MacDonald - The Princess and the Goblin

Jonathan Swift - Gulliver's Travels

T.H. White - The Once And Future King

E.A. Wyke-Smith - The Marvellous Land Of Snergs

Capetta, McCarthy - Once and Future

Brandon Sanderson - The Emperor's Soul, Mistborn, Wheel Of Time, The Edgedancer, Steelheart, Skyward

Robert Jordan - Wheel Of Time series

Rick Riordan

Cressida Cowell - How To Train Your Dragon

Hairy Larry's Super Shorts

William King - Trollslayer, Skavenslayer - Gotrek and Felix

David Gemmell - Legend - Drust

Terry Pratchett - Good Omens, The Last Hero, Guards Guards, Tiffany Aching, The Wee Free Men, The Witches, Wintersmith, Equal Rites, Soul Music, The Monsters Regiment, Small Gods, The Luggage, Rincewind, The Hogfather, Mort, Going Postal (books and characters discussed)



Neil Gaiman - The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, A Study In Emerald, American Gods

Gene Wolfe

The Wheel Of Time Companion

Max Gladstone - Three Parts Dead

Samuel R. Delaney - Nova

Hillary Bell - A Matter Of Profit

William Morris - The Well At The World's End

Andrzej Sapkowski - The Witcher Series

Douglas Adams

George R.R. Martin - Game Of Thrones

Gamer+ News November 4, 2019

Related To Geeks podcast tonight on Inspired Unreality at Tenkar's Tavern on Discord. Everyone is welcome. 9:00 PM Central Time. The topic will be Fantasy and SF reads.

Thanks to ZDL I learned how to link to a Newsfeed story.

RobboG, ZDL, and I have been discussing a new fantasy/sf game concept called cyberfae or feypunk or even a better name that includes both. Like cyberfaepunk.

ARPG-CON is this weekend! November 9 and 10.

We played Star Wars on If You Play You Win last Friday and we escaped Mos Shuuta. After we stole the rocket ship from the Lizard guy who traded in wookie pelts we got the control center to unclamp the ship by sitting his corpse in the pilot's chair and cutting a hole in the back of his head so I could reach through and work his mouth to say, "Oh, the wookies, the wookies, I have to get off this planet, unclamp my ship."

We want to promote your gaming blog, vlog, channel, podcast, products, etc. Please send me your links.

And tell your friends about Gamer+. We actually have a lot of stuff going on. Everyone is welcome. All gaming is on topic.


Hairy Larry

When you get notified about a Newsfeed story there is a link to that story in the email. It looks like this.

But where can you find that link. ZDL pointed out that the timestamp is the permalink.

It might say 3 minutes ago or it might say Yesterday and a time or Nov 1.

Click on that link and it will go to that Newsfeed story on it's own page. Copy the address bar to get your link.

Or right click on the link and Copy Link Location from the context menu.

Thanks to ZDL for helping me figure this out. I never realized that the timestamp was the link.



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