Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Poem

I was out of town again this week, during which time a priest friend of mine brought the poet Scott Cairns to my attention. I subsequently found a collection of his poems entitled Love's Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life. He writes poems inspired by the words of history's greatest Christian mystics. The following is inspired by one of my heroes, St. Irenaeus:

Capable Flesh

The tender flesh itself
will be found one day

—quite surprisingly—
to be quite capable of receiving,

and, yes, full
capable of embracing

the searing energies of God.
Go figure. Fear not.

For even at its beginning
the humble clay received

God's art, whereby
one part became the eye,

another the ear, and yet
another this impetuous hand.

Therefore, the flesh
is not excluded

from the wisdom and the power
that now and ever animates

all things. His life-giving
agency is made perfect,

we are told, in weakness—
made perfect in the flesh.

I share this mainly because I find it to be so moving, but it does speak to the way I play RPGs in a round about way. This poem expresses my firm belief that all matter can be used to glorify God and be used in a positive and fulfilling way. Thus, the only way D&D and other RPGs are demonic and evil is if we allow them to be used in that way. I endeavor to give rise to a way of using and thinking about our hobby as an expression of my faith. Secondly, one of the more powerful memes found in this poem and in Irenaeus is the idea that God finds and creates strength in and through weakness. Is it any wonder that I love how the old-school style of play is so comfortable with player skill and character death? We test ourselves with randomness and the weaknesses that are derived from character generation systems that spit out "hopeless" characters. In these weaknesses we find our strengths as players and, personally, I find great pleasure in seeing a "hopeless" character grow strong and ultimately succeed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lost Colonies Session 20

This session is a tale of caution for those who travel through the wilderness without a detailed map or with little regard to making one themselves. On their journey out to the "funhouse" dungeon, one of their henchman was a ranger — thus, the chances of getting lost were reduced significantly. He died. With him, the journey out to the dungeon was a three day trek through the desert. Without him and a map, the journey back has turned into a ten-day odyssey through the wilds that has yet to end. Fortunately, they did pack a sizable amount of rations and the clerics each use a spell slot for Create Water so starvation and dehydration have not been an issue. As a result, they have made it out of the desert, but the session ended as they came across the bank of a very wide river in the middle of a jungle. Here are some of the highlights of the evening:
  • Hamlen has befriended a female dire wolf that was pregnant. She gave birth to three healthy pups. Dn. Goram has been using a Speak Animal spell on a daily basis throughout the ordeal to make sure everything goes smoothly and the pups stay healthy and the dire wolf stays happy.
  • In another example of successfully using Speak Animal, the party lured a wild camel into their caravan with promises of food and water. Thus far, the camel seems quite happy to follow them around.
  • They also used the spell to find out the identity of a pack of wild dogs from the dire wolf. After disdainfully calling them "small ones," the party asked if she could frighten them off. The pack failed their moral check after hearing the dire wolf claim her territory and the party avoided a midnight combat.
  • Another spell the party used extensively during the evening was Augur. As much of a "game breaker" as this can be, I really enjoyed the party using it. I twisted their words as much as I was able and they often cast the spell twice in order to check the accuracy of the first spell. More than once, the dice produced two different answers...
  • They were lured into a trap by a lammia — convinced by an Augur spell that treasure was there. That treasure turned out to be an immobile Rosetta stone in the form of an obelisk. It was a declaration of independence by various ancient peoples from their "overlords." The one language that the party was most interested in was one they had encountered on and around the various Masked nemeses they've been periodically running into.
  • The party also found a tower surrounded by a seemingly impenetrable force field.
  • We left off as the party was preparing to negotiate with the giant spiders that occupied the bank of the river that lay ahead of them.
For me, the most rewarding moment of the evening (for the map lover in me) was when the party collectively decided that they needed to have a detailed map of the area if they were to explore like this again. Thus, next session I get to dust off the old pad of hex paper...

Sans Computer or Internet

Over the last week or so, I've been traveling. Though I did bring my laptop and did intend to continue to stay up-to-date and blog, I found that the places I ended up in did not allow for easy access to the internet. This proved to be an interesting experience and reminded me of why I have always preferred pencil and paper games over their computer counter parts.

The vast majority of my week was taken up with spending time with friends, their families and their friends. I sat around tables, ate and got to know and catch-up with people face-to-face. Though I was briefly frustrated by the lack of access to the internet and the (non)utility of my laptop, this paled in comparison to the joy of being with all of the people I love.

One of the great parts of being in this hobby is the people I get to play with and interact with. As wonderful and awesome as the internet is, it just can't compare to being able to look someone in the eye.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

OD&D Magic Champions Style Part 10


These are the spells I removed from the Change Environment category:
Purify Food & Water [1]
Make poisoned and/or spoiled food & water safe to consume. Affects enough to feed up to 12 men.

Create Water [4]
Creates enough water for 12 men and their mounts. The quantity doubles for every caster level above 8.

Create Food [5]
Creates enough water for 12 men. The quantity doubles for every caster level above 8.


The only anomaly is the fact that Create Water specifically mentions mounts whereas Create Food does not. Interestingly, this is corrected in B/X. I will follow suit and assume Create Food also creates enough for mounts as well. Additionally, since some of the potential spells will be less than forth level, I am going to change the "doubles for every caster level above 8" to "+ caster level x2." This will approximate the same effect while allowing it to span across a wider range of caster levels.

Base spell: 1st level. Purify poisoned/spoiled food and water enough for 12 men.

The following add one spell level:
  • Quantity adds (caster level x2) men.
  • Quantity adds mounts.
  • Substitute "create water" for "purify poisoned/spoiled food and water."

The following add two spell levels:
  • Substitute "create food" for "purify poisoned/spoiled food and water."
Example spell Banquet
4th level spell. Create food (+2 levels) enough for 12 + (caster level x2) men (+1 level).