Archive for August, 2011

Off Topic: The downfall of Brueggers

Nothing new happening on the game front these past 2 weeks, games have been on hold for various reasons. In the mean time, I’ve got a complaint. When I was growing up, Bruegger’s Bagels was a fixture of the local community. As elementary school students, we went on a field trip to see how bagels are made. Over the years, weekly purchases of a dozen bagels was nearly a tradition. Some of the best breakfasts you could buy were from Bruegger’s, and always a nice clean place, with friendly employees and a delicious smell.

As life moved on and I moved about, I stopped going to Bruegger’s (also, I moved to an area with less of them around). So today when I was looking for some breakfast, and passed a Bruegger’s, all of those nostalgic, overly rosy memories came back and I stopped inside. It was a disaster. To start with, it didn’t smell like baked goods. Instead, the inside smelled like any other sterile generic food joint that you can find with your eyes closed. An odd mixture of corporate approved air freshener and lemon cleaner. Then the service was awful. I wasn’t even sure the person taking our order was listening to us until he started grabbing our food. He didn’t look at us, barely said a word, and never acknowledged a thing we said. The cashier wasn’t much better. Here’s a hint employees, when I ask how you are today, I’m not just talking to hear myself talk.

And then there were the prices. Breakfast for two people, an egg, cheese and turkey sausage bagel and 1 bagel with cream cheese, an iced tea and a milk cost over $10. More than $10 for something that when I was a kid might have just barely broken $6. Even worse than all of that was the food itself. Tasteless bagels, the same rubbery (possibly reconstituted) egg and soggy sausage from a steam bin that you get at any generic fast food restaurant, cheese that just barely had taste, cream cheese that was bland (and globbed on rather than spread) and lousy drinks. In less than 15 minutes, all of my fondness for Bruegger’s was crushed under the weight of corporate compromise.

What went wrong Bruegger’s? Was it your decision to lose focus on your core competency and start serving “panninis” and other generic crap? Was it some misplaced desire to cut costs by serving generic fast food swill? What happened that turned Bruegger’s from a local staple with quality food to just another generic fast food place? I don’t know, but apparently I’m not the only one who’s noticed. A google search for “Bruegger’s going downhill” turns up a number of reviews and comments that this appears to be happening across the country. What I do know is that I won’t be going back to Bruegger’s again, a sad end to a great place.

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Using Game Master to Run a Game

Friday night was the first time I had a chance to run a game using my Game Master software. We ran Level 1 of Dyson’s Delve with a party of 3 characters, a Dwarven Fighter, a Halfling Cleric and an Elven Mage (yes, I know that violates some class / race restrictions, but I’m the GM and I say it’s all good). Prep for game was pretty easy. I started with a new .dungeon file for each level of the Delve, and a new area for each numbered room in the delve. Flavor text and player knowledge goes in the yellow description box, while notes about traps, treasures and other non player knowledge goes in the green GM notes box. Monster stat blocks and the individual HPs are tracked in the blue box, and overarching information like wandering monster charts, general level info and session XP / GP totals go in the pink box. Of course, nothing prevents you from filling in anything into any box, but that was the intended layout when I wrote the program.

Running the game went fairly smoothly. Most of the information I needed was always in that one screen, the only exception being the map itself, which I just kept open in another window. I did notice that despite the default size setting, Game Master definitely works best run at full screen. I plan to implement a new version in the future that takes advantage of the full screen capabilities of Lion. So what needs to change? Well, one thing I did notice was a need for some scratch space. In theory I could probably use the general notes section at the bottom to include notes on for example how many rounds before the zombie isn’t turned  and how many turns have elapsed for that torch, but for some reason I found myself simply using extra dice as counters. I’m thinking about possibly implementing a round/turn counter program, that would let you tick by the rounds or turns and allow you to set up flags for items.

Other than that though, the Game Master program worked well, as it should have, given that I wrote it for my work flow, so I officially declare Game Master a rousing success.

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Monster of the Day: Corpse Crow

Inspired by a creature in InuYasha, the corpse crow would probably make a great addition to your next undead / horror encounter.

Corpse Crow

Hit Dice: 1
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Attacks: Bite (1d6), Burrow (1d4)
Saving Throw: 17
Special: Possession (see below), Immunities
Move: 4/18 (flying)
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 5/240

Though not very tough, these creatures of nightmares are deadly foes and not to be taken lightly. Corpse crows survive by feasting on the corpses of their victims. A hit from a crow requires a saving throw to avoid having the crow burrow into the victim’s chest, consuming the heart. It will take a corpse crow 1 round per level or HD of the victim to burrow to the heart, and the burrowing can only be stopped by killing the crow. If the crow completes its painful advance or kills its victim before completion, the corpse crow gains possession and control over the victim’s body at half HP and -2 to attacks. If the body a corpse crow inhabits is destroyed, the crow will escape the body and seek a new victim.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License except where included material is licensed under the OGL in which case that material remains licensed under the OGL.

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Rate of Fire in Swords and Wizardry

My post yesterday regarding repeating crossbows got me thinking about the rate of fire rules in S&W and  two things came to my mind. The first is the questions of when should additional attacks occur for missiles? If we look at S&W, a combat round is supposed to be 1 minute long, and if you’re using Option 1 combat, is divided into 3 main segments: Winning Initiative, Losing Initiative and Held Initiative. Each of these segments is probably then 20 seconds long give or take. Remember that RPGs are not combat simulators (unless they are designed for that, which OD&D and by extension S&W was not) so when your fighter gets his 1 attack it represents the culmination of a full minute of fighting, parrying and trading blows. Similarly, the initiative round when your character acts is not the only 20 seconds that he was active, but the 20 seconds where he or she, well … held the initiative. If you watch any fight or sparring, combat ebbs and flows and someone who was on the attack may be suddenly on the defense moments later, even if they’re still winning. The abstract initiative orders make that ebb and flow really come alive.

So that being the case, how does 2 or even 3 attacks in a round play into this? We could stack them all together in the same initiative segment, after all, I just said that 1 attack did not necessarily correspond to 1 swing of the sword, so it’s not unreasonable for all the attacks to occur in the same segment. On the other hand, I really like the simultaneous attacks / damage that some initiative systems allow for. So in my games, I ruled that for ranged weapons with multiple attacks, each attack occurs during a different initiative segment. In the case of two attacks, they always occur during the Winning the Losing Initiative phases, and in the case of 3 attacks, the third occurs in the held initiative segment. It does add a lot of book-keeping and it makes things a little more interesting.

If you read my post from yesterday though, you will have discovered the flaw in my perfect plan. While the basic S&W equipment list only includes weapons with a maximum of 3 firing per round fitting nicely into the 3 segment initiative, my new repeating crossbow allows 4 firings in a round. I think I’m just going to rule that the 4th attack occurs during the player’s initiative round. Like I said, it’s all abstract anyway.

Additionally this doesn’t apply to the multiple attacks that fighters get. My ruling on this is that fighters are a sort of whirling ball of death and so they get their multiple attacks all on their initiative segment.

Which segues nicely into the second thought that crossed my mind. Do fighters with multiple attacks get to do full firing volleys for each attack as well? That is, does a 3rd level fighter wielding a short bow vs 1HD creatures get 2 arrows off, 3, or 6? I’m tempted to say that the fighters multiple attacks only occur when he’s wielding a melee weapon, and otherwise is by the fire rate chart since the fire rate is in part a function of the weapon. On the other hand, fighters are indeed whirling balls of death, and given them the option to be Rambo with their short bows also gives them a reason to be more than just a big guy with a sword.

I’m not sure which way I want to go with this one. Anyone have any thoughts?

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