Archive for the ‘RPG/War Gaming’ Category

Isil and the Goblins

Posted: January 1, 2015 in RPG/War Gaming

Last night I ran my two oldest children in a Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game adventure as we awaited the new year. It was … entertaining. Below is an account written to describe one of the encounters during the adventure.

Isil and the Goblins

There’s probably no figure of the southlands more interestingly infamous than Isil the Elf Maid. She was an escaped elven slave who managed to make her way to the southern frontier and plied her trade as a liberator of other people’s property. At some point she decided to become an adventurer. Some venerate her as a hero. Other’s merely consider her simply the luckiest crazy elf to swing a blade (or pick a lock) in the southern frontier. A classic example is the story of her first encounter with goblins during her first exploration.

To set that stage, she and two companions found a ruined fortress and discovered a stairway leading down into the underground portion of the ancient ruin. Their first encounter, which I shall gloss over, was with a group of Stirges. For those unfamiliar, the Stirge is a large, leathery birdlike creature with a long proboscis. They attack their pray much like mosquitos, by latching onto the victim and sucking the blood from them. In short, the small party was victorious. However, rather than destroying the Stirge nests, Isil took two Stirge chicks with a view to raising them and seeing if they could be trained. That alone should give you some insight into the personality and character of Isil the elf.

A bit later in the exploration of the dungeon the group of intrepid adventurers found themselves in a long corridor. Isis the elf maiden decided to set off down the corridor at full speed, leaving her two companions behind. It’s interesting to note that the two other members of her party didn’t attempt to stop her. The human warrior looked at his remaining companion and said, “You know, I’m not sure she’s all there.” The elven fighter/mage simply shrugged and the two continued down the hall at a normal rate of travel.

Meanwhile Isil had rounded a corner and seeing a door before her and launched herself at it what would have been an amazing leaping kick had she not rebounded off the door and landed flat on the ground. The two other members of her party rounded the corner in time to see her picking herself up off the ground. Without even a sheepish grin Isil walked up to the door and tried the latch. Finding it opened easily she flung the door aside and leapt into the room. This is where she was confronted by four goblins.

Obviously the goblins where not surprised by the elf as they’d just heard her smash into the door. What Isil did as her companions came up to offer their aid, however, was surprising. As her other elven companion hurled a dagger past her head, and incidentally struck and killed one of the goblins, Isil began frothing at the mouth and with wild eyes shouted, “I have come to devour your souls!” She then threw one of her Stirge chicks at the goblins. Two things happened at this point: Firstly, the Stirge chick was killed instantly and secondly, the goblin which it struck fainted from fright. The remaining two goblins were now completely terrified. From their perspective a powerful and crazy elf had just sucked the soul from their companion. Before either of them could react, however, the Human warrior stepped in and dispatched one of them with his long sword. The remaining goblin screamed in terror and ran off into the darkness.

Isil now proceeded to bind the unconscious goblin and having completed that task, roused it. The goblin was completely beside itself in fear but Isil engaged it in conversation and discovered the disposition of the dungeon and its denizens. After the exchange the goblin was sure the crazy elf was going to kill it but Isil simply unbound him and set him free pointing him in the direction his companion had fled. The goblin backed away in terror until he felt he was a safe distance from the elf, then turning around followed the first goblin also issuing a blood curdling scream.

And that is the story of Isil and Goblins.



In the mid 80’s I cut my Role-Playing teeth on Dungeons & Dragons. It wasn’t until 1988 or 89 that I discovered GURPS at Games Unlimited in Concord, California. It remains one of my favorite Role-Playing Games of all time. GURPS stands for Generic Universal Role-Playing System and, in my opinion, lives up to the name. Using the system I’ve played high fantasy, low fantasy, sci-fi, wild west, swashbuckling pirates, super heroes, and the list goes on. I run into people frequently who seem to despise GURPS. I don’t really understand why. I hear their rants, smile, nod, and promptly forget them. (So, if you’re one of the GURPS haters, please feel free to no post a reply. I really don’t care.) The purpose of this post is not to convince non-RPGers to play, nor to convince non-GURPS players to try it (thought that would be cool). It’s my blog, and I’ve been re-reading GURPS Fantasy 4th Ed. and I just wanted to write about the game. As I said, it’s my blog, and honestly I really don’t care if no one reads it…so there.

Where was I? Oh yea. GURPS is a game that allows players to try any genre imaginable. GURPS is a creative GM’s dream come true. As I mentioned above, the impetus to this article was my re-reading of the GURPS Fantasy supplement. Frankly, I’ve always had more fun creating worlds than running adventures in them. I have over twenty fully formed worlds that have never seen game play. I pull them out every once in a while, just to read through them, gaze at the maps and occasionally, rarely to make adjustments. These are my worlds. I made them. For my own good pleasure.

As a rabbit trail, I happen to be a Christian of the Evangelical Calvinist persuasion. This concept of creating a world simply for my pleasure happens to also be entirely in keeping with my theological view of God, the Cosmos, Reality, and humanity’s relationship to all of the above.

As previously stated, GURPS is a creative GMs dream. The 4th edition Fantasy supplement does for the Fantasy game what even the 3rd ed. Space supplement did for Sci-Fi. Inside it’s leaves is a robust guide to creating a fantasy world that makes sense. I’ve read (and written) an innumerable amount of articles and pdf booklets on the topic of fantasy world building. GURPS Fantasy 4th Ed. combines most of that into one neat package. I’ll add that GURPS Space does the same for Sci-Fi. And the plethora of books and online resources is absolutely amazing.

While GURPS doesn’t hold for me the same nostalgia that D&D and AD&D 1E do, it is still by far one of my favorite RPG systems.

Finding RPG Gaming Groups

Posted: April 28, 2014 in RPG/War Gaming

The following post grew out of and is largely in response to a forum post I was replying to. I realized my answer was getting a bit long winded, so I thought I’d spare the original poster my verbosity and instead inflict it on the world at large. The question I was replying to was, “What do you want to see in a [online] gaming advert to get your interest?”


The one time (so far) that an online presence lead to an IRL gaming session was because someone PM’d me.

I’m currently engaged in preliminary conversation on It was a more generic add, mentioning a specific system but indicating the flavor of the game was more important. The things which drew me into the add were 1) Location 2) Feel of the game/add/idea (in this case, classic/vintage gaming) and 3) Openness to a different rules system.

But that’s just me.

The way I’ve typically found players was by volunteering to host a game at a local small gaming con. A couple years back approached an organizer with the idea of running an AD&D 1st Ed. game just to demonstrate some of the roots of where our modern systems came from. They loved the idea and I had two sessions scheduled. I got a chance to introduce a bunch of college kids to the (near) beginning of modern gaming and they loved it (not to mention a few older folk like me who were excited to wallow in some nostalgia). Out of that my regular gaming group was born. Since it’s rather hard to get AD&D 1st Ed. books, we opted to use Basic Fantasy Role-Playing which feels more like Basic/Expert D&D. Again, these younger folk who normally play games like Pathfinder loved the feel of Old-School Gaming (OSG). And BFRPG has enough official support as well as a sizable player community providing new materials vis a vis classes, optional rules, and adventures that my players didn’t feel like they were stuck on a dead end road.

Now that I’ve moved I find myself needing to start all over again. While I haven’t started or joined a group yet, a chance encounter has netted me a new friend who’s also a gamer and we’re just trying to get the ball rolling. Looking at the add board on has started another conversation which might prove fruitful. Last weekend I visited a few gaming shops in my area and tried to make some connections.

We’ll see how things go.


I love the paperless office concept. Both in business and personal life I have made a concerted effort to reduce the amount of physical paper I use, instead opting for electronic notes. To make this work it is necessary to have some excellent computing tools. One of my favorite is Evernote. This app, available on just about every platform but Linux (and for that there are a couple pretty good third party apps which synch with the official Evernote tool), has been an invaluable asset in the paperless front. This is not, however, an add for Evernote. Rather it’s an observation of a paperless limitation I have found, at least in my own life.

Last month I attempted to run my Basic Fantasy RPG campaign paperless. I downloaded all my maps, charts, tables, adventure path, etc. to my iPad. Between Evernote and Google Drive I had every scrap of paper I normally employ converted to electrons. The result was less than stellar. Sure my table top behind my GM screen looked neater, but it took much longer for me to flip back and forth between my maps, tables, and adventure path on the iPad than it did with paper. There were delays in the game while I fumbled with the interface to bring up the correct document.

Now I’ll admit that perhaps the difficulties were because I was doing things in a new way. It could be that I just wasn’t used to running a game from a paperless platform. As appealing as the paperless concept is, it does have its limitations. Perhaps it could have worked better if I’d had my actual multi-screen computer setup rather than a small iPad. Be that as it may, I think I’ll have to settle for a “reduced” paper system when it comes to my RPG games. Somethings are just quicker and easier in hard copy than via electrons … at least for now.


Over the years I have developed countless campaign worlds for role-playing games. When constructing a new campaign world I almost invariably start with two things: geography and religion. These two things shape culture and history even in our own “real” world. Geography impresses upon the people who dwell there a certain framework. They plant the seeds of religion as the people seek to explain the world around them. Geography and religion combine to further forge a society as people groups seek to overcome and subdue their surrounds.

When I seek to create a new campaign setting, the first question I ask (and attempt to answer) is, “where is this located”. Sometimes I envision the big picture, creating a whole galaxy and drilling down to a single star, planet, continent, region, etc. Other settings are begun at microscopic level with a single valley, mountain range, island, etc. Some of my favorite resources for fantasy world building have been GURPS: Fantasy (4th Ed), A Magical Society: Guide to Mapping, and the World Builder’s Guidebook (TSR – 2nd Ed. AD&D). 

After the maps are drawn I begin thinking about the races. Which one’s occupy the world (or are currently known)? Where did they start from? How did they get here? What do they believe? Personally, I find it easier to begin with the major non-human races and tackle human societies last. There are a myriad of ways of tackling faith systems. Sometimes I dive right in and start creating deities and allow the creation and myth and religious structures to form out of the pantheon. Other times I start with the creation myth and form the specific deities or powers as the story evolves. In either case, the geography is going to help influence the religious landscape. For example, a society that inhabits an inland plain probably won’t have a sea deity, whereas an island based people might venerate a sea god above all others. Again some resources I’ve found helpful in the creation of pantheons and religious systems is the World Builder’s Guide (mentioned above), Deities & Demigods (TSR – 1st ed. AD&D), and GURPS Religion.

For the current game world I’m developing I’ve chosen to start with the Elven people. I’m basing their religion on the Japanese Shinto mythos. I had originally thought to base their religion on basic animism, but wanted greater points of focus to make their story more interesting and give those playing elven clerics an anchor point. I thought first of basing it on Native American mythos (particularly that of the plains tribes) but decided ultimately to use the Shinto faith as my foundation. Once I finish the background for the elves of this new world I’ll post it to my Scribd account and provide a link here. 

GameFest Pictures

Posted: March 3, 2013 in RPG/War Gaming

Here’s a link to some pictures from my experience at this years’s GameFest (I hope the link works).

Adventuring and Beyond

Posted: March 3, 2013 in RPG/War Gaming


Yesterday my eldest daughter and I spent the day at the Kearney Area Game Fest. It is Central Nebraska’s FREE (and in my opinion Premier) game convention. I’ve had the privilege of attending for three years now and running events in the last two. I’ve run into quite a few folks who operated under the misconception that a gaming convention was a gambling event. The Kearney Area Game Fest is an event where people enjoy board games, table-top war/strategy games, collectible card games and role-playing games.

This year I’m running two separate gaming events. One using the Basic Fantasy Role-playing Game rules, another using the OSRIC system. Both are published under the Open Gaming license and freely available online. I enjoy open source software and open gaming license games. On the last Saturday of the month I run a campaign using the BFRPG rules at the Troll’s Den, a local gaming store.

I’ll post some pictures, hopefully later today, from my experiences at the game convention.