Cyclopedia + Forgotten Realms Original Set = Awesomeness

Doc Rotwang recently posted on his blog, I Waste The Buddha With My Crossbow: The Voices Are Whispering Their Strange Maths To Me, about using the most excellent D&D Rules Cyclopedia with the Forgotten Realms setting….from the original Boxed Set.

I loved that set….it was from a simpler time before the power escalation, Time of Troubles crap-fest. Don’t get me wrong, I liked playing Baldur’s Gate, but somehow the storyline that preceded it and all the canon material that’s been built up over the years is a bit much.

He goes on to flesh out some specifics  on what his game will be about.…Rotwang, always the master mixer, is bringin’ some Swashbuckling to Sembia. It sounds like a fun game. Thanks for the inspiration, good Doctor!

I’m setting up a game with my kids and grabbed those very materials….not so much for the rules really (my kids are 3 and 5), but more for inspiration (and pictures for the kids). We’ll be using some simpler, off-the-cuff rules in our game….and it looks like ours will feature pixies….I’ll be posting more on this later.


Back and Boston Herald Anti-gamer

And we’re back! I’ve been MIA for a few months really (wow it goes fast).  Between work, family, and a general high-level of entropy in my corner of the Universe, gaming just hasn’t been able to fit into my life of late (other than reading on odd blog here or there). That being said, we’ve turned a corner and a little bit of space has opened up…so we’ll snatch it and add some gaming back into the mix.

One of the topics that I read of late (in blog posts by The Ogre Lair Times and  Purple Pawn) was the “revelation” by Boston Herald staff writer Laurel J. Sweet that the U of Alabama shooter was a gamer….It seems equally coincidental that she also studied biology, watched TV, and wiped her own ass (sources close to the aledged shooter indicated that her ass-wiping activities dated back to childhood, but declined to be quoted as the investigation is ongoing and they were not authorized to speak with regard to said ass wiping), and voted for Barack Obama……all, subversive activities that obviously led to her murderous rampage. All sarcasm aside, I declare:

Shame on you, Boston Herald! You’ve sunk to tabloid status in my book. Any journalistic organization worth its grit wouldn’t have posted such a sensationalist piece, especially since there have been studies that refute any link to violent crime/suicide and role-playing games….other than to reduce them.


Roll-playing Redux

Almost two years ago, I posted a little rant on the use of the term “Roll-playing“. Yesterday, Gleichman included some debunking of its use as a part of his “Complexity series” (which I’ve been greatly enjoying). Anyway, I went back and read the post and thought that it might be worthy of reposting. It didn’t garner much interest two years ago, but it might now (what with the growth of my readership). So here it is.


Axe to Grind

Roll-playing – now how do you mean that?

It always irritates me when some-one uses the term “Roll-playing”. It is typically used to differentiate games that have a lot of crunch, have a gamist (GNS) agenda, or otherwise fail to fulfill some essential role-playing criteria of whomever is using the term. It is essentially a derisive term and I think it is a disservice to the gaming community for gamers to continue to use it. I mean, we’re all geeks….what do we mean by saying “Roll-play”, that “I’m a better geek than you are?” Jeeze, that’s what we need more of….

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Roll-Playing is a pun on the phrase ‘role-playing’ (as in role-playing game) for when character statistics and rolling dice (especially for combat) become more important than role-playing or telling a story. It generally is used to refer to hack-and-slash games such as Dungeons & Dragons. The use of the phrase “roll-playing” is generally considered to be derogatory, and snobbish.

It is also sometimes called ‘Rule-Playing,’ when the mechanical rules of the game become the most important part of the game.

If confronted with this, some users of the term will add caveats, “Dude, its not for me toSeinfeld say how you ought to play…I’m just describing a style of play that I don’t happen to care for…”. Its like saying “That’s so gay…..not that there’s anything wrong with that…”

Many people use the term seemingly unaware of the negative connotations associated with it (Stephen Chenault attempts to use it as a positive in the forward to the Castles & Crusades Players Hand Book, “Where Rollplaying and Role Playing Meet”). The fact of the matter remains that one would be hard pressed to find many who would stand by the statement, “I prefer Roll-playing over Role-playing”.

The term implies that somehow types of gaming that fall under the nebulous umbrella of Roll-playing don’t quite qualify as Role-playing or are an inferior types of Role-playing. What’s up with that? “I am the Uber-Geek! Behold my d20 and cringe in fear!”

Now, there will be some who think that I’m picking nits and there may be some truth to that. But I’m not just talking about someone knocking specific sub-types of gaming. I am talking about the precision of meaning, however.

What do they (oh, yes I’m talking about them) mean when they use the term “Roll-playing”. If not to be derisive, do they mean “games that use dice”, “games that provide a strong tactical focus”, “games that are rules-heavy”, “games that limit GM fiat”, “games with random-generation of characters, encounters, treasure…”, “games with a heavy combat focus”, “games that resolved social interactions, etc. mechanistically”, etc?

The point of using a buzzword is to make it immediately clear to your reader (or listener) what it is you mean. “Roll-play” doesn’t do that. Not by a long shot. So I wish they’d cut it out.

If you’re one of them…you know those guys who use the term “Roll-play” and don’t mean it in a bad way, please leave a comment that explains what it is that you do mean. And be precise! Who knows, I may be completely off my rocker…

~Adaen of Bridgewater

The Guild Companion

In my email today, I got my monthly notification that The Guild Companion is out. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Guild Companion is a free online publication that supports Rolemaster, HARP, MERP, and Spacemaster (all Iron Crown Enterprises products). Though submissions have been low for some time now, they keep chugging along. For a free, unaffiliated publication, I think they do rather well. If you’ve ever had any interest in those games, take a look. Lately, I’ve felt a little nostalgic for my Rolemaster/MERP days so I’m going to flip through the latest installment (#129) during my lunch.


Greetings from the Guild Companion,

The November issue (#129) is now available at

In this month’s issue, Dan Henry’s epic work on analysing the social
implications of Spell Law concludes with a look at Evil Mentalism,
plus we have two “alien” races in Rolemaster terms and new Bardic
items, plus musings from the Editor on Something Wicked and other

Best wishes,

Dr Nicholas HM Caldwell, CEng CITP MBCS FRMS
General Editor for The Guild Companion
Author: Mentalism Companion, GURPS Age of Napoleon, Construct
Companion, College of Magics, HARP Sci Fi

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