Archive for July, 2011


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MAUL rpg rules


Here is a MS works document that may be easier to read than the post.

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I was reared in the home of a Southern Baptist pastor, which means that I was taught to be a Young Earth Creationist Rapture Bunny.  Unlike some “PK’s”, however, rather than rejecting the worldview of my dad, I have more fully embraced (most of) it.  For years, I described myself as a “Staunch Southern Baptist, and Devout Republican”; although, thanks to reading www.lewrockwell.com , I have moved, politically, to the Anarcho-Austrian position (thanks for making me even more of a societal freak, Lew).  To sum up, my religious/political beliefs are as follows:

Religiously, I believe that God is real; that He is the Infinite Creator God (that is, He had no cause; He is the uncaused Cause), Who created the universe by speaking it into existence;  that the man Jesus of Nazareth was a historical person Who, in fact, is God’s Son, the second Person of the Trinity, and that He suffered a humiliating death on a Roman cross in payment of mankind’s debt to God; that it is historical fact that Jesus rose again from the dead three days after His crucifixion, which is evidence that His sacrifice was accepted, and that His story is true;  I believe that for anyone to have a right relationship with the Infinite Creator God, he must place his trust in Jesus by faith, believe that Jesus died for his sins and paid the penalty he owes to God, accept Jesus’ righteousness in place of his own sinfulness, and accept Jesus’ lordship over his life; that salvation is more than a free ticket to heaven–it is the pursuit of a relationship with God based on faith and resulting in the righteous life He is crafting you to live; that Jesus will one day soon return, first for His church with the Rapture event, and then again at His second coming, at which time He will judge the world. 

Politically, I believe that “that government is best which governs least”, taken to the logical conclusion that the best-governed society is one in which there is no formal government at all; that societal chaos is not forestalled by a formal government, but is rather exacerbated by it; that people, though sinful, have incentives apart from government to peacefully cooperate with each other; that the free market is the only legitimate arena for establishing a free and moral society; that justice is best handled by ad hoc private arbitration tribunals; that morality is the provence of the Family and the Church, and that they are the only two institutions capable of effecting a moral society; that government seeks ever to undermine the legitimate non-coercive authority of the Church and the Family, which are institutions to which a person may have loyalties above that given to government.

Ok, now for attitudes toward, and beliefs about, Dungeons & Dragons, with which I part ways with my Southern Baptist brethren.  There are a lot of myths about D&D (which I use as shorthand for fantasy role-playing games in general) which are capably handled by the Escapist (http://www.theescapist.com/ ; check out especially his take on Harry Potter and D&D being able to teach children how to cast “real” magic spells).  There is a tract that was published in the 1980’s by Chick publications (who make very entertaining tracts), called “Dark Dungeons”, which captures the essence of all arguments against the game; reading this tract will give one a basic understanding of the religious arguments (not “Christian arguments”; the arguments presented are legalistic rather than grace-oriented) against playing D&D.  It’s one of the most parodied Christian tracts, as I understand it.  All of it (except the part that exhorts one to trust in Christ, of course) is balderdash.  In short, D&D does not teach players how to cast occult magic spells, players are less likely to commit suicide than the populace at large (and there has been no documented case of a D&D player actually killing himself on account of the game), players do not confuse their real identities with that of their characters’, and the game does not encourage players to have their characters indulge in various acts of villainy.  Unfortunately, the perception that D&D is an activity primarily for “nerds” is more or less true, although with such institutions as “World of Warcraft”, this perception does not reflect reality as much as it did a few years ago.  The point is, that D&D is not a nefarious introduction into the occult or satan worship.  It is a set of rules for engaging in one of the oldest human forms of entertainment: telling a story.  The difference is that the D&D story is a collective one; each person gets to participate in some way rather than passively listening to someone else tell the whole story.  There are various arguments about how Roleplaying Games are actually beneficial to a child’s growth and education; you may read those on The Escapist’s blog (www.theescapist.com).  I will simply say that, if one does not allow the game to consume them, then it’s an entertaining, ultimately harmless hobby that does not deserve the censure that some Christians lay on it, especially Christians who are themselves consumed by, say, college sports or politics (yeah, dressing up like an elf may be ridiculous, but no more so than painting one’s self red and grey or wearing a large piece of foam resembling a wedge of cheese atop one’s head).  My father-in-law (a missionary to Africa for 25 years) summed up pretty well the situation of a Christian who likes to play Dungeons & Dragons: “To the pure, all things are pure.” (Titus 1:15).

Addendum:  The first time I ever heard the phrase “Dungeons & Dragons” was in a commercial for a hand-held electronic device that was advertised on television (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uY2OI7sVHjQ , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYTuP2ijLoA&feature=related ), which I remember seeing while visiting my grandmother.  I don’t know why she brought it up, but she informed me that someone had committed suicide because their character died while playing “Dungeons & Dragons” (again, which I associated with this hand-held device).  I agreed with her that that person, whoever he was, was silly for doing such a thing.

Fast forward several years, to high school, where one of my fellow students was into D&D.  We discussed the game to some extent, and he rolled up a character sheet for me (paladin, with a shield named “Dexter” and a sword named “Sinister”, which he insisted that my character had stripped off a dead body, rather than having inherited it, as I wanted).  I didn’t understand what all the numbers meant, but I never got a chance to actually play.  My mom found out, and she was decidedly unimpressed with the game.

So, several years later, I buy a Dungeons and Dragons game, finally.  Only, it’s not the tabletop rules, but is rather the game “Baldur’s Gate”.  That’s as close as I get for another 10 years or so, until D&D 4th Edition is released, and I actually purchased the Core Rule books, as well as the Starter Set.  Then, I buy almost all of the “Essentials Line”, and prefer them to the core rules.  I play this with my children, who enjoy it.  The emphasis in 4th Edition on the nostalgia of the game leads me to seek out the rules for the original game, which can be purchased for quite a bit of money on ebay et al., or can be acquired free of charge through one of the “retroclones” available online.  “Swords & Wizardry: White Box” emulates the Original 1974 game, “Dark Dungeons” emulates the so-called BECMI version, “Labyrinth Lords” emulates the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules (I think), and there are others, as well.  I really like the “Microlite74” rules, which try to capture the feel of the original game rather than an exact set of rules.

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Playing Microlite74

I really like these rules.  I posted this over at the Microlite20 Forum:

Ok, so I ran another game with two of the rugrats just now.  New characters:
Nenck: a halfling, Stats: STR 10, DEX 14, MIND 10, 12 HP
Chek: a fighter, Stats: STR 12, DEX, 13, MIND 7, 12 HP

For a dungeon map, I used the first Underworld map from Legend of Zelda.

The two adventurers were approached by an elderly gentleman at Floyd’s Coffeehouse (a gathering place for adventurers), who offered to sell them a treasure map for 50 gold pieces.  They had only 10 gold pieces between them, so he agreed to accept an up-front payment of 10 gold pieces, plus 100 gold pieces from the treasure when they returned.

Each sold his vial of holy water in order to afford henchmen; they hired four men-at-arms with the proceeds (whose names were Ace, Bret, Cody, and Dale).  They entered the dungeon, noted that the door to the north was locked, and so peered into the rooms to the west (nothing but bats in here) and east (skeletons!).  After a hard-fought battle with 5 skeletons, they found a key, and opened and passed through the door to the north.  More skeletons, and a near fatal battle followed.  Three dead henchmen, and Chek down to 9 strength from the damage he sustained.  They were able to scrounge enough cash to head back to town to recuperate–for two weeks.  So, back to zippo money, they had to return to the dungeon without hirelings.  More skeletons, then a room that appeared to have a weak northern wall.  Using their grappling hook, they pulled some of the stonework away.  They gathered bones from the recent fight and used them to build a fire in the gap in the wall (doused the bones with oil from flasks and set the whole mess aflame) to weaken it further, then used a crowbar to break through to the next room.  Kobolds were here, slinging stones.  The adventurers killed two kobolds, and the third surrendered.  Nenck found a sling, which he decided to use rather than the short sword he was currently wielding.  They found a map of the dungeon, which had a big “X” enscribe on one section, and some curious indecipherable writing on another section.  After a lengthy discussion, Chek’s argument to check out the latter area won out, and, after another short battle with kobolds (one was killed, and the other two surrendered), they moved to the room in question.  Sensing that something was wrong, Chek prodded through the door with his 10 foot pole.  SNAP! there was a trap which they had to hurry past while it reset itself.  Descending to a basement, they discovered a magic bow.  They then finally made their way to the part of the dungeon marked with an “X”.  In the antechamber, they faced off with a dragonish creature (a re-skinned gargoyle with a fire breath attack).  The fight was short and sweet, and they finally got to the treasure room, which sported a large treasure chest.  Using a key they found on the dragon’s body, they unlocked the chest and carefully prodded it open with the 10 foot pole.  No traps this time.  Unfortunately, peering inside, they found no treaure, either.  There was a note, signed by one “Black Bart the Adventurer”, which stated simply, “Ha Ha! I got here first!”.

Sad of heart, they made their way back to the coffeehouse, where they met again with the old gentleman, who was in a surprisingly jovial mood.  It turned out that he was “Black Bart”, and he was enjoying having played a (rather cruel) practical joke on them.  In recompense, he offered them 100 gold pieces each.

With 20 XP apiece, they are ready to head to the Adventurers’ Guild to train to level 2.

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