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Showing posts from September, 2023

Name Your Sessions Afterwards

I picked up on a conversation about whether you (the GM) should tell your players the title of the adventure they are entering. Some adventure titles include spoilers. The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is an adventure title you can tell your players. It's even enticing. They will want to discover what the secret is. Shadows over Bögenhafen is another that does no harm if they players hear it beforehand. Both of these titles just give some setting information and then tell you there's something spooky happening. Night's Dark Terror is one of the great modules, but the name is among the most boring. Still, it's safe to share. (If I was a player and I heard that was the name of my current adventure, I would assume that it was about vampires.) A title like Shrine of the Kuo-Toa tells them too much. They know there's a shrine and they know the creatures that inhabit it. Dwellers of the Forbidden City tells you exactly what's coming. If you run Mi-Go A-Go-Go for

The First Rumor Tables, Part 2: Caverns of Thracia or Caverns of Quasqueton?

My last post (yesterday) stated that the earliest known "rumor table" in a role-playing game module was the one in Mike Carr's B1 In Search of the Unknown , which featured the dungeon known as The Caverns of Quasqueton. Read that other post first to understand this one. Paleologos left a comment there pointing out that Judges Guild 102 The Caverns of Thracia had a rumor table, too. I have read that module but I never knew it in the old days. So, I took a closer look. Now it gets interesting. We have a tiny mystery here, folks. The Caverns of Thracia was published in 1979 (not 1980 as the friendly commenter wrote). It was early enough in 1979 that a second printing was called for in the same year . But the weird thing is that the rumor table in Thracia is structured exactly like the one in B1. It explains, under the heading "The Taverns of Thracia" (ha ha), that you roll 1d4 and determine whether the player gets 1, 2, 3, or 0 rumors. Then you roll 1d20 per r

The First Rumor Tables

Role-playing game modules that emulate a putative "old school" often include tables of rumors that the referee can give out to the players. Rumors are a fun way to convey setting information and hints that motivate players to explore and form goals. Where did the rumor table begin? It wasn't part of original D&D. It was never a part of the rules themselves. Rumor tables came with modules . The first modules are from 1975 ("The Temple of the Frog" in Arneson's Blackmoor supplement to OD&D) and 1976 ("The Palace of the Vampire Queen" by third party Wee Warriors; "The Tomb of F'Cherlak" by Jaquays in Dungeoneer magazine). Early tournament scenarios used at conventions were also one of the main bases for early modules. These earliest published dungeons didn't have rumor tables. The earliest example of a rumor table I can think of is from the module B1, "In Search of the Unknown," by Mike Carr. It was originally prod

Hexmaps and Random Encounters before D&D

Hex maps for boardgames apparently began with Agon , London 1842. Hexagonal chess was invented in Poland in 1936. The board wargame was invented in 1953, published in 1954 as Tactics by Avalon Hill. Now you did not need large numbers of figurines and terrain to simulate wars on your tabletop. You just had to buy a kit made of cardboard pieces, a complete game delivering a specific experience varying somewhat with replay. More affordable, quicker setup, fixed playtested rules, no need for a referee. The point of these games was to win against one or more opponents. The first hexmap board for a wargame was the second edition of Gettysburg , 1961. Its publisher, Avalon Hill, made many games with hexmap boards from then on. (The original Gettysburg game of 1958 had a square gridmap. In July 1, 1964, the Avalon Hill newsletter The General quipped in a headline that “Hex Version Was Hexed” and that they would renew the original.) An advantage of hex maps was that random movement o