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We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

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I've put this blog on a brief hiatus. We had a bit of a health scare with one of our daughters at the end of October, requiring a hospital stay. We're past the immediate crisis. I'm playing catch-up in my life, including a research paper that I need to book some solid time on.

Hoping to resume posting in another week or two, we'll see.

Child and Adolescent Protagonists in RPGs

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I'm working my way through season 2 of Netflix's Stranger Things. I've commented previously that one of the things I find fascinating about the show is I was the same age as the characters at the time the show takes place - in fall of 1983 I was 12, just like the characters on the show.

With an 12-year old with a massive taste for reading (some very advanced stuff), I've had cause to reread It to make sure I was able to discuss it with her. It's caused me to reflect on the amount of fiction, film, etc. where some or all of the protagonists are children - preadolescents to adolescents. Just from media consumed in the past few months I can think of:

The main protagonists of Stranger ThingsThe Losers' Club of ItEllie in The Last of UsMark Petrie of Salems' LotBuffy the Vampire Slayer (Seasons 1-3) I'm also contemplating the overlap of these with young adult fiction - both feature children - typically of early to mid adolescence - while young adult fiction …

Trying to Grok Champions

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With the release of the new Golden Age Champions, at some point in my future there's a Golden Age superhero campaign (not this calendar year though - still adventures to do in Hyperborea). Though much of the writing and art of the Golden Age of comics is extremely juvenile (with a much younger audience in mind), I've always liked many of the "big ideas" of the era. I'd love at some point to do a game that establishes a superhero universe from the start.

I'd like to get a good campaign going with Champions itself - the Hero System, of which Champions is a part of, is one of those games that have been on my bucket list for some time. One additional hindrance to me is given I use Roll20 for gaming nowadays and there's only a basic Hero System sheet there. Mind you there's none for our current game of Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea at all, though I sometimes think of trying to tweak an AD&D sheet into one. My hunch is I'll want…

On Realizing the 1980s Have Become a Historical Setting

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Back in my day we didn't have cell phones or text messages or Snapchat. If you wanted to make plans with someone you called their house, maybe asked their parents or siblings to get them on the phone. And you had to plan out where and when to meet like you were planning an amphibious assault. And we liked it. We loved it!

I've been looking through some old 1980s games, either old ones from my collection or new acquisitions. I've realized if I were to, for example, play a game of 1st edition Chill or Top Secret, my inclination would be to run it as a historical game as opposed to running it in the present. Chill has a modern day 3rd edition and a new, modern day version of Top Secret is being made. But to me, those classic games really feel rooted in the eras in which they were made. That's not to say they couldn't be adapted to modern times - and Chill would also work great as a Victorian-era game.

Not all games from that era scream their time periods as much. For…

Chill 1st Edition First Impressions

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It's very strange doing a "first impressions" type of review of a game from 1984 but Chill was one of those games that I never managed to get ahold of when it first came out. I remember the numerous advertisements in Dragon magazine at the time for Pacesetter Ltd. RPGs - they all looked interesting to me but alas, my middle and high school funds to did not allow me to pick them up. Though for some reason I was sorely tempted to splurge on Chill so I could get the Elvira adventure compilation. I suspect puberty may have had something to do with that...


I've recently had the opportunity go through the original game. It's definitely an old-school game, based around percentile-based ability scores and skills. There are two types of task rolls, general and specific checks. A general check is a straight percentile roll, looking to roll equal to or below your stat. With a specific roll you do a lookup on a table to see how well you did, using your margin of success to …

Saltmarsh in Hyperborea

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In our Hyperborean campaign I've been adapting the AD&D 1st edition Saltmarsh series for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

There's spoilers here for the entire series so if you're unfamiliar with the adventures and have reason to want to stay that way, you might want to hold off reading.

Alrighty... So the Saltmarsh series is marked by a series of discoveries:

A "haunted" house is being used by smugglers.Those smugglers have been selling weapons to a group of lizard men alarmingly close to Saltmarsh. The lizard men were kicked out of their original lair by sahuagin. Who also pose a threat to Saltmarsh...The lizard men have been assembling an alliance of aquatic folk against the sahuagin. So how does this fit in Hyperborea? With its long winters, Hyperborea is a horrible place for cold blooded creatures like the lizard men. I posit they must go into a long torpor as their swamps freeze over. 
In the current 13-year cycle, these lizard men ha…

Adventure Writeup: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh Part Two

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Based on the TSR adventure of the same name written by Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull. Tweaked to fit in the Hyperborean setting.

Year 576 (Tempest), Month II, Day 26
Cast of characters:

Aaron Cèampach, Kelt WarlockHoom Feethos, Hyberbrean ThiefMorrow, Pict DruidSaratos Ochôziakos, Ixian FighterSarukê thugatêrOchôziakos, Ixian WitchWilliam "Billy" Welsh - Common Human PyromancerHenchmen hired by Saratos and Sarukê:


Tai, Medium InfantrymanZell, Heavy Infantryman
Random tied-up dude found in the upper floor of the house: Ned Shakeshaft, "thief" (or is he?)
See also Part One.
Peeking their heads up in the attic the adventurers didn't find anything of interest (and in so doing, avoided a nest of stirges hiding up there) and went down to the basement. The basement was a wine cellar, though alas all the bottles and casks were broken. Investigating a dead body, Tai was infested by a rot grub which, despite Billy's pyromancy, proceeded to kill him. Searching further, they…