February 07, 2016

The size and weight of 10,000 gold pieces

I was reading this comic and, being an RPGer, I wondered, "Can 10,000 coins really fit in that bag? And wouldn't that weigh 1000 pounds under the old D&D rules?" So I had my daughter, the resident math genius, figure out if 10,000 coins could fit in a bag that size.

She estimated a coin would be about an inch in diameter and .25 inches thick, which would make a coin's volume be .25 x pi x (.5) squared. (Obviously, I haven't taken the time to figure out how to do math symbols in Blogger.) The volume of 10,000 coins would be 10,000 times that, which is about 1962.5 cubic inches.

The volume of a sphere is 4/3 x pi x (radius) cubed. So after plugging in the numbers and solving for the radius, we get 7.768 inches or a sphere about 15.5 inches in diameter, which happens to be about the size of the bag in the comic!

But the thousand pounds is obviously off. Doing some Googling, I found that AD&D2e changed the weight of coins so now 50 coins = 1 pound instead of 10 like before. That would make the bag in the comic weigh 200 pounds and, looking at historical weights of coins, that's pretty close to what they would weigh.

Hagar must be amazingly strong (as strong as Hercules?) to lift that 200 pound bag of 10,000 coins with one hand!

How do you handle the weight of coins in your game?

February 05, 2016

Sourcebooks and fluff

I have a strange love/hate relationship with sourcebooks. I like cool new ideas, whether those ideas are rules ideas or adventure ideas. However, I don't like fluff. What's fluff? It's different for everybody but for me it's setting information that doesn't directly affect play. For example, I don't really care about the history of a setting unless that history is repeating itself somehow.

I traded for a bunch of sourcebooks recently and got the following (mostly AD&D 2e but the Survival Guides are AD&D 1e):

The Castle Guide
The City of Ravens Bluff
The Complete Book of Elves
The Complete Fighter's Handbook
The Complete Priest's Handbook
The Complete Ranger's Handbook
The Complete Thief's Handbook
The Complete Wizard's Handbook
Demihuman Deities
Dragons of Triumph
Dungeoneer's Survival Guide
Faiths & Avatars
Monster Mythology
Powers & Pantheons
Tome of Magic
Wilderness Survival Guide
Wizards and Rogues of the Realms

I did some cursory skimming of The City of Raven's Bluff. It's almost entirely a setting book and there's a ton of history in there that doesn't look like it affects current adventure hooks at all. I'm hoping I'm wrong and there'll be tons of adventure hooks that jump out at me when I read it in detail but i have a lot of reading to do and I thought I could ask for your help here.

What is fluff to you? Have  read the books above? Are they full of fluff or full of cool ideas? What are some examples of sourcebooks that you have read that are the best at being full of cool ideas? What are some examples of those are full of fluff in your opinion? What are you looking for in a sourcebook?

January 26, 2016

Basic Fantasy review

Basic Fantasy just turned 10 years old a few days ago. It's an amazing RPG that emulates classic B/X D&D but not strictly. For example, it uses ascending AC, which is really easy to convert from D&D modules: just subtract the D&D AC from 20 and that's the new Basic Fantasy AC. Also, it divides race from class so now you can be a dwarf thief or a halfling fighter if you like. There are a few other differences but pretty much everything else is classic B/X D&D and I love the simplicity. I love the flexibility and the race divided from class adds to the flexibility.

I've run D&D modules and AD&D modules with Basic Fantasy just fine. There also a bunch of free modules and supplements on the Basic Fantasy site. Everything is free and open source and everyone is welcome to contribute. In fact, many of the existing retroclones are based on Basic Fantasy. Take a look at their OGL section and look for the copyrights. That's the beauty of Basic Fantasy - it's a perfect base for you to build the RPG that you want on.

Also, because it is all non-profit, you can get the books at cost through Amazon or Lulu or RPG Now. The rulebook is only a bit over $4 for a softcover. The downside to doing everything for free is that all art is donated and it doesn't have the incredible art you'd get if you buy the latest edition of D&D. The art is good though and some of it is amazing. Please let me know what you think of Basic Fantasy!

January 21, 2016

My Favorite D&D

Dungeons & Dragons has had a lot of editions. It was first released in 1974 as a box of three booklets. Then in 1977, the first Basic set was released along with the AD&D Monster Manual, which was followed by the Players Handbook in 1978 and the Dungeonmasters Guide in 1979. The Basic version was further revised in 1981, then again in 1983, then yet again in 1991. AD&D 2nd edition was releases in 1989 and then revised in 1995. Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, with its d20 system, came out in 2000 and then it was revised in 2003. After that, there was 4th edition in 2008 and then 5th edition in 2014.

Yeah, that's a lot. D&D is 42 years old this year (a special number for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans). So which D&D is your favorite?

I first encountered D&D in 1980, when I perused my cousin's AD&D Monster Manual. Oh, what a picture in my head that gave me! Valiant men & women vanquishing strange monsters and rewarded with magical treasures! I then read through the Basic set in 1983 and by 1984 my friends and I were devising our own dungeons and running each other through them in our idea of what D&D was supposed to be like. I didn't actually get to play D&D, which was actually AD&D, until 1987. I branched out to other RPG systems and then tried D&D again in 2000, when the 3rd edition came out. I never played 4th edition and I recently got the starter box for 5th edition but I haven't played it yet.

I've been reading through the 3rd edition Players Handbook, 1st edition AD&D, and the 1983 version of the Basic Set lately along with a bunch of retroclones. I love the simplicity of the Basic set. Rolls are simple, modifiers are few, and everything seems streamlined so we get right into the play of the game. But then I also love all the options of AD&D and 3rd edition. More races, more classes, multiclassing, and even feats are fun additions to play. And I love the advantage system in 5th edition where you get to roll 2d20 and take the best result (or worst result if you are disadvantaged).

So what's my favorite D&D? I'd say it's Basic with the races and classes from AD&D and the some of the cool character options from 3rd edition and the advantage/disadvantage system from 5th edition and oh, maybe some of the cool stuff I've seen in Dungeon Crawl Classics. My favorite D&D is an amalgamation of a bunch of things and I suspect it's like that for a lot of people. I'd like to write up my favorite D&D sometime and let you all look at it so you can compare it to your favorite D&D.

So what is your favorite D&D?

January 14, 2016


I've been getting myself acquainted with the old school renaissance (OSR) movement lately, which is a return to RPGs like the older D&D rulesets. There are a lot of them out there. This site is probably the most comprehensive: Taxidermic Owlbear's D&D retroclones. I'll be reviewing many of these in the future.