Welcome to The Bone Scroll

Welcome. The Bone Scroll is where one man (along with a few of his friends) keeps his sanity and hopes to improve your sanity by offering up reviews, optional rules, adventure ideas and opinions on a wide range of RPG Games and RPG related Topics.

Just Remember, "It's your RPG, do what you think is best!", which roughly translates into do what you want with your game don't let anyone else tell you different (Not Even Us!).

Please note that "The Bone Scroll" is no longer an active site. Please visit RPG Circus. The author currently hosts that podcast and posts blog posts there from time to time

As of this writing, there are now only 21 days til GenCon 2012. I know for myself, it's been a long time coming. I'm not sure if it's because I'm excited because it's GenCon or if I'm excited because it's my only vacation I'm really going to have this year.

I suppose, it really doesn't matter. I'm just happy to be going. While I can not go every year, I'm hoping that I will be able to go every other year. Although depending on money, it might be every third.

There is just something about GenCon. I know there are other conventions, but there is something about GenCon that makes it different from other conventions. It could be the size, but I'm not sure that's quite it. It could be that this is the one convention that many of the RPG Bloggers tend to go to. I know that's why I went back in 2009. I was going to meet a bunch of RPG Bloggers face to face finally. Or maybe it's just nice to be surround for a change with like minded individuals. I'm not sure I really know. I'm sure it's a combination of things.

Well as the title suggests, I have a bit of a fever coming on and it's only going to get worse until Aug 15th.

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As someone who likes to use miniatures in gaming, drawing vinyl maps can at times be a real pain. They usually don't have all the detail you want. Depending on what you need, the players have to take a break from the action while you the GM have to spend time drawing even a crude sketch down.

While running Paizo's Second Darkness AP, I discovered that one rather large location was used a few times. Since I really didn't want to have to keep redrawing it. I decided to print out a one inch square grid on paper. I had to tape them together to get the size of the surface I needed. Today of course, I would just buy a Gaming Paper roll. Afterwards, I transferred the lines I needed to make a useable map. It was big hit with the players because it had more detail than I would have normally been able to put down on my "crude" sketch maps.

Recently, I needed a rather large home for an adventure. Since I didn't have anything at hand, I did an internet search. Eventually, I decided upon on I found at RPGNow. The good news was this one had a map already at one inch square grids. Which meant that I only needed to print it out. Of course this is where things started to get interesting. One issue with most standard printers is that no matter what you do with printer settings, you usually have some white-space gutter somewhere on the page. Which means you need to trim things up a bit and then tape the sheets together once you align them properly.

That's really the major problem I really had with printing maps out. Trying to align the sheets. Usually there is some overlap of sheets so you can trim and then line them up. The major problem is for some sheets, there just are no good references to align them. On one map I put together recently, one page has slightly askew grid alignment. It looked good when taped it together but when I tried to add a row of sheets, I noticed it was off. Since trying to take the maps apart would have destroyed things, I did my best to minimize the issue. I think I was only partially successful.

I think if you design maps to be printed, then you take these things into account. Providing reference marks on the maps a simple set of plus symbols would be nice. Of course Each sheet would need some overlap. This mean more printed sheets of paper.

I guess what I noticed is that printing maps for miniature game use is not as easy as it sounds. I wish I had large plotter but that's not going to happen anytime soon. So what's your experience with printing out maps to use on your miniature table?

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Going to a game convention is something that all gamers should do. I'm not going to tell you which ones you should go to, because only you can do that. Still, there is just something about attending one. The size of the convention doesn't matter either, although, I personally prefer the larger ones. It has been my experience that many people miss a change to go to convention because they don't plan on it early enough. This can be really important for really large game conventions.

Let's take for example GenCon 2012. It's going to be held August 16 to August 19, 2012. At the time of writing this post, that's about 273 days away. That's a little over 9 months away for those a bit slow on the math or calculator. So, unless you live near Indianapolis, you will need to start looking what's it's going to take to get there.

First off, you have to realistic about the costs. If nothing else, you should know how your going to afford it. One will need to be honest and realistic about your spending habits and your wants. One could say that they will only spend 50 USD per night on a hotel to save money. Now that's fine in theory but you need to be truthful, can you really spend the night at such a place? Are you going to be happy there? Only you can answer that one.

Normally, two of the biggest costs are transportation and housing if your coming in from out of town, like I will hopefully be. If you plan on trying to stay downtown, then you will need to get your badge early and wait for the housing blocks to open up. I think last year the housing was between 150 to 175 USD per night. Hopefully, a reader can let me know if that's still true. One thing to take into account is that if you plan to drive into where the convention hall is, you will have to pay for parking so, plan on 25 to 30 USD charge for extended parking. The other big cost of course will be transportation. Now that we are within the 330 day window for booking flights, you can start to see what it may cost you. Remember that flight prices don't remain steady. So for planning purpose use a roughly larger number. If you have a price in mind, I'd suggest that you set a high and low range of values. If the price reaches your low value, then you purchase if you have the money. Just remember no one can predict what airlines will do with their prices, so never have buyer remorse if the price drops even further because the price could easily jump the next day. I've seen it happen. One day the ticket price is something like 250 USD the next day 340 USD. The high number is the cut off number if you plan on getting your ticket and it's getting close to the convention. It's the most you will pay on the ticket. I have no advice on when the best time to buy a ticket is. The general wisdom is between three and six months prior, but I am not sure if that really is true. You will have to use your own best judgment.

Some other expenses to consider for planning is food and blow. As human beings, we have to eat. Know what your going to do about food. Get an estimate about how much per day. Since it's a game convention, we are going spend money. I don't think too many people go to a game convention and not spend money in the dealer's hall. Even if you don't know what your going to buy now. You should have a rough idea how much you are willing to spend on stuff. This number can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. It all depends on you. Just remember what ever you buy you will either have to ship home (Fedex, UPS, or USPS usually has a station somewhere) or your going to have to take it home via your method of transportation. So keep that in mind.

Now that you have a rough idea of the money you will need, don't be surprised if you go, "WTF" a few times. I know I did. The truth is that if you have to fly in and stay downtown, it's going to real money to go. Still once you know the rough cost, you have now have about nine months to actually save up for the trip. Some items such as plane tickets are going to have to be purchased earlier. Which reminds me, don't forget the cost of getting an badge to attend the convention. If you can, I'd suggest getting one during pre-registration.

Well, that's it for now. I sort of have GenCon 2012 on the mind because I'm currently trying to determine if I can go.

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For the last three weeks, I've been running a game of Classic Traveller with a bit of MegaTraveller and Traveller5 draft thrown in. I was very worried at first about doing it. After running Patherfinder games off and on for several months, I was concerned that I wasn't going to pull it off. I was worried about the amount of time it was going to take.

So imagine my surprise when it didn't take that long to prepare for a game session. It was simple as having an adventure idea, maybe a few names, and a few basic stats. With the system being fairly simple, it wasn't hard to generate the things I needed without major effort. No worrying about what feats someone might have. No worries about having to create stat blocks so large that you can't even begin to reference them in a game. One of the strengths of Classic Traveller is that you can use 76 Patrons or something similar to create an adventure in less than one hour. Heck, you can even just do it on the spot. Of course, that requires one to think a bit more on your feet.

Running it was also an interesting experience. If the players have a ship, which is something in Traveller I recommend that they do at some point, some of the talk and adventure is mere ship's business. While this seems boring at the outside, many players actually enjoy it because it makes them feel like they have a vested interest in the game. It gives them something to actually think about besides where to throw hand grenades. In this way Traveller invites player discussion more than your typical D&D or Pathfinder game. I guess one might even say that the Official Traveller setting is one large Sandbox for the players.

The player themselves have been enjoying themselves. The player feel that they have actual choices to make and are not being railroaded into certain actions. One player even commented, "The majority of subtle nuances are really added by the players and it makes for a really unique experience." I can think of no better way of explaining what makes games with that "Old School" feeling is all about.

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I've been playing Traveller off and on for the better part of twenty-five years. Yes, I sorry to say I am that old. I've suffered through the Virus (I'm sorry but it's not my thing), had the entire rule system changed, and then changed back. I've even seen different rule systems use the Traveller setting, which for Traveller is a rather broad thing. I've played some of them and not others. Not matter what, It seems I still go back to the original books, the Little Black Books or LBB. Why is that I do that?

Many people point out to me that the New Mongoose Traveller (MGT) is pretty much the LBB cleaned up. I've looked at MGT and have to say it looks good. It seems to have the right feel but honestly it comes down to a matter of price. I just don't know why the main rule book is 40 USD. I am well aware of the margins being tight in the RPG market. Still, when I look at the page count of MGT and then go down the shelve and pick up another Hardcover book that's twice or three times the page count for the same 40 USD, I have to give it pause. Plus the LBB reprints are $35 for Books 1-8. I'm sorry but That's a heck of a deal. You combine that with say the Adventure Reprints or the Supplement Reprints for 35 USD each and for 70 or 105 USD you got a game and material to run for months if not years depending.

So what is that I really like about the LBB? I think it start with the fact that everything is simple and then can be complicated. Let us take combat, You can use the LBB system or if you have one of the Traveller games, you can use the Snapshot rules. Both are really really close. In both cases, you don't want to get shot from anything. In both cause a player is more likely to get knocked out than die. Although death is always possible. The LBB can actually be played without miniatures. The system as it was designed, you don't even need a map really, but I find map and miniatures fun. And using those things is an easy add.

I guess that's one thing I like about LBB, that fact that most things are an easy add. Want to add something more detailed here and not there. No big deal. I think sometimes games are so complex that they are not playable and GM need to find a way to streamline or reduce the rules. Like many things in life, it's always easier to add rather than take away.

Since LBB has been around a long long time, there is also a ton of material out there for it. You can also usually use a lot of material that has been written for other editions as well. This of course owing to the simplicity of the system as it was presented in the LBB.

One thing that doesn't get a lot of look is that for Traveller in General while there is an official universe, each GM can easily make a change here and there and not usually upset what was written elsewhere. Where this is really clear is planets. In Traveller each plan has a planetary code. It tell the GM and Players the basics such as rough size, atmosphere, government, and general tech level. It doesn't give details. This allows the GM to make up his own world and unless they are using published worlds, no two world with same planetary codes are going to be the same. This of course has give rise to the say IMTU or In My Traveller Universe. How can you not love a game where the assumption from the beginning is that each GM is going to be doing his own thing.

Of course this is not to say that the LBB are without faults. They are there and usually pretty glaring. For example as new books where created, new skills were added and some old skills where redefined. Which is why even when using the LBB, I use the MegaTraveller Skill listings. There is generally no experience system for players. Most GM I know have created ones to suit their needs. So, yes LBB has it's warts.

Still, I have say that I like the LBB because they are generally simple. Because they tend to play fast. And besides what's better than having your character die during character generation?

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Back in April, I decided to go ahead and close up shop here at the Bone Scroll. I had to many things going on and not enough time to actually spend on a blog, a podcast, and life in general. Now fast forward to today. I do have time once again to put into blogging every once in a while. So to celebrate, I'm letting everyone know and I've given the website a new look. I look forward to blogging for everyone once again.

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It's been a long hard road to get to where I am today. A few years ago, I started the Bone Scroll to have a place to put my RPG Stuff. It really wasn't meant for much. Later, I discovered the RPG Bloggers Network. This lead me to doing more Blogging. That in turn lead me to doing the RPG Circus Podcast. All of which has been fun. Sadly, I just don't have the time I once had. I tried to start writing posts for other blogs every so often and then dual posting them here. That really didn't seem to work as well as I would have liked. Lately, I have come to the realization that I really don't want to spend my time between two different brands. This with my desire to work more on the RPG Circus brand, has lead me to decide to stop posting to this site. All my future blog posts will be found at RPG Circus. I think this works out best for me. It allows me to produce content and not worry about if is something that belongs on RPG Circus or The Bone Scroll. Now everything will just be put on RPG Circus, which in the end just makes my life so much easier.

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To say I have been gaming a long time is an understatement. Not as long as the some of the original Game Masters and Players, but I count myself in that group of people that learned to play in the 1980's. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons by TSR was the King of the Fantasy and I dare say Traveller was the King of Science Fiction. One of things I do remember at that time was the number of different games I played. It's sad to say but my current collection is but a mere fraction of the all the games I've own, played, lost, sold, borrowed, lent, or otherwise passed through my hands. Even into the 90's, I've played a lot of games, some good and some bad. Flash forward to now and It seems like I'm stuck with just one or two games that I play at all.

Now, it's not my fault completely that I can't seem to play the games I'd like to play. Partly it is my fault because I want to play those games and not run them. Most Game Master I know seem to do it because there is no one else willing. For some of the older games I want to play, I rather do just that play not run. While I like game mastering, it's nice to not have to do that all the time. On the flip side of the coin most of the players I meet, just have no interest in playing something new. Sort of reminds me about how I was in the 6th grade when a friend suggested that we play Traveller instead of Dungeons and Dragons. Back then I wasn't quite ready to do Traveller. Years later, I have quite a collection of Traveller based materials. It also reminds me that many modern players don't really want to have much to do with older systems.

So what can we do to change their minds? I'm not sure exactly, but I think one-shot episodes as break might be a good way. One of the nice things about most older games is that usually the mechanics are simple. Something I think Old School Gamers have shouted at the top of their lungs for a long time. Now this is not universally true, but it is true in many cases. For the most part this means for a single one-shot game most players will not have to remember a ton of rules. Which will be a boon to convincing players to play.

Of course for me, since I have a lot of older game material, it's not hard to have simple adventures to play on short notice. I could likely play both Classic Traveller, and the 2nd edition of Gamma World with almost no notice for a one shot. In both cases I have at least 2 or 3 adventures available and in the case of Gamma World, I actually still now the adventures pretty well since I have run them several times. Not to mention all most all the adventures I've seen for the older Gamma World adventures seem to be based off the assumption that the players are new explorers, which is perfect for one-shot game.

Even if you don't have a lot of old gaming material, I suspect that you can find a lot of usable material out there online. Many older games have a small following of dedicated fans. Some of them very rabid of course, so take everything with a grain of salt.

My own desire to play some of my older games comes from return value I get. Older games that are not played have no value. If I play one of my older games then I get a return on the investment I made when I purchased the game. I guess that's why I sometimes don't see the point in purchasing newer versions of a game that I already own. This I really true when the newer version doesn't seem to be better than old in someway. Let's face it, sometimes new versions just don't make sense. I may offend some people but that's the way I feel about 2e Dungeons and Dragons, it seemed to not be better than 1e Dungeons and Dragons. As a matter of fact the only reason I even have copies of the Players Handbook and Dungeon Master Guide is because It was played by the only group of players I could find at one point. Which was rather sad. Luckily , I found a Rolemaster Group, memebers of which are still my friends today even thought we don't do Rolemaster anymore.

Like many of my rants, I'm sure I had a reason or concept when I started. I think I will close simply with this. Do you play older games? if so, why and how do you find players to play those games?

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Yes, it is once again that time fellow gamers. It is spring time. Time for us all to clear that winter fog out our head. It's also the traditional time to do some much needed cleaning. So what does that have to do with Role-Playing Games? Glad you asked. It has to do with the pile of papers and such that you have on your desk and in your bookshelves. Yes, I scream sacrilegious words. I scream, we do need to clean our mess.

Now before anyone goes off the deep end, I'm not suggesting that we go throwing things out for the sake of throwing things out. What I'm suggesting is that we take a hard look at what we got and get it reorganized for the year. And yes, we will have to throw things out or get rid of them.

Let's start with gaming books. We all have them. As gamers, we all feel the need to keep them around forever. But I ask you do you really want to keep the gaming books that you purchased and find out were useless or have no purpose for. So, I'd make a stack of books that you currently use in gaming. Then add the books that you have used or will use within the next year. That was the easy part. Now comes the hard part. As an RPG Game Collector myself, I know have to decide if any of the other books are worth keeping. So too should you. If it's something that has no sentimental value and you haven't used in ten years, is it worth holding on to? For example, if I still had Torg in my collection, I would put that in the discard pile. I just never got into the game and it has no sentimental value. On the other hand, the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide, now that is something that has great sentimental value and I actually do reference pages now and again. One other thing I can suggest, if you only use a few pages from a book and nothing else, is to use a scanner to scan those pages. Then you can get rid of that book, if has not additional value to you.

Next, let's go to the massive amounts of paperwork that you have. Even with computers, I dare say that at least 90% of all gaming material is on paper. Most of paper can be broken down into character sheets, maps, adventures and game notes.Perhaps the most sentimental thing gamers tend to have is character sheets. We hold on to them through thick and thin.We hold on to them even though that game hasn't been played in ten to twenty years. And yes, I know people that have sheet from that long ago. What you need to do is go through them and find the characters that may have been used only once and are for a game that will never played again. I know it's hard, but yes you can get rid of them, you need to face the facts that it's not going to be used and no one is really going to miss it when it's gone. For characters that have sentimental value but haven't been used, I might I suggest the scanner again. Scan and store them. While it may not quite be the same, it is better than the mess of papers being stored. Remember all modern paper degrades. By scanning them your actually preserving them. The same can be said of maps, adventures, and game notes. If you already have them electronic format and you have not used them in a long time, you don't need to keep the dead tree versions. If you have important notes on them, scan them or update your digital sources with the notes.Even if you don't get rid of anything, now is a good time to get it more organized. Put things in folders and label them.

In the End, I think your be surprised about how good it feels to get rid of some of the clutter and get organized. So what about you? Do you plan on doing any spring cleaning? If so, what kind? If not, why not? I look forward to your comments.

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Last night, I was at a used book store, which just happens to have a large section of RPG books. During which, I came across the AD&D Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (DSG). In the DSG, it had a small section that talked about perspective mapping.

What is perspective mapping you ask? Well to put it simply, it was way to show a 3D image in a 2D space. It allowed you see spaces like you never thought about them before. It could clearly show the relationship between a landing and the area above and below it. I always thought if you looked at a perspective map and then the standard orthographic maps (most maps used in gaming are basically orthographic projections from one side only), you would find a lot of additional ideas about where things are and where things are out.

So why didn't perspective mapping take off. After all, the DSG is pretty old? I think the main issue was how hard it was to generate. After all with a standard orthographic map, you you have to draw a simple grid, you really dont' care about height. I know in the DSG, they listed two way to make perspective maps. One was to use Tracing Paper and move it around the perspective graph paper that they had copies of in the DSG. The other was a method using a photo copier. In general, I don't think either method was very easy.

Of course that was then, what about now? It seems like with all the mapping software out there, someone would have created a package that does perspective mapping. Of course, I guess it depends on if anyone thinks that perspective mapping actually has a place. I personally don't know myself. While it's very cool, it seems like much the same information can be conveyed with additional orthographic maps of different sides.

So, I have few questions for you my gentle readers. Have you ever thought about using perspective maps? If so, did you? If not, why not? Lastly, do you think that perspective mapping has any place in gaming?

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In the last podcast of RPG Circus, I had a short rant about Rolemaster. I'm sure this what lead me to referring to Tim Dugger's Alternative Realms in my last post. Then of course I went to a party on Saturday and ran into some gamers (yes, some of us do have social lives), and we talked a little on Rolemaster. I guess you could say that lately, I have Rolemaster on the brain.

It sort of makes me wonder, if I will ever dust off my copy of the rule and play? After all, most of the old Rolemaster players I know have given up the system and tend to play D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder. After all, there are several things that have been slightly translated to D&D. Which is sort of interesting since early Rolemaster was presented as some optional replacement rules for D&D. So as to the question as to if I will ever play Rolemaster again, I guess it would depend on a variety of factors.

Perhaps the biggest one would be which Rolemaster rules would be used? Even Iron Crown has a hard time answering this one. After all, it currently has Rolemaster Classic (which is basically the RM2 rules) and Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying (which is basically RMSS). I do find it very interesting that they actually brought back RM2 as Rolemaster Classic (RMC). I wonder if this is some sort of acknowledgment that the RMSS got pretty stupid after a while? Of course some would argue that it was always that way. If you look at ICE own breakdown. I think it's clear that the RMSS/RMFRP is just way too complex. Which is saying something since every seems to think that RM2/RMC is way to complex. So, I guess if I were to ever play a game, it would like be RM2/RMC.

Another factor of course would be willing players. I don't think there would be too many willing players. Like I said before, I doubt that I will ever actually play Rolemaster again for this very reason. I'm not sure how many people out there would even be interested in playing Rolemaster again. Among my circle of gamers, those that had played Rolemaster in the past, have said no way. Again, I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder fill the complexity void and there by they are satisfied.

Factor two is hard one to beat. Still, Rolemaster still has a warm place in my memory. For that alone, I doubt that I will be giving up my rulebooks. I know that my shelves would be rather empty if I did. Nor will I be giving up my memories of rolling 100 E Crush Critical. This rant has got me wondering are there still any Rolemaster gamer still out there? And if so what version are you playing?

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