Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading: Gibson

  • Spook Country, by William Gibson, copyright 2007 by William Gibson Ent. Ltd.; The Berkley Publishing Group/The Penguin Group/Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; Berkley trade paperback edition June 2008, 1st printing; ISBN-13: 978-0-424-22141-9.

    Good. Moving further away from the science fiction aspect of his early works, but retaining that disquieting sense of social dissociation.

I want a Dis-Integrated-Development-Environment

C.P. said: “I want a dis-integrated development envronment, not an integrated development environment.” I agree.

Microsoft's IDEs have always been about you adapting your working style to their rigid idea of how that work should be done using their monolithic tools. Eclipse promises to let you add whatever functionality you want to Eclipse, as long as you use their API (and tools) and are willing to write a million lines of code.

That's not what I want.

I want to use the tools I find suitable to the job, and stitch them together easily. I want tools that work together, not get pasted together.

Lucid's compiler suite with their IPC

I like emacs, but I have no problem with acme.

Buggin': Protect the VIP's daughter

I ran a short game of Buggin' with L.B., T.A., E.A., and M.A. Their bugs were at an opera premier (in a suitably rustic setting: the opera house was made of thick grass stalks covered with leaves, with doors of bark fragments) when some thugs tried to abduct a young lady VIP bug. They, of course, prevented it. M.A. kept getting knocked onto the stage, and every time he'd try to sing. Eventually he sang so badly that things started breaking and falling down around the characters.

There's more to the story, but we didn't have time to take it any further. We'll pick it up again later.

4E D&D admits what game it's always been?

I've been hearing a lot of people saying, in effect, that 4E D&D admits what kind of game D&D has always been and tunes everything for that: butt-kicking tactical battle-mat kick-in-the-door, kill everything, and take it's stuff gamist play. 1 Right now I'm ignoring the later bit about what 4E does and how well it does it, and looking at the earlier bit's claims about “the kind of game D&D has always been”. I'm not convinced.

This post, right now, is sort of a placeholder. I intend to fill in my history with D&D and look at the various editions of D&D that I've got and see if they support the “the kind of game D&D has always been” remark.

As I've said elsewhere the release of 4E and the choruses of “It's not real D&D” actually got me interested me in looking back at what D&D really was, so I bought PDFs of Original D&D (from RPGNow 2) and its supplements and Chainmail and printed them all out and bound them in 8.5”x5” pamphlets, in more or less the original form factor. I've read Chainmail and the three pamphlets that made up the original D&D release (X, Y, Z) completely, and have scanned the others. (Oddly enough, I've still not got beyond scanning 4E.)


The original version of D&D, along with some of its supplements, was still available in some hobby shops when I started playing RPGs, but the group I played with had was strictly AD&D, so I completely missed out playing the original, as well as its follow-ons, the various versions of Basic D&D.

Some of the retrogaming community has commented that the play experience for this for this version of D&D is very different from all versions that came after it. From my initial reading, I agree.

Blue Box/Holmes D&D

I got this boxed set for Christmas one year as a young teenager, and was fascinated. My box came with B2 — The Keep on the Borderlands. The group I ended up with, however, played AD&D. I think I ran this a couple of times for my younger brother. My original copy of the rulebook walked off many years ago, but I picked up the reproduction cheap a year or so after the anniversary.

Moldvay/Cook Basic/Expert D&D

I saw this in stores as a teenager, but never picked it up.

I bought a copy of the rulebooks (from Noble Knight) at some point, and can see why so many speak so fondly of it. It is a clear, well written presentation of the ideas from OD&D with the unevenness sanded down.

Advanced D&D, 1E

This was my real introduction to roleplaying games, and continued as the main game in the groups where I played until college, with occasional bouts of Tunnels and Trolls. We played mostly homegrown campaigns; for some reason the AD&D modules didn't work as well for us.

Red Box/Mentzer D&D

I never got a chance to play Red Box, but I got the PDFs from RPGNow.

Rules Cyclopedia D&D

I heard a lot of folks extolling the virtues of the one-book RC D&D, so I searched around a found a reasonably priced copy. Well worth the money. This is without a doubt the most complete-in-one-book version of D&D, at least until the retro-clones.

Advanced D&D, 2E

When 2E came out I'd long since moved on from D&D, and had been playing DragonQuest and GURPS for long while. I played 2E very briefly, just before 3E came out, with a guy who'd been on a 3E playtest and hated it.

3E D&D

Completely missed playing this at the time, but have played a few sessions during the 3.5E era with folks who played 3E.

3.5E D&D

I've played this a fair bit.


What podcast did I hear this on? Voice of the Revolution, said by Paul Tevis?


Back when they were still available legally, before the WotC PDF kerfluffle.

Recent Reading: Talbot

  • The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, by Bryan Talbot, copyright 1990, 1991, 1997, 2007; introduction copyright 1997 Michael Moorcock; all other material, unless otherwise specified, copyright 2007 Dark Horse Comics Inc; Dark Horse Books/Dark Horse Comics, Inc., Second Edition: 2007, 1st printing; ISBN: 978-1=59307-725-9.

    I can see why Moorcock likes this. I found it very dense in places, but worth it.

Triad: OD&D, Tékumel, T&T

So, for grins and giggles, last time my local gaming group met I brought copies of the first three commercially published roleplaying games for show and tell: Original Dungeons and Dragons; Empire of the Petal Throne; and Tunnels and Trolls. (The order of the last two is debatable.)

The release of 4E and the choruses of “It's not real D&D” had actually interested me in looking back at what D&D really was, so I bought PDFs of Original D&D (from RPGNow) and its supplements and printed them all out and bound them in 8.5”x5” pamphlets, in more or less the original form factor.

Listening to the Whartson Hall Gamers playing Empire of the Petal Throne from the RPGMP3 Community Podcast rekindled my interesting in Tékumel, so I bought a PDF of it from RPGNow and printed it. (This really drove home how much bigger and better presented EPT was than OD&D. Also, how even less Politically Correct it was.)

And T&T had been in my thoughts since Ron Edwards' wrote a series of reports on his T&T game. I played T&T a bit in my youth, so I already had a copy of it, the 5th edition, so I let that stand in for the 1st edition, a not unreasonable bit of flexibility, since T&T seems to have changed much less over five editions than D&D did over 4.5 or so.

(Later: I can't imagine why I didn't bring my copy of FFE/QLI's republication of the original Traveller Books 1, 2, and 3 along, and have one of the first SF RPGs too!)

Rushing Valley D&D, Session #1

Rushing Valley D&D, Session #1

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


2021-08-09 10:56:45

This is an actual play report from the “Rushing Valley” Dungeons and Dragons campaign. These actual play reports are available in html from T.K.B.'s blog and from P.D.F.'s RPG forum's Rushing Valley Campaign History forum.

So, here's the actually play report of the first session. Please add any further details you can remember as replies. I'll see if I can edit them in afterward.


Clockwise round the table, starting with the GM at 9 o'clock:

  • P.D.F. as GM

  • M.A.H. playing Bartha

  • C.A.H. playing Onchu Zillman (sp?)

  • T.K.B. playing Droston a'Seamus

  • J.H. playing Eirnin

Actual Play

Drinking before the festival

It was the night before the spring festival, and the four friends began the night at the local tavern, the Broken Stone, chattering about the festival and what competitions they wanted to enter. A long time rival of Onchu, Halrig (sp?) Hillfield came over and began chaffing Onchu about the wrestling competition the next day, which lead to Eirnin wagering 2 c.p. on Onchu vs. Halrig and Bartha treating Halrig to a couple of drinks to continue him on his way to a hangover. After that the friends moved outside to the pre-festival celebrations.

Out-of-town ruffians

One or more of the friends noticed three out-of-town ruffians forcing young Lochlan a'Niall down a street and behind a building, and when shouting for Niall gave no result, the friends hurried after the youngster and ruffians. By the time the ruffians were in sight again they hand young Lochlan up against the building side and were beating his precious coins out of him. Eirnin ran forward and got between the wee lad and his attacker, the leader of the thugs, and got him to run and find Sheriff Artair, while the others moved up and engaged the hoodlums, one of whom brandished a club and attacked them. Droston, in a rage, began beating the leader with a stick of firewood, while the others looked to his followers. By the time Niall and Sheriff Artair arrived the leader was bleeding on the ground, one thug had run off in fright and the other had surrendered. After interrogating everyone involved the Sheriff told the friends that they had done well and carted the leader and the thug off to a root cellar for the rest of the festival where they were joined the next day by the other thug, found shivering on the doorstep of the Broken Stone after being frightened out of the woods. (It turns out that Droston had really done a number on the leader, broken bones and smashed his face enough he was possibly looking at losing an eye. Nobody cared.)

The Festival

The next day the wrestling competition was first in line. Onchu made it through the necessary eliminations to fight Halrig Hillfield and after a tense match won handily. Halrig, after recovering, declared it was a good match and that he'd win next year, and paid Eirnin his 2 c.p. winnings without complaint. Continuing on the competition Onchu was matched in the final bout with Coll, the reigning village champion, and while he lost that bout Coll opined that Onchu had been one of the best challenges he'd had for a while and with a few more years under his belt would be a very interesting match.

After that Bartha won the sprint contest, and poor Onchu, barely recovered from his bout with Coll, came in last. (Droston was impressed that he was able to run at all after matching up with Coll!)

Eirnin won the distance run!

Droston was the runner-up in the Archery meet.

Eirnin came in third on the log chop.

Droston won the axe throw!

Bartha was the runner-up in the sling competition.

After that the friends just enjoyed the rest of the festival.

Back to work on Monday

The Monday after the festival, everybody went back to work. Droston and Bartha were off hunting separately while Eirnan and Onchu were setting out for work. Along the way, Bran McVoy of the Clan McVoy came up to Eirnin and offered him a job running two of the McVoy wagons into town, eventually offering Eirnin and Onchu 8 silver a piece, take it or leave it, no damn bargaining because he'd just go and find the next guy. Eirnin and Onchu accepted, Onchu cleared his day off with his shift boss, promising 5 copper under the table, and they set off to gather their gear and meet at the McVoy's stable.

Droston and Bartha, coming back into town loaded with game, met the two and hearing of their adventure, decided to accompany them, no payment besides the adventure needed. Bartha had everything she needed, so she told her dad where they were off to and brought her brace of rabbits for lunch. Droston ran back and dropped off his deer and gathered his stuff, and then on the way back met his dad Seamus in the street. His dad wasn't overjoyed at Droston's plans, but couldn't deny Droston had already finished his day's work. He did tell Droston that his cousin Brocc (who disliked crowds and therefore avoided the village during festival), was due back in this morning from the alpine pastures with his goat herd, but had not been seen yet, and although it wasn't an immediate worry, somebody had to check up on him soon. Droston promised to check the high pastures as soon as he was back from town.

On the way to Riverton

Once Droston caught up with the group they headed for town with Eirnin driving the first wagon, Onchu the second, and Bartha riding a wagon and Droston ranging alongside, scouting ahead and behind on occasion.

At lunchtime they stopped and cooked Bartha's rabbits and Droston freely admitted she'd done the right thing bringing them along. After that they continued along. Eventually they met one of the sheriff's deputies, Deputy Han, returning from escorting the three thugs to town. He told them of bad character from town, Roy, who'd killed somebody over a card game and fled justice and was feared to have taken to banditry and murder in the area. The friends promised to be careful and not go looking for trouble, and continued on their way.

They reached the halfway camp that evening, but because they had the wagons and horses they couldn't use the normal campsite, which was reached by a narrow rope bridge across the river, and could only draw the wagons up on the side of a wide area in the road and make camp behind them. Unfortunately, a starving wolf attacked the horses during Bartha's watch and before Bartha, Onchu, and Eirnin killed it, Bartha was severly bitten. (Droston, tired out by his day of walking and running beside the wagons, only woke up in time to see the aftermath of the fight.) The wolf didn't seem to be rabid, just starving, but Bartha needs some serious healing.

And that's where we left them.


No experience awards at the end of the session.