Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Nostalgia in Gaming

Some people say that the popularity of the OSR is due to nostalgia. I'm not so sure.

I started playing roleplaying games with AD&D, but eventually got dissatisfied with it and moved on to other RPGs, wanting more options and verisimilitude. I got back into D&D with 3.5E, but eventually got dissatisfied with it because of its complexity and power creep. 1

I've been enjoying Swords & Wizardry White Box and Labyrinth Lord recently, rediscovering the things I did like about AD&D back in the day, but also enjoying the different nature of S&W WB (more like OD&D) and Labyrinth Lord (more like Basic/Expert) from AD&D, and also liking some of the other variants, like Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

But I have absolutely no desire to pull out my AD&D books and play that exact game. The closest I've gotten is using the Brave Halfling Delving Deeper classes in one game and the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Companion in another, and both of those are much simpler (or at least more simply presented) than the actual AD&D rules.

I think what I like about D&D is the simplicity of the core system — if I want something more complex, I'll probably go with another system — and the original AD&D books are just more complicated than I want from D&D. If I was going to run an AD&D module, something I'd have no hesitation to do, I might pull out OSRIC, but I might just use Advanced Edition Companion and not worry about the minor differences. Actually, now that I think about it, I might just use Swords & Wizardry Complete.


Something about D&D 3E and 3.5E brings out the min-maxer in me as a player, and prompts me to try to build NPCs like I'd build PCs and creatures using the official rules, with feats and skills, etc., but those rules end up annoying me through their fiddly but ultimately restrictive nature. It is worse than BESM, where at least the fiddly rules let you create almost anything.

Recent Reading: Lynn Viehl

  • Nightshine, by Lynn Viehl; copyright 2011 by Sheila Kelly; ISBN 978-0-451-41314-7.

    Part of the Kindred series, which also includes Shadowlight, Dreamveil, and Frostfire.

    I gather the Darkyn series is related. It includes at least If Angels Burn, Private Demons, Dark Need, Night Lost, Evermore, Twilight Full, and Stay the Night.

Recent Reading: Brook, Powers, Wisdom

  • From the Guardian series:

    • Demon Night, by Meljean Brook; copyright 2008 by Melissa Kahn; ISBN 978-0-425-21977-5.

    • Demon Forged, by Meljean Brook; copyright 2009 by Melissa Kahn; ISBN 978-0-425-23041-1.

    The Guardian series consists of (at least) Demon Angel, Demon Moon, Demon Night, Demon Bound, and Demon Forged. (I haven't read Demon Bound yet.) Stories by Meljean Brook appear in (at least) the following anthologies: Hot Spell, Wild Thing, First Blood, and Must Love Hellhounds.

  • Hide Me Among the Graves, by Tim Powers, copyright 2012; ISBN 978-0-06-123154-4.

    Excellent. A sequel of sorts to The Stress of Her Regard.

  • From the Hex: series:

    • Demons are a Girl's Best Friend, by Linda Wisdom, copyright 2011; ISBN 978-1-4022-5439-0.

    • A Demon Does it Better, by Linda Wisdom, copyright 2012; ISBN 978-1-4022-3672.

    These are farther to the romance side of the “paranormal romance” genre than I generally prefer.

    The earlier books in the Hex series are 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover, Hex Appeal, Wicked by Any Other Name, and Hex in High Heels.

Idol of the Orcs, Session #4


We're playing Idol of the Orcs, so if you haven't played that you might want to skip this entry.

This session lasted from 5:48 pm to 7:48 pm.

I can't remember if M.A. changed Gustavio to a AEC gnome magic user this session or last.


Clockwise round the table, starting with the Labyrinth Lord:

  • T.A. — Labyrinth Lord

  • L.B.

    • Sallee Marie, a female Halfing Fighter. (light blue lego base)

    • Avarey, a male Half-Elf Cleric. (light green lego base)

    • Also played E.A.'s Semiriah, an female Elf Ranger. HP 3, AC 5 (4 with shield). (sparkly pink lego base)

  • M.A.

    • Gustavio, a male Gnome Magic User. HP 4, AC 5. (green lego base)

    • Karl, a male Dwarf. HP 4, AC 6. (yellow lego base)

  • T.K.B.

    • Orm, a human Cleric of Thor. HP 5, AC 3. (red lego base)

    • Skeggi, a human Cleric of Vidar. HP 6, AC 4 (3 with shield). (blue lego base)

    • Also played E.A.'s Maury, a male human Thief. HP 5, AC 6. (tan lego base)

Actual Play

Skeggi the Silent says “We must be doing good work here — the gods have blessed us with healing!” (The kind LL restored all our HP!) “And gave us back our spells!”

We started in room 12. We freed a human, Drader, a half-elf, and a halfing. (The later two were L.B.'s characters, recently seized; their stuff was still piled in the corner.)

Hirelings: Dwalin (3 HP), Zenith (6 HP, chain), Symna (6 HP), Roger (6 HP), Gloin (6 HP), Ragnar (5 HP).

Rushed into room 13, Ngarsh's Chamber, which contained Ngarsh and two subleaders. Ngarsh, the Orc Warlord, is the only survivor of after one round of combat, and he surrenders.

Ngarsh the Warlord had keys, 30 gp, 21 sp, chain armor, shield, +1 longsword (which went to Salle Marie), and spear. The 2 subleaders had scale armor, shield, longsword, and spear, as well as 10 gp 20 sp each.

The warlord says he'll lead us to the treasure if we let him live. He leads us to a room with huge statue, and an ogre!

In the first round, the ogre hits Semiriah for 12 points of damage, putting here into the negative, but on the second round Skeggi heals her back to the positive. On the fourth round Sallee Marie makes the killing blow on the ogre.

Loot: small chest with 488 gp, 20 sp, a +1 shield (which the ogre had been using as a plate), and an elven skill missing its jawbone, but containing a filthy gold earring, worth 25 GP.

We try to pull over the idol, but it won't budge. Maury climbs it, and finds that there is a ladder leading down through the idol, and a siting room in the chest where someone can speak so it sounds like the idol is speaking.

We go back to town and heal and sell the loot.

WVHTCF Necessary Evil, Session #7: RoboRally Trap!

WVHTCF Necessary Evil, Session #7: RoboRally Trap!

Or, Anvil Looses His Grip!




2021-08-09 10:47:45

This is an actual play report from the Savage Worlds Necessary Evil plot point campaign from Pinnacle Entertainment Games. These actual play reports will be available in html.


Clockwise round the table, starting with the GM:

  • M.A.H. — GM

  • T.K.B. — playing Raum, a vaguely demonic creature.

  • C.A.H. — playing Force Caster.

  • B.MC. — playing The Stygian Veil.


Actual Play

Our villains pass a couple of uneventful weeks.

We are watching TV in our Secret Lair when a VON (Visori Official News) bulletin erupts onto the screen. “Large Resistance Cell” destroyed in Visori golf club. Digging up golf course to see what else the resistance has been up to.

Also, a new and persistent commercial — Anvil endorsing a superpower enhancing drug (which the players decided was in the style of those late night “male enhancement” drug advertisements) “Super Oh Yes” (SOY) for 3 easy payments of 50K$! Allows you to create new, customized power profile by switching old powers out. Anvil's new name: Mechno-Man!

Drug we found was red, these are green, but same form factor/design. And isn't being super-powered illegal under Vsori rule anyway? We think it is a trap!

We have a remote control for Anvil's lair, but no surveillance cameras.

We go to Anvil's HQ — mud and tracks in office above, otherwise the same. Lots of obvious surveillance cameras. SV goes down invisible and finds a RoboRally-like trap room!.

RoboRally-like trap at Mechno-Man's headquarters

RoboRally-like trap room!

We find 8 2’ tall robots with blasters running in place. Ceilings are only 7 feet up. (Blue lines outline conveyor belts, blue triangles show direction of travel, purple lines are lasers, red are flames, green circles are crushers on the ceilings, green rectangles are pushers, purple dot is a button on the floor, green dot is a button on the ceiling.)

Raum wounded for 2 wounds on 1st round, but Regenerates 1 wound. Distance attacks from others take out several robots.

When Raum stands on ceiling on 2nd (green) button all the mechanisms stop and the fires die down. When a deactivated robot is placed on the 1st (purple) button a trap door opens that leads to a corridor with a glowing square. The Stygian Veil stands on the glow and teleports. Force Caster follows. Raum turns incorporeal (trapdoor closes and mechanisms and fires start again) and joins the others.

Corridor leads to a 4” cube robot.

(We forgot our shrink ray.)

SV tries new glowing square. Raum sneaks by the doom bot with 4 aces on his roll and gets benny. Teleports to next corridor. SV kills bot. FC kills bot. Raum melee kills bot. 2 new glowing squares.

Scavenged big blasters from bots. Not human operable, but could probably be modified. 2× as good as electro lance, but Range 1. Cosmic Ray Guns. Size medium. Next tunnel 2 bots with Range 2+ CRGs, medium. Raum teleports to SV & melee kills bot. FC telejoins us, wanders around & finds a bot & attacks and kills.

Raum hit for 6 wounds, soaked 1, succeeded at Vigor roll, unconcious, temporarily useless right arm. SV kills bot. SV med stims Raum, restoring 2 wounds. Raum conscious again. Raum and SV and FC scrounge 2 blasters each with Range 2+.

TODO: We need to work out a silent com link signal system for SV when wandering in front, something faster than texting on our com links.

SV teleports, 2 bots.

FC teleports, ends same place as SV. 2 more dead bots.

Everybody has 3 medium 2+ Range CRGs, medium.

We killed 8 little bots in first room, 9 medium bots in the teleporting maze.

Final glowing square takes us to exit, SV opens door, big bot. (4 squares by 4 squares.) It has 4 weapons, and the big room is 24’ tall.

Raum crosses room incorporeally and tries to pass through the door on the other side, but is stopped by a nullifier field just inside the door. Can't see past.

FC knocked out, permanent injury (Strength is down 1 die to d4.)

Take out cameras on big bot-o'-doom and it powers down. We open the door and enter the room and the superhero formerly known as Anvil (now Mecho-Man) is there, spouts some insults, and attacks. We retreat and use ranged attacks.

Raum inflicts the wound that takes Anvil out of the fight (a permanent injury to Anvil results, his agility goes down 1 die), then cuts off Anvil's hands and feet. Anvil's blood is green, he is part man and part machine. He has an antenna fixed to his skull and communications gear attached to it. Raum digs them out and we examine them. Somebody (Raum?) gets a raise on their roll: it's Vsori tech with bio engineering: DNA mods and cyborg mods. Robot weapons are keyed to the same electrical signal — they are Vsori, too!

We leave the headquarters, after cauterizing Anvil's wounds, taking him with us.

TODO: We need to include a medical bay in our Secret Lair!

TODO: Force Caster needs to buy a gun, for times when our super powers don't work!


We'll save Anvil's interrogation for next week.

Each PC each got +3 XP.

C.A.H took the Headquarters Edge from the Super Powers Companion last time. B.MC. might take it this time.

Each time a group member takes the edge we get 5 points to spend on our headquarters.



PC who pays

Command Center



Garage (repair)



Personel area



Secure Access



Training Room


BMC (?)




The combat took longer than expected.

Idol of the Orcs, Session #3


We're playing Idol of the Orcs, so if you haven't played that you might want to skip this entry.

This session lasted from 1:30 pm to 4:11 pm.

I think this is session where the class options from the Advanced Edition Companion (See (free no art version) 1, (priced version) 2) became available and some of the characters switched to new classes. (For Labyrinth Lord, see (free no art version) 3, (priced version) 4.)


Clockwise round the table, starting with the Labyrinth Lord:

  • T.A. — Labyrinth Lord

  • E.A.

    • Semiriah, an Elf Ranger. HP 3, AC 5 (4 with shield). (sparkly pink lego base)

    • Maury, a human Thief. HP 5, AC 6. (tan lego base)

  • M.A.

    • Gustavio, a Gnome. HP 4, AC 5. (green lego base)

    • Karl, a Dwarf. HP 4, AC 6. (yellow lego base)

  • T.K.B.

    • Orm, a human Cleric. HP 5, AC 3. (red lego base)

    • Skeggi, a human Cleric. HP 6, AC 4 (3 with shield). (blue lego base)

Actual Play

We arm the orc Agashhak with a hand ax. He has 5 HP. (Not a popular move with the villagers.)

We've got 219 XP (plus our individual XP bonuses, if any) total so far for the campaign.

6 hirelings: Dwalin (3 HP), Zenith (6 HP; chain), Symna (6 HP), Roger (6 HP), Gloin (6 HP), Ragnar (5 HP).

At cross road past command center explored all ways: tunnel ends, orc guard, double door. Found room with pool with mineral encrusted object — a water tight scroll.

Went down to where orc vanished after seeing us. (Semiriah and who?) The orcs had barricaded the door. We killed 7 orcs and our orc follower died. Knocked out one orc. 8 hand axes, 8 spears, 8 leather armor.

We found a torture chamber with a human corpse.

Left Gustavio and Ragnar at the double doors and Roger at the 3-way intersection. Rescued human male from the torture chamber.

Karl had gotten to –2 HP, but Skeggi healed him. Orm was at –1 HP.

We were still in the chamber when the game session ended.

NetBSD: pkg_add: Error: package `emacs-' was built with a newer pkg_install version

I did a fresh install of NetBSD 5.1.2 and tried to install emacs:

# pkg_add emacs
pkg_add: Error: package `emacs-' was built with a newer pkg_install version
pkg_add: 1 package addition failed

So I installed pkgsrc and did a make install in /usr/pkgsrc/pkgtools/pkg_install.

Then I added /usr/pkg/sbin:/usr/pkg/bin to the front of my path, and tried again. That seemed to work.