Sunday, March 30, 2014


Gary Con VI
Janet and I had the pleasure of attending this yearly event these past few days. Gary Con is special to me because, of course, it connects directly with Gary Gygax and it is just outside Lake Geneva, but also because many of my friends and colleagues are present as well.  Though it is growing every year, this event has retained a certain friendliness and personality that much larger venues can no longer hope to offer. Where else would you be able to encounter this many former TSR folk without actually trying? The cocktail party Saturday night was a success and new familiar faces were there as well. The high point for me was spending some good time with an old friend whom I hadn't seen for thirty years: Merle Rasmussen, the designer of the original Top Secret game. Merle left TSR in 1984, about a year after I started there. Although he enjoyed a long and fruitful career in his native Iowa (and still does), he connected recently with Jayson Elliott at (new) TSR/Gygax Magazine and Luke Gygax. I was also very pleased to chat with Betty Elmore whom I hadn't seen for almost as long. Many other friendly faces haunted the halls of Geneva Ridge that cold, crisp evening. Sorry I didn't get everybody.  All good times must come to an end, so I'll post my pictures here for your enjoyment . . . and get back to work on my current project.

Gary Con
Dungeoncrawl meets SF

Friday, March 7, 2014

March Update

Ahoy!  Backers of the Star Phoenix!

As of early March, the Calidar project is proceeding apace.

Since last February, the first 63 pages have already gone through the editing process with Karen S. Conlin. This includes the main story, "In Stranger Skies," the overview of Calidar's universe (the planets, the moons, the races, and the gods), and the world of Calidar (the continents, the world soul, the Dread Lands, the Great Caldera, an overview of the realms, and a detailed historical timeline).

Meanwhile, writing continued for the Kingdom of Meryath gazetteer: its history, geography, economy, diplomacy, armies, internal politics, the culture of heroes, calendar, holidays, the NPC section (Heroes of the Star Phoenix and Heroes of Meryath), and the Guilds and Brotherhoods section.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

System-Neutral Character Rankings

Intended to be adaptable to leading fantasy role-playing games, Calidar does not feature a specific set of mechanics. Storytelling, flavor, and background information are the main goals. Guidelines presented here should nonetheless help referees make decisions on how best to render heroes and monsters in their game systems. Though a rating system is provided below, the intended game system’s mechanics should take precedence. Game masters should use their best judgement as regards style vs. accuracy.

This preview is posted here ostensibly to garner important feedback as to what you feel is missing, impractical, or unclear from a gaming standpoint. As promised in Calidar’s Kickstarter, a section in the final product will provide actual stats and mechanics for Pathfinder to better translate NPCs, monsters, equipment, and spells.

Ranks and Toughness: There are four general career paths in the World of Calidar which are independent from races—warriors (W), priors (P), mages (M), and rogues (R). Though uncommon, heroes with multiple professions are allowable. How far heroes progress along their career paths is measured in Ranks ranging from 1 to 100—one being a novice and 100 the highest that can be achieved. For example: for a Rank 50 hero of Calidar (Rk50) in a game where 30 is considered the top end, 15 would be the resulting career experience. Monsters unique to Calidar are treated in the same manner. Profession and rank abbreviations can be combined; for example W10 designates a rank 10 warrior.

Creatures and objects (such as ships and structures) have an innate capacity to sustain damage, which is labeled here as Toughness (Tn). Since they are often connected with heroes’ or monsters’ Ranks, Tn scores only address any randomness involved in the intended game’s mechanics. For example: Tn50 refers to an average score.