Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Map

After putting some thought into it I decided that one of my old takes on a fantasy Europe would be the best way to approach Yggsburgh and the world around it. In the first volume of Castle Zagyg the East mark is described as somewhat English in nature and this was something that I felt was a good jumping off point.

So, doing a search for a map of the British Isles and making some changes to it I came up with a rough map of the area I will be running the campaign in. While it is mainly a rough area map it gives me an idea of where certain countries and domains would be. As well it allows me to decide on where Yggsburgh and its area would be located.



As for the countries many will still be in the same place. England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales all remain in their current locations. However the a fifth country, Calontir, sits in the area that was once ocean and forms the main campaign area. This will be where I place Yggsburgh and the other areas I will develop for that part of the world.

I am also going to be bringing in material from Codex Celtarium and Codex Nordica into the setting as well as borrowing ideas from the old historical series from TSR. This will help flesh a few more things out and hopefully create a nice backdrop for the campaign. Of course history and such is not set at this point but having a good base helps when I get to the point of overall history.

As for the map itself, I am going to be trying to use GIMP to edit the map and hopefully make it more presentable and functional. As it is now, the map is a good starting place for the new campaign and hopefully the beginning of something bigger. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

5e Campaign Done, Back to Yggsburgh

Sadly my 5e Eberron game went out with a whimper and not a bang. Faced with some players moving away and a few cancellation due to health reasons the campaign saw an untimely death. 5e was fun but I also had a hard time writing for it and did not have the time to set up encounters or to keep checking the rule books for various answers to questions. As well, with a mid-week game and a fluctuating group it was time to look at another option.

I decided to go back to what I did best and that was a system that I could run with little prep time and that I could wing on the fly. That system is my old AD&D/C&C hybrid with a few things added in from systems like 3.X D&D and now 5e. The beauty is that I will not have to keep checking rule books and I can use pretty much everything I own when writing and creating adventures.

Of course you need a world for this and I felt it was time to run a new Yggsburgh campaign with also working on building up a world around the original map of the mini-setting. This time around I decided to place it in a world that is basically an alternate Earth with Yggsburgh itself being somewhere on the British Isles in the newly formed country of Calontir in the province of Gaxmoor.

I also am planning on using this world to continue my crossover work between Magic and D&D and as a testing ground for some other ideas. As well, I have decided to go back to some fun times I have had with the hobby and have decided to steal from everywhere and let players have some input on the world itself.

 For example, I am teaching my son how to play and he is a big Zelda fan. So to make it personal for him I had the elves worshiping a certain three goddesses from the series. Also being a fan of Skyrim I am making the main Nordic type deity Talos from that series. So if I see something I like I will more than likely use it, modify it or include it without any reservations. Much as I used to do.

To add in a bit of excitement to this I finally convinced my wife and daughter to join the game and play with the new group. This excites me more as I have always wanted them in the game at some point.

So here we go back to fun but familiar ground with new ideas and a fresh take.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Plane Shift: Planeswalking in D&D Part I

The Planeswalker is possibly the most important aspect of Magic: the Gathering lore and I feel is the one thing that needs to be handled first in this project. Ever since reading Plane Shift: Zendikar I began to work on just how to handle the idea of Planeswalkers in D&D. Exactly how these beings would present themselves in the D&D universe and how they could be integrated into a campaign and group would need to be one of the first issues tackled. Sadly, there is no easy answer to beings as powerful as Planeswalkers in D&D.




Planeswalkers as Magic sees them

The history of the M:tG Planeswalker begins with the idea of Planeswalkers being immortal, godlike beings that represented the players of the game. Their forms were the expression of their wills and they were some of, if not the, most powerful beings in the multiverse.

This was until the Time Spiral event where Planeswalkers were toned down and were now just powerful wizards that were now mortal. Yes, they could still move through realities and cast powerful spells but they were now mortal, aged and were limited by many of the same things the 'lesser' beings are.

In both versions the necessary means to become a Planeswalker is the Planeswalker Spark that only a few beings ever carry and even less see ignite. So becoming a Planeswalker could be a one in a trillion chance. While this works for Magic in D&D this becomes a problem as it becomes virtually impossible for any character to become a Planeswalker.

However using the above and making some adaptations we can get something going here. While it may not be pure Magic lore it will work for our purposes.

But first. . .


Planar Travel in D&D

Compared to the above, planar travel in D&D is much easier. When you have worlds, and a universe, with planar gates, portals and doors as well as magic items and well known spells it becomes much easier to hop from reality to reality.

 No spark is needed to traverse the planes and all you need is some knowledge of how to use certain events and items to your favor. Then once you find your way into these realities all you really need to do is make it into Sigil and you are at the center of everything.

From there it is a matter of just collecting new knowledge, spells and magic to transcend to a new level of being and become even more powerful that the new breed of Planeswalker has become.



Fitting them together


While thinking on how to fit this together I came upon a couple of ideas that would fit the old Planeswalkers, new Planeswalkers and the easier travelling in D&D together in some form. While this breaks a lot of canon and lore in both universes it does work and creates some interesting adventure ideas in the process.

Let's begin with the old Planeswalkers and the Time Spiral.

With the temporal breakdown on Dominaria and the rest of the multiverse a few of the old Planeswalkers saw what was coming and the destruction of the original spark. Not wanting to see the end of their power they began looking for a way to escape what would befall them.

It was during the planar chaos of this time a few of these Planeswalkers found another universe that was seemingly unaffected by the trouble in and around Dominaria. Using the rifts in their multiverse these Planeswalkers escaped Dominaria and came to what we know as the D&D universe/multiverse.

However, they made a miscalculation and arrived in the pasts of many worlds. On one such world, the Planeswalkers known as Bane, Bhaal and Myrkul established themselves as gods. On another the Planeswalker Vecna built an empire and unknown to all, the Eldrazi Tharzdun appeared in the primordial universe but was imprisoned by a mixture of gods and Planeswalkers.

Unknown to the citizens of this multiverse, many of their gods, demon lords and dukes of hell were at one time original Planeswalkers. While they may have lost some of their power in the move they did not suffer the consequences of The Mending as their Dominarian kin.

With the old Planeswalkers established as gods or demigods this leaves the question of the new Planeswalkers and how the spark would manifest in the D&D universe. Given the D&D rules and the rarity of the spark I would say that it only would manifest under a certain set of conditions.

Perhaps maybe with certain spells, items or maybe even as an epic boon of sorts. Another option would be that Planeswalkers manifest differently in the D&D universe than in the Magic universe. Maybe the combination of certain high level spells and magic items would be enough. And with the various portals on many of the worlds you do not need to have a spark to be a Planeswalker.

Of course, this is all speculation and thought exercises at this point. But you could rework high level NPCs like Elminster and Rary to be the new breed of Planeswalker in the D&D universe. The final point is that Planeswalkers in D&D would be different than their Magic counterparts and this should be so.

What's Next?

Next would be how the D&D multiverse would look in this exercise (Here's a hint, think 3.5 D&D), how to build a Planeswalker using D&D rules and how famous Planeswalkers would look in the D&D universe.

After that foundation it is on to a core world and how to bring creatures, spells, artifacts and items into the game. Yes, it is a long process but it will be worth it.







Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Plane Shift:Crossing Magic and D&D

Plane Shift is an ongoing series that I will be doing that continues the ideas given in Plane Shift: Zendikar and working toward playing D&D with ideas and flavor from Magic: the Gathering. I have said in the past that mixing ideas from the two is something I have done for years but with WOTC treading the waters on a crossover I decided to take the ideas I have had further to a fully realized world where ideas from both universes exist in the game.

Before I begin I want to say that this is not an attempt at making a Magic: the Gathering RPG. As much as I would love to see one I do not have the time or inclination to make one. Rather I am using the rules of D&D to build a game that has the flavor and 'fluff' of Magic included in it. While there may be some slight rules changes and definite 'conversions' of monsters, races and spells from Magic, this will all be done through the lens of D&D.

Of course, there are some challenges especially in the area of Planeswalkers and exactly how to handle mana in the game. I have looked at the first issue and have found a possible solution to this but the second is a bit tougher to handle as one would have to go through every race, class, spell and magic item in D&D to get this sorted. Something I really do not want to have to do.

As for the whole of the D&D universe there are many worlds and planes to explore and Planeswalking has been a part of the game since the earliest days. In fact, a game would never need to go to planes like Zendikar, Innistrad or Dominaria to have the Magic feel. Crossing from Oerth to Toril to Eberron can accomplish the same thing. Though visiting somewhere like Phyrexia or stopping an Eldrazi invasion on Toril would be fun and something I do want to explore.

Now, on to the series itself.

In this series I will begin to cover how make and define Planeswalkers for D&D, do some creation of spells like Lava Axe and such for D&D and even work on reskinning and making monsters whole cloth for D&D from Magic sources. I will make a 'home plane' that contains aspects of both Magic and D&D to serve as a jumping off point for the adventures.

In the end, I am hoping to help create a workable setting of sorts that combines both of my favorite games into one whole. As always questions, comments and constructive feedback are welcome.


Friday, May 13, 2016

"Viv"

Hey, Guys and Girls!

I was at work the other day, sitting in my office all alone and bored, and I found an article (with accompanying video) about a new piece of tech called "Viv." Some of you may have heard of this, but for those who have not: Viv is essentially Siri 2.0 on steroids.

According to the article and video, she maps out her own code and does all kinds of complicated stuff! Way more than Siri could even dream of doing. The tech was created by the same guys who created Siri.

Check out my video (my reaction) to this tech in my new series "Random Thoughts From The Office" in which I will be posting all the random things that come to my mind. They may be like this, they may be philosophical, they be super stupid, they may make you ask yourself if I take crazy pills. In all honesty, my brain works in mysterious ways! Ha!

Anyhow, I've posted the link below. Go check it out! Smash the sub button; give me a big thumbs up! Leave me a comment in the comment section and let me know what you think of the new tech!

Personally, I watch way too much TV and have a whole Terminator scenario playing over in my mind (seriously, aside from Bicentennial Man, where does A.I. not leave mankind completely devastated??? Do these creators NOT watch TV???)

~ Kitty

{Quick edit here. Seems Blogger ate the link. Here it is. ---Josh}





Tuesday, May 10, 2016

5 Odd and Creepy YouTube Videos

Those that know me know that I have a love for all things surreal, strange and downright creepy. I spend many nights browsing the internet for videos of the strange and unusual. Between creepypastas and videos I have read or watched quite a bit and felt like I wanted to share. What follows are five videos that I felt fit a certain dynamic of surrealism, creepiness and horror factors.

There are no jump scares here and there is only gore if it is relevant. If you do not like things that can and will be disturbing, please pass on this post.


1. The Hand Thing





Shaye Saint John was the brainchild of Eric Fouriner who conceived the character as a former supermodel that was in an accident and replaced most of her body with mannequin parts. The videos are campy and disturbing on a surreal level rather than being outright shocking.

Fouriner died in 2010 but leaves us Shaye, and the hand thing, as a legacy of weird.

Shaye's Website


2.  Dining Room or There is Nothing


This one still disturbs me even after seeing it many times. Dining Room/There is Nothing is one of those videos that come right out of a nightmare. It is a one minute or so looped film that I will let you watch to get the idea. Despite the lower quality of it and the simplicity it remains a disturbing thing to watch, especially on an continuous loop.


3. Illusion of Bias



I really don't know what to say about this one other than it is solid nightmare fuel. Part surrealism and part body horror Illusion of Bias mixes the two well in what becomes something more engrossing than most modern horror movies. There is a great narrative here that is worth the watch.

4. Elisa Lam


This one would not be creepy if you did not know the story behind it. Elisa Lam was the victim of a very strange series of events that led to her death. The above video is the last known recording of her. Since the story is too long to place here so follow this link to a good summary of the story.

5. The Backwater Gospel





Maybe not so much creepy as it is a cautionary tale in a western horror genre. I love the animation and music style as well as there being a solid story wrapped up in six or so minutes. This story also screams Deadlands and if I ever get to run a game of it I will be using it. 



That's it for this five videos. I will be looking for more and if you have suggestions let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#badkitty

Hey, Guy and Girls:

What is up? How's it going? I hope you are all having a FANTASTIC week and have an even better weekend.

Kitty here and I just wanted to introduce myself, talk a little about the channel, and give you a bit of a preview of what I've got coming your way in the VERY near future!

Firstly:

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I'm 27 years old and have been gaming for about 24 of those years. I proudly own, and frequently use, every console in the U.S. (yes, even my NES!). I became a "dedicated gamer" in junior high and my senior year of high school I put a gaming channel on YouTube. As I got older, I began to care about not only the games I was playing, but the people watching those games.

I had well into the 4-digits for my subscription base, but I wound up deleting the old channel (some of you may have been on there: kittythegamerchick) and creating this one. I want this new channel to be something positive and fun. My goal is that the commentary is entertaining and the games are what you, the viewers, want to see!

Granted, I'll also be uploading some of the games that I love, but I'm doing my best to bring new content to the channel and make it even better than it was before. This new channel has only been up a few weeks and I've already gotten 22 subscribers! Let's keep that number growing!

That being said, I do more than just play video games. You'll be seeing some "vlogs" (although, I don't really consider them vlogs) featuring Magic The Gathering, D&D, and just fun times hanging out with my friends and siblings. I want you guys to be, and feel like we are, a community! Guys, we're the gamers!  You'll travel with me (in vlog form) to gaming and geek events and participate in blind boxes!!

So, aside from what I just listed, here is the current game list:

-- more TubeTycoon Beta
-- Shadow of Mordor GOTY (by request)
-- Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (had some issues with the previously posted videos for this one)
-- Battleborn
-- Ratchet & Clank (which, I'm currently working on)
-- Overwatch Beta
-- Overwatch (upon release)
-- Darksiders 1 & 2 (by request)
-- Assassin's Creed Syndicate (by request)
-- Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

I still have some slots available for summer gaming so, let me know what you want to see!!

So, here are some links for you guys to follow/subscribe!

Twitter
YouTube
Instagram

Also, shoot me an e-mail and let me know what games you want to see this summer or just to say "hi!"

E-Mail

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week, an even better weekend, and I will see you guys later!

 ~ Kitty




Grimmhaus Update: 4/4/16

Happy Star Wars Day!!!

Here are a few things that is going on with the blog and it's partners that I thought would be worth sharing. As well I am going to be giving a look at what I am planning with Grimmhaus as a whole. I plan on doing one of these updates every week or two just to keep all of you informed on the goings on behind the scenes and around my corner of the multiverse.

So without further ado. . .


Kitty on YouTube  


Kitty has begun a play through series featuring the Wizard for Diablo III and has also begun a Let's Play for Tube Tycoon. The Diablo III one is going well but I have yet to watch the Tube Tycoon one. She has also completed her series on the Battleborn Beta and is still working on her Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Walkthrough. Kitty also has been invited to be an author on Grimmhaus so you may be hearing from her soon.

Definitely go check out her work as she also has other plans in the works that are very exciting. I can also say that these plans will take her to a more recognizable place on YouTube so get in so you can say you was watching when she started.

Here are some links to get you started:

Diablo 3 - Wizard

Battleborn Open Beta

Let's Play Tube Tycoon #1


The Raven's Loft



Having survived the first annual Lebanon Mo Mega Con, the Loft is back in order and ready for the usual gaming, shenanigans and chaos that it is known for.

They have gotten in a new vintage toy collection that should be out and priced by the time I get there Saturday night. So that means that if you are by the shop buy everything you can so I don't have to explain new purchases at home.

The weekend will bring the usual Magic games on Friday and RPG sessions on Saturday with me and some co-workers showing for our after work Magic wind down. Next Wednesday will be the Yu-Gi-Oh tournament and my 5e game in the back.

If you're in the area be sure to check them out.

Raven's Loft

Lebanon Mo Gamer's Guild


The LMGG has a new Facebook Page that I have linked up to the side under 'Partners'. The new page is doing well and is much more user friendly than the old one. The page is used to organize events, trade and keep up with other gamers.

Many of the members also went to Mega Con and from the ones that I talked to they all had a great time. I wish I could have went but the corporate taskmasters had other plans. There is always next year.



LMGG


Grimmhaus

 Many things are going on here at once. I am looking for a new layout and logo for the blog, researching a couple articles and getting an idea of the direction I want to go with it. As well, I am still setting up the new computer and getting all of my DM tools found again. I had just barely got a few of the better 5e ones found before my old computer quit so it has been a long haul there.

As for direction on the blog I am looking at table top gaming and retro video and computer gaming as the main focus. I am also adding in some other things I enjoy such as vasping, paranormal phenomenon, and a few other odds and ends that strikes my interest.

I am also looking at doing some things that cover the growing gaming culture in my area of Missouri (Lebanon area to be specific) which has went from barely being able to support a comic shop to having a growing gaming community with at least one shop focusing on pre-2000 D&D and retro games. So, I am hoping to share news of this community as much as possible.

There are other projects too that I am not ready to reveal just yet as they are in a nebulous state at this point and I do not know if I will have the time or resources to pull them off.

That's it for now. Please go check out the above sites and let me know if there is anything else you want me to tackle or cover.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Plane Shift: Zendikar. A good beginning.

I have always wanted WOTC to do something for those of us that are fans of both Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: the Gathering. Whether it be a few creatures from Magic used as monsters, a spell or two or even a setting book, I always felt there needed to be something done between the two games. So you can believe that I was happy when I heard about the release of the Plane Shift: Zendikar PDF a few days ago.

After getting the new computer set up I downloaded the PDF and began reading it while making a point to ignore all the comments made not only in the Blogosphere but on social media. I figured it would be met with the usual snark and derision things like this tend to be and I did not want my opinion colored.

I'm glad I stayed away because in my opinion, this is 38 or so pages of something I hope we'll see more of. While it is somewhat of a supplement to The Art of Magic: The Gathering--Zendikar the book is not needed to use the Plane Shift supplement. I will say though that it is suggested that you have the book but there is enough fan content on the web to make it optional.

Plane Shift: Zendikar is broken up into three sections: The World of Zendikar, Races of Zendikar and A Zendikar Bestiary. (I will go over these below.) Each section is brief but holds quite a bit of information to get you started on the path to running a campaign on the plane. Be forewarned that the Bestiary is light only having a handful of statted monsters and relies on reskinning monsters. Also there is no map of the plane included and I cannot seem to find one on the web so you may be on your own there.

The World of Zendikar

The first section is three pages and covers the basics of the world. You get some on the world's feel and tone as well as the eras before, during and after the Eldrazi came to Zendikar. There are sections on ruins and names of various locations from the above three eras.

Overall this section is light and provides a very basic overview that I have heard is somewhat different from the tone set for the plane in actual Magic lore. The feel I do get from this section is that Zendikar is a very 'points of light' setting (to use a 4e D&D term) and one that you do not want to be caught in the wilds of for long.

Races of Zendikar

The next twelve or so pages cover the various races of Zendikar. Included here are Humans, Kor, Merfolk, Vampires, Goblins and Elves. There are sub-races for the Merfolk, Goblins and Elves with the elves showing how a standard D&D race can be changed for a new setting. Something I hope that WOTC continues with for future D&D settings as an elf on Zendikar would not be the same as an elf on Faerun.

Of the new races I find the Kor the most interesting and may actually include them in my Eberron campaign as a replacement for the Kalishatar as I never were a fan of them. Vampires are actually playable but as a DM I would be leery of letting a player have one as it could lead to problems in a group. Merfolk are fine as is and could replace the annoying aquatic elves of the Forgotten Realms whole cloth. Goblins are actually a nice surprise and I may tweak them a bit to fit my Eberron game.

What I took away the most from this section was that you can get away with not having all the core races in a world and that even those that do appear should be different than core D&D. The elves are a prime example of a similar race evolving on a different world. I hope WOTC remembers this if they actually ever produce setting books again.


A Zendikar Bestiary

The last eighteen pages covers the monsters of Zendikar and does this well. While there are only three monsters given stats the section shines on how to reskin monsters from the Monster Manual into Zendikar creatures. While some may call this lazy, I see it as showing the versatility of 5e and WOTC backing off their old stance of rules are everything and not wanting DMs or players to change anything. In my opinion this section is a win.

Reskinning is the big theme here and it works well. Drakes can be made by using Giant Eagles or Pteradons, Baloths can be made by reskinning the triceratops and the various Eldrazi by reskinning certain monsters with a couple of stat mods.

The take away here is the versatility of the Monster Manual in different situations and how easy it is to make a new creature out of an existing one very easily. This section works both as a bestiary for Zendikar and as a guide for inventive use of existing monsters.

Final Thoughts

Plane Shift: Zendikar does some amazing things in just a few pages. It also really showcases not only how 5e D&D benefits from a design that lets you do what you want when and how you want ( A far cry from the 3e and 4e days) but also shows you how you can create, move and redo things to make an entirely new concept out of something older (looking at the bestiary again). Something that was lost in post-2000 D&D for awhile.

Would I use it as a setting? Yes and if it wasn't for running an Eberron game right now I would be working on a Zendikar campaign. As it stands it does give me ideas. Like I said above, I want to include the Kor as a race.

 It also has me thinking on a couple other things; what if it was an Eldrazi that blew up the Cyre and created the Mournland? What if the Lord of Blades was actually a Phyrexian priest? How would the party deal with a Dragonmarked house doubling as an expeditionary house on Zendikar and owning a portal between the worlds? What if a few warforged made it into Zendikar and helped take on the beasts there?

If nothing else, Plane Shift: Zendikar has sparked my imagination and for that I give it a 5 out of 5.

Featured Article on WOTC's Site: Plane Shift

Get it here: Plane Shift: Zendikar

Monday, May 2, 2016

New Computer and Zendikar

I finally got the new computer hooked up and running and am on the way to getting my stuff organized on it. It will take some time to get everything back in order but I can also do a bit of a 'remodel' on how I have things organized.

This also means I can work more on the blog than I have been as it will be easier for me to keep up on things than it was with just using a phone or tablet. I have learned that while they are nice, they will never replace a good ol' PC. So, in the next few days I should have most everything back in some form of order and get to work on some things I have been holding off on.


That all said. .  .

By now most of you know about the Magic: the Gathering crossover with Dungeons & Dragons in the form of Plane Shift: Zendikar. I have yet to read it so cannot give my thoughts other than it being about time we saw something like this. I have been borrowing ideas from M:tG for some time and I hope this is the beginning of something bigger.


Unfortunately that is all the time I have for now. I need to get back to getting things back in order. So have a good day, keep your work load light and your gaming load high.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Partners!!!

As you can see I now have what consider partner sites.

The first is my friend 'Kitty's' YouTube page where she is currently doing some video gaming episodes and will be expanding from that. I try to keep up with her channel and we do know each other in real life. I can tell you she is good at what she does. I can't wait to see more from her and I may invite her to do some guest posts here.

Second is the Facebook page for the Raven's Loft which is the homebase of my campaign and gaming life right now. Great store, great people and a dedicated Old School Gaming following.

Finally is the Lebanon Mo Gamer's Guild. Basically this trying to be the hub of the Lebanon Mo gaming scene. I want to help them get there.

As you can see the partners are all Lebanon area businesses or gamers. One thing I want the new blog and any other thing I do to include is on a rich and growing gaming scene in this little area of Missouri. It has a unique culture and feel of it's own and something I am happy to call mine.

One last thing, there are some plans that are forming that if they work out will do some things I have wanted to do for some time. Nothing is set in stone but stay tuned as we hammer out the details.

The Cost of Piracy to the Local Game Shop

Preface

The idea for this article was born from a series of conversations I had with the owners of the Raven's Loft in Lebanon Mo. It was during these discussions that I began to change my views on piracy and began to see a real cost to real people. Not faceless corporations but to real friends and people trying to make a living. It was at this point that I purged all of my pirated gaming material and vowed to only buy legal copies from here on out.

What follows is what I have personally seen as the cost of piracy to one store in particular. Though, this is more than likely true for any game or hobby shop that still has a brick and mortar presence. I have come to believe that if we want to save the physical stores that we use to buy our material, play in and even hang out the piracy must end for their sake.

The Cost of Owning a Store

Anyone who has taken even a high school business class knows that there is a such thing as overhead. That is the cost of running the business on a day to day basis. Rent, electricity, water, insurance, taxes and wages are part of that overhead and comes out of any money made for that business. On a retail level there is also the cost of buying products to sell which adds more into the equation.

What many people do not realize is that many retail businesses have high enough overhead to only allow for slim margins of profit and rely on a certain number of sales each month to just break even. Since the point of any business is profit, breaking even is not a good thing. The reason is that a percentage of profits should be sunk back into the business to expand and improve. If there is no room for this or, even worse, a business has to cut back due to lost profits the store can stagnate or even die.

Since I do not have access to any actual numbers we are going to assume I have a store and show what the costs can be*:

Rent                          $400

Electricity                    300

Water                         150

Gas                             250

Insurance:                    200

Wages                         800 (Assuming 2 employees at $10/ Hour)

Product Orders          1000

Total Operating Cost:  2850 per month

*These are possibly very conservative numbers.

The store would need to take in $2850/month to break even but would need at least $4275/month To have enough cash to expand and grow as needed. With this particular industry expansion would be partially through new product lines such as Magic: The Gathering blocks, new games like Doomtown, and even the newest offerings from Paizo and WOTC. The other would be for new tables, chairs and other things needed for players to play the games. All of which can be very expensive.

As well, retail tends to fluctuate in sales numbers, prices and what seasons make more than others. So, nothing is hard set or fixed in the market. Which leads to why piracy hurts. . .

The Cost of Piracy

What started me thinking about the cost of piracy to the store was actually seeing the number of pirated D&D 5e books moving in and out of Raven's Loft on a weekly basis. Knowing that WOTC did not, and has not, sold digital versions of the books made it obvious that there was quite a bit of illegal material around. And a sudden influx of tablets and laptops with the 5e core books made it fairly obvious what was going on.

Even my own group had this issue and I did turn a blind eye to it as I figured that this could lead to book sales. Needless to say I was wrong and this led to me enacting a rule that pirated material being used in my game would be grounds for immediate ejection.

Looking at the numbers (again making an educated guess) and the time this happened I could draw a couple of conclusions: First this was during a slow sales time of the year so the store was possibly just barely over even and second that if these were actual sold books the store would be making more money.

So let's go back to my hypothetical store and play this out:

It is early fall which is a slow sales time. I need $2850 to break even and am close but I will have nothing in my profits but if something happens I will be under what I need and will have to use my limited savings and expansion money to cover costs. 5e is taking off and I have potential sales there that I am hoping for.

Eight new players come in for 5e and I figure about half will buy a PHB. So that is a potential sale of $200. However since they are using pirate pdfs, they never buy. In fact all eight are using them meaning that I am looking at eight lost sales totaling $400*. Not to mention a DM using illegal copies which costs me another $150 in potential sales meaning that I have potentially lost $550 in needed income through piracy.

(*Each illegal copy coming into a store should be counted as lost income)

So taking $550 from a lean month in sales hurts terribly and could actually bring the store under for the month. Each time a new player comes into the store with a pirate PHB you can count a $50 loss and a new DM would be a $150 loss. It adds up quickly and this is only on one particular game. If games like Pathfinder or even Star Wars was counted (I have seen both) the income lost is outstanding.

In fact, it can take a profitable store to unprofitable in as little as a month and possibly less than a year to have to close the doors of that store due to lost sales from illegal activity. While it may seem outlandish it is a very real possibility.

A Quick Aside

I should bring up two things that can be argued here: sales from other stores and sales from digital stores.

First off, sales from a competitor is a part of any economy and is within the realm of fair business. It is how a market should work and while it will have impact it is a purely valid move to buy from a business that has what you want. It is a business owner's job to try to get you to buy from him instead of someone else.

As for PDF sales I am not a fan of them as they do undercut physical stores. 99% of pdf sales go straight to to the publishing company and there is no way for a local game shop to sell or distribute the product. Though they are legal sales, I feel they are sales that hurt the overall industry and takes away from gaming on the local level.

My total feelings on these are that they are legal and acceptable purchases that fall into the realm of fair competition. Though I may not like digital sales they are something local stores do have to consider in competing.

Excuses, Excuses

I think I have either used or heard all excuses for piracy from one time or another. Some have a small amount of validity while others are purely absurd. I'm going to list a few here and show why they don't work.

1. I'm going to buy it eventually.  I have used this and nine times out of ten eventually turns to never. The fact is that we will always go the cheapest and easiest route and can justify not buying the item each time we have the chance. Though it

2. I'm only hurting a faceless company. I think I have shown that this is not the case.

3. The books are really expensive.  Ahh yes, the one I loved to use. The truth is that gaming is a hobby and hobbies can be expensive. Unfortunately we as a society have mixed up needs and necessity with wants and recreation. The fact of the matter is that if cost is a factor then look for a cheaper game or hobby. There are many free games now, there is a 5e SRD as well and there is no reason not to go that route.

The cold hard truth is work with what you can afford, save money and shop for a good deal. Using this as an excuse is like saying that a new corvette is too expensive so you just take one off the lot. Sorry, but price is no excuse for piracy

4. I never intended to buy anyway. Yeah this is a doozy and one that sets my teeth on edge even when I was actively pirating. Usually this is followed by wanting to play in or run a game regardless. Basically, you are saying you want the books but have no intentions of paying for them. You might as well be walking into the store and taking them off the shelves because you have stepped from piracy to thievery in one statement.

To me this is the lowest type and reeks of entitlement and lack of respect for anyone running a business that welcomes you to play in. My only advice here is quit the hobby until you can properly adult.

Combating Piracy

Let's get one thing straight, you will never eliminate piracy and there will always be a cost to the stores. However you can slow it down. As I said above using pirate material will get you banned from my game. Raven's Loft has banned laptops unless you are a DM and use of their wi-fi is restricted to staff due to issues of piracy and other problems. Other stores have required that any digital material be checked by staff and if pirated you are banned from the store either for a limited time or for good.

Using this as an example gives us a starting point. Lay the rules out clearly, posting on the door that such things are not allowed and will be cause for removal is a good start. Lay away plans for those that do not have the cash to buy immediately will help curb this. Other stores have offered book rental and keep loaner copies of certain books so that a player can look them over before buying. (Raven's Loft does the latter) Even things as minor as customer loyalty programs can help on the store side.

On the patron side remembering that the store needs money to operate and buying something always helps. It does not mean you have to buy something big every week but something as small as a bag of chips and a soda helps the store along. More on the point, helping new players/customers know why you ban pirated material helps them get the idea and can move them to ordering or buying from the store.

Final Words

The hard core truth of the matter is this: Piracy is Theft. While that does sound like a bad PSA, it is true especially when local stores are involved. If you are going into a local store that can sell or order a book, game or whatever to you and you choose to pirate instead you are basically shoplifting or stealing from the store. Having a job in the past where I did deal with shoplifting I can tell you the cost is much higher that you would think.

Local shops already have to contend with large online sellers like Amazon and Wal-Mart who can afford to undercut prices. As well they have to compete with a digital market that eats into their sales with no way enter the market as it is locked up by the designing companies. (I think an article on this would be a good idea. . .)Adding piracy in as a loss makes an already bad situation worse. However it is one that can be controlled to give the shops some ground to hang on to.

In the end, piracy will not only hurt the stores but those of us who use them. I would ask that if you frequent a store and use pirate material stop. Delete it and buy from the shop to help them. Especially if you value where you play and the community around it. If it is lost it may never come back and it just well may be your fault it died.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Eberron Beginnings

Jumping off of my last post I want to lay out exactly what material is being used for my Eberron campaign and what is being included beyond any 'official' material to date. This is being done with the assumption from the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting that if it is in D&D it has a place in Eberron. Now, that does not mean I am including any and all material as I feel any addition has to have a somewhat logical reason for being there and I do not want a kitchen sink campaign. However, some things are being included that have sparked an interest in seeing how it would fit into the setting.

I also want to say that I am in no way an Eberron expert. I only own the core setting book and any other knowledge comes from certain forums and websites I visit. A plus to this is that it leaves quite a bit open to what I want to do with the setting to make for a unique experience. I am not to worried about canon as long as believeibility and immersion are maintained.

So to start here is the basics of what I am using: 

Core 5e books with the Eladrin and Aasimar open to players

3.5 Eberron Campaign Setting

WOTC's Eberron Conversions

WOTC's Elemental Evil Player's Companion Aarakocra removed and an adjustment to the Goliath (I will follow this up in a later post)

I am also looking at some of the alternate takes on the Artificer as I agree there are problems with the class as a Wizard path instead of a full class. Since no one has taken an interest in the class, I have time. 

I have also been using the Eberron Wiki and5e Homebrew Wiki to get ideas on how to fill in some blanks. 

I am also slowly working toward converting monsters, creating backgrounds and converting spells for the campaign but I do not want to share anything just yet since none of this is ready for public consumption. Designing for 5e is a bit tougher than designing for C&C or AD&D so I want to make sure all is in good shape before I post anything. 


As far as this Eberron post goes that is all. While I feel this is kind of filler I want everyone to be on the same page as far as how I am going about things. The meatier posts will come. 

Before I wrap up I want to plug a YouTube channel that a friend of mine has. I know her personally (we work for the same evil corporate empire) and want to give her some advertising. She is currently doing a Zelda Ocarina of Time Walkthrough and some videos on the Battleborn beta. So go visit her channel, subscribe, like and tell her Josh sent you:

Kitty on YouTube


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Eberron and 5e

Sometimes you just need a change. In my 20+ years as a D&D player I have always stuck to a traditional fantasy world. While I did enjoy this, it has now grown stale and boring. Somewhere, I don't know when, I became enamored with dungeonpunk and higher magic settings. Then, as fate would have it, I picked up a used copy of the Eberron setting and saw just what I wanted to do.

I also felt that I did not give 5e the proper shake down it needed and, with the rise in more modern players, felt it was a good idea to give it another shot. While my heart remains with the older systems, it was time to shake things up a bit.

So, I have decided that Eberron and 5e will be the new campaign for at least this year. The first session begins tomorrow and will kick off the campaign. I am hoping for it to run into March or April of this year to really get a feel for things and find my groove with both the setting and the rules.

So what am I using for the campaign and how am I going to handle conversions? First I am using the core 5e books and the Eberron supplement. I have also imported the Goliath race and may include the Genasi, if I can find a fit. Monsters will begin as reskins until I learn to convert the originals to 5e. Hopefully by then a more defined Eberron will emerge from WOTC.

I am looking forward to a new beginning both with this blog and with the new campaign.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

So it was time

Maybe it is a symptom of my gamer ADD, bipolar disorder or a mixture of both but I felt the ol' blog had lost her way. After looking over the posts and the content I felt that the blog had a bit of an identity crisis. So, after much thought I purged the posts and have decided to dedicate Grimmhaus back to being a C&C/AD&D blog with some retro stuff thrown in for fun.

I will post as regular as I can and will do better about maintaining focus. More on all of this later as it is late.