Lamentations of the Flame Princess/ACLU Offer

Jim Raggi over at Lamentations of the Flame Princess is offering a deal, giving a free book to anyone who donates $50 or more to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Donate here: http://www.aclu.org
Choose from here: http://www.lotfp.com/store/
Email all the info here: lotfp@lotfp.com
It’s good from January 29th through the end of February or until 500 books have been given away.
You can donate even if you’re not an American or in America. They could use a hand. Also, there are some splendid books available, such as the eerie Carcosa, the grisly Tower Two, the sublime Red and Pleasant Land, and the exhilaratingly weird Broodmother Sky Fortress.
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D&D and Timelines

As a word of warning, this article is a work of highly pedantic nerdery to a degree that I feel such a warning necessary on a role-playing game blog. It is also of questionable use.

I have always been fascinated by the idea of the living campaign world, a place where things happen independent of the player characters, where history moves on even when there’s no party of adventurers to witness it. The 90s AD&D scene feeds right into this: Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and all the other campaign settings occur in the same multiverse, connected by the Spelljammer and Planescape settings, and brought together in its own way by Ravenloft.

The potential of crossovers raises the inevitable question of timeline correspondence. Where do the timelines cross? The major settings were heavy with metaplot, none so much as Forgotten Realms, and to a certain mindset, it’s relevant to know what’s going on in Waterdeep when the party of kender steps through the portal.

One reason this is such an interesting thing to study is that as far as I can tell, the designers and developers at the time did not coordinate for this and what little data can be harvested from the gazillion sourcebooks of the AD&D era is often vague and contradictory. The work of assembling a coherent canon is an exercise in cherrypicking your sources. I, for instance, choose to ignore anything in Ravenloft that would contradict other stuff because the Demiplane of Dread plays fast and loose with time anyway. However, others have trod this ground before me, such as Paul Westermeyer, whose Spelljammer Timeline research I use as a base for my own study. There’s also a timeline converter app largely based on it, though I have one quibble with it. I’ll come back to that.

We can pretty reliably state that Dragonlance’s 358 Alt Cataclius corresponds to Forgotten Realms’ 1361 Dalereckoning through the Spelljammer novels Beyond the Moons and Into the VoidBeyond the Moons is mentioned to occur about five years after the War of the Lance, and Into the Void, according to Dragon #196 article “Novel Ideas”, is set in 1361 DR. The novels follow one another and are set within a relatively short span of time.

Greyhawk can be connected to that through the first Wizards Three article in Dragon #185, “Magic in the Evening”, which describes the meeting of Dalamar, Elminster and Mordenkainen in Ed Greenwood’s living room. It’s set right after the events of the Forgotten Realms novel The Parched Sea and before the Greyhawk adventure Vecna Lives, set in 1360 DR according to “Novel Ideas”, and Common Year 581 according to Adventure Begins, respectively.

As a side note, though there is no point of connection between the world of Warhammer and Forgotten Realms, I do seem to have notes from around 2002 about a character who crossed over from a D&D campaign I ran in Old World to another campaign that took place in the Forgotten Realms

There are also points of connection for Birthright, Dark Sun, and Planescape out there, but they’re less relevant because the metaplot is not nearly as strong in those. Same for Mystara, though the points of connection are tenuous. Eberron is floating free to my knowledge. I may someday trawl the material for that, but for the time being, it’s less interesting to me.

What is interesting to me is, of course, Golarion. Of course, as the setting of Pathfinder RPG, it’s not an official D&D setting. However, it shares an interpretation of the same cosmology and the points of connection exist and are clearer than those of many AD&D settings with one another.

This ties in with my quibble above. The converter application ties the timelines of Earth and Mystara with the note “This vague link is provided by the official TSR document “Chronomancy and the Multiverse,” which placed Diane de Moriamis’ home time in around the year 1600.” However, what the document actually says is “Averoigne could be part of a magical Europe around A.D. 1600 in HR4 A Mighty Fortress, and this wizardess could be met at various times through Earth’s history prior to her move to the world of Mystara.” That’s a lot of “could”, especially for a time traveller. We also could disregard it and take a closer look at how Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms tie together – in Ed Greenwood’s living room, clearly meant to be in the present day at the time of writing, 1992. I thus posit that the Earth equivalent year to 1361 DR is 1992 Current Era.

From here, it’s just a skip and a hop to Golarion. The Reign of Winter adventure path happens in the year 4713 AR, the year when Queen Elvanna should be stepping down from her throne in Irrisen. Its fifth adventure, Rasputin Must Die! takes place in Siberia, in 1918. This is explicitly reinforced in the foreword to the fifth adventure of Strange Aeons, What Grows Within, which was released to subscribers while I was writing this post, where James Jacobs states “After all, if you do the math that we’ve established, the implied year that Strange Aeons begins in (4716 AR) does in fact correspond to the year of 1921 here on Earth…” Therefore, Golarion’s 4713 AR = Earth’s 1918 CE = Dragonlance’s 286 AC = Forgotten Realms’ 1289 DR = Greyhawk’s CY 509.

This does set Golarion very far from the “current eras” of most of the other settings – a good sixty years before the War of the Lance kicks off, Drizzt Do’Urden isn’t going to be born for another decade, and Oerth is going through the era of relative peace just after Iuz the Evil has been imprisoned by Zagyg the Mad. Back in AD&D, they were all happening more or less at the same time.

Then, the current year in Forgotten Realms is sometime in the late 1400’s by now, the newest timeline for Dragonlance I have ends at 419 AC, and Greyhawk only goes up to CY 598, when the Living Greyhawk campaign ended. Oh well.

Meanwhile, I do see the rationale for making the corresponding point in Earth’s timeline in 1600. Early Modern Era is roughly the level of the most advanced technology in Forgotten Realms. However, the game also has a history of bringing characters from strange places to the then-modern Earth. In Dragon #100, we can find the adventure “The City Beyond the Gate”, which takes a party of adventurers from Oerth to London circa 1985 to hunt down the Mace of St. Cuthbert. The D&D adventure Immortal Storm is set in 1980’s New York City. The Wizards Three meet not in a medieval castle but a Canadian librarian’s living room. It’s the crossover where D&D meets urban fantasy, where the high-level adventurer gets to be a fish out of water in the face of firearms. It’s where things get weird. London in 1600 is just a smaller Waterdeep, but London in 1985 is unfathomable.

Also, you know what is in 1918? The first entry in the timeline for Masks of Nyarlathotep, that’s what.

masksrajattu

My Play History, at the Finnish Museum of Games

mph_2017

The Finnish Museum of Games opened at the Vapriikki museum complex last week. It was a crowdfunded project, and its mission statement is to showcase the history of Finnish games in all their forms. The core exhibit consists of 100 different games deemed relevant in one way or another. A surprisingly big portion of them are role-playing games or larps, and many of them are playable at the museum.

I will write up a larger report of the museum from a role-players point of view next week. I should have a pretty good feel for it then, since I will be spending my entire Thursday there, the complete opening hours.

This is because I got involved with a university course on the game studies side where we created the first temporary exhibit of the museum. The course was run by Annakaisa Kultima and Jaakko Stenros, who also blogged about it. It opened today and runs until February 10th, and it showcases the experience of playerhood through our personal histories as players and gamers. It’s called Minun pelihistoriani, or My Play History. There are thirteen of us from various backgrounds, and in addition to the texts narrating our histories and the objects that contextualize them, we’re present in the flesh. Each of us has a couple of days in the calendar when we’re sitting in a chair and chatting with visitors, perhaps even playing a game with them.

My dates are Thursdays January 19th and February 2nd, and Friday, February 10th.

It’s an interesting concept, and I feel we’ve made a hell of an exhibit for one hell of a museum. The folk at Vapriikki grok how to run a museum and make it interesting in a way I’ve rarely seen, and I go to a lot of museums. They use space in interesting ways, and the experience goes beyond just walking around and reading plaques. There are things to touch and try out for yourself. It’s how a museum should be done.

I will report on how things went once the month is over and done with. If you’re out and about on the dates above, come and say hi.

All the texts in the museum are available in both Finnish and English. Entry is 12€, 10€ for the unemployed or 6€ for students and kids. Children under 7 get in free.

Another Year!

So, that was 2016. May we never see its like again.

Okay, gaming-wise it was not a bad year. Gaming-wise, 2016 was a remarkably good year, I think both personally and on the level of the hobby at large.

We saw a number of fine Kickstarters fund: ConanDelta Green 2nd EditionPugmireThe 7th Sea 2nd EditionUnknown Armies 3rd Edition, and the Swedish Tales from the Loop. From Finland, we’re getting Sotakarjut and Astraterra 2nd Edition.

Additionally, unless I miss my mark, Lamentations of the Flame Princess delivered the last of the adventure modules from that one serial campaign so many years ago – Towers Two, and Broodmother Sky Fortress, and they were worth the wait.

Other cool stuff came out, like Hood from Myrrysmiehet, the Hell’s Vengeance and Strange Aeons adventure paths from Paizo, and the anniversary edition of Curse of the Crimson Throne, with impeccable timing as our party is next embarking on the last part of the campaign.

In play numbers, our Curse of the Crimson Throne campaign advanced by ten sessions, our Reign of Winter by 11. My Legacy of Fire reboot got one game in, and then there was a bit of Pathfinder Society, a Vampire: The Masquerade session that one of the players reported on, and some playtesting of various things.

I finally broke down and bought the D&D 5E Player’s Handbook. It looks like a solid game, though it of course does a thing that I already have a game for and its product support is tumbleweeds. If I ever run Paizo’s Second Darkness adventure path, though, I might convert it to 5E just to see how that goes – it’s in 3.5 and would need to be converted anyway.

So, what’s up for 2017?

The convention season of the year kicks off for me in February with the larp conference Knutepunkt in Norway. I’ll be attending the Week in Norway as well as the conference itself, but I have no responsibilities beyond good behaviour. Have to relax at least at one convention.

I should probably note that in mid-February there’s also Valocon in Jyväskylä, but I doubt I can make it.

Following that is Tracon Hitpoint in March, where I just shot off my program suggestion mail – a very important thing since the program division head has been telling me they’ve got an hour scheduled for me anyway and I’d rather not talk to a chair for 45 minutes. We had the first Hitpoint in 2015 at a school, but the convention is moving up in the world and is taking over the Tampere-talo conference centre. Apart from being bigger and better-suited for actually running a convention, this is nice for me since I can see it from my window. The venue will also host the comics festival Tampere kuplii two weeks later. In late May, I can probably be found in Uppsala for Kontur.

Ropecon 2017 is in late July, and stays at Messukeskus. Two weeks later, the venue will host Worldcon 75. Finally, in September, Tampere-talo will see Tracon 2017.

Whew, that’s going to be a busy year. As for upcoming releases, I hope they’ll include most of the Kickstarters I listed above, the majority of which aren’t yet out with full products. Though it’s a computer game, I will note that Torment: Tides of Numenera is set to launch in February. It is the spiritual successor of the venerable Planescape: Torment, a game so good it basically killed computer games for me. In August we should be getting Pathfinder‘s science fantasy cousin Starfinder.

As for gaming, we’ll be finishing both Curse of the Crimson Throne and Reign of Winter soonish, and I would expect my Legacy of Fire to wrap up before the year is out as well. We’ll see what will be run after that. I have received requests for Vampire: The Masquerade, and I’d like to have at least one adventure path running, but we have nothing solid yet.

And that’s what 2017 looks like to me. I’m probably overlooking something, there are things I’ve forgotten and things that never drew my attention. Please, let me know!