On the Chthonic Codex

+Palolo Greco is at it again.

This is the Chthonic Codex, Volume III of III, Mysteries and Mystagogues.

How is it?

Well, there's a desert on fire, filled with ruins. and a series of moist chthonic cavities, protected from the infernal conflagration above.

Protected. Ha!

What is it?

Mysteries & Mystagogues is the Game Master’s guide for Chthonic Codex. It’s not really structured as a typical GM book. M&M is really an improv tool for running a Chthonic Codex game. - Lost Pages

It's a book full of tables for subsystems for OSR games. It's thick with a flavorful setting, but not one that invalidates whatever setting you're currently using. The setting comes across in the tone -- one of a world where everything is deadly and mysterious and capricious, and everyone else is either your master, knows more than you, or is using you for their own ends.

Cudgel the clever has certainly met more than one result on these tables.

Tables full of interesting things:

In addition to the picaresque generation of 'what happens next' there's a section for achievements, that once unlocked, grant the players certain bonuses. It's a neat idea for the players to do certain things and be surprised by a small bonus.

There's a series of tables that describe steps needed to research and unlock the power of new spells. You discover a mystery and need certain paraphernalia to confirm your analysis, then you gather a key and travel to a location to discover the mystery of the spell via some act. Rather:

Mordecus the vain upon finding three misplaced library books notes that the second words of each of the titles spell out "fire" "ball" "spell". Taking this as a sign, he gathers four strands of hair from a zombified toddler. After examining these items, he discovers his three omens. He must acquire a necklace of strung together nick-nacks and travel to the broken wall of unescapeable thoughts where he must spend a few days with a chum and a plum, bum and drink rum, and strum and hum to unlock the knowledge of the spell.
Soon, the Mystagogues arrive! On the wall, one of the many marks, a portrait of a strange man begins to speak. He says the initiate must visit the Hidden Well in the Cave of Sorrowful Joy and use the spell Reveal the Unseen to see the well. Once discovered, the portrait instructs Mordecus that he must shed his blood into the well and the knowledge of the spell will be yours. The portrait then grants you the boon of learning the spell you will need, Reveal the Unseen, due to the quality of your plum, rum, and humming. 

The example above was randomly generated from the table in about 4 minutes. Maybe had to roll about 10d6. THIS WAS AN EFFECTIVE USE OF MY TIME.

Then there's the tables of Mysteric Powers. Or parodies thereof. Small unique abilities that characters or people may possess. Oh, and a giant table of Laws of Reality.

So, that might be totally awesome to discover in play.
A law of reality: Bones if held, mutate insects during winter
Do a few of those at the start of the campaign and just keep an eye out. It sounds like fun, I'll almost certainly do some of these before the start of my next campaign.

There's a complete system for generating dynamic Hypogean contents (caverns and underground caves in the mythic underworld), encounters, and artifacts.

It is a beautiful .pdf, and I cannot wait until the difficulties get worked out and I can get my print copy.

For 6$ it's a heck of a deal.

Hack & Slash 
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On 5e Backgrounds: Ratcatcher


You earned a living on the streets catching rats. You got little respect from anyone and there are few that would consider you their peer. You know a bit about the underworld and a bit about tracking and a lot about ways to both kill and eat rats. You'd be surprised how often that knowledge comes in useful to fancy pants adventurer types.
Skill Proficiency: Animal Handling and Nature
Tool Proficiency: Choose one of Poisoner's Kit or Thieves' tools. Pick one Musical Instrument.
Equipment: Common clothes, Crowbar, Hunting Trap, Hooded Lantern, 2 Oil Flasks, 1d6 rat corpses in a sack, Iron Cage, Shovel, 50' Hempen Rope, A Small but Vicious Mastiff

Feature: Murine Nature

You've been chasing and catching rats for too long. You can squeeze though spaces as a small creature, no matter your size, and you have advantage on rolls versus animal venom and disease. You also have an intuitive sense about tunnels and caverns. While underground, you can generally tell which direction is north and determine which directions eventually lead  to passages up and down.

Suggested Characteristics

You do work no one else is willing to do. Not only that, but you can't even talk about the horrors that come up through the sewers. Unlike most hoity-toity adventurers, there's no chest of gold at the end of your day, just a few coppers the guv'ment can scrape up, plus whatever you can sell your rats for at the market. You do it anyway.

d8 Personality

  1. You like being alone, scouting ahead. That way no one can be mean to you.
  2. You don't talk much, because you enjoy making other people uncomfortable. That's the same reason you don't bathe.
  3. You're only comfortable in the tunnels and underground. Being in the sunlight makes you nervous. 
  4. You really like meeting people and talking with them. You have a broad definition of people that includes animals. Especially rats. 
  5. You hate disease and are fastidiously clean. It is extremely important that you eradicate everything that makes people sick!
  6. Underground you can hear the whispers better than you can above ground. Sometimes they tell you very interesting secrets. You're pretty sure other people might be trying to get the secrets from you.
  7. You like rats. And dogs. And cats, pigs, and goats. It's people you don't like. Animals aren't duplicitous. And they are loyal. Unlike people.
  8. You get to know things other people don't, because you see their trash and garbage. You really like that feeling. Maybe someday you'll know an awful lot about a lot of people!

d6 Ideal

  1. Duty: If you don't stop the rats, who will? (Lawful)
  2. Merciful: You can catch and release the rats into their own habitat, doing as little harm as possible (Good)
  3. Nosy: You can find out all kinds of secrets about people in the sewers (Neutral)
  4. Explorer: You find beauty in new and secret places (Chaotic)
  5. Freedom: You take a bad enough job and no one bothers you. (Chaotic)
  6. Power: No one complains if you practice making poisons on rats (Evil)
d6 Bond

  1. You saw something once, down in the sewers, and it told you it was coming back for you. Now you hunt for something to stop it before it can get you.
  2. You had a pet rat once. You're not so much a rat catcher, so much as you're trying to kill all the other rats so they don't get in the way of finding your friend. 
  3. Ratcatching goes well with your drug vices. You're always looking for another chance to get high.
  4. You've got a missus and six kids at home to support. You've always been too busy working to get any kind of better job.
  5. Your mastiff is your best friend. He loves catching rats more than anything in the world, and that's why you were a rat-catcher. 
  6. There are people after you and no one has ever looked twice at a rat-catcher.
d6 Flaw

  1. I'm better than everyone else because I'm willing to do what they aren't. 
  2. I hear and see things that sometimes make it difficult to know what's real and what's not.
  3. I love the smell of the sewer hate when I don't smell like it. I like the reaction I get when other people get a load of me! 
  4. I don't like people very much and crowds freak me out. When they talk to me I get nervous and just do or say whatever I have to to make them leave me alone.
  5. I've seen people act like rats, I've got more respect for them than I do folks. Easier to kill a man than a rat, besides.
  6. I didn't learn my education so good 'cause my head damage! Mama only dropped me two times (Hold up 6 fingers).

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On the Phandelvers

So, did you know the Dungeons and Dragons starter set came out?

What's this? A lost mine in Phandelver? Guess I'll spoil the crap out of this online.

*flip, flip*

There's a green dragon on the cover. Holy crap, there's the lair of the dragon on the cover right in the middle of the module. "The character's aren't likely to slay the dragon". An encounter they can't win!? What kind of D&D is this?

Oh, Look. A description of the DM's role that doesn't say he's a storyteller.

A list of DM Advice I can read without going blind in my right eye from rage! Keep the gaming moving? Let the players contribute? Be consistent and fair? Don't ask for ability checks unless there's a challenge?

It's nice to see that a DC 10 check is an easy check and doesn't scale to player level. The cap on the DC's really reminds me of some of the modular systems in old school gaming.

Somebody put the word Boxed Text in bold and it makes me sad. It's followed by instructions to read or paraphrase the boxed text. Sad. I consider that this possibly gets a pass because it's a module for new players who are 12 and then I realize that is exactly why it doesn't get a pass.

Oh, here's some text telling you that you won't find monster stats in the adventure. You'll need to flip back to the back. Super-helpful to the DM running the adventure! *sigh*.


Am I spoiled? I think I'm spoiled. 

"Five hundred years ago, dwarves and gnomes made an agreement known as the Phandelver's Pact, by which they would share a rich mine in a wondrous cavern known as Wave Echo Cave. Times were good, and the nearby human town of Phandalin prospered as well. But then disaster struck when orcs swept through the North and laid waste to all in their path." -- Lost Mine of Phandlever

"Once, long ago there was a Kingdom of unspeakable wealth that traded in dark wonders, secrets and death. And many of the strange things now on earth were theirs. . .Then, as their kingdom slowly died, they hid their treasure palace in a lake, and set there: sleepless and indestructible guards. Everyone knows where it is, on the Lock, upriver of Carrowmore. No-one who goes there has ever come back." - Deep Carbon Observatory
To be fair: This background in Mines is like four paragraphs long. That is eleventy-two less paragraphs than is traditional for the publisher of D&D.

That is 70 of the 89 words of the Deep Carbon Observatory background.

The Forgotten Realms

Neverwinter Concept Art
Holy crap, Phandalin is like 50 miles from Neverwinter! That town has like 25,000 people. Oh, heck. The players are coming from Neverwinter!

"The adventure begins as the player characters are escorting a wagon full of provision and supplies from Neverwinter to Phandalin." -- Lost Mine of Phandlever
The 50 building town of Phandalin
"Neverwinter was regarded by many, including the erudite travel writer Volo, as the most cosmopolitan and the most civilized city in all of Faerûn, quite a reputation, considering the breadth and variety of the continent." (Forgotten Realms wiki)

No provincial adventurers these! They are leaving New York to go on a grand adventure in Bald Knob, Arkansas, Population 200!

Goblin Arrows

"Any character can drive a wagon, and no particular skill is necessary." -Mines of Phandelver

I am super glad that the actual text doesn't contradict the rules. There's that proficiency in land vehicles and you don't need it for stuff like sitting in a seat and leading oxen. Saying this out loud in front of the module reiterates the early statement about not needing to roll for simple or basic things. Yay.

"As you come around a bend, you spot two dead horses sprawled about 50 feet ahead of you, blocking the path. . . any character who approaches the horses can identify them as belonging to Gundren Rockseeker and Sildar Hallwinter." -- Lost Mine of Phandlever
More giving information the players should have to the players without skill check hoop jumping! I'm six pages into this adventure and haven't blacked out from rage and confusion once!

Also, finding the dead horses of your boss who you're going to meet in the road is a good hook. No explanation. Just surprise bad news.

An adventures first combat

Should be simple, right? There's a nice walk-though for first time Dungeon Masters, explaining step by step how to run combat.

"Keep track of everyone's initiative count in the margins of this book or on a separate piece of paper." -- Lost Mine of Phandlever

Mark up the book is awesome advice! Heck, I'll go ahead and take the time to write in the goblins stats where I need them.

The Goblin Trail

The outcome of the battle isn't assumed. Perhaps the players lose, perhaps they capture and not kill the goblins. After the combat we get this nice bit of text -- the first text in the module that causes my eye to twitch.

"Any inspection of the area reveals that the creatures have been using this place to stage ambushes for some time. A trail hidden behind thickets on the north side of the road leads northwest. A character who succeeds on a DC 10 Wisdom (Survival) check recognizes that about a dozen goblins have come and gone along the trail, as well as signs of two human-sized bodies being hauled away from the ambush site." -- Lost Mine of Phandlever

That. . . really isn't so bad.  Players have to choose to investigate. If they do, they will find the trail. Most will have over a 50% chance to notice that bodies are dragged, and even if they don't, the hidden information is A) specific and B) not necessary to the players. Personally, I'd explicitly say that it's a goblin trail outside the skill check.

Yes the module is super wordy but again, I don't hold that against it. It's an introduction set for people who never played before. If Menzer Basic came out today, I think some of us would burn it in a fire.

Along the trail are some traps. There's a lot of talk about how much healing there is, but. . . If I fall down and take 1d6 damage, are we resting for an hour and losing my 1 healing hit die? Are we drinking a 50 gp healing potion from my 4d4/5d4 x 10 starting gold? I've only got 6-14 hit points. I probably already took a short rest after the combat.

Whoo-hoo! 75 Exploration XP for finding the goblins hideout! Or wait, is that story XP? Are you trying to control my behavior and steal my agency 5e? I'M WATCHING YOU.

Cragmaw Hideout

General features is super-useful and essential. Let's me know logistical details about the complex to adjudicate player actions. Holy smokes! There's a box describing what information you can get from captured goblins. Sweeet.

Hm, this map is a lair with 4 rooms. From the entrance I can go to 3 of the rooms. It is a multi-level map with a bridge over a river for part of it. part of it loops back over another part of it. Is the first cave of the new D&D a Jaquayed map? What strange universe am I living in? Apparently it's the universe where both DM keyed and player facing maps for hangout online games are for sale from the artist.

The cave contains some wolves, a few goblins, including one totally willing to betray his boss, a captured human NPC to rescue, an arrogant bugbear, a few traps and surprises that can make things very difficult for a party, interesting battlefields and a chest with treasure.

Also noting the longest boxed text in the cave is 5 sentences. Upon finishing this first small cave, the players will have enough experience to become second level and pick a focus for their characters.

The End of Part I

It's wordy, filled with overused tropes, and contains few surprises or anything too weird or strange. But you're not killing rats.

For someone that hasn't ever played before, it's a great funnel to the following sections of the adventure. The module assumes people who have never role-played before, and presents them with quite a few options and freedom to learn both the rules and how to take actions to obviate the rules and bend them to their advantage, as well as punishing them in a possibly lethal way for neglecting to do so.

We'll be looking at parts 2-4 in the coming days on the Hack & Slash Blog.

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On Megadungeon Art

Megadungeons aren't just dungeons. They are paths we follow. There are many ways we can go, but the choices we make and the areas we explore make up the substance of our lives.

They are a literal fictional representation of a journey through life. That is part of their appeal.

Lo Kyung-me gets this. She's a young Korean illustrator living in New York City who works with blank ink on silk and paper. Take a look.

A Long Divorce
Her Tumblr can be found at Sunflower Cat
Here she talks about some of her work

"My first drawing ‘A Long Divorce’ was unplanned  –meaning no thumbnail drawing or mapped structure. Over a period of three months, I drew whatever came to mind that day. In a way, the piece serves as a diary from that time. I was very anxious during that time.  I think it comes out in the drawing."

A Megadungeon is our journey.

On Locks and Keys: Redux

So for the past year or so, we've been playing with the BURP lock system in Numenhalla.

After extensive playtesting, we've found it to be somewhat unsatisfactory.

BURP Lockpicking

In short, a lock has a number of pins. Each pin has an action that will set it, allowing you to go to the next pin. If you guess an adjacent option the pin gets stiff. If you guess an option farther distant, the pin jams.

The actions are, Bump, Undulate, Rake, and Probe.

If you have a Dragon Shadow Double Pin brand lock (BBUU), and the players record the sequence, then the next time they run into a Dragon Shadow Double Pin, then they already know how to get past it.
You can have related locks (Like a Dragon Shadow Triple Pin (BBBUUU)) allowing players to use their previous collected "Lockpick spellbook" to assist with future locks.

The process of selecting which pin is completely random and uninfluenced by player skill.

Why? There is always a "Best Option" and when there is more than one choice, there's no information to use to decide which is best, making the choice random. Since all the player choices are random, you could essentially just calculate a percentage chance of success and roll the dice to save time!
You could calculate a percentage chance of success and roll the dice to save time!

I wonder where I've seen that before?

A new solution

What we're looking for is a minigame that involves player choice and considers character skill. Mastermind seems like an excellent option (for example), but it isn't a mini-game. It's really a whole game, and would occur far too frequently in a megadungeon environment with many locked doors.

So here's my new solution!

Yahtzee locks
Locks have a set number of pins. The number of these pins is unknown to the lockpicker.
Players receive a pool of D6's. They may roll these dice once and turn in the dice in to pick a certain number of pins.

For example, if you turn in a single pair, let's say two 4's on the dice, that will set a single pin. If you turn in a set of triples, you set two pins. A full house (a pair, and triples) will set four pins.

If you have a lockpicking skill, at certain thresholds/levels/whatever, you gain the ability to reroll any number of the dice you wish, once, twice, or more. If you have a reroll and your dice come up 1,2,2,3,4,4 you could choose to reroll the two's and three's to go for more fours, or reroll the 3 to get a full house. The 1 would be pulled from your die pool.

Again, the player decides when to turn in dice to set pins and they don't know how many pins the lock has.

Anytime you roll a 1, that dice is removed from your pool for this lock. You start each new lock with a fresh pool of dice. If you fail to set all the pins, you jam the lock and it will no longer open.

Viola! Meaningful player choice, a reason to track locks, and something that takes into account player skill.

Here is the table:
Dice Set Number of Pins set
Doubles 1
Triples 2
Four of a Kind 5
Five of a Kind 8
Small Straight (4 in a row) 5
Large Straight (5 in a row) 8
Full House 4

  • Characters get a number of dice (1d6) equal to 1/2 their level (minimum 1) in their lockpick die pool.
  • Thieves/Experts get a number of dice (1d6) equal to their level + 1 in their lockpick die pool.
  • Characters get a number of bonus dice equal to their AC bonus from Dexterity added to their pool.
  • You need lockpicks to pick a lock
  • Masterwork or excellent lockpicks allow a free reroll.
  • For percentile editions, every 20% you get in your lockpicking you get an additional 2 dice and an additional reroll.
  • For Skills, the middle road: Untrained devices just grants you your dice as listed above. For each level (Skilled/Expert/Master) you gain +2 dice and a free reroll. So a master in devices would have +6 dice and could reroll 3 times. (Note that experts still get their 1 free mulligan per level, which can apply to any single die rolled in this pool)

How many pins does a lock have? Generally a number of pins equal to 1d6 per dungeon level.

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On a Dramatic Saga

I don't want to make this post.

I don't want to talk about things like this. I want to talk about gaming stuff. I have like a bunch of cool posts lined up this week. I'd prefer to have one today.

Here is what I hold to be true.

  • All people are created equal with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
  • Being an adult by definition means someone of the age of majority who is independent, self-sufficient, and responsible for their actions and behavior. 
  • That these ideals (Liberty and Freedom) are interrelated. 
    • Libertas: Unbounded, unrestricted or released from constraint.
    • Frei: A member of a tribe, along with the rights that go with belonging.
  • And that: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat
    • For those of you who don't speak Latin: the burden of proof is on he who declares, not on he who denies. You are innocent until proven guilty.
Look, these rules are arbitrary. But I believe them, because in actual practice when other systems are implemented, horrible enormities occur. 

I believe this analysis is trivial and un-debatable. Name societies where certain people have more value than others. Name societies where accusations make you guilty and you must prove innocence. Would you be happier there as the accused or person with less value?

The Rub

I think most everyone in the world would agree with what I have said so far. I also believe that many people who would have not thought about what that actually means.

It means if you inundate yourself in henti porn. watch videos of women being brutally degraded, read Maxim, buy Frazetta posters, play Kingdom Death, and hang out in men's rights groups that no matter how much research has shown that this influences behavior -- adults are still responsible for their behavior and the people producing such material still have the liberty to do so!

It means if you accuse someone of a crime, that the burden on you is to provide proof. If you support an accusation someone makes then that is a choice you have made, which you are to be held responsible for as an adult. If there is no proof and it harms the reputation of the accused, then it is legally Defamation, which is a crime.

When you take such actions, you can be held responsible for them. That means, say, I could gather a list, with proof of course -- say a link to the post where it occurred, and state, these adults who have freedom and liberty have made, supported, or approved of these false claims.

You see, if you are a free adult, then you are responsible for your actions, especially public actions. If you publicly take action you can be held accountable for that action. Being held accountable is not harassment, it is the responsibility of freedom.

If you were held accountable for an action and someone used that opportunity to threaten you -- in the legal sense -- then they would be committing a crime and could be held accountable. All you have to do is provide proof.

What I think

I haven't said a single thing about what I think in this entire article. I've simply discussed some of my core beliefs and provided some examples. As a departure from the usual actual useful material this blog posts, I'm going to talk about some personal things. This isn't something successful publishers and writers do because it alienates some portion of their audience. I'm going to do it because my success is less important to me than my beliefs.

I think if you're going to say or write something, you should say or write exactly what you mean and back it up with proof. It's not like we're working in a spoken forum. You have as long as you need to phrase something or look something up.

That doesn't have to be public. If Zak or Pundit exhibited anti-LGBT behavior in private, then channels are available for that to be addressed. People who say "If I provided proof you wouldn't believe me." or "I'd send the proof in, but it'll just be swept under the rug." come across, in my perception as if they are lying. I'm not saying they are. I'm saying that's the way someone who doesn't have proof acts in my experience.

I recently spent 7 days in the hospital. I almost died. It was a pretty miserable experience. Zak loves a girl who has a chronic illness called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (Donate here). How much time does he spend sitting in hospitals every year?

Do you know what you sound like when you accuse a prominent gallery painter with a disabled girlfriend and a substantially non-white, non-male, gaming group sexist and ablist?

I've seen all the "problematic" links posted about Zak. Because he linked the tumbler where they are being collected! He stands behind what he says publicly -- as an adult he takes responsibility for his public actions. I see a lot of people who really don't like a lot of the things he has to say. Good on you. You don't have to like anything he says. But there isn't anything there that A) harasses anyone or  B) exhibits any anti-LGBT statements.

Personally? I think Zak is one of the most creative and intelligent people I know. I can also trust he will get right in my proverbial face when he thinks I'm saying something shitty or producing something that isn't my best work. He is always honest and means exactly what he says.

What's more meaningful to me is he reads what I write and responds to the things I actually write, not anything he imagines it might imply. He will continue to respond until we either come to consensus or understanding of our differences.

Oh, and here's the thing. I've talked to him as a human being before. One day we were talking, in the normal intense way that Zak and I have conversations online and one of us said, "I'm busy and today's a rough day. Can we not do this right now?" And we didn't. Because he's not interested in attacking or hurting anyone. He's interested in the truth. That's rare.

The tangential fact that he's produced some of the most engaging and fantastic rpg material produced since the genesis of the hobby as a side project to his actual job is a bit relevant also. That's awesome. Who doesn't want more awesome in their life?

Oh, and Pundit? It's almost like no one has heard of North America. He's a shock jock. Posts all his articles in 17 different forums and places. He says inflammatory things. Sometimes, in the distant past, he's said things he wouldn't say today. Of course as an adult he's owned up to it. People like this -- shock jocks -- are very important for freedom and liberty. If you don't understand why, audit a free speech class at a nearby college. Also, I have a hard time believing anyone who in their heart is anti-LGBT would put a transgendered person on the cover of their published RPG.

More honesty here. I can't relate to claims of sexism in role-playing games. I'm sure it happens. I'm a white hetrosexual male. I work in a female dominated field. I don't know any women who make less money than me. I'm the only man in my house. Half my IRL group is female. One DM of my games is female. Another game I play in has a gay DM. My wife demands to play 18 strength half-naked fighters as she idolizes their power and sexuality. (She's the model for the cover of On the Non-Player Character) Our local gaming store is run by a LGBT person. I've played with women, POC, people from different countries, and LGBT people online. Just this week I've played D&D with over 15 different people and it has been that way for years. I have no idea what it would be like to sit at a table with only straight white males. So maybe I'm missing out on some secret world of terrible oppression, but it's all fun, positive, gaming over here. I'm not complaining about inequality. I'm participating in the gaming hobby in an inclusive way to combat it!

Nothing I've said invalidates someone's negative experience. Nothing I've said means you have to like some dude you don't like. But if you're not going to buy D&D because of who they consulted and you're using a cell phone/wearing clothes bought in a store/buying gas/etc. then I don't understand your values or how you reconcile your hypocrisy. If you dislike someone and then publicly defame them, then you're the one in the wrong. Unlike say, if you dislike someone and then provide proof of what they did that was wrong. Then you're just holding someone accountable.

I'm getting back to playing and writing about D&D, and hope you spend your time gaming and having fun. From over here it looks like a some people are more interested in other things than playing Dungeons and Dragons. Me? I've got to go roll 4d6 to make my character for my my third game this week.

* Yes. I know that liberty and freedom come into conflict. That's why we have a Byzantine legal system. However, for the things we are talking about here (Threats, Defamation) there are very clear guidelines about what constitutes such. Our system isn't perfect, but this is well-trod ground.

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On What is Codename:MORNINGSTAR?

Uhhhh. . .

Here's the link:


Official Companion? Picture of a tablet?

The announcement from June 10th is here: Announcement.

What do those links say? NOTHING.

The problem here, is that Hasbro, and by extension WotC, is a gaming and toy company, not a software company. Easily available reviews of Wizards talk about some of the issues of working for a company like WotC.

Don't take my word for it, this review says: "Cons – Completely incompetent at implementing any kind of digital media. I was tossed into a web design team even though I had no experience in and was not hired for coding. Had to deal with contracted web app companies that could not care less. I was placed almost exclusively in teams that had little to do with the job I'd been hired to perform."

There was in fact a tragedy during the development of DDI that scrapped many of their plans for the digital platform initiative. A Senior Manager of the Digital Technology Projects shot and killed his wife and then himself. This was a large part of why the planned Virtual Table Top technology release with 4th edition never made it to market.

What does this say for Codename: MORNINGSTAR? They have hired a small team with a three person core and about 15 total employees, up from their previous team size of 10. The primary project they have completed to date is a automated cloud publishing engine for books.

I have to wonder how many conflicting directives has the team been given? How much experience do they have delivering products on time? What are the teams goals? What are the dates? None of this information is available. It's clear the intent is to provide a character builder and distribute content, but it appears they are keeping it separate from DDI. No word on what it will cost. They've stated that they are not attempting to provide a Virtual Table Top.

I have high hopes for the company and the idea, especially since fifth edition so far has been full of very positive content. But I get the impression that anyone trying to do any good over at WotC is besieged by dozens of conflicting demands from mid and upper-level managers more interested in making themselves look good than in the strength of the Dungeons and Dragons game.

But what do I know? If you have information about Project: MORNINGSTAR, let's talk about it!

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