Friday, January 13, 2012


So... a friend of mine was in a bit of a pickle this week. For a few moments he was out a couple of tables worth of RPG Mastering for the Gottacon Gaming Convention here in Victoria, and he was asking if I could help out if the guy he'd asked fell through. I said sure, but what do you need me to run? I said I could run Labyrinth Lords Keep on the Borderlands or this Lego d20 thing I have been playtesting. He said they'd both be great. When he got back to me that the guy he was waiting on confirmed, I have to admit I was a little disappointed, but I said, "Hey, if you want me to run one anyway, I'm game." He got back to me today to say that there were a couple of tables free. Now I am excited to be taking this out "TO THE NEXT LEVEL" as a certain friend of mine would say. So sign up for Gottacon. Come, enjoy. Sunday, February 5th, 9am for round 1 -- another grand melee, which will lead to, dun, dun, dun.... I can't tell...

Oh and if you plan to come there's a preregistration thing at their site. Visit :

Money, money, money.

So one of the big issues with the game so far is bridging the gap between the various rulebooks on item costs and the very real possibility of making the monetary truly physical by having real values for items of Lego based on their material (color) and size. There would have to be a certain differentiation of value based on quality... I mean a longbow only looks like it takes 4 studs of wood, but 4 studs of firewood or palm tree is not the same AT ALL as a longbow. I do know that I want to use my little round black flat 2x2s as Iron ingots but how much is that worth? I think probably one gold stud... but is a gold stud a gold piece? I have some numbered dubloons from my brother's foray into pirate lego so that can help.
The other thing is trying to keep all the kids stuff separate. I found some great 1"x1.5" mini containers at Dollar Giant which is perfect for a minifig and his stuff, so that is a help, and I have tiny ziploc bags... but man, keeping all this straight for my sanity and the enjoyment of 12 year olds is challenging.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

An Excellent Start.

"We got through two rounds," said Darren, surprised -- and not in a bad way. Considering when we started up 2 players hadn't made characters, there were rule changes to adapt to, one had left his character at home and had to remake his all over. After swarming me about the rules changes and any other question, we sort of got them focused enough to sit down. We had to stop them from constantly raiding the lego buckets and the premade minifigs I had put together (which came in really handy when someone wanted to play a sword and shield Warrior, had a couple good to go.) The tricky part was getting them to understand that Scholars didn't get to use spears and wear helmets, and to get them to (sort of) uniformly make their class and team identifiable in their minifigs.
We finally got initiative sorted by 4:15. Getting initiative sorted was a bit of a challenge with 16 participants, many of them never having played before, ever. One participant, who doesn't speak much on account of just moving from a totally French speaking area, didn't even get himself into the initiative, and hadn't put a minifig together and on the table. Luckily a lot of my organization let me field his mini in seconds.
Some really interesting tactics. A spectacularly bold move from one of the guys was to, instead of heading to base to protect the flag, jump over the king's banquet table. His move didn't go so well so he ended up pinned by the other team right on the table. Luckily he only took one hit, albeit from a sheathed Greatsword... As silly as it seemed to go, it provided a key distraction for his teams power character to go for his biggest asset -- his horse. We weren't too keen on him trampling everyone so we encouraged the idea of playing fair and using the mount only for movement, dismounting for combat and meeting his opponents (not really enemies, but fellow tournament participants) on foot.
These smart and silly moves aside, my biggest kudos goes to one participant who held her action to 'wait and see' and then declared to help pull her table dancing comrade out if he went down. Turned out when he jumped off the table he critically failed and face planted right on her character, luckily the held action then triggered and she used her turn to get them on their feet. On the ground they could have been pounded into hamburger.
What is interesting is that they are starting to get the idea that LISTENING is to their benefit, that INTERRUPTING detracts from other peoples' turns and stops them from getting to THEIR TURN. Aside from the imagining and creativity and excitement playing games like this generates, it is these simple lessons about manners that stand out for me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Refresher

In case you are stumbling upon this page and wondering what the heck is up with it, here's the backgrounder. For the past year and a half I have been a volunteer leader with a Lego Robotics group attached jointly to the University of Victoria and Arbutus Global Middle School. Last year our team of twenty whittled down to 11 by the time we went to the Districts and Provincials. After provincials a malaise of boredom and lack of purpose set into the group and getting anything done was like a trip to the dentist... you know, pulling teeth.
This year, while a few moved on to High School, we were inundated with new blood. Even after our less than stellar turn at Districts we are still 16 members strong. One of the problems with our performance was essentially due to lack of group cohesion, respect and essentially teamwork. Now during that time, my colleague and I were doing our final practica for our Education Degrees, so we weren't as energized to wrangle this extra wiggly bunch. Some time over the holidays, however, it hit me. What was nerdy, helped group cohesion and was essentially a very effective brain gym when I was young? Role-playing games. Since almost every single one of these kids has played the Lego computer games which are essentially the boiled down, button mashing grandchildren of the games I played as a kid, then taking them on a little medieval adventure seemed the perfect thing.
During our medal ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance of the final scene from Star Wars (literally -- we had the music and everything), I announced that we'd take a break from the Robot game for a few weeks, but we'd still be playing games with Lego to the kids and parents. This seemed to go over well, when I told some of the already inclined boys that it would be Lego D&D... well let's say they were REALLY, REALLY, excited.
So, in the last of the holidays and in this break while I wait for my Teaching Certificate, I have been remembering how to build Lego fortresses, ballistae, and trees, while at the same time finding ways to make the Open License D&D rules work for a group ranging from wiggly 11 year olds to quite mature 13 year olds. What is great is that some kids have played 3.5, 4E, Pathfinder and other RPGs, and they are quite good at helping the kids who are new to the rules along with this.
Well I for one am excited about the adventure to come, and I hope the kids like it too. Most of all I have to thank Big D for all his help with minifig building, rules bouncing, and this week he gets to meet all my little monsters.

Next Post: The Grand Melee!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A few changes between my brain dump Character building session. I have tweaked the skills a bit. I haven't worked the exact conversion yet from GP to Wooden Bit, Stone Bit, and Metal Bit (WB, SB, MB) but it's on its way. For more information on the Noble character class see :, and the Warrior: Most characters will have a few more skill points than they started with (I forgot about the 4x multiplier at first level, and am changing it to a 2x because I halved the number of skills) but boosted the base number and the amount per level. Warriors start with 4 + int mod, Nobles with 8 + int mod, Scholars with 12 + int mod. Craftsmen are essentially Experts, with the ability to pay 1:1 for Crafting skills, really important in the Lego world. See : I am also sticking with a d6 hit die for the Nobles. It's an easy life for an upperclass legoman!

Hey so this is the beginning of something fun I hope.

And this to be incredibly handy:

I will upload my handmade character sheet shortly.

The next post has the character sheet now. I used slightly more skills than 4E and a lot less than 3.0. Less skill points for NPC character classes though. The four choosable classes at this point are Warrior, Aristocrat (Noble), Craftsman (Expert) and Scholar (Expert). It's sort of like the players are at Level 0.5 right now and will mature into *mostly* full PC classed level 1 characters by the end of session 2.