25 February 2011

Angkryst "A Slumbering Sword"

Whne found, this blade appears as a rusty, dull, and pitted longsword.  It has a hilt wrapped in a tarnished silver wire and a pommel set with what appears to be a purple glass jewel.  It will radiate a faint magical dweomer if examined with detect magic.

When used in battle, however, the blade will gradually awaken.  After each use, the blade becomes sharper, cleaner, and more valuable.  If specific monsters are slain, its power will increase.

Until the first listed monster is defeated, it grants no bonus to hit or damage, but will penetrate a DR of +1.  When the following evil monsters are slain using the sword, the respective powers are activated:

Undead of less than or equal to CR 4: The sword becomes +1 to hit and damage
Undead of greater than CR 4: The critical threat range of the sword becomes 18-20.
Evil outsider: The sword develops the power to cast cure moderate wounds on its wielder once per day.
Evil magical beast: The sword develops the power to cast bull's strength on its wielder once per day.
Evil giant: The sword becomes +2 to hit and damage.

If the sword is ever used to kill a good creature, all powers are lost and the cycle must start again.  The powers will not function for evil creatures.

I have checks by 1, 4, and 5 so I guess those were the powers Bix managed to activate.

24 February 2011

A Slumbering Sword

In the last Forgotten Songs commentary, Bix found a powerful magic sword.  When he uncovered it from a goblin cache, it was rusted and dull, though it radiated magic.  I found both the write up for the sword and the information revealed by bardic knowledge checks in The Blue Notebook.  Here they are:

DC20: You have heard of magic weapons that appear rusty and disused to better protect themselves from being targeted or stolen.  Even though they look shabby, they are quite powerful.

DC25: You remember something in one of your uncle's lectures on Lienster Organizations about a group of wandering knights.  Devoted to the cause of good, they each wielded shabby looking swords that were of considerable magical power.  You also remember that the blades were supposed to increase in power when used to defeat evil.

DC30: Oh yes!  You actually saw one of these blades in the possession of Sir Kenneth Steelcrown.  Parts of it looked dull and rusty, but other parts shown mightily.  He told the tale of the blade: It had been forged by the Knights Dormir (also called the Sleeping Knights) and was part of a set of weapons wielded by the group.  These swords, called Angkrysts, were given to new Knights upon being accepted into the order.  Enchanted to help the cause of good, hey also grew in power as the warrior who wielded them defeated evil foes.  This was done to be ever vigilant against evil and to seek glorious battle.  Sir Steelcrown told the tale of his blades activation when he slew a ghoul.  He also said it increased in power when he killed a troll and again when he defeated the ogre cheiftan Grannoth (who was also a cleric of some dark power).

Ok, it's late and I need to get to bed.  The actual stats of the item I'll post tomorrow.

23 February 2011

Tolkien -- Codebreaker!

This post at Jeff's Game Blog caught my attention and set me to wondering: what if Tolkien was somehow involved, not in the faking of the Voynich Manuscript, but in a clandestine attempt to decipher it?  That makes sense, given his skill in linguistics and philology.  Then, given my fondness for Cryptonomicon and my slow-to-get-off-the-ground alt-history WWII game, I started to wonder "what if Tolkien wasn't just playing around with the Voynich Manuscript, but was involved in a serious cryptography effort in WWII?"  That led me to Tolkien's Wikipedia Page to get some dates nailed down.  What did I find?  Tolkien was actually asked to serve in the cryptography department of the Foreign Office in 1939.  Whoah!  Later, he was told he wasn't needed.

Well, in my world, Professor, you are very much needed.  The Nazi's are up to something and we can't quite make it out.

22 February 2011

iPad -- Threat or Menace?!

iPad -- Threat or Menace!?

For all sorts of reasons, ranging from legitimate need to simple base consumerist desire, I've been wanting an iPad lately.  I've talked to my brother extensively about his.  I've approached my Dean about getting one for work.  I've contemplated squirreling away some of our tax refund for a purchase.  The fact is I certainly don't NEED one (do you ever NEED something like this, anyway?).  I want one, and in various ways I am trying to either justify it's purchase or really figure out if I will use it enough to, well, justify its purchase.

This being a university, we actually have iPads available from our library.  This being a small, state university, we actually have ONE iPad available to check out from our library.  Yesterday, I checked it out for the week.

(hang on, I am getting to the gaming parts)

Because it's the library's, there aren't really any apps on the thing.  Nor can I download any, which is somewhat of a drag and defeats likely 75% of the point of the device.  My daughter and I did watch some Curious George YouTube videos; I checked my email.  I downloaded an academic paper I am going to respond to at a conference in March (but because there aren't any apps on the thing, I couldn't convert it to a format where I could make notes, which is a feature I am really interested in for work and gaming).  There are also a decent number of books on the iPad, so I began reading Sh*t My Dad Says.  Suddenly, I was 100 pages into the 150 page book.  Whether that's a function of the book, which is really easy to read and very funny, or the device I am not sure.  Certainly, on the machine 100 pages doesn't seem like 100 pages, even with the "finger flip" thing you do to turn the page.  That's actually a nice visceral feature, which may make it better for me than the Kindle, where you just turn pages by pressing buttons.

Which brings me to the point of all this.  One of the things I am really interested in an iPad is its gaming utility.  As I get more and more gaming material on PDF, it just makes sense for it all to be on one device where I can access it easily at the gaming table.  Printing all that stuff out is wasteful and cumbersome.  Having a laptop at the table still feels very obtrusive for me, to the point where I avoid it at all costs when I run games.  So it seems like the iPad would be the best of all possible worlds here, even as I doubt I can justify $500 for a gaming purchase.

But there's something else.  I was surprised at how much I didn't mind and, in a certain sense, enjoyed reading Sh*t My Dad Says on the thing.  As I put the iPad down on my bedside table to go to sleep (on top of two other real books I've been reading off and on for a month), I had a stab of fear.  What if this thing causes me to not care about books anymore?

"Ludicrous!"  I hear you cry.  "You LOVE books!  Your retirement dream is to open a small used book shop in some mountain town."  All that is true.  It's hard to imagine a life without the physical presence of books.  I am a professor, for pete's sake.  But then I think about the massive CD collection I had just a few years ago; all that music now resides on my hard drive.  I don't even buy much music anymore, digital or no.  (Although everyone should check out both the Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons.  You may have seen them on the Grammys with Bob Dylan.  They are both awesome).  It's hard to say where the causal chain of my lack of concerted interest in music begins: did I stop buying CD's because I wasn't interested, or did I stop being interested because I stopped buying CD's?

With gaming material, things are similar but not identical.  I haven't bought a physical game book in a long time, thought I've bought a few PDF's.  Some of that is certainly because there's so much good stuff available for free.  Some of it is just space limitations.  With two kids and a smaller house, shelf space is at a premium.  My developing frugality also leads me to constantly ask "Will I USE this gaming book?  Will I play this game?" before buying anything.  This is a good thing, as the two boxes of 3E books in the attic attest.

I've already changed the way I approach books, due to space and money issues.  Until fairly recently, any book I bought or was given had some level of sacredness.  I kept it.  Period.  This was true whether I liked it or not, whether I would read it again, or not, and whether I felt connected to the book in any way.  I've moved past that now.  Mass-market paperbacks are "disposable" for me, not in the sense that I actually throw them away, but in the sense that I get rid of them regularly.  I try not to even buy them, actually.  The books I buy are the books I want to keep.  They are the books I want to have on my shelf, forever and ever.  Maybe I will use them or read them again in the future.  Maybe I think they say something about me that I want others (my children, especially) to know.  Or maybe they represent a particular time or a particular place for me.  I'm also moving to seeing books as art objects, so the physicality and beauty of the book as a thing is becoming more important.

Given the above, it would seem there is room on my shelf for both an e-reader and real books.  The reader just takes the place of all those mass-market paperbacks I used to buy.  The books on the shelf are there for particular reasons.  But I look at the place where the CD rack used to be and wonder what lies down that road.

21 February 2011

Forgotten Songs Retrospective -- Supernatural Awakenings, Pt2

So continues my commentary track on Katja's Diary

In the last post, I discussed some of the behind the scenes divine maneuverings that affected Bix and Katja.  This post will discuss the events of this session in, hopefully, an interesting and semi-coherent fashion :)

Though this and, especially, the next session were high points in the game, there are elements present here that illustrate some ongoing tension with the group and set up not-so-enjoyable sessions to come.  Remember, the entire reason the party has come to the Thoralien Forest is to hunt for a pseudodragon for Orion's familiar.  As Katja mentions, not all of the party thought this was the best use of their time.  But Orion's player would have nothing else, so in the interest of party unity, everyone went along.  Katja also notes:

"We also found some empty potion bottles. One of them had a curious ring around the neck that seemed to fascinate Orion to no end. He is a strange one. He’s nothing like the elves I read about in stories. He’s usually very cool and businesslike… but the moment something magical happens, he gets this kind of fiery glimmer in his eye."

Three things are significant here:
1.  The ring was a magic item I made up: a ring of potion storing.  You put it around a potion bottle and it magically sucked the potion into it.  When the command word was spoken, the potion would infuse into the wearer.  Not a huge deal, but rather important in 3E when the "action economy" became such a big deal.  With the ring, you could imbibe a potion as a free action.  I think it took the party a bit to figure out what this ring did.
2.  Katja does not mention something here because Katja wasn't aware of it: Bix had found the most powerful magic item (up to this point) in the game.  And hadn't bothered to tell anyone.  It looked like a rusty sword, but it was enchanted, with the enchantment growing stronger every time the sword was used to defeat a certain type of evil foe.  It began as a simple masterwork weapon, though it radiated magic.  But defeating an undead creature with it would make it +1, defeating a giant would make it +2, defeating an evil outsider would make it flaming, etc. (I have the full write up for in in the Blue Notebook, if anyone's interested).  Bix held on to the sword almost the entire campiagn, as I recall, despite not being anywhere close to a front-line combat character.  Which brings us to . . .
3.  Orion was obsessed with magic items and power.  Some of this was in-character.  Most of it was player driven.  I remember some fairly harsh words for Bix when the power of the sword was discovered and Bix didn't hand it over to the fighter-types.  I thought was a poor tactical move, myself, but I wasn't about to yell at Cthulhu's Librarian for it. 

As for the rest of the session, I thought it went great.  The satyr was one of my favorite NPC's.  I thought he came across just as I wanted him to -- lusty, mischevious, but ultimately beholden to the forest.  I also really enjoyed the brownie concert of the Ballad of Thomas Dunn.  I wrote those lyrics myself!  They set up the story (and following adventure) nicely, giving clues to the Dunn's undead nature and powers.  The players listened and took advantage, resulting in one of the best sessions I've ever run coming up next.

18 February 2011

It's been a week.

It's Friday and I am glad the week is over.  Posting has been light, obviously.  Work has consumed me, with an unbelievable amount of meetings.  Yesterday, I literally had only 30 minutes that was not scheduled with some meeting.  And those 30 minutes were from 9:30 AM to 10:00, after getting to the office at 7:45.  Add to that this lingering cold/sinus infection, and it has been a rough week.

Not saying this to complain.  Just letting everyone know "I'm not dead yet!" and hope to get back to some normalcy this weekend, maybe by buying a new dining room table. 

Speaking of Not Dead Yet, am I the only one who didn't know there was a Monty Python Fluxx?!  Someone should have corrected this oversight.

15 February 2011

Forgotten Songs Retrospective -- "Supernatural Awakenings"

Risus Monkey long ago finished posting his session logs of our Forgotten Songs campaign, so I am way behind in my commentary track.  I'll work to fit these in over the next several weeks, trying my best to catch up sooner rather than later.

This, I think will be a two-parter.  This first part will reveal some of the background of Katja and Bix from the DM's perspective.  The second part will talk more about the plot and events in the Thoralien Forest.

Well, again, I almost killed the entire party.  I thought camping so close to where the goblins were was a pretty big tactical error on the part of the party.  Some failed listen checks later, everyone is almost dead.  I was really unforgiving, I suppose.  By this point I should have simply realized the party was not a bunch of tacticians and altered encounters accordingly.  But I had yet to read Robin Laws' work and thus barrled on ahead, ignoring what seems now to be an obvious conflcit between player and DM expectations.

Behind the scenes here was the party leveling up, with story elements present for both Bix and Katja.  The feminine voice Katja heard in her vision was the Silver Huntress, a never-fully-named moon goddess.  The huntress was a "new" goddess, one who had never before been worshiped in Ermoon.  I had a vague outline of her lineage.  Her older sister, also never fully named (though I have "Sharess") scrawled in my notes, was also a moon goddess, albeit one who embodied the darker, sinister aspects of the night.  For whatever reason, the older sister had been deposed/fled, but still lurked somewhere in the multiverse, looking for a way to get back and  do not nice things to Ermoon.  Katja was going to play a pivotal role in this struggle.  As for the gruff voice, well, my notes fail me again here.  It would make a lot of sense for that to be Oghma, but honestly I don't have a clear memory.  Given Ohgma's connection to druidism, that makes sense.

Bix's story is not quite as cosmic.  His player took a level of sorceror (a very sub-optimal choice power-wise, given his bard levels, but it made sense given his story).  Bix had a celestial bloodline, most recently personified by his uncle.  His uncle, a noted bard, had made a deal with some devils, but had worked his way out of it with songs and cleverness.  Bix's uncle had disappeared, however.  All this strange flashes were Bix's otherworldly legacy; they had also begun attracting the wrong sort of attention.  Bix's uncle, or at least the celestial blood in Bix's family, also had a never-revealed Oghma connection.  His uncle helped compose a song that was a key part of the goings-on at the Oghma temple, keeping evil forces at bay.  I had recently read Lovecraft's "The Music of Erich Zann" and just fell in love with the idea of a tune keeping a gate to hell closed.  Played differently, it could be used to open the gate.  Well, guess what was in a chamber in the basement of the Oghma temple?  That, and a bunch of information about a moon goddess and the Hunt. . .

14 February 2011

Old School Hack -- Some Thoughts on Mechanics

Just a few ruminations on some of the mechanical bits of Old School Hack, based on the game I ran on February 4th.

The essential task resolution mechanics -- 2d10 to hit and d12 for attribute checks -- were fine but took some getting used to.  Getting used to as in "Wow, I've never really rolled a d12 for anything before" not "Ugh, this just feels wrong." (There's probably a nice sex joke to be made here, but. . .) So, while there was a bit of a learning curve, it was nothing substantial.  We really liked the "face" die though.  Enough to keep us on our toes and hope for the shiny 0.  Except that one time when I forgot that "10" was actually "01," which was kinda embarrassing.

One thing we did have some trouble with was what attribute to check.  There's the very handy diagram on page 16, which was helpful.  And it was certainly key that essential combat checks (like pushing and throwing) had the contested attributes written on the cards.  Again, I think this was just part of the learning curve.  And it could have been headed off with a little more planning on my part.  With a bit more of the adventure in mind, I could have already made some decisions about what sort of checks would be appropriate when.  As I get more experienced with the game, however, I think all that will easily become second nature.

A related "getting used to it" element was the DM rolling against every attribute check, even when such a check would normally be thought of as a static Difficulty -- like climbing a wall.  I really liked this mechanic.  It introduced a random element into things that could then be used for nice set dressing.  If the wall rolled a 1, then it was a crumbly wall with lots of cracks.  If it was a 12, then it was wet.  Such a system also makes you think twice about calling for a check in the first place.  I am rapidly coming around to the idea that checks are only necessary if or when failure would actually add something (other than frustration) to the game.

In my opinion, the two most innovative parts of OSH are Awesome Points and Arenas.  I know lots of systems have some sort of Action point mechanic, but the idea of players awarding other players AP's is just great.  It facilitates teamwork and encouragement in a big way.  It's also a bit counter to most gaming intuition, which is likely why it took us awhile to really get into the Awesome Point swing of things, but once we all did, it was a riot.  By the final combat, they were flying around the table as players tried one awesome thing after another.  Spending the awesome points lead to the awesome ending -- the wizard grabbing the chain, swinging back onto the platform, strangling the cult leader, and tossing him into the pit to hang.

(Note: Yes, I said the wizard.  One thing I noted about our session was minimal differentiation between the classes.  This could be just a function of how they were played, but the wizardly talents got used only once or twice.  The same with the dwarf).

The arena concept was what convinced me I needed to plan a bit more for the game.  I love the idea -- that tactical combat can still matter (a bit) in an abstract system.  Arenas also give some narrative control to the players, as they can create their own arenas in combat through their own actions.  They do take a bit of getting used to, though.  For our final combat, I drew a sketch of the sacrificial chamber on the battlemat, but then had to explain that the hallway going in was one arena, the altar was another, the dais a third, and the narrow walkway between them another.  We grasped it all just fine, but carving up the map like that was different.  The arena idea also encourages some creative place setting, which I am all for but not entirely good at improvising.  Our initial combats were fairly vanilla, but we hit our stride with the cultist ambush in the sewers -- multiple levels, tubes, water, etc -- and the aforementioned final scene.  More planning on my part would have led to better encounters which could have really utilized the arena system.  Thinking about it now, the system is so fluid that a map is almost too static to represent the action!  What would be awesome would be some way to "open" and "close" arenas in a visual way.

My final verdict is OSH is great!  It's system is simple, but challenges me to think about how I game.  Sure, there's a learning curve, but it's something we really got the hang of by the end of our first session.  I really hope to play it again soon.

11 February 2011

Old School Hack -- Actual Play Report

Last Friday, as a "birthday party" of sorts, I invited some friends over to play a session of Old School Hack.  I haven't been able to game very much lately, so this was exactly what I wanted to do on my birthday.  My wife cooked us all dinner and made an awesome cheesecake.  It was great, except for my cold which still lingers. . .

I'm still developing my own style for actual play reports, but what I'll try here is a brief recap of the plot of the session while interspersing some rules-talk, then drill down a little with two specific mechanics, giving my overall impression as I go.

Due to a last minute cancelation, we only had three players.  We sat down at the table and they promptly went to work making characters, aided by my three year old daughter (who had been looking forward to having people over to game as much as I was, I think), and being fed fajitas by my awesome wife.

Brad rolled up a fighter, choosing the adventuring goal "You were mentioned in a portentious prophecy."
Matt chose a wizard, who apparently "owed a dangerous figure 5000 gold pieces."
Dawson made a dwarf.  This dwarf was obsessed with finding his family's heirloom item -- a mystical shovel.

Character creation was farily simple, with everyone grasping the basics easily.  I really liked the abstractness of the equipment system; that's what allowed the dwarf to say he was using a shovel as a weapon.  It made no difference mechanically, but added some (humorous) flavor.  I also told them I was going to make the adventure up as they made up their characters.  I had a basic idea in mind, but not much else.  As it turns out, I wish I had done a little more planning, simply to get some ideas down about cool arenas.  More on those below.

We decided that the wizard owed his money to the 12th son of the Sultan due to an infortunate slapping incedent and was working off his debt by performing menial butler duties at the palace.  Both the dwarf and the fighter had come to the palace for an audience about their respective adventuring goals.  They waited in an antechamber with the wizard (who would inform them when it was time for their audience) and a bullette.  Yes, a landshark.  The bullette is my daughter's favorite miniature, probably because it is the biggest, so she plopped in on the table in front of her and we decided to work it in.  It turns out the Sultan is fond of exotic pets!  Thus, the three of them nervously waited while the chained landhark growled at them.

Then, explosions rocked the palace.  The landshark was, of course, set free so the PC's had to subdue it.  They weren't about to kill my daughter's favorite monster while she was sitting at the table!  The palace was under attack by the Black Snake Cult and their airship.  All the explosions were merely a pretense to kidnap the sultan's beautiful daughter.  The PC's fought off cultists as they raced after the woman, who was being led to a flying carpet in the courtyard.  The cultists plan was almost foiled when all of the cultists were killed but one.  As everyone knows, Mognol's Flying Carpet will hold one person, or three, but not two.  With some quick thinking by the cultist and some liberal application of Awesome Points by me, the cultist escaped by hauling his almost-dead buddy on the carpet and lying away.

Note on Awesome Points: The DM feeds them from his own Stack into the Bowl.  PC's then award each other AP's from the bowl.  The DM puts chips in the bowl whenever he needs to bend the plot a bit and whenever PC's do something cool, fun, or smart.  More on this later.

Using an awesome point, the PC's then found a cultist who was not quite dead and willing to talk.  He informed them the princess was going to be sacrficed to the snake god at an underground lair which could be convieniently reached by the city sewers.  Down in the sludge the PC's went.  They were attacked a by a crocodile, then later ambused by some cultists at a junction room.  We were all finally catching on to the arena concept by this point, so there was lots of moving around and up and in tubes, firing bows from one arena to another, and cool uses of awesome points to toss cultists into drains.

Note about arenas: The "Arena" is how Old School Hack handles movement and all those other fiddly tactical bits.  An arena can be big (a field) or small (a closet), with each being given a type (tight, open, hazardous, neutral, dense).  Different types grant different bonuses to weapons.  Arenas are flexible; a given scene can have a number of arenas, with more being added as the scene changes.  Even players can add arenas as they describe what their character is doing and where they are going.

The final battle was at the sacrificial chamber, guarded by a portcullis and a large man with a large sword.  Inside, the PC's found the princess, chained to a platform in the middle of a smoking pit.  They fought some cultist minions while the high priest inched closer to the sacrifice.  The wizard darted forward, leaping onto the platform between priest and victim.  Unfortunately, he was then swatted into the pit.  A liberal use of Awesome Points, plus some good die rolls, allowed him to grab a chain on the way down and use his momentum to not only swing back onto the platform, but to then wrap the chain around the neck of the cult leader and toss HIM into the pit.  Victory was had!

In the next post, I'll reflect a bit more on the game itself, focusing on the idea of arenas and the use of awesome points.

10 February 2011

Yep. That's what's up.

I've still got this damned cold, though it looks to be fading slowly.  I was in Atlanta for a few days for a conference, which proved to be very helpful for work.  I was energized and got lots of good ideas (for work, not so much for gaming).

That explains the lack of blog activity for a few days.  I've got some (hopefully) interesting stuff in the works.  Looks like I need to produce another chapter for The Hobbit re-read.  There's an actual play report from last Friday's session of Old School Hack.  There's the new campaign idea I'm developing for (hopefully) some PBP play.  And I am way behind on the Forgotten Songs retrospective, especially now that Risus Monkey is done posting his game logs.

Lots to do!  But an Annual Report to finish first.

04 February 2011

Making and Mail

Still fighting this cold, under a dreary, rainy sky.  So here are some semi-random thoughts on gaming, making, mail, and philosophy.

Yesterday I received One Square Equals Five Feet, a real-life, real-mail paper zine from Christian.  It made my day.  Isn't it awesome to get real, honest mail that isn't junk or a bill?  It's so simple, yet it can bring so much joy.  My wife sends out 100+ Christmas cards each year.  At first, I didn't quite get it, but I am coming around to her way of thinking: it's simply nice to get something in the mail.  It means that someone thought of you, specifically, for at least a few minutes during the day.  I still harbor the dream of asking everyone I'm friends with on Facebook or via blogging to send me their address, with the promise of getting at least a real postcard from me.  I want to call it the "19th Century Social Networking Project".  I keep holding off because I am afraid of the time commitment.

This feeds right into the theme of the past few days of making.  Putting pen to paper, even if it's just to address the envelope, is a tangible, physical act of making something new.  It speaks of process, of thoughtfulness, of freedom.  A lot of us work in jobs in which we don't really make anything -- we push papers or "manage" or whatever.  I think the boundless creativity shown in our little hobby is a reaction to that sort of life; we want to make and we want others to participate in what we've made.

A long time ago, I watched the Kevin Costner film The Postman.  All in all, it's pretty wretched, even with the Tom Petty cameo.  But I just loved the idea that delivering the mail, of connecting people through the physical exchange of packages, could be the force that brings civilization back after some nameless apocalyptic event.  That actually makes for a nice game premise, no?

03 February 2011

Be a Maker

Got hit by a cold today, so not much energy. Errant's post led me to this wonderful TED talk, which goes nicely with what I wrote yesterday.

02 February 2011

Some Frugal Thanks

This morning, while waiting for my daughter to get up and drinking my tea, I flipped through the add for Micheal's -- the chain craft store.  I am planning on running a session of Old School Hack on Friday and need a few things.  I need to get some foam core board to make the patented Rel HexTracker and, maybe, some glass beads to use as Awesome Points.  I then mentally kicked myself for selling a whole bunch of glass beads as part of a vase in Saturday's yard sale; they would have been perfect!  I then decided to just use the cheap plastic poker chips we have sitting in our closet and save myself some money.  Why buy something I don't really need?

Having kids has made me really think about frugality.  I now evaluate a lot of purchases, big or small, in terms of providing for my children (college is going to cost a billion dollars by the time they are ready).  Table top games, and RPG's in particular, are an exceptionally frugal means of entertainment.  Small books provide thousands and thousands of hours of enjoyment.  What's more, it's entertainment that is social; a shared experience is facilitated amongst a group.  One can see the purchase of an RPG book, or any sort of table top game, not just as buying a book, but as buying the means to facilitate hours of fun with your friends.

One of the wonderful things about the OSR, in my opinion, is it's DIY ethos.  It's mostly just scattered individuals, or small teams, writing and publishing a PDF here and a book there because they like the game and like for people to have fun playing the game.  They are creative types who want an outlet for that creativity.  What's more, so many of them give these games away.  Sure, I know free product is rapidly become part of successful business models, but I often marvel at the fact that people work so hard on something and just turn around and put it out there, free, for anyone to use.  I just, for example, downloaded Resolute, Adventurer, and Genius.  It looks like a nice rules-set for pulp gaming.  And it was free!

I guess this is my small way of saying thanks to all the people who put so much time and effort into making games, especially those that then decide to give those games away for people to play.  Not only does it fit well with the frugal mindset I am trying to develop, it makes me feel very good about our hobby and this little niche all you people are helping to carve within it.