Sunday, October 31, 2004
It's Halloween! It's Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can't be seen
On any other night:
Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.
In masks and gowns
we haunt the street
And knock on doors
for trick or treat.
Tonight we are
the king and queen,
For oh tonight
Friday, October 29, 2004
I guess there are two main reasons why I seem to be letting this opportunity pass me by. The first is my discovery that RPGnow has a minimum order size of $6.40. In other words, I would have to pick out another product to buy. I can't decide. There are several good ones out there. OGL-Fantasy Light seems to be geared towards the same kind of play as both Castles & Crusades and my own Adepts & Warriors idea. Its a chopped-down SRD for less rules-intense play. Considering that I may very well drop twenty bucks for the forthcoming C&C corebook, five bucks doesn't seem like much to purchase a chance to see someone else's take on the D&D-lite thing. The there's A Fistful of Plot Devices #1 by Bruce Baugh. Only $4.25 for supers GM advice from a supersmart guy like Mr. Baugh seems like a bargain to me, but I have no immediate plans to run a supers game. Traveller's Aide #1 - Personal Weapons of Charted Space is a fiver as well. I've had my eye on this since it came out. Basically, it's a gunbunny hardware book, aimed primarily at Traveller d20 players, but dualstatted for Classic Traveller as well. I figure that even if the T20 gun stats aren't compatible with BESM d20, I might still get some use out of this product in a future CT game. But that future CT game is way out there in the dim future, hidden behind that murky supers game for which I'll use Fistful. In other words maybe never. As far as immediate use goes, my best bet would be the Savage Worlds Adventure Deck, but at ten bucks it's more than I wanted to spend on this particular outing.
But the other big reason I haven't bought the Mecha SRD Extreme is that I'm afraid I won't actually use it. Between my general d20 neurosis and the fact that I'm looking at building a bunch of mechs all by myself, I get kind nervous about the whole project. Then you toss in the fact that today I had some potentially useable ideas for Savage Worlds mecha rules, and suddenly the this product doesn't look so necessary. I dunno. On one hand, I kinda wonder if it's unhealthy to pour every good idea into the same generic ruleset. On the other, Savage Worlds goes really far to enabling the kind of play that I like. I guess this is the exact same issue I'm having with the 6 Islands Campaign. Maybe it's just the jitters at marrying all my campaign ideas to one set of rules, even if they are good rules that I really enjoy. I went through a period in the early-to-mid nineties where I played the crap out of HERO. Now it doesn't look as shiny as it used to. That's partially because I can't crunch a system like I used to. I lack the time and the inclination. But it's also partially that I got glutted on the HERO thing. After doing endless amounts of Champions and Fantasy HERO and Star HERO and an espionage HERO game I just didn't want to play frickin' HERO any more. Admittedly SW is no HERO (and thank Grodd for that) but I still wonder: if I cotninue down this path will I find myself glancing at my SW corebook and turning away in disgust?
Geez, looking back up at what I just wrote is freaking me out. Could I be any angstier about blowing three bucks on a PDF? I'm going to go do something that isn't related to gaming.
Still, these aren't exactly the sorts of films that you would expect a guy who maintain a gameblog to go see, are they? The number of geek movies I have yet to see staggers the imagination. My wife and I try to get to the Star Trek films, though Nemesis closed locally before we got a chance to see. (We went to the theater intending to watch it, but we changed our minds when we saw that the local cineplex was actually running Bowling for Columbine. When I finally saw Nemesis on TV I was glad I hadn't spent ticket money on it.) And we are big Star Wars fans.
But past that, my knowledge of geek-oriented film starts to looks like a desert wasteland. I've seen most of Spiderman on TV, but the sequel is an enigma to me. I haven't seen either X-movie. I only watched Fellowship of the Ring because I could borrow the DVD set from Pat. I still haven't seen the rest of the LoTR trilogy. Though I did re-read the books, for what it's worth. And I have yet to see the Matrix, the film that inspired this post. I know Pat's got a copy and I think it's time I bummed it off of him. There's this new Matrix-based rules-light rpg that's made some ways in the RPG.net set. It's called There Is No Spoon and it's written by RPGnetter and generally nifty guy Steve Darlington (a.k.a. SteveD). SteveD first came to my attention by virtue of his great reviews at RPG.net and his wonderful articles at Places to Go, People to Be, especially his Star Wars GM advice and his comprehensive History of Roleplaying series.
So in a nutshell, when SteveD writes a free rpg about kicking ass in the Matrix, then by golly I need to see the frickin' film. Even if I never run There Is No Spoon, I at least need to finally check out the movie. I know my logic here is a little bass-ackwards, but that's the way my brain works sometimes.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
While we're on the subject of superheroes and PDFs, I might mention that Bruce Baugh has a new PDF called A Fistful of Plot Devices, a how-to doc on organizing crises for superheroes. Basically, it's 19 pages of supers-oriented GM advice for five bucks. Not normally the sort of thing I'd be pimping, but we're talking about Bruce Baugh here. Indulge me for a few moments whilst I sing his praises. His credits are many, including Nexus: The Infinite City (the precursor to Feng Shui), several Feng Shui products, editing & development for the 2nd edition of Nobilis, and Adventure!, among other things. He's a highly talented individual. In his online persona he is one of the nicest, most even-keeled, and intelligent posters I have encountered on RPG.net. When he posts in a thread, there's usually little more to add to the subject. And when he disagrees with me, it always forces me to reconsider my own position. Does any of this stuff mean Fistful is automatically going to be a home run? Probably not. But the guy has quite a track record.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
After looking over the stuff at Leisure Time, I left asking myself a question: Why is everything hardbound these days? A decade ago most of this stuff would have been released as floppy paperbacks. Remember when a game coming out hardback was a big effin' deal? The GURPS and HERO 4th corebooks immediately spring to mind. I mean, if softbound was good enough for Pendragon and most versions of Call of Cthulhu, why the hell is Paranoia XP hardback? Does hadbacking a book really sell enough extra copies to justify the higher price tag? I mean, if I had eighty bucks to blow on gaming stuff (ah, the good ol' days, when I had any bucks to blow on gaming stuff) I'd much rather get three, maybe four softbound products than 2 fancy-schmancy hardbounds. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but the fact that Savage Worlds was a thin hardbound actually put me off getting the game for a while. I'm having a similar reaction to the forthcoming Castles & Crusades book, even though it's only twenty bucks. I keep thinking to myself "But if it was softbound, maybe it would only be fifteen." All in all, these inexplicable hardbounds just push me towards getting more PDF products.
Sure, one could argue that I am encouraging these dark athletic urges by buying them City Name Sports Team T-shirts. But what am I supposed to do? Get them a gift card to IAmATotalLoserWhoLivesVicariouslyThroughMillionaireAthletes.com?
And don't even get me started about country line dancing.
The preceding post was a joke. Mostly.
If somebody wanted to buy me a City Name hat for Xmas, that would be cool.
See, this is the reason why I think Pat is the kinda guy who should be running d20. He can take disparate items from various publishers and combine elements from them to actualize a clear vision. Pat has the potential to be the Doctor Zharkov of d20.
Basically, a D20 Modern (yes, I still sing it's praises) game, taking chunks of OGL steampunk, BESM, CoC D20 and ADVENTURE! Adressing my Winter Steele theorum, probably there would be suitable mods for ramping up players, maybe Action Points for benny action, nine lives or dramatic healing from Skull&Bones, even giving all PCs the Daring Template. I'd have to account for money/wealth, magic item availability, power level, cost, function, spells and other dissonant elements. Greyhawk is tenuously high magic in concept, but I'd prefer, as a lazy GM, to leave the 5th level spell limit of D20MOD, and make odd effects by GM fiat and greenronin's Modern Magic ritual system.
Here's the part where it gets tricky:I do think of this stuff, but have similar questions to you, ie: who'll play this? couldn't I just use Savage Worlds? Am I, Gamist, comfortable with storytelling? I've run dungeons before, but a campaign? mini campaign? how far from source am i going? spiralling house rules ending in fantasy heartbreaker wannabe? Will the kids dig Shadowrun minus the net?All of those seem like good questions to address prior to undertaking this sort of Frankensteinian system mayhem. "Couldn't I just use Savage Worlds?" is a question I've asked myself more than once regarding the Six Islands. I have yet to find a good answer, but I'm always reminded of a thread on RPG.net from about a year ago. Some 3E dude was wanting to initiate some non-gamers and rules-light types. He was fishing around for a watered down version of D&D with easier char gen and less maddening combat. Guess what got suggested? (Of course, part of me is still holding out for Castles & Crusades. I'm hearing a lot of chatter about how the new book allows for a lot of d20 stuff to be bolted onto it with little fuss.) It was then that I started to realize exactly how closely the systems were aligned. Compared to, say, Storyteller or the majority of indie stuff coming out of the Forge, SW looks a hell of a lot like 3E's ornery little brother. The teachers at D&D's old school probably think they know exactly how SW is going to act in their class. I guess I'm now in do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do territory as I type this, but I kinda think that if it takes Savage Worlds to get your game into actual play, then go ahead an use Savage Worlds. I don't take my own advice for several reasons:
- I'm a D&D man. To run a fantasy campaign without using D&D just plain rubs me the wrong way. Especially considering how much money I've invested in umpteen editions of the rules.
- Part of the initial concept of the 6 Islands Campaign was to do D&D with a more freak-intensive setting. To switch to a non-D&D system would be like painting an oil painting with watercolors. You still have a picture when you're done, but it ain't an oil painting.
- I'm a hugeass hypocrite.
Frankly, I see no reason why you should give a crap about creating a "fantasy heartbreaker wannabe". You're not looking to publish this idea, are you? You can be as kinky with d20 as you want in the privacy of your own home. Scaring off players is a legit concern, but at least we have a player pool to draw on. I think "guns in dungeons" ought to draw in a goodly portion of the D&D set, especially when we're talking about a d20 operation. If you put together a good players guide with full character creation rules, a useful combat summary, and a minimal campaign overview, I bet you could get the two or three extra people needed to get this puppy rolling.
"Will the kids dig Shadowrun minus the net?" God I hope so. The future is here and teh intarweb suxxors. These days I wouldn't be able to run a hacking sequence with a straight face if my life depended on it. "Okay, you spend d8 days sifting through pornsites and Nigerian scams only to find that your target is running a Windows box. No need to roll to infiltrate."
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Thinking more on this 'caught in the middle' issue I start to wonder if maybe the old counter-and-hex guys went through the same mid-life crisis sort of thing. Here they were, in a hobby that was once much different than now and all these Dungeons & Dragons-playing snot-noses invaded, utterly tranforming their hobby in the process. Those guys managed to carve out their own identity in the face of a changing hobby, so there's no reason why I can't.
Last night was board game night. We played El Grande with the "build your own deck" expansion. Neat expansion, full of tricky stuff. I spent most of the game in second place on but got crushed in the last scoring round. I got too greedy and went after some cheap points that belonged to Al when I should have been agressively attack Jim, who was in the lead. Al struck back, from last place what did he have to lose? I'm hoping next week we play El Grande again but with the other expansion, involving the Grand Inquistitor and new territory tiles. Then the following week we can combine the two expansions. Or not. I'd be just as happy playing Puerto Rico again. We also played Bohnanza, which I continue to suck at. I came in third despite getting phenomenal card draws.
The title of this post describes how I feel sometimes about my place in the gaming hobby. I feel like I sit in some unknown territory between the college kids and the grognards. I'm never going to be one of the young turks again and I'm never going to be part of the Campaign for North Africa set. So what does that make me? Some schlub who plays games, I guess. This isn't something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, but I sometimes feel like my identity as a gamer is fuzzy. I'm not sure I know what the crap I'm talking about here. Maybe it's just that old "games are for kids" anxiety working its way to the surface.
I think I'm feeling this way today because I just discovered the existence of a new gaming group at the University of Illinois. Back in the day, I was President of the Conflict Simulation Society, the U of I's official gaming club. While school was in session we met every Wednesday night at the Foreign Languages Building, and the members usually got together on the weekends for other gaming projects. We stopped doing the Wednesday night thing at one point; the construction on campus turned finding a place to park into a total fiasco. But then the club pretty much fell apart. Now the CSS exists pretty much only on paper, as the secret cabal that runs Winter War. Once a year the CSS fades into existence. Once the con is over, it returns into the void for another year. So now these Metagamers folks have sprung up to fill the vacuum left by the CSS. It was inevitable, really, but still kinda sad. I mean, I'm happy their are students at the U of I organizing and playing games. Heck, I might try to get in touch with them. But I am saddened that the CSS no longer fufills that function. We dropped the ball.
I'm a little bummed, but I want to end this point on a less down note. Work with me here for a minute: open the Metagamers site in another window. Check out the front page illo. Are you looking at it? The spikes in the pit, the spikes in the wall, and the spears on the opposite wall all point towards the chick's butt. Furthermore, that butt is painted as an upside down heart-shape. Maybe I just have the female derriere permanently imprinted in my neanderthal brain, but it looks to me like that the whole "bottom" of that picture is centered on the chick's ass.
Monday, October 25, 2004
But at least I'm trying over here. My next project (pimp pimp pimp) doesn't come with a prewritten script swiped from some musty old TSR product. My Catch Me When You Can Jack the Ripper game is requiring serious effin' research to pull off in a manner that I find satisfactory. And running World of Synnibarr at all will take some serious brain-muscles. I may be a Synnibarr apologist, but that system is like Hackmaster minus the clear writing and logical rules. But enough talk about my and my current irons in the fire. Pat clearly has the talent to run a kickass game and he has the resources to put together all sorts of crazy ass d20 stuff. He just needs to effin' do it.
Personally, I think Pat should combine d20 Adventure! with OGL Steampunk and "Greyhawk 2099" (or whatever that Polyhedron article was called) to produce two-fisted pulp-action steampunk Greyhawk Victoriana. Spring-heeled Jack loose on the streets of the Free City. Zeppelins over the Pomarj. That sort of thing. But then, between Mob War and Catch Me When You Can, I'm on a bit of a historical kick lately. I can't tell Pat what kind of game to work on anyway. Nor should I. Each GM has to make their own way in these things. I'm a big believer in polling player interest, but in the end the person buying the book and doing the pre-game prep has to be the one making the call. So I guess the main point of this post is simply to urge Pat to pick a project (not easy, as anyone who reads this blog can attest) and get cracking on it. I speak from hard-learned experience when I say that twenty unfinished projects don't amount to jack when compared to one session of actual play.
Sunday, October 24, 2004
I'm thinking about putting together a little Synnibarr webpage. If nothing else, I would like to publish an index to all the links I have to other people's Synnibarr pages. And maybe add some stuff to help make character creation easier. Sorta like the The Sexy Naked Gamer Chick's Guide, but with less snark and some helpful charts. Something I can hand out to my Winter War players.
I finally read 'Bio Star 1', the WoS adventure I tracked down in an old gaming magazine. Although it has some good points and introduces a fairly interesting new race, I don't think it will work for my Winter War run. It's just not gonzo enough. I need to be able to showcase the Synnibarr setting in all its over-the-top glory. Still, I'd use 'Bio Star 1' in a campaign, were I to find a group daring enough to play WoS on an ongoing basis.
I'm looking over the map we marked up for our game. It would make an interestinspirational piece for a post-apocalyptic game set in the Old World. Where might civilization be most likely to start a recovery? Based on yesterday's game, I have some ideas. The British Isles are relatively unscathed, being only minimally destroyed. Ditto the Iberian peninsula. The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg are similarly "ok". Estonia, Latvia, and Belarus form another bloc of relatively under-nuked territory. Kaliningrad and Denmark are also merely completely devastated.
All the other countries in Europe were nuked more than necessary to utterly destroy them. Some moreso than others. On a 1 to 5 scale, most countries scored a one or two on the Crispy-O-Meter. Austria and Yugoslavia both scored a warmish 3 and Poland a toasty 4. Germany wins the race to be the most nuked country in Europe, being the only region in the game to pick up 5 points of fallout after being destroyed. The Black Forest positively glows.
Clearly, this is enough information to put together at least a few interesting ideas for a Gamma World campaign, or whatever your favorite post-nuke ruleset may be. Assuming a campaign starting at least a century or two after the Big Burn, we can see maybe some seaborne trade routes between the surviving Baltic Sea regions. Bornholm (I think that's the name of the eastern most island of Denmark) would be a critical stop on the Estonia/Latvia/Belarus to Kaliningrad to Denmark route. Denmark could then trade with the Low Countries, who would also be trading with England. I think Iberia would be on its own, or trading with Africa.
That would be it. That's the entirety of Europe after the hammer falls. There might be pockets of civilization in some other countries, but they would be isolated by huge hotzones. Perhaps some brave adventurers armed with an ancient rad detector could find some of them? A good start would be to find a land route from Kalinigrad to Latvia or Belarus. Of course, the Seamerchants Guild would be opposed to such an expedition.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
It looks like the enthusiasm our group had for the forthcoming Necessary Evil has waned. I blame the continued production delays. At least three different people at the pancake place showed at least some interest in running it at one point or another. We could have maybe had both tables running this campaign at one time. Now, everyone has sorta gone cold. Too many sessions of "not out yet, but soon!" has taken the edge of our desire to play NE. I'm not one of those folks who whines about "those bastards" at [game company] delaying [game product] again. I'm sure game companies generally prefer publishing new stuff to not publishing new stuff. I'm just observing what has happened. It's unfortunate.
My game ended a little early, so we sat around and shot the shit about what to do next. It looks like Joe might run something. And, fool that I am, I volunteered to run another mini-campaign. Both of these games would start after Dennis finishes his Everknight campaign, which looks to be about 4 sessions or so from completion. I tried to pin down what everyone wanted to play, but the responses were mostly "I dunno, what do you want to run?" So far all I got is that straight fantasy is out, kewl powerz are in, no horror please, and maybe a modern or futuristic setting. On the way home Pat and I talked about an "agents against occult horrors" sort of game. Like Delta Green or Call of Cthulhu except that the PCs get to kick monster ass instead of going insane or dying. Maybe with a Ghostbusters theme, instead of secret agents, but not *quite* as jokey and containing more senseless violence. Another idea I had was to do a supers mini-campaign, a "four issue limited series", using the supers rules at Savage Heroes. I don't really want to tackle Home Team again, so I would need a different thematic framework to build the game on.
An then today I had another idea. For the Mob War game all I really did was port the old TSR rpg Gangbusters over to the new-fangled Savage Worlds rules, then I tightened the focus a bit and structured the narrative for speed campaigning. Presto! Instant micro-campaign. I own a metric assload of games I could do the same thing to. We could play the Ancients Quadrilogy from Classic Traveller. Or "The Taming of Brimstone", a great Boot Hill module from Dragon magazine. We could run Excursion into the Bizarre, with furries and fantasy PCs trying to escape a world they never made. Or Savage Gamma World. Or Savage World of Synnibarr!
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
So now I have to get my act together for tomorrow night's Mob War game. I'm going to try a different structural approach this week and I hope the players will go along with it. My plan is to force the group to break up into smaller components by playing out three little vignettes as short of a cinematic montage. This could be a big trust issue for some of the players, but hopefully they'll play ball. The fact that these guys are playing a historical game at all tells me that they are open to some new stuff. In my experience Joe Average Gamer doesn't have much interest in historical gaming. Pseudo-historical stuff with kewl powerz is A-OK, but straight-on historical doesn't zing. And it's an attitude I share somewhat. I like kung-fu and robots as much as the next guy.
My eBay-purchased issue of Vortext magazine has made its way from Canadia to my desk. I bought this rag specifically for "Biostarr 1", which to my knowledge is the only World of Synnibarr adventure to have seen print. I haven't had a chance to give it a proper read-through, but it looks like a mini-dungeon set on an asteroid. I had been hoping to run this adventure at Winter War, but it doesn't look like a good match to my needs. It's designed for seven total levels in the PC party, which means if I want to keep the PCs at first level I would need seven players. I don't necessarily want that many players and I certainly can't guarantee that many will sign up. (And remember, as per the WoS rulebook, I am obligated to run the adventure exactly as written!) Furthermore, I don't see any of the good stuff that I want in my WoS experience: no laser grizzlies, no mutant fire clams, no cyberninjas, etc. On the surface at least, "Biostarr 1" looks straightforward enough that you could adapt it to Star Frontiers or Traveller.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
As he was heading out the door Dave mentioned that Dennis's Everknight campaign was only about 4 sessions away from the end and he (meaning Dennis) wanted to run Necessary Evil after that. Since my own Mob War project is almost done, both pancake joint groups will be done before the end of the year. Dave thinks we should shuffle the groups around a bit at that point. That ought to be neat; I don't really know most of the people at Dennis's table. So would Pat and Dennis both be running NE? That's the point I don't quite follow.
Gabby also mentioned some details on the distribution of Wraeththu: From Enchantment to Fufilment (the full title of the rpg). Gabby reports that no gaming distribution outfit they talked to would buy a unknown product like Wraeththu from an unknown company. This jobes very well with reports I've heard on other new products from new companies. For example, it has been reported that Tower Ravens ended up releasing The Universe Primer, a significantly chopped-down version of their sci-fi rpg Universe, because their distributors wouldn't buy the full-sized game from an unproven company. However, the folks over at Immanion Press, would-be publishers of the Wraeththu rpg, have an advantage that Tower Ravens does not. They have a proven track record publishing reprints of Ms. Constantine's fiction. Apparently Immanion's mainstream book publisher is willing to pick up the rpg, so it should be available at your major bookseller, at least by special order if nothing else.
Finally, the other major Wraeththu rpg news I have to report is that an 8-page sample PDF has been posted to the Wreaththu rpg website. It's nice to see some pages. The editing has a few rough spots to be worked out yet and I'm not too sure that the flavor quotes add anything substantive to the main text. I sure hope the art looks better in the final version, as all the excellent illos look flat and grainy. That's probably to make the PDf file smaller, as the art on the website is top notch stuff.
Saturday, October 16, 2004
Friday, October 15, 2004
Meanwhile, the angeldevil on my left shoulder urges me to quit screwing around with this kidding stuff and move on to some hardcore indie roleplaying. I've got a metric assload of indie games, mostly internet freebies but also a few I've paid real US currency for, notably Sorcerer (and the most kickass of rpg supplements, Sorcerer & Sword) and kill puppies for satan. I could easily name a bunch of other great indie games I'd like to try: Final Stand, My Life With Master, With Great Power, The Mountain Witch, Lost Gods, Puppetland. It would only take a flip through my big pile of PDF printouts to stumble over five or ten more. My earlier Experimental Games Group idea was basically a structure designed to feed this need, (Incidentally, that name has already been taken by another group.) as was running QAGS, Wuthering Heights, and Bad Attitudes at a previous Winter War.
Frankly, I think I won't be completely happy with my gaming unless I have it both ways. I want to run or play in a straight rock-em sock-em traditional RPG campaign AND have some crazy indie stuff, with both operations running parallel to each other. I don't know if I could pull that off, but I think it should be my overall gaming goal.
The secret dial from El Grande and the flipbook from Knights and Cities of Catan also strike me as potentially useable in an RPG.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
One other thing about my Uncle Jed order, the good Uncle saw fit to throw in a freebie, a Creepy Freaks figure. Creepy Freaks is the Garbage Pail Kids (anyone else remember those?) of the clicky set. I don't do clickies but one of the figures is a brain in a jar, so they can't be all bad. My figure is a snowman made of snot.
Next week I think we'll end up playing El Grande with the expansions. I really like this game and am looking forward to trying out the new rules. Bruce is not so keen on the original, so hopefully the expanded game will be more to his liking. We also talked about maybe playing Origins of World War I, which was published in Sid Sackson's compilation book A Gamut of Games. I'd have to make a board for that, but it's just a grid for placing some chips. If we can get all five of us together (Bruce, Al, Karl, Jim, and me) that would be ideal, as Origins of WWI is a 5-player game. Maybe I'll put together a set and just leave it at Bruce's until we get a full boat of players. We also discussed playing Nuke the Crap Out of Europe from the great folks at Critical Miss, the magaizne for dysfunctional roleplayers. If you like RPGs and cussing, do yourself a favor and check out their archives.
Monday, October 11, 2004
And while we are on the subject, Jesus-based merchandise is JUST PLAIN DUMB. I feel great respect for good people with strong religious convictions. Its a little harder to feel that same respect when those folks allow their faith to be co-opted by mainstream American consumer culture. When did Jesus tell you to buy more stuff? Here's a crazy idea: instead of buying Jesus brand goods, howzabout you feed the hungry and clothe the naked instead?
Sunday, October 10, 2004
Saturday, October 09, 2004
The Mos Eisley cantina is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. For the Sakiyan bounty hunter Djas Puhr, the cantina is a fertile refuge ripe with opportunity to catch a fugitive bounty ot pry information from customers who know more than they claim.Of course he's a bounty hunter. Does anyone hang out at that bar who isn't some sort of intergalactic hardcase? Still, I think he might be useable as a character for a Star Wars roleplaying session. I've got half an idea going for an Episode Zero adventure involving Jedi Masters Dooku and Sifidius travelling to a planet covered with blasted out high-tech ruins. They're looking for a long-lost Sith temple, in an attempt to learn more about their mysterious enemy. This all happens before Sidious recruits Dooku to the Dark Side.
Also on the new purchase front today, I found a copy of issue #4 of Vortext magazine for sale on the eBay. And for only a buck! Vortext #4 contains the only known published adventure for World of Synnibarr, and it's authored by the two primaries on the rulebook, Raven C.S. McCracken and his pal Bryce "Playing Synnibarr will open avenues in your imagination for which you probably did not even know you had an address" Thelin. If "Bio Starr 1" is suitable for first level characters I intend to use it at this next WinterWar. Otherwise, I will have to developed my own adventure. I should note that I never would have known of the existence of either Vortext or the Synnibarr adventure in issue 4 except that I had stumbled upon Shannon Appelcline's RPG Magazine Indices. Great resource!
Speaking of Winter War, I think I'm pretty close to nailing down my self-appointed judging duties. Assuming Uncle Jed sends me that copy of Tribes from Steve Jackson Games that i ordered and assuming I actually like it, I'm going to try to run it. Tribes is supposed to be a con-friendly game, suitable for large groups. I'm not sure exactly when during the con would best fit though. On Friday night I want to run World of Synnibarr, while Saturday night will be for my Jack the Ripper-based Call of Cthulhu game. Somewhere in between all this, probably as a Friday afternoon or Sunday game, I want to sponsor a game of Carcassonne. That should be more than enough to keep me busy, especially if I actually sign up for a game or two as a player.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Thursday, October 07, 2004
Imagine if someone thought ...
Rifts was too grim&gritty.
Gamma World too realistic.
1st Edition AD&D classes too open and free-form.
Greyhawk too coherent and plausible.
Arduin too tame and banal.
Senzar too low-powered.
Then you'd have Synnibarr.
I attempted a defense of the game, but no one directly responded to my post. I would at least have liked for someone to pointed out why they thought my analysis was wrong.
Best moment of the night for me had to be when the guys realized that one of the Tolino gangsters was packing a World War I army surplus flamethrower! Their reactions were priceless.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
I guess tomorrow night is another session of my Mob War micro-campaign. I'm not sure what sort of prep I need to do to make tomorrow night's game smoother. I've handed the PCs a task (intercept the Tolino Mob bootleg convoy) and they have all sorts of crazy ways they can try to accomplish this. I'm both excited to see what they will pull off and worried whether I will be able to keep up with these guys.
Monday, October 04, 2004
- Call of Cthulhu: Jack the Ripper
- Star Fleet Battle Manual
- Illuminati Tournament
Since getting back more heavily into roleplaying (thanks to Sue's D&D game and Dave Hoover's Avatars campaign) I feel less running boardgames, especially larger projects like SFBM or an Illuminati tourney. Carcassonne would probably be a great Friday afternoon warm-up game or Sunday warm-down game. While I still feel a dark urge to run a Jack the Ripper game, but like my Justice League 5000 idea I am stuck on how to plot the damn thing out. Also, it's harder and harder for me to enjoy dealing with the minutae of the CoC system. Maybe I should find a loosier and goosier system, or even something narritivist from the indie scene. Or maybe I should stick to CoC but run a non-mythos adventure with it. That makes the game less hackneyed, but doesn't solve my plotting issue. My wife has suggested that I should run DinoWARS! again, which certainly makes for a fun little Saturday morning jaunt. Although my indie games generally only went about 2 hours each, I think Wuthering Heights would be worth repeating, especially if we did two storylines. So here's my best guess as to what I could maybe do. Tomorrow's list might be totally different:Friday Afternoon: Carcassonne?
Friday Evening: World of Synnibarr
Saturday Morning: DinoWARS!
Saturday Evening: Call of Cthulhu?
Sunday Morning: Carcassonne?
Saturday, October 02, 2004
The game itself is kinda infamous for its crass and cynical portrayal of surviving life in a public secondary school circa 1980. Sex, drugs, and violence are featured prominently in a typical Alma Mater adventure. I've known a few people on RPG.net who own a copy, but I don't recall anyone actually claiming to have played it. A first glance AM is like a lot of other experimental games of the early eighties in that it carves out an unclaimed subject matter or genre and applies a heavy chart-based simulationist approach to the material. All in all, I'd probably rather be playing either incarnation of Teenagers From Outer Space. Still, the B-grade game enthusiast and sadistic GM in me would probably give Alma Mater a try as a con game, in much the same way that I plan to slog through World of Synnibarr at WinterWar.
BTW, if anyone reading this wants to send me some free gaming crap, just drop me an e-mail.
Friday, October 01, 2004
I considered buying myself something while I was there, even though Pat's gift was a bit more than I usually spend. I've had my eye on getting a tube of those giant polyhedrals. It's long been my idea that as the GM I could roll one of those big puppies right in the middle of the table for all to see. That would have a nifty effect if done only at dramatic moments I think, since I usually do my rolling behind a screen. Of the other wares for sale, I just didn't have much enthusiasm for most of them. The huge d20 section failed to trip my trigger; between my corebooks, SRDs, BESM d20, my newly acquired Unearthed Arcana, and a few other items I have more than enough d20 to power a huge variety of campaigns. About the only other thing present that interested me was Ron Edwards' Sex & Sorcery, the latest supplement to his indie magnum opus Sorcerer. But I still need to get the previous supplement, The Sorcerer's Soul. And either way I'm not sure I'll be playing any version of Sorcerer any time in the forseeable future.
But nothing else laying around at the FLGS interested me much. I guess after years of putzing around, collecting various game systems I'm finally starting to reach something like saturation. Are there indie things that would be neat to own? Sure. Can I find supplements and accessories I want for game lines that I like? Yeah. But as I type this I'm even considering taking some RPG products off of my Amazon wishlist. But really, I got the bases covered as far as good things to play goes. Savage Worlds works well as a generic system. BESM d20 looks like a good back-up for that sort of thing. The more I look at it the more I conclude that Mikko Kauppinen's Powergame is my sort of rules-lite rock-em sock-em superhero system. (Heck, I'm have-considering coverting my Heroes Unlimited campaign to Powergame.) If I want to do something gloomy and doomy I have good ol' Call of Cthulhu as well as the aformentioned Sorcerer. For sci-fi I have both Traveller and Star Frontiers. And I think Savage Worlds would work quite well for a Star Wars game. And don't forget all the various incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons on my shelves.
Really, the idea that I need another roleplaying game is completely ridiculous. I have more than enough material to keep me off the streets and out of juvie hall for years. In fact, I only fell off of the "no more systems" wagon because I joined a Savage Worlds game. I can't feel like I'm really in the mix in a campaign unless I own the rulebook. So rather than swearing off new systems completely, maybe I should just limit myself to games I am actually going to play.