Monday, February 28, 2005

We Got Game

My folks, my sister Jenn, and my nephew all came over for a visit yesterday. While mom and dad played with the grandkids Jenn and I played a game of Carcassonne. She brought her copy so that I could try the Traders & Builders expansion. Good stuff. I'm going to have to get a copy of that. We also played a game of Scrabble with my wife. I got a new copy for a fiver at the after-Xmas sales. Maybe at the next Winter War I will run a session of Carcassonne with all the expansions in use.

Later after everyone went home I got onto Amazon. My brother-in-law's birthday is this coming weekend, so I ordered him a book off of his wishlist. And while I was doing that I got Elizabeth a Teen Titans DVD. She's really gotten into that show. We spent a fair amount of time on Saturday looking for a copy locally. And my needed another travel guide to Disneyworld. Reading those and planning the perfect Disney vacation are her hobby. And I got myself the official Mutants & Masterminds GM's screen and Goodman Game's Dungeon Crawl Classic #11: The Dragonfiend Pact. I bought a module. That's what getting C&C will do to you. I need another dungeon module like a need a whole in my head. But I love 'em. I spent a good portion of the weekend downloading a bunch of free adventure modules from Wizards.

Random campaign idea: a trio of sci-fi 'novels'. The first novel is set in the solar system, in a near future sort of thing ripped in large part from the Spacer's Guide for Jovian Chronicles. Book 2 is set in Alpha Centauri, a la Centauri Knights from Guardians of Order. The final novel of the trilogy would feature a first contact story set in the second solar system ever to be visited by humans: Volturnus of Star Frontiers fame. I imagine running the whole thing with Savage Worlds or d20 Future.

It came from the eighties

A Dungeons & Dragons commercial. (wmv format)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Mutants & masterminds & bears, oh my!

Last night Don, Sue, John, and Paul came over for my Home Team campaign. This campaign follows the exploits of four little-known low-power heroes who try to hold Marvel New York together while all the big boys (the Avengers, FF, X-men, & Spidey) are off fighting the Beyonder's Secret Wars. Last night the PCs inserted themselves in the middle of a Maggia street war. They apprehended the two-bit villain team known as the Enforcers and forged a tentative alliance with the Punisher. That last bit came as a complete shock to me. I had tried to set things up so that it look like the Punisher had murdered Radarman's brother. Turns out he hadn't, but had lead as to who did it. Next issue we'll be dealing with a different menace, but I plan on tying up this plot thread in the following run. So far I'm digging the Mutants & Masterminds rules. They're a big step up from first edition Heroes Unlimited, if you can believe that. :) We're all still getting used to the new rules (especially Damage Saves) and my builds were kinda wonky. But I'm confident enough that MnM is going to work out that I'm looking at getting the GM's screen and maybe a PDF or two from RPGnow.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Kung Fu on You

Last night's Feng Shui game was a lot of fun. Sneezy Tang, the cheesy mobster, and his henchmen Smiley made a reappearance. I really wanted my guy Master Fo to get a second go at Smiley, since our first throwdown ended prematurely. Unfortunately, I had a ship load of kung fu sailors occupying my time, so the drunken bastard got to beat on him a bit. I would have been unhappy if Sean's PC had taken Smiley down. Dave has inserted a street urchin named Freddy into our midst. I find this to be very useful. If one of the PCs bites the dust that player could take over playing Freddie, using the scrappy kid template. I'm not sure if that's what Dave had in mind, but it seems like a good way to get a replacement PC into the mix ASAP.

A Year of Blogging

Today is the 365th day since I began blogging. It's been an interesting year. I'm doing way more gaming than I did back when I started a year ago. I started dicking around on the internet as sort of a substitute for a lack of actual play. Now this week I'll be gaming 3 times and I just declined an invitation to a fourth! My sister is organizing a game get-together for Saturday. Turns out she's found a guy in Bloomington who's also into Carcassonne and other German games. He's got her playing the German classic Settlers of Catan and she's taught him Bohnanza in exchange. I knew she'd like Settlers once she tried it. A lot of credit for me getting back into gaming in a big way has to go to two guys: Dave Hoover and my brother-in-law Jim. Their invites into ongoing games got me back into the scene and meeting new people. Big kudos to them. Being asked to play gave me a big shot of confidence I had been lacking.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A blog so good, it's going right onto the list

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dorkland.

A side effect of the C&C bug

Today I actually posted to the 6 Islands campaign blog.

New Links Added

If you look over at the sidebar full o' links you'll notice a new section with links to all the webcomics I'm currently reading. That's mostly for my convenience, but I thought other people might like to take a look-see as well. I also added RPGnow and DriveThruRPG to the gaming links list.

Home Team PCs

My notes for the new Mutants & Masterminds versions of the home team PCs can be found here. Now I need to fill in actual character sheets. Does any company webpublish their charsheets as fillable PDFs, so I can just type in the info? If not, why not? It seems like a completely obvious use of the technology.

In addition to a basic build for each PC, I made a quick and dirty list of possible future power point purchases for each PC. These lists are based upon my own guesses as to what directions the PCs can grow. For the Dingo, I'm basically assuming an early Superman style character, leaping tall buildings in a single bound rather than flying over them. Cyborg has several different directions he could go, but more speedster or more energy projection look like the winners to me. Radarman strikes me as basically a Spiderman power suite, combining Str, Dex, and super-senses. A Jill Montgomery, Agent of SHIELD, is your basic super-spy hot ninja chick, but that has at least 3 or 4 good build options available: kung-fu, gunbunny, gadget girl, and scary Charisma-based bad girl.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I Like Stupid Modules

One of the reasons I'm so into C&C right now is the prospect of being able to run lotsa different dungeon modules under a flexible, simple system. Here's a list of the sources for dungeons that all look good to me:

Old D&D modules from TSR

Similarly hoary modules from Judge's Guild

AEG's Adventure Keep line of pamphlet modules

HackMaster modules (I don't need the 'Hacked' versions of the old modules, but their original stuff, such as Slaughterhouse Indigo, looks good.)

Dungeon Crawl Classics from Goodman Games

Necromancer Games products

The World's Largest Dungeon (it has its flaws, but it's still got that Mt. Everest appeal)

Random Generated Dungeons, like from the appendix to the 1st edition DMG

My Own Crazy Homebrew Stuff

Take a combination of any or all of the above, pepper the dungeons on some outdoor map and you've got the kind of campaign that I love both running and playing. It's unsophisticated, maybe even dumb, but that's the way I like my swords & sorcery gaming.

A Few Quick Items

Yesterday I went over to Leisure Time Pet & Hobbies. A fellow RPGnetter had informed me that they had in stock a copy of the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook. After a brief flip through I finally bought the damn thing. Don was right about one thing: this ain't no stripped-down d20 Fantasy Lite. There's too much old school silliness put back in for C&C to work for that. But he was wrong about my reaction to C&C. I think I can run this game. I think it might be the game I wanted back when I investigated HackMaster. I can take it in multiple different directions. This looks so good the idea of running an ongoing campaign bubbled to the surface of my thoughts. That's how bad I got it right now. I gotta run a testdrive of this game, and soon.

I got an email from one of the editors of chessvariants.org regarding prizes for the 44 Squares Contest. Prizes! They're sending me a copy of Pritchard's Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, a nigh-unobtainable tome of unparalleled value to the chess variant enthusiast. This was the book that my local library could only obtain for me via an interlibrary loan from friggin' Arizona. It's the only chess variant book that's been on my Amazon wishlist for years.

Last night the Monday group played Traders of Genoa. This was my second time playing Genoa, and I'm kinda starting to get the hang of it. I'm hoping to get the guys to play it again next week. One more go may be enough for me to achieve basic competency. This puppy is a "gamer's game" as my brother-in-law Jim likes to put it. On any given turn their are multiple equally valid things you can do and multiple equally valid ways of achieving your goals. Puerto Rico is another good example of this type of game.

I've given it some long and hard thought, and I've decided I'm going to have to give Dave a pass on this new Wednesday night game. I don't mean any offense. It's a tough decision. It comes down to the simple fact that I am having a good time every Monday with Bruce, Jim, Al, and Carl. I just can't give it up lightly. I'm having way too much fun with these guys and I don't see most of them in any other venue other than Winter War.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

UltraForce Omega is Go!

Today I ran Episode 1 of UltraForce Omega, my new d20 Modern campaign. We had two PCs today, ran by my nephews Ian and Alex. Next session we should have one to three new players. I was really impressed with the fact that the boys built characters with an advancement plan. Ian wants to eventually have a BattleMind guy and Alex is aiming for a Soldier.

Anyway, the basic concept of the campaign is X-Files style supernatural investigation combined with A-Team action hero silliness. The first session was an adaptation of the old Call of Cthulhu adventure "The Brockford House'". I replaced the Deep Ones with Locathath and Sahuagin and pretty much ran it as-is. I shooting for a completely episodic format with a level-up between each adventure, max number of sessions = 20. Next session will feature dinosaurs.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Yet Another Webcomic Link

R.K. Milholland of Something Positive was pimping Wapsi Square the other day so I checked it out. The art is great, the writing is great. The archive is large. And the comic features lotsa cute chicks. What more can a webcomic nerd ask for? Howzabout a side order of inexplicable supernatural goings-on? I give Wapsi Square a big thumbs up.

Another Game?

Dave sent Pat and I emails earlier in the week. Looks like he and Loren and Charles are putting together some sort of game for the alternate Wednesdays when the Pancake Hut Gang is not in session. I'm interested in more roleplaying, but I don't want to be gone both Monday and Wednesday night of every week. So if I'm going to play this new game (with as yet undecided system, setting, or GM) that means cutting back or cutting out on the Monday night group. This situation puts me in a bit of a conundrum, because it puts two of my gaming maxims at odds with each other, the first being that gaming is a social endeavor first and foremost. I'm having a cool time hanging out with the grognards on Monday nights. They're fun guys. My wife thinks that joining a different game only risks srewing up a good thing at the hopes of a better thing. But on the other hand even though I like to dabble in all sorts of games, I'm a roleplayer at heart. As Spock might say roleplaying is my first, best destiny and anything else is a waste of material. So naturally, I want to dice up and play Wednesday night, if I can do so without killjoying my Monday night thing. The easy solution I guess would be to roleplay every Wednesday and go to Bruce's place every other Monday. My one concern is that sometimes we have just three players at Bruce's on Monday. Without me that goes down to two, which drastically cuts into the number of German-type games one can play. On the other hand, Bruce and Jim are both hex-and-chit men, so there's lotsa other stuff out there for them to do.

I guess two variables come into play that would help me decide what to do. First off, what does Pat want to do? (Though that could quickly degenerate into a game of "I will if you will".) And secondly, what kind of game? I'm usually not too much in the "I won't play system X" camp but I'm looking for something to help me make up my mind here. Other than Feng Shui most of my interest lately have been in d20 material: Castles & Crusades, BESM d20, Mutants & Masterminds, or playing (not running) D&D. Odd, isn't it? There's also Savage Worlds but apparently Charles doesn't dig on that, so it's out. We also don't have a GM yet. Either Dave or I could run, but we're already committed. If I ran it'd have to be braindead dungeoncandy using C&C or an earlier incarnation of D&D or else something extremely short-term, like one to three sessions. It would be cool if Pat or Loren took a shift wearing the viking hat. Both of them are chock full o' clever ideas that I think could be well articulated from behind the screen. Maybe the solution is that we could take turns running some stuff. I dunno. I obviously like the idea of more RPGing on Wednesdays, I think maybe we just need to have a plan of some sort before I really committ myself. I hope that doesn't make me a game-tease.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

More Gametastic Bloglinkage

Jeremiah Genest (a.k.a. RPGnet regular Jere) had a nifty little entry about running conspiracy games in his livejournal. And his feelings about Ars Magica match uo with what I feel these days about Call of Cthulhu: good game, but more and more it seems creatively bankrupt.

A Comic Pat Should Buy So I Can Read It For Free

Doc Frankenstein, the Messiah of Science! (Click on the issue covers to see previews.)

Also available from the same site*: Shaolin Cowboy.

This blog entry clearly wins the prize for most shameless title.

*Burlyman Entertainment? With a name like that, I'm surprised the filter here at work isn't blocking the whole damn site on general principle.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A More Upbeat Blog Entry

  • We've got a tentative date (2/25) for the next session of my Home Team campaign, using the slick new Mutants & Masterminds version of the PCs that I've been working on. I decided to use the optional rule from the errate that reduces the cost of skills to 1/3 of a power point. That allows me to make Jill Montgomery, Agent of SHIELD, for only 5 points more than the rest of the party.
  • I got dice from my Valentine! A tube of marbly green polyhedrals (the kind with 4d6 and a tensplace die) and a set of white jumbo dice. Size isn't everything, but I like the idea of the whole damn table being able to read the dieroll.
  • Speaking of my wife, I floated by her the idea of daytripping to Spring Offensive and Flatcon and she didn't flinch. Excellent!
  • I think this Saturday will the first session of my new d20 Modern campaign for my nephews. They may be bringing a friend or two along for the ride. And it looks like Don & Sue's son will be joining the party in session two. My plan for this campaign, titled Ultraforce Omega, is to adapt, adopt, and outright steal whatever material I can find. Anything from old TV shows/movies/comics (stuff from before the kid's were born) to using the free d20M adventures from Wizards to modifying stuff from other games. Session One will feature an adaptation of "The Brockford House", a classic Call of Cthulhu adventure that I first ran for Goph and Dave almost twenty years ago. Substitute some D&D Locathath for Deep Ones and I'm pretty much good to go.
  • It turns out that Hank, a fellow I have gamed with at Winter War more than once, actually lives in CU. He's now on my short list of people to try to get at the table for my next one-shot. My short list is getting pretty long!

Ten Things I Don't Like About The New D&D

It's Curmudgeon Day at my gameblog. This list is in no particular oder.

  • Familiars way too familiar You used to need to cast an elaborate spell to get a familiar. Now every man jack wizard can have one. And where's the imps, quasits, and pseudo-dragons? Today's familiars are more common and more lame.
  • New initiave system What was wrong with the AD&D 2 initiative system? Someone please tell me, cause I don't know. Anyone else miss weapon speeds? Or rolling initiative every round?
  • Map-based combat Attacks of Opportunity and 5' Steps drive me crazy. Crazy, I tell ya! Crazy!
  • Too many damn spellcasters Rangers, paladins, and bards I can maybe take. But assassins? Assassins?
  • Cantrips, cantrips, cantrips These were more fun back in the original Unearthed Arcana. And I don't like 1st level casters starting play with so many spells. Will someone please think of the children?
  • Magic items as commodity I know this started with the original DMG, but it is entirely out of control now. Looking at the chart that shows how many GPs of magic items an average PC should own just makes me ill. Can someone tell me the GP value of Excalibur? How about Stormbringer? How much would the Eye of Agamotto fetch on eBay?
  • Magic Item Creation is Hozzored Hey kids, start making magic items at much earlier levels than grandpa! It'll just cost you your precious, precious experience points!
  • Why can't I play a 1st level half-orc assassin, dammit?
  • CR/EL/XP Just put an xp rating in the monster entry. I hate those stupid charts.
  • Monsters and NPCs are a pain This is the big one for me. Managing critters and people with levels in PC classes is a huge pain. The chargen rules as written allow for a lot of nifty PC customization. As a DM those same rules feel like a millstone around my neck.

This list isn't exhaustive, by the way. It's just the first 10 things that came to mind.

Discovered another game designer blog

Today I discovered that yeoman game designer Mike Mearls (author of Postmodern Magic, Elevator to the Netherworld, Relics & Rituals, and a shitload more) has a livejournal account. His most recent entry is kinda interesting, on the subject of gaming intellectualism. It's also nice to know that he likes Complete Adventurer from WotC.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Let's get ready to rumble!

Coming in April: WWE Know Your Role, a d20-based OGL wrasslin' roleplaying game. There's a very substantive preview available here. Although I don't watch much WWE nowadays, this game looks hella-fun. If I were to GM this puppy I'd be tempted to set the game in an alternate universe where WCW and ECW were still giving Vinny Mac a run for his money. Also, the Four Horsemen would still kick ass. Woo!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Solid!

Solid!, the blaxploitation d20 Modern supplement has just been released over at the RPGnow. I may have no business whatsoever playing an 'authentic' black character in an RPG, but I've seen enough Shaft and Dolemite films to allow me to climb on board this particular soul train. And unlike Wyrd Is Bond, the rappers-as-wizards rpg, I won't feel like I'm inadvertedly parodying someone else's urban culture. Dolemite is already ridiculous, if not outright parody of the genre, and you'd have trouble convincing me that Shaft is anything other than an adventure flick with a non-whitebread setting.

Missed Opportunity

The next time Dave wants a night off from his Feng Shui game I'm going to run this. Ideally, any interested players will show up to the sessions with martial artists all ready to go.

Did you notice that I managed to produce a PDF file with images? I believe Ted Hampton of Bear Productions clued me in on how to do it while we were chatting at Winter War.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Link for the Comic Fans

The Quarter Bin is a site with over 200 short but sweet comics essays. I'm particularly fond of "The Three Trashmen Tests" and "The Bouncing Boy Test", as well as the articles on bad costumes of the sixties, seventies*, eighties**, and nineties. Although they do manage to acknowledge the existence of non-supers comics, overall the site tends to suffer from the usual sort of myopia that over-emphasizes mainstream American superhero comics. But what can you expect from a site called the Quarter Bin?

*Thought I must disagree with the author's assessment of Moondragon's costume. I dig the whole bald-psionic-chick-in-skimpy-costume-with-big-cape look. But I also liked the bald psionic chick Star Trek: The Motion Picture, so what do I know?

**And punk Storm? Smokin' hot. Anyone who says otherwise just can't remember back to the days when punk was actually cool.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Neat Link

Loose Cannon Productions is a fan effort devoted to reconstructing lost black & white Dr. Who episodes. I have yet to view any of their episodes, but the page that outlines their methodology was an interesting read. Their version of 'The Dalek's Master Plan' has been recommended to me.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Also: non-rpg one-shots

  • Starmada
  • BattleTech
  • Star Fleet Battles (I would host & organize the game, but John Pedigo would provide the rules savvy. I'm thinking a little destroyer/frigate level engagement. Nothing too complex.)
  • Illuminati (I've long wanted to try the last supplement.)
  • Dawn Patrol
  • Chainmail (the original version)

It occurred to me that some of these one-shots (and the RPG ideas on the list below) could be run at either Spring Offensive in April or Flatcon in September. Now that we've got a second car I'll feel less guilty daytripping to a con, since I wouldn't be leaving Amy & Elizabeth without transportation. And agreeing to GM something means I can't just get the blahs a few days before the con and blow off going.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

RPGnow: no more minimum purchase

One of the things that used to annoy me about RPGnow was the $6.40 minimum purchase. Scott McCloud can sell comics online for a quarter. S. John Ross can sell kickass fonts for three bucks apiece. Why can't RPGnow deliver less than $6.40 worth of product and still make a profit? Well now they can. Thanks in very, very small part to yours truly, they've added another purchase option: for a 35 cent handling fee you can buy underneath the minimum. Not perfect, but still a step in the right direction. Kudos to RPGnow for listening to its customers!

Between this development and DriveThruRPG switching over to digital watermarking, I'm starting to actually believe that you can accomplish some things simply by bitching on the internet.

(Hey! I just noticed that Games Designers' Workshop has been added to the watermarking list! Hot damn! Pocket Empires will be mine! And while we're on the subject of cool new stuff, two new cool items have been added over at RPGnow: The full version of Blue Rose and the Johnny Nexus Compilation, a collection of articles from the editor of Critical Miss.)

One-Shots for '05

It looks like I will be running campaigns for Mutants & Masterminds and d20 Modern. Given the success of my Blue Rose one-shot I'd like to work a few more one-off projects into my schedule. I like being able to play with different people as well as trying out different games. Here's my tentative list:

Anybody got any strong opinions on any of these? Any other suggestions?

I'm a Troublemaker

I just started this thread over at RPGnet. Honestly, I'm not trying to pick on the Troll Lords, but I had to vent a little and hopefully get some feedback from the folks over there.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Well, poop.

Dave's gone and cancelled tomorrow night's Feng Shui game. Between recovering from the Winter War and feverishly scrambling to purchase his first home, he just doesn't have the energy to devote to a game. I'd rather he cancelled than run anyway given the circumstances, but it's still kinda disappointing. Especially given that last session was hosed (for me at least) by that stupid meeting I had to attend.

On a good note, I'm still congratulating myself on that Puerto Rico win. I win some games at the Monday night group now and again, but usually a good deal of the credit for my victories has to go to lucky card draws or dice rolls. This time it was pure gamemanship, baby. I made some damn good plays, if I do say so myself.

The next post I make to this blog will be more humble. I promise.

The War Is Over: Cat Piss Man Wins

Winter War 32 is nothing more than a collection of fond memories. I'm hoping to get a full report on it up later this week. There are a few items I want to report on in this venue though. First, Don McKinney made an earnest attempt to talk me out of getting the Castles & Crusades Players Handbook. He was part of the playtest and in general I highly respect Don's opinions, so I am going to run a session or two of the boxed set before moving any further towards C&C. Second, I am done running Call of Cthulhu. My Jack the Ripper game was a bit of a mess, but I've got the bug to run a Ripper game out of my system. And the Cthulhu Mythos seems played out to me. Maybe I'll revisit it someday, but in this era of Cthulhu plushies the Mythos is little more than an one-note joke.

So it looks like I've now got two campaigns. Don, Sue, Paul & John want to get my Home Team game up and running again, so I need to finish converting their characters over to Mutants & Masterminds. Our first session back in the saddle will probably be a small potatoes run with a handful of minor supervillains, but then I want to get into some big heroic adventures: Saving New York from destruction. Rescuing the President of the United States. (Are they bad enough dudes?) Thwarting alien invasions. That kind of stuff. The other campaign I am going to be running is that d20 Modern kid's game I have mentioned before. Ian and Alex have obtained parental permission and proposed a schedule of every other Saturday afternoon. With these two longer term projects on the table anything else I run in the meantime will have to be one-shots or micro-campaigns using quick-and-dirty types rules.

At Bruce's place I won last night's game of Puerto Rico. That was really satisfying. It's one of the more complex German games that we play, a "gamer's game" as Jim likes to call it. I've got to pat myself on the back for this one. I made some good sound plays. I made several goofs as wells, but I took the lead early and just barely held on to it throughout the game.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Brief Winter War Update

Don (the convention chairman) decided to try posting a pdf of the final program on the Winter War website. Our Glorious Leader also reports that Winter War 33 will be Feb 10-12 at the Chancellor. There had been some talk of moving to another venue, but it looks like we'll be staying at the Chancellor. Since the date has been moved from the first weekend in Feb to the second weekend, it looks like we will not be sharing space with the firemen.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Aother Webcomic

This one's political, so consider yourself warned. As far as I've seen, the rest of this guy's comics look pretty lame, but this one is worth the clicky.