OK, guys, here's the plan: Grab your bizarro twin and beat the living hell out of them!
Monday, January 31, 2005
A Webcomical Funny
Trolls in Winter
Sunday, January 30, 2005
apropos of nothing: D&D
items from the grab bag
I bought a bottle of strawberry kefir yesterday. Kefir is a culture, like yoghurt. In fact, it pretty much tastes like a yoghurt shake. If it was substantively more expenses than yoghurt I'd use plain kefir on my breakfast cereal, but Silk Chai is still my organic beverage of choice.
Last night I finally got to see the Matrix, thanks to Pat lending me his copy. [dude]That movie was totally awesome!!![/dude] The epiphany scene where Neo could see the world as data was pretty cool, but the big payoff for me was Neo and Trinity in the lobby fight. The plot seemed to have a few holes (or at least unaddressed issues), but overall the movie still kicked ass. In fact, I've already printed out a copy of There Is No Spoon, Steve Darlington's excellent Matrix RPG.
Friday, January 28, 2005
"You insult my noodles, you insult my honor!"
Thanks to the stupid meeting I had to attend, I got very little done in Dave's Feng Shui game on Wednesday. I did manage to spit out the line quoted as the title of this post, so that was cool. For a sec I thought Sean's Old Master and my guy were going to have to duel. Instead I hired him as a cook. Funny how things work out sometimes. (Though I don't rule out a duel at a later date.) And now Ray's drifter PC also apparently works for me/and or rents a squalid room from me. Why make a drifter and then put down roots at the first opportunity? If I was running a drifter, I'd just wander onto the set sometime near the beginning of each episode with little explanation as to where I'd been since my last appearance. Otherwise, why play a drifter? Do they have some sort of kickas mechanical advantage I don't know about? I just don't get it. But then, I follow very little of Ray's chains of thought sometimes. But the real excitement of the episode was the second visit to the noodle shop by the Poison Thorns. Seems Sneezy Tang and the shadowy sorcerer pulling his strings haven't quite given up on owning the Eating Counter. Cool. I really want another go at Smiley, their big grunt. And I wanna see that sorcerer bastard dead, dead, dead. You don't set Master Fo on fire and then let him live.
Brief DriveThru Update
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Fear the Meatbox
I like the experiments in sales and distribution that have been coming down the pipe lately. Even if the side effect of this tinkering is that we get an occasional stinker like DriveThruRPG's foray into the seemy world of Digital Rights Management or the buy-the-beta bait-and-switch of Heromachine or With Great Power. There have been lots of other nifty ideas, starting with the PDF giants like S. John Ross and Monte Cook. By my lights Ross is the better designer, but I think Cook (who is quite good, just not as good as Ross) deserves credit for popularizing the gaming PDF. Then there's the development of solid electronic clearing houses like RPGnow and Steve Jackson's finally-opened e23. Meanwhile, the gang over at the Forge are blazing other trails. My favorite example of Forgite cleverness would be Vincent Baker's old scheme for selling kill puppies for satan: he sent the game and you send him money if you like it. He asked for a fiver. I decided to be cute and sent him a check for $6.66. It's an exciting time to be a geek, between all these different methods for selling and distributing fresh new games, and the similar experiments going on in comics, such as Scott McCloud selling online comics for 25 cents a pop or Randy Milholland getting his fans to buy him a year off from having to work a day job.
Even if I don't need a game featuring brawling fleshbots, I'm still thinking about sending Mr. Stolze a few bucks. I think it's a good idea to support anything that makes it easier for smaller projects to be more viable. Besides, donating to a project isn't the same as buying a new game, so I can throw some dollars at Stolze and not break my New Year's resolution.
This ever happen to you?
*I wonder how one pronounces that name? Ah-jee? Ah-juh? Ay-juh? Maybe it's phonetically identically to Asia.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Hopefully more publishers will hop on the bandwagon as this format becomes more popular.
Malhavoc Press (Complete)
Necromancer Games (Complete)
Morrigan Press (Talislanta) (Complete)
Goodman Games (Complete)
WorldWorks Games (Complete)
Dream Pod 9
Sword Sorcery Games
Pisces All Media
Pinnacle (Great White Games)
Politically Incorrect Games
QuikLink Interactive, Inc.
M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel (When Content Arrives)
Ronin Arts (When Content Arrives)
I noticed recently while flipping through Dream Pod 9 section at DriveThru that they are selling a PDF of an old out-of-print comedy/sci-fi game called Star Riders. This game uses the mechanics from first edition Teenagers From Outer Space, but casts the PCs as crazy college kids searching for the planet Earth. Seems ol' Sol III was misplaced by interstellar bureaucrats. (Did I mention the cover art features space motorcycles? I love space motorcycles. Always wanted one since I first got a look at a hoverbike illo in Star Frontiers.) There's a review for Star Riders over at RPG.net, with some good comments at the bottom of the page.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Neat Prestige Class
Well this sucks.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
"Mr. McCloud, how do I break into the comics business?"
"Voila!" I tell 'em. "You're in the business!"The quote and scan above are from Scott McCloud's Reinventing Comics, which I happened to find at the local library. Excellent read, and like Lynda Barry's One Hundred Demons and R.Crumb before them, I find an exhortation to create my own comics. Even if it is just a teeny little one. Maybe now that I've got some graphics programns besides MS Paint I can finally take a stab at that Hawkman/Mitochondria idea.
This really pisses 'em off, but I think it's an important reference point.
Games and stuff
1) Of all the Mekton ideas I've been knocking around, Emerald Knights of Uresia will be the easiest to implement and the easiest to sell to players.
2) My idea of running a sentai team under Mekton is still viable, but would probably work best as a one-shot.
3) I'm probably crazy to think I could tackle a GURPS The Prisoner campaign. The Prisoner is just too advanced an idea. I need more experience running non-dungeon based campaigns first.
Please note that Pat did absolutely nothing to discourage me from any particular project. I came to these conclusions after bouncing ideas off of him, but as usual he was completely non-judgemental of whatever I wanted to do.
Monday was boardgame night, which was spent playtesting Al's new scenario for the old Aliens boardgame from Leading Edge. I got to play both Hicks and Hudson. If you ever get a chance to get this game cheap, do it. If nothing else, I'll buy it off of you. The presentation is slick and the mechanics are pretty sweet. Most of the night I was filled with visions of using this game with GURPS Traveller deckplans for the maps. It could rock.
I've been working on a little one-shot for Feng Shui, an emergency back-up game in case Dave is unavailable or otherwise not into GMin on a particular Wednesday night. He mentioned possibly not being available the Wednesday after the con, so I started working on adapting on old adventure from another system I've always wanted to run. This game would be for characters other than our 'regular' PCs in Dave's Feng Shui campaign, but I thought it would be useful if we stuck with the same ruleset. No need to attempt to learn or re-learn a new system just for a substitute game. Besides, this adventure is basically a variation on the old Van Dam movie Bloodsport, so Feng Shui seemed like as good a fit as anything.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
A Pair of Kickass Links
- What wrong-thinking person wouldn't want to own their own JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank? That thing went right to the top of my wishlist.
- Visions, the compiled poetry of Robert E. Howard. Poetry is not just for wimps, by Crom!
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Ups and Downs
Last night didn't go quite as well as Monday. Make no mistake; I had a good time playing in Dave's Feng Shui game. But man, did we (the PCs) fuck things up royally. The damsel in distress got capped and the major villain escaped. One or the other I can stomach, but both is just bitter ashes in my mouth. And Sean's mafia hitman bit the dust. I'd really, really like to put all the blame for this fiasco on Ray, but we all managed to botch things up pretty good. Turns out all the players but yours truly are ditching the characters from the first two sessions and bringing in new guys. Barb's got a Big Bruiser. Pat chose a Maverick Cop. Sean went with... a second Old Master? WTF? I have no idea what Ray chose. I think he spent over an hour making up his mind and maybe he still wasn't done when Pat and I split. Master Fo, my PC, ended the session in possession of the Eating Counter, a Feng Shui site that he promptly attuned to. Unfortunately the old owner was the cook so now my evil kung-fu master is an evil noodle chef.
Monday, January 10, 2005
Occult Crimes Taskforce (Savage Worlds) - Con game. Currently a big blank. Prep needed: medium. Priority: High.
Catch Me When You Can (Call of Cthulhu) - Con game. 6 PCs done. Basic outline of badguys activities. Prep needed: A lot. Priorty: V. high.
Home Team - I'm pretty close ot having all the conversions done. Jill Montgomery, Agent of SHIELD, still needs some work. Still hope to start the campaign back up after the con.
Mekton - Emerald Knights of Uresia and Steel Dragons are the campaigns in contention for this slot. Not sure if I want to run something as crunchy as Mekton or not, but it is a good game.
d20 Modern - Remains idel until the players give me a schedule.
the Prisoner - The GURPS book is way cool, as is the original TV series. I think even a short campaign would be hard work, but well worth the effort if I could pull it off. But what system to use? Risus? GURPS Lite? FUDGE? Ideally, the game has to allow for some sort of psychological conflit mechanics, whether Risus-style (all conflicts, physical, mental & social, are handles the same way) or HERO-style (psych lims and all that sort of disad stuff).
The End of an Era... ?
My new copy of Feng Shui appeared today as well. This is my first purchase under the new policy. I have no plans to buy anymore FS books, but I don't know how long I can last, escpecially with Golden Comeback, the player's book, available cheap at RPGnow. Until I start or join a new campaign, I'm pretty much dead in the water as far as RPG purchases go. On with the games!
I must say that I found the Blue Rose version of d20 lite to be a nifty little system. The setting of Aldis doesn't do too much for me though. And the magic system ("arcana") as presented in the Fast Play is just a little too light and fluffy. I think something existing in the space between the standard D&D system and Blue Rose would better suit me. Either way, I certainly don't need another fantasy RPG. The conviction mechanics are worth stealing, but otherwise I've got a zillion iterations of sword and spell games.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Every time I try to leave they pull me back in.
And my last free little green book bag is starting to look threadbare, so there's another reason to sign up.
Friday, January 07, 2005
The Play's The Thing
Theoretical approaches to gaming are all fine and dandy. I like to hang out at the Forge and pretend to be hip and cutting-edge just as much as anyone else. If you really want to refer to the GM as the Storyteller, well, good luck with that. But sometimes we gamers worry too much about how we are gaming. Funk dat. Just do it. Carpe diem.
For me, personally, IMHO, YMMV, etc., etc., Gaming is all about enabling Actual Play. Actual play being defined as human beings sitting around a table investigating a shared imaginative experience and having a good time participating in that endeavor. Anything that gets you to that table with those people rolling those dice and drinking that soda is a Game Enabler. Anything that undermines this goal is a Game Disabler. Good gaming is achieved by emphasizing Enablers and shunning Disablers.
Does owning all the books make a positive impact at the session? Then it's an Enabler. Does a good working knowledge of GNS theory result in a better managed game? If so, then GNS is an Enabler for you. If either the books or the theory is not working out for you, stop using them. Is the metaplot you're trying to follow actually hurting your attempt to run an enjoyable campaign? Ditch the damn thing, it's a Game Disabler. Is somebody being a boor despite the fact that you have repeatedly mentioned their behavior is disrupting play? That player is a Game Disabler. Do what you gotta do given out-of-play issues, but if the game is your primary concern then kick the jerk out.
This last issue (the disruptive player) is key, I think, because tapletop gaming (the only kind that concerns me) is a first and foremost a social experience. You need other players to pull it off. In this hobby we sometimes fall prey to the Five Geek Social Fallacies, due in no small part to the fact that so many of us were marginalized misfits in high school. I know I was one of the geeks. I was a slightly-smarter-than-average fatass who had exactly one date before I got to college. Maybe I still haven't completely gotten over my loathing for jocks, but that doesn't mean I should let my emotional damage dictate my behavior towards other people at the game table. Understand that I am not advocating heartlessly ejecting Timmy the Turdboy at the first sign of unpleasantness, but to allow people like Mike from SomethingPositive to continue to screw up people's game helps neither the Mikes of the world nor the folks around them. Sometimes you gotta call people on their crap.
How does this all fit into Shared Lobotomy? Writing for games is not gaming. Therefore, if it is to have a place in my life as a gamer Shared Lobotomy needs to be a Game Enabler. Clearly it was not. By taking on the writing gig for Foe File, I thought I was expanding my horizons of participation in my hobby. In fact, what I was doing was taking on a second hobby only tangentially related to my first one. I only have room in my life for one hobby and that hobby is and probably always will be tabletop gaming.
This blog entry is only a first try at outlining my personal philosophy of gaming. Of all the blog entries I have written over the last year, this is the one I most desparately need feedback on. Tell me I'm full of crap if that's what you think. Just tell me something.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Thought for the Day
If your game sessions suck, you're not using enough ninjas.
--RPGnet forum member Belac
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Welcome to Jeff's GameRetractions
Edit: Retraction on part of the retraction! (Sonuvabitch!) Turns out Mongoose is the one with the loose lips sinking ships. Back when they were pursuing the license, they put a Trek corebook on their proposed release schedule. Come on, Mongoose. Everyone know that before you actually have a license all you can do is act real coy and say stupid stuff like "We're pursuing a major property at the moment, but I can't disclose anything just yet." By the established protocol extra emphasis on the "major" is called for only if the license is in fact for something stupid that no one cares about.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
New Trek RPG?
Anyhoo, it was pointed out a few minutes ago over on RPG.net that Amazon has a sketchy little listing for a new Star Trek rpg. The publisher is Mongoose, with a release date of June '05, page count of 300, and a price tage of $44.95. No further info is available at this time.
Original Series-era Trek and Movies-era Trek (the ones with the killer burgundy tunics) have long been settings I have wished to do some good gaming in. I haven't really taken the plunge in these venues other than a few abortive FASA-based attempts in junior high and high school. I briefly owned the Last Unicorn Games corebook for the Original Series, but the system left me dead cold. I recently acquired the Narrator's advice booklet, written by the supertalented S. John Ross. Great GMing advice in there, applicable to many other games. I've longed for a copy of Mr. Ross's supplement for the Andorians, but have yet to lay my hands on one. I don't really have any experience with the Decipher's Trek material, or the very early Heritage Models/Gamescience product. Ditto Prime Directive, the Star Fleet Battles RPG, and it's GURPS variant. I bet GURPS Klingons kicks all sorts of ass though, as it is undoubtedly based on the earlier Klingons-as-the-Mongol-horde model, rather than the later Klingons-as-drunken-brawling-Injuns motif.
These days a new Trek RPG is unlikely to focus on the two periods in Trek chronology that I personally love, so a Mongoose corebook may not do jack or squat in helping me get a game going. Still, I'm glad someone is trying to keep the flame of Trek gaming alive.
Yet Another Wraeththu Watch
That post is from Dec 30th, so the end of January looks like the absolute earliest the Wraeththu rpg will come into existence.
Everything is writen now Just waiting for final illustrations and proofing from the beta readers. Once thats in it will take approx 3 weeks till we get our first boxes and we will post then straight away. As we have a man in the US all games sent withing th US will take only a few days the sames goes for UK and Europe.
I hope to have all the final bits in from the tsters in the next few weeks. I will nudge them to get a move on.
Furthering looking around the official Wraeththu website led me to this page, which seems to indicate that the cover price in American dollars will be $45.99. That's quite a chunk of change, even if I wasn't currently committed to not buying new rpg systems. I think Nobilis and the deluxe, full-color edition of Silver Age Sentinels are the only gamebooks I have ever gotten in that price range. For only four dollars more than the price of Wraeththu, I could get the Conan rpg from Mongoose. (If I need to explain to you how cool Conan is, then maybe you ought to be reading another blog.) For five bucks less I could get the rather pricy Paranoia XP. And there's a whole lot of kickass indy stuff available for half the asking price of Wraeththu. Heck, once we're to 46 bucks, getting the D&D 3.5 corebook set isn't that far out of reach. Amazon has it for $61.17.
So it looks like I won't be getting Wraeththu: From Enchantment to Fufillment any time soon. Maybe if it had come out on its original release schedule I would have blown the cash on it. But the plain truth is that nearly any other new system I might pick up stands a greater chance of getting me to actual play. I hate to turn my rpg buying habits into a popularity contest, but the hard truth is that I already own a bunch of games that no one particularly wants to play.
Guardians Update: Fighting the Good Fight
It turns out that GoO ain't dead yet, but it's fighting for survival. The Guardians need a quick cash injection in order to keep going. Towards that end, they are having a monster blowout sale with some really good stuff available cheap. Highlights of the sale include:
- BESM 1st edition: I've heard the first edition is a lighter, more free-form incarnation.
- Great BESM 2nd edition stuff. Including the intriguing-but-may-be-a-Vampire-clone-unpon-further-inspection Cold Hands, Dark Hearts and the totally fun-sounding Cute and Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters.
- BESM d20 for only ten bucks!!! and the full color deluxe edition for twenty!!!
- Lotsa licensed anime stuff.
- Silver Age Sentinels for only 15 dollars! (NB: These are slightly darker than normal print jobs from an early batch. Guardians assures us that they are still readable. They just weren't good enough that GoO wanted to put them into distribution.) The GM's advice on running silver age campaigns is probably worth the $15 alone.
Seriously people, if you ever wanted any of this stuff, now is the time to get it. You get a good deal. GoO gets a shot at a second lease on life. That's a win-win situation if I ever heard it.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Current Gaming Projects
Occult Crimes Taskforce (Savage Worlds) - Con game. Currently a big blank. Prep needed: medium. Priority: High.
Catch Me When You Can (Call of Cthulhu) - Con game. 6 PCs done. Basic outline of badguys activities. Prep needed: Dear God it's devouring my very existence! Prioirty: Very high. I desparately want this to Not Suck.
Home Team - Making some progress on converting from first edition Heroes Unlimited (what was I thinking?!?) to Mutants & Masterminds. I am hoping to start the campaign back up after the con.
Foe File - Between some writer's block and a crisis of faith (should I even be doing this?) I am completely paralyzed at the moment.
Mekton - Jesus wants me to run it, so I need to develop a campaign. Currently Emerald Knights of Uresia and Steel Dragons are the campaigns in contention for this slot. See below for more details on these ideas.
Risus - All I got is a vague idea that I would like to run some Risus. Maybe I could rip off a TV show, like Star Trek or Dr. Who or the Prisoner.
d20 Modern - Still nothing firm back from the nephews. Until I hear from them regarding a schedule I don't plan on working on this.
This just in: Pour a Forty on the Curb for Guardians of Order
Update: Not dead yet? Mark McKinnon says reports of GoO's demise are premature, but expect an announcement on the Guardians webpage later this week.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
My New Year's Resolution
But all those purchase ideas are highly theoretical right now. I am currently only playing in a Feng Shui campaign, and since I'm not particularly interested in the rest of the FS line my purchases are pretty well curtailed. Maybe the player's goodie book, Golden Comeback, is worth a look-see. And I could maybe get Guns! Guns! Guns! and use it to whip up some stats for favorite gats of mine. Not that guns in FS are stat-heavy.
A corollary of my resolution is that I can't really buy games that are completely new to me. I either have to be in someone else's campaign (like in the case of Feng Shui) or there needs to be a free version of the game, whether a true corebook (as in the case of the SRD or Risus) or a start-up version (like previously mentioned Blue Rose or T20 Lite) . It's kinda wierd, but I now find myself in the position of wanting to run a Risus campaign of some sort just so I can allow myself to buy the undoubtedly excellent Risus Companion!
If I stick to this resolution, it also means that my days of collecting Traveller material are at an end until I can get a Trav campaign going again. I don't know if I'll be able to go indefinitely without scratching that Trav itch. There's still so much good stuff out there. Startown Liberty and Wanted: Adventurers from Gamelords. The Traveller Adventure and the Spinward Marches Campaign. The Far Future JTAS reprints. Bits and pieces of the GURPS Trav product line. Old FASA stuff of all sorts. The list goes on and on. And although neither are technically Traveller products, I'm not sure I want to get my Uncharted Space campaign idea off the ground without copies of Star Hero and GURPS Aliens.
But I don't need all that crap. That's the point of this resolution. I've got more gaming stuff than I will ever need right friggin' now. A large percentage of my purchases sit on a shelf unused. That's money wasted. And the constant influx of new games distracts a short attention span guy like myself from keeping focused on the current campaign. If I can get through a good, hard year of controlling my purchasing impulses both my wallet and my gaming will be the better for it. And if I'm good maybe I can splurge on Traveller goodies in '06.
The big challenge for this whole plan is whether or not I will be able to make it through Winter War without blowing it. Each Winter War I make at least one incredibly stupid purchase that I usually come to regret. If I can get through the con without breaking, then I'll be off to a great start on keeping myself under control.
And hell, if I do end up running a bunch of mini- campaigns just so I can make some guilt-free purchases, at least I'm frickin' running some games!