Monday, January 31, 2005

A Webcomical Funny

The Order of the Stick is chock full of D&D-inspired idiocy. I particularly like this one. As I'm reading through the archive, here's my favorite quote so far:
OK, guys, here's the plan: Grab your bizarro twin and beat the living hell out of them!

Trolls in Winter

I just discovered that Troll Lord Games is on the dealer list for this weekend's Winter War! That is too damn cool! Because of my New Year's resolution I'm not planning on buying a whole bunch of crap at the con, but I could maybe let myself slide enough to buy the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook. That's really the only not-actually-playing-it-at-the-moment item that I might buy at the con. Past that I'm interested in two Feng Shui books, Golden Comeback and Friends of the Dragon. Since digging into Feng Shui's Fu power mechanics I've had a bit of a hankering to try Exalted again, but that bigass setting is still kinda intimidating.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

apropos of nothing: D&D

I'm starting to hear good things about a new 3.5 product: the Advanced Player's Guide from White Wolf/Sword & Sorcery. (Here's the first review I could find, BTW.) Since getting the new Unearthed Arcana I have become convinced that there are 3.5 products out there that might suit me, I just have to look for them. Toolbox products with lots of crunchy option seem to suit me more than pretty much any other 3.0/3.5 products I have seen. I've just about given up on new campaign settings and Complete Adventurer is the closest thing to a splatbook that has interested me in a long time. I'm not sure I need a whole book of monsters other than the Monster Manual, but I've got Minions from Bastion Press in an ankle holster just in case.

items from the grab bag

Winter War is nearly upon us. It's too late to pre-register, but you can get the most recently published schedule right here. The crunch is on for me to finish my games. Fortunately, I got the char sheets done for my two rpg event. Having PCs for the players is the most critical 10% of con game prep. The other 90% can be done on the fly if necessary.

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!"

So Monday night I got together with the usual gang. First we played a game of Tigris & Euphrates, a really deep tile-laying with a deceptively simple core mechanic. Everyone around the table is still learning the game, some faster than others. (I.e. I'm slower than the rest.) Every game we've played thus far has been radically different than the preceding ones. This time I had a plan and a method and a strategy and everything. Too bad Bruce interpreted my first play as a blatant attack upon his territory and spent much of the game "counter" attacking my position. I ended up in last place. We played Bohnanza after that and on the second hand I tied with Jim for first place. That was nice.

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

Some new companies have been added to the list of companies switching over to digital watermarking. Of particular note are Eden Studios (Buffy, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, etc.) and Guardians of Order (Silver Age Sentinels, Big Eyes, Small Mouth, BESM d20, and others). I think watermarking has a decent shot at being a successful format now that these two companies are onboard along side Dream Pod 9 and Malhavoc Press (Monte Cook's imprint). All the cool kids seem to be leaving Digital Resource Management behind.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Fear the Meatbox

Veteran game designer Greg Stolze (click here for a list of his works) has embarked upon a little experiment in publishing and distribution with his hopefully-forthcoming tactical game of psychotic biobattlemechs, Meatbox Massacre. Mr. Stolze is releasing this game electronically, via a "ransom" system. He's taking donations via PayPal up until September 1st. If the donations reach $600 or more in that time, he'll release Meatbox as a free download. If he doesn't get his six hundred then the money gets passed on to a homeless shelter and the meat remains forever in the box. Without the ransom, the game will not be released. Dig? More details on this method and the madness behind it is just a click away.

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?

Every once in a while I stumble across an illustration or photo so stunning, so evocative that a little voice in my head screams "you must game that!" Does that happen to anyone else? Today I stumbled across this picture. Damn, that's a great illo. I don't normally play female PCs and I'm not an Exalted player, but I want to play this Aje* babe in an Solar-based Exalted campaign. Like right friggin' now. The look is just too perfect to not use. And I can't think of any better way to make use of that wonderful illustration than to send Aje forth to kick righteous amounts of ass in the name of the Unconquered Sun or whatever that dude is called. Just looking at her again makes me want to rush out and buy an Exalted corebook and find someone running a campaign I can join. New Year's Resolution to the contrary be damned.

*I wonder how one pronounces that name? Ah-jee? Ah-juh? Ay-juh? Maybe it's phonetically identically to Asia.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

DriveThru StarRiders

Now that DriveThruRPG is giving publishers the option of using digital watermarking (rather than the user-unfriendly Digital Right Management technology initially offered), DriveThru is starting to look like as good an option as RPGnow. Especially when you consider the great print-and-ink publishers offering electronic reprints at DriveThru. Here's the current list of publishers who are switching over to digital watermarking:

Malhavoc Press (Complete)
Necromancer Games (Complete)
Morrigan Press (Talislanta) (Complete)
Goodman Games (Complete)
WorldWorks Games (Complete)
Fiery Dragon
Z-Man Games
Dream Pod 9
Sword Sorcery Games
Pisces All Media
Pinnacle (Great White Games)
Bastion Press
Politically Incorrect Games
QuikLink Interactive, Inc.
White Wolf
M.A.R Barker's World of Tekumel (When Content Arrives)
Ronin Arts (When Content Arrives)

Hopefully more publishers will hop on the bandwagon as this format becomes more popular.

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, with some good comments at the bottom of the page.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Neat Prestige Class

Goblin Flunky

Well this sucks.

Looks like my gaming is going to be interrupted on Wednesday night. At work yesterday I got an "invitation" to a mandatory meeting from 7:15 to 8:15pm Wednesday night. That means I'm going to have to pick Pat up, hustle everyone home, get over to the Pancake Hut, and then leave almost immediately thereafter for a stupid meeting. What drives me nuts is that this is a sales meeting. It will be all about selling bank products and our sales goals for the coming year. Guess what? I don't sell bank products and I have no sales goal. 'Cause I'm not in sales. But since I answer to the head of Retail Banking that means I have to go anyway. Aargh. I am totally taking this out on any goons that Master Fo encounters after I get back to the game.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

"Mr. McCloud, how do I break into the comics business?"

Scott's How-To Guide
"Voila!" I tell 'em. "You're in the business!"

This really pisses 'em off, but I think it's an important reference point.
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.

Games and stuff

Sunday Pat was over as usual and as usual we jibber jabbered about games and stuff. He helped me get a handle on a couple of ideas that I've been knocking around, to wit:

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

  • Visions, the compiled poetry of Robert E. Howard. Poetry is not just for wimps, by Crom!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Ups and Downs

Monday night was the boardgame goop with the grognards. We played a couple of our old stand-by games: Ticket to Ride and Bohnanza. I'm thinking that maybe my sister would like Ticket to Ride and it's simple enough she can teach it to her neanderthal friends. (That wasn't a very nice thing for me to say, but you've never met these goons.) Bruce has gotten ahold of the two expansions for Bohnanza, but we only used the new bean types from one of them. I'm not sure that cognac beans added anything to the game and I suspect that the field bean (the apposite of a bean field) is a bad word play made into a bad game mechanic. Still, I had a good time. And I even one a hand of Bohnanza! Yay on me!

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

Current Projects

With the Blue Rose Fast Play over and the Foe File project abandoned, I thought I'd review my current prjects list again.

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... ?

In the mail today I received the last item purchased by the old Jeff, the game collecting Jeff, the obsessive consumer Jeff. I'm referring to the 2nd edition SpaceMaster boxed set I purchased off an online acquaintance over at RPGnet. SpaceMaster is a re-acquisition for me, one of many attempts to buy back stuff I sold off over the years. I wasn't into Traveller yet when I owned the game the first time, but it occurred to me recently that SM might be a great system for crunchy Trav action. Now that I have SpaceMaster in my grubby little mitts, I am done. No more buying RPGs I'm not actively playing. Honest. I mean it this time.

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!

Blue Rose

Last night I ran the Blue Rose Fast Play for Dave and his wife Heather and Kathleen (who I know better as RPGnetter coeli) and her husband Josh. It turns out that Josh was not the guy I was expecting. I think I mistook their housemate (Doug?) for Josh at the last Winter War. Either way I think everyone had a good time last night. As far as I can tell no one ended the night thinking that we absolutely must play more Blue Rose, but the general consensus was that we should all play together some more. In fact, Josh extended an invitation to anyone who wanted to join in his upcoming GURPS 4E campaign featuring outcast mutants in Bohemia circa 996 AD. I'm not so sure if it's my bag, since he described it as a dark and serious game, but it's always nice to be asked and I haven't outright rejected the notion of playing. I mentioned in passing that one of the few "dark and serious" games I've long wanted to run is GURPS the Prisoner, which drew some encouraging "oo's" from Josh and Kathleen. One of my great concerns regarding that game (other than the work it would require and the usual "but what system?" issues) is that I would need a group of players mature enough to be able to deal with the kind of psychological ploys that Number Two would inflict upon the PCs. The folks at the table last night might be the right kind of players.

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.

Yesterday I got a sweet little offer from the History Book Club: 4 books for a buck each, an optional fifth half-off, and a little green book bag thrown in as a freebie. I'm surprised by the number of great books I found just on a first flip-through of the catalog. Jasper Ridley's The Freemasons: A History of the World's Most powerful Secret Society has been on my Amazon wishlist for quite some time. I'd never heard of Geoffrey Wawro or his book on the Franco-Prussian War, but its one of my favorite wars and as far as I can tell not much has been written about it in the English language. The Franco-Prussian War is a good little war to study, like the Falklands War. You can actually get a pretty good overview of it from a single book. I'd read more about the Napoleonic era or the two World Wars, but those conflicts are so huge its hard to get a good grasp of the whole war without reading a whole crapload of books. In the "WTF?" department, the Historic Book Club is also offering When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops by George Carlin. I don't understand it, but if they want to sell me a book like that for a buck, why should I question it? That's three great books out of four (possibly five) on the first pass through the catalog.

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

[Dude, what happened to the first half of this post?!? Ah well, back to the drawing board.]

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

Looks like I'm guilty of spreading another unfounded rumour. Mongoose has denied having any license to produce a Star Trek RPG. Apparently Amazon is in the habit of putting up entries for vaporware. WTF?

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?

Busy news day here at Jeff's Gameblog, ain't it?

Anyhoo, it was pointed out a few minutes ago over on 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

From author Gabriel Strange, writing on the official Wraeththu rpg message board:

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.

That post is from Dec 30th, so the end of January looks like the absolute earliest the Wraeththu rpg will come into existence.

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

Straight From the Horse's Mouth

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

Blue Rose Fast Play - May run this weekend. One shot with no commitment past the intro scenario. Only prep involves re-reading the Fast Play rules/scenario and making some extra char sheets. High priority at the moment, but little work needs to be done.

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

Click on the title of this post for the full lowdown. It looks like they're doing their level best to go out the classy way, without anyone holding the bag. Kudos to them for that. I feel it must be noted that I have been happy with every product of theirs I have every purchased, even if I haven't used any of them to date. Silver Age Sentinels is a fine game, and contains some truly excellent advice for running silver age supers games. BESM d20 is an odd duck, a hybrid of two systems that probably shouldn't have been done but nonetheless is chock full of potential. S. John Ross's Uresia: Grave of Heaven is one of the best small setting books I have ever seen, ranking right up their with the old World of Greyhawk boxed set. And my newest GoO purchase, Centauri Knights d20 looks like a fun place to set a sci-fi campaign, full of mystery and wonder as well as giant robots and shotguns.

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

My pledge for this year is to only buy RPG products for actual play, for active campaigns that are already up and running. Since right now my only active game is Dave's new Feng Shui campaign, I just bought myself a copy of the corebook. I'm now officially cold turkey on my RPG buying until I get some actual games going. If I get my Home Team campaign up and running again with the Mutants & Masterminds rules, then maybe I can buy myself the screen and maybe Bruce Baugh's PDF on disasters in supers games. If I start my own Silver Age campaign using MnM, then I can allow myself to buy Omlevex. If I end up running a d20 Modern campaign for my nephews, then I'll probably want Green Ronin's d20M screen. I like screens. Can you tell? If Pat ends up running his embryonic D&D idea under the 3.5 rules, I guess I could get a Player's Handbook. And maybe that new Complete Adventurer thingy I saw recently. It's the first new thing from Wizards that's interested me in quite a bit. And theoretically if my Blue Rose Fast Play gets off the ground and goes really, really well then maybe I could get the corebook when it comes out. Should I actually run an Everstone mini-campaign, then I can buy the Lannith Companion PDF.

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!