Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Fourth Man

Looks like I have a prospect for the last seat at the Wild Coast campaign. The real issue will be whether or not his playstyle and the kind of game I want to run can find any common ground or not. Stuart is an Exalted man and hangs out at the Forge sometimes. He and I came pretty close to doing a little Sorcerer game a few years back. For a long time he's been on my list of people that I would contact if I were to take another stab at running Nobilis. These qualities hardly suggest the kind of guy who would like some silly dungeoncrawling, but then again I sometimes hang out at the Forge, dig Nobilis, and also enjoy Gygaxian dungeons.

Speaking of Nobilis, it recently occurred to me that if I were to try it again I would want to play up the war against creation. Previously I had tried to approach the game as machiavellian intrigue amongst the gods. That seemed pretty daunting. But coming at it as "you are the protecting the multiverse against the Supersonic Hellnazis from Beyond Space and Time" and suddenly I have a game that just might play in Peoria.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Malhavoc PDF sale

From now through June first PDFs from Monte Cook's Malhavoc are 50% off over at Drive Thru. Click here to go straight to Drive Thru's page for Malhavoc. Be sure to enter promotion code Malhavoc4 at checkout to take advantage of the sale.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Iron Lore now called Iron Heroes

Mike Mearls's forthcoming alternate PHB has been renamed Iron Heroes due to threat of legal shenanigans by company Iron Lore Entertainment. These ILE guys managed to trademark "Iron Lore Entertainment" but didn't consider it necessary to trademark just "Iron Lore". That didn't stop them now that Monte Cook wants to use the name. Suddenly they care. Way to go, dumbasses. I don't care what Mearls's book is named, it could be called Monte Cook Presents: Photos of Monte Cook's Festering, Diseased Anus and I'd still flip through it as long as Mike Mearls was listed as the author. He's that good. Anyway, my first reaction upon reading the official Malhavoc press release (other than thinking these Entertainment guys were dumbasses) was to ask the question "who the hell is Iron Lore Entertainment?" One brief Googling later I found myself staring at www.ironlore.com (Hey, einsteins, you could name your website that, but you didn't think to trademark it? Smooth.) Turns out it's a computer game company consisting of four guys, one of the point men on Age of Empires, a hardware techie who is the money man, some suit who wants credit for his work on a couple NASCAR games, and a graphics dude with some impressive-looking credits (Asheron's Call 1 & 2, Middle Earth Online, D&D Online). According to this page the company was founded in October 2000 but has yet to actually ship a product.

Since Chet and Erik stopped updating Old Man Murray my knowledge of the computer game industry now comes entirely from Penny Arcade. Which is to say that I know dick about squat when it comes to the world of computer games and the business of producing them. Still, I can't shake the notion that 4 or 5 years is a long-ass time for a company to be in business before they produce a ware to sell. Maybe instead of spending their time sending cease-&-desists to Monte Cook these guys could maybe, you know, produce a game.

Thanks to RPGNetter Damiar the Wolf for the scoopy-doopy on the Malhavoc press release.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Good gaming

Due to an ongoing scheduling conflict my Monday night boardgame group is now my Tuesday night boardgame group. This week played two of our standby's: Puerto Rico and Bohnanza. I got pretty well slaughtered in both games. As per my sister's suggestion we tried adding the order cards from the High Bohn when we played the bean game. While it didn't ruin the game by any means I thought they didn't add that much to play.

Last night was the first session of my new D&D campaign, entitled Wild Times on the Wild Coast. Considering I was ill I thought the whole thing went rather well. My players are Loren, Doug, and Pat. Loren has a dwarvish cleric. And Doug brought a half-orc fighter/barbarian to the table. That leaves Pat's half-elf guerilla-scout to fill the rogue slot. We may recruit one more player, but things went so well last night I'm not sure if we need another player. The party could sure use an arcane spellcaster though.

Tomorrow night is my Home Team campaign. I need to figure out some stuff for that ASAP! I think we'll actually do some of that new fangled "roleplaying" I've heard so much about, instead of just another fight. Or in addition to another fight.

Dire flails too sensible for you?

Then try one of these new exotic weapons for D&D.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Quote of the Day

"I am a cocaine addicted dinosaur. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta do it." -- T.Rex from Dinosaur Comics. If I ever get through the massive archive this one is going on to my regular reading list.

Today's Classics Lesson

Skuleo - Ancient Greek. Literally means "I loot the corpse of my enemy". Them Ancient Greeks sure kicked ass. I am uncertain as to the correct pronounciation of skuleo, but in my mind it rhymes with Coolio.

Big thanks to RPGnetter WombleHunter for the language power-up. In the same excellent thread one can find my new favorite phrase: "spine-snapping murder-factory", used to describe a half-orc monk's combat capabilities.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Endings becoming beginnings

More and more I've been thinking about how much time I spend spinning my wheels in this hobby. That's why I decided to make the Jack the Ripper adventure my last foray into Call of Cthulhu. And more than once I've thought of my present Mutants & Masterminds campaign as my last Marvel-fueled superhero campaign. I've got a Marvel one-shot in line after that, to be run as a con game, but after that I'm done. I've said all I want to say in that particular subgenre or whatever the hell you call it and it's time to move on. If you accept the premise that this role-playing stuff is some sort of art form (some days I accept this premise, other days I reject it) then it follows that one should move on to new forms and new experiments. I still want to tackle both a Star Wars and a Star Trek game. Boot Hill and Gamma World type adventures still hold some lure for me. I can name others games that intrigue me: Mekton, Nobilis, Uresia, etc. And then there's the whole damn indie rpg movement. Until I move past my usual ruts I can't effectively explore these areas. Which brings me round to the World of Greyhawk. I'm not done with Dungeons & Dragons as a whole and I probably never will be, but my gut is telling me that this campaign is my last DMing foray into Uncle Gary's world. I need to make some sort of progress. Right now I don't know whether that means giving this shiny new Eberron a try sometime in the future or agressively pursuing work with my own world or using someone else's published setting. Standing on the cusp of a new Greyhawk campaign, that decision lies well into the future. But I just get this feeling that I owe it to myself to do better than simply following the same patterns I've been repeating for two decades.

Behold the majesty & power

of Scott Lynch's Photoshop Digest Ultra-Condensed Version of Episodes I-III.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Dungeons & Dumbasses

Al Bruno, otherwise known as RPGnetter Ab3, writes some of the funniest gamer fiction I have ever read. I'm not talking about game fiction, which I generally loathe, but fiction about gamers. His stories take the form of reminisces about his bad old days gaming. Some of it is true, some of it is made up. His latest installment is posted here at RPGnet. For the entire collection of his RPGnet Rants go to his official website, click on the Rants & Reviews pages, and scroll down to the bottom. Great stuff.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Well, I've seen it

Here's my one word review of the new Star Wars flick: Awesome-tastic! Not that the movie was without it's flaws. Some of the dialogue was pretty flat I thought. You don't give an actress of Natalie Portman's calibre a lame line like "You're breaking my heart" and Obi-Wan didn't need to tell Anakin they were like brothers in two seperate scenes. And Kit Fisto didn't need to be punked like that. But whatever little quibbles I have I gotta admit this: I was breathless through much of the movie.

Friday, May 20, 2005

BBC Article Calls for Radical Rethink of Games

Article here. Although about computer rpgs I think much of this article is applicable to the pen-and-paper set. I think the luminaries over at the Forge are already tackling the gender gap issue in a useful way, and you can see some other bright spots out there, such as Blue Rose. I find myself trapped between agreeing with the article's main premise (that gaming needs to shift demographical focus if it ever wants to be truly mainstream) and the fact that my own preferred mode of play involves emulating the film Conan the Barbarian.

Thanks to RPGnetter E.T. Smith for providing the link to the Beeb article. I wrote Beeb rather than BBC because I'm hip.

RPG Sale

Looks like Fantasy Flight Games is trying to clear stuff out of its warehouse. Details here. They've got a bunch of hardbounds marked down to five bucks a piece, include a large chunk of the well-regarded hard-sf game Blue Planet. I came very close to placing an order just a few minutes ago, as I've had my eye on the Dungeoncraft book for a while now. Something holds me back each time I got to purchase. Perhaps a gut feeling that I already have too many of my own ideas about how dungeons should work for anyone else to be able to substantively assist me. They've also got a passle of Instant Adventure pamphlets, much like the Adventure Keep line from AEG. If they were 3.5 instead of 3.0 and if the reviews weren't so mixed I'd be more inclined to blow a buck apiece on them. The Legends & Lair Mastercraft Anthology looks cute as well. For a buck you get 144 pages of excerpts from the rest of L&L line. That might rock or it might be a collection OGL crippleware. All in all, I had ten bucks of goodies picked out but the $7 shipping turned me off. At $17 for this haul I'm well over my usual impulse purchase comfort zone, especially for stuff from a publisher for which I don't have a particular opinion.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

An Interesting Question

RPGnetter kjamma4 asked this question today:

Suppose you could instantly transform yourself into a 20th level, D&D 3.5 character but still be in your current real life situation. What do you become and more importantly, what do you do?

So far alot of peoples on the RPGnet are choosing to be Sorcerers and such. I'd go straight for a spellcasting class as well, but I think Bard is a better choice, given the additional skills and the healing spells. This immediately begs the question "Why don't I play bards?" I think the whole renfaire guitarist thing puts me off. Playing a bard with Perform (epic poetry) or Perform (oratory) or Perform (incoherent babbling) would suit me more than the standard lute-packing bozo.

As to what I, Jeff the 20th level Bard, would do in my current real life situation. I think I would keep my spell powers for secret emergency use but turn my social fu towards career as a leftwing political activist. Or maybe I could take perform (acting) and become a rich and famous movie star. Or both. Also, I would spend some skill points on some languages.


I mad at myself for being so stupid. I was about a third of the way done with a large rumor chart for my new D&D campaign and I lost it because I didn't save the mofo. I'm so pissed. It was a great chart too. It had varying results based upon Gather Info/Knowledge (local) DCs. And it had political info as well as adventure hooks. Damn. No I gotta try to recreate the damn thing.

Happy Star Wars Day!

In honor of Star Wars Day here's a nifty linky: Starkiller, the fan archive of old Star Wars scripts. Like my pre-Enterprise idea for Star Trek campaign examining the birth and infancy of the Federation, I sometimes consider a Star Wars campaign based upon an older script draft. In fact I've got 3 basic Star Wars campaign ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for a long time: The "What-If" campaign (using old scripts that no longer fit into SW canon), the Interquels (Episodes 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, etc.), and the Dark Times (set entirely between the two trilogies). After my current supers campaign wraps up I'm seriously considering replacing it with a short Trek or Wars campaign.

Powergame, roleplaying, wargame & storytelling

Those are the categories that Glenn Blacow used to describe the various types of game activity. No big news there, except for the fact that these different modes of play were identified by Mr. Blacow in an article called "Aspects of Adventure Gaming", published in Different Worlds #10, October 1980! I got the link to this article from a thread on RPGnet. The poster was attempting to refute the idea that early rpg play was more primitive compared to modern play. (Someone was playing the old "that was crappy dungeoneering but the hobby has grown up" canard.) Mr. Blacow's article goes far to reveal how the much of the activity over at the Forge is really a reclaimation of a lost gaming past, before largescale convention play shaped D&D into the form it took in the 80s. Or if you're not a big Forge fan maybe this is evidence that they've been spinning their wheels this whole time! Either way I think this article is further evidence that the hobby has always had a wide variety of play. The gaming industry didn't always support all those styles, but folks carried on doing their thing with or without the industry's help.

Thanks to Pat for the link

The Evolution Debate Continues

Well, I'm convinced. Clearly evolution should not be taught in schools.

Also on the political front: My wife and I watched some CSPAN last night covering the senate debate on judicial appointments and the so-called nuclear option. I think Arlen Spectre made some great points. He said the problem in the senate is neither the filibuster nor these two or three utterly asinine Bush appointments (not his exact words ;) ), the problem is the insidious nature of partisan politics poisoning the process. Both sides are to blame for the escalation and both sides need to stand down and work out a compromise.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Kung Fu Tonight

So Dave is going to try again to restart his slightly dormant Feng Shui game. And I'm having mixed feelings about this turn of events. On the one hand I really dig the game, and playing with the Pancake Hut gang, and the thrill of getting to be a player instead of the GM. On the other hand I'm itching to start my D&D campaign and I don't have time to run it unless something else goes. Here I went and demolished Dave's dreams of an rpg-writing conglomerate and now I find myself contemplating judo chopping his campaign. Some friend I am. I don't want to wreck Dave's campaign and I suppose I won't wreck it, but me and Pat pulling out would certainly weaken it. And I can't even really offer anyone else at the table ('sides Pat) a seat at my D&D campaign. Not because I don't want to play with them, but because 4 chairs are spoken for at this point and I don't think I can handle more than 4 players while simultaneously coming to grips with 3.5. Maybe if I felt more confident I could try to squeeze in more people, but I don't. It's unfortunate because I bet Barb and Ray could help lend that same air of craziness to my new campaign that Ray St. John used to inject directly into the eyeball of the Bandit Kingdoms game. I really miss Ray. In too large doses he sometimes drove me frickin' nuts, but man we had a lot of crazy ass fun at the game table. And Dave and Sean are both totally cool. If I could simply propose to the same group "Hey, why don't I run some D&D for a bit" I wouldn't feel like such a heel but I can't. Five or ten years ago I would simply sit on my hands until the Feng Shui campaign ran its course, but nowadays that seems like a masochistic way to participate in a game and my resentment at having to put my own game on hold would probably color a lot of my play. I think it's better if we talk about this now rather than later. It's more uncomfortable in the short term but less dysfunctional. Maybe with a little time we can design an exit strategy and Dave can recruit a couple replacement players.

Okay I totally lied

Here's another stupid quiz result:

You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.



Cultural Creative














What is Your World View?
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SomethingAwful Continues to Rule

SomethingAwful's Josh "Livestock" Boruff on the Terry Schiavo debacle:

Terri was and still is two sides of a very morbid coin. One side believed she was the poster child for the right-to-life movement, which I guess likes to prevent people from going to heaven through the aid of scientific machines, and the right-to-die movement, which just wants to kill fucking everybody for little or no reason.

Next GameBlog update will actually be about games, I promise!

Idiot Pilot on the Idiot Box

Every once in a while I manage to be the first one out of bed in the morning. Usually it's Elizabeth. She then wakes me up and we have breakfast and watch cartoons. When it's just me I like to watch music videos. The half hour or so that I have to my self on these atypical mornings happens to coincide with the brief period each day when VH1, MtV, and MtV2 are all actually playing videos. These fortuitous circumstances allow me my choice of three different crappy videos. Which B-rate gangsta rapper should I watch? Oh, the dilemna of it all! I usually end up sticking with the video that has the best-looking hoochie girls but occasionally they play a song I like. First I was able to catch a video by System of a Down featuring a song called B.Y.O.B. I like System's sound and this video had great old-metal style unfocused anger at the man*. Like Dave Mustaine music without having to endure the Dave Mustaine experience. Then MtV2 news had a spot about Idiot Pilot, a couple of Seattle teenagers who combine ethereal electronica with new metal (or is that nu metal? I can't keep the lingo straight these days) screaming. The little clips they played seemed pretty cool. I'm sure some music nerd somewhere has already declared these kids to be the heralds of a new subsubgenre of technoelectronica or whatever.

*Is there a good witty word for unfocused-anger-at-the-man? I bet the Germans have one. Hatrednugen or schadenragen or something like that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This is causing a bit of a stir at RPGnet

From Great White Games, publisher of the excellent Savage Worlds rpg:

Modern Ops is GO!
In the crowded streets of Mogadishu sits a downed Blackhawk surrounded by a tyrannical warlord and his drug-crazed warriors.
In the villages of Iraq lurk insurgents led by the ruthless al-Qaeda.
In the arid desert of the Bakaw Valley is a terrorist training camp.
In the mountains of Tora Bora lurks Osama bin Laden and his fanatical followers.

Against these desperate foes are the most advanced armies ever created. But after the smoke from the smart bombs has cleared, it's the infantry who must go in and finish the job.

These are today's threats. These are Modern Ops.

Modern Ops lets you recreate the battles of the modern world, from regular military operations to special forces actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Soviet Union, and more. You'll find complete troop lists for today's combatants, including vehicles and aircraft, as well as our trademark Savage Tales and random Events that make every battle a surprise.
Head over to Smith & Robards and pick up either the full color PDF, or the black and white POD (in soft cover or hardback) now!

Check out our free batch of Modern Ops figure flats, including US Marines, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, a Bradley, a Little Bird and a Huey! Come back next Tuesday for more Modern Ops goodies!

Maybe I'm getting soft nowadays, but I think I prefer the victims of my simulated violence to be axe-wielding pig-snouted goons with no history of exploitation and/or neglect by the West. Sign me up for a day of rolling dice and pretending to punch Nazis, but this pitch for Modern Ops makes me a bit queasy. Just this morning I was considering running for my d20 Modern campaign an adventure featuring a thinly-veiled Aum Shinrikyo as the villains. You remember those guys? They were the apocalyptic cult that released the sarin in the Tokyo subway back in '95. I guess the difference here is that right at this moment in history my country doesn't have people on the ground in Tokyo fighting the Aum. The idea of playing a game in which I'm a SEAL or Green Beret is cool only up until you reach the point where you start shooting the exact same people that the real SEALs might really be shooting right fucking now. Foreign policy as it appears in the typical Bond flick is more along the lines of what I like to do in my modern games. Thwarting Dr. Maybe in his underwater volcano on the moon sounds way more sexy than creeping through Tora Bora looking for that bastard bin Laden. Modern Ops and similar products (d20 Afghanistan and d20 Somalia immediately spring to mind) seem to lack that crucial element of escapism that I like in my roleplaying games. The VietNam rpgs (Recon, Tour of Darkness, was there another?) at least give us a few decades to find some perspective.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Another "check out this website" post

Micro-Héros is chockfull of giffy superhero-based goodness. One of the more complete micro-heroes sites I've seen.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

This game sounds vaguely racist...

...but that's probably me being an overly sensitive bleeding heart liberal. The name of the game is Mexican Train Dominoes, a dominoes variant I played with my folks and sister earlier today. Good game. For a rules summary click here. I also taught my sister the game Ticket to Ride. Somehow I managed to convince her to buy a copy without ever having played it. That worked for Bohnanza as well, making me 2 for 2 at guessing what German type games Jenn would like. Jenn and I also played some videogames on a GameCube a friend had lent her. She had the Double Dash incarnation of the Mario Kart subfranchise, which was a hoot to play. She also had another racing game based upon the Rayman property, a gameline I was otherwise unfamiliar with. What was interesting about the Rayman race game was that it was a footrace. I would bet dollas to donuts that a normal Rayman game is a 3-D platformer/level-explorer type game, because the racing version takes that paradigm and simply makes the levels circuits for people to run around. File that idea under "S" for "so simple someone should have thought of it before now".

Yesterday I ran another d20 Modern session. I had 3 players, my nephews and Michael's friend Cody. The session ran short but everyone had a good time. These kids continue to entertain the hell out of me. The two highlights of the day had to be the interrogation of Squiggy and the fight with the Big Bad.

Squiggy: I wanna talk to my lawyer.

PC: We don't work for the government so the Constitution doesn't apply to us. *points Desert Eagle at Squiggy's head*

Squiggy started talking pretty quickly after that. The fight with the Big Bad involved 16 pounds of C-4 and a house full of druglab chemicals. I don't think I need to explain that further. Good times, good times. With the drugdealers blowed up real good a little ahead of schedule we had time to play some Carcassonne and Fluxx.

The Shining Dodecahedron

No, it doesn't summon the Haunter in the Dark, that's the Shining Trapezohedron. The Shining Dodecahedron is the gameblog of Jay Loomis. I don't know Mr. Loomis, but his site came recommended by Vincent Baker, author of kill puppies for satan and other madness. So I checked it out. This Jay fella seems like an okay guy with good ideas about gaming.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Another EN World Quote

This time from someone besides me.
As a player, yes I have lost the dungeon. My characters keep looking for them. They go up to random NPCs in a town and ask,"Hey buddy. Where's the nearest abandoned castle built by a crazy wizard several centuries ago which is now overrun with strange and terrifying monsters but still full of treasures beyond the ken of mere mortals?". The NPCs give my character weird looks and walk away, then the DM throws a book at me and tells me to get back to writing my 15 page character backstory due by the end of the session.

Of course, I make up for that by putting lots of extra dungeons in my campaigns. The PCs in my campaign can barely walk around without tripping over or falling into a dungeon entrance.

Despite the fact that my players seem to really enjoy the dungeon-ful campaigns I run, they never seem to create the same type of campaign when they GM the games. IMO it's a culture thing. There's so much anti-dungeon prejudice out there that people who would otherwise hearken back to the good old days of 10x10 rooms choose not to because they're afraid the "real roleplayers" will mock them as unevolved, rollplaying boobs.

Terms like "mindless hack-n-slash" just prove my point.

The only "mindless" thing about the play in my campaign are the undead who will kill your character and eat his brains if you're not paying attention, playing smart and treating combat as a last resort option.

--EN Worlder Ourph

It was supposed to be funny

Was it Reverend Stang who said "Don't try to be funny if you ain't"? Anyway, the untitled blog entry from Friday that's between the quote of the day and the drunk quiz result is a hoax. I thought it was obvious, but apparently it wasn't. For the details, look at the comment for that entry.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Quote of the Day

There is nothing inherently wrong with random, jumbled-up dungeons that make little sense. How the hobby came to a contrary conclusion is beyond me. A good dungeon has a certain sense of dreamlike irrationality. That's what gives it the inherent danger, the mystique, the edge it has. A descent into a dungeon should involve the PCs symbolically plunging into the collective unconsciousness of the world, a place where nightmares take life and wonders are beheld. I find it unseemly to try to impose a draconian sense of purpose or ecology on such phantasmagorical wonderlands. Sometimes it's okay that the ki-rin in room 23 lives in relative peace with the succubi in room 24.

--Me, on EN World. I thought this paragraph was totally awesome.
Today was really awful.
I got out of bed really early because my mom was yelling at me.

I feel sad, because Sarah and Britney are complete bitches. They told everyone I have an STD, just because I slept with both of their boyfriends on Saturday night.

I'm so angry. Paul is grounded. AGAIN! And I'm not allowed to see him. EVER. It's just NOT FAIR. I hate my mom and I wish she was dead. This wouldn't happen if I was allowed to live with dad.

Last night I had to shave my entire body. Apparently, the lice that I caught from Amanda's friend are really hard to get rid of. I look quite strange with no hair and eyebrows. I'd post pictures, but my webcam is broken.

I want to tell the world to get fucked.

I am making this journal friends only because I don't want the world to read what I'm writing, even though I'm posting it on the internet.

Today, I got a digital camera! Yes! Here's ten thousand photographs of my cat.

I want to say thanks to the world for absolutely fucking nothing! You all suck. I feel so alone, no one ever reads this journal, or even comments to let me know that I'm not suffering alone. It's cold here, and I want to die, but I cannot figure out how many of you to take with me when I go.

I went to the doctor yesterday, and he said I have bipolar disorder, which makes me different enough to be interesting, but the same as all the other cool people with bipolar disorder.

You should all do this quiz! It's amazingly accurate. You just put in your name and birthday, and it will tell you who you're sexually compatible with.

That's enough for now. But I'll leave you with my favourite Buffy fan-fiction piece I wrote last year when I was in hospital.

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'Nother stupid quiz

I'm So Drunk!
What Kind of Drunk Are You?
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Thursday, May 12, 2005


Somewhere along the way I got over my funky self and started going to the FLGS again. This week I stopped by to get my sister a copy of Ticket to Ride, a great boardgame that's super easy to teach to newbies. So of course I had to get something for meself. After much himming and hawing I settled on a new battlemat and a D&D Aberrations starter pack. The last Giants of Legend hugepack was gone and the case of Deathknells came in the next day. Double poo on that. That was yesterday. I had to make a second trip out there today because the new Dungeon was in, the one with the 30th level adventure. Here at the tentative start of a new campaign we're months or years away (or maybe forever away) from being able to play a module like that, but I had to get it anyway. I had five bucks in store credit so the Dungeon on cost me one dollar and ninety nine cents. That seems like a fair price for a single adventure I'll probably never use. Hell, I still haven't used G3: The Hall of the Fire Giant King and it's one of the very first modules I ever purchased.

Swords Against The Dragon

My memory is not the most reliable, as I'm very good at forgetting things I don't want to remember. One of the things I tend to forget is the money I've sunk into RPGs that aren't D&D but involves "you know, elves and shit" as the creators of QAGS so succinctly put it. It all comes back to the classic irrefutable argument from reluctant players: "Why don't we just play D&D?" That question always cuts me to the bone. Why, indeed, should we all go through the bother of learning a new system and buying new books just to kill some orcs? Yet I'm a sucker for innovative new game mechanic or a new take on orc-killing. I've given up on running SenZar or Exalted, because I finally realized that 3.5 can handle all the things that I would want to do with those games. I'd still kinda like to run World of Synnibarr at least once so I can say that I did it, but like SenZar and Exalted I can accomplish the same sort of game with a properly over-the-top D&D campaign. The Riddle of Steel still has some appeal, but it looks like Mike Mearl's Iron Lore will cover much of the same ground. Add in a good narrative-driven tweak to recreate TRoS's passion mechanic and we should be good to go. As I mentioned earlier in the week Dungeon Bash looks like a better deal for me than Rune, assuming Dungeon Bash doesn't suck. I feel bad eschewing Robin Law's work for some unknown, but when it comes to finding players workmanlike d20 mechanics trump brilliant non-d20 mechanics. So I've managed to talk myself out of buying or at least playing all these non-d20 fantasy games because of redundancy issues. That leaves Burning Wheel. I really only know a few things about Burning Wheel. First, that the magic system has a nifty fumble system whereby at least one player has accidentally destroyed his campaign world via a particularly bad roll. Also it uses some sort of lifepath system for char gen. Finally, the conflict resolution system can be invoked for all sorts of non-combat conflict. One recent RPGnet report suggests that players can have a battle of wits amongst themselves using this system as a crunchy way to resolve intraparty conflict. Sounds interesting and decidedly un-D&D.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

'Bout Time

Two new products over at RPGnow look interesting. What took so long for someone to come up with a product like The Amazing One Page Dungeon? If these Basic Action Games people come out with any higher level products like this I fully intend to buy them. The only thing keeping me away from Dungeon Bash is the $9.95 price tag. It's DMless/DMfull dungeoneering in the spirit of Atlas Games's Rune, but fully d20 compatible. My limit for impulse pruchase of PDFs is about a fiver, so I really need to talk myself into buying Dungeon Bash or read a good review from someone I trust.


In response to a query at EN Word I spent part of last night hastily assembling this page about using the map from the old AH game Outdoor Survival with OD&D. We may have to spend a session or two of my next D&D campaign exploring a map like this. Maybe not this exact map, but at least something similar.

I'm also thinking about adapting Dave Hargrave's ultraviolent critical chart from Arduin to my new campaign. This chart would not replace the current system but would supplement it. When natural 20's are rolled both on the to-hit roll and crit confirm then you would get to use the Arduin chart in addition to the normal crit rules. Similarly, a natural 1 followed by a second natural 1 could send you to Hargrave's fumble chart.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Nifty Webpage

Name That Beard gives the lowdown on the proper names for various facial hair configurations. My usual style is not a goatee, but is more correctly called a 'doorknocker'. Someday when I'm old and my hair is white I'm gonna grow a Franz-Josef.

Quote of the Day

It's not that I hated gaming nerds; hell, a sizable percentage of them were surprisingly friendly and decent people who had an incurable obsession, like lovable alcoholics.

--TheSwami, from an article in today's SomethingAwful update.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Dungeons Without Dragons? WTF?

Last Friday's J-Con 2 event did not go exactly as planned. Our DM for the night ended up cancelling but waited until late enough in the day that only Thom Hendricks in Bloomington got the email. Fortunately Harold, the fellow that James invited, was a good sort and agreed at the last minute to run "Joren's Tomb" for the rest of us. I'm starting to question this Living Greyhawk stuff just a bit. Joren's Tomb had no monsters in it. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I was expecting, at the very least, for this Joren chap to take umbrage at our trespass in his sepulchre. In my mind he was going to rise up from his stone sarcophagus and go at us zombie style. Instead we get some lousy traps. Not even enough traps to kill Pat's first level rogue, much less the rest of the party. The author of the scenario must've been told by his editor to put some damn monsters in it, because there was a tacked-on epilogue with some orcs. I haven't quite given up on Living Greyhawk, but man there needs to be more critters to kill next time. My swashbuckler made level 2! Yay! According to the last working draft of my level progression, that means I should take a level in fighter now.

I'm working on the second adventure for my campaign. The first adventure I plan to run pretty much as published. The second adventure of the campaign is labeled "for characters levels 1-4" but looks pretty wussified for a 3rd or 4th level party. I think the monsters need some templates and/or levels and such. And I'd like to make up some NPC adventurers to fill out the party for days in which not all players show up. I'll probably start small: here's a basic healer, here's a sword-swinger, etc. But I also have some wild ideas like a flumph paladin or a half-machine ogre ranger with a large orcish double axe.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Quote O' The Day

We have an old saying where I'm from: "I disagree with what you say but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. Unless you're a Nazi. Then you can go fuck yourself."

--RPGnetter Cossack

Prestige Class: Mearls Fanboy

Mike Mearls has a new blogthread about prestige classes. As a DM I fall into the camp that PrC's should highlight campaign features. As a player I like anything that gives my guy more raw power.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Feng Shui Issues

Dave recently posted in his Maniacal Ramblings that he seems to be running a Feng Shui game tomorrow night:
My Feng Shui game is set to run this upcoming Wednesday at the pancake house. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep that up before having to move either the meeting place or the day we get together. It takes me about 35 minutes to make the drive at the speed limit, and I find myself not speeding during dark as I have NO idea where the county Mounties like to hide on my route home.
I gotta be honest and say that I'm a bit trepidatious about a venue change. I don't want a late night drive back from Homer for pretty much the same reasons Dave doesn't want to drive back to Homer. The only thing that would fix that would be to run during earlier hours, which would involve mucking with the weekend. I don't think I'm in a position to schedule a regular game on the weekends. I was kinda concerned that Dave would quickly tire of the drive from Homer. I don't blame him at all for that. It took me months to get Don & Sue to come in to Urbana once a month for my supers game, and they live closer than Dave does. I think if Dave wants to avoid being isolated from the rest of the gang back in C-U, then he probably needs to do something like what the McKinney's did: put together a gamegroup that's willing to make the drive and host all the games in Homer. Unfortunately I don't think I can be a regular part of that group. If I could maintain such a committment I'd already be playing more games in St. Joe.

So the writing on the wall seems to be saying that my days in the Feng Shui group are numbered.

Bring Out Your Wimps

Last night's boardgame group was just Bruce, Al, and me. Jim was out of town and Carl was a no-show. We played three games and I got clobbered in all three of them. In Ticket to Ride I was too timid about taking ticket cards, which give you victory condition to fufill for points but if you fail to make the condition they are worth negative VP. My Santa Fe Rails game was just a mess. I'm going to campaign to play this one a couple more weeks consecutively just to get the hang of the darn thing. Finally, during the bean game I made too many trades just to be making trades. Ah well, I had a good time either way. Bruce and Al are good guys. After the game Bruce and I talked a bit about this Friday night's Living Greyhawk event. Bruce pointed out that since we will have 6 players for one module and not the other (two people have already played the other one), that we should run the new PCs in the 6-player event. Because we will have more people in the party we ought to be able to get away with running characters that are less frontloaded. Bruce immediately glommed onto the idea of running a wizard, so my burninating sorcerer will have to wait for another day. And whatever configuration my great axe wielder ends up being, that is a front-loaded PC for sure. That means I should go with either my monk idea or the healer angle. If time permits I'll make both. The monk is pretty firm in my mind at this point. I'm going with a human and taking Dodge and Mobility for my feat selections with Stunning Fist for my monk bonus feat. I was looking at the special materials file in the SRD and I think I'll try to buy some cold iron and alchemical silver weapons, since a monk's equipment needs are very small. For this guy I have no multiclassing or prestige feat plans; he's pure monk all the way. I'm still up in the air about the healer. A bard that uses chanting instead of a renfaire guitar might be cool. Or a half-orc druid. I'm not ruling out a standard cleric either. Maybe if I look over the various metaorg docs that will help me make up my mind.

Monday, May 02, 2005


I think I've cracked the code for Living Greyhawk stats. The breakpoint for stats is 14, costing 6 points. Buying more than a 14 is inefficient. I can buy 4 stats at 14 each and still have enough points for two 10's. Ten is reasonable for dump stats, as you don't get a penalty at that point. I don't like getting a penalty. So as long as I can find 2 things to suck at I should be okay. Monk? Try 10 Int and 10 Cha. Sorcerer? Maybe 10 Str and 10 Wis. Playing a demi-human monkeys with these numbers, of course. My other concern is that my first stat push earned doesn't really get me anywhere. I kinda like the idea of having an odd stat that way the first stat push you get nets you an immediate payoff. Of course 14-14-12-12-12-12 ain't that bad an array either. That might actually work better for my grey elf mystic theurge idea. Two of the twelves would be bumped down to 10s, but Int and Dex would both be pushed, leaving me with Str 10 Dex 14 Con 10 Int 14 Wis 16 Cha 14.

I just don't know if I can bring myself to play an elf, but the free sword and bow proficiency really sounds sweet right now. Imagine an elf monk used as a mobile arrow-launching platform. And you get all the other elf superpowers too. Half-elves I have no problem with playing. I like the whole angle of having one foot in seelie court and one in man's world, but belonging to neither. My fascination with half-orcs comes at least partially from this same idea. Assassins being illegal in LG kills many of my uses for that race. Their penalties to both Cha and Int do in a bunch more options. If I want to play a half-orc spellcaster he has to be Wisdom based. And we all know what that means: divine caster. I think I have some non-sucky ideas for half-orc clerics, especially with the "surprising good guy" switch flipped. And a half-orc druid could have a nice shamany feel to him, especially with a handly level of barbarian. I've given some thought to making my greataxer a half-orc or a dwarf, but somewhere through my level plan they end up using an orcish doubleaxe, an urgrosh, or waraxe-n-shield. I'm not sure if I like that or not. Maybe I should just go with a Suloise northman with a bad attitude and a horned helmet.

Part of my hesistancy when designing these characters is the constant tension between optimal character design and suboptimal designs that I think are rilly kewl. Like I had an idea for a barbarian that isn't from an distant realm. He's just a filthy Flannish peasant who happens to be a wee bit tetched in the head. Because of his untreated psychoses he can flip out ninja style with his trusty scythe. But is a scythe a sucky weapon? I think there are better options. And the padded armor I mentally picture him wearing is clearly a suboptimal choice. Similarly playing a half-orc cleric opens an interesting array of roleplaying possibilities I'd like to explore, but every time I start to work on one a little Bruce Gletty appears on my shoulder in a puff of smoke and lectures me that a cleric needs a Cha bonus for turning purposes.

Not that I'm losing sleep over this crap, but I do want to get this stuff right. I don't want to make sucky characters if I can avoid it. And I don't want to use the intentionally-nerfed PC crutch either. You've maybe played with a guy who uses this tactic. He hobbles his PCs and then tells you he's a much better player than you because he's not a munchkin. Somedays I hate that guy more than the munchkin, maybe because somedays I am that guy. I guess I want to have my cake and eat it too. I want an interesting, lively character who also happens to totally kick all kinds of ass. Is that too much to ask?

I missed this item last month

The Zombie Wars Have Begun

God bless good internet hoaxers. The world is more interesting because of them.

A Random Fact About Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel mysteriously disappeared four years ago, only to show up at the US Embassy in Guatamala, bearing the head of Medusa. When asked how he killed her, he vaguely replied, "A quarter mile at a time...a quarter mile at a time..."

Get another random fact about Vin Diesel.

The Pat/Jeff Blogquiz Armsrace

Your True Birth Month Is March






Loves traveling

Loves attention

Shy and reserved

Musically talented

Loves home decor

Not easily angered

Sensitive to others

Loves special things

Attractive personality

Loves to serve others

Loves peace and serenity

Observant and assess others

Loves to dream and fantasize

Appreciative and returns kindness

Hasty decisions in choosing partners

Naturally honest, generous and sympathetic

I suxxor at music trivia:

You Scored 45% Correct

You know some 80s stuff

Like that Paula Abdul was a star back then

But you're not sure who Suzie Q was

And you don't know what Samantha Fox was really famous for!

And two items from the Separated at Birth department:

You Are Socks!

Cozy and warm... but easily lost.
You make a good puppet.

You Belong in 1962


If you scored...

1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.

1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!

1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colorful at night - and successful during the day.

1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

I hate cars.

You Should Try Car Racing

You've got an unbelievable need for speed
No little fear of crashing will stop your lead foot

I found errors in the grammar test itself. Also, I don't care what anyone says, the way I answered number 14 ought to be the correct answer. And they should report your errors at the end so that you can make corrections in future usage. Did I mention my scores were embarrassingly low?

I also hate Chicago.


American Cities That Best Fit You:

65% Chicago

60% Philadelphia

55% Atlanta

55% New York City

50% Austin

I'm suprised Minneapolis/St. Paul didn't make that list. I would love to live there.

You Are 24 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

How Your Attitude Ranks

Your Attitude is Better than 30% of the Population

If you scored...

80-100: You've got a winner attitude. You're always optimistic and cheery. Your personality will get you far in life.

60-79: You have a good attitude. While a realist, you do see the positive side of most things. People love to be around you.

40 - 59: You have a positive attitude... somtimes. You prefer to see the world through clear glasses, not rose colored ones.

20 - 39: You have an average attitude. You take the good and bad in life as they come. Though sometimes you could use a little more good.

0-19: You have a negative attitude. You tend to see the dark side of every situation. Free ice cream? No thanks, it will just make you fat!

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Meh. Sick.

Got the creeping crud in my nose and throat today, leaving me with little motivation to get anything done. Jim and the boys were over yesterday. We played GMT's newest boardgame, Manifest Destiny. I really like it as a game, but the fact that it is nominally a simulation of the economic exploitation of the new world kinda annoys me. Jim spent several turns yesterday putting the natives of the American Northwest in their place. All in all I'd rather be killing orcs or equally non-existant victims.