Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dave Arneson Tribute

Instead of blogging I've been playing ToEE, StoneSoup, and now 10day free trial of DDO in anticipation of it going freemium.

I found the following "old-school" tribute in an MMORPG. My point being too many people believe in some magical cutoff point between old-school/new-school, PnP/Online, grognards/generation y'rs. There's not. It's a continious spectrum with pit falls and pleasures at all points. Ignore the past/ignore the future, either or both are sins of ignorance.

Dave Arneson Tribute

A tribute to Dave Arneson has been placed in the Ruins of Threnal NPC area, as this dungeon series was narrated by him. A new item, the Mantle of the Worldshaper, drops at the end of the Threnal series.

  • Mantle of the Worldshaper Item: A comforting and inspiring presence surrounds you as you hold this cloak. Arcane runes run along the edges of this fine cape, and masterfully drawn on the silken lining is an incredibly detailed map of a place named 'Blackmoor'.
    • Gives 5% boost to XP (does not stack with Voice of the Master)
    • Set Bonus with Voice of the Master: True Seeing persistent buff

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What Shows Aliens are Watching

Ze Abstruse Goose gives us this map of what TV shows are galactic neighbors are watching. [click on link or image for readable version]

Random thoughts I had and that spurred me to post this (If I had random thoughts, so might others...)

Why do star names sound so totally alien and pulpy? Pollux, Formalhaut, Zeta Reticuli, Mu Arae, Procyon.

Shows clearly, to me, how signal strength weakens. Say you start with power of 11 around nice small circle near earth. Go 20 Ly out and the circumference, it's huge, your 11 power is now spread thin. aka weak signal.

Time & Space, one and the same.

I never liked Traveller's information travels as slow as ships. It's probably easier to handle in a game and produces plot options. It just don't seem right.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Fiction Foundation

Unlike many (older) RPG bloggers my youth wasn't filled with fantasy books. The Hobbit was the only one I can think of. Wanting to "duplicate" that book was why I got into D&D. Maybe trying to read The War of the Ring turned me off fantasy (Sorry, those books really just suck). I basically quit reading novel fantasy when I started reading RPG modules and making my own fantasy. [Oh, I read The Witch, The Lion and The Wardrobe and probably several forgotten others.] I mostly remember sci-fi, Asimov Foundation trilogy and "robot" books, various double sided sci-fi's I found on dad's bookshelf. The man who Japed [holy cow that's a PKD! don't remember it one bit, just the cover of course], bunch of Kurt Vonnegut in later teens. And I didn't really read all that much of them either. Still haven't read 90% of the DMG's Appedix N. Although they're high, esp Vance, on my list for next time I get the reading bug.

I watched but don't feel that influenced by Saturday Morning cartoons such as Thundar, Thunder Cats, Masters of The Universe, and esp GI Joe which I absolutely hated! Even back then I knew no character death was fail. Instead I spent my Saturdays watching Kung-fu Theater and the rest of the time day-dreaming about wearing double breasted outfits with the fold up sleeves and jumping through the air! Asian fantasy has held me ever since. I even prefer Hong Kong cop & yakuza over cop & robber genre. Oriental Adventures is the one 1e book I never sold/lost/gave away (I since repurchased a DMG for nostalgia/reference). Sadly I've never found another gamer who has the same love as I. Just hordes of BESM and anime fanboys that are so not like minded fools.

My other major TV influences were more Sci-Fi. Dr Who, Star Trek TOS, Battlestar Galactica (good version), and Carl Sagan's Cosmos. Huh, non-fiction Cosmos? I joyously blame Cosmos for instilling in me the desire to learn, to ask why and to revel in the awesomeness of knowledge. All of which I've found indispensable in life and DMing. Less joyously for solidifying my analytical, simulist gamer attitude which I've been trying to drop recently.

D&D is my fantasy foundation. When I write fantasy I think of it in terms of a D&D adventure, with a party and all the other D&D trappings. Not the other way round.

This post was inspired by this video I happened apon. Not a super great scene, just normal everyday kung-fu. I want to game this scene and a thousand others. I've never found a system that captures this kind of combat. Over the top wushu is easy, Jackie Chan style acrobatics could do in 1/2 dozen systems. But intricate, strike, block, grab, bind escape Kung-fu, no so much.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Dangers of Gamerdom

Obsessiveness, Ebay, and collectible card games are a combo with some bad mojo.

Hmmmm, Zante Indian Pizza. Damn, I'm really missing San Francisco right now.

Games can draw you in and blind you to the wider world piling up around you. This is a tiny office in the historic Hobart Building situated in downtown SF which a friend (that's his 'puters and double deckered desk on the left) shared and I lived out of. Slept on the floor half under the desk I'm sitting at. I'm probably playing a computer game, maybe Evercrack.

Man, hard to believe I looked that young once.

Genre Bashing is Cool

And I submit this as my proof.

Which is slightly cooler than Dinosaurs with Frikin Lasers cause it actually exists.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pliosaur is Science Talk for Swims Well has Big Teeth

If you think this image and it's implied subject matter is totally rad, you might, as I have the last couple days, enjoy the Tetrapod Zoology blog (warning non-gaming content, there be science and academics) from whence I stoles it. The artist, Robert Nicholls, totally deserves to be in every RPGs bestiary and he's totally gonna come here and kick my ass for ripping his image. But, his eBay store is MIA [update your webpage dude, you just lost a sale].

Oh, and I still completely back my assertion Nature has the best Monsters.

Attack of the Lego Monsters

Can you guess what D&D monsters these are? More examples and answers here. I wonder how many people use Legos for terrain/minis?

This one's maybe difficult?

Don't think too hard on it.

This is by far the funniest Lego D&D monster I've seen all week. I appreciate the little detail of churned Lego earth around the the *****.

Iconic and obvious but too cool to skip.

Can't mistake that nose.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

BuffyPunk - Birthday Party

BuffyPunk Campaign I developed for BtVS RPG. These are from my prep notes of a one shot I ran in 2004. It was a horrible railroad and some of my worst DMing but mostly fun.

The players Gunderson, Mannie, Miakoda, Celestine

Anonymous Gift:

Bicycle messenger pedals up "Package for Miss Wendy." "Ooh that's me. More presents, more presents" She grabs it Delgado signs for it. "Where's it from?" "Dude, dispatcher tells me to deliver package, I deliver it. Where it go is all the fo I need to know. btw nice hat, scho long!" messenger races off. Meanwhile Wendy has ripped off the outer packaging to reveal a 10cm metal and plastic cube with a big red button up front. Delgao, "Um, we have a look before we touch?" But Wendy has already pushed the button with both tiny thumbs and a giggle. A small hologram of a fool with floppy hat checkered cloths and shoes that end with bells. It dances a little jig and sings this tune.
There once was a slayer so tiny.
No one believed she could be so whiny.
When eleven years young
Old man's trap was sprung
And her blood was so red and shiny
Enough rules and intro let's fight! Everyone Roll Dexterity+Perception tell me your success levels.

Apparently there was a rockin battle next as my notes list "Gunder gets Chaingun" under aftermath. Also more tremors (building up some tension with this earthquake thing I guess.) And here are some quotes I wrote down for NPCs to use during the fight

"You, you meanie! My party is ruined. I'm gonna ruin your face"

"Now now, little slayer child don't hasten to your demise"

"Ooh, I'll hasten whence I please. Were are you?"

"Ah, tis not time for your last whine. The iron tongue of midnight hath not yet told twelve"

"I suggest we continue this party in a private residence"

A variety of stimulants are needed for extended gaming session.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Movies for Gamers

I read, but not voraciously as it seems most gamers do. Maybe four novels a year, probably all in one week when the mood hits me. I blame my lack of novel consumption due to spending so much brain power (20+hours/week) reading blogs, forums, magazines, modules, and game rules. In fact I know the characters/settings/plots of several book series from reading their RPGs without ever cracking open the actual books.

Moving pictures, film/video, have always been the more inspirational medium for me. I forget books within a week. Pictures and video stay with me a lifetime, just how my brain works. I don't remember much of The Hobbit, but I still remember the book cover, the party floating down a river in barrels which I believe was their escape method from the elves of Mirkwood? Visuals fire my imagination and audibles get me pumped up and motivated to create. Music especially, I'm a sucker for awesome musical scores. Everyone of my top movies has stirring music; 2010, Conan, Good/Bad/Ugly, BladeRunner. I've talked about movies a couple times round here. Recently read a couple things about the net which prompted me to broach the subject again. [and in the future a couple posts on things from you can and should watch right now]

First up The Evil DM recommends, The Forbidden Kingdom in his Cool Gamer Movie Alert (is that "cool gamer, movie alert" or "cool, gamer movie, alert" I wonder?). If Jet Li & Jackie Chan aren't enough to get you on to Netflix, down to rental shop, or in to the torrents then you obviously haven't watched enough Hong Kong Action Cinema and I cry for you. Don't wanna get into it right now but even if you think you hate this stuff at least watch Drunken Master ('78 Jackie Chan), Police Story ('85 Jackie Chan), A Better Tomorrow ('86 Chow Yun-Fat), Once Upon a Time in China ('91 Jet Li) Which I consider the minimal representative sampling of styles (excepting "goofball" & "romatic"), periods, and actors the massive and awesome output of Hong Kong studio's Golden Age.

CyberPunks, phreaks, geeks and everyone else should head over to R. Talsorian's (makers of CyberPunk 2020 among others) website and read the excellent series, Cyber Cinema, 1981-2001. Covering the following classics; The One | Unbreakable | The Matrix | Dark City | The Crow: City of Angels | Escape From LA | City of Lost Children | Strange Days | The Crow | Leon | Nemesis | Sneakers |T2: Judgment Day | La Femme Nikita | Batman | Predator | Robocop | Mad Max: Beyond | Thunderdome | Max Headroom | The Terminator | Videodrome | Tron | Blade Runner | Escape From NY .

Japanese Cinema. I'm not nearly as versed in this genre as I wish. So, feel free to school me in the comments. On the other hand we all know this genre more than we realize. Seen A Fistful of Dollars '64, The Magnificent Seven '60, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope '77, or a heap of newer films I can't be arsed to watch and link to then you've already seen remakes of the greatest modern Japanese story teller, Akira Kurosawa. Dozens and dozens of films, TV series, books, comics are based, influenced, or straight up rip-offs of Kurosawa movies. His plots are timeless. His characters, larger than life yet sincere, believable, and (most importantly) recognizable within ourselves. If you have any interest in Role-playing you owe yourself to study Kurosawa. The minimal (gamer focused) Kurosawa includes Rashomon '51, Seven Samurai '54, Yojimbo '61, Ran '85. Once those get you hooked keep on truckin with Old School Reviews.

Looks like every western you ever saw, eh?

A couple less obvious Akira choices:

Dersu Uzala
'75. Based on the 1923 memoir Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev is all about the "barbarian" vs the "civilized" and which one is really better. Great fodder for any campaign focused on the edge between frontier and civilization. Either literally or figuratively Which is pretty much all of them from sandbox OD&D to everything written by White Wolf.

Ikiru '52.
Not sure if this has any to do with gaming. It's just a powerfully impacting film. Beautiful and moving. Teaching one of life's important lessons. Something I recommend everyone watch.

Zatoichi, the blind swordsman has got to be (judging by the 26+films, 112 TV shows, and even a modern movie Zatoichi '03 for youngins who can't stand b/w) one of Japans most popular heroes. I've watched a couple score of these. They are first and foremost thrilling action films. Zatoichi get's in to all sorts of pulpish, swashbucklery shenanigans. Using the environment, enemies and his mastery of sword cane to prevail. Zatoichi is a homeless wanderer, borderline criminal, civilized outcast, and dogooder mercenary. That describes most player characters I've known, 'cept the dogooder part 1/2 the time :). Each show contains a perfect plot hook for adventure. With further details on NPC's, encounter locations, and obstacles to party's, I mean Zatoichi's, success. Even the titles of the episodes are cool. Great material here on top of being freakin awesome to watch.

Japanese Weird. Warning if CARCOSA bothered you stay the fuck away from these films, CARCOSA is Saturday morning kids programming to the Japanese.

Takashi Miike is a more modern Japanese director (and actor). By "modern" I mean subject matter which is mostly modern setting yakuza or gajin in Japan, black sense of humor, extreme violence, sexual perversion and pushing the boundaries of censorship. Although, true to Japanese weirdness he also makes tame kids cartoons and less extreme adult fare. Such as Sukiyaki Western: Django '07 which is weird cool. A stylized riff of Kurosawa's Yojimbo that reminds me of Cowboy Bebop meets Serenity meets WTF? The kind of thing I'd expect Jeff Rients to run as an Encounter Critical adventure. Dead or Alive '99, a seemingly normal (relatively, this is Miike) cop & yakuza flick with bits of the ol' ultraviolence. It starts with the best coke snort scene ever (that's what's on the ramp in pic above) and ends totally, awesomely over the top. Brilliant, not for everybody.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man '89 isn't for everyone, either. It's "cult" with all the loaded meaning that has for you. But it was my first "Japanese" film. A "holy crap, what the fuck was that and were can I get more?" kind of moment for me.

Rounding out the weird Japanese category and ending this post with rock'n'roll, motorcyles, leather jackets and transsexuals (weird Japanese, remember?) is punk band Guitar Wolf staring as themselves in Wild Zero '00. Ripping from WikiP which is astonishing erudite in it's description. This is a zombie horror comedy in which crazy rock managers in very tight shorts, loud over-modulated music, laser guitar picks, motorcycles, guns, muscle cars, and fire abound. It is also a love story.

One Page Dungeon Contest Winners

As if you didn't already know, the One Page Dungeon Contest Winners have been posted! At work so no time to discuss any detail. Cept to say I love the One Page concept and am planning my next campaign around it.

Just want to reiterate my thanks to The Judges and Sponsors for making this happen. This is exactly the kind of community event/content that is the future of RPGs.

Future of Game Tables

Ever since seeing rear projection video table I've dreamed of using them for games. I'm less excited these days having become less excited about tactical miniatures game play in RPGs. They are still geekly awesome. The more rules a game has the more I desire to computerize those rules so I can ignore them and get to playing. So, I still dream...

This one is display only, no feedback of mini position, no touch (well there is the light pen so I guess it's halfway to feedback). On the other hand it's relatively simple to put together. They get mad props for using it for their actual RPG and having fun!

I'm kind of meh on this one. I don't think the UI is very good, the single state and requiring use of activation token looks PITA. Any successful electronic table has to be at least as fast and easy as just using miniatures.

The UI here is much more. I adore radial menus, learned about them long ago from some CS paper but actually used them in ToEE, a totally freakin awesome game. Those menus would be perfect for picking 4ed powers. Interesting use of minis, I thought they would be too small for fiduciary markers. This is comes very close to my vision of ultimate electronic table for tactical minis based RPGs like 3-4ed D&D, miniatures games such as warhammer, and numerous wargames. Too bad it needs darkness to work.

But these days this is probably closer to my ultimate game table!

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