Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Traveller!

Last night, I began preparing for my Traveller game, which is to start January 7th. I've gamed with all these people before, in fact, this is getting my old 3.5 band back together. (I may have burned out on the system, but definitely not on these players)

I was having a problem coming up with alien races that I like. I don't care for most of Traveller's races save for the Hivers and K'kree, who I will probably keep, and possibly the human variant species. I did, however, find a solution to my alien creative block:

Seventh Sanctum is a website I discovered back in college. It is a collection of random generators useful for gaming: superheroes, plots, magic, weapons, and aliens, among other things. While I find the alien name generator flippant and useless for my Traveller purposes, I've found some really good seeds for ideas for alien races from their race generation. I find that generating about ten at a time usually yields two or three viable ideas, though I will have to change most of them a bit. (Random generators can produce some pretty wonky results, but also some surprisingly cool stuff.) This has trumped my other plan for coming up with alien races; namely to crib stuff from sci-fi that I like and essentially reskin it.

I mapped a new sub-sector last night and am currently detailing the worlds... 10 down, 37 to go... then I'll start filling in the details and writing up the information so that curious players can start heading out to worlds to find adventure.

This will be the first attempt at a campaign since the end of my AD&D game several months ago. I find myself anxious for the 7th. (Although that will mean that I'm back at work and that my glorious Winter Break will be over...)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Xmas...Now Save Vs. Disintegration!

I have been working on a post about Adventures Dark & Deep, but I just can't seem to sit down and finish the damned thing. It has now been interrupted by this post.

Gaming-related material received for Christmas:

-Hotrods of the Gods, an old module for West End's Ghostbusters RPG, given to me by a friend who knows I like obscure gaming stuff. I don't actually own the Ghostbusters RPG, but this certainly gives me a reason to track down a copy. (Which, I gather, is easier said than done...)

-Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, which I have wanted for quite some time, from my wife. It smells very musty, which is a pleasant alternative to the usual old pot smell that vintage AD&D stuff seems to carry. I will have to Febreeze the old module, but aside from that, it is in great condition.

-The Spire of Iron and Crystal, a sort of poor man's Barrier Peaks for Swords & Wizardry. I've been wanting to get my hands on this ever since I played through Tomb of the Iron God in the all-too-brief Swords & Wizardry/Labyrinth Lord pastiche game I played in back when I started blogging.

It was a fairly gaming lite holiday this year; I'm trying to make more out of what I own rather than just add to my already impractically large collection of gaming stuff. (Impractical in the sense that I will never get around to playing or running most of this stuff...)

Off to enjoy my holiday loot. My goal for tomorrow is to finish the damn AD&D (no, the other AD&D) post from last week.

Have a fun and safe holiday, everyone.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deadlands Final Session

Well, our GM decided to drastically reduce the length of his Deadlands game, partially I think due to the frequent hiatuses that we had to take and partially due to (I'm guessing) his desire to play in Mick's Shadowrun 4th edition game. At any rate, we're not gaming together until after the New Year (I hate what the holidays do to gaming.)

Fortunately, we did not have the Extra from Hell problem this session. In fact, we actually had something I relish in Savage Worlds: The Ultimate Smackdown. Another idiosyncrasy of Savage Worlds that results for all dice "exploding" (if you roll the max, you add it and roll again) and somebody rolling that sweet max number over and over again. We had a character roll 10's several times in a row, delivering an absurd 38 points of damage with a single attack. (For some perspective, 10 points will kill the average goon instantly.) Even one of Josh's typically badass Wild Card bad guys is insta-gibbed by that level of punishment. This produces The Ultimate Smackdown, wherein a powerful NPC who is intended to be sort of a "boss fight" (to borrow video game parlance) to be taken down in one beautiful shot. It sort of reminds me of the sword-wielding maniac in one of the Indiana Jones movies who brandishes his scimitar in a fearsome flourish, only to have Indy pull out a pistol and drop him.

Unfortunately, the climactic final battle was interrupted by the GM's father needing a jumpstart. We were declared the victors in the midst of a tough battle and we didn't really get any sort of denouement. Obviously this was not the GM's fault, but I hope we can get him to email us an "epilogue" or something.

The crossover was pretty cool; the bad guys were a rogue lodge of Rippers (another Savage Worlds setting about steampunk-ish Victorian monster hunters) who had come to the Americas in search of some Ghost Rock to incorporate into their Rippertech. (An excellent idea, by the by) Unfortunately, this group of Rippers seemed to have gone rogue and we had to put them down in the end.

I'm enamored by this group's willingness to rotate GMs. Everybody is willing to run something and everyone had different games they want to run. Our stable of things we're playing to play now includes Deadlands Reloaded, RIFTS, the Midnight d20 setting using Savage Worlds as the rules system, Mutant Future, AD&D 1st edition/OSRIC, and a homebrew system the RIFTS GM has been working on that is heavily based on Traveller with a dash of just about everything else thrown in.

Although we don't have an "official" meeting of our group until 2011, some of us may be playing some Talisman next weekend. In addition, my wife's best friend,a member of our old gaming group, is in town for break, so I might throw together some kind of one-shot just for old times' sake. (If two years ago really counts as "old times" now...)

And yes, I need to get my ass in gear for Traveller, since I have set the start date for January 7th. Of course, I have the next two weeks off, and will have the house to myself most of that time... now I just need to keep it productive and not let it turn into a marathon of Mass Effect 2, which I will try to pass off as "getting inspired."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shadowrun 4th, Session 1

Well, we did SR4 with three players...the Cat Shaman, Count Hackula, and Tonka, a big-ass amnesiac troll.

The short version: Neither the shaman's player (who is our RIFTS GM) nor I really enjoyed it that much. The scenario was fine and I liked the NPCs, so, in other words, it was nothing to do with the GM.

I have been through the hacker/Matrix rules for SR4 three goddamn times now. The chapter is 30 pages or so if memory serves. The rules, oddly, are simultaneously vague and complicated. We get the feeling that we are somehow doing it wrong. The options available to the hacker are vast and potent, and I felt like I was constantly putting the GM on the spot with my requests and queries. (Are there security cameras I can hack? Can I hack a passing taxi? Are the doors electronic? What's the difficulty to hack the local power grid? Etc, etc.)

I found that playing a guy who can basically do anything from the safety of the car, parked in an alley half a kilometer away was useful but not necessarily satisfying, much the way we were warned against wanting to play sages or alchemists back in old D&D.

Now, in SR3, it seemed more feasible to get by without a decker. In SR4, with Augmented Reality and the ubiquitous nature of wireless devices (not to mention that nearly anything you buy, according to the book, has a wireless computer of some kind in it), it becomes almost mandatory to have a hacker in your crew. (It seem like they are just too damn useful not to have around)

I like my character, and the other players seem to like him, so it was suggested that Count Hackula be relegated to NPC, with me providing bits of personality for him when needed. (In addition to running my new character) I'm not sure if this is the route I want to go; I don't like the idea of being outfoxed by a game. If I do make a new character, it will likely be a skill specialist, something like an infiltrator or a "face." (We already have a spellcaster, I don't want to be a combat jock, and the other tech types- riggers and technomancers- are essentially hackers with different specializations)

The player who graciously offered to run SR4 has 16 sessions planned, which, for us, is roughly four months. He's standing by to run AD&D 1st edition if this doesn't pan out. The cat shaman and I are willing to give it a shot, because he put forth the effort and time to put this together. (Also, some of us dropped cash on used copies of the book)

I'll be honest: I'd rather play AD&D 1st edition, and this is no secret, but I'm not going to be "that guy." I might try to play the Count one more time (and this means another read through of the hacking rules) and then if that doesn't work, I'll make an infiltrator or a face.

Incidentally, I borrowed Shadowrun 2nd edition from the cat shaman's player. Man, I freaking love that cover, plus I really dig on the artwork that's inside. I also like all the character archetypes a lot better. It's also kind of amusing to look at the way the late 80's/early 90's envisioned the future of the internet and computer tech... no wireless anywhere in sight, and you have to love those old-school spiral phone cords that connect the decker's datajack to his big, clunky-ass cyberdeck. I might order my own copy of SR2 for laughs, especially since it can be found dirt cheap on the internet.

We'll see what happens next Sunday.

In the meantime, I've got four days left until Winter Break, at which time I hope to amp my posting up from this dismal once-a-week-crap.

And finally, my apologies to Akrasia, whose recent comment I left waiting in moderation hell. I really need to switch off this auto-moderation crap, since I never seem to remember to check my damn comments...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gamer Xenophobia

Let's talk about xenophobia, because that's a fun topic. I'm talking about gamer xenophobia in general.

As J-to the Mizzal once said, "there are some really crazy people in this hobby." Frankly, I think he was being quite diplomatic in his assessment.

I have met my share of unhygienic gamers. I have met crazy muthafuckas who sit down at the convention table and immediately want to start talking about how much they love knives, or how their next Deadlands character will be a guy "like, but not exactly like, The Guyver." One of them showed me a video of him mutilating stuffed animals with a firearm. One of them offered to translate what my cat was saying, and changed subjects in conversation approximately every two and a half seconds. You get the idea. It seems that the past few years, for every interesting or intelligent gamer I meet, I have to wade through five knife-tards and a guy with wet palms who stalks my wife by email.

I get kind of xenophobic about new gamers.

I consider my current Sunday group an enormous Karmic payback. As you may recall, the group actually didn't start out very well for me; I was ready to bail on our doucheboat of a GM until we had La Revolucion and booted his ass. Since then, the group has attracted some very fun gamers to play with. I look forward to playing with this crowd every Sunday. Shit, even the guy who makes generally problematic characters is just plain awesome to share table space with.

Then, out of the blue, a new guy contacts our host by email and requests to join the group.

My immediate response is to run silent, run deep. Seal the borders. Raise the drawbridge. No hablo ingles.

Ah, but what about the other guys? They were all new at one point or another... and so was I.
Yes, but it was our second GM, the one who spearheaded La Revolucion, that gave them a chance.

...but now, we rotate who the GM is. The decision-making in this group is a lot more democratic now.

If US political discourse has taught me anything in the last ten years, it means I need to demonize anyone who agrees with me and prey upon the latent fears of my Sunday group. (At least four of whom are likely to read this blog entry- zing!)

I do realize that this entry probably makes me come off as a raging asshole, and perhaps I am. At the very least, this is a private group and inclusion is entirely at our discretion, as opposed to being stuck next to knife-tard at a convention game. (Or having him show up at the table for the convention game you're running!)

Gentle readers, what say you about the subject? Is gamer xenophobia at all justified? Am I just being a snob?


**word for word quote... guy ambushed me at the place I was working back then, so there was no escape....no escape...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Deadlands Session 3! Carping on Shadowrun! OpenQuest in the mail! Traveller!

We finally resumed Deadlands yesterday, after a two week hiatus in which we messed around with Shadowrun 4.

I very much enjoyed the session, though I find that I am still bored by combat. I am not bored with this GM's combat in particular; I am bored with combat in games in general. I thought that making a character who can hold his own in combat would change that, but it does not. I still find that exploration and NPC interaction are far more enjoyable. In the end, we had a little Deadlands/Rippers crossover action, which I should have seen coming since the Deadlands GM asked to borrow my copy of Rippers a few weeks ago.

We once again ran up against a particular idiosyncrasy of Savage Worlds, which I fondly call the extra that just will not fucking die. It seems that This happens at least once per session in any given Savage Worlds game, and it often leaves the combat feeling strangely anti-climactic. I have also noticed that our GM's extras have a tendency to fight to the death, regardless of how outnumbered they are. Of course, that last extra often does turn out to be im-fucking-possible to kill, so maybe that's why...

Earlier this year, I posted about watering down player-vs-player conflict. In our RIFTS game, some of the other characters acted in such a way that my character would have refused to associate with them afterward, but I had to sort of gloss over it for the sake of keeping the group together and keeping the campaign running smoothly. I had also been glossing over the strangeness of Deadlands and how my character just seemed to take the monsters and magic in stride. Last night, I remedied that by having my character pull a gun on another character who botched a healing spell on him. I think it surprised everyone a bit, and the GM even asked if I wanted to go to initiative. The thing is, I never had any intention of engaging the PvP combat, but I wanted to actually play my character how he would react. The gun draw was a total bluff, as I later informed the player by email. I think the GM would have actually let it go to combat if either of us had escalated it any further. It also opened up a good opportunity for my character to see how useful a magic wielder can be when attacked by a big badass monster with a ridiculous resistance to conventional firepower.
I don't like PvP and I have no intention of screwing over any other character in any way, but I think I'm done with the "boys will be boys" style of play where I do things like allow a good-aligned character to just sort of grumble when another party member shoots fleeing, unarmed civilians in the back (an example from RIFTS)

Next week we will be taking another break from Deadlands. Apparently we'll be giving Shadowrun 4 another "test session." I have to admit that I don't have high hopes for SR4, and I find it kind of funny that the player who seems most enthusiastic about it hasn't been able to attend any of the test sessions. (Of course, we only have them because he's had other things going on and has had to cancel a few sessions of Deadlands) The GM for SR4 is willing to run AD&D 1st edition or something else if SR4 ultimately doesn't work out, and I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't rather just play AD&D. I will give it the ol' college try again.

While we're on the subject of Shadowrun 4, I must confess that I'm not sure that hackers are a viable character type, even with the changes made to the Matrix in SR4. Even though a hacker can run through Augmented Reality and hack in regular game time using regular actions, the proclivity of wireless internet means that my character (whose computer is installed inside his head) can literally sit in a car parked half a mile away, piggy back through nodes to the destination, and essentially accompany the party without actually accompanying the party. (I can send a hacked drone to be my replacement, or piggy back on someone's gun-cam, look through someone's cyber-eyes, etc) It seems almost like playing a hacker/rigger makes it so that my character doesn't even have to leave his house. I have a feeling I'm going to end up driving my GM crazy and will have to make a new character.
At the same time, the hacker presents something interesting: this is a character who can do battle with the adventure environment itself... I can shut off lights, take over security devices, open and lock doors, etc, etc. Hell, I can have an unmanned car or copter waiting for the party to escape in.

I think Shadowrun, in general, is just plain fucked and always has been. On the other hand, I'll always have the delightfully random SNES Shadowrun game...

In consumer news, I caved and ordered a copy of OpenQuest from Lulu. I've had virtually no experience with the RuneQuest/Basic/d100 family of systems, aside from a session of Call of Cthulhu I played in something like ten years ago and remember virtually nothing of the experience. Plus, that cover...there's something about it I couldn't say no to...plus they had a Cyber-Monday coupon... damnation.
Okay, you regular readers have to admit, I buy a lot less random gaming crap now than I used to. I'm actually going to be clearing some shelf-space here shortly, filled with strike-outs like Geist, Role-Master, and Mutants & Masterminds. (I guess I just plain don't like d20-based games anymore)

I have also set the start date of Traveller for January 7th. Just like with the months of planning I did before my AD&D game of 2009, I need to give myself a deadline or I'm just going to lolly-gag about like a ne'er-do-well and never actually start the damn thing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Still Hammering Away at Traveller , Plus I Just Created An Impromptu Random Table

So, I'm still working on Traveller. I've decided I'm not going to actually start the game until the first week of January, since December tends to be a month in which no gaming gets accomplished.

In the meantime, I will continue fleshing out the worlds of my first sub-sector. I have also convinced myself to just do alien races the way all sci-fi does them. The thing that finally pushed me to abandon all hope of alien complexity is, of all things, Mass Effect 2. I am really enjoying this series, and the aliens are pretty much summed up in terms of mono-cultural cliches. It worked for Trek, it worked for Effect, it can work for me. So, I'm thinking I need at least a few of the following standard sci-i races:

1. The Mean-Muggin' But Honorable/Noble Warrior Race
2. The Squirrely Technician Race
3. The Aloof Scientist Race
4. The Hot Blue Chick Race (Or Green, or whatever)
5. The Eeeeeeevil Machine Race
6. The Race That Hates Humans For No Damn Reason
7. The Archaic, Technology-Hating Race (Option of Noble Savage or Goddamn Hippie)
8. The Surly/Greedy Merchant Race
9. The Mystical/Philosophical and Probably Psionic Race
10. The Evil Empire Race

For each sci-fi race, I might also give them one "Achievement"
1. Seemingly the only race besides humans to have developed on organized fighting style, be it bare-handed or with a melee weapon. They are exceedingly proud of this, despite the fact that humanity invented many hundreds of martial arts.
2. The only race that can't speak all the other races languages, or vice verse.
3. The race invented something everyone uses (Jump Drive, galactic currency)
4. The race lives for a crazy-ass long time
5. The race serves as some kind of erotic wish-fulfillment for nerds, like they all have three wives or live on a planet or free love or are all into BDSM or they have to have sex three times a week or explode or whatever.
6. They are a stand in for a topical political group or form of government. Alternately, they are a stand in for some country we wish we could just blow up.
7. The race possesses a universal character flaw serving only to show how totally fucking awesome humans are by comparison. Alternately, they engage in racism, sexism, or some other -ism that allows humans to engage in a lot of hypocritical moral grandstanding.
8. They are technologically advanced in one particular area (medicine, shields, stealth devices, cybernetics)
9. The race is completely humorless and stoic.
10. Their mode of dress and culture is a human culture from a particular time period with the serial number filed off; most likely Greek/Roman Empire, Ancient Egypt, or Feudal Japan.
11. They are the only race that has to wear a spacesuit all the time, whereas the other three dozen races all conveniently breathe oxygen.
12. This race used to be eeeeevil, but they lost a war or an empire and learned the True Meaning of Christmas, and now they play nice.

Hell, now I can make random alien races by rolling a d10 and a d12.

...in all seriousness, I probably won't generate them in a manner as flippant as this, but I might do a few rolls on these impromptu tables and see what sparks my imagination.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Shadowrun Test Session

So, given that we all had the day off today, some of my Sunday group decided to give SR4 a test run, since it will be what we are playing in a few weeks, after Deadlands concludes.

Unwilling to be bested by a rules system, I had been studying the hacking/Matrix rules in SR4. (Ridiculous... study a goddamn game? Really?) I created my scrawny goth hacker, known on the net as Count Hackula. It took me forever to build the character, with most of the time being sucked up by the purchase of gear, particularly Matrix programs. SR4 still suffers from being gear-porn, though I believe every edition of the game suffers from that flaw.

Our crew consisted of the Count, Shadow (a cat shaman), and the busty orcish Gunslinger Adept taken right out of the example characters. (Though I think the player switched the guns)

SR4 plays differently than SR3, and not just because of the changes in game mechanics. The fact that everyone and just about every damn thing is running on a wireless network makes hackers much more useful/playable, but we still found it was better to leave the hacker in the car, parked several blocks away, to wreak digital havoc on the bad guys. I felt like kind of an ass because I knew the hacking rules better than the poor GM and I feel like I kind of ran in circles around him. He wasn't sure what cyber-defenses to give the antagonists, so I found it easy to royally screw them from the safety of the gun-adept's car. Hackers are all but a necessity in SR4.

I don't like the huge fistfuls of d6's that have to be tossed around during the game. (This was a small thing that always bugged me about World of Darkness and Champions, too)

We didn't have much combat, so I can't really attest to how fast that moves. However, I have found that combat in general is now, to me, the most boring part of gaming.

I have no commentary on the magic system, since I wasn't playing the spellcaster. The player who was says she is confused by the magic system, but she seemed to do well enough with basic spellcasting and even summoned up a minor spirit. (Though it wasn't particularly helpful to us)

In all honest, I'd rather do Shadowrun with a different system, keeping the concepts/world but using a lighter system. I've heard of a Savage Worlds book, Interface Zero, but that contains an entire setting and might be a bit more complication than we need. There are supposedly some free rules on the net for cyberware in SW, and the system call already handle magic and fantasy elements.
Another contender would be the d6 System, perhaps Mini Six. I'm not sure where the cybernetics rules would be found... maybe D6 Space or something like that.

Heck, I'm not sure I can even sell the group on the need to switch systems. I know one player is definitely in favor of the original SR rules, and fair enough... but I know that I would prefer something a bit lighter and faster. I'm sure I'm not alone in my preferences, but only a few of us have tried it out... we'll have to see what the larger group wants to do. We'll likely be playing SR on Sunday again, and we'll return to Deadlands December 5th.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shadowrun 4: Entirely too much effort.

My Sunday RIFTS group has decided to branch out. Different players will take turns running the game of their choice. Today was supposed to be session 3 of the 4-6 week Deadlands game started by one of the guys in our group, but he was busy. After Deadlands, we are apparently going to be playing Shadowrun 4th edition until the "main" RIFTS game resumes in the spring. Today we had a low head count, so we decided to make Shadowrun characters and just get a feel for the system.

First, I tried to make a hacker while another player (our RIFTS GM) tried to make a Cat Shaman.

Almost two hours later, I gave up in disgust and started trying to dinker with the Gunslinger Adept pre-made character template.

About half an hour after dickering with things and reading through various rules, I just gave up and copied the Street Samurai template pretty much straight out of the book. The other player decided to abandon her custom spell caster and just take the pre-made Street Shaman.

Although I had skimmed through SR4 earlier this year, I've got to say that right now I do not hold it in very high estimation. I hope the game play is more fun than the character creation. Of course, getting my toes broken one by one with a hammer would also be more fun than the character creation, so that isn't saying much.

Let me say this: I want to like Shadowrun 4th edition, I really do... but I also wanted to like D&D 4th edition, so I should be prepared for disappointment.

We're supposed to do a test run of Shadowrun 4th on Friday...but I have been asked to prepare a Mutant Future one shot just in case.

I have a pretty easy week this week (only have students Monday and Tuesday), and I do hate to give up on any game system**, so perhaps I'll give the hacking rules another shot. I do firmly believe that every runner group needs a hacker, and SR4's acknowledgment of wireless internet makes hackers infinitely more useful.
Still, as Christian (of Destination Unknown) said in a recent post, gaming should b easy... and my tastes run toward the simple and familiar as of late, so if I can't pick up the hacking system after another concerted try, I am officially washing my hands of it.

In other news, I recently that Zach (of RPG Blog II) had the brilliant idea of converting RIFTS to Mini Six. Obviously, he will not be able to share his work, as Super Kevin will hurl bolts of divine litigation from atop his throne on Mt. Palladium. However, the idea has been kindled in my brain, and the others who were at game today think I would be ideal to work on the conversion for our group. (My work will also have to remain in a spiral notebook, as to post it online would be to draw the wrath of KS.)

I have started fiddling with the randomly generated planets in my first Traveller sub-sector. Some of them I am making more feasible, some I am making more interesting. Though I finished Mass Effect on the Xbox, I find that it is still informing the way I envision my Traveller universe.

...and now I apparently need to get a MuFu one-shot ready, just in case.

Good thing this is a short week. I also have a lot to work on for Winter Break, which tends to quash actual gaming most of the time.













**except for Rolemaster, because it's fucking inane.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Never Do Anything In Moderation

So apparently a number of user comments have been awaiting moderation, some for a long ass time. I wasn't aware that comments needed moderation, especially since it appears only a select few of you get slapped by it. (A certain one "jbeltman" in particular; sorry about that)

I guess I hadn't noticed that the Vaguely Asian Spam on my blog had dropped off dramatically. (Or perhaps I've simply become so boring that even the spam bots have gone elsewhere...)

Friday, November 19, 2010

MERP/Rolemaster: The Example that Broke the Camel's Back

This is a post I had half-written in the back of my head and had been meaning to post, but getting caught up on JB's blog, I noticed a post where he bemoaned the same thing I was going to, which motivated me to sit down and pound this out.


I was recently skimming through game books, trying to find something that rekindled my DM mojo. (As much as I'd love to have my AD&D campaign back, I think everyone else has moved on) I tried to give MERPS a second chance, but about ten minutes into that fiasco, I came across an example of movement during a combat round. Unless I'm mistaken, you have to roll for moving...and you can fail... and if you fail, you fail to move.
Yes, unless I somehow misinterpreted the example, you have to roll to see how far you can move, and failure appears to indicate that you somehow do not move.

Rolemaster can officially go and fuck itself. I think I'll be ebaying this shit right off my shelf.


**even if it turns out that I'm wrong, I find Rolemaster/MERP to be needlessly complex. In the words of some of my less-motivated students, "Maaan, that's doin' too much."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sub-Sector Creation

I just rolled up my first sub-sector for Traveller. I've determined star systems, gas giants, star ports, and bases... I've randomly detailed about ten planets, though I might throw a few of them away because some of them have very hard to swallow discrepancies (and not in the good, imaginative way... more like the "random tables can produce some wonky shit" way) and some of the planets are very similar due to the same numbers coming up on the dice over and over. I do like some of the worlds, and I think the results of a few planets have given me the idea for an alien race or two. (I'm going to try to keep it human-centric, though)

Of course, a full sector is something like 16 sub-sectors, so I'm going to have to cut myself off at some point and move on to other things. I also think I have made more die rolls tonight to generate some of this stuff than I have made in some entire campaigns in the past.

I find that making up stuff about planets based on the numbers is fun. I think my favorite planet is one that is lush and tropical, with no government... but three competing factions: a warlike tribe, a participatory democracy, and a corporate enclave. I can already see it now: the natives of the planet, some hippy-ass commune of off-worlders, and the corporate douchebags who want to turn the planet into a resort (or get at some kind of valuable natural resource...yes, I like that better)

Oh, or the planet that has recently suffered devastating civil wars, and no longer has the technical manpower or expertise to maintain the life support systems that are necessary to survival in the planet's atmosphere... so a single malfunction or breakdown could kill untold thousands...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Cursor Hovers Over "Place Order," yet I hesitate...

I really like the cover of the latest version of OpenQuest. I'm curious about BRP. Lulu is having a promotion good through today... free shipping.

BUT... I already own B/X D&D, Cyclopedia D&D, AD&D, Hackmaster (the original), OSRIC, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay first and second edition, Ars Magica 3rd editoin, Rolemaster 2nd edition, The Riddle of Steel, Middle Earth Roleplaying System, D&D 3.5 (the wife's books), etc, etc. I need another fantasy game like I need a hole in my skull.

...damnation.

Edit- Promotion be damned... I need to focus on what I've got. Plus, OpenQuest is available free if I'm not mistaken. I should at least preview it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alien Race Blues

As I have mentioned, my mind is starting to gravitate towards Mongoose Traveller for my next outing as GM. However, I have never run a science-fiction campaign before. I find that the genre of science-fiction has a few problems for me:

1. I am a nitpicker to the extreme
2. I am far too detail-oriented for my own good, and
3. I hate making alien races. Hate it. I hate it almost as much as I hate making pantheons for D&D games. (Hence my recent embrace of just ripping off Christianity or other monotheistic religions)

Aliens in science fiction are a troubling thing to me. Earth has countless human ethnicities, cultures, languages, and other attributes that make our world such an interesting place. Aliens, as presented in sci-fi, almost always have a monoculture, mono-language, and mono-everything.. In fact, any given alien race is usually defined by one or two exaggerated human traits. Klingons are aggressive and honorable. Puppeteers are manipulative and cowardly. Vulcans are logical. Ferengi are greedy. There are usually token characters who are characterized entirely by the fact that they are the exception to the race's rule. Ah, here's the Good Member of an otherwise Evil Species, or the Brave Member of the Cowardly Race, the Individualist Member of the Hive Mind Race. Aside from personality characteristics, aliens are often relegated to a particular vocation: the warrior race, the merchant race, the scientist race, the psionic race, etc, etc.

Don't get me wrong... there are lots of alien races in sci-fi that I think are cool, even the simplistic ones, but.... I have trouble creating any that I am satisfied with. I feel like I'm just re-skinning other sci-fi aliens, who themselves may in fact be re-skins of earlier sci-fi races. (By the way, I know that technically I should be using the word species rather than race, but old habits die hard, and I've been misusing the word race in gaming since I cracked the AD&D 1st edition DMG in 5th grade. Sue me.)

I suppose there isn't anything wrong with re-skinning (a fancy word for stealing in this case) stuff I like for a campaign... it just feels lazy.

In the end, my races will probably just be amalgamations from my favorite sci-fi franchises (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Mass Effect, etc)

Odd that I didn't have this kind of block when I came up with my Mutant Future stuff.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Deadlands, Session 1

So, while our RIFTS GM plots the second campaign and generally cools her heels, one of our group is now running Deadlands Reloaded. Incidentally, this is the same guy who ran Deadlands for part of my AD&D group back in May. We have a very large gaming group for DL, as we picked up some extra players. Even with two people gone, we had a party of six. Combat slowed up a little, though I imagine if we'd been playing something besides Savage Worlds, it would have absolutely crawled. RIFTS? Yeah, we'd probably still be playing the second combat right now...
I'm sure things will get a little faster as the players who are new to Savage Worlds get things figured out.

It's good to be playing Deadlands again. I need to work on my Southern gentleman's accent a little bit, but I don't think it was too offensive.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gamer Mid-Life

A recent post from the always insightful Christian of Destination Unknown (linky in the side bar)caused me to wake up and smell the reality:
My gaming time is a finite resource.

I don't know why this never occurred to me. I'm 29, so statistically I'm supposed to live for another 40 or 50 years. (Family health seems to support this number) However, there are a few things to consider...

Many of my friends are marrying and having children. I'm married myself, but to a gamer who understands the importance of my hobby to me, and we're committed to a child-free existence. I do expect that the number of available gamers in my immediate association is going to begin falling off in the next few years. Many of my friends are finished with college and have real career-type jobs that often place heavy demands on their free time. (I know my job has done a number on my free time, and always will for the months of August-May.) Many of my gamer friends have "lapsed," or rather their interests have taken them elsewhere. Will I be able to continue gaming my whole life? I don't know... there may come some dark age where everyone else I know has moved on to other things. Grim.

My shelf is filled with games. I know I have between 50-60 different roleplaying games, depending on how you slice it. (Do you consider pre- and post-WotC D&D to be different games like I do? Are old D&D and AD&D different games? Do all the different World of Darkness games count as different games, etc.)

The thing is, I think it might be time to stop collecting and start running. If I ran every game I own for six months with no breaks in between campaigns (ha!), I'm looking at 25-30 years of gaming. Add in the usual six months or so between campaigns and that leaves me with no time to really run everything I own.

I think I have actually decided on Traveller next. I still want to do Mutant Future, but I want to diversify... I've never really run Traveller except for a very brief MegaTraveller game in middle school that I'm pretty sure I was doing wrong. I've also never run a sci-fi campaign before.

For the time being, Mutant Future might do nicely for a "backup game", should Deadlands be canceled on a random Sunday.

Time to get in the boat and start rowin'.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Samurai Hipster

At my LGS (I steadfastly refuse to include the F, because it ain't) yesterday, I discovered a used copy of Legend of the Five Rings, 4th edition, in the "used games" section. Mmm....new edition in the dustbin already, thought I. Moseying over to the new games section, I discovered a pristine copy of L5R 3rd edition, never purchased, still reeking of new book despite being, apparently, the out of date version. The edition nobody ever bothered with, thought I. Later that night, I discovered the two core books of the 2nd edition of L5R at the used bookstore, where I also get a discount due to my vocation. I picked them up for a song.
Their first album was probably better, thought I, but the second EP is usually good, too.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

4 Years on a Free Trader, 12 in the Imperial Marines, 8 Among the Space Pirates, and 4 as a Belter: A Starting Traveller Character

This last week I created a few Traveller* characters, mainly out of boredom and restlessness.

I find that making a Traveller character can be sort of an epic experience; when you finish making the character, you feel like you've played an entire campaign, particularly if you like to fill in the details in your mind the way I do. Traveller characters have a tendency to feel very....grizzled.
"Kid, after 12 years in an Imeperial Ground Assault Unit, you learn a thing or two about trust..."

I think other bloggers have mentioned this, but the game stands in stark contrast to most editions of D&D/AD&D, where you start out as a 16-20 year old who can cast one spell per day, or has a about a 25-30% chance of successfully hitting a guy in chain mail+shield in melee combat. (Or has a 5% chance to hide in shadows, etc, etc.)

I also have to admit that I have little to no interest in the Third Imperium setting, but then again I never really dug on Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms, either. Making up your own setting is a major part of the fun of DMing.




*Mongoose Pocket Edition. Don't hate.

Any Tunnels & Trolls lovers out there to answer a question or two?

I found a copy of Tunnels & Trolls online for about a buck... but it seems to be an imported English version from Corgi books. It has a red cover with a slight variation of the 5th edition cover featuring a troll getting blasted by TTYF. It was printed in 1986. My question is this: does it differ significantly fro T&T 5?

My other question is: are T&T 5.5 and 7/7.5 significantly better or improved over 5th edition?

I ask out of pure curiosity, of course... if I wanted to play T&T, I'd just rock the free clone, Lances & Labyrinths, which I printed out last summer. As anyone who reads this blog knows, however, I am often overcome by a strange sort of biliophilia, especially where gaming books are concerned.

Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pinnacle... why do I not love you more?

Hmm...tonight I made one of my infrequent visits to Pinnacle's websites. I was reminded that Pinnacle probably wins, hands down, for free downloadable goodies. (Especially fold-up paper minis.)
I was particularly delighted to find an adventure for the Hell on Earth setting using Savage Worlds. I'm not sure how long it has been up, since I don't get around to Pinnacle very often, but it makes me hopeful that Hell on Earth will get an update like Deadlands did.

....of course, the adventure also shows me that it is possible to emulate probably 90% of the stuff in Hell on Earth using just Savage Worlds and a little common sense. One of the things I love most about Savage Worlds is the ease of customization.

I also hope they do some kind of update for Lost Colony, though I realize I am probably one of like three people who actually liked Lost Colony... but hey, if I want it bad enough, I should apply some DIY skills, right?
Ah, but if I had that kind of motivation, I'd probably be running a campaign right now instead of leafing through gamebook after gamebook like an ADHD kid hopped up on energy drinks.


Seriously, though...Pinnacle, your website is a thing of beauty. Free, ready-to-go adventures (with free paper minis), cut and paste errata, printable burst/blast templates, test drive rules... I have always found them to be an exceedingly customer-friendly company, and I would do well to show 'em a little more love on this blog, methinks.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Switching Gears, and an Odd Observation About Falling in Gaming

RIFTS Denver has concluded. I ended up 4th level, with 5th a distant shore. I had to revive a party member after he took injuries that he shouldn't have survived, even in RIFTS.

A brief aside: I have noticed that in roleplaying games, if a player character falls off something, particularly something very high in the air, the player believes he is entitled to about fifty different checks/saves to stop from falling. I grab the ledge. Missed it? I grab the other ledge. I grab any player who could conceivably be within fifty feet. I have time to fashion any rope I had been carrying into a lariat that I can throw at every single object within range, one after the other, until I get one of them. If I miss all objects, I can try to lasso the players I failed to grab earlier. I make a separate try for each one of their limbs.

I'm not ripping on the player in question, I'm just saying that I've seen this happen over and over again.

So, RIFTS. It was fun with the new GM. It was not fun with the previous GM. Now our group is going to play Deadlands for a few weeks. Extra players from outside the group will be joining us, then one of the RIFTS players (a different one) will take over and run a different RIFTS game for awhile. We won't be getting back to the "main" campaign for 3-4 months real time.

In the meantime, I have totally stalled out on running anything. I haven't run a single session of anything since the local con back in July. I find that I get enthusiastic for things, start reading the book, and then cool off just as quickly. In theory, I want to run something, but I can't seem to stay excited about any particular game for more than a few days, if that. I also find that my mind is still stubbornly resistant to learning any new system, regardless of the level of simplicity or complexity. I think my brain is full. I'd better start jettisoning all of those awkward childhood memories to make room for new things.


...I also find that I am very glad that I don't have to take over Deadlands.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Idle Thought About Game Balance

We've heard it all before; magic-users were too busy studying magic to learn how to use any weapons or armor, clerics are opposed to bloodshed and thus eschew swords (but apparently they are not opposed to bludgeoning someone to death...)and blah blah blah. All hand waving aside, it comes down to this:

In a world where some dudes can shoot lightning out of their fingertips, there must exist some incentive to play any other type of dude.

...right?

I've been playing in a RIFTS game for a few months now, as you have probably read about. RIFTS is a rule book that contains character classes that can literally stand up to clusters of missiles and have personal weapons that can level buildings. There are classes that have magic and psionics. There is a playable dragon class... and yet, there are also classes that are scientists, doctors, and petty thieves, characters who have only skills. There are characters who have cybernetics and big ass guns, but not as big as the walking tank characters. There are dudes who can shoot lighting (or worse) from their fingertips, and yet the game has no inherent mechanical incentive for playing a class like Rogue Scholar or Vagabond. (Dudes who know stuff, but have no lighting, and who have puny personal weaponry to start with)

So here is a little bitty theoretical question for you, readers: if all character classes in D&D could use any weapon and any armor, if everyone had d6 hit dice (for instance), would anyone still play a fighter?

Expand that...if your favorite game had absolutely no balancing factor at all, would you still play the character you wanted, or would you play the guy who can shoot lighting from his fingertips?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

WTF, Rolemaster?

As anyone who has read this blog more than once probably knows, I have an unhealthy relationship with one of the used bookstores here in town; namely that I cannot seem to keep from going there every couple of days. Two summers ago, I found a boxed set of Rolemaster, 2nd edition and bought it out of curiosity. I tried to learn it a month or two later whilst imbibing beer. It didn't work out very well. I blamed the the beer.

About two weeks ago, I acquired a copy of the Middle-Earth Role-playing System, 2nd edition from the same store. It appears to be a version of Rolemaster. Last night I tried to start learning it, mainly out of that blasted curiosity I cannot seem to hold in check.

This time, there is no beer to blame. I straight up cannot wrap my mind around Rolemaster. I have also found that the very little bit of it I managed to learn has completely dissipated since last night. I'm talking zero retention, folks.

Well, that's not entirely true. I remember that one of the critical miss entries is that the player trips over an imaginary deceased turtle.

...what?

Granted, I haven't read much Tolkien in quite some time (just finished teaching it to my seniors, though we didn't get time to finish it unfortunately), so I'm not sure if that's some kind of obscure Tolkien reference or just a failed attempt at making their critical hit tables funny. (ICE seems preoccupied with doing that)

I'm also not sure what this "animist" business is. Again, my readings on Tolkien could use some serious brushing up, but I don't remember anything remotely like a cleric in Middle-Earth.

I'm not a Tolkien expert, so I could very well be talking out of my ass on this one. For all I know, the imaginary, deceased turtle played a very important part in one of the books that I don't remember very well. Maybe there were animists all over Return of the King. Perhaps that book has an entire chapter of animists tripping over imaginary dead turtles.

...anyway, my gripe is not with how accurate/faithful MERPS is to Tokien's work, but rather with the fact that Rolemaster seems intentionally arcane and obtuse to my sensibilities. It seems robust, and I want to like it, but the mental energy I am investing in learning is producing very little return. I should be pouring any spare creativity/brainpower left over after planning lesson units to get Deadlands or Mutant Future running.

Speaking of Deadlands, the original GM-to-be is no longer moving away, or so I was informed via text message today. I have few details at the time, and it is unclear whether or not I will still be expected to run Deadlands, or if he will run it as per our original plan.
I have to confess that a recent post complimenting my customized mutant races for MuFu has bolstered my enthusiasm.
Not enough hours in a day, not enough days in a week.


...but seriously, Rolemaster: What. The. Fuck.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Time to Mount Up

I hit 4th level in RIFTS tonight. We also solved a combat situation through innovative use of powers and problem-solving skills, rather than an endless Mega-Damage slugfest. My character has been knighted. There is a bit of political intrigue. Who knew?

However, our GM has told us that she needs the month of November to prepare the second leg of the campaign. (Also, work will be calling her out of town for part of the month) Initially, one of the other players in our game had volunteered to run Deadlands in the 5-6 week interim, but it seems he will now be moving to my home town and will have a bit of a commute. He might also have his Sunday availability reduced or eliminated by circumstances beyond his control.
As we discussed this, it was suddenly suggested by the rest of the group that I run Deadlands. (I'm the only other person in the group who has the book.)

Initially I was a bit wary, given that I haven't even started my MuFu game that I have been promising for...too long. However, I find myself strangely invigorated because I have a hard deadline to meet with DL. Working at my own pace, I am easily distrated and can be a bit of a slug... but tell me that I have to have X done by Y and I can kick it into high gear.

I have run Deadlands many times before, though the last time I ran it was 1.) the classic version of the rules, and 2.) it was about six years ago. I have run Savage Worlds only once, though I know the rules pretty well and have been a player in brief campaigns of Deadlands Reloaded and Rippers. Rules-wise, I got it covered.

This does not mean the end of Mutant Future. This is a short range, short term project. I might actually make the sessions unrelated; one of my favorite methods for coming up with a Deadlands scenario is to take a Western movie or story and add zombies or Hangin' Judges or whatever.

After my interim Deadlands session, we'll start leg II of the RIFTS game, or another player will step up to the plate with a temporary game if our Fearless Leader needs some additional time.

Either way, it looks like there's a new sheriff in town.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Steppin' Up That Nerd Game, Son

Went to the used bookstore today to get a few extra copies of The Hobbit, since my school doesn't have enough and the copies other schools are loaning me aren't coming in fast enough to accommodate my lesson plans.

Whilst there, I found Middle Earth Role Playing (2nd edition, labeled "Collector's Edition" as well) and the friggin' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rpg. Suffice to say, my bookshelf has even less space on it now.

Work continues on Mutant Future, though I am too tired at present to post stats. I am toying with the idea of allowing specific types of Mutant Animals a la Gamma World 4th edition, (not the upcoming Gamma World using D&D4E rules, but the 4th edition of Gamma World that came out in the early 90's) but that might be more work than I am willing to do. I'm thinking that if a player asks to play a MA, I will ask what kind and cobble something together from there.

Soon I will be ready to dust off Hexographer and add to the map I created last summer for my AD&D group's somewhat ill-fated trip to Tarraxian...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So...Who Is Doing It Wrong?

I recently snatched up a copy of Heroes Unlimited, Revised Edition (not 2nd edition) for a dollar.

At one point, the author advises against allowing heroes to switch the source of their power because it might screw up the continuity of the game.

Continuity. In a game about super heroes.

I believe the most appropriate response, rendered into our modern internet parlance, would be "lawl."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mutant Future: Here I Go

I've started work on MuFu. The first thing I've done is created several mutant and android sub-races for the player characters to pick. These are some of the "stable" mutant races that have evolved in the post-apocalyptic world. I may create a few more. The players have the option of being a unique mutant (so basically the standard mutant), but I can still use these as antagonists, allies, and NPCs even if nobody wants to be one.

*Suulians (Mutant Human)- Though reptilian in appearance, Suulians are actually descended from human stock. They are short, 3-5 feet tall, and frail, with soft scales ranging from dusky yellow to burnt orange in color. Suulians have small spines that run from the crest of their heads down to their stunted, non-prehensile tails.
Suulians have a =2 to both Strength and Constitution, but gain a +4 bonus to Wisdom.
A deeply spiritual people, Suulians can use cleric and druid spells from the Rule Cyclopedia, functioning as a cleric of equal level in regards to spell advancement. Suulians also have a +2 to save against radiation, and can detect radiation out to 60' by concentrating for one round.
Suulians are not without disadvantages, however. They roll d4s for hit points, due to their frail bones, and they have totally eschewed technology. A Suulian cannot use any technological device, nor may they even roll to identify one. A Suulian can never benefit from a technological device used by another, or risk losing spell ability until they are able to atone.
Suulians have rejected both Law and Chaos, and therefore must be Neutral in alignment. A Suulian who devotes himself to either of the Powers will lose all spell abilities, though no longer has the restrictions regarding technology.

*Nobles (Mutant Humans)
Nobles are emaciated, angular looking humanoids who stand 6-7 feet tall. Their skin is usually bone white, though some take on a sickly bluish hue or an ash gray color. Their hair has the same range of color as their bodies, and their eyes are red and take on a slight gleam in the dark. Nobles have +2 to Dexterity, but -2 to Constitution.
The Nobles once ruled large swaths of Tarraxian in the wake of the apocalypse. They had cowed several semi-stable strains of powerful mutants to serve them, and one particularly powerful Noble had a cadre of heavy artillery military bots to enforce his will. They carved sections of Tarraxian up into fiefdoms, preying on their terrified subjects.
Though the subject is misty, legends say that one Noble turned on his fellows, or perhaps they all fell to infighting. Whatever the cause, their fiefdoms collapsed and their servitors turned on them or deserted. The Nobility were deposed and went underground for several centuries. They have reemerged in recent decades, mostly as vagrants and parasitic scavengers. Some have tried to establish domains again, but the people of Tarraxian remember the old legends.
Nobles have the mutations Vampiric Field, Mesmerism, and a limited form of Regeneration. (They can only regenerate using hit points stolen from Vampiric Field.) Nobles do not need to eat or drink, and are immune to disease and poison. They are effectively immortal; no Noble has been known to die of old age.
Nobles suffer from the defect mutation Albinism. Sunlight causes Nobles to lose 1d4 points of Strength so long as they are exposed to it, as well as the loss of 1d6 hit points per hour. Nobles do not heal naturally; they regenerate only with points stolen from their mutation. Finally, Nobles suffer the same reaction penalties as Androids; the legends of the Nobility live on, and people know about their parasitic need to steal life energy.

*Yrini (Mutated Human)
Yrini are blue-skinned humanoids, about the size and shape of normal humans. Their skin sometimes has tiger stripe patters of dark blue, purple or even red. Their hair and eyes run the spectrum of red-blue-purple. Some of them grow stunted white horns from their foreheads, particularly as they age.
Yrini have +2 to Intelligence and -2 to Dexterity.
Yrini have brains like organic computers, analyzing every course of action, every though, and every new discovery along thousands of lines of thinking. Unfortunately, they are not efficient like actual computers, and thus come off as ponderously slow to other races. Yrini are very interested in the technology and lore of the ancient world. One group on Yrini founded the monastic order known as the Archivists, dedicated to restoring the world to its previous height of civilization.
All Yrini have the mutations Intellectual Affinity: Tinker and Dual Cerebellum. They also have two other randomly determined mental mutations, which cannot be Defects. They do all suffer the Slow Mutant defect, however, due to their inability to act without first considering dozens, if not hundreds, of courses of action. (The Dexterity penalty they suffer is a side effect of this ponderous nature; even in combat, they analyze every possible course of action.)

I have also written up a few models of Android, but I'll post those later.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bless My Soul!

Starting next week, I am teaching The Hobbit to my seniors. I was delighted to find it on my curriculum list, and I wonder how I missed it last semester.

I started rereading the book today, as I last read it when I was in the sixth grade. I had forgotten how charmingly written this book is, in contrast to Fellowship, which I remember being somewhat slow and boring. (Then again, I haven't read any of the LotR trilogy since I was in 8th or 9th grade...perhaps those deserve another look.)

Anyway, I find the simplicity of this tale to be refreshing. I have been suffering a profound lack of motivation for all things gaming recently, and I actually feel a bit of a boost even from reading just the beginning chapters.


...granted, my group still wants to do something with science fiction, but I feel like my imagination and/or sense of wonder just got a shot in the arm.

Hmm... while I'm at it, I'd better design some lessons...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Quick Addendum to the Previous Post

Let's separate Gamma World from Mutant Future, shall we?

In the back of MuFu is a sample adventure/dungeon. This, to me, is what I have in mind when I envision the bizarre post-apocalyptic world in my brain. This is more or less what I'm going for.

Famine in Far-Go- I was/am so not on the same page as default Gamma World

Okay, so sometime last year I bought a Gamma World 2nd edition boxed set off Ebay (with Star Frontiers, to boot.) I was surprised to see that the seller threw in a copy of Famine in Far-Go, which, as far as I know, did not originally come with said boxed set. I let Famine sit in the box until earlier this evening. Looking for inspiration for the Mutant Future campaign I should have started several weeks ago, I thought I'd give it a peek. The module seems to be fairly highly regarded in grognard circles, so what the heck...

My initial reaction: What. The. Fuck.
My secondary and tertiary reactions were similar, though with added expletives.

In middle school, I was apparently doing Gamma World all wrong, in that I did not steep the entire game in total absurdity. (Of course, I was ten, so I didn't pick up on the...er..."finer points of humor" in the game.) To me, GW-and, by extension, Mutant Future- were weird, sure, but they were games about science fantasy and wonder.

Hallucinogenic berries lead the characters to a factory full of mutant chickens with guns. Oh, and there's a radioactive meteor up in there, too. Don't forget the self-referential Gygax encounter, including the characters having the opportunity to find a damaged copy of a Gamma World rulebook.

Perhaps I was a bit naive to take the game seriously at all. I always interpreted the game as bizarre with a dash of gonzo, rather than double-gonzo-all-the-way.

Mutant Future, on the other hand, is practically a re-skin of D&D. (To me, anyway)

I think a lot of the cognitive dissonance that Famine in Fargo is causing me results from my own very specific interpretation of Gamma World and Mutant Future. Of course, specific interpretations of D&D are part and parcel in this corner of the internet; that's how we end up with stuff like Carcosa, The Metal Earth, Planet Algol, etc. (The latter two are fine blogs and you really should check them out, by the by.)

It looks like I'm back to the drawing board, or at least back to the AD&D notes on Tarraxian. I don't even think my Mutant Future is is a post-apocalyptic Earth. Then again, TSR went that route with Metamorphosis Alpha, and even the Mutant Future rulebook suggests some alternatives.

Hell, maybe I just want to play MA with Mutant Future's rules.

At any rate, Famine in Far-Go is going back into the boxed set.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dream Pod 9, Conversions, and Other Idle Thoughts

I used to be utterly fascinated with Tribe 8, a game from Dream Pod 9 that was a fantasy/horror/post-apocalyptic mishmash of a setting. (Incidentally, it is also the name of a lesbian punk rock band, which lead to some interesting search engine results back in the day.) For as much time as I invested in that game, I never ran even a single session of it. Aside from the fact that I could only get two of my old group to buy into the idea, I came to absolutely hate Dream Pod 9's rules system, which has actually lead me to abandon DP9's games altogether. Before I moved here, I had some conversion notes for changing T8 to FUDGE, but sadly I never finished them, and they are lost to the void.
For the record, I also think Gear Krieg and Jovian Chronicles are very cool settings, but they use the standard DP9 rules and therefore suck as well.

Yesterday, my wife fished a used copy out of the used shelves at the LGS. I got rid of my book long ago, since the first several years I lived in this town, I found that WotC D&D was the order of the day. Hell, for all I know it could be my old copy. I have to admit that the T8 germ is still buried in my head, but the thought of converting it to FUDGE sounds about as appealing as a home root canal. My wife suggested that I convert it to Savage Worlds, which would be a lot easier. I still don't know if I would be able to generate any interest in it. With my free time going at a slightly higher premium these days, I'd hate to do the conversion unless I knew I was going to get some mileage out of it. I'm also not sure that T8 meshes with my very much changed gaming sensibilities.

Another conversion I've been thinking about it Nightspawn/Nightbane. I have this morbid idea of converting it to World of Darkness, using werewolves as the template for the Facade/Morphus transformation. I like the setting of Nightbane, but I find that I'm more attracted to the idea of the various types of human sorcerers. A few months ago, I posted my results of making two sample Nightbane characters, one an actual nightbane, the other a human spellcaster... and the discrepancy between their power levels would give most GMs a migraine.
Ideally, I'd have liked to convert it to Eden Studios' "Beyond Human," but given that the book has had a TBA release date for the past six fucking years, I'm not holding my breath.

So, Tribe 8 to Savage Worlds, Nightbane to World of Darkness.

Meanwhile, today is the first day I've actually thought much about doing something with gaming. My D&D group at the kung fu school is pretty much dead, my work on Mutant Future has not started (despite emails and text messages from the group asking me for an approximate start date), and I missed the deadline to run something at the upcoming local gaming convention. FML, as the kids would say.

Well, at least RIFTS is tomorrow. It will be our first week without the resident rules lawyer, who has moved off to KC and been replaced by one of my gaming buddies.

...yes, a Palladium game is my only gaming outlet at present. What has happened to me?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Kung Fu is Strong

Mystic fucking China, bitches.

It's supposed to be a supplement for Ninjas & Superspies (the book with the most awesome cover ever drawn by mortal hands- an army of ninja vs. an army of laser wielding commandos fighting atop a mountain of dead bodies), though compatible with many of their other games. (I'm actually looking at it as a supplement to Beyond the Supernatural)

This book has like twelve different types of martial artists. It has blind mystics with third eyes. It has crazy ass Chinese demons. It has Taoist alchemy and spells to remove a motherfucker's heart. It has rules for playing a capitalist entrepreneur.

Six bucks at the used bookstore.

I must also point out that this book was written by the late Erick Wujcik. I tend to his work a lot more than SuperKev's. I also think this book could work as a stand alone campaign, if one is into Big Trouble in Little China-esque shenanigans. I'd been thinking of a campaign like that and had thought I would have to de-fang (ha) Kindred of the East if I wanted outlandish pseudo-Asian fantasy goobfests. I think this book might be all I need. I don't even mind characters having SDC as much as I usually do, given the source material.

To use the parlance of our urban youth: this book be ballin', yo*.

In other news, I am now getting emails and texts from multiple members of my former AD&D1e group, wanting to know when we're getting started with Mutant Future. (MuFu!)
Things are starting to shape up at work, so perhaps I will soon be able to address them and their need for gaming goodness.

D&D at the Kung Fu school has not been happening lately, mainly because I've been too exhausted to get my train on. We'll try again this week.

*none of my students has actually ever said anything like this. Thank the gods.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Still Alive

Hi, gang. I'm still alive. I actually have a few minutes and a few drops of motivation...so howzabout a small update to this here blog?

The RIFTS campaign actually continues to be pretty good. The new GM is most awesome. I am 3rd level. The former GM, who is a rules lawyer extraordinaire and who has earned, from several of us, the ill-fated position of That Guy in our group, is moving away. I have added another friend (and former AD&D1E player) to the RIFTS group. I totally Zerg'd this gaming group. I am more than a little ashamed that I just used "Zerg" as a verb.

Because I think there is a good game buried somewhere beneath the insanity and inanity of the Palladium system, I'm mentally measuring the various things I will need to amputate should I ever take a crack at running this game. It won't be pretty. Oh, and I may add Neutral alignments just because the book says that "No Neutrals" is one of the unbending rules of the game. Bend this.

I have not started my MuFu campaign. (MuFu being my delightful new pet name for Mutant Future) Work has been quite demanding, but things are starting to fall into place and I plan to have the next two weeks planned before Sunday. That should give me some time to work on MuFu. I am going to be expanding the cosmology behind my convention modules (Temple of Zirugar and Legacy of Zirugar) to link them into the events of my AD&D1E campaign. I find this coherence strangely satisfying, which is odd, because I usually eschew former campaign settings every time I start up something new. The crew looks to be the old AD&D1E gang minus two. (The ones who became parents during the first campaign. I don't expect to see them at my gaming table ever again, actually.)

The missus has recently told me that she misses gaming. She's been mighty busy with her book these past many months. I'd like to start up some kind of game that can involve her, but she's pretty selective when it comes to games. Last I checked, the list of things in which she will willingly participate is thus: D&D 3.5, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd edition, World of Darkness (but not Vampire or Promethean), and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. I may have missed one or two, but that's probably because I don't want to run them. (Of course, I don't want to run 3.5, either) I do want to accommodate her, I just need to find the time and energy. Hopefully I will have more of both in the near future.

Keep those dice a-rollin', amigos. I'm still reading.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Plug and A Purchase

Firstly, for those of you who like things of a post-apocalyptic or Dystopian bent, check out my wife's blog. She's over at sommerleigh.com (you can also click on the sidebar.) Her blog deals mainly with young adult lit. Even if that isn't your thing, you should check out the last week's posts, as she is having a Dystopian-themed week, and really, who doesn't love Dystopia? (So long as it's someone else's Dystopia...)


In my latest bout of collecting-as-a-substitute-for-doing-something-productive, I acquired the first edition of Palladium's fantasy game for five bucks. (Most of which was shipping, mind you.) Ever since I picked up the Mechanoid Invasion Trilogy, I have been morbidly fascinated with the early iterations of the Palladium system, before it all went awry. Palladium Fantasy the First has no SDC, no jacked up physical attribute arms race, combat abilities are tied to your class and level (with the men-at-arms group of classes being better at it), and skills seem to be less of an enormous mess.

In other news...

-The D&D game at my kung-fu school seems to be waning. I'm down to about three players, though one of them has expressed interest in starting a Fantasy HERO campaign away from the school.
-My old AD&D group (most of them, anyway) want to get back together. They have almost unanimously expressed interest in a sci-fi game. I am leaning towards Mutant Future. My short list had also previously included Traveller (Mongoose version) and Shadowrun 4th edition, but I've been so busy with work that my brain does not seem keen on learning any new rules systems. I briefly entertained an idea involving Mini Six, but I don't know how familiar my players are with it.

That's all I got. Dystopia, the long lost reasonable iteration of Palladium, and swapping one game for another.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Brief Pondering on Player Character Conflict

Many times, I find the situations that bring PCs together to be artificial. In my experience, you often find groups of player characters who, personality, alignment, or goals-wise, are only sticking together because their players are seated together physically at a table playing the same game. I recall a horrible campaign a friend and I joined several years ago where one of the players immediately told us he would kill our characters if we made a paladin, because he refused to adventure with paladins. My buddy made a paladin immediately. Luckily, the guy was as much of a sniveling coward in game as he seemed to be in real life, and his wrath was limited to passive aggressive behavior towards my buddy's player.

Even among friends, I find that characters are often played with such opposing goals and personalities that the only reason they stay together is because their players are seated physically at the same table playing the same game. This is especially true in D&D type games when someone wants to play a cleric that is actually religious amongst the typical drinking, looting, whoring player character party. Crack open any White Wolf book from the Old World of Darkness and you're going to find that antagonism between character types is built into the setting, with most of the Clans/Tribes/Traditions disliking 90% of the other Clans/Tribes/Traditions in the same game.

Usually, when these sorts of conflicts come up, everyone is put in a slightly awkward situation. Usually one or both parties have to "look the other way," or the DM has to gloss over the conflict. After all, if it continues to be role-played out, one character is going to leave or even end up dead. The cleric will not abide the thief murdering townspeople. The witch hunter is going to have a hard time adventuring with the hedge mage. Nobody wants to back down, and the DM doesn't want to pick one character over the other, especially if both characters, individually, are suited to the campaign.

The new RIFTS game I'm in has some of this conflict already, and although I am having fun with the campaign, it bears examination.

Our party: Wired Gunslinger, Wild Psi-Stalker, Wild Dog Boy/Wilderness Scout, Body Fixer (me), Ley Line Walker, Elemental Fusionist (Fire/Water)
-The Psi-Stalker should constantly be salivating over the two spellcasters in the party, especially when he hasn't had a fix. This has been glossed over so far.
-The Psi-Stalker attacked one of the Body Fixer's patients while he was trying to perform surgery on said patient. This lead to PvP combat, with the Body Fixer tranquilizing the Psi-Stalker with drugs. Meanwhile, the Dog Boy got into a brawl with said patient's companion in the lobby of the Body Fixer's clinic. Logically, the Fixer would never work with these two again, but that would mean someone would have to make a new character, so the Stalker and Dog Boy are merely banned from the Fixer's clinic.

As I said earlier, I am having fun (I play the Body Fixer), but the incident has got my mind on just how artificial some of the relationships between player characters can be. Everyone wants to play their character, but there is a bit of a fourth wall holding the player characters together, no matter how at odds with one another they might get.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wrath of the Immortals: What Now, Son?!

Found Wrath of the Immortals boxed set at the used bookstore. (Yes, I broke my streak)

Bonus elements inside include:

1. Extra copy of Book 2
2. A very large, homemade dungeon laid out in pen on graph paper. I believe there are something like nine levels. As with many of the papers I find in used D&D products, they smell every so faintly of hash. Also, the last level of the dungeon is sadistic. Checkerboard floor consisting of alternating glyphs of warding and fire traps. Holler.

Oh, and the previous owner felt the need to make about one hundred copies of the Immortal Record Sheet, only one of which is filled in.

RIFTS Denver, Session 2 is tomorrow. So far, playing a Body Fixer has turned out all right for me, even when I had to tranquilize a fellow player character with extreme prejudice.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Oh, it's *that* post...

Hmm.... has it really been a week? That's unusual for me.
As I have mentioned in the past, I'm a teacher by trade. The first week of school concludes tomorrow. Most of the teachers in my building can attest that the first week or two is very mentally draining on the staff. I've been trying to write a blog entry, but I seem to lose much of my focus and higher cognitive abilities after around five p.m.

However, I think I can bang out a few updates.

1.) We have installed a new GM in our RIFTS game. I'll say it straight up: I had more fun in fifteen minutes of this game than in the rest of the campaign. There are myriad things to do other than throw down with endless squads of SAMAS pilots. We have a new player who is quite a lot of fun, too.

2.) Kung Fu D&D didn't happen last week due to a few last minute upsets. I don't know if it will happen tomorrow because we're having a going-away party for one of my fellow students (who does not play, actually) who is going off to become a fighter pilot. Seriously.
At the same time, it is apparent that this is going to be a pretty casual game, and that I'm going to need to shift my focus to something else.

3.) I was invited to play in a campaign of The Shadow of Yesterday, but I think I'm going to decline. The group seems to have a big problem with scheduling, and I sat down and reread TSOY and I just don't think it's the kind of thing I enjoy anymore.

4.)Three members of my defunct AD&D game have been encouraging me to get the band back together. A fourth has been asking me when I'm going to start a game, though he was less specific about picking up where we left off. In any case, I think I'd be ready to try something different with this crew. Who knows... maybe we could pick up the AD&D game again later.

5.) My wife, who had asked me if I would run Warhammer RPG again, has been quiet about the matter. She's quite busy with projects of her own (non-gaming stuff), but I think she's still somewhat interested.

6.) I've been feeling the urge to run the following games: Traveller (or something sci-fi), Mutant Future, and All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

7.) I managed to go a whole week without going to the used bookstore. I think this has less to do with me acquiring willpower and discipline as it does to do with my temporarily reduced supply of free time.

...and that's all I got. I'm still reading and commenting, and I will be posting very shortly.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and stare blankly at something for awhile. Fire bad. Tree pretty.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Little Gaming Curiosity

I was at ye old used book store the other day when I ran across a copy of AEon, better known as Trinity.

AEon was White Wolf's first sci-fi game, published in 1997. (I was a misguided high school kid at the time) It would later be complimented by two prequel games, Aberrant and Adventure! (Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title)

White Wolf was sued by MTV because at the time they were promoting the animated series Aeon Flux, which is pretty cool (I own it on DVD) but has really nothing to do with the premise of AEOn. Unfortunately, MTV had more money and more lawyers, so White Wolf changed the game to Trinity. As I recall, stickers were sent out and put on the first batch, with all subsequent batches having the new title printed on it from the get-go. I found a copy that still had AEon on the cover, so I snapped it up. (I also have Nightspawn before it was sued into Nightbane)

I always wanted to try Trinity, but I could never find anyone who played it, and my gaming friends at the time were either vehemently opposed to playing anything White Wolf, or vehemently refused to play anything other than White Wolf's "Big Three." (Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse, Mage the Ascension) I'm not sure I'll get to run it with my current gamer base, but at least I'll have the chance to check it out. I also dig on owning original versions of things that were later forcibly changed.

Another note about AEon: the book comes in a "folio" format; you have to "unbuckle" the cover to get to the game within, which is spiral bound. It's an odd duck, and for six bucks (less with my special discount) I could not resist adding it to my collection.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kung Fu D&D, Session 4

We played with a skeleton crew this week. The host and his wife had previously canceled this session, and one player was going to be training with sifu and his sifu out of state, but I did have one mysterious no-show. I decided to play anyway, because I'm no longer willing to let the schedules of others dictate my fun. I thought I was going to have to tone things down a bit since we were rolling with only two party members, but after befriending the gnomes and, oddly enough, a couple of hobogoblins, the party had enough bodies for me to run things pretty much as-is.

Now, although I previously mentioned that I don't like DMing outside my house, I have to say I have come to enjoy running the game at the school. Although it is technically a public place, we don't start playing until the non-playing students have departed for the evening and the school is locked up. We have a fridge, there are several eateries and convenience stores nearby, plenty of room to play, (and even some furniture we drug out this time) and none of the idiosyncrasies of someone's house (roommates, pets, family, etc.) There aren't any neighbors to bother, we can generally be as loud as we want, there's a stereo... you really cannot go wrong. Though I have my doubts that our host is going to return to the game, I think I'm just going to continue running it in the school regardless. It also gives us more playing time, because even though the (former) host lives nearby, you can't get any closer than already being there. Ah, I just remembered... while making a snack run, we discovered there is a Jimmy John's within delivering distance of the school... yes, I do believe we've found the perfect spot. It really is a unique situation; it's not my house, but it's not anyone else's house, and it isn't a public place by the time we start playing.

Anyway, the game...

One player nearly died of poison. I probably threw him a softball, which I regret... but once that pesky NPC cleric is gone, they'll have to step their game up a little bit. (And I will have to be a bit more impartial) We didn't get a whole lot done, but we didn't want to leave the two missing players too far behind.

At any rate, I am enjoying this experience immensely, because it isn't often I get to play a game that is completely free of my normal player base... not that I don't like my players, quite the contrary, I just think that it's nice to get some game in with new blood. I also think I am going to avoid mixing the two groups... I'm considering it a type of experiment.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Combat Shield!

I found a copy of the old 1984 Combat Shield (DM's screen) at the used bookstore. The adventure that originally came with it is long gone, but it got it for a song, plus it beats using the somewhat worn out B1 cover as a screen.

I also picked up a copy of the Book of Marvelous Magic.

Damn, I love that store.

D&D With Kung Fu Guys, Session 3

For some reason, it felt like a really long time since we last played, even though we only skipped one week. Our host didn't show up for training and was unreachable by phone. We decided to just play at the school. I'm going to have to procure a cheap folding card table to make game play easier.

Since we were missing two characters and had one new player, I decided to do some hippie-Forgie crap and declare that this was a prequel to the current adventure. I started them on In Search of the Unknown, declaring that this is how half the party met before deciding to strike out for the Keep.

"Wait," the new player said, "If I'm in the flashback but not in the actual adventure....does that mean I'm going to die?!"

It was kind of an unusual session, in that the first two wandering monster groups were orcs who rolled box cars for a reaction, meaning friendly and helpful. I decided that they, being former slaves of Rogahn and Zelligar, were only too happy to help the players loot their former masters' stronghold. Unfortunately, this alliance did not last long, with the orcs becoming incredibly drunk on the wine in the Room of Pools and being left there by the party. They managed to make it down to the second level, though they skipped a lot of the first level.

Our host has emailed me, indicating that he will not be available next Friday, so we have already decided to play at the school following training. We are all individually on the lookout for a cheap folding card table. I might actually have one buried somewhere in my house. I know I have some of the chairs from it... I can see one from where I am sitting now.

I actually have the sneaking feeling that I'm going to lose the host due to the typical attrition that seems to plague a lot of gaming groups. I suppose that is another subject for another post.

Now, what's really going to jack me up is if any of the characters who are in the "flashback" actually die in Quasqueton...how the hell am I going to explain that?!
Unknown is actually a fairly softball module, however, and so far the group has played in a very resourceful and tactical fashion. Shit, maybe they're ready for some James Edward Raggi IV modules... after the Keep, that is.

Friday, July 30, 2010

My lawn: get off it.

My patience with games seems to be sliding inexorably toward the Abyss.

Large page counts dampen my enthusiasm.

Any complexity north of AD&D sours me.

Games that get too meta with the narrative no longer appeal to me.

I find that, while I have a substantial collection of rpgs, my tastes continue to grow narrower. When a game doesn't fit my increasingly exacting specifications, it goes back on my shelf, or I take a scalpel to it. (As I have been doing with Dead Reign and want to do with RIFTS. gods help me.)

I want quick character generation. I want quick combat that doesn't require minis. I want task resolution to be either ad hoc or incredbilyfrigginsimple. I want books that aren't thick enough to double as anti-shiv body armor. I thought this was just a phase, but my brain and attention span continue to reject games that I even want to learn, like Shadowrun 4e and The Dresden Files RPG.

This may my brain going into survival mode, as my unlimited free time will be quite limited starting next week and progressing into next May as I edumacate them chilluns. It might also be precipitous slide towards the age of thirty (one year, one month, and four days...) It might also be one of those phases I go through.

Another pop-psychology theory is that my previous career was so mentally unengaging that I needed my hobby to step it up to keep my brain from pickling inside my skull. That subject, however, goes beyond the scope of this blog.

Save the complication for the dilemmas the PCs find themselves entangled in, I say.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dead Reign: Cutting Through the BS

Okay, the wife's birthday game is going to be what I hereby dub "Dead Reign Lite." It will also be a template for "Lite" Palladium. A lot of the ideas here come from my issues with the system, and with earlier Palladium mechanics I liked from Mechanoid Invasion.

1. Attributes are all in the 3-18 range. No rolling extra dice for attributes of 16+.
2. All characters are 1st level Survivors with occupations selected by me.
3. You only get your OCC skills plus four slots for skills your character learned "the hard way" in the five months since the zombipocalypse. These skills will come from a list I will prepare shortly, but include combat skills, salvage/jury-rig type skills, basic first aid, wilderness survival, etc.
4. No hand to hand= 1 attack per round , Basic=2, Expert=3, Martial Arts/Commando=4.
5. No SDC for characters.
6. No Hit Points for zombies. (They only have SDC, since they aren't alive)


...my wife is worried that this is fettering away the last of my summer vacation, and now she's wondering if she should have asked me to do a Little Fears game. I am trying to assure her that this is something I've wanted to do since the very first RIFTS session I played.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dead Reign vs. All Flesh Must Be Eaten

I may have mentioned this, but my wife's birthday is approaching. She has asked me to run a zombie game for her and some of our friends. I have two zombie roleplaying games on my shelf: Dead Reign from Palladium (which is actually my wife's book), and All Flesh Must Be Eaten from Eden Studios.

I have run AFMBE a handful of times over the years, always as one-shots, and it has never failed to be a good time. However, my wife doesn't particularly enjoy learning systems she is not familiar with, and since it's a one shot, I'd like to keep things as simple as possible. To that end, I was considering using Dead Reign, which I have not run before. (My wife didn't buy it for the rules, by the by- she bought it because she loves all things zombie.) Palladium's rule system is a little closer to what this particular group of gamers is used to: d20 to attack (roll high), d20 saving throws (roll high), ability scores in the 3-18 range that are very similar to D&D stats. We have hit points, level, even alignment. I think it is more similar to what they know. Dead Reign also has several varieties of fully statted zombies, as opposed to the AFMBE "Zombie Buffet" creation rules.

...ah, but then there's the skill system. JB, if you are reading this, I know you're nodding your head in assent.

If I had more time to do this and less on my plate (I've also got work stuff coming up for the coming school year), I'd probably just use Fudge or Savage Worlds and be done with it. However, I like that these games have zombies all statted up and ready to go. I think if I were going to run a campaign, I'd probably go with AFMBE.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Convention Day 3

We bailed pretty early. I felt like twenty miles of rough road from two nights of little sleep and much drinking, plus gaming for something like ten straight hours, breaking only for about an hour to eat dinner. I'm glad that I seem to have sparked some new interest in Mutant Future. Blah blah growing the hobby blah blah True Believer. Whatever.

Ok, so some thoughts on the convention:

-Last year, I bitched about the awfulness of the non-convention guests. This was better this time around, except for when my wife (who does not wear nerd t-shirt, costumes, or anything else that "outs" her) was on the elevator with some hotel guests who actually expressed fear that "these people" (the convention guests) were going to "get their children." I would have been pissed to hear something like that if it weren't so pathetically absurd. Yes, some of the people at the con were weirdos, and some were quite off-putting, but these people are harmless nerds; they're more likely to bore you to death with stories of their Star Wars fanfic than they are likely to "get" your children. (Whatever the fuck that means.)

-Last year, there was a guy that I kind of wanted to strangle. He was there this year. He didn't tell me any of his awful gaming stories, but he did jump into a game that I was playing. Sometimes you hear a story about meeting someone who really rubs you the wrong way, but once you get to know them, they're not bad and you become fast friends. This is not one of those stories. That guy is still a tool. Point of gaming etiquette, friends: when a player asks the GM a question, he is asking the GM, not you. Also, you're going to raise some eyebrows when you repeat that this is the first time you've ever played this game, and then you proceed to try and wrest control from the GM at every opportunity by telling him where all the other characters are and trying to dictate facts about the game world and situation to the GM.

-I did not go to a single panel this year. I spent the majority of my time gaming and socializing.

-I had a great time, and I look forward to next year.

-Oh, and I didn't buy any gaming stuff, which I can scarcely believe. I consider this a huge personal victory, as I need another new game like I need a fourth nipple.

My campaign with the kung-fu folks (running Keep on the Borderlands) will resume this Friday. I will be returning to the RIFTS group in a few weeks, since we are installing a new GM. (Viva la revolucion!) I am running a zombie survival one shot for my wife's birthday in a few weeks, and I'm supposed to be starting a Warhammer game.

Maybe I'd better take advantage of my last week off and get my ass in gear!

Convention Day 2

I have just returned from a tour of room parties at this here convention, and I assure you, friends, I am in my cups.

I gamed all day today. I ended up play testing a Traveller module, though I didn't realize I was in a play test, even though my wife, who was not involved, knew I was play testing something Apparently my name will be in the credits. Rad.

My Mutant Future game started with only two players, but ended up with four. We didn't get to finish, but it was fun, and I seem to have interested new players in Mutant Future. Hot damn. I think I have an idea for the next installment of the Zirugar saga, provided Dan knocks out Starships & Spacemen 2nd edition before next year.

I cannot wait for NukeCon.

I might game tomorrow, though I really should go home and check on my poor cats.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Convention Day 1

I'm going to get right to the point: the gaming here was run so much better last year that it isn't even funny. Despite communication with the gaming guru, my game was not on the schedule. Ditto for several people I talked to who were interested in running games. A note: last year the game room was outsourced to the people who run the local gaming convention as opposed to a general sci-fi/geek convention, which this is. I managed to wrangle three players for B1, but we did have a hell of a good time. I would have liked more, but that's life. I did get a lot of comments from passers-by approving of my old school D&D, though none of them wanted to play.

I've got to say that the Room of Pools in B1 is possibly one of my favorite dungeon rooms in all of dungeon history.
"Oh, screw it... I stick my hand in it."

...indeed.


Also, in a non-gaming note: I used to like anime. I no longer understand anime or anime fandom. I'm not sure when it became a postmodern neon-colored clusterfuck mess, but count me out. Give me Macross. Give me Gundam. Give me Fist of the North Star. Give me something I can fucking summarize.

Tomorrow is my mutant future game, which will have at least three players. Once again, I had to recruit by word of mouth, because the convention lacks goddamn sign-up sheets.

There was a first class room party tonight, though... which I have left a friend at, and I should probably go and get him...

Oh, and I am the only person running tabletop role playing games at this convention, it seems... everything else seems to be a bunch of miniature skirmish games.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting My Con On

OSFEST, the local sci-fi convention, is in three days. This is the third year the convention is being held. I went with the missus and some of our friends last year and we had a wonderful time. (I posted a few blog posts from her laptop whilst I was there.)

Last year I ran D&D Rules Cyclopedia(my personal favorite iteration of D&D). The module was one of my own design. It was such fun I wish I had signed up for two games.

This year, I've done just that.

Friday night- B/X D&D. We're doing B1, In Search of the Unknown.

Saturday afternoon- Mutant Future, "Legacy of Zirugar," a module to the game I ran last year. Yes, the Mutant Future game is a sequel to the D&D game. Last year's game was all about cross-planar antics. This game is about the other side of that coin.

Last year I also got to play Beyond the Supernatural 2nd edition. The game softened my stance on Palladium. The GM was an absolute blast to play with, and I hope he's there this year.

Several of my friends from last year can't make it this year, but I think I've conned some new ones into going. I'm also scheduled to be my friend's nephew's very first DM, and I usually run into old friends from my college sci-fi club when I go to these things.

Should be fun. I'll post from the wife's laptop at some point, no doubt... and if you guys are really lucky, it will be after I've been to the room parties and am properly sauced.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Magic Potions

A question for my fellow DMs:

The way you do magic potions, does each type of potion have a specific appearance/flavor/etc? Are all healing potions a deep amber and burn when you drink them? Could a translucent purple potion and a milky blue potion both be potions of levitation?

On one hand, consistent potions let the players become experts on something in your world. It also saves them some time and trouble. You can also still introduce confusion... perhaps potions of healing and heroism are both red.
"Hmm....amber colored and burns going down...so it's either a healing potion...or else it's hard liquor." (Both, I suppose, relieve pain)

With my current Cyclopedia game, I might rule that potions are consistent when made by the same magic-user. (Alternately, magic-users trained by the same mentor might brew similar potions.) Who says that every potion of healing has the same ingredients? If different mages have their own way of notating spells (thus necessitating the need for read magic in the rules as written), might they not make potions in such an individual fashion?

Thoughts?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Perusing the Shelves

I was at the LGS today because the missus needed to check her pull file for new comic arrivals. While I was there, I stumbled upon two things:

1. World of Darkness: Mirrors, the "toolkit" book from White Wolf. Also, according to a note from White Wolf's creative director, Mirrors is in fact the last "traditionally published" World of Darkness line book that the company intends to release. I'm guessing that holds true for the Vampire, Mage, and Changeling stuff coming out this year.

2. The Dresen Files RPG, in two hardbound volumes. The first is called "Your Story" and contains the rules, character creation stuff, and a sample city setting. It actually looks like the complete game. The second volume appears to be official stats for various characters and critters from the novel series. They are full color and very beautiful. Unfortunately, they are $50 and $40, respectively, and I can't justify shelling out that kind of cash for books right now. (I have zero chance of running a Dresden game for the foreseeable future)