Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Just a Little Wishful Thinking

 I know that 5E is on its way out in favor of One D&D (can we please just stop with the dumb fucking buzzword names, WizBro? Just call it 5.5 or 6.) I guess that makes 5E retro, which will make me like it more, because I have terminal, inoperable stage 4 nostalgia. Rose colored cataracts are growing over my eyes. 

Anyway, here's some stuff I wish had been revived during the 5E era: 

Al-Qadim. I have a lot of the 2E stuff and could just, you know, run it that way, but I feel like AQ could use a fresh coat of paint. For one thing, maybe some playable races/species from Middle Eastern mythology, instead of "Yeah it's elves and dwarves but they're brown," which is how AQ rolled. Turn a couple of the kits into subclasses. The sh'ir could be an arcane tradition instead of a whole-ass class. Shoot, might not be a stretch to make it a flavor of warlock. 

New Al-Qadim is very unlikely to happen, even in One D&D. No matter how they portray it, no matter how they re-imagine it, they will have a contingent of gaming discourse calling them racist and/or cultural appropriators, and they'll have some fucking beardos calling it woke SJW garbage if like, there's a gay in it or they don't have as  much slavery as history did. 

...but also, Al-Qadim isn't supposed to be the Middle East/Northern Africa, any more than Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk are supposed to be Europe. Anyway they handle it will be Bad and Wrong, and people will get mad on Twitter. 

Oh, well. I guess I could always convert it myself. (hahahaha riiiiiight.) I think there was a person who did some kind of DM's Guild update, but I read some reviews last year and iirc it was pretty copypasta and not super useful/something I could do with the 2E materials I already have. 

Planescape: I *think* this is actually happening, but I'm not sure. If it is, I'll happily shut my yap. Here's a setting where I'll stop bitching about tieflings. Honest. 

Dark Sun: While there are some decent looking conversions to be found online, (I like this one, for instance) I would enjoy seeing some officially supported material. Slavery was a big thing in Dark Sun, so they will either leave it in and get yelled at, or take it out and get yelled at. 

Dragonstar: This will never, ever happen, because it's from Fantasy Flight's 3.0 stuff, and Fantasy Flight got out of the OGL game a looong time ago. Hell, I don't even think Dragonstar got a 3.5 update. 

Mythic Races: Again, this will probably never happen because it was part of Fantasy Flight's 3.0 "Legends and Lairs" material. I *loved* this book in undergrad. A lot of the races were so much more interesting than the furry-of-the-week approach that 5E got stuck in for awhile. There are a couple of humanoid animal races in there, but there were also some cool races that weren't just making an animal humanoid and sticking "folk" on the end. The ooloi, the luminous, the...I can't remember their names, but the yeti guys who basically ate magical PCP. Good shit. 

I could probably grab the PDF and convert it myself. It's still available on DriveThru. I'm just not comfortable enough with the 5E mechanics right now to do much under-the-hood work. I also don't immediately need them for my upcoming Spelljammer game. 

Star Frontiers: A late entry to this list. The inclusion of *literal Yazirian* in Spelljammer, with the Thri-Kreen and Plasmoids arguably standing in for Vrusk and Dralasites, I kind of wish that there had been some kind of one-off 5E version of Star Frontiers. It would also have the benefit of furthering the destruction of the shitbags at NuTSR. Imagine being such utter wastes of human skin that you have a commie lefty like me rooting for a multinational corporation to destroy a small publisher. 

So, now that I've put off preparing my 5E game for a few more precious minutes, I will return to actual productive* activity. Carry on. 

*as productive as preparing for a campaign really is. 

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Obligatory 2022 Review

I didn't game at all in 2022. Not a single session, as player or GM. It's the first year I can say that since I started gaming 31 years ago. 

2023 will bring my new Spelljammer campaign, starting on the 7th. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Setting Sail With Some Scurvy Space Dogs

 So out of nowhere I suddenly have a face to face gaming group. 

We're starting Spelljammer at my house on January 7th. Twice a month. Yes, it's 5E. No, I don't care at this point. There will be a mat with markers, unpainted minis, and buckets of dice. There will be interruptions by my cats, there might be a drink spill. I don't give a shit. 

Wizards is selling a box of Spelljammer minis for literally eight hundred dollarss ($800.) 


Anyway, it's the age of 3D printing, allowing lots of little guys to make generic fantasy minis at a fraction of the cost. Some of them are even suspiciously close to some of the Spelljammer minis. I suspect my table will be filled with "Brain Lashers" and such standing in for the Mind Flayers. 

I'm a little bit nervous. I haven't DM'ed in nearly a year, and that's the longest break I've ever had since I started DMing at age ten, back in the hazy golden days of the 90's. 

Monday, November 14, 2022

Coming Out of My Cave and I've Been Doing Just Fine (Sort of)

Using a Killers reference for a blog post title is certainly a new personal low. Now all I need to do is start one with that Smash Mouth song and my apotheosis will be complete. 

Yeah so in August I got up the gumption that I was finna rustle up some D&D players and play D&D at a table in my basement they way God intended*. 

It...didn't work out. We didn't even get to the table. Given my cranky-middle-ageness and general anti-social tendencies, I tried to vet the players and meet with them before giving them an invite. Some of the lowlights include: 

-Getting told that D&D is racist because black dragons are inherently evil. (So are white dragons. So are blue dragons. Also alignment is stupid. Also dragons aren't fucking real. Also if you wanted to do the D&D is Racist discussion there are so many better arguments than the colors of dragons.) 

-Getting told that D&D has become "woke garbage" because...I don't know honestly I stopped listening and just kept saying mhm and yeah over the rim of my coffee mug. I think he was mad because like, the gays or something. Weirdly enough, dude loooooooooved Dragon Age. I never finished DA1 and never got around to playing 2 or 3, but I'm pretty sure queer relationships are possible in those games. 

-Being begged to let a player play some insane custom furry race they made up, and being told that I should include mechanics for sex and romance. 

-Having someone bring a copy of Wanderhome and try to convince me that I should run that instead because dungeon crawling just isn't very interesting. Yes, I explicitly stated before the meeting I was looking for players specifically for Dungeons & Dragons. 

This is not some commentary on the state of D&D discourse. It is as if my Twitter feed somehow manifested into a series of physical bodies. 

Anyway, the good point about all this is that I'm opening up more to my college friends' continued attempts to get me to game online, because now I don't want to let tabletop gamers into my house. I'm not quite there yet, though. 

I think the last gaming book I bought was the new Robotech/Macross book from Strange Machine. I had zero illusions about ever running it, I'm just an absolute nostalgia whore. I am a recovering collector. I'm even considering a drastic reduction in my collection, but I need to find the easiest way to get rid of them for the most cash. I have precious little energy these days, and most of the methods of selling off the excess books all seem like pains in the ass. 

Anyway. Where do the gaming nerds hang out online these days? There is where I'm starting to feel my oldness creep in. I've tried Discord servers, but the signal to noise ratio on most of them is more than I can filter. MeWe...I literally just remembered that existed. I don't remember my username or login or anything besides the groups in my state being just a bunch of anti-vaxxers. The whole of Twitter is starting to look like the last twenty minutes of the End of Evangelion. There's something called Mastodon. Who names this shit? I deleted Facebook in 2009 and have no intention of going back. Dice Camp? Or is it I don't know. Can I get my Geocities page back? 

Blogger is starting to feel like MySpace circa 2011. 

Hope your games are going well, nerds. 

*Dude, I don't believe in God.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

 I'm still not gaming. I don't even buy books anymore, that's how you know shit's serious. I have also stopped even pretending to read them. Part of this is lingering brain damage: I can read, at most, about a page at a time, and I retain virtually none of it for more than perhaps ten minutes. I also have a seriously impaired ability to concentrate, so trying to listen to instructional videos for rpgs is also futile. 

I've had two more medical crises since I last posted, and all three of them are unrelated. I've got a diagnosis for the brain, at least. In the wake of all of this, my depression has surged out of control and I just don't feel like doing anything anymore, especially anything that requires mental effort. GMing requires mental effort. Even being a player (which I already had little interest in) requires effort. It has literally taken me hours to put this small post together. 

Mostly I just sedate myself and sometimes play old video games, mostly ones I've played already, since it has become difficult for me to follow any complicated narrative. It's not that my maladies have made me stupid, it's just that they've sort of hit the pause button on my brain. I can recall things I already know, I understand things I already know, but absorbing and retaining new information has become onerous. In a way, this is an educator's own private hell, to be incapable of learning. 

I don't know when I'll be back and posting again. I might read from time to time, maybe even comment, but I find that discussing gaming stuff just kind of makes me sad. 

Anyway, enough about my woes. Hope your games are all going well and continue to do well. Anybody looking to buy some books, maybe get in touch with me. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Old Man Yells At Clouds

 I have not started a new game yet. 

I'd like to, but I find that I just do not enjoy running games on Discord. I just don't. I've run several now, different systems with a variety of peripherals, and the experience leaves me wanting. It's like burning a blueberry muffin-scented candle in lieu of eating an actual blueberry muffin. 

I enjoyed my online Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death game I ran online back in 2014-ish. I also didn't mind having one player play remotely via Skype when I ran AD&D 1st edition back in 2009. (The player moved away mid-campaign.) So why has my taste soured so? Perhaps Covid has just left me utterly sick of online interaction. Perhaps I've just had worse luck with these last few online outings- someone always has mic or connection troubles, multitasking runs rampant, the game stalls out as I try desperately to draw a hexagonal chamber on Jam Board, whatever. 

The bottom line is: I have reached the point where I think I'd rather just not game than game via Discord. 

That leaves a related problem: I don't want to game at conventions. Masks are optional now. I have asthma. I have diabetes. I'm recovering from and honest-to-fuck stroke. Yes, I'm vaccinated and I have the booster, but I'm in a high risk category, and I frankly do not trust people to be safe. People are dumb as shit, my friends. I'm not going to KantCon this year, or DemiCon, or Midwest Game Fest. (Which I might have actually missed already, I just don't care enough to check.) 

There are a few game stores nearby with small tables, social distancing, and masks. Unfortunately, they are all tables being run by someone else, and I am a forever DM. I just don't like running player characters in other people's games. 

As for home games... most of my local gaming friends would rather play via Discord. One has very young children who can't be vaccinated yet., so he avoids in-person gatherings. One lives fifty miles away and can't swing the extra time and gas. One doesn't have a car and lives all the way across town. One has like five kids and zero free time away from the house. Etc, etc, etc. One of my friends last night told me that face to face gaming is outdated and a thing of the past, and she suggested I need to just realize that it's time to let it go and embrace Discord/Roll20/whatever. For the record, I don't believe that's true, yet, but I can also see it happening. 

So what do I do? Box up all my books and sell them at Half Price Books or on Ebay or Noble Knight or something like that? Resign myself to playing remakes/reissues of JRPGs on my Switch? Continue playing Bard's Tale 2 until I put my face through my computer monitor?  I don't know. I'm not really ready to give up my biggest hobby for the last thirty years. I'm trying to learn FlexTale, which isn't grokking with me at all and, let's face it, that 600+ page PDF is looking increasingly impossible to tackle. Will solo gaming even be satisfying? Will it feel like I'm just playing an extremely analogue computer game? 

My shelves runneth over with dozens of books. Dozens and dozens, in fact. Most of them I have never read. In fact, my recent attempt to read my more recently acquired books ends in my dragging myself through half a page, retain nothing, reread, retain nothing, and then just shelve the book and fire up a video game or take a nap. 

So, I guess for the time being, I'm just in a holding pattern. Anhedonia is a thing, and it's a thing I'll hopefully be treated for in a few weeks. It's also quite possible that gaming the way I want to game is just not something that's part of my life anymore. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Perspectives, Aspirations, and a Weird Little Find

Over my medical leave, I consolidated my bookshelves. I didn't get rid of any gaming stuff, but my collection is ridiculous, and even assuming my lifespan hasn't been considerably shortened by recent medical woes, I do not have enough time to run all these games even if I live to the statistical expiration date of an American male. What do I do? Leave them to collect dust? I have no heir to pass them on to, and my wife isn't a gamer. Hopefully this is not a question I'll need to answer any time soon, but I have reached a saturation level of gaming material that I hadn't really considered until recently. 

There are seven weeks left in the school year. I'd like to have a campaign of *something* running by then. I don't even care what it is at this point. RIFTS? 5e? Bunnies & Fuckin' Burrows? I just need to actually cobble a  group together from the fragmented half-groups and lone wolves in my orbit.  

Life is weird and fragile. I hope your games are going splendidly. Part of me thinks that the best of my gaming years is behind me, that I might never actually run a face to face game again. Who knows. I will do my utmost not to make that my fate. 

Oh, and I should also mention: while excavating my bookshelves, I discovered several issues of Christian's Tolling of the Great Black Bell zine that I apparently never opened...they are still in the envelopes. There are three or our such issues, and I think they arrived sometime over the course of 2015-2016. I'll get to them hopefully soon, and see what I've been missing. 



Sunday, April 3, 2022

Radiant Wot...?

 Alright, I may have missed something, so perhaps someone can better educate me. 

The people who literally own Planescape as an IP have opted instead to create a Great Value Brand Planescape? 

Welp. I'm pretty sure that Spelljammer and Planescape are available as POD options on DM's Guild. Perhaps I should just set sail for the Island of 2e. 

...that is, someday when all my fucking medical bills are paid... 

In other news: 

I'm still not done with that Nightbane character, but making characters, especially ones with lots of fiddly adjustments, is a great way to practice when you have kind of relearn how to write. It still feels like my handwriting isn't mine, but rather a very convincing forgery. There is a strange "tug" when I do it. Typing has gotten back to normal, and I'm approaching my old levels of speed and accuracy. 

I'm looking at resuming my OpenQuest game sometime in May, or perhaps the first week of June. I might even  consider reaching out to some different players. If you want to play OpenQuest 3rd edition with my on Discord, holla at ya boi. The vibe is a mix of the original Fable video game, the 90's TV show Roar, the 2010's BBC Adventures of Merlin, and maybe a bit of the weird Bard's Tale spinoff that has nothing to do with the original trilogy. 

Tomorrow I'm going to sit down and reread the Secret Manuscript. Reading it in tiny chunks has only left me with a fragmented jumble of data I can't really retain. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Dude I miss Joesky

 Remember Joesky? Bro has not posted since before the pandemic. Here's hoping he gets back to posting. 

That's all. Still alive. Haven't started a game. Rolled up a Nightbane character last night because 1.) I need to practice my handwriting, and 2.) I enjoy harming myself, apparently. 

Here's to another week and a half of medical leave. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Blue Planet!

 The summer after I was in 11th grade, I went to my first nerd convention, Conjuration in Columbus, Missouri, with a dear childhood friend who I was visiting for a week. 

One of the highlights of said con was playing a one shot of a game I had never heard of, Blue Planet. It was a very, very indy game...that is, small publisher. It was a crunchy, hard sci-fi romp on an alien world cut off from Earth. It had environmentalist undertones. It had uplifted orcas as PCs. It had a wound effect centerfold...this big ass chart in the middle of the book that described, in often graphic detail, the effects of an injury upon an unfortunate body. Until then, my 16 year old self had never seen the phrase "arterial spray" so many times in just a couple of pages. 

I'm pretty sure I've blogged a little about Blue Planet before I think it was one of my top ten covers I posted about some years ago. I usually forget about Blue Planet. I bought a copy of the book at that convention, though I have absolutely no idea what ever happened to it. I do know that none of my hometown pals were interested in it at all. 

Anyway, Blue Planet is on Bundle of Holding right now. You can even get the second edition that Fantasy Flight published in like 2000 or 2001. I know absolutely nothing about the second edition, but I do know this if it doesn't have the damage centerfold, I'm not interested. 

In other news, I am still alive. Typing is not very difficult anymore, though hand writing is still a herculean effort.  I can feel my left hand most of the time. I have not started gaming again just yet, as mostly my life is a string of medical appointments, therapy, and exercise routines. No need to bore you with the details. 

I might try to finish some of my half-finished and long-saved posts. My typing gets better with practice, so if nothing else, it will help me get back up to speed. 

I hope your dice are rolling and your tables are running. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

Still Got 1 hp

 I almost died last weekend. 

No need to get into details, but I've been home from the hospital for two days now. I can walk again. I can almost use my left hand. Typing this is physically difficult. 

I'm expected to recover in a couple of weeks with minimal or no complications. 

Everyone has been great. My sister started a fundraiser. My coworkers are covering my classes. My wife has been at my side. 

Anyway.  I want to restart OQ when I can. I want to game. 

Literally anyone can die at any time, regardless of youth or health. Go game. Go write games. Go do things. I made my saving throw this time. I might not next time. I won't forget that. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Random Thoughts

 So I'm still pretty much not gaming, and in fact I have told a few people that I am retired from the hobby. I don't think that's true, but there are a few conversations I was in that I simply wanted to end, and telling people I've quit the field is an exceptionally efficient way to accomplish that. Plus, there is a possibility that I have hung up the dice for good and become a lame-o collector of books. 

-I canned OpenQuest, if that wasn't painfully apparent. I'm keeping the files, and if I restart it, I am inviting only two of the originally invited four players. 

-I am proceeding through the Super Secret Manuscript at an absolutely glacial pace. So far I like the bits I've read, and that's all I can say at present. I will not flake on this, I just haven't had a lot of spoons lately. 

-My wife watches the Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise. It's often on in the background when I'm playing SaGa Frontier Remastered on my Switch. I did sit and watch one episode, and I would gladly slam my genitals in a car door than watch another. Where am I going with this? A friend of mine inflicted the first episode of Vox Machina on me a few weeks ago. I would rather watch the entire season of Bachelor in Paradise with the missus than watch another episode of VM. You do the math regarding how many car door slams that equates to. Silver lining: The incident reminded me that I need to catch up on Rat Queens, and I believe there's at least one newish TPB I have to go and get from the library. 

-Not to be confused with SaGa Frontier Remastered, the graphic novel Saga has returned to publication after a hiatus. I think Saga is the closest graphic novel you can get to RIFTS, though it has a good deal more romance than the average RIFTS campaign probably  does. 

-I'm going to read through all of the Nightbane rule books. All of them. Gods help me. I think each time I finish a chapter, I'm going to stare at my reflection in a mirror while the Johnny Cash cover of "Hurt" plays in the background. 

-The Bard's Tale 2 is a joyless slog, I am determined not to let the game beat me. My personal holy war against BT2 is so that I can see if BT3 redeems the series, as I have been told it does. My grudge with the game is not nearly as bad as Zelda 2 for the NES. I will see Zelda 2, and it's entire development team, in hell. 

-I party wiped the kids playing HeroQuest at Board Game Club last week. One friend has admonished me for beating children at a game. Another friend validated me by saying: "Teenagers are not children. They are small adults who need to learn about disappointment." Props to the girl playing the wizard, who tried to take on the quest boss/objective while her companions proceeded to make all the worst possible decisions. Don't split the party, kids. For real. Planning an in-depth post of the four or five personalities I've encountered at BGC. 

-I have found a student who is willing to take over as DM for the 5e game at Board Game Club, after I announced that I would not be DMing anymore. 

-I am slightly miffed that I bought all the Necrotic Gnome OSE Advanced Fantasy stuff, which I have been stuffing in the box with the original stuff, but now there's a sexy new Kickstarter for a boxed set of books that I'm pretty sure are only ones I already own. I still need to finish my "Why OSE Sucked" retrospective post. 

I should get going on my on-hold posts. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A Perplexing Mental Spiral

 I'm not doing a lot of gaming these days. I've canceled Open Quest more than I've run it. 

I like buying gaming books. I like buying them a lot. 

I sort of like reading them. 

I like world/setting building. 

I don't like prepping for game sessions.

I don't really like running game sessions anymore. 

I'm at this really weird spot. I like the *idea* of gaming, I just don't seem to actually like *doing* it anymore. 

I've been playing the remaster of the Bard's Tale trilogy, and I find that in my head, I have backstories, and even personalities, for the characters in my party. There is absolutely no rp in BT. It's a dungeon/city crawl, with the second and third titles adding wilderness. Your characters never talk and have no personalities, yet I imagine it as a sort of campaign in my own head. The issue with that is that I'm in a space where I vastly prefer to play fake campaigns in my head than to deal with human beings, even friends. 

I still co-sponsor the board game club at this school, but I'm basically just an adult body in the room so that they can have a club. Some of the kids still ask me to roll out 5e for them, but after the last session... I'd rather put all of my dice in a blender and drink the resulting container of plastic shrapnel than DM for them again. I am trying to gently persuade one of them to become DM. (There was a girl who was DMing, but she moved away at the end of the previous semester.) 

Not really sure where to go from here. Ostensibly, I like rpgs, I just don', *actually* like them anymore, when it's time for the plastic to hit the table. (Or, more accurately, for the prompt to hit the Discord dice bot...) 

Oh, I still need to go through that manuscript for JB. I fully intend to do so, since I still like reading gaming shit, even if I don't really enjoy participation anymore. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

On the Barista Thing

 Every time I say "The discourse around D&D couldn't possibly get any dumber," the discourse says "Hold my beer." 

At least I didn't engage this time. I will, however, summarize the broil as I understand it: 

People who never liked 5e continue to dislike 5e. 

Did I miss anything? 

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Obligatory 2021 Retrospective

 Aside from getting married, 2021 fucking sucked.

Anyway, this blog is about gaming, so.....

....gaming in 2021 fucking sucked.(Until the very, very end of the year, that is.)

-Started the year continuing the OSE game I started in summer 2020. It wasn't great. I've been working on a blog entry exploring why for a long time. In April, we took a hiatus for one of the three players to work on some creative/professional stuff, and I took the opportunity to quietly deep six the game. 

-I had prepared to run six tables at KantCon, the tables all filled up, and then I had to go and cancel my trip and pull the rug out from under the convention. I didn't go for a lot of personal reasons I needn't discuss here. I'm embarrassed enough about my last minute cancellation, and leaving six tables empty, that I'll likely never return. 

-Ran nothing else until December, when I started up my OpenQuest 3 game, of which I snuck in two sessions before the year closed. One of the players in OQ3 was in the OSE game and she much prefers the former to the latter. 

-Presently have a manuscript of a game I've been waiting for quite some time. I haven't had a chance to dig into it, also because of various personal things, but I plan to start very soon. 


I will probably write some thoughts on OpenQuest again in the near future. So far, the game is so simple it's hard to have much to write *about.*  (Yes, that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Simple games, yo.)