Tuesday, December 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo FAil

I had touched on the topic previously, but my journey into writing a novel ended shortly after it began. To elaborate The National Novel Writing Month is an endeavor to write a novel in a month. It is an ambitious task, especially if you are not adept at setting time aside to write. I made it about 4 days until the weekend hit and I could not find enough quiet time to refocus on the task. I had meant to go back, but at some point, I defeated myself and found excuses for not continuing. A few things that I have learned from the process.

1. 1667 words per day is a lot, at least for me. I found that I needed to have it pretty quiet in order to focus on the task. Since this was usually late at night when the house had quieted down, the endeavor to lead to staying up later than I cared for.

2. Choose your setting wisely. On the heels of Halloween, I had recently put a lot of thought into a steampunk costume for the themed party I attended. It was only natural to lead of into NaNoWriMo with the genre that I was already geared towards. After a while, I lost steam for the punk. I don't think I really wanted to write a steampunk novel, so after a while, I just lost desire to continue.

3. Know your topic. I found that writing about the Victorian era a bit difficult, I was constantly researching things in that time frame. This included articles of clothing worn in the during the time, New England geography, notable historical people, not so commonly known tools, plausibility of technological items to name a few. I spent nearly as much time researching if something actual fit in the steampunk genre, as I did writing the story. I feel I had some interesting ideas, but research took a lot of time.

3. Ensure you don't have other projects to contend with. At one point, I realized that doing NaNoWriMo prevented me from working on my RPG. I also have a lot other projects that I want to work on and NaNoWriMo usurped all of my free time.

4. Have a Support channel. I knew another person who wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo. I tried discussing our endeavor, but didn't get a lot of correspondence. I think that finding another person on the NaNoWriMo site and watching their word count helped motivate me for a short period of time. I honestly believe that if you have someone who is going through the same experience that you can talk with, it would be more motivation than trying to fabricate reasons to continue.

5. Don't Quit! Ok, so I really cannot elaborate on this. I ended up quitting, so who am I to say 'Don't Quit'. But I believe without a shadow of a doubt, if you don't quit, you will finish.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Happy Yule

During this festive time of the year, I like to offer my favorite Christmas short:

Nicholas Was...

older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.

The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.

Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves' invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.

He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.




Friday, November 25, 2011

In Search of Gaming

Today marks the last weekend for the Texas Renaissance Festival. I travelled to Houston and was able to stop by a a used book store with a wide selection of gaming book that was new to me. Amongst the normal treasure, were a number of old adventure modules. I originally grabbed about $62 in old modules that I did not have, but decided to put almost all of it back in lieu of having more spending funds for the festival.

One of the items I was unable to resist was an old starter module for the basic D&D game that was priced at $7.99. This was a steal, considering they priced a worn copy of I7 Baltron's Beacon at $58.99. The module is as shown and appears to be a valid second printing of the Module. I'm no expert at old modules, so I'll have to look it up when I get back.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

Now that Halloween is over, it is time to focus on National Novel Writing Month. The goal of this exercise is to write a thousand words a day for thirty days. I've decided to go my hand at writing this month and hope that I'll be able to finish with something presentable. I'll try to update on my progress, but if you don't see any updates this month, you'll know why.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Greenville, USA. Home of the Burn

One of the things that I have been wrestling with is where to set the game from the start. Picking a place to be the center of a Post Apocalyptic resurrection can maddening (like nuclear fall-out ghoulification maddening). I wanted something that was not a major metropolitan site (those are bad) and I had some ideas on how to incorporate locations into the game-master's local game. But I wanted to use a setting that was generic to most people across the nation.

Then while I was getting ready for bed, I thought "What about Springfield?", that's a reasonably generic town name. I wanted to be sure so how do I determine if it is a viable solution? Let Google choose (to be fair, bing came up with the same answer). So I posed this question to the all-know G+:

what is the most common name for a town in the us?

And the answer turns out to be Greenville. There is a Greenville in every state except Hawaii and Washington. Springfield turned out to be in 29 of the states.

So my game is going to be based out of a small town called Greenville. What state that lies in is totally up to you.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Out of Style Role-playing

I keep seeing this OSR logo on many sites across the internet. Being the curious bloke that I am, I filed it in the back of my mind of things to read more on. Well, I made some time to research what this is really about. Many of you may know that OSR stands for 'Old School Revival'; it is a quasi-movement to return the gaming style of the golden days of RPGs, which is apparently from 1977-1884. This is also a floating date value depending on who you ask.

It appears that this amorphous effort was created due to dissension among the grognards at the new rule set (at the time it was 3rd edition) coupled by the fact that D&D gave these grognards the means to re-create the rule set of older editions, the Open Gaming License (OGL) and the System Reference Document (SRD).


So now we have a plethora of OD&D knock-offs. Now mind you, the ones that I found are free, so it is great credit to their creators. Unfortunately, I do not think it is for me. I liked 3rd edition and did not look for these references for the old D&D style. I believe that gaming with these systems will fall short of the original games I had back in my younger days. Why? One of the main reasons is that I am older now. I have been desensitized by my time on this planet and do not hold the world in wonder as I once did. A mad grasp at my childhood gaming would probably be an exercise in futility. Not that I would not be willing to try to game a little game with thee, but I just think old school gaming is not any better than any other gaming. As I always say, the best GM can make any game fun, and I have found the most fun is with games where we discover the rules.

So what's my point? Why rehash a bunch of information that others have already explained more thoughtfully and thoroughly than I have? Well, I discovered one small tidbit of information that I had not realized in the past. Some of you may have read my post on immersion versus mechanization called I Search the Dungeon for Anything. In it, I lamented how players interacted more with the world than in newer editions of the game, which seemed more to be a generalized attempt and allowing the rules to dictate the outcome of the actions. Looking at the revival rules it hit me... They don't have skills. This had been one of the driving points of character immersion. Players did not have a mechanic to gauge their own success at a given task; they were required to interact with their surroundings to determine if they would be successful at something.

So the question is, should we take skills out of the game, go back to 'proficiencies', or use something else entirely, like Collectible Card Abilities (groan)? I think that is something best discussed at a later date. I am curious as to what other people think: skills, class abilities, or just OSR in general

Further Reading

Undead, Undead, Undead

Watching the 'Walking Dead' yesterday got me thinking of a post-apocalyptic fantasy game where the living has become hordes of undead minions, the power of the faithful is waning, and those that believe in good are making one last stab at the heart of darkness that has spread across the land.

I think the idea would work in almost any fantasy related game; Shadowrun, for one, could be used to base this horrific reality. Using sources like 'All Flesh Must Be Eaten' or Dungeons & Dragons' 'Elder Evils' could provide some nice insight into running your own zombie game. I imagine that the start would be some plague/pox/sickness that spreads through the land as a pandemic, slowly changed the serene landscape into an overwhelming horde of macabre neophytes. Just exactly how to stop this could be the quest of long running campaign. Perhaps the ultimate goal is a very alive typhoid mary that must be purged by the Ankh of Ra.

How ever you plan to run this Festival of Blood (infamous shout) all I can say is 'C'mon get down with the sickness.'

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Who Goes There?

*****Warning: Spoiler Alert if you want to watch 'The Thing'*****

I rarely go out and watch movies on opening week-end, but one of my all time favorite movies is "John Carpenter's The Thing". When I heard that they were making a prequel to the movie, I was very excited. I was ecstatic that Marc Abraham and Eric Newman chose to do a prequel instead of a remake because the original movie was too good of a classic to ruin.

I went with a like minded friend who felt the same way about the original and was surprised to find similar opinions of the movie. While the movie was not as 'scary' as the original, I found many of the scenes very tense and, even though some of the surprises were cliche, they still startled me. Of our opinion, we found that many of the scenes were copied from the original movie, from the creature's initial escape, to the the burning of one of the camp members that was slowly being absorbed after a big fight. While it still works for the movie, it was a little disappointing to those who have seen the original. We agreed that that the movie falling to 'the blood test' would have ruined any originality the story might had brought to the table, but we were pleasantly surprised when they presented a different way to determine who may have been the alien. One thing that struck me as odd, was a particular scene when the lead character confronted the alien in human guise, knowing full well it was an alien before turning the torch on it. I do not know why, knowing it was the alien, she would not have tried to talk to an obviously advanced species. That is of course, other than the fact that it may ruin the plot of the second movie.

I would like to say the special effects were exceptional, and I will admit that that the special effects were coequality for what I have seen in the movies these days. But, the original movie's effects entranced me to the point of believability. The original movie was done so well in my opinion, that watching it nigh thirty years later has not lessened the movie the way others that have not withstood the test of time. One of my particular favorite parts of the new movie was the arm-centipedes. Where the arms came of one of the 'infected', sprouted legs, and attacked the Norwegian carrying the man. Here is a shot of him fighting it off.

One of the things that really impressed me was the care taken to make portions of the new movie fit into the original scenes of the original movie. I found that this movie answered any burning questions about the Norwegian camp those many years ago. This was a quote from Heisserer, the movies writer:

“It’s a really fascinating way to construct a story because we're doing it by autopsy, by examining very, very closely everything we know about the Norwegian camp and about the events that happened there from photos and video footage that’s recovered, from a visit to the base, the director, producer and I have gone through it countless times marking, you know, there’s a fire axe in the door, we have to account for that…we're having to reverse engineer it, so those details all matter to us ‘cause it all has to make sense.”
Eric Heisserer describing the process of creating a script
I found the movie quite enjoyable and would recommend any Sci-fi/Horror fan to go see it. I think the creator's attention to detail and respect for the original, outweigh any misgivings to fans of the original. The 'only' thing left to ask, is the rare cut scene of the sled dog running away from the human camp at the end of the first movie. This scene was only on some of the released for TV versions of the movie and I have found that I am one of the few people I know that have seen it. This leads to an interesting 'Will they do a Sequel?' question.

Further information:
Note: The pic of the thing is from Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials as discribed in the original Novella, of which you will not see in either movie.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Books on Tablets

A while ago I posted on the useful apps for the ipad. Since then I have started purchasing my gaming book digitally. Not only is it cheaper than buying a physical book, but I am able to carry multiple books, essentially, in the space of a single book. I do prefer reading a hardback book. Years of practice have made me adept at finger bookmarking for quick reference, but the e-book is slowly taking root in my being.

While perusing the internet, I came across an entry for the 'Song of Ice and Fire' RPG. This listing was for the tablet version of the game. It appears to be a PDF so I'm not sure how the "tablet version" handles better than a normal PDF. I'm normally against laptops, but I high recommend (flat adverb intended) using PDFs and tablets at games.

Further Reading:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Realistic Prices for Magical Items

I came up with the following price list for magical items. This is only a portion of the complete list, but please feel free to use it if so inclined:

Table: Medium Wondrous Items
d% Item Market Price
1 Boots of levitation Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
2 Harp of charming Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
3 Amulet of natural armor +2 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
4 "Golem manual, flesh" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
5 Hand of glory Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
6 "Ioun stone, deep red sphere" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
7 "Ioun stone, incandescent blue sphere" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
8 "Ioun stone, pale blue rhomboid" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
9 "Ioun stone, pink and green sphere" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
10 "Ioun stone, pink rhomboid" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
11 "Ioun stone, scarlet and blue sphere" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
12 Deck of illusions Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
13 Necklace of fireballs type VI Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
14 Candle of invocation Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
15 Bracers of armor +3 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
16 Cloak of resistance +3 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
17 Decanter of endless water Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
18 Necklace of adaptation Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
19 "Pearl of power, 3rd-level spell" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
20 Talisman of the sphere Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
21 "Figurine of wondrous power, serpentine owl" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
22 Necklace of fireballs type VII Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
23 "Strand of prayer beads, lesser" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
24 Bag of holding type IV Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
25 "Figurine of wondrous power, bronze griffon" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
26 "Figurine of wondrous power, ebony fly" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
27 Glove of storing Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
28 "Ioun stone, dark blue rhomboid" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
29 "Stone horse, courser" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
30 Cape of the mountebank Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
31 Phylactery of undead turning Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
32 Gauntlet of rust Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
33 Boots of speed Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
34 Goggles of night Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
35 "Golem manual, clay" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
36 Medallion of thoughts Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
37 Pipes of pain Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
38 Blessed book Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
39 "Belt, monk’s" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
40 Gem of brightness Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
41 Lyre of building Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
42 Cloak of arachnida Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
43 "Stone horse, destrier" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
44 Belt of dwarvenkind Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
45 Periapt of wound closure Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
46 Horn of the tritons Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
47 Pearl of the sirines Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
48 "Figurine of wondrous power, onyx dog" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
49 Amulet of health +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
50 Belt of giant Strength +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
51 "Boots, winged" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
52 Bracers of armor +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
53 Cloak of Charisma +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
54 Cloak of resistance +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
55 Gloves of Dexterity +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
56 Headband of intellect +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
57 "Pearl of power, 4th-level spell" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
58 Periapt of Wisdom +4 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
59 Scabbard of keen edges Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
60 "Figurine of wondrous power, golden lions" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
61 Chime of interruption Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
62 Broom of flying Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
63 "Figurine of wondrous power, marble elephant" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
64 Amulet of natural armor +3 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
65 "Ioun stone, iridescent spindle" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
66 Bracelet of friends Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
67 "Carpet of flying, 5 ft. by 5 ft." Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
68 Horn of blasting Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
69 "Ioun stone, pale lavender ellipsoid" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
70 "Ioun stone, pearly white spindle" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
71 Portable hole Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
72 Stone of good luck (luckstone) Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
73 "Figurine of wondrous power, ivory goats" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
74 Rope of entanglement Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
75 "Golem manual, stone" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
76 Mask of the skull Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
77 Mattock of the titans Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
78 "Circlet of blasting, major" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
79 Amulet of mighty fists +2 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
80 "Cloak of displacement, minor" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
81 Helm of underwater action Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
82 "Bracers of archery, greater" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
83 Bracers of armor +5 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
84 Cloak of resistance +5 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
85 Eyes of doom Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
86 "Pearl of power, 5th-level spell" Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
87 Maul of the titans Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
88 Strand of prayer beads Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
89 Cloak of the bat Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
90 Iron bands of binding Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
91 Cube of frost resistance Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
92 Helm of telepathy Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
93 Periapt of proof against poison Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
94 Robe of scintillating colors Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
95 Manual of bodily health +1 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
96 Manual of gainful exercise +1 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
97 Manual of quickness in action +1 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
98 Tome of clear thought +1 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
99 Tome of leadership and influence +1 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp
100 Tome of understanding +1 Insufficient Funds but willing to offer 50gp

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interview with RA Salvatore

Obsidian Portal recently had an interview with one of my favorite authors, R. A. Salvatore. I normally don't listen to interviews, but I decided to check it out on a whim. The interview was about Salvatore's Neverwinter books and the game of the same name. I must admit, I have fallen out of the Drizzt series, so I have no plans on picking up the book. It was interesting to hear Salvatore's Boston accent, and the interchange more informative than I would have guessed.

One of the items I found interesting was his explanation of trying to write a fight scene based in 4th editon, in a word "brutal". Salvatore states that it was a challenge for him to write a scene that followed the 4th edition rule set. 4th edition has so much 'crunch' and focuses more on effect that on action.

I have always enjoyed the freedom of action in a role-playing game. My characters tend to have a lot of panache and I prefer to to have a GM make an arbitrary call on my character's action. As a friend once commented, I like to play my characters like an action star of a John Woo film. I like my games to allow me to do so.

As always, your travels may vary, take what you like and leave the rest for the next traveller.

Further Reading/Listening

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life in the Burn

Phew!!! It's been a long and arduous month. I started this month deciding I would write up the various species (read the misnomer 'races') foe the OverBurn RPG. Well, along the way I got ideas for the dice mechanics, the skill system, and maybe a wee bit of writing difficulty. I finally finished the write-up on the species; it's a little unpolished but at least the section is finished.

So, what species am I putting into the game? Well, I've settled on seven distinct species that will give the players something to choose from. A few of the races are:

  • True Humans - Normal people that have evolved.
  • Rovdyr - Bipedal reptiles that have declared war on humans.
  • Ralshasa - Genetically created race of cat-people.
  • Gene-Borne Humans - Humans that were enhanced before the apocalypse.

The remaining species I'm leaving for the game, but I am quite happy with the turn out. Now to find someone to look them over.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Search the Dungeon for Anything

I am an old school gamer. The first gaming book I ever looked at was the Fiend Folio released in 1981. This book set the stage for me. The artwork was Lovecraftesque and those brits know how to make creepy monster.

Back in those days, there was a different style to gaming. The player was more involved with game and the character was more often just a set of guidelines by which you played the game. I feel more detached from the game then I did in those days. Far too often the game master describes the next room and the response turns into:
Player 1: I search for Traps.
Player 2: I search for Hidden doors.
Player 3: I search for treasure.
Player 4: I search the dungeon!!!
The players then roll the search skill and who ever rolls highest wins (not who rolls a successful search skill). So the game master slows and takes each one in stride.
Who is searching for traps?
[hands raise]
Roll your search. [spots the highest roll]
Ok, this is what you notice.
Then the next section is addressed.
Who is searching for hidden doors?
[hands raise]
Roll your search. [spots the highest roll]
Ok, you find a secret door and it leads to the next room.
Wait a minute!?! The person who rolled the highest is the same person who rolled the highest when checking for traps. Never mind the fact that he was searching for traps at the same time that I was looking for a secret door. Regardless of who finds it, the story advances the same so what's the difference? Well for me I just stop rolling skill checks. Invariably there is someone out there who has power sank more points in the appropriated skills and unless I'm playing a Rogue, I never seem to have the points to really make a difference. Not that it maters much because I don't feel the What-Roll-success!!! is actual role-playing. I recall my early sessions going something like:
GM: [Describes the room] What do you do?
Player 1: I'm going to the north wall and searching for any seams that may indicate a secret door.
Player 2: Yeah, I'm going to do the same on the east wall, but since its a flagstone wall unlike the others, I'm going to press on the flagstones to see if there's a hidden switch.
Player 3. I'll help out by searching the south wall.
Player 4: and I'll take the west wall.
DM: Player 1, the north wall is smooth stones. If there are any seems, a master dwarf mason would have to spot it. Player 2 you find a loose flagstone, it doesn't appear to be a switch but it appears you can pry it loose. Player 3, you find an iron ring set into the wall. You see the seems of the block it is set in and it appears to be a 3 foot by 3 foot section of the wall. Player 4, the south wall is as non-nondescript as the north wall.
Player 3: Hey guys I found a ring. *Is it a like a prison ring to shackle someone?
DM: You see grate marks on the floor, as if it has been pulled out a drug across the stone floor.
Player 3: Hey Player 1, you're pretty strong. Can you pull this out?
Player 1: I attempt pull out the stone.
GM: You pull out the stone block which turns out to be a 3 foot cube.
Player 2: Wait a minute, I look closely at the ceiling to see if I notice anything.
GM: In the shadowy darkness of the ceiling you can barely make out a black square. You believe that if you stand on the block, you could peer into the abyss.
There may have been some rolls mixed in there, but you never really knew if was a roll to reveal something, or just a roll to throw you off. Suffice it to say, you would immerse yourself into the world more, where now you seem to immerse yourself into the rules. You spend a large amount of time scouring the rules for something that would be useful, or else you pick up something that you might be able to in some rare situation.

Mind you this all prior 4th edition. The latest and greatest edition of D&D appears that it would help go back to that old style gaming; Combat is set, stream lined, no arguments, and everything is spelled out. Well not exactly, 4th edition suffers from information overload, and most of it in regards to combat maneuvers. Sure its easy to run a combat, but honestly, you have no leeway to actually role-play.

Lets take the benchmark spell Fireball. So now a fireball fills a certain number of squares and you know exactly where to place it for maximum effectiveness. 3rd edition is the same and I don't like it much either. But look back at a previous edition to that:
Area of Effect: 20-foot radius
Desription: [...] The fireball fills an area equal to its normal physical volume (roughly 33,000 cubic feet -- thirty-three 10' x 10' x 10' cubes).
How many of you just looked at the 20' radius and made the grievous error of casting fireball in a dungeon? That was a good session and one I still recall 20+ years later. The dawn of understanding on all of our faces and the ensuing argument as we had to run from the dungeon we were exploring.

I recall a similar incident in Shadowrun where the dwarf mage my friend was playing misread the area of effect as 3 feet per level as opposed to the 3 meters per level that it was. After casting the spell the GM asked all of us to make resistance tests and all the razors in the party promptly crumbled to the asphalt. After confirming the mistake, my friend apologized profusely but we never let him live it down "Dive for cover, he's casting a spell!!!"

I believe it is these moments that are lost with an expansive rule-set. When players immerse themselves in their character sheet and not the world they are gaming in. Where actions are determined by a roll of the dice and not by actual actions. When you stop describing new ways for your fighter to swing his sword and settle for saying "I swing my sword, or I play this action".

As always, your travels may vary. Please take what you like and leave the rest for the next traveler.

Further Reading

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Can't get away from that Elf (a)

One of the problems I have faced, being a gamer, is shelf space. RPG books, Miniatures, terrain, collectible card boxes, board games, and accessories created from items that you dream up new uses for, all clutter your respectable living space. At one point I had four 3' x 6' bookshelves filled with just gaming books; the other stuff filled two closets.

The problem with this is the fact that all the items in the closet end up being stacked on top of each other and you have, at times, an 8' stack of gaming stuff and you need something from the bin at the bottom of the stack. At that point I:
"...trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,"
Ironically, this happens to coincide with a recent post from a friend, called GenCon: Models, that mentions the multitude of terrain he witnessed at Gencon. In my draw down of gaming material, I given away almost all of my terrain, including a couple sets of Dwarven Forge to supplement a friends collection.

The next portion of my gaming redesign was to redo my closet to be more 'gamer' friendly. I was able to accomplish this by installing an Elfa System form the container store. I haven't done this previously because the system is not cheap. My wife was able to find a pre-used system that had enough to do four closets at about 15% of the store price. This allowed me to create a multitude of short shelves to store things like minis or games without have to stack them too high. The Elfa System also has specialized pieces like drawers you can install, but nothing specifically for gaming.

To finish, if you have a free wall and want to maximize space use, I highly recommend a shelving system that allows you to set shelves at various heights and introduce more shelves whenever you need them. If you know another shelving system, please feel free to comment.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I have set a goal to downsize my gaming collection and cataloging my books. Today I worked on cataloging my Earthdawn books. As many of you probably know, Earthdawn is my fantasy game of choice. The cataloging went relatively quick as I decided to use springpad to keep a list of my books. Springpad has an iphone app that allows me to lookup items by barcode. So basically, I just scanned in the barcode for my books and I had them in a neat little folder for me to reference in the future. There were a few issues. Springpad pulls the info from an applicable source. Usually for books it's amazon, so you have to deal with entries that may not have a picture or that springpad could not find entries for, which was the case for the classic edition books.

In the end, it made a daunting task more manageable. I plan on using springpad for note-taking on the ipad during games which may be very useful. Springpad recently enabled facebook integration so that you can see common recommendations from your friends for things like movies or books. This has got me wondering if you can incorporate it like a giant web of common RPG objects. For example, people could create a random character make it public on springpad and publish to facebook so you have a veritable rouges gallery of your friend items.

I will have to look into this more in the future. If you are interested:

Don't Be A Dick

Happy Labor Day

I've been spending a bit of time reading other blogs and gathering advice. I recently perused a couple of articles that lamented on the pitfalls of a game master (GM) pulling dick callings. Apparently a GM is a dick if you don't allow a character to pick up his dropped weapon after a fight. I then realized that: I'm a dick. Because of GMs like me, tighter rules must be implemented to the point that there is no question on what happens on the battlefield. Then you get "better" games like Dungeons & Dragons, 4th edition where a couple of "dipshits" can't argue about rules.

That's right, I caused 4th edition because I'm a dick.

So apparently, not only does the GM have spend time detailing the whole world, but he must also assume to know all the character's daily habits and their particular brand of 'common sense', because we all know their are people out there you wonder about their intelligence. I'd like to point out this is 'common sense', not 'universal sense'.

Not ironically, I was gaming a couple weeks ago and my character had to throw down his scimitars. At the end the battle, I stated my character went back and picked them up. Not that it would be detrimental to my character, he had two more swords, but I don't see why it is so hard to manage your one character. A GM is probably a dick too, if he does not allow you to pack your backpack like a Heward's Handy Haversack. Because you always pack so the item you need is at the top of the backpack to be grabbed in 3 seconds, no matter what it is because that is what the rules state.

Now I agree that there are some dick maneuvers out there: changing an opponents actions after the player states his actions, 'targeting' players continuously for no reason, having something bad happen to a player and not allowing any sort of roll. All of which have happened to me, but I didn't think the GM was being a dick, I just assumed there was some other plot device that I was not aware of.

Fudging dice rolls is another dick maneuver. Which I find hilarious because I fudge dice rolls 'ALL THE TIME'. I find this keep players alive longer and manages better continuity to the games. All of my players know I roll amazingly well as a GM (not as a player though), and many times this has resulted in a player's death because I usually roll in front of the players. I do not GM D&D, but the scene would be something to the effect of:

A kobold runs in a chucks a javelin at your character. [roll] Natural 20 [roll] A 20 again {player gasps} [roll] three 20s in a row. You guys wanted to play with the instant kill rule, sorry but the javelin hit your character right in the eye skewering his brain, and killing your 9th level fighter. Sorry man, I would fudge the dice roll, but I don't want to be a dick.

It appears that I have gone on a rant. Not my intention, but then again, I am apparently a dick. But the next time the GM does something that you do not agree with, roll with it, play it out. If your game master 'is' being a dick, it's probably because the guy is a dick, and you should be able to tell at more than just the table.

For further reading:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Glass Sea of Trinity

There was a recent article on Gnome Stew called Quick and Dirty Location Template. The article presents a template on how to create a quick blurb on a location for you your game with relative ease. This is an excellent template that I plan on using to detail locations for may game before writing up larger articles. Below is one of the locations I created in less than five minutes.

Name: Glass Sea of Trinity

Ambiance: A harsh desert covered with jagged chunks of fused glass.

History: Rumored to be unihabitable, high radiation level cause it to be highly avoided.

Encounters: Centicores have been sighted at the edges of the Glass Sea. Cannabilistic humanoids and a strange species of Glass Sea Roaches can also be encounters.

Treasure: Very little can be found of use in the Glass Sea, the only salvagable items are irradated chunks of glass, called glow rocks, that give off light.

Hooks and Hotspots: Some scavengers want to travel to the Glass Sea to retreive glow rocks as a cheap form of light for their town. The party is hired to provide protection while they search.

Historic Note: Trinity was the location of the first nuclear testing, the rest melted the sand and create fused chunks of glass.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gaining Momentum

Or as I like to say, "Going into Overburn."

Just a quick note. I've recently procured the aid of a couple of friends to assist me with the Overburn RPG. I am hoping with the new infusion of Blood Burners, we can make some headway into The Burn. I would like to take this time to welcome these two to The Burn and I hope their addition bears fruit.

To expound on what I'm doing here I want to set some goals I have for the project. This is inspired by Rob Lang's article on designer notes for the Icar RPG, of which I have bee a long time fan.
As a designer, the author is often asked why Icar was designed in a certain way. This page attempts to outline what decisions were made and how this affects the style of the game. A set of Designer's Notes, you could say.

Lang, Rob. "Designer's Notes." Icar Free Sci Fi RPG - Home. Web. 22 Aug. 2011. .
If you read through the article, you will find a list of goals for creating a high quality RPG. I would like to take a moment to state my on ideas for my game.

  1. Produce a High Quality Game.
  2. Simplistic in Design
  3. Easy to Grasp
  4. Unique in Scope
  5. Intriguing in Setting
  6. Entertaining to Play

I plan to revisit this and see how my idea evolves as the game does. Hopefully the end result will be something that surprises my friends.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Runner's Toolkit for Shadowrun

As I was out and about yesterday, I purchased the Runner's Toolkit for Shadowrun. This fulfills my quarterly support for the local gaming shop. Although I paid 50% more than purchasing it on-line, the thrill of buying something on a spur of the moment could not be denied. Normally, I would not of have bought something like this as most of the items are just re-hashed material from the other books. Here is a list of what comes in the Runner's Toolkit:

  • On the Run, one of Shadowrun’s most popular introductory adventures
  • Contacts, Adventures and Sprawl Sites, a booklet that gives you the who, the what, and the where to launch runners on new missions
  • The Pre-generated Auxiliary Character and Kit System, a modular system that makes character and NPC generation simple while keeping characters highly customizable
  • Anatomy of a Shadowrun, a two-column book; one column tells the story of a high-stakes run, while the other details the tests and rules that players involved in the run would encounter, giving gamesters insight into how a Shadowrun game flows
  • Six double-sided quick-reference sheets that, with the gamemaster’s screen, greatly reduces the time spent flipping through books to find a particular rule
  • A book compiling tables from Arsenal, Street Magic, Augmentation and Unwired—it’s the ultimate shopping list for runners
It was this last book that caught my attention. I have always been agitated on how the powers that be chose to break-up the equipment list. In SR4, not only did you have the annoying task of looking up multiple books, but you had to flip through the book to find a stat you forgot, say the AP rating of your pistol. I think that this booklet here makes the set worth it. But I also got a cool Shadowrun sticker to put on my netbook. This was the icing on the cake.

Monday, August 1, 2011

An Auspicious August

So today starts a new month, and to that end, I endeavore to get back into the swing of things. I am back in my house, inventoring my gaming collection. I still have a lot of boxes and unpacking, but at least now, I can see the torch light glinting off the dragon's hoard at the end of the tunnel. Although my internet connection does not appear to be working (yet), I plan to continue to work on what I can, as time provides. There is alot that I have on my plate this month, so here's an overview.

Overburn - I am currently behind on this. August was suppose to be the month that I worked on Psionics for the game, but I am behind for July. Hopefully I can put the hornes to the grindstone and get back on track.

Omega Rising - an old sci-fi gamesite that I'm trying to get my old content back up on.

Seer's Sight - My general gaming blog. No real work to have to do here, just keep people updated with ideas.

Earthdawn Publishing Trust - Eartdawn site that I need to catch up on a lot of work on.

General Server Administration - I have recently changed servers and I need to move the rest of my files so that I can close down the extra server.

There is probaby more that I need to do and I'll add it to the list as it comes to me.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Follow Us On Facebook

For some reason I find this extremely funny. I find the use of Facebook a diametrical battle within my soul. On one side, I believe the use of Facebook to be akin to selling out to mass appeal and low-end production. The other side believes that one should use any means necessary to reach your target audience. Since I'm not trying to make any money off this, I think my soul will be safe if I use the current cash cow of social marketing.

That said, I have created a Facebook page for the Star Frontiers game. If you like, please feel free to click the link:


Monday, June 20, 2011

The Website is Down (Not really)

Greetings Wastelanders,

I have not had a chance to think of anything interesting to post, due to the recent fire. I have taken a haitus from game mastering and the work on Overburn has been put on the back burner. I have still done a work on the game here and there, but not enough to post an in depth update.

Another member of my group has agreed to start his own D&D 3.5 campaign and I am quite stoked (fire puns may ensue) about the possibilities. I have never liked the orcs in D&D, prefering more fleshed out versions in other games. But, the GMs world proves more interesting than the stock race from D&D, as a result, I am playing a Sharaki. Sharaki in the game world is a race of ork that was a slave race to the illithid and bred with other races to make a smarter orc. They managed to escape the illithid during a rebellion and they are a seperate distinct species of orc in the world. I am also playing a twin brother to another player in the game, so the game should prove interesting.

With Overburn I have made some progress with the species of the game, trying hard not to copy the awesomeness of the Fallout series. I currently have seven different species in the game that I am happy with. Hopefully, I'll be able to post more information on the different species, but they need a little more work.

As always, please feel free to comment.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Taking Initiative of Initiative

Despite everything that has been happening, I have been trying to keep up on my six-month plan for OverBurn. While my notes are a scattered and unrefined, I have to call a success for May. I was able to finish my three goals for that month.

  • 6 month Plan
  • Chapter Outline
  • Core mechanics
I wanted to have more of an actual rough draft for the the core mechanic, but I have found that putting my ideas to cohesive words to be more difficult than I thought. To recap, here are my goals for this month.

  • Archetypes
  • Races
  • Skills
I am well on my way with this section as I have nine basic archetypes, or classes if you will, and four unique species; I don't know why we call them races.

The mechanic I wanted to discuss in this article is 'Initiative'. Initiative plays a crucial part in combat and there are several types to consider: Fixed rating, roll once per combat, roll every round, count down (rolled or fixed), count up, speed or advantage. The initiative that I am leaning to is a simple d6 roll and you count down from 6, this is different that the count down method, but it gives a pecking order to initiative. Why did I choose this method? because it is quick and easy. It allows for the round to be more dynamic as different people take the lead each round and must contend with unexpected combat shifts. It also keeps initiative quick so that it is not another aspect that bogs down combat.

There are some additional rules that I am adding to make combat more interesting. For one, a character cannot take an action against someone who is die-a-metrically opposed on the die. This means your init and your opponents init can not add up to seven. If you are going on a 6, you cannot attack someone going on a 1; if you are going on a 3, you cannot attack someone going on a 4; etc. I do not think this will be overly detrimental to players, but should add a few interesting situations. I am curious as to peoples opinions of Initiative and what they prefer to use. Also, if you have any questions on the ones I have listed, I will be happy to elaborate.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Equipment: Solar Crank Flashlight

In the post apocalyptic future, light is provided by the sun, moon, and stars. Cities and towns have been thrust back to the dark ages and having decent lighting at night requires some type of open flame. Candle makers are once again in high demand, but every little apocalyptic town may not have someone skilled in the arts of candle making.

Most flashlights are useless since batteries have long since expired. Anything that can provide light without needing to be ignited, would be worth killing for to the right people. While I was out, I came across this flashlight from Goal Zero. It is a LED flashlight with solar cells for recharging. For those times when you do not have the sun to recharge the batteries, there is a a hand crack to recharge the light. I thought this would make a highly prized item in a post apocalyptic world. If you would like to get one yourself, they run 39.95 and you can purchase it at your local Target.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

From the Dark Heart of Tartarus I Stab At Thee

So today had the unique experience of wading through my house after my eldest left a candle burning before she escaped to school. I walked through water-soaked, smoke and soot filled rooms as the fire marshal explained how he determined the source of the fire. It was strangely surrealistic and I was too tired from previous skulduggery to work up enough emotion to be angry.

Several calls to the insurance company and, after taking a long shower, I finally sit down to put this missive in. And yet in this new, smoke-free environment, I can still smell the smoke and soot that had penetrated my clothing. I spent an hour, maybe an hour and a half, in the house after the fire. The fire was contained to my daughter's room and the adjoining bathroom, but the soot prevailed everywhere. I grabbed a few items from the far end of the house and when I looked down at my hands, they were black with soot. By the end of the evening, my wife's eyes were stinging, her throat was closing due to the ash in the air, and we both were favoring aching heads.

So the next time your players decide to plane hop down to the lower hells, I would highly suggest to impart a penalty for traveling through such an inhospitable environment. Make it cumulative for the length they spend there and be sure to make their time in the ash and soot as annoyingly memorable as possible.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Escape from New York

Escape from New YorkIn my efforts to recapture the Post Apoclyptic (PA) genre of my youth, I'm going back and watching old movies that inspired me. This weekend I watched the 1981 movie: John Carpenter's Escape from New York. I included Carpenter's name because he made some of my favorite movies of that time.

In the future, crime is out of control and New York City is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables.
-- Written by Anthony Pereyra, IMDB

Escape from New York is not a true apocalyptic future, but the city is a good rendition of what may happen in a lawless city. The city was ruled by the "Duke" of New York and can easily transposed to a slaver type hierarchy. I fount the use of titles interesting as I did not think what people might call themselves in the apocalyptic future. In The Postman, the main antagonist was know as "the general", but it did not strike me as important as someone calling themselves "the duke".

The underground dwelling "crazies" that came out at the end of the month to find food was another nugget, and I had planned to have a race of nocturnal humans that shunned light, but were not necessarily cannibalistic, which is the general imprission I felt. One of the ideas that my wife offered for a post apocalyptic character class was a 'squaker' to represent the story teller of the apocolyptia future.

I do not want to go into the movie on how out dated the movie was. While searching for the cover image, I learned that there was a remake of the movie in the works. One last note that caught my eye in the movie was the graffiti "FTW" in the movie. I noticed this a couple of times and immediately thought of "For The Win". Being a 1981 movie, it is unlikely that anyone would know this term would be a common phrase in the future and it is highly more likely to be some set decorator's initials.

For The Win!

I am interested in what people think story tellers in a apocalyptic future would be called.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Being Proactively Creative (or Creatively Proactive)

While I blather on with what I did about this and how I plan to accomplish that, I have found that I don't have enough time to do anything, much less keep up on a blog. I have not made it to bed bedfore midnight this week and I have to be up by 5 am for work. I must admit that I am quite tired.

So I decided to focus this article on what I am doing on the production side of the coin. Knowing some game producers, I follow one on facebook that provided this nice little article, Creativity Is More Practice Than Magic. It basically encourages you to proactively seek out ways to hone your creative skills, I was a little disappointed it didn't provide any tips, but I have an idea of what I want to look for in this next week.

I also follow behance's sight 99% which deals with ideation and following through with actions. I found thier article How To Set Smart Daily Goals enlightening and I tried implementing their 90 minutes to focus on a task. I plan on writing out some goals over the next week.

I would like to also give a shout out to Brennan of Galileo Games who took the time to answer my questions on producing a role-playing game. They currently have a Science Fiction game on Kickestarter called Bulldogs! that looks cool. If you like RPGs, I highly recomend checking out these indie game producers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Defiler's Curse Now Available!

From the Earthdawn website.

Avarrin Quickhand and Therese Rothgard are experienced adepts enjoying a rest in Kratas. But the dangerous City of Thieves has other ideas.

A chance encounter with a young windling begins a hazardous journey across the wilderness of Barsaive, in search of a long-forgotten kaer. But what these two adepts discover upon reaching their destination may change their lives forever.

With help from the elf Wizard, Vion; Raddash the troll Nethermancer; and even Garlthik One-Eye and his infamous gang, only these powerful adepts can confront the ancient evil that dwells within Kaer Thardinn.

But at what cost...?

RedBrick LLC is pleased to announce that Defiler's Curse, written by Donovan Winch, is now available as paperback and deluxe hardcover. An eBook edition will follow shortly

The Rule of Fibs

Through my many years of gaming, I've always had a problem with 'experience' systems. I never realized this problem; it normally just materialized into a frustration with the game. I have since discovered the beauty of Fibonacci. So what is Fibonacci? I like to call it the rule of life, the system is related to the golden ratio and a basis for how living things grow. I am not a Mathematician so my answer may not be 100% accurate (but that's it in a nutshell).
So what does this have to do with experience in a role-laying game? Well, in my opinion, the problem with most experience systems is that they allow characters to quickly ascend to levels that puts them above the mean of the game. This lends to a unsatisfying scenarios as many of the challenges are beneath the player. Fibonacci allows a game master to put a limit on progression without actually placing a limit. There becomes a point when acquiring the next level is just not as feasible. Lets compare a Fibonacci experience system to D&D 3.5, as I still haven't had the urge to buy the 4th edition books.
Level 1 0
Level 2 1,000
Level 3 2,000
Level 4 3,000
Level 5 5,000
Level 6 8,000
Level 7 13,000
Level 8 21,000
Level 9 34,000
Level 10 55,000
Level 11 89,000
Level 12 144,000
Level 13 233,000
Level 14 377,000
Level 15 610,000
Level 16 987,000
Level 17 1,597,000
Level 18 2,584,000
Level 19 4,181,000
Level 20 6,765,000
As you can see, by the time you hit 20th Level it will cost 6.7 mil+ as oppose to 190,000 it costs in D&D. I know what some are saying: "That cost's too much." and for D&D, I agree with you. But for a RPG that you pump experience directly into skills/powers, this rule is great. It prevents people from overloading one skill/power. Players who want to get the most for their experience will spread it around causing something that is difficult to find, a well rounded character.
This is the system I decided to use for experience in OverBurn. I also present this video which helps illustrate Fibonacci.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blight Dwarf

In one of my recent earthdawn games, the party descended into a corrupted kear to gain a powerful artifact. I did not want to throw out one of the standard creatures, so I started looking for something to design an encounter with. I recalled the following image from the new D&D 4ed adventure, The Kingdom of the Ghouls (iirc). Since the kaer was an old dwarven stronghold, this image fit perfectly for my more corrupted inhabitants.

Blight DwarfBlight Dwarf

DEX: 6
STR: 9
TOU: 8
PER: 5
WIL: 8
CHA: 4

Initiative: 6

Physical Defense: 9
Spell Defense: 10
Social Defense: 14

Number of Actions: 2
Attack (2): 16
Damage: Claws 19

Physical Armor: 4 (skin)
Mystic Armor: 2

Death Rating: 54
Wound Threshold: 14
Unconsciousness Rating: 46
Recovery Tests: 6
Knockdown: 9

Combat Movement: 5

Description: Blight dwarfs were some of the first dwarfs to be corrupted in Kaer Korinth. Scythan Dwarfs are a proud and honorable people, but they are also known for there love of gold and gems. Yethshg’la exploited this weakness and turned the Korinthians against one another. Blight dwarfs are a mockery of their former lives, hating everything except gold and gems. A single gem, a reminder of their selfish curse, burns within their forehead. Blight dwarfs will fight until slain, but fleeing dwarfs have found that throwing gold and gems will cause them to pause long enough to pick up the treasure.

Legend Points: Journeyman

Equipment: None
Loot: Gem set in forehead worth D6 × 50 silver pieces (counts as treasure worth Legend Points).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Necromancers, sheesh.

I wonder if this is how necromancers spend their childhood.

Overburn: Table of Contents

I did not rest on my laurels this weekend and came up with a rough draft of the chapter outline. Without a bunch of foofaraw, that's my new word, I present the OverBurn Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter covers the introduction into the OverBurn game. It includes:

1.    Opening

2.    A fictional short story

3.    History of the OverBurn world.

4.    Game concepts

Chapter 2: Character Generation

This chapter covers most things that you need to know in order to create a character for the game. Includes:

1.    Creation Rules

2.    Sample Archetypes

Chapter 3: Species

          This chapter covers the major species in the game.

Chapter 4 : Skills

This chapter covers the various skills that exist in the game.

Chapter 5 : Combat

This chapter covers combat, duh.

Chapter 6: Psionic Rules

This chapter covers the use of psionics in the game.

Chapter 7 : GameMaster's Information

This chapter gives the background information that only the referee should really know.

Chapter 8 : Equipment

This chapter lists a variety of items that characters can buy (acquire) in the game.

Chapter 9 : Scenarios

This chapter will contain any scenarios created by the authors and playtesters which are considered to be worth distributing.

Appendix 1 : Bibliography

Appendix 2 : Credits

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"It worked! I am alive, alive!!!"

The red dragon is slowly rising, its eyelids painfully cracking open. The dragon turns back and looks at you, a leer now crackling onto its feature.

If your gamemaster is true to the game, one of the most frightening things your party can encounter is a dracolich, an undead dragon returned from the nether realms.


If that dragon happens to a polyhedral dragon, you may want to want organize your party and head out on a dragon hunt. That was a bit longer intro than I had planned, but I wanted to give a shout out to the makers of:

Dragon dice was on of the games that never really took off in the circles I played. I have a number of Dragon Dice thet I have kept over the years, but I only played it once. The game came out in the mid-ninties, and I thought it died off like so many other TSR/WotC projects. But in reality, the game has been alive an well all these years. The game was sold to a game company called SRF Inc. Like so many other hobbies, there are some die hard Dragon Dice fans. If you are one of those fans, I am sure you are already aware of this, but for those who wondered who ever wondered what happened to the game, happy dragon hunting.

P.S. The title and the intro are excepts from the adventure "Fighter's Challenge" by John Terra.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

You Stink Pretty

Concerned about odiferous emminations at the game?

Didn't have time to shower before heading out to kill that Tarrasque?

Looking to impress that special someone at the next session?

Well polyhedrites, there's now specialized fragrance for just you in mind. Black Pheonix Alchemy Labs has created a line fragrances to scentualize your favorite character concept. Want to play a Chaotic Neutral Orc Ranger? There's a scent for that; and let me say ewww in advance. Want to play a Neutral Good Elf Cleric? There's a heavenily scent for that. No longer will they claim that gamers smell funny, now they will just say "Man he is mad method!!! Always in character."

Seriously, I once heard that a good environment is one that caters to at least three of our five senses. Roleplaying games are highly imiaginitive and our imiaginations do not always agree. I have seen some very impressive 'gaming rooms' on the grid, and many use props and mood music to help the players envision the game. This helps with the vision and sound to set the mood of the game. Black Pheonix offers gothic scents to help bring that third element and put you closer into the game. Here is an excerpt for their main page.

We specialize in formulating body and household blends with a dark, romantic Gothic tone. Our scents run the aesthetic gamut of magickal, pagan and mythological blends, Renaissance, Medieval and Victorian formulas, and horror / Gothic-themed scents. By utilizing our knowledge of homeopathy and aromatherapy, the conceptual theories of hermetic alchemy, and the aesthetic artistry of perfumery, we have mastered the art of encapsulating allegorical ideas into singular olfactory experiences. We are the first of our kind, and have over fifteen years of practical experience in the field. Our expertise shows.

I've never been one for girly perfumes, as most people know I call stink-pretty. But I think that adding some gothic-themed hermetic alchemy may just push your session into a new level of awesomeness. That is, of course, if Chaotic-evil Dwarf Fighter doesn't smell like the inside of a demon's cod piece.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hey Barkeep, A Round of Tea for My Friends

Ever since I could remember, when our characters made it to some quaint hamlet after a month-long, arduous trek through the hinterlands, maybe 30 minutes game time if there was an encounter, our first order of business was a bee line to the local tavern. I am unsure why every hamlet had a working inn and tavern, but it was high time our characters were able to do some carousing, I remind you again, this is in a hamlet.

From dwarven spirits to elven Firewine, obsidianman Rolling Rock to Blue Troll Ale, ork Hurlg, made from fermented animal fat, to halfling cheeeeeese wine, there has been no shortage of alcohol to choose from even in my younger days. Now that I'm older and, I like to think, a bit more refined, I look for new aspects to give characters added depth.

I purchased a tea pot for my wife on her birthday, with it came a sampling set of various teas and an informational book on tea. As I was doing more research on tea, I found that many cultures have special ways for serving tea. I was aware of the Japanese tea ceremony, but did not realize how tea worked in to the social aspect of life. Even in England, when you mention tea, it is implied that there will be food accompanying the tea. A 'spot of tea' is usually how you reference tea on its own.

Well this got me wanting to play a character that chooses tea over other forms of drink. I never really preferred monks in my fantasy game, but a far eastern monk type character would seem appropriate. And what type of tea does he prefer? Dragon Well tea of course, right before he hits you with a Dragon Punch.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sky Raider Crystal Knuckles

Mordom posted this picture over at the Earthdawn Blog: Crystal Raider Brass Knuckes. This stoked my imagination and I wrote up some quick stats for it.

Crystal Knuckles

Common Thread Item

Maximum Threads: 2

Spell Defense: 13

Legen Point Cost: Journeyman

Damage Step: 3

It is said that the first Crystal knuckles were created when the first mate, Khoran Bloodhorn, of the the Blackfang moot's drakkar, the Mourning Glory, challenged the T'skrang warrior K'srak T'sir to ritual combat in order to see the ship's captain. The veteran sky raider was several circles above the warrior and confident in his fighting abilities; he allowed the challengee to choose the weapon of combat. Without hesitation, K'srak chose unarmed combat and started the combat without hesitating. K'srak had travelled with a sky raider for many years and knew that sky raiders did not focus on unarmed combat the same that warriors did. The fight only lasted a few minutes and Khoran learned that a well trained warrior, even one of a lower circle, was not to be trifled with.

Rank 1

The wearer adds +1 rank to his unarmed combat talent, or gains the Unarmed Combat talent at Rank 1 if he does not have it.

Crystal Knuckles damage step increases by +1.

Rank 2

Trap - The character gains the ability to trap unarmed attacks. For 2 points of strain, the character makes Trap Test equal to his Dexterity Step + the thread Rank woven to the crystal Knuckles. The Target Number is the result of the Unarmed Combat Test. If successful, the character takes no damage from the attack. The wearer of the Crystal Knuckles can make one Trap Test per unarmed attack in a round.

Rank 3

The wearer adds +2 rank to his Unarmed Combat talent, or gains the Unarmed Combat Talent at Rank 2 if he does not have it.

The wearer's Physical Defense increases by +1

Rank 4

The wearer adds +3 rank to his Unarmed Combat talent, or gains the Unarmed Combat Talent at Rank 3 if he does not have it.

Crystal Knuckles damage step increases by +2.

Rank 5

Counter Strike - The wearer of Crystal Knuckles gains the ability to Counter Strike an unarmed attack. For 3 points of Strain, the characater makes a CounterStrike equal to his Dexterity Step + the thread Rank woven to the crystal Knuckles +5. The Target Number is the result of the opponent's Unarmed Combat Test. If successful, the result is compared to the opponent's Physical Defense. If the result is higher than his opponent's Physical Defense, then damage is applied as if the Counter Strike was a successful Unarmed Combat Test, using the Crystal Knuckles for damage. The wearer of the Crystal Knuckles can make one Counter Strike Test per turn.

Overburn 6 Month Plan

I meant to post this a little while ago, but was hesitant to lay it on the line. Since the 6 month plan does not really give away any details to the game, I figured why not? So here is the my plan for the game so far. The first bullet of may is complete and I hope to have the second, and part of the the third further along this week end.


  • 6 month Plan
  • Chapter Outline
  • Core mechanics

  • Archetypes
  • Races
  • Skills
  • Equipment
  • Experience
  • critters
  • Psionics
  • additional crunch
  • additional fluff
  • Working copy

On a side note. In six months I should be relocated to our new facility and my commute time will be reduced greatly. Right now I'm suffering through it, but I hope in 6 months I wil be able to put more effort into Overburn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The State of Role Playing

Type I Demon

Well not really. I just saw a promotional video Dungeons & Dragons and it made me laugh. With the advent of the internet, I've seen a lot more peddling for RPGs and honestly it's good for the industry. I find it funny that many people consider D&D as a 'nerd' game as I don't consider it as much anymore. I recently watched a video about D&D Encounters and coupled with the new 4th Ed. Rules, D&D feels more then ever like a board game and less like an RPG.

Classic D&D

Don't get me wrong, there will always be warm spot in my heart for Dungeons & Dragons... Luckily I don't consider the current name-bearer Dungeons & Dragons. It's kinda like what they did with Coke, sure it has the name but that does not mean the product is the same. I like my games to be equal or more on the fluff side than on the crunch side. Oh, and using the old packaging does not make the new game more like the classic.

I remember back in the day when my friends were not allowed to own the books; the term 'From the makers of Dungeons and Dragons' had to be blacked-out on the other games like Gama World and Star Frontiers so that thet were not burned in holy intervention while the family priest performed an a excorcism of a Type I Demon (see pic above). I still feel weird about playing in a public place and while I am more comfortable with my hobby, I rarely try to upsell role-playing to others (even to console jockeys).

So the State of Role Playing is good these days and I'm glad it's getting more facetime. I am of the opinion that a good Game Master (GM) can make any game enjoyable and D&D did throttle the power gamers so that Rules Rapists had a harder time usurping the game. I am going to give 4E another try one day, but until that day comes I offer the follow video:

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Wife the Goddess

I recently had the oppurtunity to contribute a diety to the game Azamar. Although I had a couple of ideas, I wanted to honor my wife for putting up with my many years of gaming. Here is a picture from the artisist blog.

Syndia of the Cliffs

Syndia of the Cliffs, the Goddess of the Moon, the Enlightened One, the Shining Lady.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dream a Little Dream


Last night I had a strange dream. To be honest, I suffer from sleep apnia so I tend to not hit REM state very long. Any dream I have would qualify for a strange night. That being said, I am not one who writes down their dreams or ponders its significant. I usually toss it to the the bit bucket and proceed with my day. This dream was a little different, it took the form of a post apocolyptic trip, probably heavily influence by FallOut 3, throught the wasteland to battle the evil deeds of the "Family". The Family consisted of the several "raider" factions who's leaders were siblings. The were fighting each other try and win the other factions members, talk about sibling rivalry. I decided that instead of letting this one slide, I would post it and leave myself a little not on things to do.

To do list:

  • Freebie mini-adventure: Sibling Rivalry.

(There is my Avatar as NeoProxy from the game)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Damage System

One of the many aspects of gaming I have run into is the propensity to turn combat into statistics. I love new players because they attempt to visualize combat in actions and not bonuses or penalties. I often see new players stand and enact what they envision their character doing, where more experienced players a willing to let the die roll speak for their succes.

To this end, I am leaning towards a damage system with levels. This adds at least a little flavor to damage when a character rolls. I based the levels from wound levels used in hospitals. I made some revisions so that all the levels start with a different letter (for speed and brevity in the game). The levels I have thus far are:

  • Light Wound
  • Moderate Wound
  • Excessive Wound
  • Serious Wound
  • Crippling Wound
  • Fatal Wound
The damage right now is based on a Fibinacci system, much like the entire game is. The more successes you get, the amount of damage goes up dramatically. I hope I can make the system exciting, without making it unbalanced. but only play-testing will tell.

A New Blog Deserves a New Tool

Having started multiple blogs and not really having time for any. I found a, thus far, nice utility  for blogging. The utility is a chrome extension called ScribeFire, and it lets you post an article on multiple blogs. I fine this desirable as I have not crossed posted because of the hassle of logging into another interface, cut-n-paste, check the format, and what ever else violates my head in the process. This extension allows me to write an article, select a blog sight and add the article to the site.

This will be the first post using the extension across multiple sites. Please feel free to ask any questions.