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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thank God For E-Books, or My Desk Would Runneth Over

If my slush pile of RPG related material waiting to be reviewed was physical and not virtual, I'd have one hell of a storage problem.  Let's peek at what's on the plate:

Synapse
Weird Fantasy: Grindhouse Edition
Vornheim
Jungle Ruins of Madaro-Shanti (S&W)
Splinters of Faith 5: Eclipse of the hearth (S&W)
A Bunch of Stuff for Chronicles of Arax
Sword Noir: A RPG of Hardboiled Sword & Sorcery
Dark Ages Basic Rules (from White Wolf, and it's Free)
Beneath the Despairing Stone (C&C)
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert
Rapture: The End of Days (Theological SciFi Horror)

This list is off the top of my head.  I'm sure I missed others.  This weekend is already shot (my niece / god daughter is being christened tomorrow - woot!) but I'll be reading in my spare moments.  It's a good thing I love to read... heh

Damn, that's an exciting list of gaming to have to read :)

Friday Nite Movie - Up!

Cartoons are usually not my bag, but I had heard food things about Up! I was not disappointed.

This was a fun movie, extremely well animated with a decent story and believable characters (taken within the context of the movie.

Not sure how connected it is to roleplaying, but it's a nice on demand Netflix movie for the family.


- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mini Review - Vengence of the Long Serpent (Swords & Wizardry)

Alright, lets see if I can write this without Blogger crapping out on me ;)

The Northland Saga Part 1, Vengeance Of the Long Serpent, is an adventure that comes in two flavors: Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry.  Today we are looking at the S&W version.  After removing the cover, credits, contents and OGL pages you are left with 16 pages of fairly dense text, which is a decent size for an adventure meant to be run in a session or two.

My first impression is that this adventure would make a decent mash-up with LotFP's Weird New World Campaign setting.  Yes, this is more Viking in flavor and WNW is more Finnish in flavor, but I think the two would mix well.  The majority of the adversaries / monsters in this adventure aren't over the top fantasy, which should help in fitting this with WNW.

I'm a little surprised that the first adventure in a planned 10 adventure series is written for levels 5-7, but I guess one could always move the party north as they gain some experience and survivability.

I like the fact that it isn't much of a dungeon crawl but is primarily story driven.  This does however, lead us to the one issue I have with this adventure.  To give the party the backstory, we have an NPC regaling everyone with his deeds.  I estimate his tale to be approximately 750 words or so... one side of a two column page... that the DM has to read to the players.  As a player, unless my DM is a thespian, this is gonna put me to sleep.  The rule of "show, don't tell" comes into play I think.  I'm not sure yet how I'd rework this if I were to run the adventure, but it's not the best way to start an otherwise well written adventure in my opinion.   Still, lots of pieces to steal even if not used whole for a Nordic campaign.

From the blurb:


This series of adventures takes place in the frozen north, where men are men, beer is ale and monsters are, well, scary. Who has not loved the setting of the 13th Warrior or wished to relive the Frost Giant's Daughter by R.E. Howard? Heroes will fight evil in the cold lands, sail the treacherous ice filled seas where sea monsters swallow ships and crews and feast in fire-lit halls with Vikings! Planned as a series of 10 modules, this series will begin in January (appropriately, due to the cold). More information will be added as it becomes available.  Written by Ken Spencer, this series is sure to send shivers up even the bravest adventurer's spine!

Vengeance of the Long Serpent

Pull on your hauberk, ready your shield, and take up your axe, the tide is moving
out and it is time to set sail on a voyage of adventure. In Vengeance of the Long
Serpent the heroes sail north into a land of murder, savagery, and madness to face a reawakened dark god and his deadly cult.

The World is a River - Riverworld

I just finished watching the first part of Riverworld on Netflix on Demand.  I really didn't know what to expect, as I never read the book (or is it books).  Still, I like what I see so far.

Sure, some of the acting is poor, but once I got past the confusing first 30 minutes, I actually started to enjoy the story and like the characters.  Except for the main character.  Matthew is annoying, but hey, can't have everything.

I have a feeling I'm enjoying this more because I never read the story.  I'm sure if I had, I'd be picking nits constantly.

I took today off from work to spackle cracks in the walls before painting and wall papering.  Damn distractions ;)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mini Review - A Sworded Adventure (Tunnels & Trolls Solo Adventure)

I was wondering when my next Tunnels & Trolls fix would hit.  Look no further, cause it's here with A Sworded Adventure by Ken St. Andre.

It's funny, because when I saw the title I thought it looked familiar, and it is, sorta.  It is a rewrite and expansion of the original A Sworded Adventure that appeared in Sorcerer's Apprentice #6 (back in 1979).  Pretty cool, huh?  (Yes, I have this issue)  This version is written to be compatible with either the 5.5 or 7.5 editions of the rules (and probably works just fine with the 5.0 and 7.0 editions too).

It's for a warrior of 50 combat adds or less, and is integrated to some extent with the Naked Doom and Arena of Khazan solos, as certain events can drop your character into one or the other.  If you don't have them, there are alternatives, but really, you know you want them ;)

It's a short solo, about 23 pages when you remove the covers and credit pages, but it's well written and should be entertaining (at least I think so).  It could easily be run using the free version of the rules I have linked to the left... but as always, one should remember that survivability is greatly enhanced by going as close to the recommended combat adds without going over.  A complete newb without exceptional scores probably won't last long.  Then again, creating a new character is pretty quick in T&T, so death isnt much of an issue

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mini Review - Surge of the Wine-Dark Sea (OSR Themed Artbook)

I've always enjoyed good artwork in my RPG books, but I never saw it as a "make or break" type of issue. Heck, I'd still rather have no art then bad art.  Just so you know right from the start, there is no bad art in Surge of the Wine-Dark Sea.

My first thought when I saw that Mythmere Games (well known for the Swords & Wizardry clone) had published a OSR artbook was "why"?  I didn't think it was needed.  I still don't think it is needed, but it sure is appreciated.

The cover art is probably my favorite piece (I can see why Rowena Aitken's piece was chosen for the cover).   I was less fond of the pages that had multiple pieces of art... I want my art in its full page / screen glory Damn it!  Still, I ooo'd and aweeee'd at the vast majority of the work.  I'm already picking out pieces I want prints of.  There better be prints!  heh

My favorite pieces so far:

The Contentious Tower by Paul Jaquays

Opium Seller by M Kultra Studio

Untitled by Peter Mullen (the one with the open door)

E. Gary Gygax Commemorative by Stefan Poag

Astragard by Dirk Remmecke (this is my Greyhawk Map Flashback pice)

I've Accepted the Synapse Challenge...

Yep, Greg threw down the gauntlet and I've decided to pick it up.

This will, however, take a wee bit more time then I expected.  There is more depth to a Synapse Character then your regular OSR game's PC, and I need to take my time with all this.  I mean, I'll be posting the sucker.

So, I expect to have this done over the next few days (using tonight and tomorrow nite to get myself up to speed on the Synapse RPG).

Now, I suspect if I was conversant with the system and was sitting at the gaming table with a gaming group, it could be done in less then an hour, but I'm needing to steal time from other (household) projects to get this done.

As an aside, I love the artwork in Synapse.  No where near as disturbing as Raggi's Weird Fantasy Grindhouse Edition, but just as evocative.  Being sized for a computer / tablet screen as far as the PDF goes is pretty cool too ;)

Runnin' Raggi

Does Jim Raggi (LotFP) sleep anymore these days? in addition to having to fix the PDF FUBAR, he's adding yet more stuff from other creators.

Before anyone asks: Yes, I bought the two preorders that Raggi put up for sale last friday. I waited for the PDF issues to be corrected (they were) before giving them a closer look.

It's hard to compare the Grind-house Edition to the original Deluxe Edition, especially while typing away on my iPad, so what follows is my first impressions of the LotFP Weird Fantasy Grind-house Edition.

Artwork: Top notch. Very evocative. At times disturbing. Can't wait to see it in print (this coming from someone who fully embraces electronic media).

Presentation: I suspect Jim took the criticism of the Weird Fantasy Deluxe Edition PDF presentation to heart, as the Grind-house release is much more visually pleasing. Nice use of new fonts and much better lay out from what i can see. Haven't done an in-depth look, but virtual flipping of the pages looked pretty good.

Rules: I need to give them a full read thru, then compare them to the Deluxe. Question? If elves are fighter / wizards, does their combat skills increase as a fighter? I would say yes, but Jim may say no.

I really need to sit down for a few hours and give this nice read. Anyone want to cover my desk until 4 pm? ;)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Memories - Hiding in the Corners of Your Mind

Today dragged up some bittersweet memories.  Ah, who am i kidding, they were the kind you leave mostly hidden, but ready to draw upon when you need the associated emotions.

It did get me thinking about my gaming days in High School and College and memories associated with those times.  We had some great games, amazing campaigns, but the most vivid memories are what happened outside the game but at the table.

My favorite is one from senior year of High School.  The school year was winding down and it was warm enough to game at the backyard picnic table.  There we are, six of us, rolling dice, cracking jokes, drinking iced tea... when suddenly Andrew D. sneezed.  Most sneezes are sudden (obviously), and this one was no different.  Everyone got hit from the shotgun spray but me (Go-Go AD&D DM's Screen!).

Everyone (but myself) was hit, but one of us was screaming like they were shot in the gut by a .38.  Which, of course, made it all the funnier to the rest of us.  But Lenny wouldn't stop screaming.  Heck, he started to hyperventilate, all while holding his left arm straight up in the air.

That's when I saw it.  It looked like a large green slug was leaving a slime trail as it traveled down Lenny's arm, but it was the single largest piece of mucous I've seen in my life to date.  After the gag reflex was under control, we grabbed the hose and used the green slime as an excuse to hose Lenny (and the rest of us) down.  Everyone shared a good laugh afterwards.

No idea what game system I was using, what module I was running... but everything else is picture perfect in my head.

Damn, I really need to stat out a Killer Booger one of these days :)

The Games I Own, But Have Never Played - Starsiege

This is another of the Troll Lord products that I wanted to love but really couldn't get into.  In theory, it builds upon the Siege Engine concept as used in Castles & Crusades.  The problem is it strays so far from it's roots, it's really a whole new system.  Alright, that's not the only problem, but it's a start.

Attributes are renamed and redefined from their C&C roots and d20 is rolled to "simplify" character creation instead of 3d6 (3d6 isn't simple enough?).  But hey, they simplify Hit Points to Wound and Stress Tracks.  Each Track is tracked by boxes, and there are also boxes to track critical damage.  You say this isn't simplifying things but making it needlessly more complicated?   You must be wrong:
StarSIEGE: Event Horizon's Wound and Stress tracks are merely simplified Hit Points, with each character getting 4 Hit Points and 3 "negative hit points".
Maybe its just me, but subtracting 5 point of damage from a lazer shot from a HP total of 11 is 6.  Much easier then the "simplified  Hit Points" if you ask me.

Did I mention the font used throughout is ugly as sin?  Well, now I did.

They do provide enough Field Manuals (Players' Booklets) to supply the average gaming group.  Which is nice, but I had to pay for that when I bought the box, even if I don't have a group.

The Trolls need to stick to C&C (Harvesters wasn't bad, I will admit).  Wait, there was that pricing issue with the CKG.  They can't win these days.

What I wanted was a SciFi RPG based upon C&C.  This is not it.

Thank God for Stars Without Number - an Old School rooted SciFi game that doesn't muck things up.  Oh, and it's free.  Woot!

Monday, April 4, 2011

God Damn Frickin Sunofa... !

Blogger blew up my review of Vengeance of the Long Serpent (for Swords & Wizardry) just as I was about to publish it, and of course the draft it saved was the post blow up version.

Sonofa!

Maybe I'll work on it tomorrow nite, tho more likely it will be wednesday.

Sigh.

You're Fired!

Whether is Vince McMahon or Donald Trump saying it, "You're Fired" is a horrible thing to hear. When you are the one that has to "dismiss" people, as we call it on my job, it really sucks. I should be old hat at it, but I never enjoy it. I'm sure those on the receiving end like it even less.

I envy those that can make a living of any sort off of what I see as a hobby. No one is going to fire you (tho business may suck at times) and odds are you'll have little if no staff, so you won't have to sit someone down and tell them the 20+ year career they had planned on isn't going to be.

Maybe that is why i enjoy the optimism of the smaller publishers. It's hard to beat their enthusiasm. And if I fire them by no longer buying their products, they still have everyone else ;)

edited "at" to "hat"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saturday Nite Netflix at the Tavern - Repo, The Genetic Opera

My God, we lasted less then 10 minutes into this horror before we had to tap out.  It was... not sure how nicely I can say this... a flaming pile of putrid piss.  I don't even think a case of beer would have helped us find a redeeming funny in it.  When I need to do some penance for a really huge sin, I'll sentence myself to viewing this piece of crap.

So, of course I had to follow it up with Krod Mandoom.  The lady chuckled a bit before falling asleep.  I think Archer (from last week) might have been a better choice.

I was thinking LotR:  The Fellowship, but at 3 hrs I think she would have enjoyed one hell of a nap.  I love it, but I don't think she'll make it past the 10 minute set up in the beginning.