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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Limited Edition AD&D DMG and MM in Hand (PH is on Backorder)

I am very impressed with the EGG Limited Edition Reprints of the AD&D 1E Dungeon Master's Guide and Monster Manual (my Player's Handbook is on backorder).

The books seem to be heavier than the originals. The paper used is of higher quality. I now have copies that don't have the combat tables soiled by my dirty fingers flipping through top find the charts time and time again.



Amazingly enough, my Monster Manual opened right up to the page with the Succubus on it. Good times :)

Google Nexus 7 Burns the Amazon Kindle Fire!

I thought it would end up with the Kindle Fire being left with nothing but sparks when compared to the Google Nexus 7. Sure enough, that's pretty much the results.

The Kindle Fire is admittedly older and uses an older, rewritten (read "crippled") version of the Android OS. Which is fine if you are giving the Fire to a non-tech savy person, as they will probably not know the difference with their use of the Fire.

The thing is, the Fire is heavier than the Nexus 7 - noticeably heavier and thicker. So for reading in bed, the Nexus 7 wins out.

Reading PDFs on the tablets? The Nexus 7 is smoother while scrolling through the pages and seems to load them quicker, especially on the larger PDFs we gamers know and love.

Gaming on it? Only game I've tried on both is Angry Birds Space. It looks sharper on the Nexus 7.

Movies is where the Fire may actually overtake the Nexus 7, and not because of picture quality, which should be sharper on the Nexus. The Kindle Fire allows you to access your Amazon Prime free videos collection. If that is going to be one of your main uses for your tablet, the Fire does something that the Nexus 7 does not.

Ease of use? The Kindle Fire doesn't have buttons for volume control, it's all on screen. I much prefer physical buttons for such, so point to the Nexus 7 for providing such.

Bluetooth? The fire lacks bluetooth. The Nexus 7 synched promptly with the bluetooth keyboard I got with my HP TouchPad (back when HP killed the TP and released it at rockbottom prices). If you ever want to use your tablet for extensive emailing or blogging, you need a keyboard. The onscreen keyboard is not sufficient.

Price? $199 for the Fire. $199 for the 8GB Nexus 7.

Except for accessing the Amazon Prime Video Library, the Nexus 7 beats the Kindle Fire hands down. The Nexus is much more bang for your buck, and I'm enjoying reading the RuneQuest 6 rulebook on it in bed ;)


Friday, July 20, 2012

Eannie, Meanie, ENnies - It's Like the All-Star Game for RPGs

'Tis ENnie time. Time for blogs and RPGs and publishers that have made the cut to shill and plead and cajole their readers, customers and fans to vote for them in the ENnie balloting. Just like the MLB All-Star Game, ballot box stuffing is encouraged.

Which is why it is mostly the larger companies with a larger following that scoff up the awards.

It's a popularity contest, not a quality contest.

I'd like to see awards or recognition for gaming products from the writers and creators of games. What THEY think are the top products, the ones that push the creative envelope, the stuff that they are playing when they aren't playing their own creations.

I'm sure the two lists would be very different. I'd personally find the second list more valuable.


You Can Learn About Life When You Play the Game of Thrones...

Do you remember The Game of Life? Driving around the game board with a car full of peg people, trying to get to the end before anyone else? I think I played the 1978 version, as it still had convertibles.

What did I learn about life Playing the Game of Life? Jack shit. I mean, I thought I was learning something, but I wasn't.  It was entertaining as hell when you're 12 years old and haven't yet found out about D&D and the like.

The Game of Thrones (HBO TV Series - I've yet to read the books), however, is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

You learn life takes unexpected turns, that life hurts, love hurts, that family is sometimes just pawns in a larger game. Loyalty comes at a price and even then is not guaranteed. The Game of Thrones is very much like life. Not mine, certainly. Probably not yours. It is, however, real enough though to have real life visions reflected in it.

Does that make for a good RPG? I don't know about that, and that is another beast of a book that I'll have to take up the challenge to review after RQ6. My wife expressed interest in the GoT RPG, but I think that is solely because she's enjoying the TV series. Ah hell, who am I kidding? I know that's the only reason, but it will be nice to get a non-gamer's view on the RPG. I'll see if we can pull it off...

A Character is More Than His Riffs - Er, Stats


I was bouncing around YouTube tonight and I came across this awesome video where a guitarist does 100 classic guitar riffs in one take. It amazing to listen to, not just because he is very talented, but because the riffs are so much less than the songs they are a part of even though they are what "define" the songs in question.

100 riffs and I could identify at least half, and recognized to some extent nearly all of the other half. All that and I was left unsatisfied. Why? Because these riffs on their own lack the depth of the songs built around them.

I think that can be applied to RPG characters. In many ways we define them by their stats, but for them to actually come to life, to sing, those stats have to be part of something deeper.

The best stats in the world don't mean much if the character doesn't have some depth to go along with it. Or maybe I just heard the hooks of a hundred songs and now I want to listen to them all, as the hooks leave me feeling empty on their own.


Tomorrow We Step the Campaign Down a Notch - Bring in the Future Henchmen!

I'm going to go with "let's role play your future henchman" for the next few sessions of my ACKS game, as it keeps anyone from being left behind, and keeps the core party from taking undo risks while short. Yep, juggling the summer vacation blues.

We also have encountered a scheduling conflict with one of our regulars - I need to see if the group is able to change the game night to keep things rolling, or if we need to adjust to a slightly smaller core group of PCs (and players). I hate losing players, especially when the group hits well on all cylinders and everyone riffs pretty well of each other. Just like adding someone new to a group can change the chemistry, losing someone from the group can do the same.

Now I have to whip up an adventure for a party of 3 newbs, without knowing the classes that will be comprising the party makeup. It's going to be a challenge balancing out the challenge ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Google Nexus 7... My... Precious...

Well, after a nice long quest, I finally have my Google Nexus Tablet in hand. Woot!

I'd like to thank Google's Shipping Department (my receipt says "Shipped 7/11/12", UPS knew of the shipping label being printed on 7/12/12, but UPS didn't receive the package until 7/15/12 - The UPS Shipping Saga has been told already on G+) and the fine folks at UPS for making this a much more complicated and lengthy process than it needed to be. Well done!

First impressions:

Noticeably lighter than the Kindle Fire, it's closest competitor by price (blows the Fire away by feature)

Video playback is very nice - seems smoother than the Kindle Fire, but I haven't run the same video side by side at this point to confirm.

The built in ebook reader increases font size in really really small increments. This can be good if you are looking to make small adjustments, but a real PITA if you are looking to move from default to really large font type.

Screen is a fingerprint magnet.

The Nexus 7 feels really nice in the hands. Nice, secure grip type feel.

The Google Now feature is interesting. Weather, NYC Bus schedule for the local stop, a local Argentinean Restaurant I had overlooked complete with Zagat ratings. Like I said, interesting

Already has a system update.

More after playing with it ;)

The Never Ending UPS / Google Nexus 7 Saga Continues

I changed the deliver address to my work address on tuesday afternoon - and UPS attempted a second delivery at my home yesterday despite the change.

i dealt with online customer service yesterday afternoon, and they put in a new request to change the delivery address - the local UPS Hub called me to confirm and all was well

until last night, when i get an email update that apparently i called UPS to hold the package and i would be there to pick it up that night - being that the update was generated at 920 PM and i got the email shortly after 10 PM, I don't think so - i certainly didnt make that call.

this morning the local hub called me to tell me that they were trying to track down my package to ensure delivery today - i told him to look up the info on his screen - he asked when i called in the hold - i told him i never did

they will call later to let me know if its on a truck or if i need to pick it up at the hub

hopefully i can close this saga later this afternoon...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Raggi Ups the Ante - Some New Incentives For LotFP Series of Crowdfunded Adventures

I told James that I'd mention any updates he made to his Summer Campaign of Indiegogo Adventures, so here I am.

Some of it makes me feel like I'm really out of touch, because I still have no idea who the band GWAR is ;(

Here's some of the details from James' blog (go to LotFP Blog for all the link goodness):


Two new perks on Dave Brockie's adventure Towers Two:

$50 gets you the Adventure + Extras plus a GWAR shirt and poster both signed by Oderus Urungus!

$75 gets you all that plus 2 ticketsto a GWAR show, and a chance to meet Dave Brockie and get your picture taken with him.(transport to the show of course not included, not valid for festival appearances)



Two new perks on Aeron Alfrey's adventure Escaping Leviathan:

$40 gets you the Adventure + Extras plus 5 A4-sized prints of some of Alfrey's previous work with LotFP. See below for the pieces.
(Alfrey's art rocks! might be worth it for the prints alone)

$75 gets you that plus an A1 size poster (594 × 841mm) which will function both as both an art piece and a map of the interior of the Leviathan.


Kelvin Green has made a bombshell announcement about his adventure Horror Among Thieves:

"Whether or not this campaign makes its goal, anyone who contributes at least $10 will get a pdf of the adventure; if the campaign is a success, the full weight of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess design and layout team will be thrown behind it and you’ll get the fancy pants edition detailed on the campaign page. If not, then I’ll be putting it together myself and it won’t look half as good, but you will get the full text and all the art, all the content just as if the goal had been reached. That’s my small way of showing my thanks to you for showing your support." (this is very cool of Kelvin)

and a bunch of other cool stuff and info on James' blog



RuneQuest 6 Game Master's Pack - Free Download



Yep, the fine folks over at The Design Mechanism have posted the RQ6 Game Master's Pack. It's a free download that includes 2 adventures and a crapload of charts all in one neat place.

I'm still waiting on the form fillable character sheet to get posted :(

Rain, Hail, Lightning - Oh My!

I chose the right day to work until 6PM (I'm usually out at 4). NYC is currently being hit by one heck of a summer storm. Hopefully the marble sized hail I saw coming down half an hour ago didn't damage the car.

No Google Nexus 7 either :(

After redirecting UPS to my work address yesterday afternoon and paying my $5 fee for the privilege, they still tried to deliver it to my home.

It was impossible to get a live customer service rep on the phone, but the web chat worked fairly well. Og course, the local office called my cell phone as the storm hit, so they couldnt hear me and they don't have a listed number. Took some web searching on Yelp to find iit in someone's comments.

Tomorrow they say. Always tomorrow. It's like postponing Christmas Damn it!

Happy Jacks' Podcast Talks LotFP Weird Fantasy - and Fails

I was listening to last Friday's Happy Jacks Podcast on the ride home yesterday and I heard mention of LotFP's Weird Fantasy ruleset. That was surprising, as the Happy Jacks Folks aren't much into Old School or OSR gaming. If you've ever heard any of their rants on Hit Points, you'd know their overall opinion of D20 gaming. Still, I find them entertaining and even thought provoking at times.

It seems Stu (and least I think it was Stu) recommended Weird Fantasy to listeners based purely on the art, and was getting flack from listeners that wound up buying an OSR product. Kinda funny actually.

And then Tappy opened up his mouth: "Weird Fantasy is 3e with a bit of 2e thrown in." Tappy never ceases to amaze me. No only is he usually clueless, but he has to be the expert on everything - even stuff he has no knowledge of.

I wanted to pull my car over and call the show and correct the putz, but I then realized it's a taped podcast.

I'd write the show, but it takes them 3 months to read an email to the show, so I figured I'd bitch here. ;)

Seriously, it's one of the better podcasts out there, just so long as they refrain from talking about 3e or earlier styled gaming.

Stick to Savage Worlds, Traveller and the like lads. Oh, and keep Tappy's false expertise under control. It's hard to call someone out with a 3 month turn around ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Missed It (my Google Nexus 7) By This Much!

Missed delivery of my Google Nexus 7 by less than 40 minutes. Grrr!

I've now changed delivery to my job for a fee of $5, which would never have been needed if Google had only shipped this when it generated the shipping label of the 12th of July.

So, I guess I'll be getting mine tomorrow - hopefully ;)

Online Play is a RPG Publisher's Boon

Remember the days when you played RPGs around the table in your parents' basement. There was one core rulebook getting passed around (or if your group was really lucky, one book for the GM and one book for the players to reference during play).

RuneQuest, Paranoia, Gamma World, Top Secret - the list goes on. These are some of the games I ran with just a single copy of the rules at the table.

Now, think about online play, whether via a traditional VTT like Fantasy Grounds of MapTools, or one of the Google+ Hangout Apps like TableTop Forge or Roll20. For a game to run smoothly, pretty much every player in the group was to have access to the rules. It's impossible to pass one copy among the players.

In effect, online play should be good for the publishers, at least those with core rulebooks for sale, as I suspect online players own a greater percentage of the rulebooks of games they play in than those that play face to face.

No, I haven't done a survey. I may at a later time. It's just that the situation and the facts make this the likely outcome.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mini Review - The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk (DCC RPG Adventure)

I was hoping to give a post play review tomorrow or Wednesday, but we pushed the game back a week. Although it was the group consensus to do so, I'm happy we did. I think with the baggage I've been carry around between this weekend and work today, the lethality level would have increased a few notches ;)

The thing is, I'm really psyched to run Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, and not just because I got to see it in a pre-release form. I'm looking forward to reading running it as it should be a good amount of fun with some excellent roleplay scenes. As much as I hate to say it, most DCC RPG Adventures lack an element of roleplay, except among the PCs. The surrounding environment is menat to be overcome or ignored.

Not so in The Ooze Pits. Here, the first third of the adventure will be the PCs gathering rumors and leads. It makes the impact of the later scenes that much greater and not only makes the story more interesting, but one the players (and their characters) should start to care about. Besides, there are some twists that the party will be very happy with themselves if they figure them out.

I regret that we haven't played it yet, as I would be able to give more of a sense in how it plays. I suspect it could play out in as long as two sessions, if the players cover all of the ground included. If that's the case, I'll be leveling my party after the first session (mid adventure).

It should get it's run through in about a week. I'll post the results afterwards ;)

From the blurb:


Most find death in the crumbling ruins that stretch beyond sight into the mists south of the Great City; once rich districts now claimed by swamp and dark denizens. But for the desperate folk of the city, the ruins offer treasures the Great City denies them: fortune, glory, and a fighting chance!

Do you dare re-enter the deadly swamps of the Sunken City? The hamlet of Slither's End needs your aid, but after meeting the bizarre locals, you might wonder if you need someone to protect you from Slither's End! Can you unravel the mysterious abductions plaguing the town? Do you chance trekking through the open swamp seeking answers when death lurks around every bend? And who is this Jonas Gralk that everyone mentions with grave suspicion?  Answers await in The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk!


Features of The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk

Compatible with the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games (easily convertible to your favorite 'old school' system.)

Effortlessly integrate 0-level mobs into your world! Or challenge smaller 1st level bands.

Encounter the decidedly quirky folk of Slither's End and unearth clues about their troubles. First question: why does there appear to be giant pool of bubbling blood in the center of town?

Battle unforgettable foes in the surrounding swamps, including Mist Men, axe wielding trees, pixies with bad attitudes, giant nut-bombing squirrels, and the return of the not-so-fearsome opossumen!

Lovely full-color maps and art throughout all 19 pages. (With a 10 page appendix stuffed with adventuring goodies including rumors organized as player handouts, a clue checklist, town notes, and pre-gen replacement characters.)

Free support downloads available at purplesorcerer.com, including battle maps, adventure specific paper miniatures, and more!



Thou Shall Not Pass What Price Point With PDFs?

What price point sets the bar for you with PDFs? At what point do you say: "I don't care if it's the best RPG product out there, I'm not touching it!"

This topic has come up in the past, but I think it's even more relevant now. Amazon's consistant pricing of electronic versions of the new books it sold at $9.99 (often at a loss) was fought by the publishers. Now, many of the best sellers are priced the same in electronic format as they are in print.

Two of the big game releases have released their PDF versions at significant prices, even if they are discounted greatly from the Hard Cover prices.

Dungeon Crawl Classics is $24.99 in PDF on RPGNow, $39.99 in HC (at least for the first print run - rumors are that the second print run might be priced at $49.99). It's a great game in my opinion, and if the PDF works for you, that's awesome. I love my PDF copy that came with my pre-order. I'm not sure if the $15 dollar discount for the PDF is enough of a discount on a $39.99 product in print. Then again, $39.99 for the DCC RPG in print is a steal, so $25 for the PDF might be fair but still makes me blink...

Runequest 6 is $25 in PDF on RPGNow, $62 for the print + PDF version. I'm reviewing it now because I had access to a reviewer's copy of the PDF and literally minutes after opening the PDF I ordered the print + PDF version (it looks to be an awesome set of rules) BUT if it wasn't for numerous requests, both in emails and on G+ for me to review it, I doubt I would have. Generally speaking, if the PDF price makes me blink, I'm not going to ask for a review copy. $25 makes me blink.

I don't think I have hard pressed rules on my own price points for PDFs, but generally speaking, it's say the following is where I fall:

Rules - $10 is still in the sweet range - on rare occasions, if something has lots of good word of mouth, I may inch closer to $20, but at that price, buying it in paper format is usually in the same range.

Supplements - $5 - is still in the sweet range (may even become an "impulse buy") - again, on rare occasions, great reviews and word of mouth I may even go over $10 - maybe $12

We all have our own range, our own line we won't cross.

What is yours?

Breaking the Shackles of Class! (it ain't so easy)

I've been spending a lot of time with the RuneQuest 6 PDF the past week, and I must say I really like what I see so far. Character generation is deep. Not necessarily complex, but certainly more time consuming than the D&D based OSR games out there.

RQ6 doesn't have classes - you literally are able to design any type of character you want (within reason and with the points available - your mileage may vary).

Tonight I'm running a DCC RPG Arc, and tomorrow night I'm attending a retirement dinner - but Wednesday night I'm going to try my hand at designing a RQ6 character. Notice I don't say generate - it's more than just rolling some dice and picking a class. Still, the process should help me understand the rules better and let me see if there are any unseen hurdles I missed in my reading of RQ6 so far.

I suspect I'll post the process Wednesday night. Now I just need to think about the character I want to design - I'm thinking a warrior/mage type, but that shows I'm still shackled to class - I need to go beyond that ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summertime Blues - Continuity When Your Group Suffers Summer Shrinkage

Now that summer has hit full swing my ACKS group is suffering from "vacation-itis". We all know how it strikes, and it becomes an epidemic before you know it.

Taking the whole summer off isn't really an option - the group looses all momentum and this is where most campaigns seem to die unsightly deaths. So, even if it's irregular. Even if the group is short handed, you want to keep it going.

Initially I was thinking of moving from our ACKS campaign to a different system for the summer, so that absences would not result in present party members out leveling their vacationing brethren, but that lacks an important element. The campaign itself.

So, I just sent my group a message that my current idea is to play their future henchmen. They are all third and fourth level and there is currently one henchman in the party (a goblin they picked up early on).

By playing their future henchmen, they'll be more invested in them when they do join the party. They'll be more likely to have their own personalities and have them form in a natural process. Also, in the future, if the PC dies, the players will already have an attachement to the henchman - it makes for a more natural progression.

I'll see what the reaction is, but I think it could be the solution we are looking for ;)

RuneQuest 6 - Review - Part the Third - What Did I Do Before Questing For a Living?

Chapter 3 of the RuneQuest 6 Rulebook is titled Careers and Development. If you followed the first 2 Chapters that I reviewed, you'd be safe in guessing we are still dealing with character generation. If RuneQuest 6 has something to hand it's coat on it's character generation. It's full and deep. Random tet it gives the player control on direction. This has been something that has separated RQ from D&D and it's offspring since RQ first hit the scene. RQ Heroes are not as disposable as their D&D brethren.

In Chapter 3 we are offered a list of careers, which is broken down by Cultural Background. As an example, Fisher appears on the list for all four civilizations, while Sorcerer just appears on the Civilized list. If the player could make a valid argument, it's possible to have a career that isn't standard to the Cultural Background, but that is the exception that proves the rule.

Here's the Civilized list of Careers:

Agent
Alchemist
Beast Handler
Courtesan
Courtier
Crafter
Entertainer
Farmer
Fisher
Herder
Hunter
Merchant
Miner
Mystic
Official
Physician
Priest
Sailor
Scholar
Scout
Shaman
Smith
Sorcerer
Thief
Warrior

The Careers come with a list of alternative labels - So the "Agent" could also be known as an Agitator, an Assassin, A Detective, And Informer, A spy or something else that you feel you can effectively hang your hat on.

You can select up to 3 skills from among the Professional Skills listed with that career in addition to getting access to all of the Standard Skills listed with that career. Wanna guess how many skill points your get to distribute? Yep, you're correct - 100 points. Again, as usual, no skill can be assigned more that 15 points during this stage.

As you get 7 standard skills can can pick up to 3 (out of a list of 7) you'll have 10 skills in which to drop those 100 points. As 10 points each would be the average, a cap of 15 points in any individual  means your probably will stay around that 15 pt average with some tweaks.

Later in the chapter we get to determine age. Age Categories are important, as they decide how many bonus points the character gets, the maximum skill increase (from the bonus points awarded due to age category), background event rolls and if the character is suffer from the results of aging. I wouldn't worry about the aging part - I don't see it affecting most starting PCs unless the player is looking to roll with someone past his prime. Most characters will start in the Adult or Middle Aged categories. 

These bonus points can be applied to any skills a character has previously learned as part of the Culture or Career. So when the text says "Choose up to 3 skills" choose 3, even if you just dump a single point in the stray one or two. This is the stage to boost those skills (and others) up.

Next up is starting equipment. there is a chart for reference as to what characters of a certain social standing can expect to own. It's more a guide than anything, but useful none the less.

The chapter aslo touches briefly upon magic and cult membership, but apparently these are discussed in detail later in the rules.

I may need to take a break from the review to generate my own PC, as things tend to fall in the place in practice more so than just reading.

Secrets of TSR (From Paizo Con via YouTube)

I just spent a highly enlightening 54 minutes watching this video from Paizo Con with a bunch of old time TSR employees.

Very interesting and well worth the listening to, especially if you want to hear about events during the AD&D 2e Era.

Summer Gaming Thoughts - Of Missing Players and Tempting RPGs

Last night there were only four of us for the ACKS game - summer has that effect on gaming. So we did some maintenance and one hell of a lot of yapping and called it a relatively early night, which is ok, as I was still exhausted as all shit from Friday night's events.

We are toying with the idea of running some DCC RPG for the next few weeks. I'd rather not run the ACKS campaign short two players and the summer being what the summer is, I expect we will be short for the rest of the summer in some manner or form. DCC feels like it could support smaller group play with the simple tool of giving everyone multiple PCs, which I am most certainly NOT comfortable doing in most RPGs, but fits fine with DCC.

Then of course there's my renewed interest in RuneQuest, thanks in large part to the release of RQ6. I know at some point I'd like to run a short campaign / long arc using the RQ rules, but character gen in RQ is a lot more in depth than DCC or even ACKS. Does that long generation process include an assumption that character death will be less common. Is there a bit of "Aura of GM Protection" that must go along with it? This is one of those times that WFRP type "Fate Points" become a useful tool, I think.

Ah well, stuff to read, a game to prep for and weekend chores around the house. Too bad I slept half the afternoon away yesterday ;)