Saturday, September 11, 2010

Nine Years Ago Today...

Nine years ago today my gaming group lost one of core members.  Not that we actively gamed anymore at that time... that kind of ended when I (as the main DM /GM) graduated the Police Academy in 97 and had to work every weekend for six months.  Even tho we had stopped gaming, the friendships that we made back in 84 were stronger then the games themselves...we were, and still are, very tight.

On 9-11, 4 of the 6 members of that gaming group worked at the World Trade Center (either the towers or Building 7).  I was the one member that didn't, but I was there by the time the first tower was coming down.  We lost one of our brothers that day, the one who was to be the best man in a November wedding - the rest of the group was to be the groom and the ushers.  We were more like extended family then friends.

Our loss was but one of thousands our nation lost that day.  It doesn't make our loss, his family's loss, any more or less.  It is, however, another reason I will never forget, nor forgive, what happened to this nation on that September day nine years ago.  In my profession, I am no stranger to death.  I am no stranger to senseless destruction.  9-11 was the first time it became personal to me, and that was before I knew I had lost a dear friend.

Strange, how for me, 9-11 and gaming will always be intertwined.  If I can ever get my Gamer's ADD mind focused enough to actually write something publishable, Paul Benedetti will be more then deserving of the dedication.

God Bless you lad.  Enjoy your rest.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Accessorize Your iPad

Recently I posted about some of the iPad apps I get decent use from ( pretty much geared to PDF viewing) Today I'm got give you a short post on accessories you can use for typing on your iPad... The key to blogging from your iPad

Probably the most flexible accessory for the iPad is the Camera Adaptor. With this, you can plug your camera via a USB cable to the iPad or use a SD card to view your pics. All that is nice and dandy. Surprisingly you can also plug a USB keyboard into the adaptor and now you have a full Suzette keyboard for your iPad. I tried it with one of those roll-up rubber keyboards that I found at a flea market for 7 bucks.

For my birthday I received Apple's keyboard and stand / dock for the iPad. Superb quality. Excellent key feel. Regretfully, as the ipad's port is on the bottom, you don't get to set this up horizontally. Also, it won't fit on the base if you have any kind of case on the iPad, even the official one that Apple sells - pretty big oversight if you ask me.

Right now I'm just using the virtual keyboard, as the other stuff is a bit bulky to carry around on a daily basis. Thank god the virtual keyboard on the iPad is pretty good... As long as I resort to the 2 finger typing method ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Traveller - Secrets of the Ancients "The Hunt" and Traveller Compendium 1

It seems like this week is Traveller week, as Mongoose has just released 2 products for the Traveller RPG.

Mongoose has updated the Traveller: Campaign 1, Secret of the Ancients to include the new chapter "The Hunt".  This is the third part in the series, not including Chapter Zero, which is the intro to the series.

I think really appreciate what Mongoose is doing with Secret of the Ancients.  A whole campaign, offered for free, released in chapters is a great way to support the line.  Signs & Portents magazine is also a great free Traveller (and other Mongoose RPG lines) support vehicle.  Great stuff.

Talking about Sign & Portents Magazine, Traveller Compedium 1 is a collection of adventures and articles pertaining to Traveller that previously appeared in various article.  That is both it's strength and its weakness.  It's a strength in that the articles are pretty good, the adventures are nice, and its awesome to have it all in one place.  That being said, you are being asked to pay 21 bucks for stuff that previously appeared for free.  Shame.  Not saying its not worth the cash, but for those willing to spend the time you can pretty much piece this together for free.

Anyhow, here's the blurb:
This first volume of the Traveller Compendiums collates all the most popular articles that have appeared in Signs & Portents over the years, and presents them for the tabletop! Inside you will find new careers, new ships, adventures, patrons, advice on running games, new equipment, newly revealed aspects to Aslan society, and much more!

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Rebooting the Never Fully Booted

Now that summer vacations are behind us I'm going to try and start my Castles & Crusades game via Fantasy Grounds. Summer hours made it impossible to organize anything, I'm hoping September will offer better results.

At the same time, I'm thinking of running a one shot or two using in Basic Roleplaying or CoC. I have both rulesets for Fantasy Grounds, and a skill based game system is more suitable for one shots in my opinion. Maybe a session or two with pregens will get the group in the mindset for regular once a month or so gaming.

Wish me luck ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Looks - The Laundry and C&C Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde

Two new RPG products have entered into my gaming vision in the last 24 hours or so.

The first, The Laundry, from Cubicle 7, drew my attention as it uses the Basic Roleplaying System and is Licensed by Chaosium.  Intriguing to say the least.  The last two Cubicle 7 games I looked at are driven by the FATE gaming engine (Starblazer Adventures and Legends of Anglerre).  278 pages is going to take me a while to dig thru, and I may need to find some of the (British) fiction this is based upon.  Give me time before I even attempt a review.

From the blurb:


There are things out there, in the weirder reaches of space-time where reality is an optional extra. Horrible things, usually with tentacles. Al-Hazred glimpsed them, John Dee summoned them, HP Lovecraft wrote about them, and Alan Turing mapped the paths from our universe to theirs. The right calculation can call up entities from other, older universes, or invoke their powers. Invisibility? Easy! Animating the dead? Trivial! Binding lesser demons to your will? Easily doable!

Opening up the way for the Great Old Ones to come through and eat our brains? Unfortunately, much too easy.

That's where the Laundry comes in - it's a branch of the British secret service, tasked to prevent hideous alien gods from wiping out all life on Earth (and more particularly, the UK). You work for the Laundry. The hours are long, the pay is sub-par, the co-workers are... interesting (in the Chinese curse sense of the word), and the bureaucracy is stifling - but you do get to wave basilisk guns and bullet wards around, and to go on challenging and exciting missions to exotic locations like quaint, legend-haunted Wigan, cursed Slough and Wolverhampton where the walls are thin.

You may even get to save the world.

Just make sure you get a receipt.


The Laundry RPG
is a standalone game using the Basic Roleplaying System (Call of Cthulhu). Players take the role of Laundry agents, saving the world from extradimensional, Lovecraftian and occult threats.

The other RPG product I've been peeking at is Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde for Castles & Crusades.  So far at first glance this is a very pleasant surprise.  I'm sure there are typos, but they haven't popped out at me.  176 pages of monsters and treasures for use in C&C, but I'm sure they could work in most Old School games. 

Some of this has already made appearances in Crusader magazine and some previous adventures and short PDFs, so perceived value will depend on how much of this one already has in different formats. 

I'll come back to this once I've given it a more thorough read thru.

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I Know This Can be Used in a Game Session

I took this pic yesterday morning in Lower Manhattan as I parked for work. Maybe Christian can work it into his Changling game. WoD Vampire that brings it's own portable shade from the sun.

No political commentary intended, just a New York City sight I'm sharing with my readers. Which reminds me, I need to get working on some more Tales of the Blue Knight shorts.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blog Spotlight - Synapse Design Blog

I've discussed different blogs at the Tavern... some overlooked, some pretty popular but all deserving more attention.  This time around, I'm tagging Synapse Design Blog from Greg (who's a fairly frequent commenter on this fine blog - everyone say "Hi Greg").

Synapse Design Blog  is a blog about game design, both in theory and actuality.  I mean it, the lad has actually designed a game.   It's also about RPGs in general. and bits and pieces of the writer's life.  All the good stuff you want in a blog and then some.

Stealing from Synapse Design Blog  to explain a bit of Greg's vision:
What is Synapse? 

Synapse is an RPG that brings character depth to a new level. It allows you to create a sophisticated personality, character background, and virtually any race or species you can imagine. You build a culture from which your character emerged, the life experiences they had within that culture, and a network of NPCs that they know well... If you can imagine it, Synapse can make it real. Leave the limitations of your current RPG system behind and enter a fantastical world of your own creation.  
Synapse will be released as a free PDF once it reaches a Beta state and will remain free forever even as it is perfected.
Greg actively seeks advice from the readers and particpants of his blog.  Want to get in on a new RPG on the ground floor?  Here's your chance.  Want to influence future products?  Follow SNB and let your mind be heard. 

Did I mention the Synapse Beta RPG PDF looks really nice on my iPads virtual bookshelf?

At the moment Greg is looking for some advice on module / adventure formatting / layout.  Give him your thoughts here.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

You Got Your RPG PDFs on My iPad!

Yep, you guess it, this post is about reading PDFs, in our case RPG PDFs, on the iPad.

Now, I've been reading PDFs on electronic reading devices since BEFORE the release of the Kindle DX.  The solutions were far from perfect, as PDF reflow wrecked havok with the formating of most  RPG PDF tables, and those that chose to show their pages in real format were impossible to read on a 5" screen.

Then came the Kindle DX, a 9" electronic book reader from Amazon with a screen large enough to show PDFs in their true format and still be readable.  Still, at times the print was a bit on the small size, and some PDFs choked on the Kindle DX (not many, but enough to be annoying).

Along came the iPad this past spring.  Billed as a "do everything" device, it does an awful lot... some things great, some not so great... but for our purposes, as a PDF reader of RPG materials, I have found it to be second to none.  If it wasn't for the glare in direct sunlight, it would be nearly perfect. 

An iPad is nothing without the proper set of tools and apps.  Below you will find some of the ones I find most helpful.

DropBox - free "cloud computing" storage, you can save a file in your Dropbox folder on your PC, open it on your iPad, then grab it later on your Macbook.  It is the definition of awesomeness.  There is a limit to the amount of online storage you get for free (which can be added to for free when adding free referrals).  I can't see paying for the service at my usage level, but I'm sure some folks obviously do.  Yes, if you sign up via my link, I'll be able to add more RPG materials to my DropBox account.  I'll just thank you in advance ;)

BTW, you can delete files from your DropBox folder without deleting it from your iPad.  I'm just addicted to syncing the damn stuff accross all my devices.

GoodReader - my "go to" PDF reader in the iPad.  It has handled evey PDF I have thrown at it without a problem:  trust me, that's alot of PDFs.  It is 2 bucks in the Apple App store.  DropBox in my method of choice for getting the PDFs into Goodreader.  You just open your DropBox folder within the app and it syncs up to the files you want to the iPad.  No muss, no fuss.

iAnnotate PDF - this is either a gimick or an awesome tool, depending on whether or not you can get use out of it's main features:  the ability to highlight, annotate, add pinned remarks / notes, tabbed PDF reading.  It will not work with well with scanned pages (so some old school scans might be limited in mark-ability).  Update PDFs are save seperate from the original, can be uploaded to your PC and can be read by your PDF reader, higlights, remarks and all.  10 bucks, so make sure you will have a use for it before your spring for it. 

You can DropBox your file into the app, and send the marked up file to DropBox for distribution on your other devices.  You can also use the DropBox app to open the file into iAnnotate PDF (which is confusing, I know.  The first method opens up your DropBox folder in the iAnnotate App to grab the file, and the second opens the folder in your DropBox app and allows you to choose the application to read it with.)

Fast PDF - advertised as the fastest PDF reader for the iPad, I'm not going to dispute that.  I still prefer GoodReader for my PDF reading.  That being said, this app has a really cool feaure that is worth the 3 buck price of admission on its own:  a virtual bookshelf.  Have you seen the bookshelf that Apple displays your books purchased from the app store?  Same concept, except for your PDFs.  What fun is telling someone you have 157 RPG PDFs on your iPad, then showing the LIST on Goodreader.  Instead, show them the BOOK COVERS on your virtual bookshelf.  'Nuff saif, its a damn cool gimmick and it works.

There are many more PDF reader apps, some I own, some I've never touched, but these are the ones I use constantly.  As you can guess from the amount of mini-reviews I do, I have access to alot of PDF content.  I need apps that make them a pleasure to read on my iPad, and these are them.

Thanks to Andugus from White Haired Man for asking the questions that got me thinking that led to me writing stuff that ended up on this page.

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And the Winner of a PDF Copy of Realms of Chtulhu is...

Lets see... Six entries (and a Marvel "No-Prize" is awarded to Greg - Cheers!)... can never find a frickin' D6 when you need one... okie... here we go:

I rolled a 3 "three" - Ara Kooser, come on down... you are the winner of a PDF copy of Realms of Chtulhu (I've typed that so much I think I've learned how to spell it... or I learned a wrong spelling).

Ara, you have 7 days to hit me with your valid email address (and a comment here so I know it is you emailing me).  I can be reached at:  tenkarsDOTtavernATgmailDOTcom.  Yes, it is a stupid way to type an email address, but it has fooled the spam bots so far ;)

Congrats to Ara, and thanks to all those who entered.

Less Than 2 Hours Left to Enter to Win a PDF Copy of Realms of Chtulhu

Check out last Friday's blog entry for details. Enter by 6pm Eastern Time tonight... thats less then 2 hours from now.  Good luck :)

Last Chance to Win a PDF Copy of Realms Cthulhu

Check out last Friday's blog entry for details. Enter by 6pm Eastern Time tonight, Monday Sept 6 2010.

Good luck to all.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I'm Getting That Itch

You know the itch. It's the one that tells you it's been too damn long since you've rolled the (virtual in my case) dice. I don't think I've played in the monthly C&C game via FG2 since June... It could be longer, as I know I had to miss a session.

I'm going to start looking for a weeknite EST game I think to supplement it. Weekly or twice a month... Weekends are rough to work gaming into these days.

I'm not too concerned with the system or the genre... a good group makes gold from most anything.

I'll post an update if I should find anything. Wish me luck ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

It's a Damn Good Thing I Took Off Monday...

As we decided to stay in the Poconos an extra day. I'm really wishing I had bought Jenja so I could give Dread a test drive, but apparently not this weekend.

Next weekend is still up in the air. 9-11 is a major day of remembrance for me and my group, as we lost one of ours when the towers fell. As I was also a first responder that day, 9-11 hits doubly.

But tonight? Tonight i'll be eyeball deep in RPG reading. Sometimes reading is the best way to remember ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
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