Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday Matinee Movie - Season of the Witch

Is it just me or it Nicholas Cage in just about every third movie released these days?  That being said, I liked Season of the Witch.  Even more surprisingly, my fiancee enjoyed it too.  Yep, she stayed awake throughout  the whole thing.  Good thing we found it on Amazon on Demand.

The storyline of escorting the witch to here trial at the abbey could easily be stolen for an RPG scenario if it hasn't already.  The twist near the end was actually kinda neat and wasn't telegraphed from a mile away as most movies tend to do with their twists (or maybe I'm just good and connecting the dots as they are presented).

Some of the acting is a little stilted, and there isn't much of an attempt to speak with authentic accents, but really, who cares?  The story makes for a great ride.  Besides, I think Nick Cage with an English accent would be painful to listen to.

Last week I had my fiancee watch Dust to Dawn for the first time.  I told her it was a movie that abruptly changes gears, but didn't tell her the twist.  This time, when the dead monks started dropping like ninjas, she said: "Holy shit, this just became a Zombie Movie without dropping the actually story.  They shoulda done that with Dusk to Dawn."  She may be right.

In any case, as a gamer and a fan of fantasy (and a history major) I will put my stamp of recommendation on Season of the Witch.  There are some good lines in it too that I wouldn't mind using at the gaming table.  I might need to watch it a second time to write them down ;)

Blogger's New Interface Blows

Anyone else having issues with Blogger's new interface?  When I mentioned earlier this week I planned on trying out some new blogging software, I had no idea Blogger was going to be playing around with it's software.

This shit sucks.  My previous attempt to post had no less then 2 dozen error messages pop up, then it refused to post.

I really will need to step on to some real blogging software.  It was the plan anyway.


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Troll Under the Blog and Other Short Tales - Forthcoming

I had the main outline of The Troll Under the Blog worked out Wednesday nite when I was driving to pick my son up from his EMT class. Which of course means my outline has faded a bit, as I never actually wrote anything down at the time or immediately thereafter. I do my best writing while driving. I need a voice recorder for my car ;)

In any case, I'll try to get it written out this weekend if all goes well. Oh, and maybe a Tale of the Blue Knight (but don't hold your breath fro the second one... heh).

The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane - Skulls in the Stars

After watching the Solomon Kane movie on DVD last weekend I decided to pick up The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane in Kindle format on Amazon for both my fiancee and myself. Last nite I finally got around to reading the first short story Skulls in the Stars. I must say, I like it.

I'm the first to admit I've never read Howard's original works before. Everyone knows of Conan. I read the Marvel Comics series, played the Play By Mail game back in the day, have the TSR and Mongoose RPGs, watched the original movie and caught some of the recent TV series. Never read a short story or novel.

I think I'm hooked now. Skulls in the Stars held my attention from the first paragraph. Guess I'm back to reading fiction on a semi-regular basis again. It's a good thing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Free OSR List Mini Review - Dark Dungeons

The free OSR rulesets are a special bunch.  They seek to clone, or clone and house rule, earlier editions of the Dungeons & Dragons rules.  God bless the OGL, and it's empowering those that enjoy Old School gaming.

Dark Dungeons is a clone of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.  The D&D Rules Cyclopedia is itself a mash-up of BECMI Dungeons & Dragons - the series of boxes sets that took one from 1st level to 36th level.  If you've tried to find yourself a copy of the D&D RC on eBay or such, you would see that it is pretty sort after.  Dark Dungeons gives you the RC in a revised edition that attempts to correct some of the contradictions between the different boxed sets.

I have this in both dead tree and PDF formats and it is extremely well done.  The PDF is free ;)

Free Traveller Campaign - Secret of the Ancients

I've posted about this when the early chapters were released, but somehow I missed the whole thing hitting 256 pages in length, with 10 chapters and an intro.  Where the heck have I been?

In any case, it's complete and it's free.  How cool is that?

I'll be adding this to the Free Resources List shortly.

Sometimes Ya Gotta Be the Guinea Pig

I'm going to try some new blogging software when I get home tonight if all goes well.

Hopefully it's as painless as the below interaction (my mother's cat Fritzy and my son's cavie Opie).

- Posted from my iPhone

(edit: added some extra pics)

I'm Proud to Be a Part of This Community

Sometimes it takes a bit drama to appreciate what you have. Yesterday, the OSR blogging community had its share of drama and it's members showed the appreciation for what they had. We circled the wagons and came to the aid of one of our own. This really is a "community" in the best sense of the word.

It really does make one wonder how f'ed up an individual has to be when they are constantly negative and downright evil in their nature. In their "real life" outside of blogging they must be an object of such scorn and ridicule that all they can think of is attacking others anonymously on the internet. It is pitiful. Pity YDIS. I do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Once and Future Troll

There once was a troll, with a loud bark
Empty of soul, it was gruesome and dark

All it could do, all it could be
Was petty and mean, for all to see

Loving attention and the misery of "tags"
It made a home amongst dung and rags.

Throwing it's shit to see what might stick
It was too dumb to know how bad it was sick.

Pity the troll, for in truth it is ill
Beware the troll, it will never get it's fill.

My poetry might suck, but you sir, are a sick little fuck.

Digging Up Dragon Roots

Anyone besides me remember C.E. Rocco's Dragon Roots Magazine? It was attempt to publish 3e and 4e articles in the same magazine. The website at www.dragonroots.net is still live, but it hasn't been updated in at least a year.

Four issues were published. 0-3, and issue 4 had a cover posted, but apparently there were printer issues and I don't think it was ever released. There was also some sort of GenCon special for 2010 planned (again, a cover was posted) but I don't think it was ever published.

It looks like you can still order back issues, but the forum has been dead for over a year, and DM_Rocco hasn't posted to ENWorld since April, 2010.

I was the vocal voice that got PDF issues of the magazine reduced in price from their printed brethren.

It was an interesting magazine that suffered from the one man-all hats syndrome. I don't think I had any outstanding issues left in my sub, but like many things in this hobby of ours, paying in advance of an item being published is often a gamble (Mishler's Wilderlands for example) and you have to be willing to write it off if it never pays out.

Anyone know anything else about Dragon Roots? Any updates?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Green Lantern Flamed Out in the End

Last thursday I dragged my son to a matinee showing of Green Lantern in 3D.  He had a ball busting mine online by calling me "Such a Kid!" since I decided I had to see it in 3D.  Whatever, he got to go for free, and at 18 he's a lot closer to being a kid then I am.

I really wanted to love the movie.  I'm a big GL fan, having found comics right after the "DC Implosion", and Green Lantern / Green Arrow was the one series I never wanted to miss.  Hal Jordan is the "true GL" in my eyes and all that crap.

So, I enjoyed the background of the character, the special effects, the revamp of Pieface to drop that horrible nickname, seeing the other GLs, the arrogance of the Guardians, knowing I was seeing Hector Hammond the moment he hit the screen... I had a fanboy blast.

And then the final combat.  The big climax.  The "what the f' just happened to my movie?!?" moment.  Really, what the f'?  I don't want to spoil it for anyone(so some of you may want to stop reading now) but when a planet killer doesn't just swarm and implode a private airport, let alone get defeated buy a rookie Green Lantern when previously it was eating the best of them for breakfast, my ability to suspend disbelief is greatly hampered.  When the best of the Corps show up to save Hal's bacon from burning but after the menace is defeated, all I could this is "they could have done that at any f'n time".

I haven't been this disappointed in a movie ending since The Abyss.  What a waste.

Ah well, maybe the DC Universe Reboot will breath life back in the comic lines.

My Little Girl

Today was my first day back to work after a week of vacation. My little girl made sure i was awake, then wanted to snuggle. Needless to say, I was a few minutes late this morning. ;)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Random Morning Thoughts

If 3x is a D20 system, what "die" would represent Savage Worlds? All? The D4-12 System?

If Woody had gone straight to the police, I'd be out of a job sooner then later.

If knowledge is power, and the internet gives nearly infinite access to knowledge, why is the average person so misinformed?

As I am packing up my RPG collection for renovations, I never realized how much of this shit I actually have. Even the fiancee had that "Holy Shit! Maybe we do need to rent a storage unit" moment. And she hasn't even seen half of it yet. ;)

When we got home from her sister's on Sunday evening (from the July 3rd / 4th party), she said: "I'm going to use the bathroom. You go do a blog post". She knows me way too f'n well.

All for now...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Review - Savage Worlds Deluxe - The Rules - Part 1 - Rolling the Dice

I think my earlier issues with Savage Worlds were linked to the concept that an Attribute or Skill isn't a number, but a die.  If ever a game called for the use of those funky Dungeon Crawl Classics odd-dice, it seems it would have been SW.  I'm glad it doesn't call for them, but I can see where it would work.

In any case, in Savage Worlds Deluxe,  your Strength score is indicated by a die - D4 would be the low end of the chart, D12 would be the normal mortal high end of the chart.  Skills are linked to attributes, in that it costs 1 point per die "step" to increase a skill up to it's matching attribute and 2 points per die "step" to surpass the matching attribute.  As you have limited pools of points to increase your Attributes and your Skills as a new character, there is a bit of a balancing game that needs to be achieved.

Oh, and there are Edges and Hinderances, that add bonus or penalties depending on the circumstances, but I'll get back to that at a later point.

In addition to the die that is linked to your Attribute or Skill, all PCs get a Wild Die.  This is an extra D6, and the PC or Wild Card (some NPCs are Wild Cards) gets to chose the higher number rolled of the two dice.  If you roll the max possible on a die, you get to roll again and add the total.  So if you roll an "8" on a D8 during a Trait test or Damage roll, you can "Ace".  I'm not sure if a Wild Die can "Ace".  I think they can, but I'm not 100% sure (just found it - yes, they can Ace).

If both dice come up ones, or "Snake Eyes", it's a critical failure, and the GM gets to screw with you.  Hey, shit happens ;)

Can't forget bennies.  They are similar to Fate Points from Warhammer RPG's 1st and 2nd editions.  They can be used as a do-over, or to mitigate damage.  Use 'em or lose then, you get them back at the next session, so holding them for too long can be a waste.

Again, presentation is key, and SW Deluxe "feels" much more user friendly then it's predecessor.

More in Part II

The Free OSR List Mini Review - Basic Fantasy Role Playing Game

The Basic Fantasy Role Playing Game, hereafter referred to as BFRPG, is a clone of Basic / Expert Dungeons & Dragons.  More accurately, it is probably a houseruled clone of Basic / Expert D&D, as it separates class from race and defaults to ascending AC.

Things to note:

-Spells are limited to 6th level spells
-As best I can tell, no race has a level limit aside from the general class limit of 20
-It is surprisingly complete for 152 pages - monsters and magic items included
-Information on strongholds.  Don't think I've seen this in other clones (not 100% sure, mind you)
-Available in PDF and OpenOffice formats, making it very easy to house rule the documents for your own use.

BFRPG has a very active community and a plethora (I love that word) of adventures and supplements free available to add to your game and your campaign.  Heck, even if you play another clone, this is a great community to find quality additions to the OSR clone of your choice.

Savaged Holiday Weekend Update

Wow.  I'm really liking the SW Deluxe PDF.  It seems much more digestible then the SW Explorer's Edition.

So, I've searched my account at RPGNow and see I've purchased some settings for Savage Worlds in the past, such as Day After Ragnarok and Winterweir and have some reviewer comps for others.  I'm in for a world of reading.

So, I'm aiming to alternate the Mini Reviews of the Free OSR RPGs with Savage Worlds reviews - I do need to finish work on the next part of the Savage Worlds Deluxe review.

Keep the suggestions coming.  Remember, I blame the White Haired Man!  ;)

Looking For Suggestions on Savage Worlds Settings

I haven't decided which system I'm going to use for sure this fall, but I'd like an idea of the available settings available for Savage Worlds.  Sure, I can find them on the web, but I'm looking for the opinions of those that have run or played in them.

Yes, I've been reading thru the Savage Worlds Deluxe PDF in my spare time this holiday weekend.  Can you tell? ;)

Was True20 Green Ronin's Attempt to Put Out a "Savage Worlds"-type RPG?

I ask this because I was very enthused about True20when it was released and the micro-settings that went along with it.  Of course, that was me with little Savage Worlds experience.  Now that I am reading Savage Worlds, I'm beginning to see some thematic similarities.

Now, I know neither one is the first attempt at trying to put out a "universal" RPG.  I do believe GURPS was  the first commercial success.  You could also peg the Hero System as one of the big boys.  The thing is, True20 and Savage Worlds try to make the universal aspect user friendly - the previous two games are  crunch heavy.

True20 seems to be the barely living dead these days, with Green Ronin's DC Adventures and Dragon's Age RPGs taking the front and center positions.  I thought I read somewhere that the rules designed for Dragon's Age are going to be Green Ronin's next "go to" ruleset.  Which kinda leaves True20 pushed to the curb.

Does anyone have experience with both True20 and Savage Worlds?  Are they both aiming for the same type of player base (although True20's roots in 3e may be seen as a strength for some and a curse for others)?  Any preference between the two?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Traveller is Coming to the iPhone Near You

I don't have a habit of clicking on ads, but when I saw one for Traveller-AR, I couldn't resist.  Apparently there is a company looking to release MMORPG based on the Traveller Universe and putting it on the iPhone.  Count me as "intrigued".

The concept could work, and the beta graphics look nice - but the proof is in the pudding, so I will reserve full judgement until it is closer to release.  I did, however, sign up for the beta.

Here's their video on YouTube:

New Additions to the Free RPG List

I'm thanking the Trollish Delver for these additions.  Witchcraft and Neverwhere I knew about but forgot.  Tales from the Wood and the Four Color System I have somehow missed in my web walking.

Witchcraft is from CJ Carella and uses the Unisystem

Neverwhere draws upon the writings of Neil Gaiman - 'nuff sais!

Tales From the Wood lets you play as creatures from the English Woodlands

The Four Color System is a free superhero RPG (cloning MSH)

The Free OSR RPG List "Mini Review" - Adventures Dark & Deep

Adventures Dark & Deep is a "what if" retro rpg. What if Gary Gygax hand't been force out of TSR? Unearthed Arcana and some of the issues of Dragon magazine gave hints as to Gary's vision of AD&D 2e, but we never got to see the project published, let alone completed.

With Adventures Dark & Deep we are given a possible version of what that would be, thanks to Joseph from the Greyhawk Grognard's Blog. I'll borrow from one of his forum posts at Adventures Dark & Deep and let him give a better summary then I just did:

The concept behind Adventures Dark and Deep (ADD) is a "what if?" scenario. Specifically, what would a 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons have looked like if Gary Gygax had stayed with TSR, and the game was developed along the lines he had been planning? The broad concepts were printed in Dragon magazine, and we saw some of it in 1985's Unearthed Arcana, but the coherent re-writing of the system, and the inclusion of intended new material, never happened. Gygax left the company, went on to develop many other games, and AD&D was taken in a very different direction in its published 2nd edition.

Adventures Dark and Deep is an attempt to reconstruct what such a 2nd edition would have looked like if Gygax had remained at the helm. New classes, including the mountebank, jester, mystic, savant, and bard, are included. Psionics is gone, as are monks and half-ogres. Assassins are relegated to optional status. Mages get to specialize in types of spells, with bonuses and accompanying detriments. Combat is streamlined and rationalized. The various spells, races, magical items, and classes from UA are integrated into the Players and Game Masters books, and all the creatures from the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II are brought together into a single book, and more (and more variants) are added. Monsters have variable-type hit dice; larger, tougher creatures might use a d10 or d12 to determine hit dice, while physically weaker creatures might use a d4 or d6. In addition, the monsters are reorganized, making it easier to find a desired sort of creature by environment. A skills system is introduced, but one which doesn't undermine the coherence of the class-based system.

I don't have any special insight into Gygax's thought process regarding what a 2nd edition would have looked like, but I have studied what he's written about it, both in Dragon magazine and on various online fora over the years, and I think I've got a pretty good idea. It's a reconstruction, if you will, but it should make a ripping good game once its all set.

The presentation of the rules thus far is adequate (no bells or whistles), but it's the implementation of the rules where Joseph excels. This does feel more like a Gygaxian version of the 2e rules then the ones we were given. We'll never know exactly where EGG would have taken 2e, but this would have been a fine path.

Savage Worlds Deluxe - First Look

I don't know what I was expecting when I started virtually flipping thru the Savage Worlds Deluxe PDF, but I don't think it was this.  This isn't the SW EX edition, which is a nice, compact yet fairly plain - no, this edition has all the bells and whistles... I like it.

The presentation of the rules, physically (or is it electro-physically in a PDF) rivals that of Paizo.  It might even exceed them, but I'll hold off on declaring that for sure.

Now, maybe it's because I have a bit of a grasp of the rules in action after last weekend's playtest, but the presentation seems well written and understandable.  There's even little "notes from the editor" type stuff, to explain why something was added or removed, or why it is done a certain way.  It's a nice touch.

The artwork is very evocative without being "preachy".  Well, maybe preachy isn't the right term, but it doesn't need to be shocking to be effective.  It hits all the main genres and then some.

That being said, I could probably have done without the full page ads / art pieces for some of the genre / plot point adventures they are selling.  Right there in the first handful of pages too.  Eh, I still liked them.  Had no idea Space: 1869 was stepping into the Savage Worlds world.

Did I mention it has some very well done bookmarking?  A PDF without bookmarks, especially full length games, are pretty much only half done.  When I pay for something, I want it to be the best that it can be.  It looks like Pinnacle has done some good work here.

I'll get to the rules in the next part.  It's a holiday weekend, so don't hold your breath too much ;)
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