Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Mundane Gives Value to Rarity

As I mentioned earlier today, I'm spending the weekend at my family's place in the Poconos.  I'm a city boy that spent my summers in the country, and for a number of years had 2 gaming groups - one in the outer boroughs of NYC, and one up here in the Poconos.  I like to think it kept me in balance during my formative years ;)

In my time in the country I've seen numberless deer (including an albino one), numerous wild turkeys and pheasants, black bear and their young, possums, skunks... not counting owls, hawks, hummingbirds and I'm sure an assortment of animals I've forgotten.

I've never seen a fox until tonight, in my own backyard.  I thought it was a very large cat until it stood up and pranced off - and it was f'n cool as all shit!  Cause I've never seen one before.

One thing that Raggi definitely got right with his Weird Fantasy rules was the importance of making certain adversaries rare or even unique.  It makes the moment special and stand out amongst the mundane.  Where he get's it wrong in my opinion, is he leaves out the mundane and fails to provide the rules necessary to create the special and unique.

Tonight's fox sighting was special not just because I'd never seen one in the wild before, but because I'd seen so much of everything else and had yet to see a fox.  If everything is special and unique then they fail to be special, and unique loses value.

I just wish I had a camera with me so I could have taken a pic.  Eh, my mind took the pic, and that's the same camera I use while gaming.  It will have to suffice ;)

The Free OSR List Mini Review - For Gold & Glory

For Gold & Glory is a retroclone for AD&D 2e.  It is still a work in progress.  Monsters and magic items still need to be edited and added, and the spell list only goes up tot he letter "E" at the moment.  That being said, the rules of 2e are certainly there.

Heck, there's even THACO - To Hit A Combat Opponent.  Nice way to get around the old definition of THAC0 ;)

I expect this to be a nice, PDF portable reference for those looking to plat with the 2e rules.

From the Author's website:

For Gold & Glory is a retro-clone of the “Advanced” Fantasy Role Playing Game (2nd Edition); designed by David “Zeb” Cook, developed by Steve Winter & Jon Pickens, and published by TSR in 1989. It served as an expansion on the rules written by the game’s original creator, E. Gary Gygax, and also brought the product into a more mainstream environment with unique campaign scenarios and friendlier writing in light of ignorant attacks against its subject matter. As a retro-clone, FG&G makes use of Wizards of the Coast’s Open Game License to create a derivative product provided no copyright is infringed upon.

What For Gold & Glory Is: FG&G is an attempt to create a close adaption of the 2nd Edition rules. It contains all information culled from the three “core” rulebooks, with the exception of optional rules, into a single product. The intention is to preserve a source that’s long out of print. The 2E books were, in some cases, poorly organized and ill suited for quick player reference. Although most books can be purchased cheaply, my goal is that you will turn to this product, quickly reference what you’re searching for, and return to your game without having to scour several documents or cart around a dozen books.

A few changes have been made to correct errors or bugs in the original publication particular when it comes to item creation rules. There are corrections to odd omissions between 1E and 2E such as some druid spells changing spheres (and thus druids losing access to staple spells) and illusionist spells. Overall, the changes are large enough for me to consider FG&G an original product (to avoid copyright infringement) but minor enough to be easily portable with little-to-no adapting on the player’s part. If you’re reading a 2E book then you can plug it into FG&G with no extra work on your part. If you can’t do this, I’ve failed in my goal.

Weekend Woodlands Escape

Escaping for the weekend to the Pocono Mountains. Will try and get a review up tonight. Got to travel light with my iPad and my RPG collection on Dropbox ;)

Pic from the front patio;

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review - Savage Worlds Deluxe - Powers - Part 2

Note - thru 7/19 Savage Worlds Deluxe is 20% off

I think I could run a Savage Worlds game just fine, so long as no one chose anything from the "Powers" section of the rule book ;)

The reason I say this is not because the powers look all that difficult to grasp, but for someone that grew up on D&D and the like, it's a whole new language to learn. I think the next time I get to play in a SW game, I'm going to play a Powers user so I can get a hands on feel for the system.

Now that that is out of the way, the powers section looks really nice. Powers are initially broken down by Arcane Backgrounds - Magic, Psionics, Weird Science, Super Powers and Miracles. Trappings and Effects allow powers to be tweaked and individualized, so no two fireballs (or anything else) will necessarily be the same from different casters. I like the ability to individualize powers while still keeping to a defined list. It's a pretty neat system, I just need to get comfortable with it.

I really like the total package that is Savage Worlds Deluxe - I just need to spend some time as a player before trying to run a game with it.

The Games We Played When We Didn't Have Enough People to Roleplay

These days I play my RPGs via online chat or a VTT. If we don't have enough to game, it's basically a wash.

Back when I played in my High School, College and the years immediately thereafter, we'd pull a game off the shelf (usually my shelf) and get cracking. We had a decent assortment, and there were times that we would opt for one of those games on the shelf over the regular campaign even if we had a full group. Depending on the amount of time we had, we would sometimes do a board game and role-play. Ah, the sweet days before real responsibilities.

The games we played, in no particular order were:

Risk - the classic. My version had the caltrop plastic pieces that were murder on bare feet. My box has been taped many times, but it's still complete. No one wanted to ever use the pink army, go figure.

Ameba Wars - this was one of those boxy bookshelf game boxes. I haven't played or looked at it in over 15 years, but the sic-fi game was always a good time

Nuclear War - card game from Flying Buffalo. Holy crap but this could get intense. A card game based on the fear of mutual destruction, it fit in well for the mindset of the average college student in the late 80's to mid 90's.

Wabbit Wampage - kill the rabbit game from Pacesetter - this didn't come off the shelf as often as others, as it didn't play as well as it should have. Not sure why that is. Maybe it felt more like a game, and less like Bugs and Elmer then it should have.

Chaos Marauders - Game Workshop's card game. Now this was a f'n blast! Up to 4 players, so if we had 5 or 6 at the table it wasn't a choice, but folks would demand a session of Chaos Marauders every chance they got. I may need to bring these to the next Gathering of Fools.

Talisman - the classic game of killing things and taking their stuff. Fun to play. Repeatedly. Until you had the sessions that never seemed to end (especially when using the add-on boxes). Of the games on this list, I'm sure this was played by more readers of this blog then any of the others.

Well, that's my old groups list.

What's you list?

Trying to Identify an Old Commodore 64 RPG - Memory is Murky

Now, before I describe the game the game in question, it might be Realms of Darkness, but I don't think so.

It was an RPG that included player handouts on fake parchment paper in the game box. At certain points of the game, you were told to refer to one piece or another. It was great for game immersion (and as a form of copy protection too I guess). It was the best computer based RPG I had played (or tried to) until that time

My copy was buggered, and the disc drive would crash on loading about 9 times in 10 for that game only - it could take me an hour or more to even get the game started. At some point later in time, I couldn't even do that.

Any ideas?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Free OSR List Mini Review - Errant

What is Errant? It's an Old School RPG wrapped in New School sensibilities. It's kinda like a half-breed, or a hybrid. In any case, it works.

It's the 6 stats you already know, determined by rolling 3d6 six times and arranging in as you see fit. There are attribute test you can make against your attributes - level is not taken into account, so forget what you might have learned in Castles & Crusades and the like.

Then there are class skills. When using a class skill, you get to add your level if it's a skill you know. Which does correct a situation with C&C's Siege Engine - all skill attempts get level as a bonus in that system if I recall correctly.

Schools of Magic are arranged by school and color coded , which makes reading the list a snap. The spell descriptions themselves are generally one paragraph and easy to reference. Here's the kicker tho - casting spells require the caster to expend hit points to cast. Nice twist, and it adds a bit of strategy to the caster classes. The spell casting system would have been a good fit for LotFP Weird Fantasy's default setting - requiring casters to give of their own health and energy to cast certainly adds to the suspense.

In many ways, it looks like an Old School RPG made with New School advances in presentation. Heck, it's even laid out for ease of reading on a tablet, like my iPad.

My one gripe, and it's a small one, is that the bookmarks could be broken down just a bit more. For example, under "Classes", we could have further bookmarks for each of the classes. As it is, we just have a general "Classes" bookmark.

Of course, most PDFs aren't even bookmarked at all these days and there really is no excuse for that.

Amazing art throughout. No porn. Slightly disappointed with that... not! ;)

From the blurb:

Errant RPG is a retro-clone that captures the basic playstyle of the classic game while introducing a variety of modern innovations to improve play.

Key Innovations over the Classic Game:
- Race and Class as separate choices
- Inclusion of a wider range of classes like Bards and Paladins
- Removal of the Cleric class and replacement with a Scholar class
- Even distribution of spells across the schools so that school choice for specialization is balanced
- Expansion of Saving Throws to cover a wider range of instinctive reactions
- New Language mechanics that makes a distinction between vernacular and written languages
- A Luck Mechanic to help new character survive a dangerous world
- An Ambitions Mechanic to give your character goals
- Replacement of Alignment with a more flexible Karma system
- A new method of resolving damage/injury/death once you run out of hit points

Palladium Fantasy - Has It Ever Been RetroCloned?

I know Kevin protects his property more vigorously then a mamma bear, but I was wondering if anyone had ever RetroCloned Palladium's Fantasy RPG?

In theory, it shouldn't be too hard, as it is quite obviously built on the framework of D&D, and thus the OGL.

I am not looking to put another nail in the endless coffin known as Palladium Books, a company that rises and falls more often then the tides.  I enjoyed RIFTS for it's fluff, even if the rules were a horrid unbalanced mess, and that was my first taste of the Palladium system.  Palladium Fantasy I discovered later, and I found a lot to like.  Just wondering how well it would mesh with the OGL.  So Kevin, if you are reading this, it's just conjecture at this point.  A mental exercise.  No need for a Cease and Desist at this point.  Save the money.  ;)

When Less is More

I really need to learn some time management skills. There must be an app for that ;)

In any case, I squeezed more into one evening yesterday then any sane man would, yet I still didn't get everything accomplished that I wanted to - but I accomplished what I needed to.

I think the same can be said about many things. You want to accomplish A-Z, but you NEED to accomplish A, D, E and S... anything beyond that is just gravy.

When I was writing my version of the Bard Class for the next KnockSpell, I had a huge list of things I wanted to do with it. Once I got started, I quickly saw I had to prioritize what was needed to make the class work. The rest could wait, or maybe wasn't even really needed. Less can be more.

With the Bard Class, I cut out new spells / songs and magic items. They weren't needed to make the class work. As for class abilities, if there was something already defined elsewhere in an OGL, why reinvent it. It took a lot of effort to reign myself in ;)

So, tonight I prioritize and remove some floor molding in advance of installing my flooring. Not going to go crazy, just the side I'll be starting in. Then read some RPG rules. Maybe a post. Then, if there is time, watch the first episode of Game of Thrones. I've put that off long enough I think.

Of course, the chances of me sticking to tonight's plan is slim to none, but one has to try ;)

Double Rainbow (sorta)

We had a short sunshower / thunderbumper last evening and I caught these pics of a rainbow after stopping at a cash machine for dinero.

You can sorta see the hint of the second rainbow in the first shot.

Now where the hell is my pot of gold?!?

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's High School

When my son asked me to explain my job to him (as he is now thinking careers and such) I told him that being a cop was like spending an extra 20 years in High School. Same practical jokes. Same bullies. Same horsing around. Same authority figures, both good and bad. Same close friends, and just like High School, most of them are friends because of similar interests. Same assholes, and most of them are assholes because they enjoy being that way. Don't show up for the day and you'll get a phone call and possibly a visit.

Except that in my case, you also get a gun and shield, the authority to takes someone's freedom from them, and the responsibility to protect life. But it's still High School. If you didn't enjoy the antics and drama from High School it's going to be a long 20 years on the force.

If someone asked me about about our corner of the Blogosphere at this point in time, I'd probably have to give a similar answer. It's High School, just without the school work. Oh, and it's virtual.

I happened to like High School a lot, even in the crappy NYC Public School System.

Progress is Painful

This is getting painful - literally.

The renovations are causing more aches and pains then I'm used to. Progress is a beautiful thing despite the discomfort. Maybe as the flooring gets going I'll post pics as it progresses.

Once these two room are done I'm tapping out and hiring a professional for the kitchen ;)

Review wise, I reread some of Errant while dealing with an hour and a half texting marathon with a co-worker that is out sick with kidney stones. Weird combo, I know, but it worked. Production qualities are top notch, although I'm sure Greg would say it's not up to his new standards. Picky SOB ;)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Demolition Man

(not my closet - but double the size and add more wood and you have an idea)
(oh, and my holes are smaller - so far ;)

When I got home from work I returned to closet demolition.  95 degrees on the back porch and just a bit hotter on the second floor with no A/C.  The closet is / was about 8 feet wide and just about as tall, solid wood construction.  It's just too damn shallow, and the clothing bar is way too high for my Rachel.

As I did my destruction, I realized I had a Tunnels & Trolls game tonight.  Kinda buggered my time available to do reviews.  Lo and behold, I checked the message board and this week is a wash.  Looks like we may be heading to every other week, which works well with my free time.  So, reviews were back on.

Until I checked my email and found my Pergo laminate flooring, which was supposed to take 3 days to process and 3 to 6 days to ship, putting it mid to late next week, is arriving this thursday.  Sixteen boxes.  I need the space where the closet is just to store the crap as I install the first room.  So back to more destruction and less blogging.  This is my 10 minute break to cool off  before my next round.

Fun fun, but it's getting there.

So, punting until tomorrow for the next review.  Sorry Greg, hopefully tomorrow.

K, back to breaking wood...

The Return to Normality

Greg should be happy. If all goes well, should have a mini-review of Errant posted some time tonight. Heck, if I'm really lucky, I may even get the next part of the Savage Worlds Deluxe review posted tonight too. That part will deal with the powers / spells section of the rules.

Its nice to see things returning to normal. Of course, I need to spend at least an hour or so when I get home demolishing that damn closet. It's getting there. I'm tearing down the "Old School" closet so I can build a "New School" closet. How ironic ;)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why Do We Blog in This Corner of the Blogosphere?

Blogweb log: a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies; "postings on a blog are usually in chronological order". (source ordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

CommunityA feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals (source google.com)

Troll - (bold is added by me) In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory[citation needed], extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. (source Wikipedia)

I know this has been said to death, and everyone has been putting in their 2 cents in the past couple of days, but I need to say my little piece on the matter.  I don't have the prose of others, and as we've seen my poetry can be a bit forced, but I'm going to borrow a minute of your time anyhow.

Why are you here?  Why do you read these gaming blogs?  If you blog yourself, why do you blog?

Probably because you enjoy all of the above, or you wouldn't be doing it.  I highly doubt anyone is getting paid to read or write this stuff (not counting the lads and ladies that are actually publishing - heck, many of them aren't getting paid either).  No one is forcing you into the blogosphere.  You are here because you enjoy the community, the camaraderie, the attention to some extent, the joy of giving to others of yourself and your skills.

So why the fascination with shitting on people?  Not all of us.  Not most of us.  Way less then some of us.  The aberrant few.  The type that kicks puppies and tortures kittens.  The type that sets a fire, then waits for the fire department to respond and watch them put it out as they risk their lives.  The type that would rather watch someone trapped in a car accident then help - not out of fear for their own safety, but the joy of watching the suffering.  I've dealt with the above in my career, and they are not wired like normal folk.  

Online communities have the same types of aberrant individuals as normal communities, but in far larger numbers.  Anonymity.  It lowers inhibitions.  Those that would never act out on these impulses in their "real life" are more apt to do so online.  A "troll" in your community, amongst your neighbors, would not last long.  Online, "trolls" have the ability to regenerate like an AD&D Trolls of old.

Of course, online communities also allow those that are painfully shy to open up.  Anonymity.  It lowers inhibitions.  

The blade cuts both ways.

If this were a forum, a strong hand by moderators would keep the "flame wars" and "trolls" under control.  In this community, the OSR Blogging Community, there is only us.  

We are not friends, at least not most of us.  Online acquaintances at best.  But we share a hobby and a community.  A good, healthy community pays dividends on a daily basis.  I'd like to think this is a good, healthy community.

K, done preaching.  Off my soapbox.  Carry on, nothing to see here!

Organizing The Disorganized Way

I really have way too much gaming material that I've accumulated over the years. More then I even realized, as I have it spread out in 3 rooms and a corner of the basement. Truth to tell, I forgot about the stuff in the basement until this past saturday. I went looking for a fan and low and behold, I found my stash of 3e gold (or fool's gold, depending on the publisher).

I also found a bag of Genesis games, which I promptly trashed (yea, I could eBay it but its not worth the hassle). I also realized my son has his computer graveyard in the same corner. I think I'll to start going thru stuff in the coming weeks. It's a good thing I just ordered a dozen office file boxes. I just need to empty out that basement corner so I can start organizing before the fiancé realizes the amount of crap I have and orders a purge ;)

I am NOT organized by nature. Surprise surprise... heh.

Still, the next stage of renovations is me putting in two rooms worth of flooring. I need to organize before I can start that, and the stuff shipped today. I can finish demolishing a closet in the heat, or I can organize crap in the cool basement. Tough one. I need room for my game collection, so I guess I do both.

I need another vacation ;)

Do You Use Any Online Resources to Assist Running Your Campaign?

With the slow rollout of Google+, it got me thinking about the online sites that can be used to help run a campaign. There are forums, sites like Obsidian Portal, email, blogs... and a crap more that I can't even think of at the moment (but I am sure some of you will).

What do you use? Is it as useful as you had hoped? If not, why not?

Yep, another list I'll be putting together in the future I expect, and I'll need some help on this one ;)


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Google+ Invites For Those That Want

Apparently, I'm a Google+'er.  Go figure.

No idea how many invites I can give out.  No idea if you need a Google account to sign up.  Doesn't matter.

Drop an email in the comments below and I'll give them out as I can.  Should be less then 24 hour turn around as long as I have invites to give.

I think Google+ can be a handy gaming tool to handle events between sessions, and even work as a replacement for chat based online RPG sessions.

It almost makes me want to forgive Google for f'n up Blogger this week ;)

Blogger is Really Screwing With My Mojo These Days

Why couldn't Blogger / Google have done a Beta testing of the new software before going live with this aberrant piece of shit?

I'll get a real post up later I hope...

Trying Out Some Software For Blogging Assistance - OmmWriter (OSX)

New Age text editor OmmWriter (for OSX) is the latest software I'm trying for my blog writing.  It isn't blogging software in the strict sense.  I'll still need to copy n paste this into Blogger (with MarsEdit it posted stuff direct).  Still, if it helps me get my thoughts on page just a bit easier all the more power to it - and me ;)

I'm pretty sure the New Age background music is going to annoy the living crap outa my son.  This should be fun... heh

That being said, I'm open for other thoughts on blogging software for the Mac, as the PC only gets booted for gaming these days, rare as it is.

How Do You Handle a Campaign That is Designed to Change Midstream (ex: Evernight) Tracks?

What I mean by the title of this post is this:  in a campaign like Evernight for Savage Worlds, the PCs go into the campaign expected a fairly typical Fantasy genre campaign... which quickly becomes fight for survival against an alien invasion from beyond.  Do you tell your players up front what the plot twist is going to be, or do you spring it on them in the hopes that they'll accept it?

In my looking at settings for Savage Worlds, I've been rereading bit and pieces of Evernight.  Great concept, horrible execution.  This is railroading at it's very best (worst).  Assumptions are built into the storyline that force the PCs to go a certain way or the GM finds them off script, off the reservation and himself scrambling to plug the holes.

Do you tell the players that the train is heading in a certain direction and they need to follow along?  Do you strip Evernight down to it's core concepts, and let the game go where it may?  The second option requires a strong and skilled GM.

This crap keeps me up at night.  I find it real frustrating that a cool concept like Evernight could be so poorly executed.

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