Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Have a New Appreciation of Projects

I really respect those in our hobby that can sit down and produce a game, a book, a piece of art - really anything that takes time and diligence to accomplish.

Me, I'm used to doing my stuff in bit and pieces.  To the point where its really just bits here and there.  The room renovations I've been working on have been going on for - well, forever it seems.  Done in bits and pieces.

Today was the first time I found to hit it dead on, and nearly completed flooring the first room in a day.  Of course, I had to ignore my 7 month old niece that was visiting, had to get my mother to pick my son up after his 100 degree tour of auxillary service, ate lunch in big bites while taking measurements and used my father's carpentry skills to the hilt as he trimmed the boards that needed it before I installed them.  Yes, I was focused.  An afternoon of clarity.  It won't last for me.

Even getting this typed out has required a degree of cat wrestling, as my girl was neglected all day and wants to get it all in now, either by standing over my mouse or walking on my keyboard.  She is persistent ;)

So to those of you that are persistent, productive, focused and all the other adjectives that define someone as one who gets things done - I tip my hat to you.  Oh, and I'll be reading some of that work the previously mention have produced as I lie in bed tonight before passing out.  Doing this "project" shit is damn tiring.

Just look at how long it took me to complete by Bard class for S&W.  In that time, Greg has written a whole RPG from scratch, tracked down and received free yet amazing art, layout, feedback... and still finds time for the family responsibilities.  Me, I need a clone of myself to split the work :)

I'm Floored - Literally

Spent my day installing this floor. Almost done. And yes, that corner still needs wallpaper. Oh, and thank the Lord for Amazon Prime shipping delivering the AC, or nothing would have been done in the heat.

Hopefully I can get a review up before I crash for the nite.

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, July 22, 2011

Eating My Own Words

A few months ago I posted that I didn't see the need for new games built on the same OGL / OSR inspired rulesets. I guess I was wrong.

Or maybe I was half right. We don't need them, but there is certainly an audience for them, myself included. My most recent OSR - OD&D inspired game that I'm enjoying reading is Adventurer Conqueror King. Not sure how much I like the title, but so far I like the system.

I'm still plowing thru it, but I like the way it makes fighting classes viable and special w/o resorting to the LotFP Weird Fantasy method of doing away with any sort of combat progression with the exception of pure fighters. There are other ways to secure a nitch for them, and ACK found a way. Actually, from my reading so far (and I am far from reading the whole document) I haven't seen much of a desire from myself to house rule the ACK rules. With Weird Fantasy, I loved the concept, liked a lot of the tweaks (specialists particularly), but I was house ruling in my head as I read my way thru.

I think the only ruleset I haven't mentally house ruled was Swords & Wizardry, and I wrote a Bard class for that, which u might say is a huge house rule ;)

It's not that the ACK rules are how I would have run a game back in the 80's. To my eyes so far, the rules read as how I would want to run one of my games from the 80's today, if that makes sense to you.

Road Trip!

My son just texted me that he passed his road test on the first try. He is now a licensed driver, so help me God ;)

I'm half expecting him to map out a road trip in August.

Now the fight over the car begins in earnest... heh!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not All Kickstarter Projects Are Created Equally, If At All

I happen to really like the concept behind Kickstarter.  It's like taking preorders without actually taking the money for the preorders until you have enough preorders to justify actually going thru with the project.

Case in point:  AGP - Adventure Games Publishing - James Mishler's startup.  James came out of the gate with a really strong product and offered subscriptions to upcoming products.  Liking what I saw and looking to support a new publisher I ponied up for a sub - which was cancelled after one or two releases.  I'm still out the cash on that (no biggie - I'm a grown man, I knew the risks)

Then we have iTabletop / Pandoren, a VTT which was asking for $200 from early adapters - and has now gone free.

I still do the preorder thing - DCC and Delving Deeper (edit - 11/8/12 and I'm still waiting on DD to ship - When the fuck did I preorder it?) are games I placed my hard earned cash in the hands of publishers and expect to see a product down the line.  An act of faith, if you will.

With Kickstarter, you don't actually spend the cash until the project meets it's funding goals and reaches the end of the funding time set.  Which is just a bit less of a gamble.

Some projects ask their backers for input, most offer extras for higher pledges.  Eh, I've been doing the patron thing since Open Design started their patron projects.  It resonates with me.

My latest is Adventurer Conqueror King.  I know I saw someone else blogging about it earlier.

Oh, and DungeonMorph Dice, which I don't think would have been produced without Kickstarter.  I'm looking forward to my dice ;)

Come to think of it, those are the only 2 projects I've funded that met their goals.  The ones that crashed, crashed bad (and will remain nameless)

Out Like a Snow Leopard, In Like a Lion

Installing the new OSX Lion on my Mac Mini. I'm a Mac convert and only use my Win Box for gaming these days. Damn thing takes forever to boot compared to the Mac.

33 minutes to update... hopefully ;)

Turning on the Heat

I know most of the US is in the middle of a heat wave. NYC is supposed to hit 95 today, 100 tomorrow and 96 on Saturday... perfect timing for me to install new floors. Amazon is sending me a new AC for the front rooms tomorrow. Thank god for Amazon Prime free shipping ;)

Pretty much the unwritten rule with my fiancee is any discretionary spending over $100 we discuss with the other, below that we are pretty much on our own. So I mentioned the AC purchase (thumbs up) and don't need to mention most of my gaming purchases, as they tend to be well under the threshold. Planned that out well I think ;)

The plan had been to get up early Saturday before the heat set in, work on the floors for a few hours, then head into the AC to watch Netflix on Demand and stay cool. Maybe with an AC in the front two rooms, I can get more done and get ahead of the game. I still want to get some Netflix in tho' ;)

I found out last night that my fiancee may have an eye for gaming. Friday I'll dig a little deeper. More when I can talk about it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

No More Fluff! Seeking a Fluff Alternative...

Apparently "fluff" (generally used to describe setting and background type material) leaves a bad taste in the mouths of certain gamers (see comments in my previous post). I understand why. It can be seen as a negative description, almost dismissive in nature. Besides, doesn't the porn industry employ "fluffers" to keep the male performers "ready"? Don't we already have enough porn in our RPGs already? ;)

So, what alternative forms do we have for "fluff" in gaming usage? While we are at it, we may as well find an alternative for "crunch."

No more Fluff & Crunch! Maybe Meat (rules) & Potatoes (descriptive text).

Which is More Important, The Setting or The Rules?

It's almost like the the "chicken or the egg" question. What comes first, the setting or the rules?

I ask this after reviewing The Weird West RPG. It's a nice, tight, simple yet complete rule system. All in all, an amazing package for the small size. It's sole omission is a setting. I find myself hungry for the assumed, default setting.

So, what's more important to you - the setting or the rules? Fluff or crunch? How much default setting information do you want in the RPG rules you pick up? Does the genre change the amount of fluff you are looking for in the rules (standard fantasy less / horror more / etc)?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mini Review - Weird West

Well, after highlighting a Kickstarter project dealing with a Weirdish West setting, I thought I should give equal time to another Weird West type RPG, named appropriately Weird West.  Go figure ;)

So, what can I tell you about Weird West?  It's amazingly complete for 8 pages - tho if you take off the cover and the fighting chart at the back it's 6 pages.  6 amazingly complete pages.  Pages that include character generation, stats, skills, professions, spells, combat mods, a weapon list, task resolution... phew!

Stuart squeezes so much into so little.  Heck, if I go into much more detail I'll be giving the thing away for free.  Get your own copy.  It's just a buck.

All that's missing is the setting.  We NEED background material!  Get working man!  ;)

From the blurb:

The streamlined and fast playing adventure roleplaying game for weird western worlds of cowboys, kung-fu, magic and otherworldly malevolence.

The Weird West Basic Rulebook has been designed to make reading, creating characters, and starting a game as fast as possible: the fastest RPG in the west! We've cut out the 'what is an rpg', game fiction, and other 'fluff' to keep the rulebook as lean as possible while still having enough detail to make it fun. 

This purchase includes both a PDF version suitable for reading on your computer, iPad or iPhone (with bookmarks) and a special 'PocketMod' PDF version for printing. The PocketMod version lets you create your own  4.25" x 2.75" sized game books from a single sheet of paper. Take a copy to read on the go, and print one to give to each of your players.

We Have Delivery! Oh, and a Game Change Tonight

My flooring finally came at 515.  I could have gone to work and saved the day at this rate, but it's here.  Which means I get to start installing it later this week.  In the heat wave.  Joy of joys.  I think I'll need to buy another AC on friday.

I'm doing what I can by myself (well, with family help) to keep the costs down.  I figure with painting, wallpapering, flooring and new closet the 2 rooms should come it at $1500 give or take.  Now I see why many of the smaller RPG companies are one or two folks.  You don't need to pay yourself for the work, just for the supplies ;)

Tonight is the fairly regular Tunnels & Trolls game run by Scott of Huge Ruined Pile fame.  Except it's not. Well, it is game night, Scott is running a game, I'll be there, but we're going OD&D.  Should be fun.  Just goes to prove that a good GM makes the game more then the rules, and Scott's a damn good GM.

Hurry Up and Wait

I love 8 hr delivery windows. They are so easy to plan around. Not!

I'm not looking forward to installing this floor in 95+ degree temperatures. :(

On a positive note I have lots of reading time available today ;)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mini Review - Bag Wars Sage (KotDT)

I don't think I've reviewed a comic on this blog before.  I know I hemmed and hawed about the current KotDT storyline, but this here is the Gold standard.  This is the Bag Wars Saga reworked, relaid, reedited - a storyline that spanned years is remade into a cohesive whole.

Did I mention it has a color map of Garweeze Wurld?  Saweet!

I think this is how I'll be doing my Knights of the Dinner Table reading for now one - on my iPad, in bed, lights out and just pure story.  To be honest, I pretty much would flip thru the last half of each issue anyway after the Knights' story ended.

I no longer have a monthly subscription, but with the trade paperbacks (in PDF even, so no need to find space to store) I can still get my KotDT fix.  Best of all possibilities if you ask me (and no, I'm not selling or getting rid of my older issues - I started with issue 2, and it's well worn but well loved).

From the blurb:

The Knights are embarking on their greatest adventure ever… the Bag Wars Saga! However, this is no mere compilation, but a “director’s cut” of the Bag Wars story arc including expanded and reworked versions of these fan-favorite stories from Knights of the Dinner Table, plus brand new strips, totaling over 30 pages of new material! Even better, this PDF version is in full color!
    The Strips
  • A Coming Storm
  • Scorched Earth
  • Shafted
  • The Wyrm's Curse
  • A Bagful of Troubles
  • The Barringer Rebellion
  • Go Figure!
  • Troll Story
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Bag War Four
  • The Game Audit
  • The Jackson Document
  • The Bag Raiders: Best Played Plans
  • The Bag Raiders: Of Dice and Men
  • The Bag Raiders: The Share Giver
  • The Bag Raiders: The Dark Side of the Bag
  • Ours for the Losing
    Additional Material
  • Gary Jackson's Understanding HackMagick [The J-Doc]
  • Bag Wurld Cast of Characters [KODT Bios]
(116 pages including covers, color)

Far West - A Not Yet Released RPG and Then Some

Gareth-Michael Skarka should be known to my fellow bloggers - his blog is The Designer Monologues and gives some decent insight into the publishing end of hobby of ours.  His latest project is Far West: Western / Wuxia Mashup.  It reached it's Kickstarter funding goal in 15 hrs!  I've never seen that before, and I've ponied cash into other Kickstarter and patron style RPG projects in the past.

What makes this so special?  Take to minutes and let GM explain in his own words.  He's certainly hooked me (I just need to figure out by exactly how much).

How cool is that?

I have no horse in this race, but I am really excited about this project.  It has so many different facets to it, this could be a mega win or ann uber fail.  Judging from the Kickstarter numbers I suspect the "win" is more likely.

Summary from the Kickstarter site:

Imagine: A fantasy world, but not one based on Medieval/Dark Ages European culture and myth, but rather one based on the inspirations of the Spaghetti Western and Chinese Wuxia. Add steampunk elements. Mix well. 
A fantasy world that's Stephen King's The Dark Tower meets The Storm Riders meets Deadwood meets Afro Samurai meets The Wild Wild West meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets Django meets The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. meets House of Flying Daggers and more.
A fantasy world that's explored through a constantly-updated website, a tabletop role-playing adventure game, a web series, artwork, fiction, comics and much, much, more.   A fantasy world that is shaped by its own fan community.    

I Was a Tinkerer Back in the Day

My first tour through this hobby I was a rules tinkerer. The players wanted to raise an army and conquer part of the Wild Coast (pre BattleSystem)? I put together a quick system to handle mass combat with a handful of rolls (like many of my notes from the 80's and 90's, long gone).

AD&D2e with it's endless splat books? I house ruled for balance.

NPC classes? Check

New spells? Aye

New creatures? But of course. You can't keep your players on their toes if you don't put them off balance on occasions.

That all ended in 97, shortly before the released of 3e.

3e I collected and read, but never played.

Then came Castles & Crusades - and I was back in the game and active. My second tour in the hobby known as Role Playing Games commenced.

I thought about tinkering but never did much of anything until a few months ago, when I put together a Swords & Wizardry Bard Class for submission to KnockSpell. It was a blast to do. Then again, I've always liked Bards.

I think I need to do some more tinkering, just not sure what yet. Maybe expand on the Bard with new spells and magic items. Maybe resurrect some of the more balanced kits from 2e for Swords & Wizardry. Something.

I understand why the real creative types in our hobby produce what they do, as there is little more satisfying in life then creating, completing and sharing a project that your are satisfied with and proud of.

Well, that and it would be a nice occasional distraction from installing the 2 rooms worth of flooring. It arrives tomorrow and I commence installation Thursday night after work. In a heatwave. In rooms without AC. The fun never ends ;)

Runequest - The Schism

It appears that Runequest will be coming in multiple flavors. We have Openquest, which is built on the Mongoose Runequest Rules (1st edition I believe but I may be wrong) using the OGL. Then we have Legend (formerly Wayfarer), which will replace MRQ2, as Mongoose lost the license for Runequest but apparently owns the rights to the rules - but as they are OGL now, anyone can publish them.

Which leads us to Runequest 6e, a joint venture with the trademark owners of Runequest (Issaries assuming I spelled it right). RQ6e will be written using the MRQ OGL rules, by some of the folks that wrote the MRQ2e rules.

Confused yet?

All of these revisions should be fairly compatible, and both Legend and RQ6e are seeking to be backwards compatible with MRQ2e.

Releasing your rules under an OGL lets out the genie out of the bottle and theres no putting it back. The question is, does this dilute the value of Runequest or enhance it? Or does it just muddy the waters to all shit?

I expect a lot of confusion myself. Still, I've owned RQ since the original Chaosium 2e and the Avalon Hill 3e. I like the system. I hope it survives the latest transition.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Yet More Free RPGs For the List (Thanks to Padre)

Padre pointed out some omissions from the Free RPG list I'm putting together (and slowly reviewing, and even slower to putting brief descriptions all on one page).

I'm putting some up now from Stargazer Games and I'll add them to the sidebar shortly.  In no particular order:

Resolute, Adventurer & Genius - This is the pulp remix of Warrior, Rogue and Mage.  Short, simple, easy to learn and free.

From the blurb:
Resolute, Adventurer & Genius is a simple, lightweight roleplaying game of pulp-style action and adventure. Explore lost ancient ruins! Thwart the plans of evildoers and madmen! Face the mysteries of the unknown! This book contains the complete game rules, including character creation, combat, equipment and chase sequences as well as hints for playing pulp-style games in different decades, from the 1910s to the 1940s and beyond.

Arcane Heroes - You want a short and sweet fantasy themed game that you can read in 5 minutes?  This one clocks in at 6 pages ;)

From the blurb:

Arcane Heroes is a rules-light roleplaying game set into a fantasy world filled with magic, wonders and epic adventures.  Characters in Arcane Heroes are members of ancient bloodlines which have produced many great heroes (and dreadful villains) in the past. But the world has changed, the industrial revolution has shaken up the old order. The ancient bloodlines are all but forgotten, but in these dire and gloomy times, heroes are needed more than ever.  Arcane Heroes uses a simple dice pool mechanic and contains all the rules needed to play a game.

Chronicles of the Four Dragons - Looking for a Far East styled RPG that is rules light?  This might be for you.

From the blurb:

Chronicles is a rules-lite, anime-style fantasy game which uses a pretty easy dice pool system and four classes: the Warrior which is attuned to Earth, the Archer which uses Air magic, the Monk who draws his power from Water and the Sorcerer who is a master of Fire magic.
The Dragon Empire
CotFD is set into the Dragon Empire, a vast nation based on medieval Japan and China. For many centuries it has been ruled by the Dragon Emperors who are descendants of the Four Elemental Dragons themselves. For a long time the empire prospered but recently things are starting to get out of hand. Barbarians attack the empire from the outside, while corrupt bureaucrats and local warlords attack it from within. But new heroes have arisen. They wield the power of the four elements and fight to restore peace and order in the Empire!

The Travellin' Dice

My fiancee was helping me pack for the ride back to the city. She noticed a rattling in my messenger bag so she opened one of the compartments and found a set of polyhedral dice.

She laughed. "Do you expect a random gaming session to pop up?"

Of course I don't expect that, but ya never know.

I didn't tell her there was a second set in my computer bag. The abuse may have been a bit much ;)

- Posted from my iPhone
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