Saturday, September 29, 2007

Three Risus Characters

Yeah, I'm on a Risus kick. There are worse things to be all jazzed up about, and this one's legal. I opened up the Companion to access its "Omnigroovy Megaversal Background Machine"* the other night and got to reading the whole thing again, and so here we are.

Today during lunch I wrote up a trio of characters, suitable for...uh...


...hell, you figure it out.


Description: A skinny, greasy-haired 20-something in a McDonald's uniform. He's a little uneasy around girls, loves to talk about stock car racing and is the chosen of Odin to save Midgard from destruction by Fenris the wolf.

Gawky Burger-Flipper (2), Enthusiastic NASCAR Fan (3), Chosen By Odin To Save The World From Utter Devastation [3]

HOOK: Clueless about girls and Norse mythology


A chubby, 40-something accountant, nebbishy and a neat freak but he still has a full head of hair thank you very much. He possesses the ability to destabilize order in any structure, be it physical, emotional, social or whatever. He doesn't know why he has the power; he figures it's probably just some kind of cruel, cosmic joke. (He's right.)

Nebbishy Accountant (3), Engine Of Pure Chaos [3], Closet Parrothead (1)


An 8 ½' tall, smelly, shaggy anthropoid forest-dweller who is constantly drunk. He's surly and moody and just wants to be left alone.

Skunk Ape (5), Moody Drunk (3), Connoisseur Of Fine Gas Station Liquors (2)

I actually have...let's see...9 other characters I've written up over the last few days, but they'd take a while to type up and besides, who cares how many I've got written up?

*I'm not sure if that's right; Leaky Pete is borrowing my binder, and he's really into it.
** Credit my wife for THAT zinger, just like "Domo Origami, Mister Salami".

Le Mato Al Rapero Con Mi Vihuela. ¡Ajúa!

So just today I discovered the Risusiverse Wiki, becuase why it took me so long I don't know. But anyway, it's good stuff and oh my god it has THIS PAGE.

It's a Risus game where you play Mariachis.



All across the USA are people who love music. Some people love rock and roll, some love rap, and some even love disco. But you and your companions know the truth. The best music in the world is…Mariachi! Yes, that beautiful Spanish guitar, the folk harp, and the guitarrón and vihuelas make the perfect musical performance that people will love. But a lot of muchachos and muchachas are lured into less perfect music by many performers around the country. So it is you and your band mate’s duty to convert these misled peoples to the wonder of mariachi, and to also stop the other band’s seemingly endless bids for world domination. Yes, you will play for crowds, hone your mariachi playing skills, and battle the other non-mariachi bands and their minions as they try to take over the world. Welcome to Risus Mariachi. ¡Olé!
Did you get that?



Kicking butt and playin' tunes.

¡Sáquese, Rapero!

The only reason I will accept for you NOT playing this game, is if you are dead.

Please do not be dead.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dragon Magazine #145

I mentioned this issue two times last year, in a post about randomly-generated castles and stuff. I had call for this venerable issue of Dragon recently, as I needed...uh...a random castle. So I pulled it off the shelf and got to looking at it.

I love this issue of Dragon. It is a good issue of Dragon. Here's what's in it.

5 articles about castles.

"A Castle Here, A Castle There" by Daniel Salas, is the article I'm always talking about. It expands upon the table in the DMG to help you create a castle at random.

"Holding Down The Fort", by Matt Iden, serves a neat purpose, too. Y'see, back in Ye Olde D&D Dayes, a PC who got to a certain level could build him- or herself a stronghold. Why not? They've earned it! So, now that a PC has house and home, what happens next? Behold a table of random events that might befall this lofty keep. A spy appears! There's a racial clash amongst the populace! An entire patrol goes missing! What's Lord 15th-Level to do?

"Strongholds Three" is straight-frward: it presents a trio of castles, ready for use. Maps, thumbnail descriptions and hints on how to use 'em. Nothin' but meat.

Well, castles, actually.

"Your Home Is your Castle", by Patricia Cunningham-Reid, discusses the offensive and defensive architecture pf medieval European castles. A fun, informative read which will doubtless get your tactical gears grinding; plus, you can learn why castle staircases are usually round, which can make for challenging encounters you bet.

"Bazaar of the Bizarre - The magic fortress: magical items for fantasy castles" is just what it says it is.

Some fun reviews.

Not only does this issue review some now-classic computer games like "Gold Rush!", "Wizardy V" and the old "Star Wars arcade game for MS-DOS, it also has a nice, in-depth review of 2300 AD and a few of its supplements. I love these old dragon reviews; they're thorough and even-headed more often than not, and they reach back to a time when gaming mags were about gaming, not just about one company's product. Granted, Dragon was largely focused on D&D, but it still pointed out other companies' stuff for its readership.

The mag is rounded out by some book reviews, an article on painting miniatures' faces, a piece of fiction and some "DragonMirth" comics...and the last-ever "SnarfQuest" strip. Love it or hate it, Larry Elmore's fantasy adventure strip was a mainstay for many years, and it offered gorgeous pen-and-ink art, more than a little inspiration and his trademark beautiful women. It's a landmark any way you slice it.

The advertisements make for good nostalgia. There's a full-page, full-color ad for "Battletroops - A game of urban man-to-man combat in the Battletech Universe" with art by Dave Dietrick, an advert for WEG's then-nascent Star Wars RPG line (consisting of 18 proucts, all pictured), and an ad for the brand-new, forthcoming, game-changing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. "your toughest opponent shouldn't be the rulebook", it proclaims.

Aah. Memories.

Last but not least, it features one of my favorite pieces of FRPG art ever: A painting called "Saving The Best For Last" by Daniel Horne. It was the cover of a previous issue of Dragon, but here it's inside, shilling Dungeon. No matter; I smile every time I see it, because for reasons I cannot interpret, this image never fails to fire up my desire to game. Here, what's it do for you?

Dragon Magazine #145. Good stuff.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Catching Up!

ITEM! - I've added a blog-roll doohinkey off to the side there. Give it time, it'll grow. Note that my wife's blog, the aptly-titled "Random Access Memory" is on there, too.

ITEM! - The Seven Cities has shifted focus a bit. It's no longer a setting book; it'll just be genre advice, bestiary and adventures. It's also been re-titled to Ancient Adventures - A Mediterranean Fantasy Supplement for Broadsword.

ITEM! - I'm sick of hearing about the damn Big Ten Network. Seriously. I'm done. That's it. No more.

ITEM! - It's still hot here, so autumn's deceitful hand is stayed...but for how much longer?

ITEM! - Long story made short, all day today I had stuck in my head these words: "Slapamafoola...Jackupthemoolah...Fibbity-Flabbitty-Fop!" It's...weird, being here in my head.

There. You're caught up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

"7 Cities" Preview

Mind -- this is from a rough, first draft:

The key is to be unafraid of the fantastic. Dare! Logic need not apply to your adventures as much as sheer, fantastic awesomeness should. In fact, do not hesitate to go the extra mile and mix up ideas; for instance, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad featured a cyclopean centaur -- not because such a creature existed in any myth or previous story but because it looked cool. So you should be unconcerned about any convention but the one you're really emulating, and have free license to mash up monsters, myths, legends, locations and cultures.

A word of caution, however: "Camp", defined as "an aesthetic in which something has appeal because of its bad taste or ironic value", is best avoided. The source films are not silly. Rather, their outlandishness is earnest and presented as a vehicle for drama and excitement, not as laughable absurdity.

What's Worse Than A Plate Of Poo?

Fall and I do not get along. At all.

Despite my birthday and a few good memories, despite Halloween and cheapmonster movie DVDs for sale at Target, I hate fall. I hate it right inits damn face. Come the first hint of crispness in the air, the days ofbright sunlight unsoftened by Summer's haze, my life stops being mine.My energy wanes, my outlook darkens and my interests are a little lessinteresting.

People sometimes ask me why this is. How is this possible? Why do Ihate fall so much? Why do I seem to get so 'down' at this time of year?

The answer lies in a simple fact: it's a season of transition.

Time for a little thought experiment. Let's do this together, you andI.

Imagine for a moment that you are eating at a restaurant. On the table before you is a plateful of your favorite meal. It's the stuff you livefor, the stuff you crave all the time, the experience that makes you glad to be alive. It tastes right, it feels right, it is the very definition of right. There is nothing else like it in the world.

You soon notice a presence hovering by you. A waiter. He leans in slowly, and with deliberate motion takes your plate into his hand. "I'm so very, very sorry," he says smugly, "we are no longer serving thisparticular dish. It's being replaced, you see." You watch, fork in hand, as your plate is withdrawn, and a second plate is served. "Here is your new meal. No other option, you see, so sorry."

A cold, stinky pile of poo.

There's a nice dessert with your meal, and a toy, too. But mostlythere's the poo, and it sits there, congealing and stinking in front ofyou.

And while you struggle helplessly to decide which end of this mofo to punch, your fellow diners are looking at him with awe and admiration, and they gasp, "Oh, look at that waiter, dressed in such pretty colors."

Eventually, you'll become numb to the stink. It just kind of happens.

But that waiter?

That waiter is a jerk, and he should be slapped in the face with a flaming shovel.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Teh Philxxorz are teh blogxxorz!!! 2!!!

Okay, so my buddy Phil, who I've mentioned before, totally wishes he were me and so he's started a blog of his own. Dude's gonna talk about all kinds crazy stuff entertainment-related, and he's starting off on games of the board- and video-variety. Like, say, Heroscape for instance why not.

Phil is a good writer; go read him.

But ease up on the hammer, ladies -- he's married.

Yes, yes, I know. All the good ones.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Seven Cities Update

Work began last night. It's looking like it'll be kind of a bifold product; on one hand, it'll be a genre guide for, you know, Sinbadesque sword-and-sandal adventures, as well as a fully-playable (but not overly-detailed!) game setting.

Actually, my wife is going to detail the world very thoroughly for her own purposes, and we'll put some capsule versions of the setting info into the finished product.

Is "bifold" a word? Mozilla sure doesn't think so.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Better Dull Than Dead

I took a D&D alignment quiz on the Webternetron. Aaaand...

You scored as Neutral Good, A Neutral Good person tries to do the
'goodest' thing possible. These people are willing to work with the law to
accomplish their goal, but if the law is corrupt they are just as willing to
tear it down. To these people, doing what's right is the most important thing,
regardless of rules, customs, or laws.

True Neutral


Neutral Good


Lawful Neutral


Lawful Good


Lawful Evil


Chaotic Evil


Chaotic Neutral


Chaotic Good


Neutral Evil


What is your

created with

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Either I'm Just Easily Impressed...

...or the Hollow Earth Expedition Gamemaster's Screen is a hell of a quality product.

Last weekend, I called up my FLGs and said, "I'd like one Hollow Earth Expedition Gamemaster's Screen, please!" They placed the order and had it in within the week. On Friday I rolled in to run my D6 Space Pirates game and made ready to purchase the item I requested.


I'll...let...the pictures speak.

LOOK at this thing! It's thick, it's sturdy, it's beautifully illustrated and it's not what I expected. Oh, the official web page advertises it as being a "hardback" GM screen, know, I must not have picked up on that, because...uh...

...I'm dense.

The booklet, by the way, has new character goodies, expanded continuous combat rules, and an introductory scenario. It's a nice package, and all for One Jackson.

Exile Games continues to impress. I hear that White Wolf's GM screens are this good, too, but since I don't play those games, that fact is a little less awesome to me.

Well, there's only one thing for it: a Seal of Approval, Rotwang! Style.

Yeah, I coulda done better with the Photoshop. Gimmie a break, it's Sunday morning.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Forward...To Fabulous Prizes!!

Forward...To Adventure! is an old-school-type RPG written by The RPG Pundit and published by Flying Mice. It's seriously old-school in its approach and that's beautiful. Click on this link to read a review.

Over on The RPG Site,The Pundit has asked Jeff Rients and me to help him judge a random chart design contest. Easy action - you create a chart, you submit it, and you could win stuff. First prize is either $50 or churrasco and clericó with The Pundit.

Okay, okay, just the fifty. You can also win Flying Mice stuff, and that's never bad.

I think it's a neat idea, and since we all know how I feel about randomly-generated gaming yummies, I am -as the kids say on the MTV- down with it.

If you're of like mind, go on ahead and check it out. If you're afraid of The RPG Site because you've heard stories, just remember -- Jeff and I hang there. He's not evil and I'm just goofy.

So there.

I Don't Believe In Heaven.

But if it does exist, it looks EXACTLY like this:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Lepzig Is Calling My Name

I love Thomas Dolby.

Back in high school, I did a cable radio show at a local station called WQAX (which has a storied history all its own). I'm not sure if we were actually allowed to do this, but some of us would take records home to listen to them and see if we wanted to play them on our shows.

A guy named Troy was with me one day in the studio. He knew I was discovering all the new wave music that I'd never had available, and he suggested that I check out Thomas Dolby's "The Golden Age Of Wireless". I had no idea what it was but I went along with it. Hey, crazy science stuff on the cover, right? I took it home and listened to it.

It didn't grab me. It made me think of some kind of retro-SF stuff; I remember picturing things that we would now call steampunk, but for the most part, I just...wasn't...hooked.

This would later become one of the biggest WTF?! moments in my life.

In the Summer of 1990, I was visiting my Dad in Kansas City. We were out hitting up garage sales, looking for books and records. We struck out all day long, until the very last house we tried -- they had some Wakeman albums, some jazz fusion stuff my Dad wanted to try out, a couple of Darksword novels and "The Golden Age Of Wireless" on tape. One buck.

I shrugged and picked it up. What the hell? Maybe I'd change my --




Listening to it again in my Dad's den, something...I dunno what, but something went off in my head, in me. There was stuff going on in this album that I couldn't identify. Something strange and exciting and exhilarating and comforting. Suddenly, this record, this experience, belonged to me.

In some ways, I think that that album fused to my identity. I felt the way that record sounded.

That October, I got a copy of the CD for my birthday, and you can pry it out of my cold, dead hands. I named my unattainable dream girl "Europa", after the lost lover in "Europa and the Pirate Twins". In a screenplay I've never written, the heroine is named Caroline FourFiveTwo. In stories I made up, my protagonists liked Dolby, too, and I'd drop references to the songs everywhere I could. I can sing that album back to front. I romanced a girl over the phone by singing "Weightless" to her. If I ever get off my ass and write some 80's pulp adventures, Rob Dolby is waiting to be my Buckaroo Banzai.

It's 17 years later, and I'm a different guy. I never stopped liking that album, or Dolby's music (hell, I may have been the only person in this whole college town who purchased "Astronauts And Heretics" -- TWICE, no less), but I have gone through periods away from it. The other night, though, I needed something kinda calming to listen to so I tossed a couple of Dolby tracks ("Leipzig" and "Budapest By Blimp") onto my wife's iPod.

It turns out that you can, sort of, go home. I only say 'sort of' because...well...I'm not the 16-year-old bottle of shaken-up hormones that I was in '90, so it's a different experience...but not by much.

The weirdest part is checking out Thomas Dolby now. He's bald, and heavier, and -- well, time's done its thing to him. He doesn't look like the Thomas Dolby I remember. That's inconsequential to my memories, of course; it's just weird. It's funny that, after all this time, the music is still as powerful; you can't feel time's marks on it.

There aren't any.

Point? Oh, yeah. Well, I'm feeling at once elated and maudlin. I really wish I'd been around and of age to experience all the New Wave stuff as it happened, instead of...well, I was 5 when Gary Numan's "Cars" came out. I sometimes daydream of being in my early 20's around that time, running around and going to clubs and buying records and generally LIVING it.

Pathetic? Maybe. But definitely sincere.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Love Spreads Like Butter

In a recent blog post, Ye Olde Evile DM mentioned a blog called "Musings of the Chatty DM". I went to check it out.

The latest entry was called "The Rule Of Cool", and it had a link to a cool website that I'll probably spend a long, long time reading if I ever have some time to my own damn self. Anyway, the author's choice of subject impressed me, because it's the same kind of thing I've been trying to say for close to a year now only in fewer words.

I see a kindred spirit in the dude when I read a passage like this one, from the aforementioned post:

Which basically makes me think that that my efforts as DMs should not so much be
on far-reaching World Building and tight nitpicking-proof plotlines and such. I
should go all out for encounters and role playing that will swamp my players in
coolness. Think combat on ice Bridges, negotiating the release of prisoners in a
flooding underground prison, hopping from floating island to pieces of flying
ruins in order to catch the thieves of the Star jewel of Radnia. Yeah, that`s
the ticket!
See? Fewer words.

I am grateful for every reader I have, and I don't know where I'd be without you guys mentioning I Waste The Buddha With My Crossbow to your cronies. I bet that Phil The Chatty DM would like it if the same thing happened to him, so I'm pointing at his blog and saying, "Dude, check that out".

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Project: The Seven Cities

One time, my wife and I went to see Sinbad, Legend of the Seven Seas. We really enjoyed the sadly-underrated animated film from Dreamworks, and of course we immediately wanted to play a game like it.

Of course that was...when did it come out? 2003, so 4 years ago. We still haven't put the game together, but it's still on our minds.


Recently I picked up some of Deep7's 1PG games, including Broadsword, which I reviewed last podcast. Remember when I reviewed Broadsword last podcast...?


...yyyyeeeeeeeah. Anyway, over in this thread on Deep7's fora, a user called risk2099 said:

"I picked up Broadsword a few days ago, and picked up the 1PG Companion, Bloode Island, and Pax Gladius tonight.

I am looking at the 1PG System and thinking it may be the match I have been looking for to run adventures in the style of Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, and the Sinbad movies.

Any advice on the how tos or anyone's experiences trying to do the same would be appreciated."

Which of course made me start thinkin', and rememberin', and then two plus two equaled five, but then I double-checked the math and --

-- well, my wife has a ton of notes for this game, notes we've never used.

Long story short: I'm gonna take my buddy Natebot's advice and Amber and I are going to write a game supplement.

Hopefully we can stick to it this time, because I'm lazy about this stuff and it's the reason I'm not brain-burningly rich. So I'll keep you posted.

Harryhausen-style Mediterranean-mash cyclops-and-sandal adventure craziness for broadsword sounds good to me (almost as good as The World Of Broadsword sounds), and hopefully I'm not alone.

I dunno, what do you think?


This morning, I had an idea. It was kind of stupid.

It inspired, however, a second idea, which wasn't really stupid but just kind of interesting.

Naturally, it led to a third idea, and it was one that I'm sure I had before but may not have pursued at all.

The second idea was a Klingon saying, "A true Klingon is not his race -- he is his culture. Genetics are pure luck; culture takes work and achievement". It suggested a Klingon attitude that what truly defines them is what they've achieved, where they're going.

Like I said, it's nothing huge but there's a seed of an idea in there, and that's the third idea: My own Star Trek universe.

Usually I frown on "re-imaginings", because more often than not they either miss the point or try to hard to be too cool/X-TREEM/ironic/etc. Still, there's a little bit of my inner geek that wants to take what I like about Trek and riff on it in my own way, and develop my own, alternate-reality Trek setting. Not for any good reason, either, nothing practical or even useful. Just...I dunno, fun.

Huh. Something to think about.

Monday, September 03, 2007

After, In The Dark, I Turned To My Wife And Said --

-- "That movie was awesome".

The ads on TV had been rather fetching, I knew Neil Gaiman's a hoot every time and the film itself had scored high marks, even from my online compadre The Evil DM, so I went into Stardust expecting to see a movie I'd enjoy.

I did not expect to see a film that would impress me so much, and especially not one that would move into my list of favorites.

Now...I'm famously hard to impress in the movie theatre. It's not like I don't like anything, or that I'm curmudgeonly or overly-crtitical or a bastard or anything like that; in fact, I love movies, and I really enjoy watching them. It's just rare that a movie really moves me, really excites me, really snaps my imagination and my senses like a rubber hand inside my skull. Star Wars did it; The Empire Strikes Back did it. Dark City, Stargate, Hellboy, Blade Runner, Serenity and Metropolis did it. Compared to all the movies I own, have seen, and etcertera...that's not a big precentage.

Hm. Stardust.

The biggest tell is that I can't tell you exactly why I liked it. That's good; it means that it transcended reason and went right for my pleasure centers, I just enjoyed it because I did. It's got swordfights, magic, an airship, interesting characters, charismatic leads, a goat that gets turned into the guy that plays Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies and a 97-year-old master of crooked old guy stick fu. It's got a parallell universe, truly attractive actresses (I'm even pickier about those), a convincing love story (!), gorgeous art design and more gamer cues than you can shake a stick at.

Oh, and the FX are secondary to the story, which is always a bonus.

It's a fairy tale for grown-ups, so comparisons to The Princess Bride are unavoidable but ultimately inconsequential -- while not as quotable as Bride, it has a much (MUCH) higher wow factor, what with the huge castle and the lightning-fishermen and the swordfight with a cleverly-reanimated dead guy and all that. I'd say that Stardust is a fantasy adventure film as much as it is romantic fairy tale, so it's a different film than the others to which it might be compared.

It doesn't seem to be busting ass at the box office, though, and I guess that's to be expected; films like this just don't. But it has definitely sold at least one DVD already, to me, when it comes out, and a copy of the book upon which it is based as well. I think this'll become a cult classic on par with (again) The Princess Bride, although you won't have renfaire girls quoting from Stardust as much. Which is a good thing, because that gets annoying.

Oh, and fellas?

Kate Magowan.

I didn't know her name until just now, but damned if I'll ever forget it.