Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Got-Dang Bloggers, Git Outta Mah Haid!


Okay.  THIS and THIS.  First it's Jim Maliszewski talking about a SF game with as broad a definition of genre as D&D's definition of fantasy; then Trey wishes for a game "set in a retro-future along the lines of Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark stories or C.L. Moore’s tales of Northwest Smith."  And, you know, those are good ideas.  They're good, Anthony, they're real good.

"Get back in the cornfield!"
But, dammit, I'm supposed to be writing that PBOM document.  And then I'm supposed to try my hand at a D6 cyberpunk game doc.   I'm not supposed to get all distractified by shiny new things and run off after them like a fatboy in lead shoes.


I know about Christian Conkle's Lightspeed, which is a pretty good match for Jim's "SF Goulash" idea.  Hell, there's even a D6 version of its precursor, Rangers, out there too.  The work's already done, as any fool can plainly see.

But noooooooo.  Doc Rotwang! is, apparently, an entirely different type of fool, who wants to make one of his damn own.


...the hell is wrong with me, anyway?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

They Say The Point Demons Guard Is An Ocean Grave For All The Brave

Y'know how the other day we were all talking about what we picture when we think of D&D?  Here's somethin' I shoulda mentioned:  Kansas' landmark 1977 album "Point Of Know Return". 

Hello, 1977.  Howya been?
I've had a copy of this album, or at least easy access to it, pretty much all of my life (well, except for the three or so years during which it did not yet exist), and in high school I listened to it a lot -- incidentally, around the time I picked up D&D.  

Peanut butter and jelly, man. 

Some of you already know why, because you know the album.  The uninitiated will be unaware of the strong fantastic elements that run through this record along with everything else on it.  Yes, it's the same album that had "Dust In The Wind" on it, but it also contained the stirring call to adventure that is the album's title track... well as the totally bad-ass hymn to bad-assedness that is "Lightning's Hand":

...which, you will agree, would make ANYONE would totally think of a blue dragon.  

That's not all that's there to feed your gamer brain, though; not by a mile.  Take "Sparks of the Tempest", which describes an epic apocalypse (and whose lyrics "The dead are the living in the age of the gun" put "Mad Max" pictures in my head); consider "Nobody's Home", a majestically sad song about an interplanetary traveler mourning that he has made first contact with a dead civilization; dig on "Closet Chronicles", purportedly about Howard Hughes but easily suggestive of any kind of interesting person (read "NPC") whose history could fit into your campaign. 

Now you know why everyone who knows the album was nodding at the beginning of this post.

Inspirational to the gamer, for sure, and to the geek certainly, but was any of it intentional?  Did the band themselves set out to record something so full of fantasy imagery, or where they on to something else?  It's hard to tell.  I know that Kerry Livgren is really into Urantia (or was, anyway), and some of the band's other material (noticeably on the album preceding this one, "Leftoverture") reaches for spiritual themes ("Opus Insert", yo), and they touched a lot on Native American themes, too.  As to what the hell "Magnum Opus" was all about, I have no clue at all -- but it's hard not to listen to the themes that bookend the piece and not think of Conan swaggering through a temple of Set and topless slavegirls swaying in time.

I googled "Cimmerian" and she came up.  Mind you, I am NOT complaining.

'Course, when thinking about D&D, I sometimes also think of The Alan Parsons Project.  That's because my brain is messed up, though.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Greatest Three-Word Phrase You'll Read All Week


...but now what?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wizards With Swords: ¿Sí o no?

Over yonder Lawful Indifferent way, cousin N. Wright has a thing or two to say about wizards with swords.

I like his post because it highlights the game (in this case, D&D) as a toolkit for imagination (my words, mind you), and it also gets me thinking -- why shouldn't wizards get to have swords?

The general consensus is that wizards can't have swords because they already have spells.  Okay; I can respect that.  But then I think about this:

Wizards suck at fighting anyway. 

So what's the harm?


Yeah, I'm on the bandwagon.

Jim Maliszewski Grognardia Imagining D&D you know what I'm talking about etc., right?  Okay so here's my answer:

No one thing.

I can't picture just one image, or book cover, or anything else that says "Dungeons & Dragons" to me and I certainly CAN'T HEAR MYSELF THINK BECAUSE THE KNUCKLEDRAGGERS ARE WATCHING FREAKIN' "THE HANGOVER" IN HERE AND THEY'VE GOT IT TURNED UP SO GODDAMN LOUD LIKE THEY WERE FREAKING NINETY-YEAR-OLD WOMEN WITH HEARING AIDS, because when I think of D&D I think of a lot of stuff. 

"Not at the WHAT, Carlos?!"
Oh, I think of a few Dragon covers, for sure.  I think of the Red Box, because that was the first one I owned; I think of the AD&D 2nd Ed. PHB and DMG, because those were the first I used to play.   I also picture forests, and stonework, and funny dice and everything goes with it.

Mostly, though, I picture being 15.  I picture being 15 years old, on a Spring afternoon, on a Friday after school, and going to my buddy Kyle's house to hang out a few hours while we gathered up all the friends and got ready to play.  I picture Little Caesar's pizza trays.  I picture Larry Elmore art.  I picture photocopied character sheets with a Comliness box added in in ballpoint.  2-liter bottles of Mountain Dew.  Mechanical pencils.

I picture freedom.

  I know, I know.  The point of Jim's question was to pick a piece of artwork, preferably to be found on the cover of something, which encapsulates D&D for you in one succinct stroke -- pictures being worth a thousand words, and all that.  I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like to but I can't

But this one comes close, because I first saw it in Kyle's basement.  I've posted it before, so I guess that gets it as close to the distinction as anything ever will:  "Saving The best For Last" by Daniel Horne.

Damnit -- now I wanna play.


That'll do. That'll do.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"This Is 'Adventure Scenarios For Free' On National Public Radio."

Hopped in the car to get my kid from school, and what do I hear on the way there?  Why, this story!  Dig:

A former scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, who left following a dispute over funding, and his wife — who also worked at the facility — face federal charges in a sting operation built on the scientist's alleged offer to help build Venezuela a nuclear bomb.


"He got into a big fight with the Department of Energy after speaking out over its failure to fund a project that he highly supported," Johnson says. "The government wound up investigating him and yanked his security clearance in 1987. He ultimately left and filed a lawsuit.

"Sources tell me he kept on being disgruntled all these years," she says.

Although he had his security clearance pulled more than 20 years ago, Mascheroni was still believed to have posed a danger, Johnson says.

"Sources are telling me that everything he needed to know he kept in his head," she says. "He was able to reconstruct most of what he wanted to know and tell the Venezuelan government allegedly by just thinking back to his experience in the business."

Nice!  there's the beginning of a solid espionage scenario, right there.   You could take that and run with it.  I was already intrigued myself.  So I kept listening, and heard about this:

In July 2008, Mascheroni allegedly delivered a coded, 132-page document detailing the operation to a post office box prearranged as a "dead drop."

Yeah, that's  par for the spy-course, too -- but in my mind, the words "132-page document" turned into "meticulously-copied excerpts from the Necronomicon".

"The monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space which the Necronomicon had mercifully cloaked under the name of Azathoth."
Now, granted -- Lovecraft didn't mean "nuclear" as in "weapons".  But any way you slice it, it's easy to think "Azathoth" as in "you're screwed".

So!  How far away is the NPR story from a Delta Green scenario in which the scientist is a disgruntled scholar who has been driven mad with resentment and is willing to sell out to a foreign power to destroy his former bosses?

Well, it's 1.1 miles from my house to my daughter's school.  So...not very.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SURE, A Griffon In A Tomb! Why Not?

Yea, for within Ye Olde Booke of Faces, I do follow the writings of Troll Lord Games (aka Dave Chenault).  Recently wrote he of writing The Castle Keeper's Guide, and lo, spake he in writing of Chapter 12, which shall deal with Monster Ecology.

In the ensuing conversation, one of his other friends (I'm done with the affected speech, by the way) mentioned that he doesn't like running into out-of-place monsters in dungeons.  He gave as example that a carrion crawler belonged in an abandoned tomb, but a griffon?  Not so much.

Fair enough.

Unless you're Rotwang!...

Oh, well, aren't you special...!

Now...I'm not talkin' smack on the other person; I don't roll that way.  What I am talkin' is taking chances on the illogical. Why not make the senseless make some kind of sense?

Frankly, it's something that I should be doing more, too...but, hey!  'Least I thought of it, eh?

Test For Whacko

You know what?  Today is one of those days when I feel like updating my blog, but I haven't anything really important to say.  I just can't think of anything really relevant, but that doesn't curb my enthusiasm.

Ergo, I'm going to start typing a story.  I dunno what it'll be about.


"HEEE-YAAAH!  Bastard dog-sons!" cried Abrago, and threw his would-be assassin's body over the railing into the common room of the inn.  "Have at you!"

With arms outstretched he leapt from the second-level railing, caught hold of the wagon-wheel chandelier, and threw a leg up around its rim.  Below him, Karkanio and his ruffians scrambled to move a table under him, to better reach him and pluck him down.

"Fools, idiots, imbeciles!" the Zingaran cried from atop the chandelier, and rose up to stand on it, gripping the rope.  "Back-births!"  Holding tight to the rope, he drew from his sash a dagger, turned it in his fist, and cut the rope.

He rode the wagon-wheel down.

It fell, crashed upon the table, and crowned no less than three of Karkario's thugs.  "Ha-HAH!" crowed Abrago, and dropped to stand

Crap.  Out of time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


What's that looming on the horizon? Are we nearing the end of a first draft?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

HOLY -- SIEGE Engine Miniatures Rules!

DUDE! I totally just checked out Troll Lord's website, you know, see what was new -- and I see this:

Well, hell-o there...!

WHOA! Slap my mouth and call me Ogden! It's a miniatures game with SIEGE engine rules -- you know, like Castles & Crusades!

This is exciting to me for obvious reasons, and it remains exciting despite the facts that
  1. I don't know what's actually in it; and
  2. I have no idea when it comes out.
Seriously -- the product's page (click the pic, wink the link) says that the contents "are not fixed yet", and although there's an "Available Now!" link on the page, it's all 404 up in there.

Still -- the price is right. And SIEGE-based mass combat? Like, for Castles & Crusades or just, you know, playin'?


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

So. Captions, Huh?

All the cool kids are doin' it.  I WILL, TOO!

"ENSIGN REX....!!"  

 Huh.  Whaddaya know.

Monday, September 06, 2010

What I Did On Labor Day

Not much. Counseled a friend on the relative merits of BRP, D6, Savage Worlds and HEX as pertains to a pulp/mercenaries game. Watched all but the last 10 minutes of TRON, with the commentary turned on. Hung out with my kid, by which I mean "did almost everything she asked me to do". Washed some dishes. Took the cat out for a walk, twice.

You ever see a cat that actually likes a leash? It might not be uncommon, but I guess it's kind of unusual. We put a dog harness on him, hook on a leash, grab on and let him roll.

L'see...what else...? Oh. Uh. Read some internets. Read the second half of the freebie Nemesis rules. Skimmed a bit of GURPS Horror 3rd Edition, as our annual Halloween game is entering the planning stages. Assisted my stepfather in fixing one of our toilets, only to discover that although it now flushes nicely, the tank leaks.

Why am I telling you all this? You don't care about this! You want EXCITING blog posts! Right? Okay. Here, have a busty vampiress.

You do like busty vampiresses, right? Or did I err?

Friday, September 03, 2010

"World Without Syn" Is A Cool "Starblazer Adventures" Blog

I just found it, and figure I oughtta show it to you, my homies. World Without Syn has recaps of the author's game sessions, write-ups of groups, ships, planets, races and more --

-- and deck plans. Lovely, lovely deckplans. Mmm-mmm-Inkscape. Delicioso.


EDIT: DUDE. This post!

Thursday, September 02, 2010



Okay, old comments are back. Thanks, Erin!

Okay, so I added a Disqus widget for comments, so as to stave off those cockgobblers who were spammin' up my blog.


Damn. Are they gone for good?

I'm Writin', I'm Writin'!

Intro, first draft. Rough, but recall what Hemingway said about first drafts.


Politics By Other Means...(PBOM) is a simple game of tactics and combat, suitable for play by everyone from the greenest neophyte to the most battle-worn tabletop commander. Players move their forces (represented by miniatures or other markers) around a simulated tabletop battlefield, shoot at their opponents’ forces, and resolve the outcome with dice -- and logic. Its rules aim to remain simple in its execution, but not mistake “simple” for “simplistic”! In fact, PBOM is capable of such nuance and flexibility as it is rare to find in games of its kind.

Furthermore, the scale of play is variable. The same rules work for a skirmish between a total of a dozen fighters as for a large-scale battle with hundreds on a side. Movement, shooting ranges and the like need not be altered.

Unlike most other wargames, PBOM does not present long lists of charts and variables with which to resolve conflicts. While such things can add verisimilitude and complexity to an otherwise abstract and simple game, PBOM builds these factors straight into its primary conflict resolution system: The Argument.


Arguments are the backbone of PBOM (and its predecessor, Engle Matrix Games). They are nothing more than statements about what could happen in a given situation. The stronger the argument (i.e., the more sense it makes), the likelier it is to happen. Whether or not it happens depends on a dice roll.

Here’s an example: In a SF skirmish scenario, Hal argues that his opponent Lulu’s hovertanks are unable to spot his hovertanks, because they’re hidden behind some rocks. If the scenario is taking place in a rocky area, or in the rubble of a city, that argument would make some sense; it’d be a fairly strong argument. If Hal argues that he’s hiding his tanks behind some rocks in an open field, Hal’s asking too much.

A player present his or her argument and selects another player to judge them. The judge sets the likelihood of success, the player dices for success, and play proceeds accordingly.

Not only does this system allow for the aforementioned nuance and complexity, it allows for all sorts of other things as well -- including changing the rules of the game!


Here in the second decade of the twenty-first century, it’s easy to come across miniatures to represent fighting forces from all eras. Scores of companies make them in multitudes of scales. Selecting, collecting and painting miniatures is a hobby in itself, and one that can very easily turn into a lifelong obsession. They look beautiful and engaging upon a well-presented pretend battlefield, the construction and design of which can be yet another delightful time-sink. Be forewarned!

On the other hand, some players of a more economical mindset (i.e., the cheap ones) prefer to go a different route, and use paper miniatures -- little paper or cardboard figures that stand up on a base and can be printed or copied in the hundreds if need be. Paper miniatures are a great alternative to metal and/or plastic figures because they’re cheap, disposable and easy to store. Plus, there’s the fact that anything that can be drawn can be made into a paper mini. There are tons out there on the internet, both free and inexpensive; look around.

Terrain can also be as simple or as extravagant as you wish (or wish to pay for). Throwing a piece of green felt over some books on a table and indicating a river with some blue tape is no less acceptable than carefully sculpting hills and casting clear polyurethane streams (or purchasing same). The goal is to play, after all; assemble what you feel like.

Whether you choose to buy and paint lavish miniatures or just print up a bunch of little paper zombies, it will be important to observe two criteria:

1. All pieces should be at the same scale (i.e. all 25mm, all 30mm, etc.); and
2. Players should agree, before gameplay begins, what scale their figures actually represent. Does one figure represent one man, or twenty? Are three mounted knights on the same base a whole cavalry group, or just a few guys? This will depend entirely upon the scale of your scenario, of course. Just make sure to agree.