Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cartography? Stellar!

Man, I loves me some campaign maps. I love to make them, to draw them, to do all kinds of nifty art techniques and to plop cultures down on some imaginary real estate and determine borders, climates, terrain, and so on.

In other words, I do lots of prep work for a game I never run.


I'm pretty sure there's an old adage, as well as a Rule of Dungeoncraft (the first one, in fact), that goes like this:

"Never force yourself to create more than you must."

It is very sound advice, and as such, it naturally went in my one ear and out the other. Oh, no, I've paid attention to it. I've thought, "Hey, I can just sketch out a map of the adventure area, maybe the town nearby, and another feature or two for improv later on." But I've never actually done it that way, instead defaulting to my old habit of obsessively drawing coastlines and ridges and nifty-looking little icons that represent castles and towns.

A few weeks ago I started an Iron Gauntlets scenario with my wife and Kyle (whom I've mentioned before). I didn't have a campaign setting in mind; just a kind of bog-standard pseudo-medieval FRPG setting. (Incidentally, the scenario itself is one I ran in high school, when I didn't worry about this crap.) I decided I needed a setting.

Out of all the ones I've created, that my wife has created, that I've bought or that I could appropriate, I couldn't think of a one that made me feel free to do whatever I wanted to. In other words, I couldn't relax and just pick one and stick with it. I'll look at a map and say, "Okay, my scenario is set here, but the the geography requires that I do this and this, and the politics are such that blah, and the climate doesn't match what I envision and so it doesn't make sense and I don't want to shoehorn myself into..." Etcetera. Jeff Rients has been talking about this, too; I'm worse.

To the point of self-paralysis.

So here's my decision. This Iron Gauntlets game I'm doing now will be set in a new setting, entirely. I will steal inspiration from other settings (most notably Amherth), but I will make things up as I go along. I won't plan anything I don't have to, and I won't paint myself into a corner with anything.

And as I need maps, maps I shall make. Small ones. Just the stuff that I need, and a feature or two if I'm inspired to add such -- but only in general terms. Like, "This is the river Basiltry. It smells funny."

I will, however, give the place a name, which I thought of this morning in the shower: Caldeasmore, because my favorite FRPG art is the stuff by Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley and Larry Elmore. Plus, if Larry Elmore can name a setting "Loerem" (and a man who paints such nice boobs cannot be denied), I can mix his name in with some other dudes'.

I like Parkinson, Otus and Willigham, too. But "Parkotuham" sounds kinda stupid.

Wait -- "kinda"...?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Inertia In Action

Lately, I've decided that I'm less interested in exploring themes and shaping meaningful stories than I am in larger-than-life adventures and simple, direct action.

I wonder -- is it some sort of mid-life crisis (as some have posited), or is it just that I rarely get to game?

Seriously, I've probably logged little more than a dozen hours of gaming time this year, if at all. It's frustrating as hell and I'm tired of it.

I want to game, dammit!

Getting better organized with my group would probably help, especially if the plans would, you know, happen.

But I've gotta do something, and soon. We've got our annual Halloween One-Shot coming up (Entitled Sci Fi Pictures presents - A Sci Fi Pictures Original Role-Playing Game: MANDINGO), but after that, I'm gonna have to get some Steampunk Musha off the ground and run a few solid sessions that my players can (and do) actually show up for.

Remember that session I talked about a while back, with the Madmartigan-inspired NPC in it?

Still hasn't happened.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Into The Blue Again

Well -- How did I get here?

I mentioned in a previous post that lots of little things came together to shake me out of my gaming doldrums, things that came 'round in bits and intervals to re-energize me. The things that inspired me to


I think they deserve mention. And mention them I will, but in no discernible order, cause I'm freeformin' to-nite!

  • PIG GAMES. If you're not familiar with the wondermousness that is Politically Incorrect Games, I encourage you to click upon that link you just looked at and see for yourself. Brett Bernstein's game designs are so devilishly and entrancingly simple that it's hard not to love them. His systems get down to the heart of play -- they provide a nudge or two of structure and encouurage you go go nuts and add stuff at whim. I started looking at this stuff and thinking, "So...I can just make stuff up, right? I don't hafta worry about points 'n' stuff?" It made me want to come up with crazy stuff again...and I did.

  • ENCOUNTER CRITICAL. You want a game with rich subtext? Game design and presentation as art? Faux-pretentiousness as a statement of gaming history? Cybernetic Wookiee hookers? Check, check, check, check and a fifth check for whatever you think of next, because I bet it's in there. Transcendentally ridiculous, Encounter Critical points straight into the heart of seat-of-your-pants gaming: crazy misadventures at varying degrees of sophistication and seriousness, all fuelled by the love of the crazy stuff itself. Why does this game feature Vulkins, Planetary Apes, Hoblings and Robodroids on a planet where magic works and sexy bee girls can kill you? Because that's what gamer dreams are made of. Anything goes in EC, and it only makes as much sense as it needs to. No more.

  • WUSHU. Dan Bayn's wonderful game could've been called Roll Dice And Kick Ass. Its mechanics not only encourage visualization and creativity but really demand them, and gives you free-wheeling action and description at the expense of point-based game balance and bean-counting. Look...I love games like HERO and GURPS, but those became kind of a honeyed trap for me; I'd fall to the obsession to Do It Right, to figure out the Advantages and the Powers and the Points and the Effects and the -- the everything. In Wushu, you succeed by being interesting. I felt so refreshed...

  • "GO PLAY". Ya know, I caught some flak from bits of the online community for not being murderously opposed to this internet meme, but that episode helped me get to this blog, so nyaaahhh. If you're not familiar, "Go Play" is...umn...well, everyone has a different explanation, and frankly I don't care what it is or whose avatar is the nicest, but suffice to say that it's intended as a gamer slogan. I took the whole thing to mean, Dude, gaming is fun. Get off your butt and go do it. Cut loose, man, get down and do what you love because you love it, not because you must excel at it .It's kind of what my wife had been telling me for years, but of course it wasn't getting through my skull.

  • DRAGON MAGAZINE #145. It was the article on random castles that did it -- th the one that expanded upon the charts given in the 1st Ed. DMG. One day while my daughter was napping and my wife was at work, I was paging through this issue and hit that article. I wanna mess with this, I said to myself; 30 minutes later, I was getting some hex paper to map out the campaign area I'd suddenly begun to develop. Coupled with the NPC tables in the DMG, I had 5 strongholds with their lords, a political situation, and lots of ideas on how they interacted and how to bring players into it. It was a real creative rush, man, all this stuff just coming to me, falling out of the dice, a kind of half-randomized creative storm.

  • WATCHING MY DAUGHTER PLAY IN A PUDDLE. Her very first puddle, in the parking lot in front of our house. Little pink rainboots, purple raincoat, hood up. She didn't care about anything but that puddle. It was fascinating to her, just something to splash in with abandon. With no cares. No rules. Her first one, and full of wonder. She just went up to it and figured out what you were supposed to do: mess with it. That moment was truly once in a lifetime, and I knew I'd never again feel what she was feeling -- that pure, unabashed joy, that wonder, that lack of concern. But if I could only allow myself that lack of daughter was teaching me. For once, I listened.

  • 'Cause time isnt holding us; time isn't after us.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    "Forget All You Know, Or THINK You Know"

    You see, it's that I'm a perfectionist. That's why.

    I am talking, of course, about my tendency to overthink stuff; in my head, I make things harder than they need to be. I know better, but I don't act like it.

    I forget that stuff can be simple.

    The other day I was looking through Treasure Tables, a neato GMing site, when I came upon this link: "The One-Sentence Character Concept Maker". Being that I always feel overwrought with angst because I can't seem to think up an original character EVER (oh, the weltzschmerz is crushing!), I was, like, "I'm'a click that link!"

    So I tried it out, the one-sentence thing. It's simple, and it's sweet. It's open. I began to create.

    • A proud knight is determined to set something right before he dies.
    • A lonely sorceress seeks a companion.
    • A ruthless merchant is on the run from equally-ruthless competitors who want him dead.
    • An exiled elf is avoiding responsibility.
    • A malicious cleric is seeking revenge against someone who embarassed him.
    • A naive adventurer seeks fame and fortune.
    • A tortured, overdramatic bard seeks attention.
    • A soft-spoken master swordsman is looking for a challenge.
    ...well, paint me blue and call me Leroy. Five, ten minutes and I had 8 interesting PC concepts, each of which suggests all kinds of possibilities; the hard part over with, all I'd need is to flesh'em out, stat 'em up and play 'em.

    Eight characters, where before I'd struggle to craft one super-complex, unique, innovative, different one. Eight. In 5 minutes. And that's with a toddler in the room.

    A long time ago, I worked at a grocery store, bagging groceries. One day, I went out to get some carts from the parking lot; I was struggling with them when a guy I knew from high school came up, real cool, like James Dean (he was one of the cool guys that all the girls loved, too), and he said, "Here, man. You're thinking too hard." He showed me an easier way to do it -- and it worked.

    So help me, that was 1992 and I still have not fully learned the lesson.

    Folks, I'm a long-time GM who is, surprisingly, re-discovering how simple and fun this hobby can be. You're watching it happen; I'm catching up to where I used to be, before I went and decided I had to know everything.

    I have their game stats. Did you know there was a sourcebook? Allen Varney, with Greg Costikyan. It's aces.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    A-103400-F Ni A, lately, I've turned into a fan of generating content via random means.

    For a while I was kind of against it. Well, maybe not against it, but afraid of using it as a substitute for creativity.

    Then, I met Traveller.

    Actually, my friend Kyle gave me a copy of the LBBs as a graduation present, after high school; it took me about ten years to figure out what to do with it (long story for another post). So suddenly I'm all into Traveller and rolling crap up left and right.

    I really latched on to the world-creation charts, for some reason. I think it was when I rolled this UPP (Universal Planetary Profile):


    Any other Trav refs out there can probably decipher this weird little code right away: a smallish world, half-covered with water, with a thin atmosphere and no population. There's a place to land your ship, but it's more like a flat spot with a marker on it; if you find any manufactured goods there, it'll be, like, a stone dagger or an abacus, tops.

    I looked at my results, and thought, "Great. Now what?"

    But then I got to thinking about it. Sounds like an OK place...nothing says that it's not habitable, just that there's no one there. So I asked myself -- why isn't anyone there?

    And the answer came at once.

    Giant, angry bugs.

    It could've been any other reason -- maybe the Scouts just found it; maybe there used to be a population, but they died a long time ago from disease. Maybe sentient life just never developed. Or maybe no one could settle the place on account of giant, angry bugs.

    So here's where things got awesome: I realized that randomly-generated stuff needn't be a substitute for my creativity; it could merely be a platform for it. A starting point. It could do the hard work of coming up with raw, unpolished facts and then, as in this case, I could take over and turn the scraps of information into a living, breathing thing. Or character, or location, or what-have-you.

    In this case, E-555000-1 became Quinta, a world under interdiction by the Imperium on account of totally deadly giant bugs (GFS?), and which furthermore had some Ancient ruins on it because nothing in the above UPP said there wasn't. All I needed was a reason for the PCs to go there (paid by some scientists to sneak them past the Scouts, so they could get their research on), and some suckers to fall for it.

    And they did.

    A-103400-F: a tiny planet with a swanky starport, no air, mind-boggling technology and, like, 10,000 people with no damn laws. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Well! Obviously it's the home of a transhumanist clan, people who've mysteriously been able to transcend their human bodies and engineer sun-powered bioshells for themselves. They exiled themselves for some peace and quiet, and the Imperium had to put a starport there so they said 'Whatever, just stay on your side" and went off to meditate on the nature of existence and stuff.

    C-2068AC-A: Vaccum world owned and operated by Scientologists.

    Wow. I once described Traveller as "a speedboat for the lake of your imagination", and I meant it.

    You know what? I'll probably never, ever run Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. But if you try to take away my Dungeon Masters Guide, with all its delicious charts for randomly determining castles and NPC personalities and other such stuff -- I cutchoo, mang!

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    I Like The Way Martin Thinks.

    If you haven't read this post on Treasure Tables, I encourage you to do so. This is good, neat, USEFUL advice. It's a process, but a simple one; it serves more as a framework for creativity than anything else. Rad!

    For My Next Trick...

    Once Upon A Time, I dabbled with gaming as art. I had a lot of fun writing these articles, and thinking about these concepts while failing Phys Ed in college. (Well, I didn't fail, but I didn't swim very fast, either. Screw it, I was there to study video production, not the dog-paddle.) I was into it.

    Somewhere along the line, I decided to share all of my gamemastering wisdom (ha!) with the world. To this end, I started to design a Gamemaster's Seminar -- a class for beginning and veteran GMs alike, where we'd discuss the basics as well as some advanced techniques, including The Adventure Funnel* and some of the above hoity-toity ideas about mood-setting with color palettes and crap.

    I think that...uh...let's see. About 9 people have attended in the 3 times I've presented it. They all had a good time, though, and I hear that this latest time, one of the participants went back to the FLGS (Avalon in Bloomington, IN), ran a bitchin' game, and told people he'd taken my seminar.


    But that's not my point today.

    My point is this: obviously, all that crazy-ass thought and research into employing art techniques and crap like that did me some good. I did it, and I'm the better for it.

    Here's the trick.

    How much of it do I actually need? That's what I need to figure out. I need to figure out the balance between High Gaming and all-out GFS Theory that'll suit me. It has to be useful. It makes too much sense.

    I think it'd help if I could actually game more...

    *Which wasn't called anything until I posted it on this blog. You are witnesses to history!

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    A Brief Digression: Blame S. John Ross

    Over at Jeff Rients' jawsome Gameblog, S. John Ross recently lamented the lack of artwork combining Erol Otus' classic D&D art and Nickelodeon's Rugrats.

    Seeing as how I owe S. John Ross for watching my 6 at that brothel in Bangkok, I think it's time I gave back a little.

    That one's for you, ya two-gun dog, ya.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    The Adventure Funnel

    Hey! There was no game last night, on account of my wife got home from work feeling tired and cranky. It's time for a new job, you ask me...

    Anyway. In my quest to be The Perfect GM, I spent an inordinate amount of time searching for Processes -- formulae, techniques, step-by-step guides to being awesome. Frankly, I love that stuff, and I learned a lot of useful things in my search. I especially looked for adventure-creation tools, mostly because I kept feeling uncreative and stymied. If only I could find something that would tke away the pressure of being creative...the perfect, easy process that would fulfill my requirements! I quested for it. It was my Holy Grail. My Shangri-La. My Xanadu (the one with Olivia Newton-John).

    Naturally, I came up with it on my own.

    One night my wife wanted to play a game. I had no ideas for a scenario, but suddenly inspiration struck: having just read Robin Laws' damn excellent book, Robin's Laws Of Good Gamemastering, I came up with a plan.

    And it worked.

    I hereby christen it


    because it helps you focus your creativity. When it's time to whip up an adventure that I'm probably not going to run because nobody shows up or something else goes wrong, The Adventure Funnel lends a hand.

    It's concise, it's free-form and it's interactive, so go get a piece of paper and a pencil. No, I'm serious. Get up and do it. Okay, open up Notepad, whatever. C'mon, I'll do one along withyou. It'll be fun.

    A caveat: this process is not a subsitute for creativity, just a funnel for ideas. You've been warned.

    STEP 1: GOAL
    Write down a one-sentence objective for your players to accomplish. Resist the temptation to overcomplicate it -- you'll have plenty of time for crazy in a minute. (Plus, you can count on players for one thing: to bork everything up for you.) Make danged sure that your sentence begins with a verb! For example, here's a goal for a Traveller scenario:

    GOAL: Deliver and sell 200 tons of books, music and magazines to a buyer on Arduun.

    Scientific studies have proven time and again that when PCs just waltz in and win, it's not that much fun. Conflict = drama, baby! So jot down some things, ANY things, that could get between the players and the goal. Write down stupid stuff, too, as you think of it. Brainstorm! Starring you instead of Christopher Walken. You are following along, right...?

    1. Pirates
    2. Customs
    3. The merchandise is contraband
    4. No buyer, ha ha
    5. Conan shows up looking for a fight
    Yes, I know Conan isn't the first guy you think of when you say Ex-Navy 4 Terms 797A86. That doesn't matter right now. Sticking ideas on paper matters now.

    Here's where the real work begins. It's brainstormng on a finer scale. Look over your previous work and start sketching in the finer points, as you think of them. Anything that fleshes out the goal, the obstacles or just the world (the mise-en-scene, if you're toity) goes here. You'll be surprised at how quickly these details will start to resolve...let them. When something starts to click (and it will), go with it. Live!

    1. The media content is all pop culture stuff from Capital. The far-future equivalents of Tiger Beat, synth music, Cosmo, Carrot Top movies, etc.
    2. The head of Starport Authority on Arduun is a guy named Frampton Roosh, 64, near retirement.
    3. The government of Arduun just flipped over from an oligarchy to a charismatic dictatorship, focussed on "cultural purity". Hence, Tiger Beat is illegal.
    4. RE: Conan -- A brawny barbarian from the Sword Worlds gets drunk at the same bar as the PCs, and starts a fight. Inconsequential but fun. maybe an interesting, recurring NPC?
    5. The pirates are Vargr, raiding not for profit but for survival.
    6. The customs office is short-staffed on account of a flu epidemic.
    7. The new government came into power following a short but bloody civil war. Fascists, the lot of 'em.
    8. Cargo is contraband, and when word gets out that it's in the starport, TWO buyers present themselves: organized crime and freedm-fighters. PCs must choose with whom to do business!
    9. The freedom fighter representative is an attractive lass named Cami ....
    You get the point. Obviously the whole "Contraband" angle appealed to me; it started clicking and I ran with it. I could've kept going, and so could you.

    If you start getting a big ball of wax rolling, simply take an idea out of your list and put it into its own Funnel, setting the minor goal, putting up minor obstacles and detaling fiddly bits that relate to it. It needn't become the main focus of the scenario, but if you think it'll help to have the stuff handy (or if the players Go There), you'll have some notes to guide you when the crap hits the fan.

    GOAL: Sell the cargo to Cami

    1. She's being watched by the Secret Police
    2. Nowhere to make an easy delivery
    3. Have to forge the cargo's papers
    4. She's constantly on the move
    1. Secret Police travel in packs of 4, well-armed
    2. Cami knows of a warehouse at the old creamery, 2 mi. from starport
    3. Etc...

    Again, resist the temptation to provide too much detail; give yourself wiggle room. Use this stuff as a basis for winging it, not a script for railroading.

    Anything that might be in the PCs favor can, but needn't be, listed. Hell, you may have already written it down in Step 3 for all I know. Same for what they stand to gain; I probably would've listed Cami's offer for the cargo in my details. I rarely, if ever, do anything for a Step 4; I'm usually done by them.

    You may not use everything you just wrote down. That's okay. Scratch off what you did use and stick the notes in a folder. Next time you're stuck for something...

    Possibilities abound. Scale the scope up and down, and you can do anything from a single encounter to a multi-part epic campaign, wherein each obstacle is a a few sessions long.

    This Funnel has served me well. It is yours now.

    Go forth and rock.

    Sunday, October 08, 2006

    "Creativity Is Hiding Your Sources"

    Now there's something I learned from White Wolf and which I will continue to apply. However, I'm not so sure how much I feel like hiding these days: A memory from my gaming youth encourages me to steal inspiration rather than to expect myself to pluck it, unaided, from the very ether.

    One of the best GMs I ever played with is Erik "Erko" Mayes. He's my best friend's older brother, and he used to run AD&D for us now and then, back in the day, when he was first in college. I think I only played an Erko game two or three times, but damned if they don't stand out in my memory.

    One particular game featured a particular villain we were all familar with from other sources: Darkness, the horned bad guy from Legend. He didn't come over from that Ridley Scott flick alone, oh no no -- he brought his goblin henchmen Blix and Blunder along with him, not to mention some unicorns and a plot involving the theft of their horns.

    I'm pretty sure that Erko made no attempt to disguise these characters and situations from us; I think that either he was epically unconcerned that we'd recognize them (i.e. he was lazy), or maybe he didn't think it would matter. Whichever his impetus, the game got on despite the fact that we recognized the characters, and we still had fun.

    As I got older, I never forgot that episode (obviously), but I did start to see it in a different light. I thought, "Why steal something that boldly and plop it in your game? Where's the creativity? The uniqueness? The Craft?!" I vowed that I'd never stoop like that, that I would be The Very Creative GM Who Always Did Everything Brand New From Whole Cloth.

    Trouble is, that way lies frustration. Trying to be innovative all the damned time is very consuming, very demanding. It's noble, sure; it's a suitable challenge for everyone. Flip that coin around and you'll find frustration, disappointment and anguish (esecially if you're a perfectionist like I am). It's that attitude that has made my gaming so difficult for so long.

    In this day, I find myself revisiting that opinion, and that memory of the Legend-flavored game, from a different angle. I'm looking now at the facts, and these are they:

    Erko stole an idea from another source and we all had fun anyway.

    I'm finding it hard to argue with that. The dude was probably watching the movie, thought, "Cool, I oughtta have some players fight these guys", and ran with it. He went straight for the fun.

    And why not? Sure, he could've changed the names a bit and twisted some new plot threads in, but in the end, we knew exactly who we were dealing with, what was going on, and what needed to be done. Furthermore, we had that villain and that situation all to ourselves, to handle in our way. It was a perfect example of "What If...?"

    And correct me if I'm wrong, but "What If...?" is one of the reasons we play.

    I still want to have my own ideas, sure. Good lord! Who doesn't? But all the same, what's the harm in taking inspiration rather than crafting it yourself? What's the real harm in nicking an idea, changing a few details, and letting it live in your game?

    Thomas Edison* didn't invent the lightbulb. He just made one that worked.

    I am no longer afraid to pluck something from elsewhere and use it for my own. It's not a lack of creatvity, it's just a shortcut to my own ideas. A starting point. Plus, it's not like my players are really gonna look down on me for it.

    To that end, I have a new NPC for tonight's Iron Gauntlets game: Sir Mayhew of the Redmarsh, Knight of the Ring Argent.

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    This oughtta be fun.

    *Don't think for a moment I'm giving the guy props. Ever read up on him and Nikola Tesla? More people should.
    guy was a class-1 USDA certified dick.

    Saturday, October 07, 2006

    Together Again for the Very First Time

    ...and here's how it got this way.

    I got into gaming on December 31st, 1987. There's a reason I remember so specifically, but I'll leave that for later. I was in middle school, and that's about average, right? I took the last semester of 8th grade to ingest, digest and expand upon my gaming library, my idea of the hobby, my interests within it. High school came and brought me other gamers, and I was off like a rocket.

    Something drew me to gamemastering right away; it may've been my interest in storytelling, or just that I wanted to be a filmmaker and saw this hobby as a ready substitute for the time being. I just kind of fell into the role, and I dug it; man, did I ever. My Mom even bought me a copy of Gary Gygax's Master of the Game, "Because it seems you're always the gamemaster". Now how cool is that?

    I stumbled a lot on the way, like you do with anything, but before long a couple of things were becoming screamingly evident, even to me:
    1. I was getting good at it; and
    2. I wanted to get better.
    The 80's faded out like a cold Hypercolor t-shirt and in their stead came the 1990s, which apart from being inescapable I also pretty much hated because there was too much grunge and no New Wave, but I digress. My gaming library was ballooning, and I was getting more experience, more knowledge, more ideas.

    I also got Mage.

    Look, I loved Mage. I still have a warm little spot for it in my heart, by a side-table with some bon-bons on it. It was my fault, really, that I took all of White Wolf's ideas about storytelling, mood, theme, etc. pretty danged seriously.

    Wait, no. I meant to say too seriously. Next thing I knew, I was approaching the hobby not as a pastme but as a craft. My head became like a freaking Jo-Ann Fabrics, full of gew-gaws and gizmos and reference materials, and it was all whipped into a frenzy by that single idea that I'd had for the last, oh, 5 or so years:

    I MUST IMPROVE. And "improvement", at that time, seemed to require ever greater sophistication.

    [Remember -- this isn't Mage's fault, or even Changeling's. I did this to myself. Theatrix helped, though.]

    Mood. Theme. Setting. Three-Act Structure. Foreshadowing. Story Arcs. These things could be done in a game, and the nuclear-powered OCD engine in my brain demanded that they should be done. By me. Because to do less would be to cheat myself.

    I must forge myself into an enlightened, nigh-omnipotent god of gamemastering excellence!


    I have determined that this is not much fun.

    Little things, many of them, have crept up in my life (as it relates to gaming, and as it doesn't) to make me aware of a simple fact -- a fact so obvious, I ignored it: I've been thinking too hard about gaming, making it feel less like play and more like work. Lest it lose its luster, something must be done.

    There's an old Buddhist proverb: "If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha". Hell if I know what it means, but one reasonable interpretation is this: don't do something just because someone who ought to know tells you that you should; take the teachings, get rid of the teacher, and explore the world on your own.

    I don't need gaming to be an art. I can make it that; I know how. but I don't need to.

    In this weblog, I come face-to-face with my gaming Buddha. He and I shall do battle.

    I have a vorpal sword, and I'm rolling intitiative.

    Let's go, Buddha.

    PS: Today is my Birthday. Hmn. Symbolism...?