Monday, December 31, 2007
New Year's Resomalutions
Get a regular damn game group going.
I try this one every year, but I always let it dissolve. My excuse -- "Well, my players have lives." Sure, they do. So do I. And I want a regular game group in mine.
Stop chewing on the inside of my damn lips.
Weird stress habit. What do I have to be stressed about? Not much really, but still I chew on the inside of my lip, and my shoulders are knotted up like a rope in Scouts. One of those, I can do something about...
Sell that damn story I wrote two years ago. It's a short pulp-SF adventure featuring a globe-trotting over-achiever cowboy, his other globe-trotting over-achiever cowboy friends, and rustlers from outer space. It sits, unsold, around here somewhere. Shame.
Lose some damn weight.
I don't look like I weigh as much as I weigh, which is really weird because it makes me wonder if I'm composed of dark matter like Nibbler's poop on Futurama. H'wever, with diabetes looming over me from my Dad's side...I ain't takin' no chances, bucko.
Resist using the phrase "go ahead", damnit.
And it's not like I use it that much at all, but I hear people overusing it and I don't wanna be like them.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
I Suddenly Gotta GURPS
Y'see, my wife and I usedta play the hell out of that system. Accumulating quite a collection of 3rd-Edition supps, we used it for Traveller, SF stuff, fantasy, espionage/action...all kinds crazy stuff, and almost all the time. Then Lily was born, and we moved, and then we apparently switched to other systems for our fun.
The GURPS shelf still sits there, waiting. Arabian Adventures, Atlantis, Atomic Horror, Aztecs, Bestiary, Castle Falkenstein, Castle Falkenstein - The Ottoman Empire, Cliffhangers, Compendia I & II, Cops, Creatures Of The Night, Cyberpunk, Deadlands: Weird West, Egypt, Fantasy, Fantasy Bestiary, Greece, Hellboy, Horror (3rd), Illuminati, IOU, Japan, Lensman, Magic, Martial Arts, Monsters, Old West, Planet of Adventure, Religion, Robots, Rogues, Screampunk, Space, Space 3rd, Steampunk, Steampunk Tech, Supers, Swashbucklers, Transhuman Space (plus Broken Dreams, Deep Beyond, Fifth Wave, In The Well, Orbital Decay, Spacecraft of the Solar System and Toxic Memes), Traveller (nearly the entire run -- don't make me), Ultratech & UIltratech 2, Undead, Vehicles (both editions), the GM's Screen, the Horror GM's Screen and ...
...no, that's it.
Cherished, but ultimately unused for anything other than reference or pride.
Then today I was looking at the Wiki page about Mad Max, and then I looked at the Wiki page for "Car Wars", and it mentioned the GURPS Autoduel supplement, and I thought "I gotta get that at GenCon '08" and then I thought "I haven't played GURPS in, like, 3 years" and then finally "Dude, I wanna play some GURPS."
Just like that.
It's...weird, here inside my head.
Weird, and sticky.
...where's that old webpage that randomly tossed out 3 GURPS titles to make a campiagn out of...?
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Memo To The Pope
DATE: 22nd December 2007
TO: Pope Benedict XVI and all the other dudes at the Vatican
FROM: Dr Rotwang!
SUBJECT: Polar Bear Fights
It has come to my attention that you and your organization have, in your newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, talked some serious smack about the film The Golden Compass. Apparently you said some jazz or other about how the film "promotes a cold and hopeless world without God." That's a quote from Reuters.
I saw the film last night. I enjoyed it. Sure, there were plenty of infodumps, and some of the dialog is pure, unabashed exposition. So it's not perfect but it was pretty keen, especially what with the Edwardian steampunk vibe, the airships, and Sam Elliot. In an airship.
Oh, and of course the polar bears.
I totally saw a couple of armored polar bears go paw-to-paw in that movie last night, beating the frozen crap out of each other, and the climax of the battle was jaw-dropping to say the least. So I got my money's worth and my time was well-spent.
On top of that, the film's basic message was "don't let someone who thinks they know better than you tell you that they know better than you, and make your own damn decisions." Yes, the film features a stuffy orthodox organization in the film which resembles, umn, the Catholic church, and I hear that in the books it is a church. The message is still a good one, though: don't just obey because someone tells you to.
Those polar bears were wailing on each, hardcore. It was cool, and one of them really had it coming because he was a dirty cheat and the other talked like Gandalf. Guess who won? Or, uh, did you actually see the movie?
So. If digging on free will, opposing stodgy authority and totally awesome polar bear fights is wrong, well...
...I'll see you in Hell.
I Waste The Buddha With My Crossbow readers
Friday, December 21, 2007
Forward...To My Doorstep!
It has a good random dungeon generator, I tell you what.
I have not yet actually played the game, but I look forward to so doing. I have a lot more to say by way of a review, but maybe --
-- I dunno, maybe I'll say it in a podcast.
¡Ahí te viene el osobuho!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Best. DVD Day. EVER.
"HOLY CRAP!!" I hear you cry. "SWEET ZOMBIE JESUS! But -- 'releases'? Plural? How can you possibly --"
-- take it to the limit...?
...was a Good DVD Day. Blade Runner Stardust
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Again With the Instant Game
But that's not the only reason I'm mentioning it again. No.
I'm mentioning it again because I took the salient part of this book to lunch with me today, and set about rolling up an instant game between bites of General Tso's chicken3.
Why, yes, I'd be glad to share!
The basic idea is this: You generate a setting for your game, a Tone and a couple of Things that are in it, and you do it by rolling on charts. (The idea is to go into it with few preconceptions, but if you're in the mood for your game to be in a specific setting or of a specific tone or whatever, you assume it and move on, rolling for the rest.) You can add on supplemental charts to define these items as needed (descriptors, people, personalities, etc.), and play the hand you're dealt, as it were. Got it?
In my case, I had my setting already picked out: Uncharted Space. Whatever that meant; that could come later. So I wrote that down, and started rolling:
SETTING: Uncharted Space
THINGS: (Famous) Advanced Intelligence, (Awesome) Lost Tribe
...uh-huh. Right. What?
Next, I rolled up an Instant Plot. What's gonna drive the action?
OPPOSITION: Government Agents
ACTION 1: Convince Elves
ACTION 2: Steal Security Systems
I'll admit that the elves and the security systems didn't immediately strike any sparks, but that soon came to make no difference -- everything else soon did...
The PCs are members of a starship caravan, fleeing Earth after an oppressive global regime takes power. Three such refugee caravans departed in groups, each one a collection of ships gathered inside the same jump-drive field; one of them mis-jumped, stranding its travelers (the PCs) in uncharted space!
The planetary regime, however, has followed this lost caravan, and now a small fleet of their ships is stranded in the same region. The government agents don't give a damn about the refugees...they want to re-capture the supergenius physics professor who escaped with them, take him back to Earth, and put him to work making weapons.
The PCs now have trouble on two fronts: they're lost, and have to explore the surrounding stars to find a new home (the jumps were one-way, oh noes!!!), deal with hostile aliens, space monsters, crazy star-kings and so on, WHILE they evade the Earth Regime bad guys who'll gladly slaughter them all to a man as long as they can get their scientist back.
So. Awesome. But -- did Instant Game do this? No; I did. Instant Game just tossed out some ideas and I arranged them, while I ate lo-mein and mushroom pork. But its help and inspiration were invaluable, and I was done in under 45 minutes.
Cool, huh? Think you could use somethin' like that?
You tell me.
1Not real Spanish.
2How exactly DOES something whop?
3He isn't really, but he finds the misunderstanding to his advantage.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Throw 2+ For Cuteness
Of course, right now she's watching Barbie As Rapunzel. She's 3, so she's all over the place.
Still...she's already asked me to teach her to play.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Rotwang! Contra La España
"Aztec-killin' Church-pushin' codex-destroyin' gold-stealin' foot-burnin' rassin'-frassin' so-and-so's!", I'd declare. "Can't say their damn 'S'-es right! Look at me, I'm Eth-PAN-eesh! THH THH THH!"
Here lately, though? Ehhhh, I got over myself.
Actually for a while now I've been getting over it, and, wouldn't you know it, kind of wanting to put more Spanish cultural influences in my F- and SFRPG action. Like, I started to draw up a map of a fantasy kingdom called Toldeo, and wanted to put Spanish place names and geography on everything. NPCs named Don This and Doña That. Hell, last night I was thinking, "Why don't I roll up a Traveller subsector and make a whole group of Spanish-settled systems? Like the Sword Worlds, but swarthy!"
I want to play a Zingaran swordsman in a Conan game, or a Hazat guy in Fading Suns. I've had the Castille sourcebook for 7th Sea for a while, actually.
Anyway, it'll mean one thing: research. Research that I can turn into cultural influences, place names, NPCs, etc. For some reason, a FRPG setting based on medieval Spain appeals to me like never before. I don't know why.
I'll leave out the Aztec-killin', Church-pushin', codex-destroyin', gold-stealin', foot-burnin' and so on, though.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Traveller: Rule 68A
No, really, I'm still here. I actually have 3 more posts planned.
So recently El Jeffo de los Rientos posted a link to somethin' called Rule 68A, suggesting that it was a must-read for people who like-a the Traveller (which is me). Being one to trust his advice I made click on the link and, as the kids say, "got my read on".
I won't re-hash Rule 68A, but I can give you an overview:
Basically, there are those long-time Classic Traveller players and referees who feel that CT lacks a clearly-presented task resolution system, and 'patches' for that have been appearing since the 1980s. The author of Rule 68A, who has himself written a task resolution system (and a popular one at that), at one point said to himself, "Whoa, hold on. There is a task system, it's just not structured. So let's put a bit of structure on it." And then he did so.
Referencing a great little passage in The Traveller Adventure, WJP (the author's handle on Citizens of the Imperium) puts forth that CT has plenty to work with already, and that if you can just remember 3 levels of difficulty and the numbers associated with them, you can use the existing CT rules just fine.
I read the article and I read the passage and you know what? I agree with him. Man, I shoulda read pages 28 and 29 of The Traveller Adventure a long time ago.
Basically, the idea is not to shoehorn the game into a system, but rather to use the game more loosely, and adjudicate things on the fly. No need to couple characteristics and skills -- the Ref may wish to do so but it needn't happen every time. Rolls can be 2d6 equal to or less than a characteristic, or two of them, or whatever. Margins of success can influence further rolls. Situational rolls can e based around the same 3 difficulty levels at need. Target numbers can be randomly determined.
In other words, it's making me look at Traveller as kind of a meta tool kit, more so than I had before. In a sense it's like...
...it's like the lack of hard-and-fast rules isn't a hindrance, but rather free reign to improvise them.
It's kind of neat to look at it this way. It's like Traveller can now be more my game than it ever was; I'm now truly the Referee, not just The Guy Who Is Running The Game. I have yet to implement this idea, but I do have an open game with my wife to test it in, so I'll let you know.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Dear Vince Vaughn
You do another trick, right?
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Time Machine Revisited
I say "almost" as in "test footage was completed". Click the link and you can see it, and hear animator Bob Clampett talking about it. Listen for the enthusiasm in the dude's voice.
So. Why do I need a Time Machine? Well, y'see...Clampett and ERB's son Jack approached MGM about producing a series. MGM liked it...but then someone shot the idea down because they thought Tarzan would sell better than John Carter.
Had the project been completed, animation might be totally different today -- and likely for the better.
But no. Because no one would believe that a guy might be on Mars having adventures, cartoon or no.
I'm gonna build a Time Machine, and I'm gonna paint noseart on it -- a pretty girl with her fists held up, a devillish grin and a wink to the viewer. And next to her, the craft's name in big, cursive letters:
"The Retroactive Asspunch Express".
Friday, November 23, 2007
Top 10 Reasons I Need A Time Machine
This little starship toy dates from no later than 1981. I have no idea where it came from, and although there's a logo on the bottom which appears to read "Rigo", Intarweb searches turn up nothing.
I'd love to be able to reproduce it and field a bunch of them in a Starmada game, granting also that I could find someone to play with and the time to actually do so.
Meanwhile, my daughter Lily has christened the ship "The Jammie-O", and it's already landed a couple of places.
I'll keep looking, but...does anyone recognize it?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"Update Your Blog!"
So I say to him, "Okay. I'm gonna post about Xanadu."
He shakes his head no.
But I don't care.
I love this movie, right in its face, unabashedly, unconditionally and unyieldingly. I saw it when I was 6 and it captured me for a Summer; I've see it again as an adult and I can tell how bad it is but that doesn't matter, at all. Why? because Xanadu is as freaking feel-good as you can get, it's stuffed to the gills with early New Wave costumes, there's miles and miles of leg and tons of random stuff lights up FOR NO DAMN GOOD REASON.
Furthermore, it doesn't care what you think, either. Sure, it ruined Michael Beck's career, barely broke even at the box office (mostly it sold records) and was nominated for a bunch of Razzies the very first time anyone nominated anything for a Razzie, but -- there it is, doin' its thing, with the legs and the lights and the Don Bluth animated sequence and the cult following and a song by The Tubes and the Broadway musical and stuff lighting up, including people.
For the sheer, pantsless joy of it.
The fact of the matter is, if you sit down to watch this movie and you don't feel just a little bit better after it's over, you are a Commie. Or perhaps you are dead, so get off my couch.
Xanadu -- The Encounter Critical Of Musicals.
Friday, November 02, 2007
A CMG I Can Get Down With
So I pop open my e-mail to-day and notice -- hey, there's a message from Nathan! Swank!
Privateer is getting into the Collectible Miniatures Game (CMG) market, and they're doing it with a game called "Monsterpocalypse'".
You can read the press release right here, but the gist of it is: Collectible kaiju minis, pre-painted and random-packed, which "will launch with over 80 figures in the initial set and will include large-scale monsters, destroyable city structures, and vehicles."
Let's read that again.
"[W]ill include large-scale monsters, destroyable city structures, and vehicles."
Now...little plastic monsters and scale buildings are cool enough for starts. But when the terrain is interactive, you're playing in a whole new way.
I betcha that in playtest, everyone who gets to knock over a building goes, "BRRRRROOOOOOSSSSSSCCCHHHH!" when they do it. If they don't, they're a Commie.
Or a zombie.
Thanks to NateBot, then, for the heads-up and so much more.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Untitled Catch-Up Post
FROM: Dr Rotwang!
TO: Xbow Vs Buddha Readers
RE: That Thing We Talked About
LADIES AND GENNELMENS:
Here follows a collection of interesting tidbits that don't warrant a full post or which I at least keep forgetting to write about in full. You know how it is -- my brain's like a milk jug full of spinning marbles.
- Few days back, in a comment RE: "Why Is The Buddha Cluthching His Gut?", trollsmyth asked: "PS - Got a link to that article on fairies?" No, trollsmyth, I don't. It was originally published in Ken Hite's "Suppressed Transmission" column on the Pyramid e-zine; I have the first volume of the dead-tree version and read the essay there. 'Course, if you're a Pyramid subscriber...
- Ran Ghostbusters last night for our Annual Halloween Game. Went OK, but nothin' great; mostly it was good to have Kyle, John, Phil & Erin back together with us all at the same time. Looking over Ghostbusters again so soon after futzing about with Risus, I can totally see the resemblance, as it were. Makes me curious what, exactly, about Ghostbusters inspired what, exactly, about Risus.
- We bought some candy for the game, including some gummi body parts. The ear does NOT look like an ear. It looks like...well, I'll scan one in and post a link later.
- Kudos to whatever crazy fool programmed The Movie Channel yesterday. Forbidden Zone at Noon on a Sunday? You magnificent bastard. I taped it!
- So...there's a commercial running here in the US which uses a cover of "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister...to sell birth control. Yes! In modern America, a grrrl-power cover of THE Teen Boy Rebellion Anthem of the 1980s sells family planning to 20-something girls. Strike from your mind the image of a 14-year-old boy in muscle shirt and mullet; that's over. DOUBLE-WHAMMY PSYCHOLOGICAL DISCORD PUNCH: The pill is called "Yaz". As in, "Upstairs At Eric's" Yaz. "In England They called Them 'Yazoo' " Yaz. Vince And Alison Yaz. I...it...my brain...
- I'm wrapping up the D6 Space game I've been running at Avalon (my FLGS). One session remains; after that I'll be running shorter, 2-3-session games with non-d20 products. Not to hate on d20, just to expand the visibility of other games. First up: Hollow Earth Expedition.
- Okay, done.
Stick it, RHPS. "Weird" is Danny Elfman, as Satan, crooning "Minnie The Moocher" with alternate plot-realted lyrics to a guy who acts like a chicken and a topless girl in a tiara.
Apparently, you can get it on DVD. Hmmm...
Saturday, October 27, 2007
REQUEST CLARIFICATION: WTF, over?
Android-, Clone or Half-Human/Bioengineered Arthurian knights? Check.
Robohorses and hoversteeds? Check.
Energy lances? Merlin as an AI? Avalon as Technology school in "Sidespace"? Check, check and check again.
Cover art by John Zeleznik? Well...yes, check.
Why, oh why, is TSR's Once And Future King so bereft of love? Why is it not cooed to in the Gonzo-friendly online community? Is its fly unzipped?
Or is it because of its parentage?
Once And Future King was part of TSR's "Amazing Engine" line of games -- a series of books from the early 1990s which all shared the same minimalist, sorta-generic rules system. The conceit: you'd create one set of core stats and port them over from game setting to game setting, where the "core" abilities could be used to generate randomized ability scores and so on to make an individualized version of the core character.
I'm not sure how that was supposed to be cool. I remember hearing about it (and looking it over) when it came out, ca. 1993 or so, and thinking, "OK, so what? Why not just roll up a new guy each time? Why's it have to be built out of a common pool every time? How can I go about getting a date?" The system was bland then and it's bland now; I tried making a character once and while I succeeded, I was not really that moved, impressed, or excited about it.
I still haven't changed my opinion of the system, and I'm no longer dating (sorry, ladies; where were you?).
It's not hard to see why the game line failed. But rules are one thing. They can be dispensed with, and replaced with something more agreeable, moving, exciting or just plain cool, season to taste. What I don't get is why I don't hear more talk and chatter about this weird little game setting with its robohorse jousts and its Sourcerors (as in source code, because they're computer programmers) and its castles on Mars and crap like that. It's positively wacktacular, and it seems to get no love.
The other books in the line, by the way, might be somewhat interesting, though often derivative. I quote from the Wiki page:
BughuntersFor Faerie, Queen and Country reminds one of Castle Falkenstein and Bughunters probably owes James Cameron twenty bucks, but you never know. Was King alone among these games in its...well, if not creativity, then its pure, pantsless wahoo?
A near future worldbook where the players are clones forced to fight the aliens.
For Faerie, Queen, and Country
Magical Victorian England with a twist. Magic and Faeries are real. Includes poster map.
The Galactos Barrier
Space opera ala Star Wars (except that instead of "The Force" it's called music).
Biopunk using both traditional cyberware and genetic materials from animals.
D&D meets Earth. Fantasy mixed with the contemporary world. Basically, how the world would be different if magic were real and elves, dwarves, etc. were around.
Metamorphosis Alpha to Omega
Gamma World wasn't dead in 1994; it became an Amazing Engine Worldbook (which is strange since Gamma World spawned from the original Metamorphosis Alpha game).
This supplement may very well have been the inspiration for the Alternity Dark•Matter setting.
Don't know, can't say. That doesn't make it any less wahoo, though, does it?
So where's the love?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Commies and zombies. Probably also robots, but it's not their fault.
Here's a tasty thing: General Foods International Dark Mayan Chocolate. It's not on the company's website but I swear it's real, because I'm drinking it RIGHT NOW and Hellboy is helping. Go buy some and drink it (mix it with hot water first, you moron).
It's rich, it's smooth, it's tasty and the paper mini wizard can't cast any spells to make it any better. Click for a bigger picture, yo.
ALSO: We all know that the boys and girls at Jones Soda like to make up some batches of wooo-hoo-CRAZY sodas, especially around various holidays. This being October, there are Halloweeen flavors out.
Observe this can.
This is Jones Soda's "Lemon Drop Dead" soda. It is a tart, lemon-drop-flavored soda. It is a GOOD soda, and you're wasting time not drinking it. Go find some and treat yourself.
But beware! Observe THIS can:
It is a candy-corn flavored soda. You will find it near the tasty, lemon soda.
You may be tempted to purchase this and to put this in your mouth.
DO NOT PUT IT IN YOUR MOUTH. It is vile. It is what Hell tastes like, if Hell is made of sugary, carbonated melted butter -- and after drinking this stuff, I'm sure it is. This soda will violate your tongue, sort of like if you accidentally licked Paula Deen.
Damn! That's a rambly, stupid post.
EDITED to correct pictures of good and bad sodas. Sorry, Mister Jones Webmaster!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I Don't Know Nothin' 'Bout Jangoin' No Fetts
Oh, my, was it fun.
It was "I Can't Wait To Get Back To Writing Some More Of It" fun.
So I've decided to keep going. Today, it's the opening scene; I don't have a crawl yet, becuase I don't know what my B-plot is. The A-plot revolves around Obi-Wan protecting Anakin from the Sith (in my book, a dark Jedi cult with big plans), and Anakin dealing with the fact that he may or may not fulfill a prophecy about The Force (not to bring balance to it, but to destroy the balance) when all he wants to do is win races, soup up hot rods and chase girls. He is an orphan; he's not Jesus. He doesn't say "Yipee!". He's actually a lot like Han Solo, and he didn't build C-3P0 (but he did re-build R2-D2, whom he found in a trash heap).
But the B-plot remains. I know exactly dingus about it, except that it needs to be epic in scale, it needs to NOT involve separatists and whiny bankers, and it needs to lead into the Clone Wars.
My idea of the Clone Wars.
As a teenager, the Clone Wars held great mystery to me. Clones? Wars? Wars AGAINST clones? BECAUSE of clones? To GET clones? I didn't know. No one knew. All I knew was that Obi-Wan and Anakin fought together in them alongside Leia's "father", and that Madalorians, who were utter stone-cold bad-ass mercenaries with Wookiee braids on their armor, were somehow involved. Somewhere in there the Jedi were persecuted and kacked en masse and then the Empire rose up. Everything else was nebulous, unanswered, pure speculation. The definitive story would come along in time; until then, I could play the RPG.
It'd be silly to say that I was disappointed in the prequels because they didn't match my expectations. Of COURSE they couldn't! Why WOULD they? No, I was disappointed in the prequels because I didn't like the answers I got, how I got them or who was in them. I liked Qui-Gon Jinn, and Mace Windu had a lot of potential. Young Obi-Wan was cool but kind of one-dimensional. I didn't really like any of the other characters, to be frank.
So now I'm playing an RPG again, but instead of assuming the role of a Rebel PC and throwing dice, I'm assuming the role of the screenwriter. And it's not about thinking I can do any better.
It's about thinking that I can do, and then doing.
So no Gungans. Bad-ass Mandalorians. Rogueish, immature Anakin. No political commentary. More engaging characters. No wuxia Jedi fights, either, even though the Jedi are based on Samurai. More hot rods. More female characters. More personal space battles. No Yoda, except mentioned in whispered tones. Sinister, devious, dark Sith.
And no midichlorians.
We'll see how it goes!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I Had A Dream, I Had An Awesome Dream
My spec got into the hands of a studio exec (in my dream, my cousin Lisa; go figure) who looked at it and called me in and said, "This is PERFECT! This is what I've been looking for - a million-dollar idea. It's creative, it's energetic!"
I got a contract out of it.
Thing is, I've often thought about re-writing the prequels, for fun and practice. Not because I think I can do any better, but because it'd be easy for me.
One of my supervisors at work suggested a few months ago that I could switch from doodling between calls, to writing a screenplay instead, and that if I got hassled for it, he'd back me up.
So today, to limber up, I'm writing a scene from MY Episode I, between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Anakin's older, maybe 18, and a total space-greaser. It's slow going because I'm at work, but it's fun...
I hope I develop a sort of addiction to doing this, so that I can finally get off my butt and get ON my but to write a screenplay.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Why Is The Buddha Clutching His Gut?
Starting this blog, and talking about the gaming-related change of mind-set as I do, has really had a positive effect on me. My gamemastering style really is changing, and it's for the better. I feel...
...I feel like a new GM.
My wife and I were on vacation this past week, which is why I didn't update a whole lot. We had whole days to ourselves, and we wasted them with efficiency and gusto. On Thursday, for instance, we gamed pretty much all day long. My wife's idea the night before was this: we would each make a 5th-level Castles & Crusades character, then one of us would start running a game for the other. Then, at a lull, we'd switch. It was good stuff; I felt young again.
As unusual as that is for us, that's not really what I'm getting at.
She made an exiled Queen of the Horse Tribe (which she made up), while I got all multiclassed* with a Swashbuckler/Wizard (we used some third-party classes). She started the game in the Shaar (Forgotten Realms), and we got rolling. Her character was escorting mine away from an airship wreck and to the city of Shaarmid. Resting one night, we got jumped by a kobold hunting party. Sleep is a marvellous spell, and 16 kobolds are more trouble than you think.
With her part a a lull, it was my turn to take over.
I had nothing.
Nothing, nothing, nothing. All I knew was that we were on a trek through the FR equivalent of the savannah, and that this grassy plain was dotted with huge ravines and many ruins. I had no idea what to do.
I fumbled for a bit, looking for ideas. I rolled on charts. I looked through monster manuals. I rolled on more charts. I came up with a quick bit where some Wemics warned our PCs to vacate their current shelter ASAP, 'cause it was on their hunting grounds, but after that....?
I was dry. Nothing was coming to me. Tools were ineffective in my hands. Logic no were.
So I kicked logic to the curb, took off my shoes and dipped my toes in the rolling, roaring stream of consciousness. And this was the idea that I plucked out:
Ruined castle in a ravine, inhabited by fairies, and they are bastards.
Having just recently re-read Kenneth Hite's essay on fairies of myth vs. fairies of...uh...Barbie, it's not surprising that I came to this. But the important thing is this:
All those tools, techniques, tips, tricks, etc. were feeling like a crutch, so I just went with my gut.
Sulya of the Horse Tribe and Theodric The Quick promptly found the abandoned castle (rolled up out of Wilderlands Of High Fantasy d20's "random ruins" charts), blew their saving rolls, and ended up facing illusions they couldn't make go away. They were at the mercy of the cruel and mischievous fae -- chiefly, Lord Brittlebutt, who looked like a fat Shakespeare, who promised togive them magic items f they would only do stupid stuff to amuse him. Sulya said no; I had Theodric follow suit...and they got a facefull of Confusion cast on 'em.
5 rounds later, after attacking each other at odd intervals, Sulya had Theodric down to 1 hp, and Brittlebutt finally gave up.
Now...here's the thing.
There was no plot. No story. No theme, no expectations...nothing. Just the gusto of a random encounter, an incident in these characters' lives.
THE OLD ME WOULD NEVER HAVE ALLOWED HIMSELF TO DO THAT.
The Old Me would've been all about internal consistency and logic and a plot and a goal and -- well, about trying too hard.
So, instead, I stopped trying. I just Did, like Yoda says.
Result? A dire encounter, a mood-setting situation, a definite setback which required further effort on the PCS' part, and -- get this:
It resulted in a STORY.
Maybe it's more of a vignette, or an anecdote, but it happened to those PCs and those PCs continued to talk about it. In fact, on Friday, we had Leaky Pete over for more gaming, our PCs told his PC about it.
I didn't aim for a story, but I got one anyway. I got a neat memory, too.
And I had fun.
*Admit it, you read it like this: "MOOL-tee-classss."
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
INDIANA: Land Of No Game Conventions For Doc Rotwang!, For The Most Part
I've mentioned before that my job blacks out time off during August, because that's when students come back and it's ridiculously busy. So while I'm raking in lots and lots of of sweet overtime luchre, I can't go spend it where I'd like to spend it, which is Gencon.
So, no Gencon for Doc.
Okay. But there's also InConJunction. That's July 4th, but my wife can't get July 4th weekend off, so while it looks nice (I've never been to it because I'm an idiot), I'm less likely to go without her. So...shaky.
Oh, but what about Pentacon? Well, maybe. But click the link and you'll see why I'm not even sure it's going to happen this year. Apparently, if I wait 23 years...
Ah, but what about all those other gaming cons in Indiana, you ask? Surely, there must be tons of them, no?
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Sorry For The Snit-Fit
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I'm very grateful to have readers.
I was very excited to hit on a new look for the blog, and especially to make the image. I felt it captured a lot of my personal aesthetic, not to mention how strongly reminiscent it is of my favorite decade. I was pleased with the result and even moreso to put it up on the blog.
The robot image was especially important. Since I started planning the new look, I knew I needed something personal and striking. I thought about a lot of things but eventually decided on two ideas: dice, or a robot. I looked around for some good dice images but quickly decided it should be a robot instead. I've always liked robots; they hold a certain fantastic fascination for me, and they represent a lot of things that I can't even put into words.
When I drew the sketchy robot, I was very happy with it, even though it's obviously just a sketch. In fact, you could say that because it's a sketch, it's even more personally representative. I liked its loose, spontaneous look. I felt it expressed me very well.
To have jokes made about it was annoying at first but now...now it's just depressing. It's depressing and it even makes me angry, especially when it comes from people that I like.
Yes, it's a very silly thing to be sensitive about. I don't care. Please stop.
Can't Stop Makin' Risus Characters
SISTER MARY OPHELIA OF THE SACRED ORDER OF THE THREE-ROUND BURST
DESCRIPTION: A modest-looking, if athletic, nun in black habit and wimple. She wears wire-frame glasses and no makeup. Underneath her robes is an arsenal of small arms worthy of a Guns & Ammo centerfold. She is ruthlessly dedicated to her task, which usually involves shooting PCs real good.
Pistol-Packin' Nun (4), Surprisingly Good Athlete (3), Religious Zealot (3)
She is often accompanied by her backup team, a Quartet of Gun-Toting Battle-Nuns (5).
INSPECTOR LOMBARDI, OF THE POLICE
DESCRIPTION: A trench-coat-and-fedora-wearing walking cliché of the police inspector. Uptight, suspicious and constantly on alert. He's tall and thin and wears a pencil-thin mustache. Always introduces himself as 'Inspector Lombardi, of the Police", even if you've already met him.
Police Inspector (3), 4-Time Winner of the National Trivia Contest, Sponsored By Waffle-Os Cereal (4), Dedicated Aerobiczer (3)
KYLE OVERTON-BRISBY III
DESCRIPTION: 20-something blonde-haired East Coast yuppie. Wears Dockers, Polo shirt, deck shoes and a teal Izod sweater tied around his shoulders. Likes to impress people with his conspicuous upward mobility, and is fond of using trendy buzzwords like "chipotle", "conspicuous upward mobility" and so on.
BMW-Driving Yuppie (3), Junior Investment Banker (3), Clothes Horse (2), Closet Rocky Horror Fan (1)
DESCRIPTION: A cackling, green-skinned witch. Smells like cobwebs and fish, for whatever damn reason. Wears a pointed hat and stirs her cauldron a lot. The whole bit!
Witch , Avant Garde Hairdresser (2), Former Roller Derby Player (2)
DESCRIPTION: A clunky, 1930's-style robot with rivets, hoses, blinking lights and so on. Has big metal pincers and a miniature twirling radar dish on his dome. TL7 clicks and whirs like a a typewriter making out with a telex machine (incidentally, something that he thinks about now and again, to his robotic shame), even when he's standing still. His voice is deep and booming; think of Robby The Robot in Forbidden Planet. He might sound like Barry White, though, if that's funnier.
Robot (4), Majordomo (3), Connoisseur of Fine Wines & Cheeses (2), Ballerina (1)
Monday, October 08, 2007
Heartbreak On The Lunch Menu
One time in Mexico City I went to the Sanborns restaurant in the famed Casa de los Azulejos ("House of Tiles") and ordered a plate of Swiss enchiladas and ate them slowly, by myself. It was 1995 but that didn't matter. It was a delicious meal, sweet and tart and spicy, chicken enchiladas smothered in a cheese and a sauce of cream and green tomatoes, and I ate it deliberately, with gusto.
The building itself is gorg--
No no no.
It's freaking gorgeous, a Spanish colonial palace built in the XVI century and inherited by Don Luis de Vivero y Luna Ircio, Second Count of the Valley of Orizaba. Yes, I looked it up on Wikipedia. There's a great story about it but I'm having trouble translating it right now. Long story short, it's beautiful.
It's so beautiful, so unique, so storied and so far away, that it breaks my heart.
...since it says "gaming" up there next to the robot, I guess I ought to say something about that in reference to this building. And since I love to let a picture do the talking, here's this:
Sunday, October 07, 2007
One Year Old Today.
- The podcast will be irregular at best.
- I can't seem to explain where I went wrong with Iron Gauntlets.
- It's OK to steal ideas from existing stories, movies and etcetera, but it's better if you diverge from the inspiration you take from them.
- Milkman Dan is alive and well, and his name is Mike and he's a bastard.
- Random generation of game materials is, and always has been, a great idea.
- Mexico City is the cyberpunk city, dang nabbit.
- Writing The Adventure Funnel seems to be the single most popular thing I've ever done.
- Winging it, as a GM, is easier when you take your pants ff (metaphorically, anyway) and trust yourself.
- Jeff "The Evil DM" Mejia thinks the title "Fudge Pirates" is funnier than it really is.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Captain Marco Sterling
Swashbuckling Merchant Starship Captain (3), Honors Graduate of the Antonio Banderas School for Boys Who Want To Grow Up To Be Antonio Banderas (4), Zorro With Guns (3).
HOOK: Marco won the Spring Session M fair and square in a game of cards. Unbeknownst to him, the previous owner didn't come by it half as honestly...and its original owner is still fairly unhappy about the whole affair. EDIT: The extra die went into an upgrade for the Session.
Eh? Eh? Eh?
EDIT: Oh, yeah.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Nerd At Work
So I'm having to re-do my template selection a bit.
Please bear with the changes and junk.
EDIT: Does that robot look kinda fat?
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Always The GM, Never A Player 
For this past sunday, Leaky pete came over to La Casa Asombrosa De Los Rotwang!, and he ran some Risus action for my wife and me. Finally, finally, finally, I got to play a game at the same time as my wife!
About DAMN time.
Leaky Pete did pretty good, too. He ran a (loose) Harry Potter parody, featuring students of magic/weird powers (us) at a school in the US. He set it in northern California, for some reason; I dunno. No matter.
I played Dash Campbell, 17-Year-Old Teen Hearthrob (4), 6th-Year Wizarding Student With A Knack For Cold Spells (3), Snappy Dresser (2), Minor In Theatre Who Just Needs That Lucky Break (1).
Amber played Alvadera Martin, Smartypants Know-It-All (3), Spellcaster (3), Really Likes Clams (2), Psychic (2).
We had a mutual (NPC) friend named Scott, who was trying to get into a fraternity (students at this school get more priviledges earlier, or something). His task: go down to the Mundie school down the road and steal their mascot, a peacock. His cronies: Us. Ha-HA!
We had to talk Alvadera into going, by lying about the other school using clams as cosmetic testing subjects. We drove over in my red Trans Am and broke in. After sneaking around in the dark amidst lots of banter, we found the peacock, shrank it down by 50%, and snuck it out, barely spotted by the Rent-A-Cops. Success!
The best part, though, was the spellcasting -- we made up names for all of our spells, Harry Potter style. "Enbeeceeus Locatus", f'r'ex, was a failed spell to locate the peacock from outside; "Goodyearus Deflatus", however, succeeded quite nicely at flattening the Rent-A-Cops' tires. "Frigidairus!" partially froze a passed-out naked guy in the locker room (don't ask; I dunno either) ensuring that he'd stay asleep.
Sadly, I did not get to use "Giganto Gazongas!".
Such is life.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Today Is Another Day To Find You
Great human achievements without which life would not be as it is today. True, very true.
But you don't now this, and no one's aware, but there's one reason and one MAIN reason, a driving reason, an ultimate reason why all of these were invented, one final and dedicated event in human development, the omega point of our achievement as a race, a people, an entity, a power.
The reason we came down from the trees, and proof that we deserved the right.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Three Risus Characters
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 
HOOK: Clueless about girls and Norse mythology
LLOYD THE DESTROYER
Description: 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 , Closet Parrothead (1)
Description: 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!
It's a Risus game where you play Mariachis.
Did you get that?
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!
Kicking butt and playin' tunes.
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 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.
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
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
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?
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
Z0MG T3H PHILXXORZ!!1!!!!
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
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...
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Either I'm Just Easily Impressed...
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, but...you know, I must not have picked up on that, because...uh...
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!!
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.