Monday, October 29, 2007

Untitled Catch-Up Post


FROM: Dr Rotwang!
TO: Xbow Vs Buddha Readers
RE: That Thing We Talked About


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 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. 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.
Oh, and just for fun:

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


Far-future chivalry? Check.

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:
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.
For 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?

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

Great Tastes!

I love tasty stuff. Who doesn't?


That's who.

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

So my little "Re-write Star Wars - Episode I" project took root. Yesterday I wrote an 8-page scene between Anakin (here, about 18 years old and a snarky young grease-monkey) and Obi-Wan (about 25 or so, adjusting to being a Jedi Knight), and it was FUN.

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.

No, sorry.

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

In it, I had re-written Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace as a spec script for my own amusement and experience. Just to have written a screenplay, see? Learn-as-you-go type thing.

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?

You know...the old me never would've done what I did on Thursday. But the new me totally did, and it felt goooooooood.

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.'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'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's the the thing.

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

And thanks for understanding. I got my Underoos in a knot but you guys are being cool about it.

That's love.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm very grateful to have readers.

However, I am going to have to ask you all kindly to stop these jokes about the robot. It's a silly thing to be bothered about, but it really, really does bother me.

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 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.

Thank you.

Can't Stop Makin' Risus Characters

It's crazy. It's, like, all I do anymore. Eat, sleep, watch Doctor Who, and stuff like this:


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).


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)


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 [3], 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)

What gives?!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Heartbreak On The Lunch Menu

Today, I'm eating a Lean Cuisine Chicken Enchilada Suiza. "Swiss Enchilada". It's good. The tortilla is made of corn, which pwns those white things that are usually foisted at me under the "tortilla" moniker.

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.

I Waste The Buddha With My Crossbow is one whole year old today. What have we learned since?
  • 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.
Oh, and I turn 33 today.

Saturday, October 06, 2007



Captain Marco Sterling

Description: Owner/Operator of the freelance merchant starship Spring Session M. A swarthy, swashbuckling space captain with charisma, panache and a really cool spacer's jacket.

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

As I Waste The Buddha With My Crossbow approaches its 1st anniversary, I decided to spiff things up a bit. So I threw together that cockamamie title image you see above, only to find that the template I had didn't look right under it.

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 [4]

...except this past Sunday.

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





Motion pictures.





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.

Everything else... incidental.