Wednesday, December 29, 2010


From the Troll Lord forums (fora?):

Here is where we stand on the CKG:

As you know we own our own print shop and bindery. The bindery is a very new edition and not 100% operational for hardback books. That which we cannot do, we outsource to a company in Georgia. We did this for the M&T of Aihrde hardback and the Gods & Monsters. It proved to be a complete disaster, the time lag is huge, the aims not clear, and problems quickly mounted. So during the week before Christmas we invested in a further expansion of the bindery and have purchased the necessary equipment to bring this about...or rather in typical Troll fashion, we purchased the necessary components to make this happen, and we'll assemble it ourselves. I finalized the deal today (December 28, 2010) and the equipment is ready to ship...of course Europe (where it is manufactured) and the Northern part of the States (where it ships to first) is blanketed in a blizzard of epic proportions.

So, what does this mean? It means that the CKG hardcover, the one everyone has pre-ordered is still another week or two out. That's bad news for all those who want to see it, but good news for all those who have it and can locate any last minute editorial mistakes that our editors and myself may have missed.

Please put all editorial mistakes here in this thread. I will check daily and enter the texts into the original document so that when the final goes to press for the release, we can get it as close to perfect as possible.

Thank you for your continued patience.

post script: The digest version is available for sale, as are all the digest versions, in our online store.

So that's what.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Kayso my buddy Jacob totally has a copy of the Castles & Crusades Castle Keeper's Guide, like, IN HIS HOUSE.  And he wouldn't lie to me 'cause he knows it'd make me cry, and so who wants to see THAT? 


I got one coming to me via mail, I'm pretty sure...

Monday, December 27, 2010

I Inkscaped A Star Map.

See, 'cause Daniel over at World Without Syn keeps making keen stuff with Inkscape.  And I keep hammering on him about HEY DO SOME TUTORIALS DEMONSTRATING HOW YOU DO THAT THING.  And finally he was all like *SIGH* FINE WHATEVER DOC GEEZ GET OFF MY LEG and he did one.

So I followed it, and -- VOI-LA!

Click to make way too damn big

Saturday, December 25, 2010


WHOA-HO!  What the -- ?!  Robot Viking reports that the STAR WARS game license has been acquired by "mystery game company that has yet to make any kind of official announcement". 

Hmm.  Mystery game company.

It's known who doesn't hold the license:

Several companies this week announced that they were not successful in their pursuit of the valuable Star Wars license from Lucasarts, including Paizo, Mongoose, Margaret Weis Productions, Steve Jackson Games, and Green Ronin.

Through logical deduction, and accounting for the fact that the license covers RPG, trading card- and miniatures game rights, Robot Viking opines that the new license holder is probably Fantasy Flight Games.

The guess makes sense.  The only FFG RPG products that I'm aware of are the Horizon d20 minigames, but I doubt that they'd go back to that well.  Do they have a house system?  Would they devise a new one?  Only time will tell.

And me all starry eyed, you'd think that I would have known by now.

As it turns out, though, Robot Viking posits the possibility of another licensee -- one that I, frankly, would prefer over FFG, if only because I'm familiar (and pleased) with their RPG output:

Cubicle 7.

Look -- I dunno about you, but I think that FATE 3.0 would work just dandy fine for STAR WARS RPG shenanigans.  In fact, I've used it for (short-lived PBEM) STAR WARS RPG shenanigans, and I liked it.

Granted that there's nothing preventing anyone else from doing same.  Still and all, if it's gonna be in print, I'm totally down with STAR WARS FATE.

Then again -- there is a certain OGL system floating around which juuuuuust might fit the bill...

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Juana Weesh You A Mary Cree-Muss

Okay, so...Merry Christmas, folks!

*gasp*  WHAT?!  "Merry Christmas"?!  From Doc Rotwang!?  But -- but-- !  Doc Rotwang! is a filthy damn baby-eating godless damn filthy A-T-H-E-I-S-T!  Why would a filthy damn baby-eating godless damn filthy atheist wish anyone a Merry Christmas?

Why?  Because I'm not a callous, heartless jerk.  Being an atheist doesn't make you a callous, heartless jerk.  Being a callous, heartless jerk makes you a callous, heartless jerk and I do my best not to be a callous, heartless jerk.

You know...look.  I live in the United States.  We got Christmas here, and it's not going away.  Nor do I want it to go away, because I actually sort of enjoy it.  So I've decided that I will enjoy it, and wish a Merry Christmas to everyone else, too, while I'm at it.

So why do I enjoy it?  I certainly don't believe believe that it marks the birth of Christ; that is most likely to have happened in Summer or Fall to begin with, and it's pretty damned obvious that what we call 'Christmas' is an old pagan holiday marking the winter solstice, hijacked by guys with a book and some power.  I won't go into all of that, because others have covered it already.  So no need to recap.

What I like about Christmas is that very original identity as a pagan celebration.  "Dammit!  It's cold, dark and shitty outside.  We need cheering up.  So...let's build a fire, put lights on things that don't normally have lights, drink something hot and eat!  Whoooo!"


Oh, and the gifts.  Yeah, I like getting gifts.  I like giving gifts.  I like sharing.  I like that there's a convenient excuse for everyone to try -at least- to focus on the compassion and camaraderie that makes us human.  We are social animals; animals, yes, but capable of compassion.  That's a big thing about what makes us human, and I like to celebrate it.  It's a common theme at Christmas, and like I say -- Christmas ain't goin' anywhere, sooooo...

Actually, I like to celebrate human compassion all year long, because it's just that important.  As far as I'm concerned, when it come up at Christmastime, that's just everyone else catching up to me.

I cannot, and would not, and should not and will not and don't want to speak for all atheists on anything but a few things.  But for me, one of the cornerstones of my atheism is the love for life and the quality of it -- and not just my life.  When I say "quality of life", I mean EVERYONE'S life, even the lives of people with whom I disagree, or who would see me harmed or censured because they disagree with me.  I don't care about those things.

I care about life mattering, and being experienced, and being treasured and being lived like it's the only one we'll ever get, because it IS


Merry Christmas.  If you celebrate it for secular reasons, great.  If you celebrate it for religious reasons, great.  If you celebrate it because you like eggnog and it's hard to find the rest of the year, great.  If you call it -- whatever you call your holidays.  Whatever.  It's like this:

Enjoy it, damn you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hey, Everybody! It's Gamer Quiz Time, Yipee!

Thanks to Badger for pointing me toward this thing.  It's short and easy and fun.  Plus -- BAR GRAPH!

NOTE: I was gonna post my results, buuuuuuut the HTML table was all funked up when I C&P'd it into El Bloggero.  Whattaya gonna do.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Here's To Future Days!

Slow dancing...anything I want.
So whatcha got right now is your Winter Solstice, see, and that means that we've seen the Sun at its lowest high point in the sky this year -- in other words, less daytime, more night-time.  After that, right, is where things start to flip-flop:  More daytime, less night-time.

Now, I know that night time is the right time for...well, lots of stuff, it's true, and not just the stuff in Sheena Easton songs.  But "less daytime" equates to "less sunlight" and that equates to "colder" and SCREW COLD IN ITS FACE.

So!  What have we learned (besides that Sheena Easton's song "9 To 5" was retitled "Morning Train" in the US, so as to avoid confusion with the Dolly Parton single)?  Well, we can deduce a few things, namely:

  1. Dr Rotwang! took Astronomy 101;
  2. He has a funny way of explaining stuff about axial tilt;
  3. From today on, the days'll get longer and the nights shorter -at least until the Summer Solstice, when the process reverses, but it's OK because it's warm out and things don't start to get cold and sucky until the Vernal Equinox- which will result in a gradual increase in temperature on the northern hemisphere, which is where Dr Rotwang! keeps all his stuff; and
 So!  Now!  There.  Dig it.  It's science, dammit.

Great.  You guys cogitate while I go outside and punch the crap outta some snow.  DON'T DRINK ALL MY EGG NOG!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

(Just Can't Resist) Showing Off

Tonight, my extended family will engage in a tradition we call "Dirty Santa". 

It's not a Zak Sabbath title, no.

No, what Dirty Santa is, is it is this:  Everyone brings a wrapped gift of some sort.  It doesn't matter what it is as long as someone there might like it.  Then, everyone takes a turn picking a gift -- either an as-yet unidentified wrapped one from the pile, or an unwrapped one that someone else has.  Eventually everyone's got something, and we all had fun yoinking stuff away from one another, ha ha ha.

I'm bringing a mix CD, and this is the insert for the jewel case:

Clickity-click.  Yes, I misspelled "Hazard" on the cover.
But there's a trick to it -- it comes bundled with a sock.  A single sock.  YOU CANNOT HAVE THE CD AND NOT HAVE THE SOCK.

It's a brand-new sock, though.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Goodbye, Stargate Universe

Goodbye, Stargate Universe.  There is the door; you may use it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wherein I Betray The OSR (Well, Just A Little Bit)

I work with this dude I'm gonna call "The Oatmeal Kid".  The Oatmeal Kid used to play D&D with some of his homies -- a couple of whom I know.  He still has some dice and stuff, and plenty of good memories.

The Kid also has a son.  We'll call him Bonesy, because this is my blog dammit and I'm listening to Jean-Luc Ponty and so get outta my face and also that's what his dad calls him.  Lad's 11 years old.  Finds his dad's dice.  "Hey, Dad, what's this, eh?  Eh?  Eh?" happens, and BOOM the kids wants to get his game on.

Swank times, sez I.

But I thought THIS.
So The Oatmeal Kid comes up to me and asks about the state of D&D, and how can he get Bonesy set up to game, and so on.  Cheerful ambassador that I am, I hook The Kid (the Oatmeal one) up with links a-plenty to some retro-clones.  I gave him some dice and stuff.  Good to go, right?

Well, Bonesy musta dug it all because today The Oatmeal Kid told me that he and Mrs. Oatmeal want to buy the boy some D&D swag for Xmas.  He asked me, "I was thinking of getting him the fourth edition.  What do you think?"

Right then, my stomach twisted.  I was -- well, remember that time you were on Corumna Alpha III and you had to nuke all the chromazebras to ensure that the atmosphere stayed mucus-free?  It was just like that.  'Cause I knew what the boy had to have.

Reluctantly, I zapped The Kid a link to WotC's page for The Red Box That Isn't The Red Box No Matter What Color It Is.  I tried to find him a freely-downloadable quick-start, but no go.  So I wrote him this e-mail:

Most companies publish a free "Quick Start" product, usually downloadable, which teaches basic rules and gives you a taste so you can try before you buy.  Not so Wizards of the Coast, sadly.  I'd refer you to some other commercially-available games that do have such quick-starts, but here's the thing:

They're not D&D. 

In other words, 4th Edition (4E) is The New Hotness.  It's what's In Stores Now.  It's The Brand Name.  His homies are more likely to have heard of (or be playing) D&D in the form of 4E. 

4E is not the D&D you played with Erko and your pals.  That stuff (Erko ran 1st and 2nd Eds. of AD&D back then, I know for a fact) was born of the free-wheeling spirit of the late 70s and early 80s.  4E is much more guided by Magic: The Gathering and other card games, with more rigid rules, more pre-programed options and more...

...fuck, it makes me sad to talk about it. 

But then, before I clicked SEND, I added the following:

Your choice.  You know the kid.  My suggestion?  Give him the WotC Starter Set and a copy of the latest Castles & Crusades Quick Start, and tell him: "This red box is how they play it now, but this Castles & Crusades stuff is how the co-creator of D&D played his own damn game before he died". 

I don't know how this is gonna play out, but there it is:  I gave him the choices.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dust-Up At The SE Corral

Herein, cross-posted, my contribution to a thread at The RPG Stack Exchange which resulted from my previous comments about said site.

It's very easy, apparently, to take my blog post out of context. One of my cardinal rules, stated elsewhere in my blog, is that I don't talk smack unless it's really deserved.

You can't say "dust-up" and NOT think of this guy.
I'm not interested in, have not played, and cannot comment upon the 4th edition of D&D. Thus, upon seeing a proliferation of questions about said game, I find that I can't really help. I found myself plowing past piles and mounds of questions to which I can contribute nothing, in search of something with which I could help -- and I really didn't find much.

My point was: Everybody's talkin' 'bout stuff I can't talk about.

I feel powerless, unable to really help. That's just the way it is; no helping it.

I will admit that being voted down for presenting a possible answer that wasn't apparently welcome left a bad taste in my mouth, especially when I was sincerely trying to help by presenting a different light under which to look at AD&D and answering from experience, having once felt the same way about AD&D's supposed inadequacy for certain in-game activities. But that's the nature of the internet -- it's the nature of humanity, really. No helping that, either. That's why I said (in metaphor) that I could ignore that, but I was still left with all these 4.0 questions that I can't help with, and only a few other questions which I might be able to answer.
Filtering tags and so on helps -- to a point. I now see questions that I can address more quickly, but they are not great in number. Still, it's something, and I pitch in where I can.

The fact is that 4.0 is The New Hotness. I am still down with the Old-And-Busted.

*shrug* What can ya do?

Friday, December 03, 2010



Look, man -- I don't know why, but for the last few days I've been feeling an itch to play a Star Trek RPG.

It may have to do with the fact that I've never played a Star Trek game before -- that makes it enticing, interesting, seductive.  A new experience.

I've picked out a set of the rules from the many, many, many available to me:  The FASA game from the early 1980s.

" boldly go to, school."

I sincerely think that "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the MicroLite20 variant, is totally aces.  I feel the same about Risus.  But somethin' in my blood tells me that it's this one.  Why?  Hell, I dunno.  All I know is that I want to run a Star Trek game in the TOS/TAS era, ignoring canon post-1978, and that the PCs would be the crew of an Antares-class ship -- in fact, the non-canonical Antares-class:

Armed with an OCR scan of the old rulebook, the Starfleet Technical Manual and LUG's Star Trek Narrator's Guide by some fulano name of J R Sauce or somethin' (WTF, right?) and my own...umn...let's just call it a "mania", I am ready to roll up some characters, put 'em on the above starship and start makin' stuff up.

My buddies would probably play; my wife, not so much.

Well, it's not like I'm playing anything at all these days...

Why I'm Blah About RPG Stack Exchange

Hey!, I thought.  A question-and-answer thing about RPGs!  Nice!  I'll try it.

So I registered and got started.  Asked a question, two.  Got some good answers.  Gave a few.  Got a little excited.  Badges...Reputation...okay, that's cool.  More excited.

But then...then.

I looked around to see if there were any questions I could help with.  It went like this:

Okay!  Ahhh...see here...D&D 4.0, D&D 4.0, D&D 4.0...Dogs in the Vin- no...D&D 4.0, D&D 4.0, D&D 4-- AHA!  Call of Cthu-- no, that's got plenty of answers already.  D&D 4.0, D&D--OOH!  HEY!  AD&D 1st Ed. question!

So I peek in on a guy looking for help turning a Thief into a Con Man.  In other words -- where are AD&D's social interaction rules?

The first answer was one of those definitive "AD&D sucks for that, it can't do that, it's all about combat" things, which I hold to be untrue.  I offered polite disagreement, and further added some ideas about how one could resolve these things with dice mechanics in the event that role-playing (as in "Role-Playing Game")  were insufficient.

Cue blustery rebuttals, insistence that AD&D is all about what you can't do, and suggestions that if D&D doesn't say you can't do X, then why not just play "Candyland", since that doesn't say you can't do X either?

...Dude...whatever.  But thanks for undoing my attempt to help on, like, the one thing I could.

Well.  That bathwater's out the window, but all the baby seems to say is, "4.0, 4.0, 4.0."

So why am I blah about RPG Stack Exchange?

Because it's like an ass-kicking contest, and I only got half a leg.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


YAY:  World Without Syn is back.  The author listens to Synergy.  How cool is that?

BOO:  It snowed. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flashing Japanese Dudes

Nothing gaming-related on my mind right now -- well, not that I actually feel is worth your time.  I think about gaming a lot, but most of the time it's random buzzing and snow. 

Stuff that is most likely never going to be done.

It's kind of a problem.

So while I think of something that would actually be relevant to your interests and useful and amusing, here are brightly-colored early Japanese synthpop pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra performing their song "Key".

Monday, November 29, 2010

You'll Live If You Don't See This -- But Would You WANT To?

DUDE.  It's The People That Time Forgot!


Patrick Wayne, Doug McClure, Sarah Douglas and Dana Gillespie fight fake cavemen, fake samurai and fake dinosaurs on the fake lost island of Ca...uh...somewhere!

Jury's out.
The plot is pencil-thin, but you don't really watch this movie for its plot, no no.  You watch it for the mountain castle shaped like a pile of skulls, and the green-skinned wrestler-sized bad guy who lives there.  You watch it for the sword-, fist- and rubber dino-fights.  You watch it to play Spot The That Guy.

Don't try to frighten him with your...uh...dangit!

But chiefly, you watch it for stuff you can rip off for your games.  That big green-skinned dude's going into my next sword & sorcery game, and so is that skull-castle.  Hell, steal the whole thing lock, stock and Dana Gillespie's barrels and there's your EC adventure for tonight.  Or mix-and-match with the film that preceded it, The Land That Time Forgot (People is its sequel) , and put the whole thing in space.  

My daughter says this tower is evil.  

Look at that thing.  Picture it on an asteroid.  


Saturday, November 27, 2010

HEY! What happened to World Without Syn?!

No, really!  What happened to it?  "Hello World" my butt!  This is the blog that finished selling Starblazer Adventures to my homie Jacob, who has been talked into running Star Wars with the system.  Cool as that is, that's not "mission accomplished".  I wanna read up on some of the author's stuff!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In The Middle Of a Big Tornado, On The Tip Of Everyone's Tongue

Here in the United States, the last Thursday in the month of November has traditionally been set aside as a holiday that we've come to know as Shopping's Eve.  NO!  Wait, hold on.

Here in the United States, last thursday in November, holiday -- holiday we call Thanksgiving.

I'm not in the mood to ponder what it's always meant.  I am in the mood to expound on what it means.  To me.  Right now.

THANKSGIVING - The expression of gratitude.

Every day of the year, someone deserves my thanks.  Today will be an opportunity to list them.

I thank my parents, Joy and Dennis  and Gonzalo and Margarita, for doing what they could how they could to guide me toward adulthood.  Guys, you did the best you could.

I thank my wife, Amber, for being patient, understanding and interesting -- and for striving to be the best parent she can be to our daughter.  I love you.

I thank my daughter, Lily, for being a good kid, working hard in school, and letting Mommy and Daddy steer her as she grows up.  Lily, you are a very smart kid and I promise that we will do our best to help you become a strong, confident, rational, happy, kind and humanitarian person.  I love you, Bumples!

I thank my extended family -- Aunts and Uncles Betty, Vernon, Bess, Paul, Herman, Jack, Nita, Jane and Vivian; cousins (by blood and marriage) Tina, Penny, Kevin, PJ, Jeff, Tony, Julie, Tod,  Harold, Lisa, Gary, Brad, Ed, Doug, Eric, Laura and Jeff; second cousins Nick, Miranda, Rebecca, Bailey, Levi and Sarah for doing your best to understand me, for everything you do for my daughter and for generally just being you.

I thank my friends, of whom I am happy and proud to say I have many and to name but a few: Angie "Anjiko-Z" and Ben Bass, Kyle Mayes, Jacob Kipfer, John Buchanan, Derrick and Amanda Ziegler, Tony and Yaz Murphy, Allison "Yucky" Gross, Jennifer Opiat-Lane, Datha Hoffmeister, Jeremy Helms, Angie "Not Ugly" Snow, Reneé Harrell-Smith, Kimberly Robertson, Brian and Brandie Wendling-Roberts, Phil Parli-Horne, Kate Matthen, Kristin Matthen, Erin Armstrong and Madeline Clark -- all of whom make my life a brighter one.  Life is to be enjoyed, and you guys do a LOT to help me enjoy it.

I thank all the RPG bloggers out there for sharing their love of, insights to and enthusiasm for our goofy damn hobby.  You guys keep this stuff alive, man.  You make games and give 'em away because you love this stuff that much.  Also, you're great stuff to read during lunch.

I thank all the atheist bloggers and activists for standing up to be counted and working to defeat the stereotype that we're all baby-eating monsters.  I know it's tough saying out loud who you are, but if they can, so can we.  Numbers!

I thank all the scientists and researchers across the world , who strive EVERY DAY to better understand, in  rational and logical manner, the universe in which we live -- and, in many cases, they do it in spite of the waves of superstition that rise and fall the world over.

I thank all the teachers.  ALL of them. 

I give special thanks to every science teacher in the U.S. who says, "No, I will teach evolution, and I will not not teach pseudo-science."

And I thank you, for reading this, and letting me tell you what means the world to me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

¡Quince Juegos!

Yeah, the "15 games in 15 minutes" thing is happenin' here, too, since I haven't posted much and I'm shamefully stalled on the PBoM thing.  I changed jobs, see.

Here, then is my li--

-- hang on.  My Lean Cuisine might be done.  Be right back.

Yeah, it's done.

--st of 15 GAMES IN 15 MINUTES!  There will be few surprises.

  1. Star Wars: The Role-Playing Game, West End Games
  2. Ghostbusters, West End Games
  3. The D6 System, West End Games
  4. Risus, Cumberland Games
  5. Castles & Crusades, Troll Lord Games 
  6. Tunnels & Trolls Eds. 5, 7 and 7.5, Flying Buffalo/Fiery Dragon
  7. AD&D 2nd Edition, TSR
  8. Dungeons  Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, TSR
  9. Fudge, by Steffan O'Sullivan, specifically the copy I ftp'd in '93
  10. Traveller, Game Designers Workshop
  11. Mage: The Ascension, 1st and 2nd editions, White Wolf Games
  12. Starblazer Adventures, Cubicle 7
  13. GURPS, 3rd Edition, Steve Jackson Games
  14. HERO System 4th and 5th Eds., HERO Games
  15. Encounter Critical, Battlestar Games
There's no real ranking here -- kind of stream-of-consciousness.  This Lean Cuisine's pretty good.  How you doin'?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

FGU's "Gangster!"


Hey, by the way, "I Waste The Buddha With My Crossbow" is, like...what?  4 years old today?  Somethin' like that.  I dunno.  Three.  I forget.  OKAY SO "GANGSTER!".

Right!  So!  "Gangster!" was Fantasy Games Unlimited's "Game of crime and punishment" which was "For the period 1900 to the present", which was 1979 but could cover pretty much the whole 20th century.  The front of the box, and the cover of the main rulebook, gave it a 1920s/1930s feel, though, as do the scant interior photos -- one of Al Capone, one of some rum runners driving over the frozen Detroit river in 1930 and a crime scene photo from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre (!!!) certainly suggest a setting.  But essentially it's Cops & Robbers, and you can play both sides of the law.

I'm not going to review the game as a whole, because others have done it better already.  However, I DO want to point out a couple of things about it that I think are totally aces -- chiefly, the skill system.

Oh, man.  I like this.

So here's how it works:  Anyone can attempt any skill, but your attributes  give you expertise.  Anyone can drive a car, for instance; you just roll 1d20 < Dexterity (attributes being generated on the classic 3d6 bell curve).  However, if your Dexterity, Agility and Strength are all 10s, you get a -1 to that roll.  If Dex, Agility and Strength are all 12s, take a -2; if the three are 14s, take a -4.  Presumably, a guy with Dex 14, Agility 12 and Str 12 would get his -2 because his stats qualify him for it, even though his Dex leads the pack.  Dig?

The onliest hitch is that you can only claim expertise in a certain number of skills, which is determined randomly.  So you might qualify for bonuses in, say, 5 areas of expertise, but you can only get bonuses in a certain amount of 'em.  You still get to pick which ones, though.

You know what I think of this?  I think this is nice.  It's pretty clean and low-maintenance, and it even kind of makes sense which is a bonus. 

Ah, but I said I wanted to point out a COUPLE of things.  A couple is two, and here's the second:  The 16-page ancillary "BOOK 2 - PATROL GUIDE AND LAWS OF THE LAND", which is no less than a quick reference guide to doing cop stuff.  F'r'ex, what do you logically do at the scene of a serious crime? When can a police officer leave his or her post?  What priorities do cops on patrol have?  How do search warrants work?  What are the limits on wire taps?  How do you set up a road block, and would you like to see a diagram?  And what the hell is larceny?

Bing, bam, boom.  All in there.  Look, you can Google this stuff up now, but in 1979? 


So it's a neat game.  Old school in its approach to things (no setting, challenge the player moreso than the character, etc.).  Plain-looking, but legible.  A little disorganized but eventually easy to reference.  Perfectly playable as-is, you ask me; you might need to kloodge together a few skills for modern-era gaming (computer use and the like), but otherwise totally serviceable. 

Just shemp in a Lamborghini and add sunsets.

I got my copy for free as a gift from the legendary Chris Engle, and it included some sheets from his game.  One of these days I'll scan 'em; there's a neat map drawn in blue ballpoint.  Swank.

Hmm.  Or cyberspace rules...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Got-Dang Bloggers, Git Outta Mah Haid!


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

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


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

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


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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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

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

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

Peanut butter and jelly, man. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

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


...but now what?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wizards With Swords: ¿Sí o no?

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

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

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

Wizards suck at fighting anyway. 

So what's the harm?


Yeah, I'm on the bandwagon.

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

No one thing.

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

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

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

I picture freedom.

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

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

Damnit -- now I wanna play.


That'll do. That'll do.

Friday, September 17, 2010

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

SURE, A Griffon In A Tomb! Why Not?

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

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

Fair enough.

Unless you're Rotwang!...

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

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

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

Test For Whacko

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

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


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

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

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

He rode the wagon-wheel down.

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

Crap.  Out of time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


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

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

HOLY -- SIEGE Engine Miniatures Rules!

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

Well, hell-o there...!

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

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

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


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

So. Captions, Huh?

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

"ENSIGN REX....!!"  

 Huh.  Whaddaya know.

Monday, September 06, 2010

What I Did On Labor Day

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 03, 2010

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

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

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


EDIT: DUDE. This post!

Thursday, September 02, 2010



Okay, old comments are back. Thanks, Erin!

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


Damn. Are they gone for good?

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Let's see if this works.

EDIT: No, it didn't. I wrote the outline for PBOM-R! today, and when I copied-and-pasted into Blogger, the text all became invisible.

Nuts. Hey, I saw The Lost Skeleton Returns Again a couple weekends ago. Swank.

The SFRPG Idea Of The (Last Quarter Of This Past) Century

There's no better way to introduce it than to do so directly, so:


What does this mean? Hell, I don't know. All I know is that I was listening to this

and I thought, "If a cyberpunk game would 'sound' like Devo, The Faint, Gary Numan, etc., and a D&D game might 'sound' like Wagner and Basil Poledouris, what kind of game would 'sound' like Italo?"

The answer? I dunno. I'm not gonna hassle with that right now, I got a game to write.

Thanks, guys.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Give Me A Deadline To Write You A Game.

I'm serious.

Chris Engle, creator of Engle Matrix Games, has given me the go-ahead to edit my own version of Politics by other Means... , in much the same way that, say, Dr Holmes edited D&D. (Not that I'm comparing myself to Dr Holmes.)

I want to write up a nice .pdf with a few illustrations, some tables, examples and variant rules. It's not going to be complicated. I want it to be between 10 and 12 pages or so, reasonably-well laid-out, and free to download.

And I need to be held accountable.

If you want it, think of the game as being under ransom -- except that instead of paying me, you encourage me. You ride me to get it done by a certain time.

Please do it. It'll help me more than you know.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

FREE Mass Combat Game!

I cleared it with author Chris Engle -- here is the latest, short-and-sweet version of Politics By Other Means..., which is now called Tactics MG. Sez he:

Please do spread them! I've been very slow in coming up with a commercial product using the rules. I have ideas but they are far down in my slush pile. PBOM is the set of rules that I use when I run convention miniatures games.

Note that, because of this, the formatting is not fancy. But it's in English,. so you can read it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Talk about -- MASS! MASS COM-BAT!

...yeah, El Zacho Primero and Greyhawk Grognard aaaand...oh, probably lots folks are talking about mass combat today. Funny thing, too, sine I've had the same thing on my mind lately -- as evidenced by my post frm the other day. You read that one, right? OF COURSE YOU READ IT! WHY ON EARTH WOULDN'T YOU HAVE READ IT?!

...yyyeeeeeaaaah...aaannyway, so like mass combat and stuff. Yes. The topic. The topic, and what I think about it.

Let's consider the two ways I'd play a mass combat: Integrated into an RPG session, or as a game of its own...and my favorite angles on both.

My favorite approach to mass combat as part of an RPG session comes from the venerable, unbeatable, most jawsomest RPG ever, Star Wars Second Edition Revised & Expanded* The game's designers suggest that the GM simply create a series of battle-related encounters, preferably ending with a major goal, and run the players through them. The PCs' relative success then dictates how well their side is doing.

Say your PCs are Rebels, and tonight's session involves, I dunno, a large-scale attack on an Imperial outpost. So maybe you come up with the following encounters-slash-goals which the PCs much survive-slash-achieve:

  1. Fly the ship past the blockade and hit the rendezvous point
  2. Cross about 200 yards of difficult terrain, under fire from Stormtroopers
  3. Run across another squad that's under heavy fire; stop and help them or not?
  4. Get up to the back door of the installation, and blow it open
  5. Get inside and settle some hash
You run your encounters, and if the PCs do well, then the other Rebels do well; maybe subsequent encounters get a bit easier. If the PCs are havin' a rough time, then so do the NPCs. Maybe subsequent encounters get harder. Maybe extra steps get added (maybe they get pinned down behind cover in Encounter 3 and have to find another way across, or somethin'). Maybe your PCs get captured...

This approach doesn't exercise tactics -- it creates drama. Fitting, since Star Wars is a melodrama. What I like about this approach is not only its simplicity but the fact that, in the end, the players are deciding the battle. Their influence is direct.

Obviously, what I like most about mass combat gaming is the story that gets told. Yes, the tactics and stuff are fun; I enjoy that challenge. In the end, though, I like to know that I achieved something. That something happened So when we're talking about miniatures and terrain, my choice is...

...hard to make. Chainmail, for all its...uh...Chainmailness, is very enticing. I haven't played it, but I like the looks of it. Ditto Hordes of the Things -- they're just something that satisfies me about not-too-many figures (I'm cheap) and not-too-many-rules (I'm fast). However, there is a mass combat game that I've played on a few occasions, which scratches my tactical itch and tells me a story at the same time, and that is Chris Engle's Politics By Other Means, also known as Arguments of War.

I've spoken of Chris Engle's Engle Matrix Games before, and here's an updated link to the Matrix rules since the links in that post are 404. [NOTE: the linked rules are a bit more advanced and complex than the Matrix rules which Chris originally showed me, but if you dig around a bit fr the Yahoo! list, you can find different versions.]

The basic gist is this: you roll dice, you move your little men/tanks/battle buggies/warchickens or whatever. If your little men are in range of the other guy's little men, you can attack. Attacking means rolling however many dice (usually one per attacking unit); a roll of 6 "kills" an opponent.


Engle Matrix games are built on arguments -- statements that change details and conditions about the people, places, things -the 'matrix'- in the game. And if your unit gets "killed", you can make an argument to "save" it.

Every argument in an Engle Matrix game is rated on its logical strength. The stronger the argument, the more likely it is to happen; the likelier it is to happen, the lower the target number on a d6. A referee, or a neutral player, rates the arguments.

"The Duke's archers don't kill my footmen because they have shields. They can hunker down under 'em. 'SWHIFF! SWOOOFFFSH! *duck and cover* PLUNK PLUNK PLUNK!' Like that."

"I dunno. Those shields are kinda puny, and your guys are a bunch of peasant levies armed with castoffs from Count Jackwagon's guard, and they were all ghetto to start with. it's a Weak argument -- roll 5 or better."


"The demon dogs don't kill all my Nelwyns -- they just slow 'em down. They can't move next round, have to dice against 'em again next turn. Remember, I made the earlier argument that Vohnkar is the captain of this unit, and he's the best warrior in the village!" "That's a fair compromise; Strong, 3+."


"No, your dragon doesn't kill my M1 Abrams tank because the driver is A. J. Foyt, and he dodges!"


And so it goes. As you can see, it gives you all the fun of army men and styrofoam hills with the added logical complexities of real battle situations -- plus a story gets told. Since arguments build on each other, as we saw in the Vohnkar example above, these rules are tremendous for campaign play -- say you have a particular unit that keeps killing and not dying, so you decide that after a while they build up a reputation or something, and become more effective when fielded. "Okay, your guys are, like, 'Holy crap! That A. J. Foyt's tank!' They run away. MUA HA HA HA HA HA!"

You want the rules? Lemme know, I'll hook you up.

Okay, I've been at this for hours.


*You may disagree. That's fine. That's fine, 'cause you ugly.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wither Goblinoid's Wilderness Mapping Tools?

I downloaded them, and I think the folder got eaten by my computer. Now, I can't find 'em on line.

Anyone know where they got to -- or have a backed-up copy that I may dupe, please?

Monday, August 16, 2010


ROTWANG!: The bad guys' SUV is headed straight for the tarmac! There's a Learjet idling there, waiting for Camacho. They're gonna get there in, like, a round. Two guys with guns, by the way, by the plane's open hatch-thing.

PLAYER 1: Can we get there in one round?

ROTWANG!: Uh...yeah, but the difficulty for any maneuvers would go up.

PLAYER 1: Screw it. I put the pedal down and t-bone 'em before they get to the plane.



ROTWANG!: Holy...! Okay! That's Driving plus two dice for your van's speed, and one-die-plus-one more for maneuverability.

PLAYER 1: [gathering up 6 dice] Difficulty?

ROTWANG!: Uh...forget it, just roll. They're gonna roll, too, you just gotta beat them. VRRRRRM! [rolls dice] WHOAOOOOOOOOH...! Beat a twenty-three!

PLAYER 2: C'mon, man. You can do it.

PLAYER 3: I lean out the window and shoot with my Uzi.

PLAYER 1: [rolls dice] I got a--

...damnit. I'm at work.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Greeks On The Moon!

Here's how ideas happen to me.

My wife and I are reading to our daughter a book called "Ancient Greece: Archaeology Unlocks the Secrets of Greece's Past", a National Geographic book for kids (which my daughter chose, by the way).

Tonight I began Chapter 3: "Greeks on the Move". I read the chapter title out loud, and my wife said:

" 'Greeks on the Moon' ?!"

We all had a good chuckle, especially as Lily started to describe how they'd all be floating around up there, and I said, "Yeah, and their helmets would have big beards on 'em. And they'd wear, like...vacuum-sealed togas." My wife suggested, "Wearing magnetic sandals." To which I in turn added, "And their ships would look like owls."

...and the idea hit me: Ancient Greece, But With Starfaring Technology. Togas. Lasers.

That idea was enticing enough already but -- excuse me.


-- but later, as Lily was brushing her teeth, she said to the mirror:





Two great ancient civilizations, taking to the stars in anachrotech, and clashing over control of space.

And I --


-- WOW.

Too bad I'm tired and ready for bed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

More Mini Six Love: The Willow Connection!

Okay. Y'know how I said the new Mini Six Bare Bones has some campaign settings in it? Well, they're all based on recognizable settings. The standard fantasy setting, in particular, is very very obviously inspired by A Fantasy Movie That George Lucas Made In 1988.

That's right -- "Rust Moon Of Castia" gots some Willow in it.

NOW, WAIT! It's not, like, a total rip-off of Willow. If it were, I wouldn't be mentioning it. No; I'm mentioning it becuase it takes some of the core ideas from Willow and makes them BETTER.

Well, for gaming, anyway. Here, lemme 'splain.

I've always wanted to play a game based on Willow; I have spoken warmly of Allen Varney's The Willow Sourcebook, after all, and have trumpeted its merits. Trouble is that what makes the world cool is kind of what already happened to the characters in the movie; it'd be hard (and lazy) to just up and duplicate it at the table.

So my idea, a few years ago, was to run a sequel to Willow. In a world untouched by Chris Claremont, the movie's characters are all NPCs: Sorsha and Madmartigan are Queen and king of Tir Asleen, only Madmartigan's been missing for years (and is suspected of -what else?- philandrering); Willow is busy learning to be the High Aldwin of his village; Elora Dannan is a teenager manifesting kewl powarz or whatever. Burglekutt is still a choad. For conflict, I would re-introduce Bavmorda -- breaking out of Witch Jail or wherever it was that Willow and Raziel sent her via the ritual Of Obliteration, she's gearing up for revenge with all kinds of extra-dimensional nasties on her side.

Whatever. I never followed it. because...whatever.

Aaaah...but "Rust Moon of Castia"...! Now we're talkin'. "Castia" presses the reset button in a most definitive way -- different world, very similar concepts. The Radiant Queen and her Scarlet Horde have taken over the kingdom, and she's turned the great city of Devmora into a multi-tiered fortress, from where she seeks out the 13 "vessels", females who bear the Mark of Radiance -- prophesied to...I dunno, undo her, I guess. Meanwhile, this, and I quote:

Tarsis Elon: The last of the four fortresses to fall, it suffered the
worst of the four curses. All who once lived there are now encased
in translucent stone, alive but entombed. For each year that passes
in the outside world, these poor souls age a single day. If any are
chiseled free time comes rushing upon them bringing immediate
death by old age. Still, more than a curse was left to watch Tarsis.
Monsters, minions, and shadows without name haunt this
doomed sanctuary. Rumors abound about what is still kept here.
Some claim a great vault filled with gold, others speak of lost
magics. Even if only a cache of ancient weapons, it would be a
great fortune to those fool hearty enough to try and claim them.

Add Brownies, little folk named Hannedyns ("Out of the way, Speck!"), stats for a two-headed leviathan and some hairy trolls..., who am I kidding. You're not reading this anymore. You went to downlod it and read it yourself, right?