Sunday, May 30, 2010

Notes On Printing Your Own Booklets, LBB Style

There's a swell tutorial on how to assemble your own home-made gaming booklets right here, and let me tell you that it took a funnin' trip to the Death Star to find it on the web (I ended up stumbling across a link at Grognardia. Thanks, Google.)

It's a swell tutorial indeed, very simple but then so is the job itself.

Or is it?

Before you embark on your own DIY LBB/pdf-to-booklet project, please take this advice from someone who just completed one such project and has the sore hand, tight shoulders and stratospheric blood pressure to prove it:

1. Using Adobe Reader's "Print As Booklet" function is easy to do, unless your printer -like mine- has a thing for grabbing more than one damn sheet of paper at once, which, when you're printing the second side of a double-sided sheet, can eff up your page count like the Deuce, which will require you to count the remaining pages, print them by hand, make sure that you feed the sheets back in with the right facing and orientation and account for the fact that the numbering on the pages themselves is not always the same as the numbering of the .pdf's pages themselves.

2. In lieu of an extended-reach stapler, paper clips will do just fine -- just as the above page suggests. In a pinch, though, your wife's heaviest beading wire will do the trick.

3. No ice pick? Use a thumbtack.

And here's the big one...

4. Trimming the outer edge of your booklet with a hand-held paper cutter and getting anything other than a chewed-up, nicked, uneven, ugly-ass edge is pure damn ridiculous Moon-talk fantasy. And it's not even the good kind of damn ridiculous Moon-talk fantasy, with the Selenites and the Moon-princesses and the Cavorite and stuff. No, no, no, this is self-deception of the most annoying effing kind. That jazz ain't happenin' unless you're some kinda laser-guided robot with monofilament paper-trimmers for hands.

Again: Tutorial = good.

Trying to do it when you are an easily-frustrated perfectionist maladroit = not so much.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

STAR WARS: The Last Laugh

I've been a Star Wars fan practically all my life. It wasn't always easy.

I saw the movie in the Summer of 1977, probably not long after it opened, which was 33 years ago today. I was only...what, 2½ years old then? No matter. Mom, and later Dad, took me anyway. Several times. By all accounts, I was quiet, still and well-behaved, just watching my movie.

My love was immediate and unconditional. I was enraptured. Seeing Star Wars awoke in me a life-long passion for the fantastic, the adventurous, the awesome. Hence gaming and stuff.

Now...that is fine and dandy for a little kid, and maybe even for a pre-teen. Right? Ahh, but you get into junior high, and the rules change...

In December of 1987, aged 13, I came back to the United States from a six-year-long traumatic stay in Mexico. (That would be a whole other story; in fact, it could be a freaking Lifetime Network movie, with lies, betrayals, abuse, psychics and the FBI. This is one time when I am really, seriously, not joking. Regardless, we'll not touch on it here.) Needless to say, I came back in a pretty bad emotional and psychological state. Compound it with culture shock (Mexico City to Bloomington, Indiana -- WHAMMO!) and the general pants-wetting horror that is adolescence, and...uh...

...I was in a pretty weird place, tell ya the truth.

Luckily, I had Star Wars.

It was something to hold on to, something solid, something constant. Something that I still understood. Something that my peers knew about, and to which we could relate.

Except when they didn't, which was a lot of the time.

I took a lot of flack for liking Star Wars back then. The other kids were growing out of it, so they saw my fixation with Star Wars as kind of...I dunno, silly? Infantile? Ridiculous? Hell, I don't know. I don't know but that they teased me about it, and no doubt it helped to create for them this image of me as a weirdo, outsider, nuts, whatever.

I persevered. I cherished Star Wars as a playground for the imagination, especially after I got the RPG. At that point, that universe became a retreat as well as a hobby to help train myself to be the storyteller and fantasist I decided I wanted to be...and to keep myself from really going nuts, if you dig me.

Eventually, I fell in with the other kids who still liked the movies, and other fantasy, science fiction and such: The geeks. The nerds. The comics fans, the Trekkies, the gamers.

Oh, I was laughed at some more. I persevered. I just kinda did my thing; it was working for me.

Ha! Check out the Star Wars guy. But it's for kids! Nobody likes Star Wars anymore!

...who's laughin' now, ya jerksticks?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Holy Mother Of Pearl In A Sidecar Going 80!

DAMN! Have you seen the Open D6 Resurrection Wiki? It looks like this:

Okay, so now you've seen it. But have you explored it?

It's great stuff. Increasingly chock-full of neat D6 material, including links to NEW games like Mini Six, Cinema 6 and Fang: The Role-Playing Game of Epic Horror. The links section alone is aces.

I say, aces. C'mon. Look.

This is The Doc tellin' ya.

Monday, May 17, 2010

BRP: Mutant Gorilla

Okay, Brutorz Bill, here you go: Frederik Von Congo!

Frederik here is a Normal-level anthropomorphic mutant gorilla, suitable for play in any campaign that has room for an ennui-filled German mutant noble gorilla who enters archery competitions and likes fast cars and military history.

I rolled up Frederik's stats based on the ranges given in Basic Role-Playing's bestiary chapter, although I changed the INT to 2D6+6 (which is normal for humans) and added EDU. I rolled a couple of mutations for him (they're on the back, which I didn't scan), and he ended up with natural venom (POT 2D6) and regeneration (1 HP per minute). I really didn't have to fudge anything else.

I could easily have ratcheted him up to Heroic level or better and added superpowers and like that, but I kinda like where he was going.

There ya go, homey!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

BRP, Swashbuckling, and Delayed Explanations

My wife and I took Basic Role-Playing out for a spin last night. I was GM; I made up a buncha cockamamie bee-ess about fantasy-analog 1600s Europe, Musketeers (but without muskets), intrigue and The Fair Folk. I engaged in little to no planning. Wanna know how it went? If yes, keep reading.

Basically, and such as it is: There used to be faeries all over the place, until the humans and the fae fought. Now the fae live on the other side of "The Veil" (like you do). That worked out OK except that faeries are assholes and they keep crossing over to muck things up. They aren't really welcome and they're up to something malicious, so obviously good guys with rapiers and big-ass plumes in their hats have to settle their hash in the name of The King.

For the human world, I declared that it's a mash-up of Musketeer France, swashbuckly Italy and Spain In The Age Of Stuff Like That. So basically like 7th Sea only not. The faeries, on the other hand, were inspired both by my days playing Changeling and an excellent article by Ken Hite (it's in Suppressed Transmission Vol. I). Then I decided, "Fights and Intrigue!" And I was done.

Pretty simple. Amber's character is a veteran Muske--well, okay, something like a Musketeer (remember, no boomsticks). The Marchioness Marise d'Soub...Soubl...something gives her a simple, but important task: Take a message to a minor noble dude named Don Diego Alameda, and make sure no one takes it but him. Most importantly, though, her Mission Objective #0 is to see WTF Don Diego is up to because he's been acting squirrelly.

So she goes to his villa in the city, takes a couple of mooks (Mooksketeers! Ha!) with her, and proceeds to proceeding. Don Diego's doorman, Veccio, blocks her right off -- Don Diego is "not feeling well", and can't be seen. Amber's character (crap, I forget her name!) is all, like, nuh-uh, look at my signet ring, I get in where I want. Veccio folds, lets the three envoys into the courtyard, and goes off to talk to his boss.

Things get squirrelly for sure. The horses get panicky, there's a weird smell coming from the house (it keeps switching between cinnamon and mold), she hears a weird sibilant voice and Don Diego saying "Send them away!"; finally, some flowers on the house start moving on their own and changing color.

Here, Amber is unsure of what she should do. Clearly there's faerie magic (i.e. bad guys!), but she's not sure what authority her character has. So I say to her:

"Pretend you're a police detective like on CSI, you go to a trailer, and you can smell meth."

Boom. She busts down the door, takes one of the mooks (we named him Lorenzo), and heads upstairs. Paintings on the wall are moving of their own accord. They top the stairs into a hallway, and a figure in a peacock-colored cloak and with glowing blue eyes literally glides out of a doorway, spots them, and casts a spell.

Lorenzo blows his Resistance Roll; Amber's character makes it. Lorenzo passes out. The faerie throws up another hand and the floor, the walls and the ceiling melt together into a wall in front of Our Heroine -- but she sees through the illusion and it disappears to reveal the faerie making an escape.

Amber's character lunges forward and attacks, impaling the fae and killing it outright. The creature gasps, its eyes go from blue to purple, and its body crumples inward like a piece of wrinkled paper.

Don Diego, who keeps saying "It wasn't my idea! I resisted!" has a lot of 'splainin to do, so he is...not arrested, but taken to see the Marchioness. The faerie has a sword, which Amber confiscates, but it turns to ice and melts.

The End.

I ladled on the optional rules last night, at least as far as character creation is concerned -- Heroic Level, Increased Personal Skill Points, Personality Type, Higher Starting Characteristics and Skill Category Bonuses. It made creation take a while but it was worth it.

Gameplay was a breeze. A pure, simple freaking breeze. N % chance of success; roll equal to or less than N. I looked some stuff up, but that was because I wanted to, and was pleased.

Awesome. We're definitely doin' that again. Oh, sure -- lots of questions were left unanswered, but that's okay.

That's what downtime is for, right?

Friday, May 14, 2010

I Would Be A Better Starship Captain Than Cameron From "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

Pfffffsh. Geeez.

...okay. So the other night I was watching Star Trek: Generations, because AMC has it on repeat or something and, at the time, there was nothing else on which was appropriate for my kid.

So there's Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, right, and he's captain of the Enterprise-B, and he's taking it for a spin to Pluto and stuff to show it off to the CNN-Of-The-Future guys. The Shat is there, too, and he's kinda tubby but he's still Kirktastic.

So the ship picks up a distress signal from a couple of ships that are stuck time/space...anomaly...fart-rip or whatever. Mere minutes outta spacedock, this boat can't get a break; comes with the name, I guess. Anyhow, there's the distress signal, right? And I'm sitting there watching (I haven't seen the movie since it came out, so I remember none of this), and I put my Captain Hat on.

Pictured: A problem I solved before a Starfleet graduate could.

And I'm all, like: "Hail them. Tell them we're on the way; Helm, do that." I mean, I'm captain of nothing in real life, but -- hell, that's what you do when you are the captain of the freaking Enterprise.

I mean, that what I think. But the real captain? On the TV screen, in the movie, what does he do?

He starts to choke up and he's, like, "OMG not prepared kthxbai".


...really? I mean, really? Okay, so maybe his ship is ill-equipped, but, damnit -- you at least answer the hail and show up to try something. Because YOU ARE CAPTAIN OF A SHIP.

Well, then he's told that Enterprise is the only ship in range, and that the ships' hulls are getting all busted up. THEN he starts shaking like a...thing...that shakes, and he starts hemming and hawing and looking at Kirk and --

-- and I'm on the couch, thinking, "HAUL ASS! WARP SEVENTEEN OR WHATEVER AND GET INTO TRANSPORTER RANGE! Where'd you go to Space Guy school, the Hello Kitty Institute?!"

Meanwhile, a ship's hull buckles under the force of a spatio-temporal warp nexus and over 200 people totally die.

So Cameron (okay, the character's name was John Harriman, but all I could think of was lumps of coal) breaks. He breaks, and looks over at Kirk, to ask for help.

And what does Kirk say?

To paraphrase, he says: "Haul ass, get into transporter range." They do, Scotty saves 47 out of 150 people, so it's too little, too late. BUT IT WORKED.


...and I'm more of a Star Wars guy, even.

"Let my Cam-'ron-gooooooooooo...!"

What's that you say? Do I own a copy of FASA's Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator? Why, yes; indeed I do. Funny you should ask...

Monday, May 10, 2010


OHH MY GAAAAAAWD it's totally DURANMAS DURANMAS LET'S ALL PARTAAAAAAY but what the hell does that even mean?!

Does it HAVE to mean something,
when it looks like this?

In my mind, it's kind of like "Talk Like A Pirate Day", only it's 1980's themed. It's an excuse to have a good time, one which involves your old DEVO LPs and your copy of The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension and possibly leg warmers if you're into that sort of thing.

"Laugh-a while you can,
Monkey Boy!

It's another excuse to watch music videos from an era when "music videos" were, you know, actually on MTV.

It's a celebration of, and an indulgence in, everything that was cool and silly and weird and awesome about the 1980s.

Never mind the intro, blah blah blah. Skip to 0:50.

But enough explanation, no more justification. Duranmas Duranmas is totally rad. There.

Totalmente radical.

Go forth and party.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Basic Roleplaying and Duranmas Duranmas!

Yeah, I know. I neglect this thing. But, hey! There's a new logo! That's good, don't you think? It's's, kinda SF, and then with the dice, right?'re right, it does need tweaking. Anyway, let's blog.

...and about how basic it really is, and how that makes me like it.

So, dig: It's 384 pages, right, so how can that be basic? Surprisingly, it is. This game is damned easy to prep and run. Here's how it works: Every skill is rated with a percentage, so success happens on a d100 roll of equal or lower value. Roll real low and you get a Special success; roll really low and you get a Critical success. Roll 00 and it sucks to be you. Other than that, it's variable damage versus hit points and like that, armor reduces damage and so on.

There are plenty of options for, you know, powers and magic and stuff and things -- and lots of optional rules for tweaking the basics (different 'power levels' for characters, more hit points, Sanity, etc.) collected from the various BRP-based games throughout history.

I like it. I like it A LOT.

More later. Break's over.

Sure, nobody really cares except maybe me. But if you love you some 80's and some New Wave and having a good time, then why not cop May 10th as an excuse to do so? That's what it's for, after all -- for celebrating that stuff. C'mon, man -- all the cool kids are doin' it.