Thursday, December 29, 2011

EAT AT JOE'S: Irvania!

Look...I'll put it like this.  If you haven't checked out Dave Ferris', what with its free wargames, wacky fictional nation and copious images of miniature guys with sticks and robots wearing ties..., you oughtta.  Trust me.  This is some stuff, babies.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Very Atheist Christmas

May yours be like mine -- Merrily spent with family, with food, with fun and with love. 


Not evil.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Am About To Live One.

[[[Sound 360]]]
"And here's a poster of the Landmaster from Damnation Alley."

Troy Allen had seen a lot of SF that I had never heard of.  He was older than me, and sometimes it seemed like his past had taken place in a long-gone neverwhen lost to me through time.

"I'm not familiar with that.  Was it a TV ser--"

"Aw, maaaaan!  You haven't seen Damnation Alley?"  Alan Rice, too, seemed to know of this distant wonderland; he was the one who introduced me to Troy, after all.  Maybe that's where he found him.

Troy smiled, a big-ass goofy smile.  He may have squinted with delight to have another shiny memory to share.  "It was a post-apocalyptic movie.  They had these vans, see, with the wheels...."

He and Alan went on with this little bit of my nerd education (nerducation?), there in Troy's grey-lit room in a little house somewhere in Harrodsburg, IN.  I couldn't tell you where it was, now.

Troy, man.  Troy knew a lot of stuff, and when he told me about stuff like this the gleam in his eyes and the glee in his voice made me want to fall in love with them, too--these ephemeral things that I knew I'd never see, these obscure and unknown tidbits of my geek heritage.  I'd written them off, though, as things of another world, never to be seen by me.

Standing in Troy's room on a cold winter day ca. 1990, I would never have dreamed that, when babies born that week would finally be able to get legally blasted at a bar, I would be idly browsing the DVD selection on the Monroe County Public Library's Bookmobile and that there, in orange and yellow, those words would stare back at me, plastic monolith of mystery revealed.

Troy doesn't read this blog.  But if he did, I'd say to him:  "HA, HA HA HA HA -- LOOK AT WHAT I FOUND!"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Almost Perfect

It's missing the header and footer images, and the NPC illustration was usually a cameo inside the frame, but I think it came out pretty OK.  Illustration totally swiped from the Star Wars Artists' Guild website, and modified a bit by me.  No offense, Blooburd.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Here are the PCs from of one of our (my wife's and my) Annual Halloween Games.  This particular one was inspired by those awful SyFy Original Pictures that we never watch, and it was about college students in the Australian Outback who met up with a lycanthropy victim who turned into a native wild dog.

The game was titled "Mandingo".

It was diceless, and the characters were described like this:

Thursday, November 24, 2011


First -- NaNoWriMo.  No go.  That's the fact, and I don't wanna talk about it.

Okay!  Now!  That outta the way, let me tell you about how FUCK CHANGELING.

Monday, October 31, 2011

This is Red Five. I'm going in.

You know...I've put this off far too long.

I've known about NaNoWriMo for a few years now.  I even have the book, "No Plot?  No Problem!".  I know that I can write, and should do so more often.

I also know that I am a perfectionist, and that I try too hard and shoot too high most of the time.

I need to stop doing that, and this blog has always been about that.   I need to step it up, though--I need to give myself that deadline, that freedom, that push.

I just learned to type a few months ago.  You know, home-row touch-typing?  Since our first family computer in 1989 and up until this Summer, I had always been a (very very fast) hunt-and-peck typist.  It was fun and it was funny, but touch-typing is a hell of a lot cooler.

I'm putting it to use.

I don't have a plot, but I have a theme.  Well, something like it, anyway; what I have is a loose concept, kind of a feel, kind of a...vibe.  I thought of it the other day, driving home from work.  I like it.  It's comfortable.  It makes little sense and that's how I like it.

I'm gonna write something funny, weird, bitter-sweet and rambunctious.  I'm going to play absurd fantasy games with my late childhood, the end of my teens; I will be following the same path that Walter Hill followed when writing Streets of Fire, as told to us by Wikipedia:

According to Hill, the film's origins came out of a desire to make what he thought was a perfect film when he was a teenager and put in all of the things that he thought were "great then and which I still have great affection for[.]"

In other words, I'm going to write my late teens the way they should have been, with robots and alien gods and ridiculous misadventures and all the crazy stuff that never really happened, couldn't happen and would probably break the cosmos in some way or another if it did happen.

Done rambling.  See ya in 30.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Dear Shatterzone,

What the hell is wrong with you?!

Seriously, dude.  Seriously.'re talking about the card system, and how you determine initiative with said cards, and that, for such purposes, "S" stands for "Standard Scene" and "D" stands for "Dramatic Scene".  Okay, so what's that mean?  Well, you also say that Chapter 3 of the Rule Book explains the difference...but then Chapter 3 of the Rule Book plainly states that it's only going to concern itself with Rounds.


Look...dude.  I'm not stupid.  I can suss things out, okay?  I sort of do that kind of thing for fun.  So I'm kind of up to the challenge of, you know, trying to figure you out, but then I look at how damage gets listed like "3 Wounds 7K" and --


-- I really don't feel like it's worth the effort.

I'll keep your cards; I can use those with D6 if I want to.  The rest of you?

Dr Rotwang! is very disappointed with you, Shatterzone.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Cross and the Character Sheet: More on Religion and D&D

I considered that this kind of discussion really belongs on my other blog, but interested parties are likelier to be aware of this one and not that one, so for the nonce, here it stays.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment on yesterday's post.  Allow me to address some of them.

Ryan Shelton sez...
Sorry Doc, I honestly don't get what you  don't get ;-)
Christianity, or any religious faith for that matter, is not the same as belonging to a fraternal club. Yeah, we both both rites and funny hats and codes of behavior, but religious faith is a way of life (or ought to be) not just getting together on Sunday for singing and fried chicken.
Right away, dude?  Thanks for having a sense of humor about this biz.  And I agree with you, in a way -- any day is good for singing and fried chicken.

When I do something I ought to be examining whether or not that fits within my way of life. If my way of life is one informed by Christianity, then why wouldn't I examine the activity to see if it fits?

Okay; I get that.  What I don't get is what's in D&D--or any RPG, for that matter--that might conflict with that way of life.  Why wouldn't it fit?  I ask this not rhetorically, but because I really don't know.

After making these statements, Ryan was aked by Kelvin Green,

Out of interest, would you also examine paddling a canoe or drawing a picture -- to use the Doctor's examples -- in the same way? That's the bit that I find most interesting; why is D&D singled out for scrutiny when it's just another hobby? Is it just a holdover from the Satanic Panic of the 80's?

Ryan replied,

Yes, of course. Perhaps I would not consider paddling a canoe with quite the same scrutiny, because it involves no real moral dimension, but yes.

Aha!  A moral dimension.  This helps things make a little more sense.

So if it's a morality thing, how is it a morality thing?  Is there moral dimension to pretending to be a...a space-dude, or a fighter, or an elf or whatever?   I'd consider it immoral--or at least unethical and, frankly, dickish--to break into someone's house and steal their stuff, but is it immoral to participate in an imaginary version of same?  If so, how?

Then along comes Stuart Robertson, apparently with a blue donut on his face, to express the following:

Most people want the option (although they might not always take it) of playing a character in an RPG that is "like them" but with a Fantasy / Sci-Fi paint job. It's why female gamers want to see strong female characters, non-white gamers want to see non-white characters, gay/lesbian gamers or players with physical disabilities want to see etc. etc. etc. I think it's the same thing for someone for whom religion is a more central part of their life. They want to see that the game includes characters like them.

OKAY.  THIS I can grok.  But then I gotta wonder, is it the game designers' responsibility to put that into the game?

You could say that, yes indeed, it is.  Or at least, they'll be more successful if there's room for all those characters.  Better yet if they never give a reason why not to include those characters.

I loved Mage: The Ascension, even though I was sometimes annoyed by its SCIENCE BAD stance.  But even then the designers threw me a bone--even though some of the villains (indeed, the major ones) evilbadwrong science dudes, there was not only room for good guy science dudes.  More than room, there were established good-science-guy groups.

But even without them, I was able to enjoy the game; most of the time I played a Hermetic mage, in fact.  The SCIENCE BAD nonsense was annoying but not an impediment; and anyway, when I was playing, it was MY GAME, and I made it into what I WANTED.  Again, that was sort of the point of gaming, for me.

So if you're a muslim or a christian or whatever and you want to play D&D, why not just say, "My dude's Jewish, so he doesn't eat the pork the merchant offers us.  But he'll eat the beef!  I bought him two plates."

I mean, after all, we're just pretending, for fun.

Apparently Oddyssey AKA Natalie Bennet is of the same mind as I (in this matter at least), as she chimes in:

I think some of the issue here is, "Is D&D compatible with Christianity" is a totally legitimate question, but the stuff that people look at when they're deciding is kind of nuts. Like I think there are some legitimate questions from a Christian perspective (caveat being that I am not a Christian myself. Mostly. I dunno what I am right now.) as to -- The big one being, Is this something that doing it is going to take me away from God and the people around me? 

If a game can take you away form your god, is your god that powerful after all?  It seems like a snarky question, but it arises at this point.  As for the people around you, do you mean will they judge you?  I thought only God could judge.

There's also, I think, some legitimate questions to be asked and considered about the way the game generates and handles moral content. Do I need to always run my character according to Christian ethics in order to be a good Christian? Or is it better to use the game to explore other ethical systems (or the lack thereof), or at least to mess around with them however I want because it's a game and it's for relaxation and the moral content isn't a big deal because it's not real people? Those are maybe questions with fairly obvious answers, but they're also, I think, questions that deserve asking if you're a person who has a strong moral/ethical worldview and wants to make sure that all your actions, every day, are in line with that moral/ethical worldview.

Fair enough.  I agree, the answers are obvious ones.  As for the matter of the ethical worldview, well...I get that, I really do.  I just think that, when the point of the game is to do whatever you want with it, then the question is far less important than "Do we have enough Mountain Dew for everybody?"

Lastly I will address rsteve76's comment, and I leave it for last because -- really, dude?

You were born an atheist? Really? If anything, you were born an agnostic. Atheism literally means "no God," vs. Agnosticism, which means "no knowledge." Unless your first words were "there is no God," I'm guessing you were an agnostic, if that.

Semantics.  You wanna argue semantics.  I accept -- I am a fan of trying hard to say what I mean.

I maintain that I was born an atheist because I was born not believing in any gods. Sure, I had no knowledge of any, either; in fact I had knowledge of very little at all, except for "HUNGRY" and "MUST WAIT A FEW YEARS FOR NEW WAVE MUSIC".

Okay so not that last one.

"Atheism" means "without a god".  Atheists are called that because they've arrived at the conclusion that there probably isn't a god, because the lace of strong evidence makes it a strong likelihood.  "Agnostic" means "without knowledge", and I argue that all atheists are also agnostic by strict definition because, hey -- we don't know.

But you don't have to be an expert in invisible textiles to clue in that the emperor is naked.

Both now and throughout recorded history, the majority of people have had some sort of religious belief. Inact, finds of prehistoric man suggest they had some form of belief in the supernatural and possibly an afterlife.

Just as we have long exhibited tendencies toward aggression, tribalism, artistic expression, curiosity, critical thinking, gluttony, genius, mob mentality, bad taste in clothes, prejudice, creativity...

"True atheism," as we know it today, is actually a relatively recent phenomenon. So all of the evidence suggests that mankind, by nature, is a religious creature, and that for one to be a true atheist, he must have it taught out of him.

Please provide that "all the" evidence.

So your assertion that atheism is the natural human state is a fantasy that goes against all of the evidence. But then, that's atheism for ya. ;^) 

Nice.  That's -- that's brilliant, man.  Smack-talk.  Good one.

I really hope you're being sarcastic.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Religion, D&D and Crash Helmets for Snails

Over at Blood of Prokopius, fellow gamer nerd, blogger and human being FrDave wrote a post entitled "Is Christianity Compatible With D&D??

Therein, he muses about whether, you know, Christianity is compatible with D&D.  It's an interesting post to be sure, and one that provokes thought.

In me, it provoked a thought as follows:

"Uh...why...does it have to?"

Seriously.  It makes no sense to me.  I...I just don't get that.

If I, as a teenager, had read that bit in Greyhawk/Supplement 1 and/or Holmes that says--
All vampires, regardless of religious background, are affected by the cross which is sovereign against them.
 --I would have been very put off by it.  I would have bristled at it, resented it, been outright angry about it.  It would not have wanted that intrusion of real-world faith and religion in my fantasy world; that's what gaming was sort of about.  Not a retreat from reality, you understand, but a place where I could exercise my creativity, where I could arrange the furniture to taste, so to speak.  I already had enough of Christians pushing into me in everyday life1; why did they follow me into my hobby?

These days I wouldn't react as strongly, mostly because I can look at it and say, "Yeah, not in my game" and move on.  But even that's not the point.

The point is that I simply cannot fathom why it needs to be worried about in the first place.  What does one have to do with the other?  Gaming, as an activity, is that -- an activity.  It's like paddling  a canoe or drawing a picture or doing something else that brings you joy.  It's not life-or-death, damnation-or-salvation (it may be fun-or-boredom, though).  Why does a snail have to get fitted for a racing helmet?

Maybe I just don't understand the religious mind.  I get that some religious folks (and I'm not singling out FrDave here, 'cause I don't roll that way; if I had beef with him, which I most unquestionably do not,  I'd take it to him personally, privately and in the spirit of convivial discussion) have to check everything they do against their religious beliefs.  "Is it OK for me, as a Jew/Christian/Muslim/Zoroastrian/Etc., to undertake action x?", where x may be reading a given book, eating a given food, going to a given place or what-have-you.

But I do not get WHY.  And I especially don't get why gaming has to go before the review board. 

Look -- I understand that the "Satanic Panic" was a very real thing, and that some people really believed that D&D and other RPGs were somehow evil, or gateways to devil-worship, or whatever type of woo.  I saw a bit of it first-hand.  Once, in high school, a very pretty girl who was actually talking to me on a regular basis and who had me crushing on her totally torpedoed the whole thing by warning me not to play D&D because, in her words, if I cast a spell in the game then my spirit was actually casting the spell and thus defying God.  I...still don't get that. 

On another occasion, when a Christian schoolmate was attempting to make a point about D&D's evils, I invited him to examine my 2nd Ed. PHB. He was welcome to show me what he thought was evil about it.  He shrank back away from the book, as though I were holding up a dead rat.  I asked him, "What's the matter?"

His reply:  "I don't want to touch it."


"Because I'm afraid I'd get involved with it."

Man...I knew where my fantasy life ended, but these guys...?  

So, yeah, it was a thing.  I guess it still is.  But I suppose that, because I am an atheist (which, incidentally, is how I was born, in much the same way as I was born a human male), this stuff will never make sense to me.

It's a game; you play it.  It's a hobby; you indulge your fancy through it.  It's an interest; you read about it.  You can say the same for chess, for scrapbooking, for the history of the American Civil War.  Does Christianity have to be compatible with those, too? It just-- huh?!

Seriously. I am bamboozled.

1 I will listen to opposite points of view up until it's clear that the speaker or content is a) full of baloney; or b) being pushy. When I get an earful of both, I get cranky.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Wizard is Undeterred!

You saw this, right?



Tuesday, September 06, 2011

This Is What A 1-Mile Hex Has In It


Over at The Hydra's Grotto, Steamtunnel (dude who writes the blog) asked, "How Much Adventure In One 6 Mile Hex?"  He remarks upon how large a 6-mile hex really is, and wondered about the utility of a 1-mile hex for purposes of sandboxery.  I subsequently commented upon how mind-bogglingly bad bad bad bad BAD I am at judging distances.


After a few hours (I think) of GIMP, Inkscape, Google Maps and learning some basic math (!), I can show you this image:

Click for 5.24MB of way too much time on my hands.

This is a 1-mile hex (from side to side) drawn around my house.

You don/t have to live in this area to see what all is there, but I'll clue you up:  There's part of a marina, a load of condos,  couple ponds, a goodly chunk of a 10,750 acre lake (biggest in the state, as it turns out), some tennis c- no, a lot of tennis courts, bunches a'trees and some undeveloped land.

Just outside of that hex are an elementary school, a house secluded amongst trees and more lake.


How much adventure can you fit inside of a one-mile hex?  Well...assuming that your PCs are tennis aficionados, I'd say "plenty".

Monday, September 05, 2011

So I Hear There's An Arthurian RPG

I never really felt any heat for Pendragon.  It's not that I disparaged it, or had a low opinion of it -- I just didn't, you know, want some.  Just like sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

I just finished reading Lyonesse, and have Madouc and The Green Pearl coming on the Bookmobile tomorrow.  So my Pendragon temperature is changing.

I don't have the game, but I have BRP and I have GKP's The Book Of Knights.  So I can probably get into some Pendragon-y trouble if so I desire.  Plus, nothing stops me from running some C&C in an Elder Isles-inspired setting, upon which I have already decided.



Sunday, September 04, 2011

Thinkin' Trekkie Thoughts: Who Plays the Captain?

If you didn't know that Fenway5 aka C. R. Brandon, author of Rogue Space and other games, has released the beta of Far Trek, then you should know that Fenway5 aka C. R. Brandon, author of Rogue Space and other games, has released the beta of Far Trek.

I'm reading it right now 'cause I finished Lyonesse (which was THE BUSINESS by the way), and I'm pretty happy with it.  I was thinking related thoughts as I took my coffee mug to the sink just now and had this idea (which may not be knew and in fact may have been published before, but it's on my mind at the moment):

Q: Who gets to play the Captain?
A: Everybody.

'Fact, the Captain is not only played by everyone but CREATED by everyone, together.  All the players collaborate on creating the Captain's personality and so on.  That way everyone has a handle on him or her, which is good because of this next paragraph.

During play, control of the Captain, and all the decisions that he or she makes, is shared by the players.  It can either be communal, such that whoever wants to be the Captain can do so at any time, or it can be by turns.  Everyone gets to speak for their Commanding Officer, and so on.

Okay, back to reading.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

This Was Fun To Make!

I dunno what it'll ever get used for (probably nothing, 'cause I'm so @#*&% lazy), but it looks cool, huh?

Yeah, I ripped off exactly what you think I ripped off.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Double-You. Oh. Arr, Dee. Up.

You need this today.  You need it.


I told you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm Reading Lyonesse and --

It's all, like -- DAAAAAAMN...!
-- it is BAD.  ASS.

Not in know, like a Leon/The Professional kind of way, or in a "The Golden Age of Wireless" kind of way.  No, no.  The best way I can parse it out it is thus:

It's bad-ass in a "Bob Ross Totally Schools That Canvas With Some Phthalo Blue" kind of way.

Look -- the plot is dense, but so engaging as to be astonishingly navigable.  The characters are interesting and compelling.  The setting is misted with a sense of history, permeated with substance and depth.  And even though (or perhaps, because) there's no real action in the, you know, KA-BOOOOSH! sense of kinetic action, the plot unravels with a genuinely seductive pace.

It's all in the pacing.

The plot develops at a pace that seems slow...until you realize that you've been reading non-stop, and watching the world and its people and its details and its travails and its history and its everything being peeeeeeeeeeled open and revealed to you in --

-- Bob Ross.  All mellow, he'd take his trowel and kinda drag it over the canvas, and BAMMO HAPPY LITTLE TREES?




I just want to keep reading so I can find out what happens next.  In fact, why the hell am I sitting here typing this when I could be reading the next cha--

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Take off your pants and run in the opposite direction, 'cause that way lies madness.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One Cool Thing From The 1990s

Look, don't get me wrong -- I like FATE 3.0 juuuuuust fine.  It's a great use of FUDGE, and some might say an improvement upon its progenitor.

I will not argue, because I agree, really.

But still...

FUDGE, in its most basic form (like it was when I downloaded it from on that late Spring afternoon in 1994, on a NeXT computer at the IU Student Union) is --

-- look.  There's something to be said about a game that gives you a fully-playable character with no more effort and paperwork than this:

Sequinus Bwappfelshire

Knowledge (Planes)

Can cast spells
Amulet of Planes-walking
User can cross planar thresholds 2 times per day
Has a hard time accepting when a task is done, and keeps fiddling with it; Good (+1) or better Willpower roll to move on

Honest, man, it took me longer to figure out how to make OpenOffice Writer do the cool split-cells thing than it did for me to write this character up.

He's ready to get into trouble now -- thanks to FUDGE!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Does A 0-Point GURPS Character Look Like?

In all the time that I played GURPS, which I did with considerable intensity, I never once wondered what a 0-point character would look like.  (And if I ever did, I must not have spent a long time wondering.)

Tonight, I was looking through GURPS IOU and came upon the section that discusses appropriate point levels for characters in that milieu.  Local Citizenry, the book states, would rate 0-100 points.  I began to wonder...then, I popped open GURPS Character Builder and started, uh, buildin'.

So!  Meet Jerry Raymond:
Jerry Raymond Jerry Raymond
Jerry Raymond
(0 Points)
Age 22; 5'8", 145 lbs; Dude's so average-looking, he may as well be invisible.

ST: 9 [-10] IQ: 11 [10] Speed: 5.00
DX: 10 [0] HT: 10 [0] Move: 5
Dodge: 5


Charisma +2 [10] (Reaction: +2); Common Sense [10]; Voice [10] (Reaction: +2).


Chummy [-5]; Struggling [-10] (Starting Wealth: $7,500); Duty (Minimum Wage Job at a grocery store) (9 or less) [-5]; Weirdness Magnet [-15].


Never wears turtlenecks; Chess player; Quiet; Likes redheads; Sleepy Drinker. [-5]


Musical Instrument (Keyboard)-10 [2]; Carousing-9 [1]; Driving/TL7-10 [2]; Detect Lies-10 [2]; Chess-11 [1]; Writing-11 [2].


Jerry's an average guy. He likes sports, he's kind of quiet, he's a bit of an artist and likes to hang out with his friends.

But the talking broccoli in his fridge, the time that a Martian princess rear-ended him at the grocery store, and the regular wrong-number calls from Steven Hawking and Eleanor Roosevelt's ghost? THOSE things are obviously NOT normal, and they WEREN'T his idea, and he kinda wishes they wouldn't happen.

But they do.

So...he deals with it...just like everyone else.

So I guess he lives in whatever town IOU is in, and maybe his life and the University intersect a lot.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How D&D Sounds To Me

kuh-ZAPP!  WHOA!  It's 1989.  Summer.  Hot.  You're Young Doc Rotwang!, aged not-yet-fifteen.  Girls don't seem to like you, and you don't expect that to change, ever.  You've been a gamer for a year but you've not yet played D&D.

On your way to spend the Summer with your Dad in Kansas City, your old family friend Jason Gucinski gives you his own old copy of the D&D Red Box.  Yours, now.

This is it.  You've been in the room a while but you came in from the side.  Now, you have THE KEY THAT OPENS THE FRONT DOOR.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Phasic Knights of the Blade and Blaster

Our motto: "To Have Adventures!"

...because it was time.

Monday, August 01, 2011

"Halfling Stew" After-Dinner Mint

Renault, Smartest and Wisest Halfling, got a knife which (functioned as a crappy shortsword), killed a bug, fell in 3" of water, put out a fire at the worst time possible, and then got eaten 'cause I had to take a shower and go to work.

Next time I do some Google Hangouts gaming, I'm hooking up my camcorder to function as a web cam.  That was some stuff, I tell ya.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

This Is My Character for Jeff's "Halfling Stew" Game

Hohn-hohn-HO! Bon Temps, mes amis! Jay-Sweeze Mee-sewer Renault Poisson-Fromage le Coq-Petit, from Cul d'un Chien! I like, eh, how-you-say, to be smart-air than you -- non? Wee-wee!

I have l'strongth du 8, l'dex-stair-ee-tee du twell-ve (12), Cohn-stee-too-shown l'9, Intelli-SHAWNCE l'15, oh-hohn-hohn! Et Widdome du 16, et l' char-EEESM-uh d'8! Obviously.

Ah have-uh les deux hit p-waaaints. Aaaaaaaaand everyone hates me already.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

How I Spent My Saturday Afternoon

With a hex grid, a copy of TSR's World Builder's Guidebook, a portable drawing board, Troll Lord Games' Book of Extraordinary Names, a set of Prismacolor pens, an Ames lettering guide, a T-square, some dice, a drafting triangle, pencils and some masking tape.  Oh, and five hours.

All of which I used to make this:

Of course I'm not satisfied with it!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Respite via Microscope

To you, O brethren and cistern, who came to me with words of commiseration and hope in my day of pain -- thank you one and all, you princes and princessesses of the blogomosphere.  You guys rock.

So last Tuesday (last week) my buddy Art brought over Microscope again, along with his 7-year-old daughter.  We unleashed his kid and my kid unto the wilderlands of her bedroom; while those two played, Art, my wife, Art's buddy Russel and I set about an exercise I've long yearned to do:

Re-writing the Star Wars prequel-era history, and cleaning up George's mess.

So how'd we do?  You tell me.  I tried typing up a summary but screw that, here are the notes.

Click for jaw-dropping abreaction.

 Man, this was some fun.  It was cathartic in a variety of ways -- it gave me the gamer interaction that I craved, it let me mix it up creatively, and I got to slap the prequels right in their ugly mouth and say, "THIS is how you do it, ya dumb bastards!"



...aaaaahh.  MORE GAME!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Rotwang! Is An Angry, Embittered Man (WARNING: INCLUDES PATHOS)

Yesterday while washing dishes, I listened to an episode of The D6 Generation Podcast (which is not about the D6 System, as it turns out).  It was interesting enough, and kind of informative too.

Mostly, I found it depressing.

It's not because of anything that's wrong about the podcast itself, but rather because of what I heard in it -- and the questions it made me ask myself.

I heard these guys talking about all the games they've been playing --tabletop RPGs, minis games, board games...talkin' about the minis they're painting, the games going on at their FLGS, the cons they've been to or are going to, the terrain they're building...

...and first, I thought:   Where do they find the time?  Don't they have jobs, families?  Of COURSE they have jobs and families.  So where do they find the time?!

That was not what bugged me.  What bugged me was the very next thought that followed it:

Why don't I have that?!  Why can't I have that luxury? 

Yes, a luxury. To me, such a thing is a luxury.  I don't have a fancy car; I don't care.  I don't have a huge paycheck every week; I'd like it if it were bigger, so I could pay off some bills and have some walking-around money, but I'm doing OK.  I don't have a yacht, a mistress, a race horse,  a big HDTV, a...freaking...I dunno, a solid gold burro.  I don't want those things.  Those aren't things that would make me happy (not even the mistress OR the burro).  I actually want very little in life -- I'm remarkably easy to keep happy, and at that, with very few and comparatively small things.

I can't find the time or opportunity for gaming.  Oh, I have some friends coming over on Tuesday to play Microscope, but that's a rarity.  It's hard to get my friends together for gaming, what with people's schedules and such.  I'm about 15 minutes away from the games store, but I don't feel comfortable there -- and gas is expensive.  I live in a fairly populous area; I'm not in the middle of nowhere, in fact I live in a golf resort/condominium kind of place, with about 33,600 people living in it -- but I'll be damned if I have any way of finding any gamers in the place.  Life is commute, work, commute, come home.  

If I get to game for more than a few hours every two months or so, it's a bonanza.

I try to vent this stuff by making it kinda funny, like this.  But the truth is that it's seriously dragging down my quality of life.

Is this adulthood?  Really?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I Got A New Scanner Today.

Actually it's a printer/scanner/copier.  I installed it and started checking it out -- you know, how do ya load paper for printing a double-sided character sheet, like that.

Then, of course, I had to check its scanner interface, so I grabbed something to scan.  Dig it:

They're eating her shirt.

I don't think I've ever read this comic.  I'm not even sure how I got it!  Anyway, there ya go.  Bit o' history.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dungeon as Diagram

Hats off to Flynn, who wrote this and got me thinking about doing stuff like this:
Have fun!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Adventure Diagram, Yaay!

I like this idea of mapping out an adventure as a diagram.  Each of your major scenes goes in a box, and connecting lines lead from scene to scene based on decisions and success or failure, with notes along the way.

So I made this one with OpenOffice Draw, 'cause it's set right the zip up for such stuff.  This plot here is fairly linear, and it requires a few more notes (which one would append maybe as a second sheet), but it's enough to get you through.

I have no idea how it ends, though...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Made Some Paper Minis.

They're tiny but you can have 'em.  Used Junior General's masters as a start.  Fun.  You can too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mongoose Traveller + Prime Directive = Sorry About Your Dog

Earmuffs?  For the dog, maybe, I mean?  'Cause I just found out that Mongoose and Amarillo Design Bureau are collaborating on a Traveller-based Prime Directive game, and I SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Sorry; sorry, that's -- this, uh...this is just cool.  To me.  It's -- I like it.  It sounds good.

It's unusual for me, these days, to be excited about a new game release.  I haven't been for a very long time now -- not since StarSIEGE, really, and that was -- whoa, three years ago?  Wow, yeah.  That's crazy.

Anyway.  Trav rules feel like a good fit for Shirtless-Kirk-Era Treknanigans, especially with the career tables and all ("Okay, so...Security branch.  First term served.  Survival throw: 14-plus.  Wait,what the f--?!"), plus the --

PICTURED: Proper use of Carousing-1.

-- I'm just diggin' it.

Revisting Tri-Stat dX

This'll be a brief post 'cause I gotta go take a shower and go out for chinese for Father's Day here pretty soon, but -- hey, remember this guy?

Pinched from the Retrospective Caveman blog, but saved locally.

 I pulled it off the shelf last night and made a character this morning.  It ain't half bad!

The whole Magnum Opus thing kinda didn't fly...too bad, really.  'Least I still have a copy or three.

Okay, shower.  Can't take me to Golden China if I'm all stinky!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wherein I Pass Judgement Upon "Microscope"

A buddy of mine, who is a World-Famous Comic-Book Artist, brought over his copy, and some other dudes came over, and my kid busied herself playing on the Monster High website, and we had a go at it.

My impression:

Microscope : Aria - Canticle of the Monomyth ::  Aspirin  : Trepanation

Monday, June 13, 2011

OSR Emperor, you say...?

Over at The Grand Tapestry, Timeshadows asks:

When Will the OSR Emperor Arise, Bringing Peace to the Warring Provences?

To my dear and esteemed fellow blogger, and to all others who have functional circulatory systems, I offer this answer:


Once again, Dr Rotwang! strides in, valiant of purpose and tired of your bitching, and brings peace and prosperity with the edge of his shrill, annoying voice.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

StarSIEGE: An Unnamed Campaign Setting (That Still Needs Work)

Following the 9-Minute Campaign Design notes from The Mule Abides, I managed to stretch this out into a...uh...4?  5? -hour long project.

Man, I'm gettin' old.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

It Serves You Right For Picking That Pocket

You got that player who likes to pick NPCs' pockets at random past the point where it ceases to be funny?  Yeah, you know the one.  Next time he gets on your nerves, let him pick a pocket, then roll a d20 and tell him that he finds --

A dead, stinky mouse. Who keeps a dead, stinky mouse in his pocket? Probably a wizard...or a necromancer. Right?
A half-eaten chicken leg.
A half-eaten raw chicken leg.
A small scrap of paper with the words "Red door on Bath Street – 'Ullmo'". Bath Street is somewhere in the city, and there is indeed on that street a house with a red door. If the PC goes there and knocks, he will be asked for the password (Ullmo). Upon giving it, the PC is allowed entry to the house...which hosts a halfling quilting circle. The PC will be expected to participate.
A dirty handkerchief. Save vs. Poison at a -4 penalty or contract a nasty flu (½ HP and -2 to-hit for 1d4+1 days).
A human finger, freshly severed. But whose? And why was it in somebody's pocket?
3 gold coins struck with an unusual symbol. No merchant will take them, and all are nervous when the coins are presented to them. The coins are "shadow coin" – they are used exclusively by a criminal network, and having them makes you noteworthy in all the worst ways.
A walnut. It can be eaten, but it's not very tasty.
The mark's pocket suddenly (and magically) constricts, trapping the pick-pocket's hand – no save! Needless to say, the owner notices...
A small, unsheathed razor blade. 1d4 damage and saving throw vs. Spells to avoid crying out in surprise.
3 silver pieces and a small ruby. Exciting! Closer inspection reveals them to be 3 pewter pieces and a chunk of glass.
A small pouch containing about 5 grams of a dark, pungent tobacco. It is of value (3d6 sp) only to a tobacconist who recognizes it as Matarkian Blackshank – and that is a rare tobacconist indeed! Who dares smoke it soon has his mouth taste like he just stuffed it with ashes and sauerkraut and lit the whole thing with a burning cow turd.
A key, grubby and blackened with age. It opens a chest in the basement of a tavern called The Shackled Priestess. The chest contains a soul jar within which is imprisoned the tavern's eponymous priestess, placed there sixty years ago by a jealous lover (the owner of the tavern). Finding and releasing her spirit, and matching it back to her body (turned to stone and hidden as a statue in a local temple) would be a great adventure with a great reward...if the pickpocket can only figure out where to start.
A finger-length wooden carving of a mastiff.  1d4 rounds after it is taken from the mark's pocket, it transforms into a real mastiff -- which, finding itself before someone other than its master, attacks.
A sticky wad of pine tar. It's hard to remove, and leaves the pickpocket with a strong, noticeable aroma for a day or two, making it hard not to draw attention.
The mark's coin purse will not budge – it is as though it weighed hundreds of pounds, yet its owner carries it with ease! It is obviously magical, but – how to acquire it...?
A scrap of paper listing five names. Four are crossed out. The fifth is that of the pickpocket.  75% chance that it is but a trick to fool would-be pickpockets; 10% that it's someone else with the same name.  Otherwise, the mark is an assassin with the PC's name on his list.
3d12 live caterpillars.
3d12 dead caterpillars.
The exact contents of the thief's own pocket, taken from his own pocket and pulled through the aetherial plane and onto his mark's pocket.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Redemption Zombies

It's a nice Sunday.  Enjoy it, won't you?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Wherein I Am Banned From RPG.Net

Dig this RPG Site post, where Sgt. Space Wizard has some nice words to say about me after Kyle Aaron reports that I was told don't come around RPG.Net no more.

News to me.  I tried to log into The Big Purple and did so successfully.

So, no, I have not been banned from RPG.Net.  I did stop posting there, but that's because I got tired of the place.

Record's straight.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Okay.  It's cool.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

"WTF" Is For "Has Anyone Seen My Copy Of The D&D World Builder's Guidebook?!"

Dammit!  I can't find it

I know it's around my house somewhere -- I had it just the other day.  My house is small!  It's not like it could've gone far!  WHERE THE FROG IS MY FREAKING WORLD BUILDER'S GUIDEBOOK?!

Don't be OCD and disorganized, kids. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

As If I Needed Another Reason To Be Excited About RC D&D

...I have come across ken-do-nim's House Rules & Clarifications for Rules Cyclopedia Dungeons & Dragons.

Yessir!  It's amazinatin' what you might find if you spend a little while goofin' around on now and then.  You find stuff like this!  S'got some house rules, errata and clarifications (like it says on the tin) and some cool new sub-classes, some tweaked combat sequencing, revised weapon mastery charts for the rapier (culled from Voyage of the Princss Ark),  plus also there is stuff like this which I love very much:

 Go download it already.  I SAID GO DO THAT THING I JUST SAID TO DO.

Inkscape Is Hard!

...if you're a chump, which I is.  Work for an hour and what's a chump get?, I gotta get better at this.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Inspiration. It...Strikes.

I'm in the habit of making a little PocketMod booklet and keeping it in my shirt pocket.  Why?  So I can write stuff on it when it occurs to me, you silly-head!

It's a good idea, too.  You should do it.  Then you, too, can come up with crazy fun dumb stupid stuff like this:

Friday, March 25, 2011








Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Want My D&D Game To Look Like A Cross Between...

...Fritz Lang's Siegfried and Ron Howard's Willow.

Oh, and plus also the stuff I posted yesterday.  That can be Castle Zagyg, or Greyhawk, right?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

**EDITED** Fascination/Frustration

NOTE: I edited this post to include a word that was missing before.  Can you guess which one?


Got this new D&D campaign vibe in my head.  It looks like this:



Friday, March 18, 2011

Throwin' The Horns For Goblinoid Games

You read about how Goblinoid purchased the rights to Star Explorer?  I did, which is why I'm bringing it up.  Actually I'm bringing it up because I think that this is a hell of good idea.  And I'd never even heard of the game!

But what's totally rad about it -and the fact that they purchased Starships & Spacemen as well- is that, thanks to Goblinoid, these old games with charm and merit can stay in print and find a whole new audience.  I love this old stuff, and it tickles me that someone who has the capital to get 'em back on your table is getting 'em back on your table.

Rock on, Goblinoid Games.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Have A Second Blog

...because, sometimes, I want to talk about things that are important to me but maybe not to you, there's Dirty Damn Filthy Damn Atheist!.

That is all.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wherein I Make Up A Whole Bunch Of Goofy Character Names

I enjoy making up names for people, although truth be told, I never make up any really good ones.  No nonono, wait, scratch that --

-- I never make up any good serious ones.  I usually make up absurd names -- names like

  • Spad Falco
  • Baron Hotep Von Butane
  • Sally Trans-Farino
  • Miklos Bongaroo
  • Hap Lashborough
  • Zane O' The Tripeyard
  • Wilma Frankenboobs
  • Carmen del Burro
  • Zyklo Feromatt IV
  • Vaughn Likely
  • Skip Ballastro
  • Stansfield Stansfield
  • Sir Ender of Chickendale
  • Jean-Luc du Poisson-Petit
  • Hyster Calumika
  • Chi-Chi Zapatos
  • Lord Holten Greenswaddle
  • Cisnita Galcarminite
  • LaTorfa Snackwell
  • Boutros-Boutros Spiegelmann
  • Tarsupia Golcarpia
  • Chico San Dimas
  • Razz Pistolas
  • Slinko "The Reach" Roseburner
  • Squint Teakley
  • Lance Mannschaft
  • Cliebus Van Der Yotte
  • Fallopia Two-Dongs
  • Deke Lumbar
  • Xerxes O'Roone
  • Plitz Sparnaug
  • Inocencio Gritón
  • Paal Slapfield
  • Sergei Pantzaroff
  • Michiko Ypsilanti-Frapp
  • M'fwoobo Sakkasakkasakka III
  • Lloyd the Distractor, Prilosec of Lunesta
  • Brante Kleeg
  • Cash Hamflaps
  • Steg Humpfeller
  • Aibos Fregenderias
  • Helga Grossebruste
  • Calternia Daxx
  • Enrique Tres Pedos
  • Sgt. Gorp, of the Police
  • Linus Hybride
  • Altrex Fornibaar
  • Banjo Frampton
  • Albercus Wolfhorker
  • Tab Rasslins
  • Comanche Joe Kiloton
  • Reed Ruckus
  • Duke Rialto, Lord of Treeshiner, Senechal of the Seven Yaps
  • Pud Monkerby
  • Macanuda Chelascalientes
  • Fane Jonnda
  • Palermofilo Kiqsaz
  • Stangfark the Bombastic
  • Tinkles O'Bleary
  • Gorehack Rainbowpony
  • Someone Else's Mom
...which are of no real use.  At all.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Not Cool.

Look...nobody reads this blog, and anyone who might already knows this, but --

--Who the math is Lady Gaga, and why is she accused of ripping off Multinauts?

Rotwang! Approved.
Wait.  I'll do a little Googling.  Let's see...

What the fughwaaaAAAAAAA MY SAN POINTS!!!




..., yeah.  Spread the word.

NO, NOT ABOUT MY CRUSH ON G1GS.  I'll spread that one myself.

Friday, March 04, 2011


Set somethin' off, didn't I.

Friday, February 25, 2011

D&D Is Dead.

You hear-uh, read me:  D&D is dead.


Dead dead dead dead dead.

How can I say such a thing?  Am I out of my MIND?!  Am I just trolling? Do I even know what I'm talking about?

Easy.  No.  Nope.  Yes.

D&D as a brand name -and that's exactly what it is to the holder of that specific IP- is past its prime.  I don't care what D&D Brand Fantasy Gaming Tomfoolery does, or doesn't do.  The only reason it has any relevance anywhere is because of the brand-name recognition -- in other words, someone somewhere cares what D&D Brand Fantasy Gaming Tomfoolery does, or doesn't do. 

I think it's time to stop.

D&D the game, the hobby, the influence, the legacy, the thing -- that mofo's immortal.  People are playing it, people are cloning it, people are rolling their own.  Your Favorite Edition may or may not still be in print, but print copies of it abound.  You can buy 'em, you can even, uh, acquire 'em.  You can choose from a bunch of clones like Labyrinth Lord or Castles & Crusades or Swords & Wizardry and about a ho-dozen others.  There are tons of existing rules sets and variants and supplements and, thanks to the OGL and the efforts of like-minded dorks without number, there are new rules sets and variants and supplements all the damn time. 

D&D as an activity is never, ever going away.


Because we support it.  Not because some company does, or doesn't -- because you do.  I do. 

D&D, name brand, belongs to a company.  That company is sticking the name on...I dunno what the fuck it is now.  I don't care what it is now.  Whatever.  No longer relevant.

D&D, legacy, love, distraction, camaraderie, fandom, game, activity, synergy of millions of nerd-hours of gleeful goof-whackery or thoughtful immersion into setting and role or enthusiastic exercise in creativity and shared world-building or wanton imaginary destruction and looting --

-- that D&D will never die.  It's bigger than its name.  It cannot be killed.    

Let D&D die, because D&D will forever live.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Made A Radical ENCOUNTER CRITICAL Webring Image

...buuuuuuuuuut it's too big.

EDIT:  Well, maybe not!   Blogger's Photo gadget shrinkerates it to 187 pixels max, so...huh.  lookit that.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

GAME REVIEW: Killer Thriller

Spooky Gloowwwwwww!
Killer Thriller
By Tony Lee
Published by Time Out Diversions
PDF, 28 pages
Costs ya $3.00

Tell ya somethin' 'bout Tony Lee, B-movies and gaming: dude gets it

See, anyone can "get" B-movies; they're not hard to figure out.  It's not hard to count up the tropes, sprinkle 'em across a set of RPG rules and play.  That's one thing.  It's another thing to "get" B-movie rules, and to turn those into RPG rules.  Either it's really hard to do right, or no one bothers trying, or both or something.  Me, I blame the leprechauns.

But Tony Lee gets it.  You can see it in 1997's Extreme Vengeance, a ridiculously fun paean to macho ass-kick movies.  You can see it some more in 2010's Killer Thriller, a game of  bloody schlock horror and, you know, that stuff. 

For the new game, Lee brings back the gleeful genre emulation of EV, the sincere understanding (and love!) of the b-movie groove fused with solid mechanics, set to a loosey-goosey "let's have fun, ya bastards!" beat.  Only trouble is, he brings back some bad habits as well.

Here, let me explain.

In its 28 pages, Killer Thriller (KT) presents to you a set of rules designed with one simple purpose:  Get all your (multiple) characters, who have close to no chance at defeating the bad guy, killed off in gruesome manner -- that is, all your characters except for one, who will become a lone survivor who DOES have a chance at defeating the bad guy.

Yeah, I know it sounds weird.  Multiple characters?  Kill 'em all off?!  What the Funyons, right?  Dude, it's a horror movie.  That's what they're about. The monster runs the show until there's just one person left -- and then the rules seem to change.  Right?

ESPECIALLY if armed with a cat.

So it is in KT.  Your characters are defined by negative traits -- not negative in ranking, but in purpose.  In fact, they're called "Inabilities".  Your characters don't have an intelligence score; they have an Unwise score, defined by the game as "the inherent stupidity of all b-move characters that compels them to follow a path of fresh entrails into a deserted mine shaft or some such".  Your characters are Unlucky and they can come Undone.  Rolls aren't made against these traits with success in mind; you're hoping for failure.  Is Louie the Arrogant Breakdancer, who is fleeing a big damn monster, unlucky enough to slip on a pool of his late homey's blood?  Roll and see; if you get less than his Unluck score, then...yeah.  He's toast.  Is Sheila the Virginal Babysitter too dumb to stay away from that pulsating door?  Probably; to keep her from messing with it, you have to roll higher than her Unwise.  These numbers are pretty high ones, by the way...

Characters also spend a while (that's a while) being Unharmed, until such time as they bite the big one.  At that point Lee shows his cleverness: a dead character transfers his or her full amount of Unharm (aka "hit") points to another character, buffing up said recipient for The Final Showdown.  Furthermore, the if the death is messy, there's a bonus amount of Unharm points to transfer -- and another such bonus for getting your characters killed without die rolls and so on.  Here's where players are encouraged to endanger their characters and get them all pureéd so that one last holdout may live.  It's in keeping with the genre, and it's aces -- mostly.  

Oh, I'll come back to that.

Anyway.  The game is dotted with beautiful, simple, elegant little rules like that.  Guns, for instance, which would in a sane world work wonders against a psycho killer, in this jacked-up grindhouse reality work just fine...but their use penalizes further actions.  Giving characters Stereotypes allows for an in-game bonus by playing to type.  Your characters can even have creepy-cool powers -- for all the good it'll do 'em. 

Yeah, no caption required.

The most brilliant rule, though, is the "Last Survivor" rule.  See, all game long, the monsters don't make any rolls; they always succeed, and the characters are the ones who have to "save against" attacks and stuff.  But when it's down to just monsters and Last Survivors, the rules flip over, and the monster has to save against stuff.  It's beautiful, it's simple, it's elegant.

Okay, now here's the other shoe.  Actually, there are multiple other shoes, but we're talking monsters here so, you know, having, like five feet isn't all that uncommon.

There's a big weak spot in KT and, sorrowfully, it branches from the very thing that drives the game: There's no incentive to keep characters alive. There is a famous horror movie axiom, credited to Joe Bob Briggs: "Anybody can die at any time".  Who's next?  When?  In the movies KT seeks to emulate, it's a primary source of tension.  Applied mechanically in the game, it's a convenience.  This is, in my estimation, the game's deadliest mechanical weak spot.  There's really nothing keeping players from having their characters stick their heads into wood chippers in the first scene or so, just to get buffs. 

Or to create iconic images.

Well, the GM could stop them.  But the GM section is more focused on establishing chaos than it is on capturing that b-movie feel.  To a certain degree, that's expected; after all, b-movies aren't known for being character studies, or for having clever, immersive plots.  But the GM section seems to encourage a "screw it, let the heads fly!" attitude a little too much.  As I said before, Tony Lee gets this stuff.  I'd love to know a little more about how he "gets" it.

You do, however, get to read a lot of his jokes.  The tone of his writing is very informal, very friendly -- but sometimes it feels like Tony is just trying too hard, and it gets uncomfortable.  What's worse is that it gets in the way of reading those swanky rules.  Many times I found myself back-tracking over a passage to dig out the meat I'd missed before, and in some cases, I found basic, integral concepts explained to me after they'd been used, replacing a bunch of Huh?s with an Oh, NOW y'tell me.  This tone was kind of a problem in Extreme Vengeance, and although I defended it there, here I will tut-tut and mention how many times I had to flip back through pages.

And speaking of pages:  Page numbers are a little, tiny detail.  No page numbers are kind of annoying.

Now...let me make a point very clear, here, as a reviewer.  The only reason I'm railing on these details is because I see them as cringe-worthy flaws in an otherwise clever, outstanding and totally tubular game.

So.  Is it worth your three bucks?  Yeah, totally.  Buy it, mess with it, play it.  Have fun, damn it.  Encourage Tony Lee and Time Out Diversions to keep on truckin'...

...and to keep sharpening the blade.

If you know what I mean.