Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back and Moving Forward: Setting Goals

Looking back on 2010, is something I'm not too interested in doing, but I know it's necessary sometimes, i.e. I don't want to make the same mistakes in 2011 that I did this year.  But that's not what this post is about...

Speaking of 2010 how much time is left?  Did I accomplish what I set out to do?  Where's the LIST???  I know I have it here somewhere...

They say if you don't write down your goals they aren't really goals.  There more like wishes.  Experts say to write them down, and carry a copy with you where ever you go.  Put one up on a wall.  Refer to it often.  Adjust as necessary, and reward yourself when you complete a goal.  That's important.

One thing a list of goals really needs is deadlines.  Yes, deadlines.  A deadline for every goal.  A period of time that you give yourself for completing it.  This is also important.

Every goal should also have a list of steps you need to accomplish to reach that goal.  These are the mini-goals you need to complete to reach that primary goal.  How are you going to finish painting that squad of space marines if you forgot to pick up a can of primer???

Ah ha!  I found my list...  It was in the drawer that "should not be opened".

List of Goals, Resolutions, and get-er-dones for 2010

1. Stay organised.  DOH!  I need to work on this...
2. Buy a calender. ( Helps with number one. )  Heh.  I never did buy a calender for 2010.  The computer I was using had one on it.
3. Study a little harder and develop a better understanding of quantum mechanics.  What?!?!
4. Review Zombie Apocalypse survival plan.

Okay, I'm kind of joking around, because I don't want to get too serious.  Setting goals and making resolutions at the first of the year is important, but you don't want to overwhelm yourself, and set yourself up for failure.  That happens to so many people.  Start slow, and build up your goals.  Everything doesn't have to be listed and quantified at the beginning of the year.  Set a few goals for the month of January, and at the end of the month review what you have accomplished, or not, and reassess.  If you accomplished those goals, reward yourself, and start the list for the next month.  It should work better than having a mega-list for the year.

There's a couple of things I never covered for my goals in 2010, and that was starting a gaming blog, and doing some actual gaming.  Aside from a game of Life's Not Fair Monopoly, gaming was practically non-existent for me in 2010.  I will continue my gaming blog in 2011, and plan on getting some game time in, and not just Uno, Monopoly, or computer games.

I almost accomplished my goal for December of posting everyday.  I was so close, only missing one day because I was sick.  I still feel good, because I wrote more on the blog than in any other month since I started the blog.  Some days I actually posted more than once, sometimes even three times.  So I feel that I was partially successful with this goal.

I plan plan on taking a short break from blogging starting tomorrow.  Probably not for longer than three or four days. Maybe a week.  I'm going to use the time to quantify my plans for the month, and some over-all planning for the year.  Plus, I need to work on getting more organised, and streamline my work flow.

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Strong Points of Rolemaster

Yes, I've got Rolemaster on my mind.  What can I say?  I like the rules, I like the overall system.  What's good about it?  Well, this is something me and my friends discussed when we first started playing.

First of all, RM came out back when there mainly only AD&D 1E, then the second edition, and other early fantasy role playing games.  For the most part a character, like a fighter, seemed like any other fighter.  There were very few differences, especially in the first few levels.  That can't be said of a Rolemaster character.  You might create a fighter, but with all the options and skills he's going to be unlike someone else's fighter.  The fighter will be unique.  Especially in the Rolemaster Standard System, and the next edition Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing.

You aren't limited in the skills you can learn.  If a fighter wants to learn to pick locks he can.  It's going to cost him more development points ( skill points ), and he won't be able to learn as fast as a thief or rogue, but he isn't prevented from learning the skill.  A fighter could also learn certain spell lists if he wanted.  Again, it's going to be difficult, but it's possible.

Add in talents, flaws, background options, etc. you can really customise a unique character.

Combat is always unique as well.  No two combats will seem the same.  I think that's a real strong point of the system.  Combat has many options, it's not just a swing and hit or miss.  You can remain in a strictly defensive mode, or go all out on offense.  Or mix and match as you see fit.  Want to try something different, an unusual maneuver to surprise your foe?  Go right ahead,  it's covered in the rules.

I don't want to go into a lot of detail but there is a rich variety of spells.  There are plenty to choose from.

As your character gains experience he can buy new skills, get better with his weapons, and can even have his characteristics ( stats ) get better, or even worse!  Leveling up can be an adventure all on it's own.

Speaking of experience it's handled in a fairly unique manner.  The first time you fight a monster you get more experience points for defeating it, than subsequent fights with the same monster type.  After fighting dozens of orcs you don't get the same amount of experience as you did when you first fought one.  You also get experience points for good ideas.

Creating a character for RM can be a slow process, but I think the results are worth it.

Exploring Rolemaster

Pondering a new campaign world for Rolemaster I wondered what was available out in "cyberspace".  Well, I found the website of Iron Crown Enterprises , and I started poking around there.  Harumph,  apparantly they consider the Rolemaster Standard System a "vintage" game, and have "archived" it, and they state that for the most part they do not support the archived vintage games.  Although I notice they still sell some PDFs and some of the books of the RMSS.  Although, to be fair they did say questions would be answered about vintage games in the forums.

Heck, I wasn't even sure ICE still existed as a company.  I was a faithful follower of most of their products up through RMSS.  I'm glad to see they're still around, and may check out some of the new stuff, but I plan on sticking with RMSS.  I like it.

I was also reminded of Spacemaster.  It was kind of cool, but not something we really got into in our gaming group.  However, since I want to try out some cross-genre sessions I may need to get it again.  Predators in a fantasy setting might be cool.  A Predator versus a War Troll might be quite a fight.

If you really don't know anything about Rolemaster you can check out the Wikipedia page, it's a fairly good explanation about the system.

The current edition, Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing is compatible with RMSS, and this article on the ICE Webring is a good overview comparing the two editions.

Browsing the official forums has shown me that RM is still popular and that people play it, and are developing software to help in running it.  All this is exciting to an old RM player like me.  Woot!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Only three days left...

Since there are only three days left in this year,  I've decided to finish out the year blogging in a carefree kind of way.  I'm not going to worry about content too much over the next couple of days.  There's plenty of time for serious posts and great gaming content next year.  The Reader's Choice Challenge kind of burnt me out to tell you the truth.  I enjoyed it, but it was difficult at times.

I picked up a copy of the Rolemaster Standard Rules from the used book store the other day with some of my sparse Christmas cash, they were having a 20 percent off sale, so I got it for less than nine dollars.  It's in good shape, the cover is kind of wonky, but that doesn't matter.  The interior is almost pristine, and I'm going to de-spine it anyway to put in a three ring binder, and tab it for easy reference.  Now all I need are Arms Law, Spell Law, and Creatures & Treasures, and I can get started on my new RM sandbox campaign.  I know many people don't like RM, but I do.  And you know what?  That's what matters.  Plus, if I can get my old gaming group together they like also like RM, and even if it's only once a month that would be good.

Does this mean I wouldn't play somethig old school?  No, I just have a hankering for some RM, and since I'm probably going to have to run the game, it might as well be something I'm used to running.  I'm probably going to prep some stuff for AD&D 1E or LL, just in case, but it won't be a priority.  I know I won't be running any D&D 4E.  I would like to run the new Gamma World, and maybe the old Gamma World, but that's not a priority either.  Oh yeah, the used book store has some of the new WoD books as well, and for decent prices.  Although I imagine by the time I can get them they will be gone.  The Dr. Who RPG is still there, but I feel it's priced waaaaaay too high, as well as one of the modules.  $55 for a module???  Sheeesh.

So as 2010 takes it's last breaths, I look forward to 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Heap Big Pile of Bones...

A pile of bison skulls circa 1870!

I found this photograph while I was searching for a good public domain graphic of a skull.  It's a frakking huge pile of bison skulls.  The skulls are going to be ground into bone meal for use as a fertilizer.  As unusual as this photo is, what I would like to see is the machine they use to grind the skulls!  I can't imagine they do it by hand, but who knows.  I also wonder what they did with the rest of the bones?  If I recall my history correctly the buffalo hunters usually only took the hides, and left the rest to rot.  I imagine the enterprising future fertilizer tycoon realized there was a fortune to be made from the bones, and had crews pick them up off the plains.

Anyway, I thought of how this could be used in a weird western campaign.  A medicine man of a mostly decimated tribe of Native Americans could use some ancient magic and animate the pile into something terrible.  A giant bone golem, or perhaps a herd of ghost bison?  Maybe a bit of both, there's quite a few bison skulls in that pile.  It's time to wreak vengeance on the white man!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Musing On A Monday Night

My last post I discussed the end of my streak.  I also mentioned it was my 100th post, and just so there is no confusion the post on Christmas Day was the 25th consecutive post, and the 100th in totality for this blog.  My goal was to write a post every day in December.  I was sick yesterday, and the streak ended at 25.  I will finish out the month, and then plan on taking a short break.

I've written more posts in December than any other month, for a total of 36 ( including this one ).  In comparison, in November I only posted nine times.  I think the first month of the blog, March, I posted 20 times.  In the future, I may focus on quality rather than quantity.

I'm glad my readership has grown, and I've learned quite a bit from writing these posts and reading other blogs.  All in all, a good thing to be sure.

In 2010, there has been an extreme lack of gaming as a leisure activity for me.  Hopefully this will change in 2011.  One way or another it will.  On Christmas Day I talked to my brother about playing some Mage Knight, and he seemed enthusiastic about the prospect, but he's always so busy with work and travel we will see how that goes.

On a more gaming related note I plan on taking some of the Mage Knight figures, and giving them stats for Rolemaster.  I want to see how it would work as a small scale miniature skirmish game.  I like the combat in RM, and I don't think it would be to difficult once things are given stat blocks.  I'm trying to work out play balance, but perhaps there doesn't have to be play balance all of the time?  Sometimes the good guys are facing overwhelming odds.

Some of the things I want to write about next year are world building, more on creativity, communication, and a real indepth look at the different genres in gaming, and probably a post about 10 foot poles.

Oops, my streak has been broken...

On Christmas Day I made my 100th post.  Yesterday, I woke up feeling quite under the weather.  Major headache, slight fever, and nausea.  UGH.  I was going to try and post to keep the streak up, but I just felt too sick.  So my goal of posting everyday in December is shot to heck, but I don't feel too bad about it.  I had a long string of 25 days.  That's a personal record for me.  On some of those days, I posted more than once, and I even started another blog.

I'm still not feeling 100 perent myself, but much better.  All I did yesterday aside from sleep was watch all the Chronicles of Riddick movies.  The animated one was okay, and I liked the concept of the merc ship.  That was awesome.

I'm working on some ideas for future posts, but my brain isn't up to parr just yet.  Once I start feeling better, I can get back to some good gaming content.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has had a great Christmas.  I've just returned from all the family festivities; so content will be non-existent, because I'm wiped out, stuffed to the brim, and sleepy.

I will return to the regular program tomorrow.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Lady is a Necromancer!

Today is the last day of my Reader's Choice Challenge.  The topic is from Loquacious of the World of Wonder blog, and it is: Girls and how they figure into your worlds.

Everyone is lucky today, no flavor fiction... unless... nope, none, nada...

Anyway, it is a good topic, but first I was a little intimidated, and was having a little trouble thinking of something to write.   When I first started playing these games, girls in the game weren't in the big picture.  Me and my brother always played males of course, whether they were common men, dwarves, elves; well you get the picture.  It wasn't that we didn't want to, but more like it never crossed our minds.  We were young, and mostly "roll" playing.

Fast forwarding to the present, I'm still not sure I would or could play a female.  I've had some players play females, but not many.  But I digress....

Loq wanted to know how they figured into my games.  Ah!  I recall I had one female NPC who was rich and powerful, and the head of a secret organisation.  So it's not like I never used them.  I did, but again, it's not something I gave a lot of thought about.  I either used them or I didn't.  It wasn't a big issue.

However, now that I've been thinking about it, girls, females, women, can provide plenty of plot hooks, adventures, and role playing opportunities.

Imagine a Queen looking for a suitable husband.  Or a Noble woman who's actually the high priestess of a necromantic cult.  Who would suspect her!  A faction of the thieves or assassins guild could have their entire roster filled with women.  There are many possibilities...

Thus ends the Reader's Challenge!  I would have written a little more, but it's Christmas Eve, and I'm a little tired.  Everyone who submitted one or more ideas got their topic covered.  I was indeed challenged and I survived.  One day I might do it again, but it won't be for a whole week.

When Genres Collide!!!

Of all the suggestions I received for the Reader's Choice Challenge I think this is one of the best.  I wish I had thought of it, but it came from Trey, author of the From the Sorcerer's Skull blog.  I really could take this topic in any direction!  However, I think I will once again start with.... *DRUM ROLL*... flavor fiction!

Captain Scarvo, dread pirate captain of the Hideous Wench,  the most dreaded pirate ship with the most dreaded pirate crew in all of the Dreaded Sea, was looking through his spyglass as the merchant vessel tried to out-maneuver the pursuing Hideous Wench.

"Arrrrrrrrrr... ye won't be getting away today!"  Captain Scarvo turned to give some orders to his dreaded first mate when there was a flash of light in front of the ship.

Most of the crew gasped, and Captain Scarvo moved forward to get a better look.  He could hardly believe his eye.  Rubbing it, he then lifted his patch and rubbed his "going below deck" eye.  "What in the name of Neptune's nephew is that?"

Redfinger, his first mate, shrugged.  "Captain, it looks like a... a... giant floating silver clam shell!"

The crew, surprised to point of inaction, watched as the giant clam shell drew closer.  The sun glinting off it shell blinded some of the crew who then shaded their eyes.

Pointing at the clam shell, Redfinger drew his cutlass. "Captain something..."  A flash of light interrupted Redfinger, and he disappeared. A few ashes dropping to the deck of the ship where he had been standing.

Captain Scarvo screamed.  "Turn this ship about!  All hands on deck!"

When I was first thinking about this topic, I thought most genres can work together well, if a little thought is put into the campaign, whether it's for a short period of time, a story arc if you will, or a permanent campaign feature. 

You could have horror be the primary thrust of your science fiction game.  Aliens anyone?  I always considered it to be a horror movie.  The later ones seemed to have more of a sci-fi flair to them.  There should be plenty of source material for horror in your science fiction campaign.

Horror also works well in a superhero campaign.  Actually, most genres mix well with superheros.  Of course I don't think it works to well in reverse.  A Call of Cthulhu campaign might not work so well if all the players are superheros?  That would be a bad collision I think...

Horror seems to work well with most other genres.  Unless of course you're running a My Little Pony RPG for your daughters.  You don't want them finding a Puzzle Box and summoning a Cenobite!

Now it's harder to mesh science fiction with fantasy.  Especially if you're running a "hard" science fiction campaign.  Most dread pirates don't stand a chance against an alien starcraft with it's advance technology.  Perhaps you could have some fantasy characters abducted by aliens and taken to their home world.

I really don't think sci-fi works too well in the western genre.  However, in the superb comic Texarcana, there were two aliens, or were those demons? Oh well...  So maybe if it's limited it might work.  If you  want tech in your weird western, then you need steampunk.  Not too much of a collision there...

When word of caution. If you're running a particular kind of campaign, and decide to, say for example, have an invasion of giant metal alien robots in your Medieval Fantasy campaign you might want to clear it with your players first. If they're expecting fantasy, don't change horses  midstream, and surprise them.

Of course if the players want to "jump genres", then a high fantasy or post apocalyptic campaign would be best.  A Gamma World or Mutant Futures, with the planar travel mutation makes this easy.  A spell, or magical gate would work in a fantasy campaign.  Then again, it would probably work well  in a science fiction campaign, if there is a technology that allows travel between dimensions, but that's probably a whole 'nother blog post.

Mixing, mashing, or whatever you want to call it, campaigns can be fun, if it's what the players want, and you are prepared to run such a campaign.

Captain Scarvo watched as the ship flew into the night sky.  The little grey men had requested a parlay, and Captain Scarvo meet with their leader.  He had no choice.  Half his men were killed in a mostly one-sided battle.  All he had to do was turn over his gold to the creatures, and he and his men were free to go.

Shaking his fist at the sky, Captain Scarvo vowed one day to have a ship like theirs.  Then he would have his revenge.

"Arrr... I'll be the dreaded Pirate Captain Scarvo of the skies!"

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gallery of Fun

I found the above picture on someone else's blog, but I can't remember which blog.  I remember they got from it somewhere else themselves.  Anyway, I "borrowed" it, and now that I have better graphic capabilities I was finally able to create the goofiness above.

Thumb-sucker is obsessed with sending out memos to his fellow giant mutant babies.
I made this to put on a facebook page I created called, The Ultra-top Secret Organization for Taking Over the World.  It was actually an experiment in "stealth role playing", which didn't work out, and I think facebook deleted the page.

Z is for zombie robot.
Anyone else remember these?  These were stickers that came with a package of Topps Trading Cards.  The cards were old movie monster stills with funny captions.  I spent many hours looking over those things.  The cards are long gone, but I still have all the stickers.  I need to see if I have the full alphabet.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Wonderful World of Iron Spikes

Well, I guess the title explains what this post is about.  A while back, I jokingly commented about writing an article on iron spikes.  Porky commented that he would like to read such an article, or something along those lines.  Then I announced the Reader's Choice Challenge.  Yeah, this topic was suggested by Porky.

I thought I would start with some flavor fiction... yeah about iron spikes.

The outfitters shop was cluttered and disorganized.  Trent was looking at an oddly shaped grappling hook.  Tossing it back into the pile of junk, he heard the shopkeeper returning from the back room.

"Here's the last coil of rope I have.... hmmm... should be about fifty feet long..."  He placed it on the counter.  "Anything else?"

Looking over at Flek, who was examining a shield, Trent grunted,  "Anything else we need?"

Flek, tugged at his impressive beard.  "Spikes... good, sturdy spikes."

"Well, you heard the dwarf, you have any spikes?"  Trent started placing the items in his pack.

"Of course  I do, what kind do you want?"

"What do you mean, what kind?"  Trent shaking his head, and rolling his eyes, he couldn't believe the shopkeeper.  "You know, IRON SPIKES... metal, blunt on one end, and pointy and sharp on the other?"

The shopkeeper shrugged, and bent down and reached under the counter.  Grunting with effort he stood back up, holding a very long iron spike.  Dropping it on the counter it made a loud thud.  "There you go..."

"That's a too large... I meant regular sized iron spikes...  who needs a spike that big anyway?"

Lighting his pipe, the shopkeeper, puffing out a small cloud of smoke, which took the shape of a flying dragon, and flew off.  "Dunno, but the group ordered about 10 of the durn things.  I had to have them made special.  Think they mentioned something about a nasty trap."

"I see... well we just need spikes about this long... " Trent held up his hands to indicate the length he needed.

"I see, okay, with or without holes in the end?"  Chuckling, the shopkeeper blew another cloud of pipe smoke.  This time it took the form of a castle floating in the clouds.

Trent, running his hand down his face, let out a breath.  "Uh... some of both..."

"Let me check..."

Now, I'm by no means an expert on iron spikes, especially in gaming systems, so I'm sure some rule sets, and supplements might have covered many different varieties of iron spikes, but the fiction was just a way of saying, not everyone's iron spikes are going to be the same.

In a fantasy setting, a smith is going to handcraft these things one at a time, and there is going to be differences in size, shape, and quality.  One smith's iron spike is going to be different than anothers.  Some people are going to say that this is getting a little too realistic, or not worth the trouble to keep track off, and that's fine.  Also, in most cities, it's probably an item that isn't in that big of a demand, and those that are made, are probably made to order.  A group of player characters would most likely have to ask a smith to have them made, and if the smith is busy it might take a while.

Of course you can also have the spike made out of different kinds of metal, even enchanted metal, but those are going to cost much, much more. 

I think I've written as much as I care to about iron spikes.  Here's a website with a list of 101 uses for an iron spike.  Well, I didn't read it all, so there might not be 101 uses.  The writer stopped at thirty something ( I don't blame him ), and people started leaving more uses in the comments.

Okay Porky, are you happy now?

the Scroll & Skull


This post isn't part of the Reader's Choice Challenge. That post will come later tonight.  IF this computer cooperates, and doesn't go all wonky.

When I got interested in gaming again, and started exploring all the different blogs, forums, and websites I also became interested in the the whole DIY and self publishing aspect of the hobby.  I had started exploring options, the different software needed, and learning how to use the software, when my main computers hard drive died.  I had found some nice freeware/shareware programs, and was really happy with that I found.  Well, once the drive died, it put the kaboosh, at least temporarily on those endeavors.

My brother recently got a new laptop so hearing about my computer woes, he "loaned" me his.  Not as nice as the one I was using, but better than this one.  Although it only has a WiFi modem, so I still have to use this clunker to surf and post.  UGH!

I just recently started downloading the freeware again, and got most of what I was using before, mainly, and the plugins.  I couldn't get all the plugins because for some reason I couldn't download from their main forum.  Luckily I found another site, and got most of what I needed, and have been relearning how to work with the program.  The mock up of the magazine cover is the result.  It's kind of rough around the edges, but it looks okay.  Am I going to start a 'zine?  It's been on my mind for a while now, but we will see how it goes.

I had a good program for creating PDFs but for the life of me I can't recall the name of the program!  It worked really well.  I want to say it was Adobe InDesign, but that one costs money, and I know I didn't pay for the one I was using.  Anyone out there know a good PDF creator program?  However, I think I will eventually will get InDesign, but I need something to work with until then.

I happily discovered last night that I could download the Necromunda rulebook, and supplemental material off the Games Workshop site for FREE!  I'm a happy camper.  There really is a lot of great free gaming PDFs out there, like Errant RPG, and Stars Without Number.  Get them while they are still free!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

D20 Is Ruining Role Playing?

Today is day number two of the Reader's Choice Challenge.  Last week I asked people to make topic suggestions that I would use this week, Monday through Friday.  Yesterday, I covered Cthulhu, which isn't a strong suit of mine, and it shows.  MEH!

Dave G of the N++ blog, a great blog by the way, even though I don't know what N++ means?  Heh... I'm losing more geek points!  Anyway, Dave gave me a few suggestions,  this one however is the easiest, and with me getting a little burnt out, I'm going to use it.  He wrote:

- Why D20 is ruining roleplaying. (aka, Remember when D&D was about building interesting characters instead of uber multiclass-feat-skill-other weird skill stuff-other weird stuff combos to turn characters into super heros?)

No, I don't think it is.  There, that was easy.  Time for a nap.

Heh... there I go kidding around again, but really, I don't think D20 is ruining any aspect of the gaming hobby much less role playing.  I'm sure there are many people who would argue otherwise, but do they have evidence?  Of course what I write here is just an opinion.

Sure, maybe there isn't much role playing going on, but the level of role playing ( from what I've noticed ) varies from group to group, and game system to game system.

If anything it seems to be keeping the hobby alive?  To be perfectly honest I haven't played any of the current incarnations of the game.  Nothing past AD&D 1st Edition.  That doesn't mean I wouldn't try any other editions, I just haven't had the chance to try them out.  I probably won't get into the current edition of D&D for a lot of reasons, but I would like to at least try it.  How can I form a valid opinion without experiencing it myself?  If people enjoy D20 then I say more power to them!  Whether it's D&D 4th Edition or Pathfinder everyone is free to game the way they want to game.  That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.

Actually, the whole "uber multiclass-feat-skill-other weird skill stuff-other weird stuff combos to turn characters into super heros." sounds kind of interesting.  Then again I also enjoy playing a character who has trouble hacking his way through a horde of orcs, and keeping his plate mail pants on. That actually happened to me in Ultima Online, but it was actually a bunch of dragons, or something, good times... but I digress...

Now, the new Gamma World seems like a rocking good time.  I am buying it as soon as I can.  The same goes for Pathfinder, those seem like big, fun, crunchy books.  However, neither is a big purchasing priority.

And thus, the scribe finishes day two of the challenge.  What will day three bring?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cthulhu and Friends!

Yeah, that's what it would be called if Cthulhu had a Saturday morning cartoon show.  I started to write a theme song for the show, but thank God I stopped.  See, even thinking and writing about the Great Old Ones can cause you to lose Sanity Points.  Be careful out there...

Anyway, today is the first day of the Reader's Choice Challenge.  I knew this was going to be a challenge, and quite the challenge it is!  Daddy Grognard was the one to suggest Call of Cthulhu! as a topic.  Then, The Angry Lurker followed with a request for an explanation of the period. 

Angry Lurker, as far as I can recall, Cthulhu can be in any freaking time period he wants.  ( Is Cthulhu a he? )  Heh... I joke, because I'm not that familiar with the whole Cthulhu Mythos, or more accurately the H.P. Lovecraft Mythos.   I've just started reading H.P. Lovecraft, and I can't recall ever playing the RPG, maybe once, late one night at a local convention.  However, I sure would like to play in a campaign.  It seems really interesting, in a "your character might go insane" sort of way.  A friend used to have the books, and I'm sure I read through some of it, but that was years ago.

Oh, back to the time period question.  The classic era would be the 1920's and 30s.  However, I think I'm fairly spot on, when I say that you can utilise Cthulhu and friends, in any time period, and most genres.  A Cthulhu game set in the Wild West might be interesting, but it could be set in space as well, and in the far flung future.

Here's the wikipedia article on Cthulhu .  Also check out Propnomicon , a blog about props for the Cthulhu Mythos.

Check out Shane Mangus's blog, Swords Against the Outer Dark , he's the one you should have asked about this subject.  My knowledge of things Yog-Sothothery isn't that great.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Sand Elemental, an Idea, and This and That...

Frustrations abound today.  I've been trying to upload pictures to eBay, but I have had no success.  It must either be the lousy bandwidth or this computer. I can upload pictures to blogger with no problems.

Exploring different games on the Internet, I thought of a cool idea, at least to me anyway.  I'm calling it Junk Planet Wars.  It's kind of a hybrid RPG/miniature skirmish rules system.  It has a very specific setting, yeah, a junk planet.  A forgotten world where hundreds of civilizations dump their refuse.  Sometimes that includes sentient beings.  If you have to use an escape pod, and abandon a starship, if this is the nearest planet, you are screwed.  Rescue is just about impossible.  It's kind of like Necromunda, except it's above ground in a giant junk yard.  The rules would encourage scratch building your vehicles, and giant robots to defend your territory.  There's safety in numbers so gangs, factions, and groups form for protection and sharing knowledge.

The photo above is really cool. I thought of a sand elemental when I first saw it. I don't know if there are stats or descriptions of a sand elemental out there, but in my imagination they would be able to take forms like above. Unless they're angry, then I would imagine they turn into whirling vortexes of abrasive death.

It's also how I imagine King Viphtry would look like. Sort of...

Tomorrow I start the Reader's Choice Challenge.  First topic up?  I'm not sure.  You'll find out tomorrow...

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday Night Update

I feel like I've had a fairly productive day, and it's time for a rest.  I need some quiet time to brainstorm about the Reader's Choice Challenge.  I wanted a challenge, and I think that's what I'm getting.  It starts on Monday so if you would like to submit a topic, then you still have time.

The new barter blog and yahoo group I've started will hopefully be useful to some people.  I've decided to open it up to anything having to do with sci-fi/fantasy/horror... nerdy or geeky stuff, i.e. books, posters, prints, publications, toys, models...whatever...

Okay, that's all for now.  Time to get some sleep before I get sucked back into the Internet.

the Scavenger's Depot

Here's a new blog I started, the Scavenger's Depot , and the first post...

I've always liked the concept of bartering so I started this blog as a way to post things I would like to trade for stuff I want. Mainly, things having to do with my gaming hobby, like miniatures, rulebooks, terrain, collectible card games, and the occasional paperback, magazine, or comic book.

If I want to sell something I will use eBay.

I also plan on starting a yahoo group with the same title. Hopefully, I can generate some interest, and get to do some trading. I plan on making a list of want I want to trade for, and the things I have for trade. I hope this works out, but you ever know. All I can do is try.

So if you have some old ( or new ) gaming stuff you would like to trade, follow this blog, and maybe we can work something out.
I'm not sure how well this is going to work, but there's no harm in trying.  I know the Warhammer 40k guys have something called the barter bucket, but my idea is aimed at other gaming stuff.

The Surviving Five

This adventuring party is opened minded about who they let join...

These miniatures are ANCIENT.  I bought them oh... about 30 years ago.  They are the "surviving five" out of the first minis I ever purchased.  I was either a freshman or sophomore in high school.  I never did finish painting them, or even start painting some of them.  The black on the rogue's cloak is enamel!  The balrog is actually painted with acrylics, which was an attempt at painting it a few years later.

I think they are from two different Grenadier boxed sets.   The female at the front is supposed to be a Medusa ( I think... ).  I like the wraith?  ( The floating robes... )Now I wish I had included something to show scale.  The humans are about an inch tall.  Needless to say, I'm keeping these.  I'm going to clean them up, and give painting them another shot.  Oh and these definitely need bases.  The balrog is a bit top heavy, and falls over.

I'm not sure what happened to the other miniatures in the sets.  The monster set had a zombie, wight, skeleton, and a blob?  I think there was a mummy.  I don't remember what was in the other set, which was adventurers.  Well, I do remember there was a dwarf, but that's all I can remember.

These are the Ogre Miniatures ( Steve Jackson Games ) that I'm putting on eBay.  ( I'm trying to fund other gaming purchases. )  I have no interest in this game anymore, and I never had the rules anyway.  I used store credit for these thinking I was going to play the game, but I never did.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fluff Fiction In Game Books? Luv It or Hate It?

It's a fairly simple question.  You either enjoy fluff fiction or not, or maybe you're somewhere in between.  When I say "fluff fiction"  I mean the short stories that writers and game designers put in their games and settings.  I enjoy fluff fiction for the following reasons.  One, it helps me understand the setting a little better.  Two, I really like to read.  Three, good fluff fiction can be inspirational; and it can get me motivated to work on the old sandbox, create NPCs, or stock the ubiquitous mega-dungeon, or even do some writing myself.

The odd thing is, despite being a voracious reader, gamer, and geeky to the max; I've never really gotten into reading the novels featuring gaming worlds.  I've read a couple, but the different Dungeons and Dragons settings weren't all that entertaining to me.  Maybe I just picked the bad ones?  Dunno...  Or perhaps I would rather be playing in the worlds, than reading about them?

Then again I've never really read many of the novels in the Star Trek universe, or Star Wars.  Hhhmm... maybe I'm not as geeky as I thought I was, but I'll hold on to my Geek Card for now.

However, I may give them another shot.  Since I've been exploring the Warhammer 40K universe, I've been thinking about reading the novels.  It seems to be a diverse and rich game setting.  There's even a website/store that covers the GW novels, The Black Library .  There's also a new Star Trek novel that looks intriguing, but I can't remember the name right now.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.  Take care, and if you haven't made a suggestion for my Reader's Choice Challenge!  I encourage you to do so.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Theme-less Thursday

Is having no theme a theme?  Anyway, if you haven't read my post from yesterday, ( I requested ideas for topics for next weeks posts ), why don't you go read it now?  I promise I will wait for you...

Finished?  All right!  You have until sometime on Sunday to leave me a comment with your suggestion for a post.  Go on!  It'll be fun!

Now, let's talk a little about NPC reactions.  With all the discussion in the blogosphere about social interaction, I was trying to refresh my memory about how different systems handle NPC reactions, and  I was flipping through GURPS Third Edition, and found the NPC Reaction Table, ( pages 204-205 ). 

The first paragraph has something very interesting...
When the players meet an NPC whose reaction to them is not predetermined, the GM makes a "reaction roll" on three dice.
So if you've planned ahead, and written the adventure out, you should know how certain NPCs are going to react, and no rules are needed.  If it's some unexpected, random encounter then the chart and modifiers come into play.

I really think social interaction rules shouldn't have to be complicated.  The GURPS NPC reaction modifiers and table are fairly straightforward, and easy to use.  In fact I think it would be possible to use the same table in another game. 

The chart covers these situations: general reaction, potential combat situation, commercial transactions, requests for aid, requests for information, and loyalty.  This covers a lot of ground!

The missing camera has been found, and I have decided to auction off my Ral Partha Ogre miniatures, i.e. the Steve Jackson Games Ogre Game.  Not sure if I'm going to do it as one large lot, or do each one separately.  I couldn't find any of these on eBay, so I'm not sure what the resale market is like.  The nice thing is that I got these with store credit, I had traded in some old gaming modules, many, many years ago at a game store.

Tomorrow's theme will be... ???  Footwear? Fright?  Freaky fuzzballs?  Foolish fighters?

Reader's choice! You pick the topic.

The other day I decided I wanted a challenge,  and this idea popped into my head.  Next week, starting on Monday and continuing through Friday I will pick subjects that you, my esteemed reader, give me.  Then I will write about them to the best of my ability.

There's only one rule, and that is it must be in some way related to gaming.  I also have one request, and that is please be specific as possible.  For example, don't request that I write about weapons, or trolls, or whatever.  Be specific as possible.  Chances are if I don't like the subject I probably won't write about it, but you never know.

So there you have it.  Challenge me.  You have until sometime on Sunday to leave your suggestion in the comment section of this post.  That gives you a couple of days to think of something.  Spread the word!  I have 42 followers, so I hope I can get at least five suggestions.  If I get enough suggestions, I may write them down, and put them in a hat, and draw the five I'm going to write about.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weird Wednesday: the Flesh Spider

The Flesh Spider is a horrific creation of ( depending on the genre of the campaign ) evil sorcerers, mad scientists, or an insane god.  They are rare, and no two look the same.  The only similarities are that the legs look like long multi-jointed fingers that end in long, sharp, ragged claws, and a bulbous flesh colored body with either a humanoid head, which can be very small, or quite large. Sometimes there is just a face on the body.  They really aren't spiders.

They usually aren't very large, maybe the size of a large dog, but larger ones could be created.  The number of legs can vary, but they usually should have at least six legs, but no more than ten legs.  Some have the ability to shoot webs out of their mouths.  Most flesh spiders are poisonous, with a mouth filled with sharp fangs.

The flesh spider isn't that powerful, and the reason for such a creation is unclear.  They can't take much damage, and when and if they do take damage, something unusual happens.

When a flesh spider is encountered it doesn't always attack.  It can taunt whoever it encounters, and sometimes it will say something about a character it shouldn't know about.  It may also spout gibberish, wail, or mutter.  Use your imagination.

A flesh spider is immune to sleep and charm spells.  It cannot be controlled with magic.

Alchemists and magic users will pay a very good sum of gold for an alive and intact flesh spider.  It's various glands and ichor are useful in many alchemical preparations, and as spell components.  However, as many alchemists have discovered, dissecting a flesh spider is a very tricky procedure.

Once a flesh spider takes over half it's hit points, roll on the following table, or make your own table; to determine what happens.       

1. Sticky fluid starts spewing out the wounds, and could trap characters to durable surfaces like stone floors, etc.  Clothing is ruined, and it's very difficult to clean off of armor, and weapons.  It's very stinky.

2. The wounds begin oozing a very strong acid.

3. The flesh spider turns inside out, and grows into a much larger, fleshy blob   with tentacles.

4. Thousands of small spiders start pouring out of the wounds, and attack.

5. A red gas starts spewing out of the wounds until the spider is dead. All the red gas does is make who ever comes in contact with it itchy. If the gas is inhaled the character develops a cough for a few days.

6. The flesh spider explodes and a minor demon appears. 
I left out game specific stats, so the GM/DM/Storyteller can customise them to suit their campaign.  I hope it's creepy, weird, and chaotic enough.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Terrific Terrain Resources on Tuesday

Everybody has a different style of gaming when it comes to role playing games.  Some people use miniatures, other's don't; preferring a more narrative approach when it comes to combat.  Of course this can have it's problems, and that's why I like the idea of a 3d table top.  Battlemats are great, but if there is a model of the dungeon on the gaming table, then there really is no room for confusion.  Some GMs go so far as to furnish the dungeons with models of furniture, treasure, basically, whatever is in the dungeon is going to be represented.  The whole idea is "what you see is what you get".

Of course, this is par for the course when it comes to war gaming with miniatures.  Scale modeled terrain is a big part of it, and there are plenty of websites that have tutorials, tips, and tricks for making your own terrain.

Terragenesis is a great forum for people interested in creating their own terrain!

Wow,  this one is good also... Terrainthralls .

Skankgame has some great advice and tutorials on building terrain.  Also make sure you check out Zombie town .  Zombie town is not a nice place to visit, and you really don't want to live there.  In fact drive through as fast as you can!

Combat Zone Chronicles has some great terrain building tips as well!  Check this page out!  Apparently Combat Zone is a game as well, but I've never heard of it until I found the website.

I may have already mentioned Abaroth's World , but it's so good it deserves to be spotlighted again.

There is so many good websites, blogs, forums for making this stuff I don't think I could list them all.  If you're interested you should also check out the model building resources, scale model railroading, and yes, doll house miniatures.

It's probably a good thing I don't have much room, because I might try to build an entire scale model of a fantasy city!


While it wasn't really a goal, I had hoped to hit 40 followers before the end of the year.  Well, I now have 41 followers!  Woot!  Hello Chuck and  N++ (Dave I believe... ).  Only nine more followers to reach 50.

Later today I'll be posting something about terrain.  It's mainly some links to some good blogs and websites with terrain creating content and inspiration.  I really like the WYSIWYG concept.  There's something about a 3d game table with props, dressings, or whatever term you want to use that makes everything pop!

I finally defeated the Chaos Christmas Lights.  They now obey my every whim, or at least they stay on, and don't blow their little fuses.  I win!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Role Playing, Social Interaction, and Charisma

I tried my best to stay out of this discussion.  I really did, but I realised I had a valid opinion to state, and it is just that, an opinion.  Hopefully, I can state my opinion as briefly as possible.  I won't bother linking to any other parts of the discussion, because if you are interested you probably have already read them...

Some people think that there should be no social interaction rules in RPGs, especially "old school fantasy", and that it should be covered by role playing. Others believe that such rules would be beneficial, especially for the less talented role players.  My opinion is that it should probably be a mix of both schools of thought.

For example, if a PC comes up to a guard in a castle, and wants to get into a private or restricted area, the discussion might go something like this...

Player: "I want to make a charisma roll to get by the guard."

GM: "Uummm... what are you saying?"

Player: "Can't I just roll?"

GM: "Fine...roll." 

As I GM I would penalise the player for not even trying.  It is called a role playing game after all, and not roll playing.   It isn't a board game.  Of course I would make exceptions for a new player, but I would explain the benefits of trying to role play the interaction.

Here's another example...

Player:  "Hello there guard!  Say, what's your name?  Have we met before?  Did you know that I'm here on business for King Viphtry?  I really need to see the King's civic advisor, and someone told me he was in the library..."

GM (Guard):  "I don't believe we've met..."  The guard eyes you warily.  The GM rolls to see how the guard reacts, with various pluses and minuses.  The good role playing could net the player a nice bonus, but there might be minuses due to the guard being suspicious of most strangers in the castle.  It's his job after all.

Another thing a dice roll does is add a bit of variability to the situation.  You could be the best role player in the world, and the character could have a high charisma, but maybe the guard is in a lousy mood, and doesn't care if the character is smooth talking, attractive, and gregarious.  The dice roll covers variables that the GM can't come up with before hand.

Now, not every situation should require role playing, I believe it depends on the importance of the situation.  If it's a major plot point in a campaign then some role playing should be necessary.  If a PC is trying to convince a King that the adventuring party should be allowed to operate in his kingdom, it's going to take some role playing, and not merely a dice roll.  In this instance, both would be just as important, but, if the role playing was excellent, then I might decide no dice roll was necessary.

So there you go, my thoughts on the subject.

Musing About Mini's On Monday

Since I've been contemplating getting into skirmish miniatures and war gaming again, I've been trying to decide what scale I wanted to get into.  15mm or 25mm?  Then I thought about it, and realized I just wasn't that familiar with all the different scales.  Some research was needed, and I found The Miniatures Page , it's chocked full of useful resources.

The Wikipedia page on miniatures had some information on scale, but I think I'm just as confused as I was when I started.  There doesn't seem to be an industry standard, and some companies measure the miniature from the bottom of the foot to level with the eyes, and others from the bottom of the foot to the top of the head.  I think all my research has lead me to the conclusion that I need to do more research, or maybe just deal with some discrepancy in scale in miniatures from different companies.

Check out Frozen Chaos , the miniatures are awesome.  This website has tons of visual inspiration for those interested in creating dungeon dressing. I really like the WYSIWYG concept.

I've actually found some of my old miniatures.  There's some old Epic Space Marine vehicles, some blister packs of WH40K Orks, and a couple with just weapons, and a bunch of RAFM Ogre miniatures for the Steve Jackson Game, even a blister pack of some Micro Armor tanks, and other assorted painted and unpainted miniatures.  I also found some resin terrain pieces, some small bricks and barrels and skulls. Oh my!  The camera seems to be misplaced otherwise I would have a few pics.  Oh well...

I haven't decided what I'm going to do with them, but I may put the Ogre minis and maybe the orks on eBay to help fund other purchases.

Oh, and how could I forget the Mage Knight mini's?  My brother was really into that, much more so than me, and he must have had hundreds.   If not close to over a thousand.  He dropped most of them off when he moved.  A mini for every occasion.  I should ask him if I can re-base some of the commons.  I could stage quite an epic battle...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Chaos Christmas Lights Are Mocking Me!

Today's post will be a bit short.  My brain needs a bit of a wee rest, and the Chaos Christmas Lights are mocking me.  I spent most of yesterday afternoon putting the lights on the roof.  Once they were up, I checked to see if they still all worked, yup they did!  For all of maybe five minutes; then all the strings went out.  Bummer...

This week every day will have a theme, a game related theme of course.  I know it's not a new idea in the blogging world, but I haven't used it yet.  I've already started on a couple of the posts so I won't be rushing at the last minute trying to write something coherent.

On Monday I will cover miniatures, Tuesday will be about terrain, and Wednesday will be...WACKY.  The themes for the rest of the week are still undecided.

On a good note, I seem to be on track to getting a post written for every day this month.  Plus, I'm only one short of 40 Followers.  never thought I would have one much less 39.

Now, I have to get back on the roof.  The Chaos Christmas Lights must be destroyed, erm... I mean fixed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Attracting New People to Gaming?

In yesterday's post I wondered about how people who've never played a RPG before, or any of the other games for that matter; could get some good information on how to start, and if there were any such resources.  The comments were good and I would like to address a couple of them...

Greg Christopher said...
I actually think the only way the hobby will survive long term is to have more GMs. Adding new players is treating symptoms, not the cause, IMHO.
I have a blog post that is percolating to the top on this subject as I wrap up Errant and start thinking about my projects as a whole.
I should have been more clear.  When I mentioned new players, I actually meant "players" in a generic way, as in people involved in the gaming hobby.  Sure some might always stay players, but eventually some will become GMs as well.  The only thing I would add is that there needs to be more GOOD GMs.  Nothing drives off a newbie player faster than a lousy GM.  I think all potential GMs should play a few games before trying to run games, but that's just me.  Some people make great GMs, but lousy players, and some people would make lousy GMs, but are great players.  It's up to the person to find their niche.

I will try to clarify a bit about what I was trying to say in my last post.  Imagine you are someone who has never played a RPG before, and are interested in playing.  None of your friends play, so you head to the bookstore, and find the RPG books.  Hhhhhmmm... which one to buy?  WotC has tons of books out, and the bookstores are going to try and sell backstock of the "old 4E" books.  There's also the new stuff out.  As well as books by other publsihers.  Pathfinder, World of Darkness, all big, thick, expensive books.  What to buy?  It can be overwhelming, and confusing if you don't know anything about the games.  Plus it can be expensive, and people are likely to give up rather than spend money on something they might not need.

I just feel that there should be some sort of online resource for people new to the hobby.  It should give them advice about how to get started, if they actually need to buy anything to get started, and tips for finding a gaming group.  I feel that you should try something out before you spend a ton of money on something you might not enjoy.

Trey said...
Good idea. Though a do wonder what the longevity of that sort of approach might be. GM-types want various sorts of "inside baseball" discussion that blogs are good for. How much of that do players need? Even if it was totally a "how-to" thing new players would learn that and move on. I don't know how steady a stream of new folks there are to a rather niche hobby.
Yeah, it's all about learn what you need to know and then move on to more meaty subject matters.  I think a blog or blogs for new players would be a good thing.  I think new players should get a good start in the hobby rather than stumble and fall, and then give up.

I think many hobbies are "niche" hobbies, but RPGs, etc. are more intimidating to someone unfamiliar with the idea of role playing as recreation.

I would think that people would want new people in the hobby.  Some people leave, take breaks, etc, and I think a steady stream of new players would be a good thing.  How to accomplish that?  Pffffttt... I dunno, but I'm putting on my thinking helmet, and adjusting the frequency.  *bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt*  Ouch, I need a fuse I think...

Anyway, I plan on doing some more thinking on the subject, because I NEED a gaming group.  At one point I was involved in at least three different groups.  All enjoyed different types of games, and it was great to have so many choices.  Man, those were the days.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Building Up the Hobby

I follow quite a few blogs.  Especially ones that discuss the many aspects of role playing games.  There is one thing that I noticed, and that ( at least to my knowledge ) there are very few aimed at educating people new to the hobby; if any at all.  I'm mainly talking about RPGs.  Most of the blogs seemed to be aimed at people who've been playing a while.  Am I wrong?

Wouldn't it help our hobby if there were blogs for newbies?  The Warhammer 40K blogging crowd seem to be great at wanting to help new players.  I've read several blogs where they welcome questions from their readers.  Loquacious on her blog, World of Wonder is creating a resource for beginning 40K players.  Once it's finished it should be excellent.  She saw a real need for such a resource, and in taking the initiative to help others she's also helping herself. Is there something similar for RPGs?  If there is, I haven't found it.

At the start of the new year, I plan on trying to contact some local gamers, and find a venue to meet at.  I've got a fairly good idea for a location, but not sure it's going to work out.  I also want to be able to recruit some beginning players.  Not sure HOW I'm going to do that.  That's going to take a bit of brainstorming.  If I do find some new players I want to be able to tell them about some resources to help them get started in this hobby, and I'm not talking about D&D for Dummies.

Game Store Report

I was looking at the Games Workshop website, and I found the store locator.  I decided to see what it showed, and this was the result...
These are the stores within 50 miles of my location.  The one store in Irving is no longer there, so I don't know how up to date the list is.  I'm sure the stores request to be put on the list, but when they go out of business I imagine contacting GW is not high on their priority; which I can understand.  I counted 25 independent stores, 3 GW stores.  I didn't count the store I know is closed.

I guess there are no gaming clubs for GW games in this area.  I'm not even sure there is still a GW store in Grapevine Mills Mall, because I haven't been in a while.  I need to check that out soon.  I was also surprised to discover there were two other GW stores so close.  Well, Denton isn't that close, but I'm still surprised there's one there.

I actually can't remember when the last time I was in a comic book or gaming store.   I think it's been over eight years, or maybe even longer.

The nice thing about the store locator is that it shows the independent retailers, and if you're looking for a FLGS it certainly might be of some use.

Hello And Goodbye Thursday, At Least Until Next Week

Today is almost over.  ( At least technically... )  I'm struggling to write a coherent blog post.  I'm kind of proud of the one I wrote yesterday, so if I whiff this one it won't bother me much.  I probably wouldn't even have attempted to write one tonight if I hadn't set the goal to write a blog post every day in December.  Yes, that includes Christmas Day as well.

Also, if I do manage to write a post for every day in December then I would be about four posts short of hitting 100.  So I'm going to try and hit that mark as well.  I also have 38 followers now, and it would be nice to hit 40 followers.  100 posts and 40 followers, two nice numbers to end the year with.

I've got some ideas for posts brewing in my brain.  Some are a little weird, like a long discourse on iron spikes, and some more relevant and hopefully more useful for gaming, like an article about traps.  I will also have more information about developing  creativity.  Of course all this could change, and I have deleted several posts that I thought were rubbish.

Every so often I check my blog stats, and under keywords someone was refered to my blog by "passenger side mirror"?!?!?!  My confusion at this is overwhelming.  I think dark forces are at work.

I'm currently reading Monster Hunter Vendetta, and it is GOOD.  It would make a great setting for a campaign.  The first book in the series is Monster Hunter International.  In fact, this may make the number one spot of campaigns I want to GM.

I'm kind of tired, so I will close with this.  If you've read this far, I congratulate you.  You deserve a prize.  No really, if I had  prizes to give out I would.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Creative Compentencies

I was a little worried today.  I've been struggling to come up with a good topic for the ole' blog.  I wasn't feeling creative.  The well was a dry so to speak, and then I had an ah ha moment.  I decided to discuss creativity.  Some people say you're either born creative, or your not.  I disagree.  I think creativity is a skill and just like any other skill it can be developed.

A couple of years ago I read an article in Scientific American Mind about creativity.  It was titled, "Let Your Creativity Soar".  If you can find a copy I urge you to give it a read.  It discusses creative competencies you can develop, and will in turn help you be more creative.

The competencies, or proficiencies, it discusses are as follows, capturing, challenging, broadening, and surrounding.

Capturing:  Preserving new ideas as the occur to you and doing so without judging them.*

To accomplish this you always should have a small notebook, and a writing implement with you.  You could also use a small voice recorder, or in some cases your camera.  You never know when a great, new idea for your next game session is going to occur to you, and if you don't write it down, you might not remember it later.  Come on now!  Everyone knows this happens to them at some point or another.Remember don't judge the idea either.  Record the idea first, and evaluate later.

Leonardo da Vinci was a habitual record keeper.  His notebooks comprise about 13,000 pages of drawings and notes.

I usually keep a word processor window open when I'm working on the computer, so if I think of something I can switch over, and record it.  If you do this, don't get complacent like I did.  Back up your work, not once, but twice.  I believe three times is best.  And to be really safe, one copy should be off site.

Challenging:  This is giving yourself tough problems to solve. In tough situations, multiple behaviors compete with one another, and their interconnections create new behaviors and ideas.*

This came up tonight when I couldn't think up a blog topic.  Because I challenged myself at the beginning of December to write a post every single day of the month I knew I had to challenge myself to write the post.  So I just started writing, and then came up with the idea for this post.

An interesting thing to note is that, although Leonardo da Vinci was a great painter only about 15 of his paintings survive.  This is due in part because he was always experimenting with new techniques, sometimes with disastrous results.  If this isn't challenging yourself I don't know what is.

Broadening:  The more diverse your knowledge, the more interesting the interconnections - so you can boost creativity by learning interesting new things.*  Remember diversified knowledge can be very synergistic.

If your main hobby is gaming, maybe it's in one particular genre or style.  If you primarily play fantasy RPGs, then maybe you should try some science fiction role playing.  Even better yet, try something completely different.  Head down to the local science museum, ( don't forget your notebook or even your camera! ) and just enjoy browsing the exhibits.  You never now when looking at something will spark an idea.  I like to think this how the idea for the movie "Night At The Museum" came about.  I can imagine the writer thinking, "Hhhmmm... wouldn't it be cool if everything came to life at night, here at the museum?"

Leonardo da Vinci is a great example of "broadening" one's self.  Some consider him the archetype of the Renaissance Man.  He had an interest in many arts and sciences, and could be considered the most diversely talented man to ever have lived.

Surrounding:  The more interesting and diverse the things and people around you are, the more interesting your ideas become.*

I'm something of a habitual collector.  I'm not quite a hoarder, but I have to be careful.  My shelves have lots of weird nick knacks on them.  One in particular is a toy crocodile with it's jaws open.  In the jaws I placed a rubber eyeball.  Heh... it makes me laugh every time I look at it, and you never know, one day it might spark an idea.

Yeah, da Vinci did this also.

A few more things about developing your creativity.  One, do not fear rejection, and don't let criticism stop you from expressing your ideas.  Also, do not fear the blank page, or blank computer screen as the case may be...  This was advice given to me by an artist at a convention years ago, and it's really good advice.  Mistakes aren't the end of the world.  Learn from them, and move on.

I give a workshop at a local con about publishing/creating mini-comics.  Whoever wants to draw a page is welcome to create.  At the start I always give the the one rule, and that is that there are no rules in this workshop.  Draw the way you want to draw.  This should be the same with the gaming hobby.  You want to write a module, who says it has to be in a dungeon, or castle, cave, sewer, or whatever?  Break the rules.  Make your adventure in a giant tree house, or in an Escher style dungeon.  Hhhhhmmm... that may have been done before.  Well, you get the idea.

One of the things I do is not limit myself to just the geeky forms of entertainment.  I read all kinds of books, and watch all kinds of movies.  Yes, I really enjoy science fiction, fantasy, and horror, but there are a lot of great movies and books you could enjoy.  If you haven't read the book, or watched the movie of "To Kill A Mockingbird"  I highly recommend both.  Will it help with your gaming?  Either as a player, game master, or designer?  Who knows?  You might be surprised.

*Scientific American Mind, June/July 2008. "Let Your Creativity Soar", Pp 24-31

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Escaping the Concept of Escapism

Over on The Githyanki Diaspora there's a brief discussion on gaming as escapism, and since I don't have anything else better to blog about; I thought I would give you my thoughts on the subject.  Now, when I say gaming I use I mean any form of gaming from role playing, wargaming, or even boardgames.  I use it in kind of a generic way I guess.

Merriam Webster defines escapism : habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.

The way I see it, role playing isn't a purely imaginary activity.  Yes, it requires imagination, but it usually requires other people.  If it was purely imaginary then you could sit in your room, with the gaming books, dice, miniatures, or other people and imagine that your someone else to your hearts content.  You could, if you wanted, always succeed, always prevail, you could be the Eternal Hero or Heroine.  You could do that, and call it role playing, but is it really role playing?

Of course the definition also says it's a habitual diversion of the mind, and I don't know many gamers who game all the time.  It would be nice, but it would probably get boring after a while.  Maybe some people think about it a lot, but don't other people think about their recreational activities in the same way? 

I don't even consider it an escape from reality.  Maybe to some small extent an escape from routine, but that's about as far as I would go.

I don't consider any aspect of the gaming hobby as a form of escapism. Maybe that's how it is for some people, but not me.  At the very least, it's more of a temporary reprieve from normal life. A chance to kick back, and have fun.  A time to exercise your imagination, and interact with other people.  Is that escapism?  I think not...

Is gaming really any different from other activities people engage in for recreation?  Zoning out in front of the television seems to be more of a form of escapism than gaming.  Going to a bar, and drinking, seems to be more of a form of escapism than gaming.  Reading a book is a form of escapism.  I find gaming to be anything but escapism.

Gaming, for the most part, is a very active form of recreation.  You have to THINK, you have to be creative, well maybe you don't have to be creative, but it helps.  You're more involved with other people, and in a way that's probably much different than many social activities.  There are many hobbies, but I don't think many hold a candle to the gaming hobby.

How many of you out there consider gaming to be escapism?

Monday, December 6, 2010


Wow, this guy has a funky helmet.

Aftermath!  This was probably the second post-apocalyptic game published. ( However, I could be wrong, I'm not much of a game historian. )  It was released in 1981 by FGU.   The game and and the adventures are available at, and they are all reasonably priced.  However, I would prefer a hard copy, and plan on keeping an eye out on eBay.  It's probably going to be a tough one to find, for a reasonable price.

I'm not sure what got me to thinking about this game.  I had long since forgotten about it.  I think the shocks I received earlier today must have reactivated some long disused brain cells or something.  Anyway, I started thinking about it, and was wondering if it was really a game, or if I was just imagining it.  I decided to check the wonderful Internet for any information I could find about the game.

I was delighted to discover it wasn't a figment of my warped imagination, and did actually exist.  In fact, according to some comments about it on Pen & Paper, people still play and enjoy the game.  I have a vague, misty memory of having played it, and now that I think about it more; I'm sure a friend of mine owned it.  Now I have another game to acquire.  The list keeps getting longer...

Monday... Monday...

It's Monday, and I have no motivation at all.  Hopefully trying to get this post written will jump start me.  Good grief it's already after 2 PM. 

Now it's almost 8 hours later!  I had to stop and make veggie soup, and then I had to tackle the most horrific job this time of year.  I would rather face a horde of zombies than do this task.  I had to untangle the strings of Christmas lights, and test them.  Then take out broken bulbs, and generally curse about how Christmas is really too much trouble.  I even managed to shock myself.  I laughed, and then I did it again.  Oh well...  Now that I think about it, the past couple of weeks I've managed to shock myself a number of times.  One was a really good jolt!  Heh... maybe I'm a Promethean.

Over at Beyond the  Black Gate , Al has some charts for PC Events that occur between adventures.  Interesting idea, and you could even use them as plot hooks.

The next blog I want to highlight is not a gaming blog, but it might have some information that would be useful, or at least inspirational to gamers, and game designers and writers.  It's Beachcombing's Bizzare History Blog, and this post has some information about an interesting mythogical creature.  Check it out.

Before I go I have a quick question.  Anyone remember an RPG called Aftermath! ?  I'm about to do a quick Internet search, but I thought I would throw it out to my readers.

A Dragon Versus Soldiers With Firearms

It's been a lazy Sunday, with plenty of naps between blog reading sessions.  I also finished watching another Republic Serial, "Zorro's Fighting Legion".  It wasn't as good as the first one I watched, "Zorro Rides Again", but it was okay, even if the plot was a little wonky.

The other day Christian mentioned on a blog post about something called "gun nibble", and asked about lethal gun combat in game systems.  I replied that I thought Rolemaster's Weapon Law: Firearms could be very lethal.  This in turn reminded me about something I've been wanting to try.

I want to run a one shot with a Special Ops team going up against some fantasy elements.  The main antagonist would be a dragon.  The dragon would have some orc henchman, plus one or two surprises.  I mainly want to see how the rules work, and if firearms could take out a dragon, before the dragon takes out the special ops soldiers.

The mission involves the special op team having to recover a piece of equipment, a trans-dimensional sensor probe.  A top secret government scientific group sent the probe into another dimension to gather data.  It was moved underground, and the signal is no longer being received.  The team has to be sent to the dimension to recover the device.  The only data they have is some grainy video of something very large and reptile like moving by the camera.  After that the signal is lost.  The team plans on going in armed to the teeth.

So it's going to be a highly trained special ops team versus a dragon, orcs, magic, and ?.  Who would win?  The first time I try this I want to use the Rolemaster Standard System.  Then I might try it with other systems to see how they compare.  It should be fun.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Horror Classics

Since I've become interested in the World of Darkness RPG, especially Promethean: the Created; I suddenly realized that I've never read Mary Shelley's book, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus.  Whoah! Stop the presses...  How could I have not read that book?  Well, upon reflection I was always more of a science fiction and fantasy reader, and really not interested in horror.

Frankenstein should have taken a course in cosmetic surgery.

Yes, yes, I've seen most of the Frankenstein movies, even the stupid ones.  I've also read some of Dean Koontz's books about Frankenstein's monster in the modern day.  ( Victor Frankenstein is really EVIL in the Koontz books. )  I need to reread those books again.  I think there was a movie made from the first book, not exactly sure...

Anyway, I also realized I had never read Dracula either!  Nor the Anne Rice books, and probably never will.  I definitely will not read the Twilight, sparkly vampires junk. Blech.... patooiu!  Hey, if you like those books and movies that's cool; it's just not my cup of tea.  Then I began to wonder what other horror classics there are that I never read? 

I'm currently reading The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Loveraft, and for some reason I find it cumbersome to read.  I mean I like it, but I can only go a few pages before I have to set it down.

As far as what I like to read, to sum it up quickly, I will read almost anything, old or new, fiction or nonfiction.  I read quite a bit, and can burn though a medium sized novel in an evening.  But I digress...

Anyway, I need to do some research, and discover what other horror classics I've missed.  My 'to do' list keep getting longer.  The year 2011 is going to be a busy one for me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Dragonry? A Brief Editorial Comment, and Zorro Rides Again!

The caption reads, 'HIGH STREET DRAGONRY OPENDAY 19 AUGUST 1929'.  My question is... what the heck do they sell???  I've been trying to find out, doing a bit of Internet research, but I have had no luck.  It's really frustrating me...  Anyone out there in the blogosphere know?

Yeah, sure I could use my imagination, and come up with all sorts of cool, weird, or even logical reasons for this stores existence, but before I do that... I want to know what they really sold.

A Brief Editorial Comment
I've noticed that quite a few bloggers are discussing social interaction rules, and is has something to do with making D&D more like Dogs In the Vineyard?  Meh... I haven't been following that closely, and really don't want to take the time.  What I want to say is that, play the way you want to play, and if you and your players are happy and having fun then WOOT!  All is good.

Yes, discussing rules can be helpful, and the back and forth in the blogs can be very synergistic, and it can really help to get someone else's opinions.  Just remember that in the end it's about you, and your players.  Not someone that runs games in a another state, or half way around the world.  If some blogger posts about something you've written, and says it's wrong and their rules are right, I laugh at them.  In a nutshell, play, design, hack, rewrite, mutate rules, games, and campaigns to your hearts content, other bloggers can have their opinions, but in the end it doesn't matter.  To reiterate, if you're having fun , and your players are having fun, then be happy.

I've been watching Zorro Rides Again, the Republic Serial.  It's better than I thought it would be.  I expected it to be about a swashbuckling Zorro, but this is a great grandson of the original Zorro, and while he still uses a whip, he also has six-shooters.  It's almost like Zorro in the wild west, but there are also cars and planes, but mostly they ride horses.  One great part is where the bad guys use a plane to try and bomb a plane. They fail, and Zorro gets off a good shot with a rifle, and the train robbery is thwarted.

I did notice in the eight chapters I've watched that they reuse footage quite a bit.  Yeah, a money saving technique that movie making in early Hollywood favored.  ( Anyone else remember the African native in the Tarzan movies?  The one that fell of a cliff, the SAME cliff in every movie, at least that I can remember... )  There are also quite a few explosions.

I guess Zorro has some sort of a partial Code Against Killing.  He had several chances to get rid of the bad guy, but he always let him go, or the guy makes his escape.  It sure would save him a lot of trouble if he would just freaking off El Lobo.  ( Not the most original villain name, but hey, it was 1937. ) I mean this gang is ruthless, they even killed a kid!  Zorro should take the kid gloves off, this gang is slaughtering people right and left.  Anyway, I am enjoying it, and there's some clever writing.  Yeah, I was surprised.

Zorro Rides Again got me to thinking about a different Zorro.  A descendant that lives a few hundred years in the future, and decides he needs to fight the corruption on a frontier planet.  What sort of weapons would he use?  Some kind of force saber?  A Neural Whip?  Does he have cybernetic implants?  It might make an interesting campaign. even if it's just a short one.

Okay, enough for tonight.  So far I'm keeping up with the whole 'post every day in December' thing.  I hope everyone has a great weekend.