Friday, December 30, 2011

The End of the Year As We Know It...

Well, there's only two days left, give or take a couple of hours I guess, before this year is over, and in a way I'm glad.  It's been a rough year, and I'm more than ready for the new one.  It's funny how we think in terms of the calender designating the passage of time.

I've really gone off the tracks when it comes to post topics these past couple of weeks, but next year I'll get back on track.  As part of the plan I've done a bit of brainstorming, and made copious notes for blog topics.  Also, the character's in Kinship have been screaming at me to let them out.  I want to continue the last story I posted, and continue on with others.

I believe I mentioned in a previous post that I started yet another blog, and it's called: The Mayhem of Miniatures.  It's more of a place to track things, a project log of sorts.  A way to quantify what I get accomplished in the realm of miniatures.

I finally acquired the AD&D 1st Edition Player's Handbook.  It's one of the orange spine editions, but I don't care.  I wanted the material inside, the cover didn't matter to me.  I received it in trade for some Mage Knight miniatures.  I'm considering writing something I can run at one of the local conventions, but it's been years since I've run 1st edition!

I was hoping to hit the 200 post mark before the end of the year, but that's probably not going to happen.  Oh well, next year for sure.  Of course I haven't made any New Year's Resolutions yet, and probably won't make any at all.  Goals are something else entirely, and I need to come up with some.  One of them will be to get some gaming accomplished...

So it's the end of the year as we know it, and I feel fine.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Area 51

I finally made it to Area 51, and managed to infiltrate the facility.  I accomplished this task with the help of my brother.  Of course you may be thinking that I'm talking about the secret military base in Nevada.  Nope.  Area 51 is a gaming store in Grapevine, Texas.  It's full name is Area 51 Gaming & Collectibles.

Here is their website.  Overall, it's a nice, clean, and ORGANIZED store.

Area 51 is primarily a gaming store, but they also carry a nice selection of comics. I didn't notice any back issues, and I don't think they carry them.  Since it was two days after Christmas the store was a bit picked over, but honestly I wouldn't have known if the owner ( I guess it was the owner ), didn't mention that fact.  They carry mainly Warmachine, Flames of War, and Warhammer 40K.  They also had some DUST.  There were a couple of other miniature games, but nothing I am interested in, so I don't remember what they were.  One was Dystopian something or other...  The role-playing games section was kind of small, and all I saw was the beginner box for Pathfinder, ( of course there may have been other stuff ), and some of the new minis, which look awesome.  I will be buying some of those.  But to tell you the truth I was there mainly to check out the miniature gaming selections.  They had some HeroClix as well, and I was coveting the Watchmen set.

Of course, if they don't have what you want in stock, they will order for you.

The best thing about Area 51 is their gaming area.  I didn't measure it, but as a guess, I would say 50% or maybe more of the square footage is devoted to gaming tables.  They have tables for CCGs, and bigger, sturdier tables for war-gaming.  It's awesome.  It boasts of having the largest gaming area available in the DFW area, and there is no charge to use.  I think this is probably true, but I'm sure the other gaming stores might look at me funny if I go in and start measuring their gaming areas.

They also have lots and lots of tournaments and events.  Check out their website for more info on that.  All in all, if you're a gamer, and you're in the area ( heh ), check out Area 51 Gaming & Collectibles.  I'll will be visiting the store again.  On a scale of one to four stars, I would give it 3 and a half stars.

If you visit the store, tell them Zanazaz of Have Dice ~ Will Travel, sent you...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Skyrim = Frustration

The only gaming related gift I received for Christmas was Skyrim, which is all I really wanted anyway.  So once I got home, I decided to install it, so I could play for a couple of hours, or maybe six...  This is where the frustration begins, because to install the stupid game you have to have a Steam account.  So I registered for the account, and tried to log in, but it wouldn't let me log in.  I could enter the password, but nothing happened. The log in screen did nothing, and I got the "Steam is not responding", message.  UGH!

I know ( despite some problems ) that  I managed to create the Steam account.  I just can't log in!!!  And if I can't log in, I can't install the game!  If I can't install the game, I CAN'T PLAY THE GAME!!!  Frustrating...

I'm really disappointed in Bethesda Softworks.  Why couldn't Skyrim be like all the previous releases, and be installed just from the freaking disk???  Why create so many problems?  I've had no luck finding a solution to this problem online, but I have sent a query to Steam Support.  Hopefully, they can help with this problem.

Of course while I tried searching for a solution to the problem...
Aside from that, it was a good Christmas, albeit a bit subdued.  The day was spent with my mom, brother, and his girlfriend, and a friend of hers that's been staying with them.  After dinner and gifts, we watched Sherlock Holmes.  Of course my brother and I were slightly disappointed he didn't get Zombieland from his gf.  Her opinion was that it was a stupid movie.  I said, "It's not a movie, it's a training film..."  She just kind of rolled her eyes, and shook her head.  My brother agreed with me, and said it would help him defend her from zombies.  I tried to tell her about how the Soviets had created bioweapons that could turn people into "violent zombies", but she wasn't buying our arguments.

I hope everyone had a great holiday.  I really wanted to post about my first experiences playing Skyrim, but that just didn't work out.  Hopefully, I can eventually get the game installed.  Until then... I'm going to be in a bad mood.  Gggrrrrr.... aaarrrggghhhh...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blogomania & Other Stuff... AKA Late Night, Lack of Sleep Rambling

It's almost 5 AM, and I haven't had any sleep.  I tried, but it just wasn't happening.  So I started a new blog, and posted on a couple more I've been lazy about updating.  One blog I hadn't updated in over a year, so I decided I needed to check the viability of the links.  I really hate dead links.  Thankfully, all the links were still good! Hopefully, before the end of the year I can check the links here on HDWT.
Since I couldn't sleep, I've also been brainstorming ideas for blog posts.  I've jotted down quite a few ideas for HDWT.  I really think it might help to be a bit more organized.  My plan for next year is to be more frequent with my posts.   One idea I've been pondering is monthly themes.  Not sure how that would work out, but you never know.

So this makes blog post number four for the night.  ( On four different blogs. ) Insomnia seems to help my productivity!

I've got a trade pending for a copy of the AD&D Player's Handbook 1st Edition.  Of course tonight I realized I need a DM's screen for 1E!  Well, I may just make my own.  I've made nice progress on replacing gaming books this year.  I also need to be a bit more organized about my collecting.  Prioritize things, decide what I want/need; instead of buying willy nilly.  I actually haven't bought that much this year; most of my acquisitions have been through trades.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday.  Merry Christmas!  ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tis the Season...

Actually, a low key Christmas this year.  Not much in the way of festivities, no decorations up, no tree, no lights.  It's the first Christmas without my sister, and it's kind of depressing.  All in all, I'll be glad when it's over.

However, I'm looking forward to next year.  I've got a few ideas I want to work on, but I won't be commenting on them yet, because that seems to be the "kiss of death"  I'm also looking forward to All-Con, and running my workshop again.  I also plan on attending the local gaming conventions, and maybe even running something.

I know I haven't posted much lately, not due to lack of ideas, but rather,  I just didn't feel up to it.  That and I've been trying to sell some things on ebay.  Not much luck on that front.  So I'm putting the auctions on hold until after the first of the year.

On the book front, I'm still trying to get a copy of the AD&D Players Handbook.  It's the last of the original three core AD&D 1st editions I need to replace.  After that I work on acquiring the rest of the Rolemaster books.

Gaming, gaming, gaming.  I wish I could get some gaming done.  Hopefully, that will change next year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

300 or FTMB's

I've been doing my usual, "I'm bored, so I think I'll read blogs thing", and I found one I wanted to add to my blog roll.  Whelp, I discovered I had hit the "blog following ceiling".  Luckily I keep a spreadsheet with URLs I might want to visit again, so I just added it to that.  However, I started thinking about it, and due to my sometimes obsessive need to quantify things I realized 300 blogs is a lot of blogs to follow.  So I started doing the math...

Let's say for some odd reason, every single blog I follow has a new post in one, single day.  Now lets say it takes a minimum of five minutes per blog.  ( This is just an example, because I can scan a blog in a couple of minutes, but with a slow bandwidth sometimes it takes longer to load than five minutes! ) At 300 blogs, that's 1500 minutes.  Now considering there is only 1440 minutes in a single day, if every blog is updated then I can't spend five minutes per blog, because there's not enough time in the day.  I still have to eat, sleep, etc. ( Yes, sometimes I eat dinner and read blogs. Multitasking is good! )

Yes, I know not every blog is updated every day, but sometimes I spend a lot longer than five minutes per blog.  I try to skip the posts that I'm not interested in, but sometimes even those have something interesting.  It's quite the dilemma.  Following a lot of blogs can eat up a lot of time.  I think I need to be a bit more selective.  And then there's the forums, and writing posts for my blogs.  I need more time in the day...

So I think I may have to do a bit of a blog weeding.   FYI, "FTMB's" stands for: Following Too Many Blogs.  Yes, I like acronyms.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dungeon Mechanics

It was around 1 AM, and I couldn't sleep anymore.  I was just tossing and turning.  Trying to sleep was pointless, so I got up and went into the kitchen for a drink.  Groggy from a lack of sleep, I found myself looking at an old issue of Popular Mechanics magazine.  It was the September 1981 issue to be exact, and an idea began to form...
©2011 Frank Anderson, Jr.
Click to enlarge as usual.  The art is in the public domain, and it's easily found with an Internet search.  I could have colorized it, but I was more interested in creating the mock up of the cover.  The cover took me a little over two hours to create, and most of that was coming up with ideas.  The art really made the cover come alive.  The layout worked perfectly.  It makes me want to create a complete issue; maybe a one shot would be fun.

Interesting note: I did an Internet search of "Dungeon Mechanics", and I got about 5,240,000 results.  What a world we live in...

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Mage Knight Project, or My Plastic Obsession...

I spent most of yesterday on the Mage Knight Project, i.e. doing an inventory of every single miniature.  I started with the first release, Mage Knight Rebellion, and spent many hours sorting through plastic bags.  I created a spreadsheet to track numbers and value, which is much better than writing it all out on paper.  I'm not sure if I got them all counted but, I know I'm close.  There may be a few scattered in the other bags, which I'm sure I'll find once I start on the next set.

So far the total number of Rebellion miniatures is 613.  That doesn't count the 50 or, so I sold on eBay last month, or the 54 I just listed there.  The annoying thing is that's not even a complete set!  Aaarrggg...  There are lots and lots of duplicates.  I could field quite an army on the table.  Of course NOW I'm getting obsessed with completing a set.  ( Actually the goal is three sets, one for me, one for my brother, and one to sell or trade. ) Which shouldn't be too difficult, except for the unique figures, which after a bit of research, can be quite pricey!

Next up is Lancers.  I already have the list entered into the spreadsheet, and sorting and counting this set should be easier.  Not so many to sort through.  Of course if I had more space, and a better way to store them it would be so much easier.

I know many gamers don't like Mage Knight, but I do.  I've been reading the rules because it's been a while since I played, and they're nice and simple for the most part.  It's a shame that they don't produce the game anymore.  I look forward to playing again.

Many of the miniatures are available and cheap, and of course can be used in RPGs and other war games.  I'm thinking of using some of them to create a Hordes of the Things army, or for fubar.  Many people rebase, repaint, and even customize them.

I need to network with some other collectors so I can do some trading, and if I keep this up I think a Mage Knight blog may be necessary...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Treasure Chest

One thing I like about the Internet is it's seemingly endless supply of inspirational, educational, and at times entertaining content.  It's like a treasure chest ( to use a gaming metaphor ), when you "open' it, you never know what you may find.  Occasionally it will be empty, sometimes it's trapped, but most of the time you find some really cool stuff.

Over at Tower of the Archmage, there's a contest.  It requires some participation and effort, but the prize is a nice piece of terrain.

Loviatar #5 is out.  Christian has published another great issue.  If you don't know about Loviatar go check it out here.  Well worth the $3!

I've been exploring different miniature war gaming rule sets, and I recently discovered Death Squads.  It's a fan created rule-set inspired by Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K, but it's for skirmish level battles. I've been skimming the rules, and so far I like what they've done.  Designed to be used with your Game Workshop miniatures, it would be a nice break when you get tired of playing 40K.  Of course you can create your squad using other miniatures, and many players are doing just that.  From what I read , you can keep the same squad from battle to battle, and they can gain experience, squad members die, new equipment purchased., etc.  This is very similar to Necromunda, and it's an aspect of the game I like.  Of course if things really go south on you during a game you can always disband your squad, and start over.  The best thing is that you can download the rules for free.

Even if you're not into war gaming, the Death Squad forum has some great info on miniature painting and terrain building.  I really like to see other people's work, and there's some great stuff at Death Squad.

The treasure chest is empty, bag it up, and move out!  Some bugbears are coming down the hall, and they're out for blood!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Great Eye of Fire!

Don't draw the ire of the great eye of fire!
I've always been intrigued with the elemental planes.  What sort of creatures, ( aside from the standard elementals of course ), reside in such inhospitable places?  The illustration above is an experiment to create one such creature, the Great Eye of Fire.  Is it intelligent?  A servant of some powerful, fiery denizen of the Elemental Plane of Fire?  Constantly on the prowl, soaring above vast seas of lava, searching for intruders to it's master domain.

I like how the illustration came out, except for the "pupil".  I need to work on that.  I thought about not adding a "pupil", but it needed something.  Otherwise it just looks like a giant fireball, and the pupil really helps with the whole giant eye of fire concept.

Next thing to do is work up a stat block.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!  It's quiet around here.  My brother and his girlfriend are in Lubbock.  Mom's just shot off to the ER because of a sinus infection.  I guess it's really bothering her, and of course no doctors are open today.  Nothing cooking here, but Thanksgiving's going to be at my Aunt and Uncle's later today so that's a good thing.  Always a good feast there.

I'm going to try and enjoy the day, but it's difficult.  First major holiday since my sister passed away.  It really is too quiet around here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are You Ready?

A spoof cover of a government preparedness booklet.  The photograph ( if you didn't already know ) is from Night of the Living Dead, a movie that is in the public domain.  Government manuals are also not copyrighted material.

I should write the whole booklet from the perspective of how to prepare for the coming zombie apocalypse.  Might be fun...

Friday, November 18, 2011

What D&D Character Am I ???

Yeah, I did it...

I Am A: True Neutral Human Ranger (7th Level)

Ability Scores:


True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

I really though I might be more chaotic neutral... oh well.  Actually, I should probably be chaotic hungry.

Don't Fence Me In... or What's Cookin' Zanazaz?

Wow.  I just noticed it's almost been a month since I last posted.  Sometimes when you're exhausted it seems like time flies by like the Millennium Falcon evading Tie Fighters.  I've been busy building a fence, which included a concrete footing, and that involved loading and unloading bags of concrete, mixing said concrete, etc.  I think it involved close to 2,000 pounds of concrete, probably more than that.  Hence the exhaustion....
Each section took six bags of concrete. So... about 360 pounds of concrete...

The hard part is almost done.  I've got to put up a few more rails then I start putting up the fence slats, which should be easy, but I have to cut each one to the correct length.  Three are already up, but there are so many more to go.  I should already have had this done, but the summer heat was a real killer.  It's nice and cool now.  Unfortunately, after the back fence is done, the other side fence needs to be replaced...

After working on the fence all I usually feel like doing is watching t.v. or reading blogs, but like I said the hard part is over, and I can start writing again.  Expect a new Kinship story soon!

A couple of weeks ago I received the newest issue of Loviatar in the mail.  Cool gaming zine.  I really enjoy reading it.  Christian, of the destination unknown blog, does a great job publishing Loviatar.  If you haven't checked it out yet you should.

On the gaming front, I haven't done much of anything.  I've been downloading free miniature rules, and reading them.  I'm intrigued by fubar, and plan on exploring it further.  I've found a couple of interesting blogs and websites that use 6mm scale minis and terrain for their war gaming.  So tiny!  I guess Epic ( Games Workshop ) is 6mm?  If so, I have a ton of minis I could use.

I've also downloaded Hordes of the Things, but reading through it, I'm not sure I like it.  I played one game of HOTT many, many years ago in the gaming room in a comic book store, but I don't remember anything about the game.

My Kinship project is on the back burner for  now, just simmering away...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Reader's Choice Challenge: the Sequel

Last year I gave my readers a chance to suggest topics for me to write about.  This time it's going to be a little different.  I'm giving the readers a chance to suggest an idea for some fiction for me to write, or at least attempt to write.  You have until Monday, October 24 to make your suggestion.

Now try not to get too specific, but then again if you are too vague then I probably won't pick it.  Also I probably won't pick anything that's too gonzo, and a wild mash-up of multiple genres, and settings.  Then again you never know, I might get in a weird mood.

I hope the piece I wrote last night was at least a little entertaining.  It's a "what if" Earth had mythological races and dungeons, but I guess most people could figure that out.  There is a back story to it, but if I keep writing about this character it will come out in bits and pieces.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Quick & Happy

I pulled into a parking space in front of the Quick and Happy.  I really  needed to beef up my supplies.  The dive tonight was more of an exploratory expedition, and I didn't need much, but better safe than sorry.  Looking around I notice the rest of the lot was empty, and it kind of worried me.  Normally the convenience store was busy twenty four and seven.  It was odd.

The walk to the entrance was short, and inside I see there's a new clerk.  I walk up and notice the clerk is reading a magazine, ork porn.  Blech.  I clear my throat, and the clerk looks up.  I notice it's a he, and he's an elf.  Pale, pointy ears, and wooooooooooah... glowing eyes.  This one's probably a user of Wyzard, and that's never a good thing.

Wyzard, or Wyzz as it's called on the streets, is in simple terms, a "magical drug".  Not really illegal, but it is on the banned substance list, and can get you in plenty of trouble.  Wyzz can enhance your magic, but has serious side effects, and is very addicting.  Made by anarchemists, the stuff can be snorted, smoked, drunk, and in some forms absorbed through the skin.  Personally, I have never used it, and I never intend to use it.  I have seen plenty of promising wizards ruin their lives by using it.  It's bad juju.

According to the name tag, the elf's name is Edward.  Ed the elf, looks at me with his glowing eyes, and finally grunts at me.  "What you want?"

"I need... say do I know you?"  The elf looked familiar. 

He shrugged, and went back to looking at his porn.  "Piss off human..."

I turned and not really watching where I was going, because I was looking at Ed, trying to figure out why he looked so familiar, I bumped into a very large humanoid.  Very, very large.  Thankfully, he didn't seem to notice.  Well, I think it's a he because sometimes with humanoids it's hard to tell.

I stammered out a "I'm sorry..." anyway, and he looked at me.  He had been staring at the hot dog grill, and there was a bit of drool hanging from his lip.  He must be hungry.  I notice he's wearing a Dallas Minotaurs jersey.  I wonder if he's a player or a fan?

"Sorry?"  He looked confused.  Which was good for me, because I know I didn't want him angry with me.  So I shrug, and hold out my hand.  "My name is Luke, how are you doing?"  I notice he has a ID band on his right wrist, which means he's integrated, and no bounty can be collected on him.  Unless he goes rogue, then he's fair game again.

He shows me the band, "Torque, name is Torque..."  Then he turns back to the grill, and starts drooling again.

Torque?  Sheesh, some government creep probably gave him the name.

I step back, and get a better look at Torque.  His clothes are kind of scruffy.  It was obvious he was part ogre.  Probably half or maybe three-quarters ogre because this fellow is huge.  His monthly allotment probably didn't provide enough to feed him.  Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea, and also realized why there weren't any customers in the store.  Nobody really trusts the larger humanoids, even when they are supposed to be integrated and civilized.

"Hey Ed! Get Torque here a couple of those Dragon Dogs, make em jumbos!"

Ed the elf grunted again, and walked over.  I walked down the snack aisle, and grabbed some Dr. Ork Jerky Sticks.  It was a new brand, and I wanted to try it out.  I wandered around the store grabbing a few more essentials for the dive.  On a whim I grab a disposable camera.  I might need to document something.

I carried my purchases to the counter, and set them down.  Ed walked up, and started entering the items in the cash register.  The Quick & Happy didn't have one of the new magical scanners.  I guess management didn't trust them yet.  Too easy to hack.

Ed started bagging everything, and asked me a question, one I didn't really want to answer.

"You going on a dive?"

I saw no point in lying.  Elves were good at telling when people were lying, even ones high on Wyzz.

"Yeah, going to the old mines.  Heard some mongrels have moved in.  Hoping to get a couple and turn them in for the bounty.  I need to pay my cable bill..."  Which was the truth.  I had heard a rumor about a pack of mongrels moving into the mines, and I did need to pay my cable bill.  However there was another reason I was going to the old mines, but nobody needed to know that reason.

Ed grunted again.  "Boring..."

I paid Ed, and grabbing my sacks saw Torque walking towards me.  He had already wolfed down the dogs.  He was smiling, which I took as a good thing.

"Thanks...uh..."  Torque scratched his head. Ogres of any fractional lineage weren't usually very intelligent.

"Luke.  My name is Luke.  Say Torque you working?  How would you like to make some silver?"

I didn't think it was possible, but his smile got bigger.  Which kind of creeped me out a little.  I also notice his lower fangs had been filed down and capped.  Cruel government creeps.  It was probably a condition of his integration into society.

"Torque need work!  Torque work hard!"

"Ah good!  Follow me, you start now."  As I opened the door I remember why Ed seemed so familiar.  He had gone to the same high school as me.

"Hey Ed!"  As he looked up from reading his ork porn, I flipped him off.  He shrugged and went back to his ork porn.

Once outside I direct Torque to get in the cargo bed of my pickup truck.  He was way too large to get in the cab.  I was worried he might be offended, but he was still smiling.

"Torque ride!  Torque ride!"  As he stepped onto the bed of the truck I saw it drop low to the ground.  Oops.  I hope my shocks would hold up.

"Yeah big guy.  You get to ride..."  I laugh, and get behind the wheel of my used Ford Drake.  I turn the key, and the engine rumbles to life.  Looking in the rearview mirror at Torque I can't help but smile.

I'm Luke Ivorythorn, dungeon diver, and I have just hired my first henchmen.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blogs to Behold!

Okay, tonight I want to do something a little different.  Explore the blogoverse, and point out some cool stuff.  I also want to do a little reminiscing about gaming, because that's always fun.

I'm sure everyone who's played Dungeons and Dragons that's over a certain age, knows about and may have actually watched the Saturday morning cartoon it's loosely based on. Well, I came across Mark Evanier's weblog POVONLINE , and he has an article about his involvement with the show. You might also know Mark as the writer of Groo the Wanderer, a wonderful comic book.

I've never met Mark, but I have met Sergio Aragones ( the artist of Groo the Wanderer ), and talked to him a bit about cartooning.  He liked my work, and gave me some pointers.  What a great guy.  He's one of my favorite cartoonists, well... okay he has the number one spot as far as I'm concerned.

Speaking of comic books, if you read them in the 70's and 80's, then you should probably be familiar with Jim Shooter, for quite a while he was the Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics.  He also has a blog called appropriately enough, Jim Shooter .  He has many behind the scenes stories that are great.  Check it out.

Okay, now I'm going to hop in the Way Back Machine, and tell a tale of the awesome bravery of one of my characters. We had just started playing Rolemaster, and a friend of mine was the DM.  He was using some published module, I don't remember which one, I really wish I could, because  I would like to get a copy.

Now ICE didn't have a lot published material yet.  I think we were using 1st Edtion, which consisted of Character Law, Spell Law, Arms Law, and I think that was it.  Maybe Claw Law as well?  It's been a while. Nothing with monsters in it.  So he had to import monsters from AD&D, which was okay, because they had conversion tables IIRC.  The module was also for AD&D...

Both me and my brother played two characters because our gaming group was small.  Well, at one point my magician had taken point, and was entering a room.  Why was I in the lead?  I don't remember.  The fighter and warrior monk may have been in bad shape.

So as I entered the room, I asked what I saw... and the DM said, "You see what looks like a man with the head of a tiger... he was sitting in a throne, but now he's standing up..."  It was a Rakshasa.  I asked the DM if I knew what it was, and he ruled that I did, or rather that my character did.  My character turns around yelling, "RUN!"  ( For some reason I had this fear of Rakshasas as a player. They don't seem that bad as I read the listing in the MM. Of course a home-brewed version in RM could be a nightmare! )

The DM chuckles, and the Rakshasa lets loose a lightning bolt.  ( This was a home-brewed Rolemaster Rakshasa after all... )  I was sure I was doomed.  Doomed to become a pile of smoking ash.  Well, the DM rolls, and then gets a funny look on his face.

Earlier in the game we had found a magic amulet.  We couldn't figure out what it did, or what kind of magical properties it had.  The DM asked me what I had done with it.  I said, "Stuck it in my backpack."  He asked me "Where in the pack?" I shrugged... "Dunno... just in the pack."

It turns out that the amulet is an Amulet of Spell Reflection.  It's always on.  Remember when I spotted the Rakshsa I turned around to run away?  So the DM sighs, and says "I rolled really good on the lightning bolt the crit..."  At this point I am grimacing, expecting the worse.  The DM hadn't mentioned what was up yet.  So he says I hear the boom of the lighting, and that I smell some smoke... but I was okay.  I turn around.  The lightning bolt had hit my pack, and the DM randomly determined where the amulet was.  It had been stuffed close to the back of the pack.  Everything in front of had been destroyed, but I was okay.  The Rakshasa?  He may not have been a pile of ash, but almost...

Unfortunately, most of the magic items the Rakshasa had on it's body were destroyed.  Oh well.  At least we survived.  Talk about dumb luck, and a DM who was really paying attention!  Fun times...

Monday, October 17, 2011


It's obvious to me that my plan to focus on the Kinship project isn't going to work, and has in fact caused me some stress.  The kind of stress that may be the cause of the chest pains I've been having.  So I'm taking a step back, rethinking things, and have fun again, because trying to create a professional product isn't that much fun.

I wanted to turn Kinship into something other people might get some use out of, have fun with, and hopefully I would make a little cash on the side.  However, as I worked on Kinship I was writing the kind of stuff I probably wouldn't even read in a commercial project, and I want to create a professional,  polished, useful product.  It just wasn't happening.

Plus with no budget there was no way I was going to get some decent art for the book.  Now, I could probably do it without the art, but I think a good gaming book needs art.  The maps weren't a problem; I can create the maps.  The more I thought about the art the more I worried about it, which created more stress.

So for the past few days I have been "banging my head" on the desk, until I read this over at The Lands of Ara , and I had an AHA! moment...
This sort of stuff has been on my mind lately due to my decision to abandon the megadungeon project on the grounds that it was being "force fed" rather than organically grown through play. In the same post in which I announced the megadungeon's temporary cancellation, I mentioned my interest in other projects such as the Lands of Ara Compendium 2011 (due early 2012) and The Tower of Death (due 2012) -- both of which HAVE grown through play. That is why they remain viable.
The bold lettering in the quote above is my doing.  I have been trying to force the creativity, and that just doesn't work.  Well, most of the time it doesn't work.  Sometimes you can keep plugging away, and come away with useable gems, but it's rare.  If I write something on the blog it's because it's been boiling around in my brain for a long time, sometimes years, and it finally gets to the point where I have to write it down.

So is this the end of Kinship?  No way.  I am going to keep working on it as a campaign.  I like the concept, and I will keep writing the fiction.  I think I have a better chance of completing a novel about Kinship than I do a game book.  I do plan on creating something I can run at a local con.  A Kinship session would be a good thing.

Thanks to all the people who volunteered to do some proofreading and play-testing for me.  You guys are still on the list, and if I get some "campaign ready" material completed, I will send you the PDF.

I already feel better.  Tomorrow, more fiction...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plan B

Okay I guess I've been working on Plan A of the Kinship project.  The truth is I haven't been as productive as I would have liked.  I've worked on Kinship, but I'm just not making any substantive headway.  So, for the next week or so, I plan on making a major push and get some writing done.  I've also got to get two of the major maps finished.  So for the time being, I won't be worried about posting on the blog.  I enjoy it, but writing posts is distracting, even writing the Kinship fiction is keeping me from working on the book.

If after a couple of weeks I haven't gotten anything good done I will rethink the project, and move on to Plan B.  What's Plan B?  Well, I'll cover that if Plan A doesn't work out.

So for the time being the blog is going "dark".  I may or may not post anything for a couple of weeks.  It all depends on what I can get done.  I would like to get most of it done by the end of November. Of course I'll still read other blogs.

I've gotten a few responses for proofreaders and playtesters.  If you sent me an email, and haven't heard from me, it may have ended up in the spam box.  I try to double check, but if you didn't put Kinship or proofreading in the title I may have missed it.  So the best thing is to put Kinship in the subject title.  I won't miss that.

Everybody take care.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

[ Kinship ] Saturday Night

Mac, sitting in a lawn chair, watched as the basilisk sizzled on the barbeque.  He had shot the six legged lizard earlier in the afternoon when it tried to claw it's way into one of the rooms.  Basilisks were dangerous,  one bite, and your flesh quickly calcified, turning into solid bone.  Now it was his dinner.  They were delicious.  Luckily he knew how to remove the poison glands.  He figured he would give them to Dr. Trance, or maybe one of the professors at the college.

The modest patio area he had built beside the office suited him.  A picnic table, the brick barbeque, and the awning he had scavenged from the outskirts of Shadowvale, gave him a nice place to relax.  Perhaps he should consider inviting some people from Kinship for a barbeque?  Sometimes it got lonely out on the highway.

Monkey, jumping up on the table, shrieking and waving his little arms around, startled Mac.

"What the heck are you doing Monkey?"

Monkey stopped and pointed in the direction of Shadowvale.

Standing up, Mac shaded his eyes, looking down the highway.  He saw a dark cloud that was coming his way.

"What the? Could be trouble Monkey..."  Monkey shrieked again.  Looking down, Mac saw Monkey had a pair of binoculars.  "Ah good work."

Mac looked through the binocs toward the cloud.  Demon bats.  Mac had never seen so many together before.  They never swarmed in such large numbers.  Something was up.

"Come on Monkey, lets get inside... I need to radio the sheriff.  Looks like this barbeque has been canceled.  We don't want to be outside if the swarm comes our way."


Switching on the mic, Locke picked up the notice Three had dropped off earlier in the day.  It was a birth announcement.

"All right!  Great news people.  Three and Eight are glad to announce the birth of their twin daughters.  In fact, they are co-joined twins.  I have been informed that co-joined twins in the number clan's culture are held in high regard.  The daughter's have been named... Eleven.  And now more great music courtesy of The Doors!  I hope everyone is having a great Saturday night.  This is Mr. Sniggles at KZAN, all Doors, all the time!"

Locke lowered the stylus on the record.  He puffed on his pipe, savoring the taste of his precious tobacco.  Suddenly, he heard the voice of Mac coming over his ham radio.

"Locke!  Big trouble coming your way!  A swarm of demon bats.  Some are headed my way, but they won't be able to get into the office so I'm okay.  Just wanted to warn you.  I've already contacted the sheriff..."

Keying the mic for the ham radio, Locke mumbled his response. "A swarm?  They don't swarm..."

"Well they are now, and they are moving fast.  I'm signing off... need to make sure everything is secured."

Locke set his pipe down.  "Umm thanks... stay safe."  Looking at the clock, he saw it was almost 8 P.M.  Standing up he walked over to the window, it was getting dark.  KZAN's  studio was on the second floor of the Kinship town hall.  He looked down on Main Street, and what he saw chilled him to the bone.  There were zombies.  More than he had ever seen before. And then he noticed other things, moving much faster than zombies ever did.  How had they gotten into town without the alarm being sounded?

He needed to alert everyone.  He walked back and grabbed the mic, and was about to sound the alarm when he was startled by a loud thud.  Turning towards the sound, he saw the demon bat trying to claw it's way through the window.

"You ain't getting inside here!"  Well, Locke hoped the protective wards would hold up.  He slid the volume up on his broadcast mic, and lowered the volume on the turn-table.

"Okay listen up people.  This is a RED ALERT!  We have a major zombie infiltration, as well as demon bats, and other unknowns.  All able body members of the defense force need to get armed and armored.  This is going to be a bad one.  I repeat this is a RED ALERT!  If you're not a combatant get to a safe place.  I'll be signing off for now, Mr. Sniggles is coming out to play!"

He ran to his office, and within five minutes he had his armor on, and all his web gear.  His trusty Thompson was strung over his shoulder,  and he grabbed his 12 guage Mossberg shotgun.   Then he placed his necklace of protective charms around his neck.  The last thing he did was light a cigar.  A very fine cigar from Cuba.  Very hard to get, especially in Kinship.  It tasted great and very handy to light sticks of dynamite.  He inhaled and then blew a line of smoke rings.

Running down the stairs, he paused at the door, and chambered a round into the shotgun.  Then he heard the town's sirens going off.

"About time!"  Locke kicked open the door, and stepped out, firing at the first group of zombies he saw.  "Yup, just another Saturday night in Kinship..."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Danak's Library

Yesterday while waiting on something to download,  I doodled a small dungeon.  I kind of liked it, and decided it could go in the fantasy sandbox.  However, it was a rough sketch. I could probably recreate it fairly easy with Paint.NET, but I decided to try something, a virtual tracing/light box.

Here's the initial sketch, as usual click to enlarge.
I decided it was just the sort of place that a wizard would use to store his more esoteric or even dangerous books,and conduct magical experiments.  It's not really useable like it is, so I needed to redo it.  Back in the olden days, I would just trace over it.  Since I didn't own a light box I would tape it to a window, and start tracing.  However, using Paint.NET I can do practically the same thing.  All I have to do is scan the sketch, and using layers I can trace over the sketch.  Easy peasy.  If I make a mistake, no problem!  Just erase or undo, and viola, no more mistake.  Here's the somewhat finished map...

Yes, it is different from the initial sketch, but that's the purpose of the sketch, it's an initial idea to be built upon. In the finished map I added guard's quarters.  As I was working on it I began taking notes on what I did, otherwise I might forget, and I ended up with a good start on a tutorial.  Not sure if I will post it, but you never know.

I like labeling the rooms.  In a larger dungeon this would be problematic, but it works on a small scale.

Working on the map, Danak the Wizard began to take shape in my mind, as well as his henchmen.  I'm always amazed at how synergistic creative endeavors can become.  So, one doodled map, has snowballed into a group of NPCs, and plenty of adventure and plot ideas.

Danak doesn't like to keep all his eggs in one basket, so he has more than one place he stores his books.  After his first workshop burned to the ground he takes precautions.  ( He really shouldn't have tried to train a Fire Imp. ) When possible he has duplicates of his books stored in different locations.

This location is just about stuffed with books, scrolls, and maps.  The library chamber has many shelves over-flowing with books.  Others are stacked nearly everywhere except the entrance tunnel, where it's a bit too damp for books. The workshop has a modest alchemical lab.

He has hired several guards, mostly half-orcs, that live in one of the cavern's chambers.  The conditions aren't the best, but it beats living in the forest, or the slums of Viphtry.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the Kinship Klan

I mentioned this a couple of posts back, but I thought I would mention it again.  If you would like an advance copy of he Town of Kinship Book, then here's your chance.  I'm going to create a special edition for playtesters and proofreaders.  You'll receive two copies.  One to mark up, write notes in telling me what sucks, etc., and a copy to keep.  This is going to be a limited offer.  The books really aren't 'free'; I'll want some feedback from you.  So let me know if you are interested.  I'll need your snail mail address.

This won't be anything fancy, just a black and white book, with whatever cheap binding I can get at the print shop.   Everyone who play-tests and proofreads it will get credit in the book.

Also if you are an aspiring artist, and would like to get involved let me know.  There's no budget as of now, but that may change.  At the very least you also get copies of the book, and of course credit, and my eternal praise.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Something, something.... It's Sunday...

Okay, sometimes if I want to ramble on about nothing in particular I can't think of a good title for the post.  Sometimes I can't think of a good post title period.

Anyone watch that new show Terrible Nova, err... Terra Nova?  Actually, when all the commercials where airing advertising Terra Nova, I thought it was probably going to be a real stinker.  However, the two hour season premier was okay, as in not bad.  So I guess the show could either get better, or worse.  I just hope it lasts for at least a season.

The show had a huge budget, and I can't imagine they will have that much to spend on each episode.  I can't imagine they can afford to even spend half, or even a quarter of what was spent on the first episode.

One thing I didn't like was how they glossed over the science.  Like, how did they discover the fracture in the fabric of time and space?  I've also been wondering if it's always open, or only open part of the time?  They obviously have a huge technological complex to deal with the "fracture".  Does it require energy to send people through?  So many questions...

The show has some neat weapons.  I guess they like the sonic weapons because they save on ammo.

I often wonder if other gamers over-think shows like Terra Nova like I do?  It's both a blessing and a curse.

I'm a little ticked off at KERA, our local PBS.  Last week, Saturday night to be exact, there was a Dr. Who episode that was the first of a two parter.  Well, last night they didn't show the second part.  I was disappointed.

Last week I received all three of the current issues of Loviatar.  It's a great gaming zine published by Christian, writer of the destination unknown blog, which for some reason isn't coming up when I click on it.  Loviatar is a digest sized paper zine, and covers material for Pathfinder, GURPS, WoD. and other gaming systems.  It's ONLY available in this format, which I think is a good thing.  I'm not the biggest fan of strictly electronic formats.  Go to the Loviatar blog, and check it out!

Okay, no more blogging for today. It's time for chocolate pudding, and Britcoms.

[ Kinship ] Room Four

Leaving the motel office, she walked towards Room Four.  She had decided to leave her car parked in front of the office, but thought maybe she had better keep it close.

As she was pulling in front of room four, there was a burst of static on the radio. and then a voice was calling her name.

"Suuuuzzzy...Suzzzy...Suzzy Roberts..."

Now she was hearing things.  Sleep was badly needed.  She shut off the car, and grabbed her bag, and put the pistol inside.  At this point she wasn't concerned about the file, and didn't really feel like lugging the box into the room.

She stood by her car, and scoped out the motel.  It was small; it only had six rooms.  It had seen better days.  Describing it as shabby would be a compliment.  The door to room one was boarded up, and so was the window.  There was a small alcove between rooms three and four that had the vending machines.  She would visit them after she was settled, if she could stay awake.

Stepping inside the room, she felt for the light switch.  It sputtered on, and out of the corner of her eye she thought she saw a dark figure.  She jumped, and fumbled for her pistol.  Her eyes adjusted, and she saw it had to have been her own shadow.

Tossing the bag on the bed, she sat down on the edge.  The room wasn't luxurious, but it wasn't too bad.  Then she noticed the lamp on the night stand.  It was a Lava Lamp, but it wasn't on, and after trying to turn it on she noticed it wasn't plugged in.  How odd.


The stupid monkey was still shrieking, and banging away on the cymbals.  Mac hated the dang monkey.  Mac hated the fact that he was out of booze and cigarettes.  Mac hated his job, well, sometimes he hated his job.  It was usually so slow he didn't have much to do, so he could indulge in his hobbies.

He set down the microphone and turned off his "radio".  Sometimes he liked to spook the guests.  Sometimes more than just spook them.  He liked to scare the hell out of them.  The new guest, Suzy, he had initially liked, but he didn't like how she doubted him.  It was a picture of Elvis!  Mac liked Elvis.  He hoped he would stop by for a visit soon.

Mac heard the beads rattle, and saw the monkey walking into the room.  "Oh you changed back to normal?"  He saw the monkey pull a cig out of nowhere.  It was already lit.  Monkey took a puff, and jumped up on to the desk.  "Hey, can you give me one of those?"  Monkey handed over the cigarette.  "Thanks, and thanks for letting me know what her name is.  I wonder if she is any good with her pistol?"  Monkey shrugged and summoned another cigarette.


Suzy had never heard the sort of sounds that were coming out of the machines in the alcove.  When she first walked into the small area all the sounds stopped for a few minutes.  Then they started up again.  The soda machine started first.  It went, "Thrung, thrung, thrung... vresh.  Thrung, thrung, thrung... vresh..."  The snack machine was even weirder.  "Snee vuk, snee vuk..."  The ice machine was mostly silent, except for the occasional, "Hrung. phut..."

The selections in the machines were odd.  She had never heard of a Veckers Candy Bar before, or Snweebo Soda.  She went back to her room without buying anything.  On a whim she plugged the Lava Lamp in, and turned it on.  Laying down on the bed, she fell fast asleep quickly.

As the lamp heated the wax in the Lava Lamp, it started rising and falling, then the globs started clumping together and took a somewhat human form...

To be continued...?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Breaking It Down

I was reading a post over at B/X Blackrazor about the inherent objectives, or lack-thereof, in role-playing games.  I'm not really sure if games/rule-sets need over all, "meta-objectives", but  it got me thinking about Kinship.  Of course Kinship is a setting, and not a game/rule set, but I've really have been doing a lot of thinking about this very thing.  I've also worried about the fact that I've deviated from my initial design concept, and it's kind of slowed down Kinship's development.

The town of Kinship, and it's surroundings are a setting.  Once a character is there, there really is no quantifiable objective, aside from day to day survival.  It really is up to the player to define their character, and their personal objectives, missions, or goals.  That's the way it should be.  The player can seek assistance from the game master for ideas, but in the end they have to make their own choices.  Of course the GM will throw some missions their way in the form of  conflict and adventures.  We all know there are character goals/objectives, and the game's goals/objectives.  Sometimes they coincide and sometimes they don't.

My initial design concept for Kinship was a cursed town.  A town where it's inhabitants are cursed never to leave, and forever cut off from the rest of the world.  Sometimes people end up there by accident or design, and they can also occasionally escape.

However, it has now kind of morphed into not only a cursed town, but a town that's "somewhere else".  Kinship is now only accessed via the "Road".  An inter-dimensional  highway of sorts.   Which concept is better?  Both ideas have merit, and their pros and cons.  I could run it either way, and have fun with it.

This being said, I think Kinship could have a "meta-objective".  That being returning the town to normal.  This could be done by breaking the gypsy's curse, or?  In, The Town of Kinship book, I may very well cover both ideas.  I want the book to be a bolt of cloth that GMs cut up to make their campaign quilt.

the Kinship Klan
Once I get the first rough draft of the book done, I will want some proofreaders/play-testers.  If you are interested please send me a message via email to zanazaz at yahoo dot com.  The Kinship Klan is going to be limited to about ten people ( or maybe more... ), and these ten people will get a limited edition proofreaders/play-testers copy of the book.  Actually, you will get two copies; one to mark up with corrections, criticisms, etc., and one to keep.  As of now, I  have NO deadline for finishing the rough draft, but I am aiming for the first of the year.  Of course it will also be available as a PDF.  I've got a lot of work to do, but as of now this is my main project.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

[ Kinship ] The Snooze Motel

The crunch of gravel under her tires signaled her arrival at the Snooze Motel.  She parked in front of the office, and sat for a few minutes.  She elected to leave the pistol and file in the car.

The motel office was separate building from the rest of the motel.  She walked in, and glanced around.  No one was at the counter, and she saw an opening right behind it covered in  beads.  There were a few things sitting on the counter, one of them being a toy monkey.  She remembered one of her friends had one when she was a kid.  It was animated and would bang it's cymbals together, and shriek.  Even as an adult the thing sort of gave her the creeps.

As she took another step closer the monkey started up, banging and shrieking.  It startled her, and then she realized it must be a modern version that was motion activated.  She then heard a voice that came from behind the beads...

"Be right there in a few minutes..."

Looking around, her natural and reporter driven curiosity  took over, and she walked into the small lobby area.  It had a shabby looking couch and one of those big wooden spools as a table.  On the spool was a bushel basket filled with snack cakes.  It had a sign taped to it that read, Continental Breakfast.

Above the couch was a velvet painting.  Looking closer, it looked like some kind of warrior fighting zombies.  Then she noticed the warrior had a distinct resemblance to Elvis.  To her left there was a paper poster tacked to the dingy wall.  It showed a kitten hanging by it's claws from a tree limb, and the phrase. 'Hang In There, Baby.' was underneath it.

On the wall opposite the dangling kitty poster were, after closer inspection, what looked like pages straight out of daVinci's notebook.  These were also pinned to the wall.  She ran her fingers gently across the paper's surface?  Parchment?  It felt old.

She heard someone walk through the beads, and turned around.  The monkey was still banging it's cymbals and shrieking, and the man tossed it under the counter.

"So miss, how can I help you?"

The man was wearing denim overalls, and a t-shirt.  She took the six steps back to the counter, and noticed the cork bulletin board covered in Polaroids right by the opening.  One was a photo of a triceratops with a very large man riding it.  Another was a group of zombies?

"Miss?"  She turned her head back toward the man.  "I need a room for the night, and I need to know where I am..."

"Well... might be better if you kept on till you get to Kinship.  It's not much further..."

She shook her head. "No, I'm exhausted..."  She steadied herself on the counter feeling faint.

'Well I guess you'll be safe for one night."  He pulled a key out of a drawer.  "Here yah go miss.  Room four.  Once it gets dark, bolt the door, and don't open it till daylight.  The phone don't work, and even if it does ring don't answer it. There's no television in the room.  If you got a gun keep it close..."

"Wait... what?  Don't answer the phone that doesn't work?"

The man shrugged.  "The more I talk the more questions you'll have.  I wish you would just drive on...  just be sure you don't take the exit to Shadowvale... that would be bad."

It was too much.  She took the key from the man.  "How much for the night?"

"Uuuummm... I don't suppose you have a bottle of Jack, or mebbe..."  The man scratched the stubble on his chin.  She heard the monkey still banging and shrieking under the counter.

"No in fact I need some food myself.  Anywhere I can eat?"

"Not anywhere close.  Well, in Kinship... okay it'll be twenty five for the room.  There are vending machines beside the ice machine between rooms three and four."

She looked at the photos again, and pointed at them.  "What about those?  Those from a movie set or something?"  Despite being exhausted, her reporter's curiosity was in overdrive.  She had to know.

The man chuckled.  "Or something..."  He pulled one down, and handed it to her.  She looked at it, and then at the velvet painting, and then back at the Polaroid.  It was a photo of Elvis in the same outfit, some kind of armor, and carrying a sword.  But he was in front of a building, and there were other people beside him. One of the other people only had one large eye.  At the bottom was a signature.  Elvis.  "This can't be real?  No way..."

The man looked hurt.  He took back the photo, and sniffed, and shrugged.  "Believe what you want...  you'll find out soon enough.  Remember what I said... I probably won't be around in the morning.  So just head on out."  Then he walked back through the beads.  She hadn't even gotten his name.

As she left the office the monkey was still banging and shrieking...

To be continued...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Have Computer, Will Blog...

I spent all day Friday working on computers.  I tried to fix the computer my brother brought over, but I had no luck.  I eventually decided to try to fix my "newest" old computer.  Well, I was going to document what happened when I booted it up, so I could research the problem.  Well, lo and behold it booted up.  So I was happy until it shut itself off.  It did this several times, and I thought it must be a heat problem.  So I got online and, it was indeed a heat problem with this particular computer model.  It has a CPU fan, and a power supply fan, but no case fan.

I did a bit a research, and eventually found a bios update that speeds up the CPU fan.  HUZZAH!  That solved the problem.  Eventually, I plan on adding a new fan to the computer to help with the heat, but that's a future project.  So good bye Frankenstein machine, you're going back to the minor league, i.e. being a back-up machine.  Of course I can't recover any of my old files, but that's okay.  No big deal, I'll just rewrite what I can remember.

The techs at Best Buy said the machine probably wasn't worth trying to fix.  So that's a big thumbs down to them.  That's where I bought the machine, and they should know about issues with any machine they've sold in the past.  My next computer is going to be one I've built myself.  This way I will know it frontwards and backwards, from the hardware to the software, and it will be cool.  ( Pun intended... )

I've installed firefox, and that seems to have solved my blogger problems.  Much happiness ensues!

I'm trying a new ISP, and I was hoping I would have a little better bandwidth, but the supposed "high speed", isn't so high.  Oh well.  I've been using AOL, I know...meh, but it's a budget consideration.  Unfortunately, I spent most of yesterday trying to get AOL installed with NO LUCK.  So I decided to try Netzero.  At first it seemed SLOWER, but now it seems to be okay.  I may see if I can get a reasonably priced DSL service with the phone company.

Al in all, it's been a fairly productive couple of days.  My best computer is fixed, and blogging issues are no longer issues.  Plus, when I'm REALLY BORED I can play browser games.  The next thing is to climb a bit higher on the bandwidth ladder.

I think I've gained a few points in my Computer Tech skill.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

[ blogging ] Problems Leaving Comments and Other Topics!

For a week or so now, I can't seem to leave comments.  I get the, "You can't access this page, with this account." message.  I try to sign out and back in, but that doesn't help.  I can't even leave comments on my own blogs!!!  It's becoming very frustrating.  So please understand I am not ignoring your comments.

I've got a somewhat new computer, ( newer than this one ), but I get the accursed, boot drive error, or something to that effect, when I turn it on.  I can access Bios, but that's about it.  I'm going to do a bit of research, and hopefully get it up and running.  Hopefully, at the vary least I can reformat the HD.

When my brother brought over the computer this evening, he also brought over the rest of the Mage Knight Miniatures.  Good grief.  There's a gazillion.  He said sort them out...  Well, I hope I've over estimated how many there are.  I don't relish the ponderous task of inventorying a few thousand minis.

Some of the sculpts of the Mage Knight figures are awesome, others not so much.  The scale can be a bit wonky, but it isn't too bad.  Some of the golems seem a bit steam punkish, so I would have to come up with appropriate rules for use with Rolemaster, but that shouldn't be too difficult.  I want a mechanical failure critical chart.  After a mechanical golem receives a certain amount of damage, a roll is made.  The result could be anything from the golems movement rate is decreased, to a catastrophic explosion, with shrapnel flying everywhere!

If you're following my Kinship Project, you ( hopefully ) read yesterday's post.  I was really tired when I wrote it, and I'm not too happy with it.  I plan on reworking it.  Also, spellcheck wasn't working, at least for me on this computer, and it still isn't.

All for now!  Happy gaming!

[ Kinship ] the Snooze

Driving and driving.  She felt like she had been driving forever.  Lost.  She felt so lost.  Literally and figuratively.  Looking in the rear view mirror she knew there wasn't anyone... or anything following her.  Well she hoped that was the case.   She barely recognized herself.  No sleep in at least two days was starting to wear her down.  She needed rest.

The GPS wasn't working, and neither was the radio.  All that came over the speakers was static, but was it just static?  It was really grating on her nerves.  She turned off the radio.

She had left New York City with a Thermos of coffee, a dozen glazed donuts, the "file", and a bag of clothes.  Oh and the pistol, a parting gift from her father.  It was sitting on the "file" right beside her as if it would protect her and the "file".

Not sure of her whereabouts, she shook her head groggily.  An hour ago she had passed through a desert.  A desert?  She knew any desert should be hundreds, if not thousands of miles away.  She must be losing her mind.  She needed coffee, but had long since finished it off along with the glazed donuts.

Odd, she hadn't seen any other cars on the highway in a long time.  She really hadn't seen anything else either.  No gas stations, convenience stores, or even signs.  No signs of civilization, and right now she needed civilization.  She needed sleep, and it was getting late.

She was regretting that she started the "file".  As a crime reporter, she had discovered a series of disappearances that were being covered up.  At first she thought it was some kind of conspiracy, but the more she investigated the stranger things became.  However, she was tenacious in pursuing the story, and kept meticulous notes.  Taped interviews with the people who would talk.  People, who after talking to her, ended up disappearing as well.  She had hundreds of photographs, and the negatives.  She was old school.  No fancy digital cameras for her.  She didn't really trust them.

When she first submitted her story, her editor rejected the story.  She tried again, and then went over his head.  Then she was fired.  Her apartment had been broken into.  Her friends started avoiding her.

She knew she was being followed.  Watched at all hours of the day.  She went to the police but they wouldn't listen.  Then she went into hiding, but she still felt watched.  Finally, desperate, she went to her father, and showed him the "file".

An hour later, he closed one of the may folders, and set it back in the box.  He picked up his phone, and dialed a number.  She heard it ring three times, and someone answered.

"Mister Jones,  my daughter has a problem...  okay..."  He handed the phone to her.  She listened as Mister Jones gave her instructions.  Apparently, he worked for some group called Orb?   The Occult Research Bureau.  He told her to go to Dallas, and she would be contacted after she arrived.  Well, he actually said, "if you arrive..."

Her father then gave her the pistol, a .45 caliber automatic pistol, and an extra clip, and a box of ammo.  He also gave her a wad of cash he pulled out of a safe.  His last words to her were, "Good luck...".

It had only been a few hours since she left her father's house, but it seemed like a lifetime.

She nodded off and swerved into the other lane.  Jerking awake, she slowed down, and pulled off onto the side of the highway.  Getting out of the car to stretch she wondered where she was?  The landscape seemed strange.  The plants looked odd, like some kind of bizarre cactus.  There was also a weird smell.  A very weird smell.

Then there was the lizard.  A large lizard... with six legs, coming towards her.  Oh great, now she was going nuts.  She was hallucinating.  Then the ground started to shake.  She quickly got back in her car, and drove off.  A few miles later she saw a sign.  A sign for a motel.  The Snooze Motel.  Finally, she could get some rest...

To be continued...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Selling Stuff

If you haven't seen my trading blog, the Scavenger's Depot, you should check it out. I'm experimenting with PayPal buttons, and I've got a great package deal posted.  It's got three options, for three different prices.  Normally, I would use eBay, but I'm in a bit of a rush.  Also, while I intended the blog to be for trading, sometimes I need the cash to buy stuff, ( not everybody likes to trade ), so I feel there's nothing wrong in selling items at the Depot.

If you know a Star War's fan/collector, then show them the way to the Depot.  I'm selling a really nice  lightsaber replica.

Monday, September 12, 2011

the Dragonbone

Mage Knight figure added for scale.

I'm surprised this ancient gaming artifact has survived, and is in working condition.  I bought it in the mid-1980s.  Well, as near as I can remember, that's when I bought it.  My brain cells aren't good at making their saving throws, and thus my memory suffers...

Anyway, if you don't know, or weren't even alive when these came out, the Dragonbone is an electronic dice roller.  It's got eight settings on a sliding switch, i.e. you can set it to "roll" a three, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, twenty, a percentile dice.  It uses light-emitting diodes, that light up by the numbers printed on the case.  The photo above is not that great, and the details can't be seen.

I used it quite a bit when gaming, whether I was playing in a game, or running one.  I liked it because, it was silent.  I could hit the button behind the screen, and the players wouldn't know I was making a roll.  If they heard dice rolling they would get more alert, or paranoid ( take your pick ), and start scaning their character sheet, or whatever.  I liked being sneaky about rolling dice.  Sometimes I would roll dice just to keep them on their toes.

Now, I didn't use it exclusively.  There's something intrinsic to roleplaying about rolling dice.  It just feels right. I'm a gamer.  I like dice.

I don' think I would use the Dragonbone anymore.  I don't actually think it is all that random.  I've thought about making some "rolls" with it and entering them in a spread sheet, and do the same with analog dice, and make some kind of statistical comparison.  However, I think watching grass grow would be more exciting. Plus, I know nothing, or well, very, very little about statistics.  So... don't hold your breath.

What's Next?
I think I can finally get back on track concerning this blog.  I lost focus the past few weeks, mainly because I was kind of busy, and the heat just sucks the life right out of you.  I'm going to start working on the Kinship project again.  It's one thing I really want to concentrate on, and get completed.

Another thing I want to work on is creating stat blocks for Mage Knight miniatures, in the Rolemaster Standard System.  Now, don't get me wrong, Mage Knight is fun, but it lacks the chaos that RMSS would have at a skirmish level battle.  I literally have access to hundreds, if not over a thousand Mage Knight figures.  Some were mine, and the rest are my brothers.

I'm also getting this itch to create a superhero game using Rolemaster rules.  Why?  I just think it would be fun, but I'm not sure it would work.  It's just an idea, and also I'm not sure if I will work on it.  If I do I would call it Powermaster!

So that's all for today.  I hope most of you are still reading this old gaming blog of mine.  Now, I really want to go see Captain America today, or maybe Conan... or Rise of the Planet of the Apes?  There are too many movie choices!  I hope everyone has a great day!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I've decided against posting my original 911 "essay".  It was a rant of sorts, and while I felt I made valid points, I felt it was unneccessary.  Why did I write it?  Well, it's been a rough year, and some things really piss me off.

So in rememberance of 911, do something good for someone, make them smile, make them laugh, make the world a better place.  Lift someone up, instead of pushing then down.  It's really rather simple, I don't know why so many people make it so difficult.

So breathe in, and breathe out, and start with those around you.  Be the pebble tossed in the pond, whose ripples of kindness spread far.  Better yet, be the rock tossed in that causes a tidal wave of kindness. 

If someone treats you harshly, try not to let it effect you.  Let it be like water off a duck's back.

Once again, SMILE, hold a door open for someone.  If they only have a few items, let them in front of you in the line at the grocery store.  A few minutes won't kill you.

Finally, in the words of Bill from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, "Be excellent to each other."

And of course Ted has an excellent point as well.... "Party on dudes!"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

[ Kinship ] They Call It Matt

Jiosh watched as tentacles were slithering out of storm drains, and out from under manhole covers.  Earlier in the evening there had been a huge infestation of zombies, probably close to 50.  Most of the remains of the zeds were littering Main Street and the Town Square.  The Kinship Defense Force had made short work of them.  Jiosh had killed 10 himself, giving him the number one spot on the zombie killing leader board.  However, he was only two ahead of the Sheriff.

Pulling out a clove cigarette, he lit it with his "new" Zippo lighter.  A wonder of technology!  Jiosh was amazed at how well it worked, well, as long as the flint was good, and it still had lighter fluid.  He sat down at his usual perch on ledge around the clock tower, and watched the tentacles work.

Some were similar to octopus tentacles complete with suckers that pulled zombie parts down under the street.  Others seems to have sharp, crab-like claws that chopped apart the larger parts.  Some seemed to have "mouths" that punctured the zombie bodies, and sucked out the insides.  Matt, as the children of Kinship had named it, was good at cleaning up zombies.  It really saved the townsfolk a lot of work.  There usually wasn't a drop of goo or a bit of gore left.

Jiosh laughed out loud at it's name, Matt, which stood for, Many Awesomely Tentacled Thing.  Upon the initial discovery of Matt, many of the people in Kinship were worried it was a threat.  However, they soon discovered that Matt rarely ate living things, aside from the occasional rat.  So it was left alone.

As Jiosh watched the tentacles work, he was startled when a large tentacle rose in front of him.  It ended in a large eye.  Shocked at the appearance of the tentacle, he started to draw his sword, but another tentacle came up beside the other, and it held something.

Jiosh gasped.  It was an amulet he had lost months ago.  How had Matt known it was his?  He held out his hand, and the tentacle placed it in his grasp.  The eye did sort of a nodding movement, and lowered back down.  Jiosh looked down and yelled, "THANKS!", wondering if hearing was one of it's senses.  He also wondered if it was intelligent?  He would tell the Sheriff what had happened tomorrow.  Jiosh looked up at the star filled sky, and pondered the mystery that was Kinship.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

[ Kinship ] The Quiet Times Are The Worst.

Jiosh paced back an forth along the ledge of the clock tower and looked down Main Street.  It had been, what... days, weeks since anything had happened?  The boredom was killing him.  He needed action, a zombie attack or something...
I've had a busy couple of weeks.  I needed to complete some community service hours, 36 to be exact, and I needed them done ASAP.  It's NOT because I procrastinated, but because there was a breakdown in communications with the nonprofit agency.  So I had to email a different contact, and made arrangements.

So to make this short story a little longer, I finished the hours over the course of two weeks.  After the first day, I intended to go back the next day, but I couldn't walk.  I had strained my ankle or something, and had to ice it down most of the night.  After a day of rest it didn't hurt anymore so I managed to go back, and managed to finish the week, albeit a little behind schedule.  No worries , still had plenty of time, until I remembered I had jury duty!  So I crammed in the rest of my hours last week, and I have jury duty tomorrow.

Working with the nonprofit agency wasn't that bad, but it was HOT.  I did a lot of grunt work, cleaning, and cooking.  The kitchen was actually cooler than anywhere else!  It is a worthy cause, and I will probably go back to volunteer again, but not for a while.  It's too hot.  I actually worked more hours than I needed to, mainly because I was already there, and they needed the help.

Needless to say, after riding the bus and train to get there and back, and the six to seven hours I put in, I was exhausted when I got home.  So I didn't get any blogging, or any other writing done.  The work on Kinship has come to a stop, but I hope to get started again soon.

I've been called to jury duty three times before, and I've been picked all three times, and all three times it's gone to trial.  So the odds have to be against me getting picked for a fourth time.  Right? Really, where's Spock when you need him?

Monday, August 15, 2011

[ AD&D ] Success On My Book Hunt!

A couple of weeks ago or so, I visited the used book store, and as usual my first stop was the game book section.  I scanned the spines, and just abut jumped when I spotted the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, First Edition!  Then I kept scanning, and there was a Monster Manual.  I was shocked.  Then I spotted the Fiend Folio.

I checked each one out, flipping through the pages, checking for damage, stains, pen and pencil marks.  All of them were in very good shape.  I don't know what printing the books were, but that's not that important to me.  I collect rule sets,  not "collectible" rules.  I was ecstatic.  The DM Guide I bought last year wasn't that great, and here I had a great copy.  Of course it was then I realized that I had no spare money to buy the books.  All three totaled $32.40, but it might as well have been a thousand dollars.  I couldn't afford to get them.  Oh well.

For a short time I thought of hiding them.  Heh.  Yeah right, I gave that thought up fairly quickly, but reluctantly.  So I left.  I had no desire to browse anymore.  I knew the books wouldn't last long.

I checked back a couple of days later, and the books were still there.  I was amazed, but still couldn't justify buying even one of the books.  The DMs Guide and Fiend Folio were ten dollars each.  The Monster Manual was $12.40.  Good prices for the condition they were in.  So I left, knowing full well that everyday that passed increased the chances they would be sold.

A few days later I had extra cash.  So I went back, fully expecting the books to be gone, but I was lucky, and all three books were still there. SCORE!

There was also another copy of the Fiend Folio there, but it was in very sorry shape.  I couldn't believe they priced it the same as the first copy I found.  It was bowed very badly, and had many stains on the inside pages.  I really don't understand the store's pricing.

Once I got the books home, I did a little clean up with a kneaded eraser.  I was lucky there were only a couple of pencil marks.  I need to purchase one of those pillow erasers.  Those really help clean up the pages as well.

So my hunt for AD&D books is going well, all I need now is the Player's Handbook, Deities & Demigods, and I'm sure a couple of others that I can't recall right now.


I'm going to be busy the next couple of weeks, possibly longer. I have jury duty at the end of the month, so who knows what's going to happen.  So I will probably be posting erratically, if at all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

[ Kinship ] I am not an elf!

Jiosh-lo-hrun sat in his favorite booth in Jelly's Cafe, and lit a clove cigarette.  Staring at Five, he blew smoke in the odd man's direction.  Five didn't react.  This was the first time Jiosh had seen one of the Numbers Clan up close.  They were a reclusive group.  It was called the Numbers Clan because each member had a number tattooed on their foreheads.  Suddenly, the back of his neck tingled, and he shuddered.

"I don't like mind-speak.  Talk."  He set the cigarette in the ashtray, and poked at his salad.  Five shrugged, and held his hands palms up.  "Oh you can't speak?  Well... okay, what is it you want?"

Five pulled out a spiral notebook, and a pen.

"Questions?  you want to ask me questions?"  Five smiled and opened the notebook.  "Fine...whatever..."

Munching a slice of tomato, Jiosh grimaced.  "No, I am not an elf!"  Five winced.  "Oh sorry, I guess I thought too loud. Heh... Well, I am not from your world, oh wait, are you from the world that many here call home?  The Earth? Anyway, I am not what you would call an elf."

Taking a puff from his cig, Jiosh noticed that Five had an Uzi sitting on the seat beside him.  Nice weapon, but not too effective when fighting zombies.  He patted the sword on the table.  "This is what you need for zombies.  I can take the head clean off in one swipe."

Five, writing in his notebook, stopped, and set down his pen.  He reached behind his back and pulled out a big knife.  Jiosh had seen one like it before in the sheriff's office.  It was called a Bowie knife.

"Okay, back to your questions.  Like I said I am not an elf, I am not from Earth, I do not like it here, I don't know how I got here, this whole place seems wrong... what?  Oh, I'm almost seven feet tall.  Yes, I have pointy ears, but that doesn't make me an elf!"

Jiosh saw Five silently laughing.  "Keep it up, and I won't answer any more of your questions.  Got it?"  Five nodded.

"Oh, how did I get here?  I came through the forest.  I was in a huge battle, and things were getting bad.  I had to make a strategic withdrawal, and was pursued by a Xuctar.  What's a Xuctar?  I guess the best way to describe it in your language is... well, it's a freaking huge red magical spider."

Jiosh saw the look on Five's face, and it was his turn to laugh.  "Yes, a giant spider.  I was running fast, and when I realized I had escaped the Xuctar, I also realized I was in a strange forest.  I walked for a while, and soon found myself here... in this... town."

Five nodded, quickly taking notes.  Jiosh couldn't read the writing.  He knew it wasn't English.  In fact Jiosh realized that Five had used his native language when mind-speaking with him.  Maybe the Numbers Clan didn't speak English?  Whatever the case, mind-speaking was giving him a headache.

"Well, I really need to get back to my post.  Wandering zombies won't kill themselves... well not usually."  He finished his salad, and picked up his sword.  "I've got to go, yeah, we can continue this later."

This forest was dangerous... different... delicious... much prey... As soon as the female Xuctar laid the last of her eggs, she would molt one last time, and the hunt for the pale one would continue.  She knew the pale one was close, and there were others... food which her offspring would need, otherwise they would turn on each other.

This was her last hunt, but her offspring would continue her legacy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

[Kinship] Mapping a Strange Place

Creating a map for a campaign is fairly easy, whether it's a city, dungeon, or a continent.  I usually start with a rough sketch, and work from there to a finished map.  Mapping the Town of Kinship is turning out to be a somewhat difficult endeavor.  Not the act of mapping, just deciding what to include. I want to keep the area map fairly simple.  The map of the town will have more detail.  Here's my first rough sketch...

I like the basic layout, but I will probably change a few things, add a few more locations, and add details.  I think I will have both a color and a black and white version.

I haven't decided on a scale yet, probably one inch equals a mile.

Kinship exists outside of the normal world.  It appears to be a small town in the USA, but it doesn't appear on any map of the USA, nor does it's evil sister town of Shadowvale.  Where is it exactly? Well, that's one thing I haven't entirely decided.  Perhaps it's in a small pocket dimension, or something similar.

I've still got many ideas for Kinship I need to capture, but the area map is a major goal for me.  I'll be working on it more tonight, and hopefully decide on a style.