Sunday, July 31, 2011

[ Kinship ] Jenny ~ Bane of Vampires

The kids were at recess in the small park near the library.  Miss Leela was watching them play.  She noticed that Jenny wasn't playing with the other kids.  She was hanging by her knees from the monkey bars, and swinging back and forth.  Curious, Miss Leela walked over to see what was going on.

As she got closer she heard Jenny speaking, no she was almost chanting'

'Something bad is coming, something bad is coming...oh hi Miss Leela."  She stopped swinging and dropped to the ground.

Since Miss Leela became the teacher in Kinship she had learned that Jenny had almost supernatural premonitions.  "Jenny... what...?"  A sudden boom of thunder interrupted her question.  Then dark clouds rolled in.  Very dark clouds.

"EVERYBODY INSIDE!"  Miss Leela began rounding up the kids.  'HURRY!"  She heard the town's emergency siren started blaring.

Once inside Miss Leela did a head count.  All the kids were inside.  "Okay, kids everyone get in their seats..."  The she noticed that Jenny was packing her backpack.  "Jenny?  What are you doing?"

"I have to go home now... something bad is coming."  Jenny was wearing the Cross she made in arts and crafts, out of popsicle sticks, white glue, and pink glitter. The lanyard was made from purple yarn.  She turned on the flashlight she had pulled from her pack.  "It's getting dark."

Miss Leela made her decision quickly.  "Jeff go with your sister."  Jeff was standing at a window.  His eyes wide open he turned towards his teacher.

"Oh cee... double oh... el... COOL!  I get to go home early!"  He grabbed his pack and ran for the door.

The crash of thunder rattled the library's windows, and the lights flashed off and on a few times.  Some of the younger children screamed.

"JEFF!  Take care of your sister!  Everybody CALM DOWN!"

Walking down the gravel road towards their home, Jeff and Jenny noticed a dark figure standing in the center of the road.

Stopping, they aimed their flashlights at the figure.  It moved  blindingly fast and was suddenly standing before them. "Hello children..."  The man was tall and pale, wearing a flannel shirt and jeans.  His black hair was long and greasy looking.  His feet were bare and grimey.  Shining their lights in his face they saw his blood red eyes.

Then he smiled, showing a pair of gleaming fangs.  "I'm soooooo hungry..."  Raising his hands, the fingernails grew longer.

"Jenny, RUN! Run into the cornfield!" Jeff threw his flashlight towards the vampire, who easily batted it away.

Jenny balled her fists and put them on her hips.  "I'm NOT afraid of a stupid, stinky, icky, vampire!"

"No Jenny run!"  Grabbing his little sister's arm he tried to pull her along, but she wouldn't budge.  "Come on! Vampires are bee a dee... BAD!"

Reaching for Jenny the vampire snarled, "Oh you will be afraid, but not for very long.  I'm going to drain you, suck you dry until there's nothing left but a papery corpse."

"What's a papery corpse?" Jenny backed away raising her Cross before her.

The vampire stopped, looking puzzled.  "Never mind, is THAT your defense? You made that yourself.  It has NO POWER OVER ME!"  Moving almost faster than they could see, the vampire grabbed the Cross,  intending to crush it into splinters.

The vampire sensed the power too late.  The instant his hand touched the Cross he convulsed in pain.  Howling,  his hand, and then the rest of him burst into flame.  The vampire collapsed into a pile of smouldering ashes.

Jeff's turned toward his sister.  "Wow, that was cool."

Jenny shrugged, "That's the power of pink glitter."  Walking around the pile of ashes, she started humming.

"WAIT!"  Jeff opened his pack, and pulled out a plastic baggy that had held his sandwich.  He started scooping the ashes into the baggy.

Stopping and turning around, Jenny made a face when she saw what he was doing.  "Eeewww.... what are you doing?  Is that for another one of your 'speriments?  Boys are so weird...."

"Maybe... hey was this the bad thing that was coming?"  Jeff stowed the bag in his pack after writing "vamp ashes" on it with a black marker.

Jenny looked up at the dark, stormy clouds.  "No... something worse is coming... something much, much worse."

"Well, let's go home then.  Maybe mom will let us bake cookies."  Jeff started walking.  "HURRY!"  Jenny followed behind him, giggling "And we can have a TEA PARTY!"

Jeff groaned, "Nooooo...  oh the horror... the horror..."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

[ Kinship ] The Town of Kinship Book

©2011 Frank C. Anderson, Jr.

I've been busy working on The Town of Kinship Book.  The picture above is the initial cover mock up.  I was trying to come up with an idea for the cover when I thought about creating a town seal, and then a motto.  So I thought why not put the seal on the cover?  I think it looks good, but I may make a few changes.

I really think the seal came out fairly good, but I might work on it a little more.

I'm really not that good at Latin, and had to use an online resource to translate the town motto, which is Embrace the Mystery.  The closest I could get was Amplexo Mysterium, well, I think it's close.  I could have used Carpe Mysterium, but I didn't really like it.  In fact carpe doesn't really mean seize in Latin.  It's correct definition is pick, pluck, cull, or gather.

I thought about using De Brevitate Vitae as the motto given the nature of the Town of Kinship.

Friday, July 29, 2011

[ Kinship ] A Zombie Ate My Homework... AGAIN!

Miss Leela, was taking attendance, which didn't take long.  Not many kids attended the Kinship Public School.  Today they were meeting at the Kinship Public Library.  Most of the kids hated having school at the library, because they say it feels "haunty".  However, after there was an "incident" in the school science lab, which led to the sheriff having to declare the building off limits, they didn't have many choices.

Only one of her students wasn't at school.  This always worried her.  So many things could happen here in Kinship.  She tried her best to warn, and prepare her students, but some things you can't prepare for.  She pondered calling the sheriff, but then she saw the student walk in.

Jeff, walking in breathless and sweating profusely, was carrying a sawed-off shotgun in his right hand, and his lunchbox in his left.  He set the shotgun and lunchbox on the nearest table, and took off his backpack.  Then he sat down in a chair, wiping the sweat from his brow.

None of the other children who attended school gave him much notice.  Miss Leela walked over and picked up the shotgun, opening it at the breech.  It was unloaded.

"Now Jeff you know we have a ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY here at school."

Shrugging, Jeff pulled out some paper out of his pocket.  It was damp, stained, and somewhat shredded.  He started to try and smooth it out.

"Jeff?  What's the policy about weapons?"  Crossing her arms, and raising her eyebrows, she waited.

"I didn't have time!  I didn't want to be late again!  I know the policy!"

"Okay, just load it.  So what happened?"  Miss Leela had a good idea what happened.  Poor Jeff's bad luck again.

"Well, I was walking down down FM 666, and then all of a sudden a zombie lurched out of a corn field.  So I stopped, and pulled my shotgun out of my pack.  It snagged my homework, and the wind blew it towards the zombie.  Well, the zombie caught it and shoved it in his mouth...chewing and slobbering...stupid zombie..."

"So you're telling me a zombie ate your homework again?"  Miss Leela, trying hard not to laugh, put her hand on Jeff's shoulder.

"Yes, a stupid zombie ate my homework... AGAIN!  But I got it!  I gave it both barrels. KAPLOW!  Blew it's head right off.  Then I got what was left of my homework...THAT was icky..."

"Okaaaaaay, well I'm glad you're okay.  So there was only one zombie?"

Still working on smoothing out his homework, Jeff replied,  "Yeah, only one, otherwise I would have runned away.  F... A... S... T... FAST! So do I get extra credit?"

"For what?"  Shaking her head,  Miss Leela walked back to the front of the class.  Sometimes that boy didn't seem right in the head.  Then again everyone who lived in Kinship seemed a little odd at times.

"For ZOMBIE DISSECTION!  I took pictures to!  With my digital camera!"  Grinning, Jeff held up his homework,  "Hhhmm... not too bad... UH are we going to have SHOW and TELL this week?"

"Well, write a report tonight, and uh... show and tell?" Miss Leela's jaw drops.

Everyone in the room jumped when Jeff's lunchbox, a much coveted A-Team lunchbox, started rattling...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One Hundred and Fifty.... WOOT!

I never would have believed I would have made it to 150 posts.  I also have 61 followers, gaining one in just the last couple of days.  So... Hello, new followers!  I don't know who you are because whenever I try to look my followers don't show up.  They're invisible.  The follower blog box is empty!  I need to figure out what's going on.

I found a couple of cool websites that highlight gaming rooms and the gaming tables. The Ultimate Gaming Table is cool, but not sure it's the "ultimate".  Another one can be found here on the Agyris website.  I really like the message delivery system.  The table has a lot of character, but to me it seems a little high.  Every player does have their own area, so that's a plus.

Over on Rather Gamey , Arkhein has started a writing project, Vayniris: The Scattered City.  I've already got my story idea, and once he comes up with some guidelines I plan on getting started.

I hope everyone has enjoyed my Kinship series, it's not over, but I'm giving it a bit of a break.  Eventually, I will be creating a PDF, but I have lots more work to do before then.

Here in the Dallas area we've hit the 100 degree mark for the 25th day in a row.  It's 102 degrees right now.  There was a new record made today also, the highest low temperature since they started keeping records.  The low today was 86.  Ouch...  Yesterday, the temperature hit 106.  Double ouch...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

[ Kinship ] It Came from Channel 88

Despite being warned not to watch, sometimes people get curious.  Sometimes it's an accident.  Sometimes people swear their television developed a mind of it's own, and changed the channel, or even turned itself on.  Whatever the reason, Channel 88 causes nothing but trouble for the citizens of Kinship.
The people who've seen Channel 88 and survived, have nicknamed it the Nightmare Channel, the Channel of Doooooooooooom!, or just plain old Aaaaaaaaarrgggghhhhh!  They're often heard muttering under their breathe, "Turn it off... turn it off...turn it off..."

Some people have walked into their den, and the television is already on Channel 88.  There's a giant eye on the screen, and they say it feels like it's staring right through them.

Sometimes there's static and they hear the laughter of children.  Creepy laughter.  Then they see small, bloody hands pressed up against the screen.  It looks like the screen is bulging out.  Turn it off!

Occasionally, a television tuned into Channel 88 can act as a gateway, an interdimensional portal that lets... things... in.  Horrible things.  Things like demonic sock monkeys.  Hordes of undead puppies.  Zombie clowns...

Then there are other stories.  Stories told in whispers at Jelly's Cafe, about the people who've disappeared in their own homes.  Rumors of blood smeared on the television's screen, the furniture and items smashed, odd smells, and strange pools of liquid. 

The sheriff knows many more stories, but his lips are sealed.  Some things are best left unsaid.

Friday, July 22, 2011

[ Kinship ] Television Will Rot Your Mind

If you're a new arrival to Kinship you soon discover there's not much to do in the form of entertainment.  The local radio station, KZAN usually only plays one song, over and over and over.  Even if it's a different song, it's still one by The Doors.

However, most people do have televisions, but there's no cable, and you can't receive any of the normal over the air broadcasts.  No NBC, ABC, FOX, or the SyFy Channel.  Well, you can receive broadcasts, just not of the normal variety.

The televisions in Kinship only receive Channels 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, and 88.  Unfortunately if you tune in to one of the channels all you usually get is static, which you probably shouldn't watch for too long anyway.

Occasionally Channel 11 has what looks like some kind of computer's screen saver.  It's not entertaining at all.

At 3 PM everyday, Channel 22, has what everyone calls "The Blob Show", and it's a town favorite.  The blob wanders around what looks like an alien world, eating smaller blobs, and other strange creatures.  The show only lasts an hour.

Channel 55 appears to be a normal television channel, except that the "people" have what looks like giant quartz crystals for heads, and their hands are a mass of black tentacles.  Thankfully, none of them have appeared without clothes, even on what appears to be their form of a soap opera.  There is no sound coming over the channel, so a favorite activity is to have everyone watching talk for one of the characters.

You also soon learn to NEVER watch Channel 88.  It may very well rot your mind.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

[ Kinship ] I Forgot to Add Ninjas...

I really enjoyed writing yesterdays post.  It was fun.  My recent posts have been about campaign ideas, but I wanted to do something different.  I wanted to do something that would convey the mood of the campaign, as well as record some ideas and inspiration.

Initially I was stuck, and had no idea how to start.  I knew I wanted to write about some of the ideas I had for Kinship, but I didn't want some boring notes.  Then I had the idea to write it from the viewpoint of a character who finds themselves in Kinship.  I think it worked well.

It was also very synergistic.  Once I started writing, the ideas started rolling, and it was a stream of consciousness journey.  I came up with new ideas for NPCs and locations.   The snake farm/miniature golf idea is something I thought of on a road trip.  I recycle a lot of ideas.

The character/NPC at the roadside attraction needs more work of course.  I just added him for the creepy he brought.  Is he good?  Evil?  Does he just really like miniature golf and snakes?  Unfortunately, he doesn't get a lot of business on Highway 13.  Of course he doesn't pay rent either for the property, well, maybe not in cash.  *Cue evil laughter.*

The whole idea of Kinship came to me years ago.  I had some notes I had written, but they were on a different hard drive.  The computer was dead, but I had a good feeling that the data on the drive was still intact.  I NEEDED those notes.  Well, I found another old computer and installed the hard drive, and recovered the file.  Success!

Reading my notes, there's one line that I wrote, that made me laugh. "No dragons... unless I change my mind." Kinship doesn't even need one dragon.

Well, not all of it was gold, but it's still useful.  I had written down some notes about the college, and it's faculty of one.  The college has an unusual curriculum, and a strange student body.  More on that later...

Once I got most of yesterday's post written, I did some proofreading, and made some changes.  I added a couple of things to beef it up a little.  Now, I can take weird, roll it in strange, and sprinkle it with bizarre, but sometimes you don't want to go too far.  I could have included ninjas, but they just didn't fit.  It would have been too much.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

[ Kinship ] Highway 13 and the Town of Kinship

Unexpected highway construction, a wrong turn, and a sudden storm, and you suddenly find yourself on Highway 13?  It really isn't much of a highway, two lanes at best, and frequent potholes.  At least there isn't much traffic!

You pass an abandoned service station covered with strange graphetti.  On each side of the highway there are dense woods, with the occasional clear cut from logging.  Then you enter an area of farmland, which seems to consist of corn crops.  Lots of corn. 

Suddenly, there are scarecrows along the edge of the corn fields, and they're all facing the road.  Upon closer inspection you hope that they are indeed just scarecrows, and not something else.  You look away.

There's nothing on the radio, but static.  Your constant scanning eventually finds a station with the call sign KZAN.  The only band they play is The Doors.  "KZAN, all Doors, all the time!" A DJ with a really gravelly voice mutters something about the upcoming Kinship Pumpkin Festival.  Then the song People Are Strange starts playing...

Corn fields give way to empty, stony fields.  Then suddenly there's a roadside attraction, that appears to be a strange mix of a snake farm, and miniature golf.  You see a very tall man wearing a suit with a top hat.  He's clutching a bottle of Jack in one hand, and a putter in the other.  Around his neck is a python.  He waves the putter at you as you slow down.  You ponder whether or not to stop and ask for directions.  The snake raises it's head and appears to look at you.  You drive on.

There's a sign that indicates an exit for the town of Kinship.  You take it.  Your stomach is grumbling and you're all out of junk food.  The asphalt road is in disrepair.  A couple of miles later you pass what looks like a small college, but you don't see any students

Then there's the sign.  The welcome sign.  You stop and get out to get a closer look.  "Welcome to the Town of Kinship, Population ..."  You notice the number has been painted over.  Underneath the vandalism is the word variable, which hopefully is red paint, and not something else.  There are also what appears to be claw marks, and bullet holes...

There's a rustling sound in the bushes at the side of the road, and a strange huffing sound.  You hop back in your car and speed towards town.  The needle is edging towards empty, otherwise you would consider driving back the way you came.

You finally arrive.  It seems like any other small town in America.  A few, thankfully normal looking people are going about their business.  You spot a cafe and pull up to the front.  Getting out of your car you see a SUV pull up behind you.

On the side of the SUV is painted Town of Kinship, Sheriff.  A very large man gets out, and walks towards you.  He has a grim look on his face until he reaches you, and then he smiles.  He's wearing normal clothes, but has a badge on his shirt, and a gun belt.

You shake his hand.  His grip is strong and almost painful.  He's the sheriff, and he welcomes you to town.  He looks into your eyes, and it's overpowering, you feel weak.  He hands you his business card, and starts to turn and leave, but stops, and speaks...

"When you have your questions, and you will have questions, come by my office.  You are going to have lots of questions.  Everyone always has lot's of questions."   You notice he has a slight accent, perhaps Russian?  The sheriff then walks back to his vehicle, chuckling.

As you watch the sheriff drive off, you notice something hanging from the rear view mirror.  It looks like a monkey's paw.

Across the street, you see what looks like an octopus tentacle reach out of the storm drain, and grab a rat.  It disappears back into the storm drain quickly.  You shake your head.  Hunger does funny things to the brain.  Low blood sugar level isn't a good thing.

Entering the cafe, you see a man sitting at the counter turn towards you.  You stop, your jaw drops, and you gasp.  He only has one very large eye in the center of his forehead.

The man sneers at you, "Hasn't anyone ever told you it's not polite to stare?"

Glancing around at the other customers of the cafe, you know you're going to have many questions. Many questions indeed...

There's a song playing on the jukebox...

People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone
Women seem wicked when you're unwanted
Streets are uneven when you're down

When you're strange
Faces come out of the rain
When you're strange
No one remembers your name
When you're strange
When you're strange
When you're strange...

[ Kinship ] People, Places, and Things

I firmly believe creating a world for a rpg campaign is part art and part science, with a lot of inspiration necessary.  A campaign world needs a lot of people (NPCs), places (maps/modules), and things (treasure,equipment, monsters).

One of the things I like about using Earth as the basis for a campaign is that I don't have to map the world!  Most of that work is already done.  I can use all kinds of maps that you might not normally consider a game accessory.  Road maps, topographical maps, tourist maps, the National Geographic maps, the list is endless.  Plenty of material to use.  However, I'm always going to add something of my own creation.

One of the things I'm going to have in my Modern Horror campaign is a "lost town".  Lost as in, it's populated, but no one who doesn't already live there can find it!  The town is called Kinship, and early in the towns history it was cursed by Gypsies.  Of course there are a few exceptions, some people can come and go as they please, but that's rare. 

Sometimes people find themselves "lost", both in regards to their location, and direction in life.  These are the type of people who find themselves arriving in Kinship.  The town itself is home to quite a few strange people.  The sheriff is a descendant of Rasputin.  The town coroner is a Sorcerer.  Nobody will play poker with the town's Invisible Man. And once a year the decendants of the band of Gypsies that cursed the town show up  About the only thing the town's citizens don't tolerate is vampires.

The idea of Kinship came about as an idea for a novel.  I still want to work on that idea, but I think it would be a great setting for a rpg.  I think it would work great for GURPS or WoD.

Monday, July 18, 2011

World Intelligence Network

Creating Organizations for RPG Campaigns Part 3

Information is power, and whoever has the most information has the most power.  That's the motto of W.I.N., the World Intelligence Network.  While not affliated with any government, they have agents or contacts in just about every nation or countries government.

The exact goal or mission of W.I.N. is known only to the upper eschelon of the group.  The structure of W.I.N. is very similiar to that of splinter cells.  Very few of it's agents know the size or scope of the group.  They have observers and agents in every aspect of society, CEOs of megacorporations, magazine stand owners, housewives, dabbawalas, actors, scientists, well the list is very extensive.  The majority of these don't even know they work for W.I.N.  Most think they are informants for one of the alphabet soup agencies, others think they are members of some conspiratorial Illuminati group.

The Council, which are the leaders and decision makers of the group, and are united to do nothing more than mantain the status quo.  They gather information, and use a very specialized think tank to determine the potential outcome of world events.  If the result is less than favorable to the majority of the world, they try to work out something better.  Some of the members have their own personal agendas, but none are world changing. 

I think this group would work well in a supers or espionage campaign.  I've actually used a version of this group before in a GURPS campaign.  I'm still trying to decide if it would fit in my horror campaign.

"Crisis averted, looks like this is a win win for everyone!" - Council member on preventing WW3, yet again...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the Shadow Department

Creating Organizations for RPG Campaigns Part 2

There are things that go bump in the night.  Then there are things that go bump in the night, and they howl and shriek, slash, tear, and maim, eat your flesh, and devour your soul.  That's if you're lucky.

The average person may never encounter the horrors of the paranormal.  Others may only catch a glimpse, a brief startling encounter that is soon forgotten, and if remembered, as only a figment of their imagination, or a nightmare.  Then there are those that have full blown supernatural encounters.  In the "business" these are referred to as Abnormal Events.  If you survive the first one, then you seek help, and anywhere you can.

Most people can eventually contact a Hunter, or a group of Hunters.  People whose sole purpose in life is to eradicate evil of supernatural origin.  However, sometimes the situation is bad, very bad, and the Hunters need someone they can call.  This is where the Shadow Department comes in, an ultra-secret faction of the Department of Homeland Security.  It's cover name is the Bureau of Statistical Support, or B.S.S.  The operatives in the field call it "bee ess".

The Shadow Department is fairly new, but not the first department that dealt with supernatural horrors.  The last such group to exist was in the early 1900s, but due to the conflicts in Korea and Viet Nam, funding was abolished.  A recent upsurge in the paranormal and several Abnormal Events,  certain members of the global elite decided that to maintain the status quo, there had to be a means to deal with the threat.  So to combat evil, the Shadow Department was created.

The B.S.S. has a research and technical branch, but it's main purpose is to put foot soldiers on the front line. If deep research is needed the Shadow Department will work with other groups, especially O.R.B.

When an armed response is needed, B.S.S. can send in a Quick Response Team, whose members have been recruited mainly from the special forces of the military  These are the best of the best, and receive even more rigorous training.  One such team is F.O.G., the Fist of God.  It was one of the first teams created, and to become a member the operative has to have Faith.

Fist of God is made of survivors of some of the first operations.  Many, many of the toughest, most well trained soldiers went from hero to zero when they had to face supernatural monsters.  Those with Faith in a Supreme Being, survived the early days, and decided to form F.O.G.  Since then other groups have been formed, each with it's own unusual requirements for membership.

When your community is threatened with the most evil of evils, you want F.O.G. to show up.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Partly Cloudy with a Chance of Hell On Earth

I want to tell the local meteorolgists that it's not a high pressure dome over Texas, but a Colossal Heat Elemental hovering over Texas.  Yes, it's hot.  Today, with the Heat Index it was 106.  Looks like this will be the second hottest Summer in Texas on record.  Heat, drought, broken water mains, the strain on the local energy grid, a piss poor economy, the continuing NFL lockout, oh what that doesn't bother me so much.  Arrggghhhhhh!

The bad thing is I had to walk for an hour and a half on an errand, ONE WAY.  It had to be done, so I grabbed a bottle of water, and hit the road.  I survived, and to get my mind off the heat, I thought about the GURPS campaign I want to run.  I actually thought of some cool ( heh... cool ) things, but once home I was exhausted, and didn't write anything down.  However, once I give it some thought most of it will come back to me.

I'm also sure my intelligence points will return once I'm rehydrated.  Man, that Supernatural episode tonight was funny.  Yeah, I know it was a repeat, but I hadn't watched it yet.

Stay cool my friends.

2011 ENnie Awards Voting Has Begun

If you think I would make a good judge, please go vote for me.   I've made my position known, so I won't be jumping back up on the soapbox.  Click on the above pic or the oen on the sidebar to go to the voting site.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the Occult Research Bureau

Creating an Organization for RPG Campaigns Part 1

I've been giving some thought to my next campaign, and I really want to run GURPS again.  Now I haven't discussed it with any potential players, but I'm really interested in running a horror based campaign.  A campaign in which the player's characters are members of an organisation that deals with supernatural threats.

One of my inspirations are the novels, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta., written by Larry Correia.  Both are very entertaining, and would make a great campaign. Larry also writes a very entertaining blog, Monster Hunter Nation, and is a self-admitted nerd.  He's also a gamer!

When brainstorming about this new campaign, I wanted a cool name for the group, and I came up with, Occult Research Bureau.  The next thing I did was do a google search, and like I suspected,there was already an O.R.B. website with that name.  Now, I'm not sure if it's some kind of entertainment website to promote a haunted house/mansion, or if it really is about researching the occult. The website hasn't had any recent activity.  They also have a facebook page, but it hasn't had any recent activity either. Not that it matters, I like the name, and I feel that it falls under the concept of fair use. ( I didn't see any trademarks anywhere. ) So unless I come up with something better, O.R.B. is the name of the group.

The next decision would have to be whether or not the groups is a private organisation, a corporation, or a government agency.  In the campaign I plan on having more than one group, and they might be rivals, or have some level of cooperation.  A group could focus mainly on research, and gathering data.  It could also deal with supernatural threats, with appropriately armed response teams.  I'm sure this is the main direction the campaign would take, but you never know.

I would want it to be somewhat of a sandbox campaign,  but in the case of a highly organised group, the missions would have to be more of a railroad, i.e take out the cabal of wizards, or they summon the most horrible of horribles.   ( Especially if the group is a government agency, or with strong ties to the government. ) There would be definite nasty repercussions as the result of mission failure, i.e civilian deaths or a zombie apocalypse, which I guess would result in civilian deaths as well.  Mission failure is not an option!

On a different, but related note, I want to have a Cthulhu theme park in the campaign.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Word of Warning: A Public Service Message

I found this while doing a bit of research.  I was curious to what a Judge might do about finding out who an anonymous blogger is...

Judge Rules To Reveal Anonymous Blogger's Identity Over Insults
Several readers have written to tell us of a ruling in the New York Supreme Court which will allow model Liskula Cohen to find out the identity of an anonymous blogger who posted some of her photos with captions including the words "psychotic," "skank," and "ho." The site was part of, and Google has already complied with a request for the author's IP address and email. "[Cohen's attorney] said that once his legal team tracks the e-mail address to a name, the next step will be to sue Cohen's detractor for defamation. He said he suspected the creator of the blog is an acquaintance of Cohen. The blog has not been operational for months. The unidentified creator of the blog was represented in court by an attorney, Anne Salisbury, who said her client voluntarily took the blog down when Cohen initiated legal action against it. ... the judge quoted a Virginia court that ruled in a similar case that nameless online taunters should be held accountable when their derision crosses a line. 'The protection of the right to communicate anonymously must be balanced against the need to assure that those persons who choose to abuse the opportunities presented by this medium can be made to answer for such transgressions.'"

Let that be a lesson to anyone who uses a website to call people etc, you can be traced and you can be sued and maybe worse
There are quite a few stories about this sort of thing online.  If you go too far your anonymity will not protect you.  Some people will get fed up enough to sue.

On Moderating Comments

Well, I'm not sure, but a comment I left on a blog was either moderated, or deleted.  I'm not going to mention the blog or blogger, because that's not that important.  In fact, sometimes I get in a hurry and forget about the word verification thing.  So maybe it never got posted.  However, I'm about 90% positive the comment was posted.
The thing is, I wasn't being a troll, and as far as I'm concerned it wasn't an offensive comment.  I was agreeing with the blogger.  So I'm not sure what happened.  I considering dropping the blog from my blog roll, but since I wasn't sure I decided to keep following it.

Sometimes I forget to subscribe to comment threads, and rarely check back, unless it's a controversial topic, which I plan on avoiding as much as possible in the future.  Life's  too short to engage in endless Internet debates, that never get resolved.  However, from now on I plan on keeping track of my comments.  If someone doesn't like my comments, and doesn't want them, then I don't want to waste my time with their blog.

I don't moderate comments, and I haven't had to delete any comments, well, except for the spam that makes it through the filter.  I guess I've been lucky.  Who knows?  In the future, that may change, and I will have to moderate comments, but  I don't want to, that would make this too much work.

Later today, I hope to have something game related, or at least entertaining posted.  I've been on a soapbox entirely too much lately.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Platform as an ENnie Judge Nominee

Hello, my name is Frank Anderson, and I am a 2012 ENie Award Judge nominee. I am a long time gamer, who also writes a gaming blog called Have Dice, Will Travel. I would like to discuss what my platform, or rather, what my criteria would be when judging submissions to the ENnies. Please note that I may revise these criteria as time passes, and my ideas change. I believe this is an organic process, and nothing is written in stone. If I waited until I have finalized my thoughts on this matter I would never get anything written or posted.

First of all I would like to state that as a ENnie Judge I will remain objective, undistorted by emotion or personal bias. In other words, while I may not enjoy certain genres, or subject matters, I will give them the same level of regard I do other genres, or subject matters. I will be fair and impartial.

There are two important things I consider when analyzing a role-playing game, module, sourcebook, etc. First of all, is it playable? Secondly, is it entertaining/enjoyable? I think these two criteria should apply to both the person running the game, and the players. Now, I should make a distinction here; I think a game can be playable, but might not be enjoyable, but a game that's not playable is rarely, if ever, enjoyable.

The third thing I would consider is, does the product have a broad-based appeal to gamers? There might be a few gamers out there that would enjoy a RPG written about giant mutant babies that terrorize Earth, but I'm not sure it would have much of an audience, commercial or otherwise. After all, these are fan-based awards. After the nominees are selected, you, the gamer get to vote, and you're not likely to vote for something you've never heard of, much less bought or played.

Some of the other criteria I would consider are originality/creativity, ease of use, i.e. how well the submission is organized, and professionalism/craftsmanship, i.e. does the layout look good, is the font readable, etc?

In this day and age it is very easy to produce and publish a RPG and related material, whether it's a campaign sourcebook, map tiles, or any form of role-playing game accessory. POD ( publish on demand or even print on demand ) is in it's infancy, ( in my opinion ), and the technology is only going to improve over time. With the free open source programs available, a game can be made available in PDF or in an e-book format, making production and distribution easier than it has ever been. However, when you're trying publish a game I would hope people would try to meet some of the above criteria.

When it comes to blogs and pod casts, there are two things that I think are important. Is the blog or pod cast entertaining as well as informative? A blog should be well written. A pod cast should have good production values. Personality is important as well, if you come across as arrogant or snarky in your blog or padcast, then it really doesn't appeal to me. It doesn't matter how informative your blog might be, presentation, mood, whatever you want to call it, is important. Then again, I realize that those things might not bother some people, and I would have to consider that.

In my application, I mentioned play testing as much of the material as possible, and today I realized this was a misstatement. The material should have already been play tested as much as possible. An ENnie is an award for published material, whether it's a RPG with a large print run, or a free RPG available over the Internet. I think the only real way to fairly judge a submission would be to use it in play. Run a game, use the module, or accessory, and get other people's feedback. That's what I intend to do if I get elected.

If elected, I know this won't be an easy task. It will require time, and organization. I will be fair and impartial, and will show no favoritism to any particular company or product. I plan on giving each submission the same level of "inspection" and regard. Please feel free to ask me any questions, about games, etc. and how I would judge them , because while I know why the sky is blue, that's not what I am here for. I am also open to any suggestions you may have. Thank you for your time.

FYI, at one point I was going to write an RPG about giant mutant babies that terrorize Earth, but I thought it over, and decided the public wasn't ready yet. One day maybe...

To my blog readers:  This is what I am going to post on as many gaming forums as I can.  What do you think?

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Official - I'm an ENnie Award Judge Nominee

Well, it's official. I'm a nominee for a spot as an Ennie Judge. When I woke up yesterday I thought a lot about why I submitted my application, and it came down to two things. One reason was I was starting to feel uncomfortable about criticizing the Ennies, because I really didn't know that much about them. I've read quite some controversial things about them on blogs, but anyone can write anything on the Internet. If I'm going to criticize something I need first hand experience. I need to find out for myself how things are done.

The second reason? I REALLY ENJOY THE HOBBY! I mentioned in the last post how I was disappointed that TARGA tanked, and didn't really get off the ground. I think being an ENnie Judge is one way of getting more involved.

Yesterday I received an email from Tony Law, the Business Manager of the ENnie Awards, and apparently he had read at least one of my blog posts. My first thought before I read the email, was that he was either going to pull my nomination, or ask me to remove my blog posts containing criticisms of the ENnies. It was neither, and I was pleasantly surprised. So, despite my worries, the email was positive, and he went on to say how he appreciated that I was getting involved, unlike many who criticize the ENnies. He even mentioned how at one time he also had been critical of the ENnies.

There are 26 candidates that are campaigning to be an ENnie Judge, and the competition will be fierce. There are five spots to be filled. The voting doesn't start until July 15 and runs until July 24. The winners are announced on August 5. I'm not sure how the voting works, whether you vote for five of the judges, or just one, and the top five are elected? I do know that only one vote per IP Address is allowed, and I agree with this. So please, only vote for me once. If your computer uses a dynamic IP Address, then it may not work the first time, and you will need to try again the next day. If you still can't vote you might need to find a computer with a static IP Address.

Here is the web page with all the ENnie Judge nominess for 2012 .  I am the second nominee on the list, Frank Anderson.  I really wish I had given my responses some more thought, but really there's not much I would have changed.

Thus begins my campaign to be an ENnie Judge. I will be hitting the forums, and campaigning like heck. I think I would be an excellent judge and will look at the submitted RPG products with the same enthusiasm I had when I first opened my Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set, ( the infamous blue box) so many years ago.

A Quiet Sunday

It's been a quiet Sunday for me, and I've spent the day doing a bunch of nothing, aside from the usual Internet stuff.  No yard work, no fence building, no cleaning, nada, nothing.  It was a day of meditation, and thinking.  I had a lot to think about.

I usually don't check my blog stats, but the other day I looked at them, and was surprised when I saw the number of page views for June.  There were over 4,000 page views!  Wow!  Considering HDWT has over 10,000 page views since I started, that's quite a number for one month, especially considering I only made four posts in June.  Then I realized it was probably traffic driven by the "social contract" controversy.  I made several comments, on a couple of different blogs, and I guess that's where the traffic came from.  Oh well...
Earlier this week, I thought about ending my blogging career.  Not for any particular reason, I was just wondering if what I was doing was worthwhile.  Despite any controversy, or negativity, I do enjoy blogging, and I really enjoy the synergy the blogging community creates.  I know many bloggers in the gaming/OSR blogosphere are leaving or have left recently, but I decided I'll be here for quite awhile.

I was also thinking the same things about gaming.  Do I make the effort of trying to find a new group?  Work on some material for a campaign?  Just give up, and play MMORPGs?  There are quite a few things I need to concentrate on, but I enjoy gaming too much to just give up.  Everybody needs a hobby.

When TARGA went belly up I was disappointed because I wanted to get involved, and really promote gaming as a hobby.  I'm thinking about ways I can do that, but haven't come up with any concrete ideas yet.

All things considered, I'm feeling better about things.  There's a fire in my belly that hasn't been there for a very long time.

If you read my post yesterday, you know I applied to be a judge of the Ennies, which might be considered odd given my recent criticisms of the Ennies.  Well, today I received an email from Tony Law, the Business Manager ( head honcho ) of the Ennies.  *Cue ominous music* And so I leave you with a cliff hanger, because I want to discuss the Ennies, the email, and my decision to campaign to be a judge in a post tomorrow.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I Think I've Lost My Marbles

I can't believe what I just did.  I recently criticized the ENnies, and whether they were credible or not.  There have been discussions by at least one past judge, and others about corruption and back room dealings.  I'm of the mind that where there's smoke there's usually fire.

One of the judges commented on my recent post about the ENnies.  He made some good points, and was polite.  He even suggested I nominate a friend to be a judge.  I gave it some thought, and decided one way to find out what really goes on is to get involved.  So I went and filled out an application for myself.  Now, I realize the chances of me getting elected are next to impossible, but I thought it was worth a shot.  Like the title says, I feel like I've lost my marbles.  I may not even make it on the ballot.  I don't know if everyone who submits an application gets on the ballot or not.  I guess I will find out soon enough.

I was completely honest on my application.  I mentioned my blog, and that I have been critical of the ENnies.  I've always felt that full disclosure, and honesty is important.

If you want this part of the gaming world to have a voice in the ENnies be sure and vote for me.  Or you could go nominate yourself!  Like I said the chances are I won't be a judge, but if I were "elected", I would take my duties seriously.

Of course this doesn't mean I'm giving up the idea of "the Zanies".  I'm still working on the concept.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Zanazaz Awards

That's right.  I'm working on The Zanazaz Awards concept.  I'm working on categories, a certificate, and a banner to post on your blog, ( if you want to ).

With "The Zanazaz Awards" you don't have to worry about back room dealings, corruption, bribes ( unless you want to... heh... I'm joking!), and other such nonsense.  There are no deadlines, no hidden rules, no snobbery. You don't even have to send me anything, except perhaps suggestions, or nominations.  I am the final judge and juror.  Yes, it's up to my capricious whim, but are any other awards any better?  And I would say my awards will be just as credible as any other awards out there, probably more credible because there are no politics, money, or big business involved.

I've already made one nomination for a blog post at Strange Magic .  It's in the category of "Most Excellent Blog Post".  It made me laugh, and humor is a good thing.  I'm still brainstorming other categories, but I'm liable to create new categories at the drop of a hat.

This is all about having fun, spreading good cheer and happiness.

This Is Interesting

Here's a comment from the blog RPG Blog II
Zachary Houghton said...

@Kelvin: As I’m sure with any awards ceremony, there’s always a fair amount of discussion behind the scenes to even everything out. I can remember when I was an ENnies judge, there was a big push to bump one entry up from an HM to an actual nominee because of the company having been a big supporter of the ENnies.

I also remember pissing off everyone because I stomped my feet, threw a tantrum, and was generally a pain until a couple of products I felt were deserving got nominations. On a couple of other categories I felt were toss-ups, I was even willing to bargain a bit to get it done.

There’s always “back room deals” and the like that goes on in any awards ceremony. The ENnies are under new management now, though, so I have no greater insight as to how things actually went this year or what were the considerations.

@Greg: Yeah, it wouldn’t be my first pick on how to do it, either, I suppose.

July 8, 2011 1:05 PM

In my opinon, this sort of thing makes something like the ENnies lose what little credibility it ever had. Back room deals? Makes you wonder what goes on that no one ever hears about?  Think about it.  I have to call them like I see them.

Really? In my opinion, ennies = LAME

Okay, I know this opinion might upset some people, but I couldn't care less if your game or whatever won an award.  Especially something like an ennie.  What's an ennie anyway?  Does it have something to do with independent publishing?  If that's the case then aren't almost all the RPG/hobby games independent?  I noticed that a couple of D&D products were nominated.  Are they indie also?  I thought they were the "big boys" of RPG publishing?  Or is an ennie something else?

I also find the qualifications of the judges a bit dubious.  From what I understand, aren't they picked from applicants from a forum?  From what I've seen  posted by most forum contributors, WHY IN THE HELL would I want to trust their judgement about games or gaming accessories?

Or is it just an ego massage for the game makers/publishers? 

I know it's a sweet gig for the judges, because they get free games.  Hey, if you want an award send me a copy of your game, gaming accessory, or whatever, and I'll send you a nice certificate, and post it on my blog!  I'll even put a link on my sidebar.  Heh... yeah, like that's going to happen.

I'm sure some people go,  "Ooooooooooooo,,, it won an ennie..."  However, it's not going to influence my purchasing decision.  In fact it might push me in the 'don't bother buying or downloading' direction.

It's fine if you want to try and win an award for your efforts, but all in all, the ennies seem to be more of a popularity contest than anything else.

And just to be clear, I don't have any dogs in this show.  I've never submitted anything to an awards contest.  Nor have I applied to be a judge.  No sour grapes here; just my opinion about most awards in general.  Even if I were to start creating/publishing gaming material I would have no interest in submitting it to the ennies or any other awards contest.

Be proud of  what you create.  Do it becuase you love doing it.  If you make some money, and people like your work that's all the awards you should need.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Yeah, I'm a bit late with this post.  Last night when I read Christian's farewell post I was furious.  I knew I couldn't write a blog post in that state of mind.  So I sent an email to Greg of Dark Horse Game Design, asking his opinion of the mess, and went to sleep.

I woke up, and I was still furious.  The world seemed like a much darker place.  I started reading many bloggers reaction to Christian's departure, and planned on writing a post about it, but he returned before I got the chance, which is a very good thing.  I was "gearing up" for war, and I wasn't going to take any prisoners.  I was that pissed off.

All in all, the blogosphere responded in a very good way.  I learned there are many more good people than bad in this corner of the universe. I've also found a couple of new ( well new to me ) blogs to follow.

I was going to write some more, but I felt a rant coming on, and High Plains Drifter is on.  So best if I stop now...

Christian, I'm glad you're back.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

I hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday.  Mine has been a bit ho hum, but that's okay.  I didn't really feel like celebrating anyway.  I do miss shooting fireworks off, and haven't done that in years.  I miss the bottle rocket and roman candle wars of my youth, although I'm surprised no one lost a finger, or an eye, or whatever!  Heh...  I think the worst was a slightly burnt finger when a black cat firecracker went off in my hand.

Anyway, have a good one, and if you've got some, shoot off a bottle rocket for me! Just do it safely.