Monday, December 31, 2012

The Top 7

I stumbled across the top 7 role-playing games meme that was going through the gaming blogosphere recently.  I have read the following posts about their respective top seven games:
This type of stuff always interests me because it gives an inside look at what other people in the hobby were doing at the same time.  The summer of 1980 was when it all started for me.  I received the Holmes Basic Set and the three AD&D hardbacks from my uncle David.  I have played a ton of games since then but I am not going to do a separate list for games I played and games I ran.  Both lists would basically be the same but the games would occupy a different spot in both lists. 
1. AD&D: My buddies and I actually started off with Holmes and followed the references to the AD&D books I also owned.  We really liked the additional rules and restrictions offered up by AD&D.  It was pretty common for us to use D&D stuff with AD&D; it did not matter because it was all Dungeons & Dragons as far as we were concerned.  No one game got more play time from our group than this one.  I never moved up to 2E but I did game a little with 3E.

2. Palladium Role-Playing Game: Out of all of the stuff that has come and gone in my collection this is the one item that I wish I still had more than anything else.  This is the one game that made us all stop playing any form of D&D to play it instead.  It almost seemed like an upgrade to AD&D with the similarities in the rules systems; that made it easy to use stuff between the two systems also.I have the second edition around here somewhere but it just has not grabbed my attention like the original.     

 3. D&D: It all started with the Holmes Basic set but over the years AD&D got much more play out of our group.  We were under the mistaken impression that using AD&D meant we were playing a more "sophisticated" game.  I know, the folly of youth and all that jazz.  If I was starting a new campaign today I would probably just go with Moldvay or Holmes and some of the fan expansion material. 

 4. Talislanta: I stumbled across the second edition of the Talislanta Handbook and Campaign Guide on a random trip to the local game store.  We were instantly intrigued by the out of the ordinary races and campaign setting.  I always liked using one of the Gnomekin character options.  As cool as some of the more recent editions have been, I still feel like the slimmer manuals from that time were better at capturing your imagination.

5. Villains & Vigilantes: This was the first and in many ways still the best supers game I ever played.  V&V seemed to emphasize fun more than anything else.  This was the first game that had us actively building connections and relationships between various character and stories in the campaign. My old V&V folders are somewhere in storage with a ton of character write ups.  I would like to find them someday and post some to my blog. 

6. Marvel Super Heroes: I played quite a bit of the old Marvel Super Heroes game from TSR but I was not a big fan of the basic game.  It was cool because it was Marvel but I always felt like it was a little "too basic" in presentation.  When the Advanced Set was released, I became a big fan of the rules.  In fact, we used them for doing things other than supers.  There was a short GI JOE campaign that added a list of MOS options to the character creation process.  We had stats for a ton of the official characters also.  We also did a Transformers campaign. 

7. Nightlife: I do not remember much about this game other than we played several sessions.  I know it was one of those "monsters in the modern world" games but that is about it.  I believe it was released several years before White Wolf began the World of Darkness.  It remains the only horror type game that I have ever played but I would definitely like to try Call of Cthulhu.
There you have it - the top 7 games I have participated in as a player or game master.  I may be late in posting it but I made it.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

[USR] [OUTBREAK RPG] Progress So Far...

I just had some thoughts about the OUTBREAK RPG running through my head so I thought I would post them.  I find that it is often a good idea to clear the thoughts so I can move on to other things.  Without further delay, here is where various parts of the design stand in regards to completion.
I really like the fact that USR is so rules light and should prove to be pretty accommodating to customization.  The two areas that I am focused on are the Attribute Dice and Specialisms.  Once those two sections are completed it should be easier to move on to other sections. 
World Fiction
I have started writing several of the fiction pieces that will be scattered throughout the book.  I hope for these fiction pieces to help set the tone and reveal a little bit of the campaign world at the same time.  All of the following pieces have been given a preliminary plot and structure; of course, all is subject to change.
News broadcast: I plan on opening the book with a transcript of a news report from a local TV station.  They think it is all a prank gone wrong that resulted in deaths.  During an update later in the news, one of the dead rise and attacks. The news anchors back at the station along with the viewers at home are left wondering what the hell is going on.  This could work well in a movie or television show but I am not sure how well this will work in the written medium.
Lab reports: The section on the virus and infected will have a few lab reports that detail the failure of the early designs and then the breakthrough that led to success. 
Various:  I also have some personal diary entries and general fiction that I am going to insert at certain points in the rulebook.  As time goes by there may be even more fiction added.
In all fairness, I can write a bit but I make no claims of greatness; simply put, I am not a professional writer nor do I claim to  If the fiction just does not cut it, then I will most likely drop it.  My plan is to post some of the pieces when they are nearing completion so I can get feedback.  Of course, at that point if anyone is willing to collaborate on the fiction or anything else then I am always open to that.
Groups & Factions

There will be several groups for the players to interact with - peacefully or not -  in the campaign world.  Some of the groups will be old while some of them will be new and formed in reaction to the reality of the campaign world.  Some of the groups are detailed below.
U.S. Military: The military will still be a strong force but will not necessarily be united.  The forces will be scattered among several strongholds throughout the continent.
Militias:  These groups will be formed in reaction to the world as it is now.  Some of them will be helpful to PCs while others will be neutral or even violent.  These militias will most commonly  be made up of former military personnel combined with other citizens. 
Gangs:  Some of the gangs will have put aside their differences in this world.  They will change their names along with their ways.  There will still be plenty of  gangs that hold on to their old prejudices and will be enemies.  This will show that humans can be just as dangerous as the infected.
CED - Church of the End Days: This is a new movement that will take place among survivors.  Members of this church do not believe any of the scientific rumors but believe that they are living in the biblical end of days. 
The biggest contribution to the game by these groups and factions will be emphasizing that strength is in numbers and the world is much too dangerous to attempt to go solo.
I just needed to get all of this out of my head so I could move on to other areas.  Hopefully, progress keeps going steady.              

Saturday, December 29, 2012

[USR] OUTBREAK RPG - Ideas & an Outline

This post contains my initial ideas about the design and layout of the OUTBREAK RPG.  Of course, all of this stuff is subject to change.
The rules will open with a transcript from a news report or a 911 call from a hysterical citizen screaming about zombies.  The news anchor/operator will be skeptical but by the end of the conversation it will be clear that something is not right.  This should continue on in other sections or at random spots in the book with a lab report, a police report, a journal entry or whatever else seems appropriate.
Included in the introduction will be a subsection on What You Need that will cover the same list in USR and also point people to the USR core.  I am making a supplement to the rules, not replacing them.
Character Creation
Players will be free to create a character that is appropriate for the modern world in a zombie apocalypse.  There will be examples of how to assign the Attribute Dice and Specialisms to come up cops, teachers, scientists, detectives, military personnel, and other character types.  There might even be the option to play a character somewhat similar to project Alice from the Resident Evil movies.
The Campaign
This section will cover various aspects of the game world.  This section will include a short history and background of the game world, information on weapons, equipment, encounters, the virus, and other information as well.   
Weapons & Equipment
A list of weapons and equipment stats will need to be provided.  Of course, the characters will also be scavenging for weapons, ammo, and fuel in many situations so there should be some scavenging tables.
Not only will the characters have to contend with monsters brought to life but also other survivors.  Some of these other survivors may not be "good guys" so that could lead to conflicts. 
This section will give details about the monstrosities the characters will encounter during the game.  What the general populace believes to be zombies are actually the result of an experiment by a weapons manufacturer.  There will be various types of bio-weapons with zombies being the most basic type. 
The Virus
This section will explain about the development of the virus and what specifically led to the outbreak.  At this point, I am thinking that there were several weapons manufacturers in a heated competition for government funds.  One of them got a significant advantage which led to one of the others looking for revenge.  It took years but they were able to get an insider into the leading manufacturer and sabotaged one of their plants - instant zombie epidemic.
This section will also explain how the virus is spread, how long it takes for the infected to turn, and the probability of a positive outcome from being infected.
The Antidote
Is there one?  The rumors of such a substance will definitely be the motivation behind some game sessions.
There will be several organizations at work behind the scenes in this campaign.  This section will detail the creators of the virus, opposing organizations, militia groups, safe havens, etc.
The plan here is to have several adventures in this section that will start a campaign shortly after the initial outbreak and progress up to the epidemic over several sessions.  The characters can learn rumors in some of these sessions and may hear about safe zones that they may attempt to reach, antidotes, or some other information that will serve to spark further adventure.
That seems like a good start for now.  I am sure that I forgot something somewhere but I will get more detailed in the coming posts...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Coming Back... / A New Project

I have had low output on this blog for the last few weeks and the reason is that I just needed a break from pretty much everything.  I finished the latest semester of school and found out the courses I need for next semester are all full; I am actually pretty glad about that so I can take off the next semester to recharge my batteries.  I have also had the last two weeks off of work due to our Christmas shut down at work.  That has gone a long way to getting caught up on overall rest.  Simply put, I just decided to step back from all of my extra activites for a short time since I was off work and out of school so I could get a few things done that I have been stalling on and just plain relax.  
Now that I am refreshed, I have the itch to get back to posting and developing projects that I have floating around in my head.  I have come to one conclusion about my gaming posts - I am going to take a step back from fantasy for a short period.  I have the itch to look into other genres and I just need to do something new for a bit.  One of the projects I have been thinking of is a zombie game powered by the USR rules.
Outbreak (or maybe Contagion).
A role-playing campaign powered by the USR system set in the time of a zombie apocalypse.  I am going with a campaign idea heavily inspired by Resident Evil but not exactly the same.
What The Characters Know
Zombies are loose in the world and they have no idea why.  Popular theories include magic, aliens, the end of the world, and experimentation among others. 
The Truth
The "zombies" are bio-weapons engineered for use in war.  There is nothing supernatural or otherworldly about them. 
Playable Characters
Players will have the choice to play citizens, teachers, cops, and other normal citizens.  There will also be military personnel and special government agents; of course, some of them will have hints about the truth of the outbreak.
There it is in a nutshell.  In upcoming posts, I will layout some of the USR rules adaptations for playing in this campaign.  More to come... 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness - Official Teaser (HD)

I know the original New Trek movie probably divided the Star Trek fans pretty sharply but I enjoyed it tremendously.  I have always been a fan of the original series and was really interested in seeing this new vision.  I thought the casting was perfect and enjoyed the change of pace from the other films.  Anyway, here is the teaser for Star Trek Into Darkness with the full trailer out on December 17th.  There is a big debate among the fans over the villain - is it Khan, Gary Mitchell, a reimaged combination of those two, or someone else entirely?  So far, my money is on Gary Mitchell but I guess I will have to wait until May 2013 to find out...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The TSR Reprints I Want...

With all of these reprints from the old AD&D lines of various editions, I got to thinking what I would like to see if Wizards of the Coast just opened up the reprints to the entire TSR back catalog instead of the AD&D items.  Here is what I would like to see...
B/X D&D:  For many people this is the pinnacle of D&D gaming.  I would be happy with reprinted box sets that included the modules originally shipped with the product or even a combined hardbound book with the Basic rule book followed by the Expert rules.  Many of the old timers cut their teeth on these rules and I think many of them would jump at the chance to replace their old battered copies.  I know I would!
D&D Rules Cyclopedia:  I would personally rather see this reprinted than the individual boxed sets from the BECMI line of products.  Of course, I would like all of the errors fixed because there are a ton of them in this manual.
Gamma World:  My favorite version continues to be the original.  I have messed with most other editions but I have never even flipped through a second edition set.  I hear that second edition is actually just a better organized and cleaned up version of first edition.  If that is so then I would pick up a reprinted second edition.  Hell, just reprint both editions.
Unearthed Arcana:  Just because of the crappy binding from the original; mine literally fell apart after a short period of use. 
There is probably more that I would like to see reprinted but that is a good start.  That list above would probably keep me pretty satisfied for quite some time. 
What would you like to see reprinted if Wizards opened up the entire TSR back catalog?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

[Re-Posted & Expanded] Second Thoughts About Second Edition

There has been several posts (The TSR Reprints Keep Coming and Second Edition Core Rulebooks to be Re-Released in May) at other blogs about the upcoming reprint of the AD&D Second Edition core rulebooks in May of 2013.  I thought this was a perfect time to re-post and expand one of my earlier blog posts about AD&D Second Edition.  The original post is presented as it orginally appeared while any updated thoughts will be presented in this format.


I admit it - I'm taking the easy way out and doing a lazy post today. I'm taking this opportunity to say "I didn't give second edition a fair chance". Of course, the second edition I'm talking about is the AD&D second edition. I remember the buildup to the release in Dragon magazine. I was pretty excited and was looking forward to the new books.
I guess you  could call this a lazy post also but my life is so busy right now with work, school, kids, and whatever other random crap pops up that it is probably the easiest way for me to stay posting until the end of the semester.  I am excited about the 2E reprints and I will be picking them up.  I have not picked up the AD&D reprints but I seem to be able to find those pretty easy around here.

My buddy Jamie got the 2E PHB and we went through it cover to cover. I liked the clearer language and organization but I did not like what I felt was the "de-Gygaxing" of the rules. That pretty much sums up my impression of the core books. It felt sanitized and politically correct with the removal of Assassins, Barbarians, Half-Orcs, and many of the monsters. I never bought the second edition books and never played in a straight second edition game either.
Yes, I know that was pretty close-minded on my part.  I could have easily used" any AD&D material that I wished.  It would have been a matter of simple conversion to the updated rules.  In reality, it would have been a smoother transition between those two rules and later editions.  I could have used the guidelines in the DMG to attempt to standardize the bard, for example.
I have had the opportunity to look at the core books again and I must say that for the most part the game is better explained, organized, and presented. Plus, it's close enough to AD&D to add back in anything that got "left out". So, on a second look, I would play in a second edition game IF it was limited to the core books, certain first edition material added back in, & house rules. I do know for a fact that I would avoid the Complete series of books and kits altogether.
I still pretty much feel the same way after looking at several of the books full of kits.  I think they were a good idea that just snowballed out of control - much like feats and prestige classes in later rules.  I think that a short list of kits to personalize each class would probably be the best idea with the focus squarely on campaign-specific kits.
There it is - a quick and lazy post. I'm hitting the sack. Maybe I'll write more about second edition sometime if I pick up the books or maybe one of the 2E retroclones...
Like I said, I am planning on picking up the AD&D Second Edition reprints.  I have also looked at some of the 2E inspired games.  While M&M does have several vast differences, I believe it would make for a fine game.  Adventures Dark & Deep - if I am remembering correctly - is supposed to be a "Gygaxian 2E" and I would very much like to see it completed just for the interesting "what if" potential and the debates that would assuredly arise from that game. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Little Catch Up...

Ugh - It's been almost 2 weeks of silence on this blog.  The biggest reason for my lack of recent posts is simply that college commitments have been extremely demanding lately.  I will be extremely pleased when I am done with this degree and get out of school.  For all you younger people out there, please consider going to college soon after high school and before you get married, have two kids, turn 40, and are just generally tired.  School is much easier on the younger mind!  There, that's my good deed for the day.  Now, on to other topics.  I am just going to write about several topics in this post to serve as a little bit of catch up.  Here it goes...
The Presidential Vote
First, this is not a political blog so I am not going to delve into the realm of politics except to remind you to VOTE on Tuesday.  I do not care who you are voting for or why you are voting the way that you are.  That is entirely your choice and decision.  In fact, I already have decided on my vote but I am not even going to reveal who it is or why.  The only thing I want to get across is that you should vote.  If you do not vote, then you really should not complain about the direction this country is headed if you disagree with it.  [Okay, a little pet peeve of mine but the small rant is over.]
I have caught up on my movie viewing recently; instead of doing full reviews I will just share a few thoughts.  What else can I really say about the Avengers movie?  It was just as awesome as I read and was told.  It exceeded my expectations because I was expecting a mess of a movie when I heard it was being made.  The Cabin in the Woods was the best horror movie I have seen in a while because it explained why people in the typical horror movie do stupid things and also paid homage to several entries in the horror genre.  Dark Shadows was a pleasant surprise for me.  I was against viewing this movie because I did not like that it was taken in a comedic direction but the movie was pretty decent.  The fairest evaluation that I can give Prometheus would be good but flawed.  There are several things that could have benefited from another round of editing.  Quite honestly, some of the writing stunk.  I liked it but I feel like if they would have gone over the script one last time then they could have had an epic movie on their hands.  Instead, we got a good movie with interesting visuals that has flawed writing in parts. 

I have not been able to concentrate on a lot of gaming recently due to school but I will return to gaming posts soon; the end of the semester is in 3 weeks and I am taking next semester off so I do not burn out.  I have several unfinished posts stacked up waiting on some free time to complete.  Expect to see several posts about doing fantasy gaming with USR because I am highly interested in using those rules.  I also have some ideas for Dungeon Crawl Classics.  I plan on using both of those systems to help flesh out my Toldara campaign world.  Finally, I got my son the new Skylanders GIANTS and we have been playing that together.

Professional Wrestling
I used to be a big fan of wrestling and would watch it all of the time.  I fondly remember when wrestling was on television 5 or 6 days a week and all of it was new.  I think what really killed it for me was the removal of the kayfabe aspect.  I remember when people used to get in heated debates about whether or not wrestling was "real".  It is so over the top and everyone is *wink, wink* in on the joke so it just sucks now.  Oh, there are some rare flashes of brilliance here and there but this is truly not your daddy's wrestling anymore. :-(

Although I watch a fair bit of television, the only show that I regularly follow as it is aired is The Walking Dead I wonder if that says something about me?

That should do it for this post.  I will be posting more often soon. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jumping on the USR Bandwagon...

This is just a short post explaining that I am going to dig in to some serious work with the USR rules system.  I have the original version offered on the Trollish Delver site.  The document has been sitting on my hard drive for months and I just now got around to reading through the rules.  I am really impressed with the rules and I have several projects that I would like to use USR as the base rules system.
My Toldara campaign was originally developed for 3.x and Pathfinder.  After some time, I became interested in using a simpler rules set for the campaign.  I have dabbled with Castles & Crusades and several other systems.  I finally decided to look into doing a B/X version after recovering some old gaming items from my old room at my parents.  Then I discovered the Moldvay Era Classes in USR download available from Tabletop Diversions.  After I read that information I decided that USR looks like it would work remarkably well.
I also have several unfinished game ideas from my Old Gaming Notebook series of posts that I would like to complete.  The most likely are A World in Ruins and To The Stars... after I complete the Toldara conversion. 
That is a minimum of three downloads that I am developing.  USR is pretty much exactly the type of game I was attempting to develop with Quick Six and S.T.A.G.E. but I kept hitting stumbling blocks because I just could not seem to "get it right" on either one of these designs.  I am currently putting them both on the back burner and attempting to show some USR support.
More later...  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

[Used Gaming] Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed

I frequent a few places that have used gaming products for sale.  I mostly visit the stores in Tulsa but every once in a while I make a trip up to Bartlesville.  When I do I always make sure to stop at Hastings because the in-store selection of Sci-Fi and Fantasy books always seems to be more in tune with my tastes than other book stores.  In short, I always browse the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and used gaming sections.  On my last trip to Hastings I picked up Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed.

I usually tend to avoid this type of product because it seems that there is very little bang for the buck.  It has been my experience that there are basically just a few changes here and there - like the removal or addition of just a few races and classes - that could probably just be handled by a small list of house rules instead of a complete rule book.  I noticed the price was only $5.99 so I flipped through the manual to look at those two sections.  I found enough information that I was actually quite interested and decided to purchase the book.  I have yet to play this game but I have skimmed through it and read some sections in a little greater detail in my spare time.  I get the impression that there is a lot more to this product than simply making a few alterations here and there to the 3.x iteration on the rules and calling it "new".  The following sections explain what I found in each chapter.
The only standard PHB race included in Arcana Unearthed are the Humans; all of the other races are removed.  In their place are 6 new races - Faen (3 varieties of diminutive folk), Giants, Litorians (lion folk), Mojh (reptilian), Sibeccai (canine folk), and Verrik (red-skinned and human in appearance).  These replacement races do not appear to simply be the demi-human races with a new skin.
 None of the standard PHB classes are use in Arcana Unearthed.  There are 11 new classes to choose from - Akashic (skilled experts that tap into the collective knowledge of all beings for information and other things), Champion (defenders of a cause), Greenbond (masters of animism), Mage Blade (follows the paths of sword and sorcery), Magister (master spell casters), Oathsworn (devoted warriors), Runethane (spell casters that focus on the study and creation of magical runes), Totem Warrior (rural warriors that bond themselves to an animal spirit), Unfettered (warriors focused on speed and prowess in contrast to heavy armor and brute force), Warmain (the other side of the coin with the unfettered), and Witch (spell casters focused on the magical nature within themselves).  As you can see, the classes presented allow many other types of characters than the standard classes.  I am definitely interested in taking a closer look at each of these classes in the future.
So far I have just quickly skimmed through the chapter on skills.  No drastic changes or additions grabbed my attention so I can only assume that there are none.  That may not be the case and if someone notices any omission on my part feel free to correct me in the comments.  Skills are usually pretty dry reading so I did not take a hard look at them.
Feats and Talents
There are three types of feats used in Arcana Unearthed - General Feats, Talents, and Ceremonial Feats.  General Feats are the most basic type of feats and can be taken at the appropriate time by any character meeting the qualifications.  Talents are feats that represent an inborn gift instead of training and can only be taken at first level.  Ceremonial Feats are gained after participating in a ritual of power.  Again, this chapter made me take notice and grabbed my interest in taking a closer look.
Equipment and Playing the Game
Similar to my reasoning for skipping the chapter on skills I did so with the chapters on equipment and playing the game as well.  If I understand correctly, Arcana Unearthed is supposed to be highly compatible with the 3.x version of D&D so I should be pretty up to date on these sections. 
The chapter on magic has just as much or more to offer than the chapters on race and class.  It seems pretty familiar but there are some important changes.  Spells can be cast as a diminished spell (using a spell slot one level lower than normal), heightened spell  (using a spell slot one level higher than normal), and a laden spell (using two slots of the spells level instead of just one).  Of course, it is mentioned that using the spells in each of these manners has special effects and rules that correspond to doing so. 
The spells are also split into three categories: simple, complex, and exotic.  Each category determines the learning and casting difficulty plus how common the spell is among the various spell casters.  Simple spells are the most common and easiest of spells to cast; these spells are usually the ones taught to apprentices.  Complex spells are less common and more difficult to cast and learn because they require a real understanding of the way magic works.  These spells will require components and difficult gestures to cast.  All spell casters other than magisters require a special feat to cast these spells.  Exotic spells are the rarest and most difficult of the spells. 
I did not read through this chapter yet but for different reasons than skipping the earlier chapters.  It is my impression that this chapter may require a serious look with all the differences from the magic chapter.  Since I am just giving my first impression of Arcana Unearthed I believe that this chapter will be better done with a post devoted to it alone.
Final Thoughts
I will definitely take a closer look at this rule book.  I may post further about detailed reading of sections from the core book.  I would like to devote a short campaign to test driving the rules in play.  I did not feel that there were any glaring omissions so far but I would have liked to have seen a small section on the campaign setting setting and maybe a short selection of monsters.  As it stands, this book is golden.  The only real concern right now would be the acquisition of the rest of the line.  I am pretty late to the party on this one but I would like to see the complete line of books to evaluate the whole run. 
A few questions for anyone interested in answering:
Does this game play as well as it reads? 
Does it "feel" particularly different from standard D&D?
Are the rest of the books worth obtaining?
Are there any big differences between Arcana Unearthed and Arcana Evolved?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Last Week...

...was absorbed by mid-terms.  I had important tests in 3 of my college classes during the last week and neglected to post anything at all.  The tests are over and I am more than satisfied with the results so it is time to crank up on the blog posts a bit.  I have no master plan at the moment but I have sorted out some topics for future posts. 
 Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed
I recently found a used copy of this rule book for the awesome price of $5.99 at Hastings.  I expect at least two posts covering this because I am really enjoying what I see so far.  I always check out the used gaming sections of the stores I visit.  I am prone to buy stuff if the price is right.  I think this will be a recurring post; something like "new used gaming item" or something similar.  I already have at least 3 other items lined up for this.
Other Gaming Topics
I have several ideas I want to put out there and get some feedback on.  I know that I announced the Quick Six system that I was developing but I have decided to put it on the back burner for now.  In the middle of development I had another idea that I would like to develop.  I usually design in the rules-medium to rules-heavy area but I find myself really attracted to the rules-light approach.  I have never designed a complete rules set using the rules-light approach but I have been gathering some notes for a system called S.T.A.G.E., which stands for Simple Tabletop Adventure Gaming Engine.  With any luck, information will be posted here soon.
DVDs, Rentals, and the ROKU
I am an avid DVD collector and I like a good deal so I will post about several that I have gotten recently.  Of course, sometimes the movie posts will be about movies I rented instead of buying.  I also recently got a ROKU and have been pretty happy with it.
There are other topics that may show up with irregular frequency.  One such topic is autism.  My (almost) 6 year old son has autism and the experience is very thought provoking.  I may do a once a week post on some aspect of autism as some sort of FYI thing.  Other topics that may get some more exposure in the future include professional wrestling, horror, creative writing, my campaign world, and maybe a surprise or two along the way.  Who knows? 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

[Mobile Post] Bargain DVDs

We stopped by Big Lots yesterday. I always like to browse the bargain DVDs to see what they have. There were many horror titles that I was interested in buying. Then I found what I decided on - The Lost Boys, The Lost Boys: The Tribe, and The Lost Boys: The Thirst. It seemed like a no-brainer to pick up the entire Lost Boys collection for a grand total of nine dollars. Of course, the original movie is one of the old 80s horror standbys but I am curious to see how these sequels hold up. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Support Just For The Sake of It?

I was watching Star Trek (original series) the other day on Amazon Prime and remembered a conversation I had with one of my friends.  Both of us grew up as Star Trek fans and would faithfully watch the episodes as they were aired on television.  Both of us enjoyed the original series and The Next Generation but as every new series was added, our opinions became drastically different about the state of Star Trek on television. 
I was - and still am - a fan of TOS and TNG.  I hold those two series as canon and TV Star Trek ends there for me.  My friend liked and watched all of the series from TOS, TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise.  I do admit to watching a few episodes of each of the additional series but they just were not for me.  We were discussing our differences when he stated that "with so little science fiction on television, it is our duty to watch and support it all so the networks will give more shows a chance." 
What do you think?  
I think it is a flawed argument.  Ratings are determined by the Nielsen viewing participants, right?  I have never participated in that but isn't that right?  Does anybody know?
I also think that if you support "bad" shows and the networks find relevance from those numbers then all that does is encourage more "bad" shows.
Does anybody else have any thoughts on this?  It does not have to be just Star Trek but any show you want to discuss.  Think of the difference between Battlestar Galactica and Galactica 1980 or something similar...      

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anyone Remember ENVOY?

I was a pretty regular readeer of Cryptych magazine from the early 1990s.  It was different from most other gaming mazines at the time because it was not a house organ of one company but was an actual industry magazine.  It was quite common to see newsletters from several different game companies in the pages of this magazine. I was not pleased that it was put on hiatus after only 8 issues.  A young Wizards of the Coast also gave the magazine a ton of support.  One of  resources that WoTC provided was the ENVOY rpg system.  ENVOY was described as a "Generic game system designed to be easily convertable to other systems on the market" according to the Cryptych index.  I am unable to locate my issues of Cryptych and was wondering if anyone has a copy of ENVOY in pdf or some other form?  My Google-Fu has failed me...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Looking For a New Fantasy Series...

I enjoy the big epic fantasy series of novels and I recently completed The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.  I have read other stuff like The Rover series by Mel Odom, Runelords by David Farland, and several others.  I am looking for a new series to read and was wondering if anyone has an opinion on any of the following:

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

Any opinions and input would be highly appreciated.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Leather Bound AD&D

There is a good chance that others are already aware of this but over at the Goodman Games there is a thread started by oldschooldm that shows off his customized AD&D library. He took the Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Dieties & DemiGods and bound them together in a huge leather bound tome.  There are a few pictures of his leather bound AD&D included with this post but if you want to see more just follow the link to the thread above or go to the image gallery. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

+1 Or Not?

(I have a confession to make.  My name is Charlie and I have Gamer ADD; I have seen a few bloggers expressing similar thoughts since I started blogging and following blogs written by others.  I need to get back on track and get focused again.  I will still post on a variety of subjects other than just gaming but I need to develop some structure and get a routine established.  Maybe it will come quickly or maybe it will come slowly but it begins here with this post.)
A Sword +1 is quite possibly one of the most common magic items ever handed out by Dungeon Masters in the (A)D&D game.  The name is not very intriguing but it does the job.  Many campaigns work perfectly fine using that labeling and there is nothing wrong with that. 
I have used the "+x items" as is without modification but I have wondered if there is a better labeling method.  For instance, what if the +1 to hit was replaced with "heightened accuracy", "greater accuracy", "true aim", or something similar for a bonus to hit?  Another example could be replacing the +1 to damage with "greater penetration", "minor sharpness", or something else similar to those listed?
I think it is interesting to consider but I also wonder how you would handle the higher bonuses.  If a +1 is "greater accuracy" or "sharpness" then what would the higher bonuses of +2, +3, +4, and +5 be labeled?  How would the low end and high end of the bonus range be labeled in a manner that would make sense and be more in touch with the feel and tone of the campaign?
Has anyone reading this tried anything like this?  If so, did it work well?  Did you keep using it or change back?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Heads Up...

...On The Quick6 RPG System
I have finally had some clear thoughts about the Single D6 RPG system that I was brainstorming for a while back.  My concept is a game that is easy and quick to get up and running so people can just get to playing instead of preparing.  Some decisions I have made include:
  1. The name of the system will be Quick6 and will be completely - or maybe "almost completely" based around the use of six sided dice for game play.
  2. There will be a basic version of the rules will use a single D6 vs. the simple Action Result Table for task resolution. 
  3. There will be an "advanced" version using 2D6 vs. the expanded Action Result Table for task resolution.
I have begun working on the draft document of the basic version of Quick6: Fantasy and it seems to be coming together pretty good.  This will just be the initial ideas and will need further expansion and clarification.  I hope to have the draft document available for download in the next week or so.  I would not mind a bit if people would provide feedback once the document is available.  I know it has been a little while since I put down my very basic ideas but I would definitely appreciate any and all input.  I am not going for anything revolutionary to the hobby - just an easy to comprehend game with quick setup and smooth play.     

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Demons & Daggers [video]

I found this parody video again earlier; I have seen it plenty of times and I keep stumbling across it every now and then.  This video is pretty hilarious because it reminds of the satanic panic in the 80s that had all sorts of misinformed people convinced that Dungeons & Dragons and heavy metal music led to devil worship.  Aaahhh, the good old days.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Dungeons & Dragons Experience [full video]

I am sure that most of the OSR or RPG blogosphere has probably seen this video, the Dungeons & Dragons Experience, but I decided to post about it today anyway.  The video was originally uploaded to YouTube in 7 parts but someone has uploaded the film as one complete piece.  The contents of the film include the origin and early days of D&D, information on how to play, information on different play styles, recollections by players, DM stories, homebrew world information, and more.  I dig and maybe you will too... 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Recovered Treasures...

I was digging around in the attic at my parent's house this weekend and found the following old gaming products:
Basic DM's Rulebook
Expert Rulebook
Companion Players Book
Companion DM's Book
Master Players Book
Master DM's Book
B1: In Search of the Unknown
X1: The Isle of Dread (original cover, iirc)
X1: The Isle of Dread (updated cover with a T-Rex on it)
Dungeon Masters Adventure Log
I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City
N2: The Forest Oracle
Lorebook of the Void
Concordance of Arcane Space
Lost Ships
Not a bad find at all but there are a few missing items.  I could not find the Players Book for the Basic set or the rest of the contents of the Spelljammer boxed set.  I do happen to have the complete Moldvay version - Basic & Expert books - so the missing players book from BECMI is not that big of a concern.  Back in the day I looked at Spelljammer but I honestly never tried it.  The premise sounded good but all of us sorta thought it was goofy.  I would have liked to have found everything from it to see what I think of it now.  Oh well, maybe next time...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

More About Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG

In my recent post, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG = D&D Perfected, I gave my initial reaction after browsing through the core rule book for the DCC RPG.  I had planned to explain my reasons a bit but life was extremely busy and demanding at that point.  Things have calmed down now so I will present the reasons I always intended to include in my original post. 

The Artwork
The cover of the DCC RPG grabbed my attention as soon as I first saw it up close.  I immediately flipped through the book to see how the rest of the art looked.  I was relieved to see a complete lack of the dungeonpunk style of art that bacame dominant during the third edition era.  I do not think that dungeonpunk was bad BUT I never felt like it represented the kind of fantasy I was interested in playing with all of the spikes, pockets, chains, and other unnecessary accessories and trinkets attached to the armor of the people in the illustrations.  I had high hopes after just a quick flip through of the rule book.
The Back Cover Text
After flipping through the rule book I turned it over to read these words:
 "You’re no hero.  You’re an adventurer: a reaver, a cutpurse, a heathen-slayer, a tight-lipped warlock guarding long-dead secrets.  You seek gold and glory, winning it with sword and spell, caked in the blood and filth of the weak, the dark, the demons, and the vanquished.  There are treasures to be won deep underneath, and you shall have them.
I immediately started thinking of the day that my uncle David passed down his Holmes Basic Set and all of his AD&D rule books to me.  It was the summer of 1980 and it was quite a bit for an 8 year old kid and his buddies to take in but we did get up and gaming shortly after.

The Funky Dice
In addition to the standard range of polyhedrons, the DCC RPG also uses the d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24, and d30.  It seems that people are divided on these funky dice; some people are dead set against them while others really dig them.  I was a little skeptical of them at first but I really do think the funky dice add an extra dimension to the game.  They are not a gimmick but are actually used in a cool way to assess penalties to tasks.  For instance, your character might suffer a -2 die step penalty under certain circumstances so you would roll a d14 instead of a d20 on the attempt.  The DCC RPG brings back the sense of wonder we all felt when we first learned of the other sizes of dice outside the d6 found in Yahtzee, Monopoly, Risk, or other such games.
The Character Creation Funnel
Each player generates as many as four 0-level characters.  The funnel is the process of separating the wheat from the chaff and determining which chbaracters will go on to adventure further.  It is expected that atleast some, if not most, of your 0-level characters will not survive.  I have always wanted to use 0-level play in my games and now I have official rules for it.

My Campaign
I noticed as I was flipping through the rule book that my ideas for my campaign are actually better represented by the DCC RPG system so I am going to use it to power my campaign world of Toldara.  The start was delayed by a bit but it will begin soon.  This post is just the timp of the iceberg and I will put down more thoughts about DCC RPG in future posts.

More later...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ECW - The Argument Against...

In my last post I talked about the ECW retrospective DVD.  In this post, I give an opinion that is solidly against ECW and the hardcore wrestling scene - Jim Cornette.  I don't always agree with what he says but I am always entertained.

Further thoughts are included in this video.

I think Mr. Cornette brings up many good points BUT who is that in this video doing work in ECW?

Food for though...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD

I am off on a professional wrestling tangent for this post.  I may delve into some more posts about this topic because I was a huge professional wrestling fan at one point in time.  I mainly skip it these days but I will stop for a few minutes while I am flipping through the channels. If someone invites me over to watch a Pay-Per-View event then I will more than likely show up.  I must admit that professional wrestling is just all around not the same anymore at all.  I loved it from the late 70s to the early 90s - when kayfabe was still in effect - but now that Vince McMahon is the undisputed king of the dung heap the state of professional wrestling is in a shambles.  Like the old timers say, "A polished turd is STILL a turd."  That is a quick background and my current opinion of the professional wrestling industry so now it is time to move on to my thoughts on ECW.

Before I go any further, I need to make a few things clear.  First, I was aware of ECW at the time but I was not a regular viewer.  I did not have cable because I was a young married soldier in the Army with little to no disposable income.  Second, my knowledge of ECW comes from the DVD, The Rise and Fall of ECW, and from YouTube and other sources.  Third, I am only discussing Extreme Championship Wrestling and not the precursor Eastern Championship Wrestling or the revival (read as "abomination") known as WWECW in wrestling circles.

I found this DVD at Wal-Mart  and bought it since I was always interested in seeing more about ECW.  This 2-Disc set has a company retrospective on the first disc and 7 matches on the second disc.  The first disc starts in the days of Eastern Champinship Wrestling when they were part of the National Wrestling Alliance.  Eventually, Eastern Championship Wrestling is folded and Extreme Championship Wrestling is born.  This is a new era of reality tv type wrestling that smacks you in the face and caters to the adults instead of the children.  The DVD continues to tell the story of how the company got a TV show, started doing pay per view shows and finally folded. 

ECW seems to be a very divisive topic to a large majority of wrestling fans.  The fans of ECW were almost fanatical and cult like in their devotion to the company; there was a group of fans that would show up every week and try to sit in the same seating area for the shows.  The crowd did not just watch the show but they participated in it by chanting "E-C-W" when the wrestlers pulled off amazing moves.  Since this was an adult show, the violence was pretty intense.  Wrestlers were getting slammed through tables AFTER THEY WERE LIT ON FIRE, slammed onto thumb tacks thrown on the mat. jumping from 20 feet above the ring onto their opponents - it was just insane seeing the moves that these guys would pull out in a match!    For a glimpse of some extreme action, watch this video:
The crowd would also bring pots, pans, oars, and sorts of other things that the wrestlers would go to the audience to grab and use in the matches. You can not get that sort of interaction at a WWE event!  If a wrestler messed up a move, the crowd was waiting to chant "You Fucked Up!".  It was a completely different atmosphere at an ECW event and I am sorry to say I never got to see it live.

I know that the ECW style is not for everybody and there is nothing wrong with that at all - different strokes for different folks and all - but if you are a wrestling fan and want a promotion that is about the product in the ring and not "sports entertainment" then you should check out some ECW.  If it was so terrible then why did wrestling legends such as Terry Funk, Bam Bam Bigelow,  and Sid Vicious decide to work there?  It ECW was "Extremely Crappy Wrestling" as Jerry Lawler put it then why did the big two companies raid their lineup in search of new talent?  In all honesty, ECW was the first victim of the Monday Night Wars that took place between WWE and WCW. 

The DVD closes by having various wrestlers state why they thought ECW was special.  Finally, Paul Heyman closes with these words, "You cannot achieve success without the risk of failure. And I learned a long time ago, you cannot achieve success, if you fear failure. If you're not afraid to fail, man, you have a chance to succeed. But you're never gonna get there unless you risk it, all the way. I'll risk failure. Sometimes, half the fun is failing. Learning from your mistakes, waking up the next morning, and saying 'Okay. Watch out. Here I come again. A little bit smarter, licking my wounds, and really not looking forward to getting my ass kicked the way I just did yesterday.' So now, I'm just a little more dangerous."


Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Hunger Games Blu Ray

We had planned to go see The Hunger Games at the theatre but no one was available to watch the kids so we skipped it and waited for the DVD release.  We did not get all crazy and go pick it up at midnight  last night or anything like that.  The dog needed out this morning so I went and picked it up with the few groceries we needed for the coming week.  The kids were still asleep so it was the perfect time to watch the movie.
 Both of us have read all three of the Hunger Games books.  It started with Stacey and then she got me to read them.  In contrast to the Twilight series, I probably would have read the Hunger Games without any recommendations; it would have just been a matter of "when".  Regardless, I am glad that I read the books because I did enjoy them quite a bit and will read them again sometime. 
I was a little concerned about the film adaptation because I recalled the film adaptations of other books such as Eragon.  I enjoyed not only the book Eragon but the entire Inheritance series.  The film adaptation of Eragon had a really good cast but it was a definite dud as far as adaptations go.  The film was quite a bit different from the book and had some glaring omissions.  I would have liked to have seen a series of films but I am sure that there will be no further movies. 

How was the film adaptation of the Hunger Games?  I thought it was excellent.  There are some differences from the book but nothing near as drastic as Eragon.  The world of PanEm is represented in very good detail and does not look like a set or some corny stage props.  The cast was terrific and very appropriate for the descriptions in the novels.  The only question I had was about the appearance of Haymitch because I thought he was supposed to be older.  Stacey pointed out that he is probably the right age but is supposed to look older due to all of his drinking.  The movie has a nice pace and I never felt bored while watching.  Finally, the violence is there but it is done in a non-grotesque manner and does not glorify it either. 

In a nutshell - THUMBS UP!     

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

[Kickstarter] SteamCraft: A Steampunk Tabletop RPG

I have been pretty impressed with Perilous Journeys because it took the concept of Lejendary Adventures and made it much easier to comprehend and use; for anyone that is interested, more information can be found at their website.  I have not been to their website in a while so I decided to visit earlier.

I was surprised to learn that they have a new game - SteamCraft - that they are trying to get into distribution in game stores.  All of the information about the kickstarter can be found on the StreamCraft Kickstarter page.  The game sounds interesting and the rewards for backing  include custom dice, signed books, and even some custom steampunk goggles.  Give it a look... 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Silence Will Be Broken Shortly...

I have not updated in a short while - a longer absence than I would have liked - but that is about to change shortly.  The summer semester is over and work has calmed down a bit but the main reason that I have not been active in the blogosphere is that I have occupied with my 5 year old son, Ethan.  It has finally been confirmed that he has autism. I have been getting educated about what to expect and ensuring that everything is in place when he starts school next week.   Everything seems to be falling into place so I will be posting again on a regular basis.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG = D&D Perfected!

I actually went to the local game store to look into getting the Shadowrun 20th Anniversary core rulebook.  It was in stock at the store along with several of the supplements.  Before I make a purchase I always like to look around to see what else is available and I decided to do that real quick just to make sure I was not missing anything.  I walked around the display and looked down when my attention was drawn to the cover of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG.

I was surprised that it was out but I admit that I had not follwed the development closely.  I knew there was a Beta playtest release done in pdf.  I was under the assumption that Goodman Games was still working out some of the kinds from that.  I also remember reading some of the designer notes that Goodman posted on their website and it made me interested to see the final design .

I picked up the DCC RPG core book and started flipping through it. The thing I noticed first was the small price tage - only $39.99 - for a massive tome that approaches the 500 page mark.  As I held it and started skimming through random sections of the rules I began to be completely captivated by what I read as I slowly made my way from cover to cover.  A few short minutes later I found my way to the counter to make my purchase.

I have had the DCC RPG rulebook for a week now so I have had the opportunity to read through it with a little more attention to detail.  There is a lot to like inside the covers of this game.  I am not devoting this post to a full review because I am still neck deep in my summer college courses but I give this game my highest recommendation.  I have messed around with most of the retroclones but I have never pulled the trigger on buying one; I do own C&C and also Pathfiner.  I believe that DCC RPG is exactly what many old school players have been waiting for because it is not just a retroclone or restatement but a game derived from the same inspirational material but the focus is on recreating the feel and tone of the early days and not just the rules;  that makes a big difference.  I can honestly say that if DCC RPG plays as well as it reads then it will be my new game of choice.