Been spending A LOT of time on the internet recently. I would like to think that this qualifies me as a power user, but there's a connotation of productivity there that is misleading in this case. Digging around Google's basement and work shed, pretty interesting, and tonight was also one the most entertaining nights at K&K Alehouse. Funny conversations.
Anyway, I have resigned myself to utter and complete google fanboyism. I am google's man now. One consequence of this capitulation is that I am going to stop writing at Tran Eskoor an Doon and start a blog under my real actual human being google account, to whatever extent blogging comes from these quarters - it certainly has tapered off of late for me anyway... 204 posts over the last few years, oldest post from 1/19/09.
I'll post the new address once I get it set up. In the meantime - Great Googs to ya!
I've broken the long running media block. I mentioned Netflicks - lot of things on there. So NOW I know why everybody was ape-shit about Firefly! There were three Flying Circus episodes I'd not caught before. Since Conan the Barbarian was not up for streaming, I threw down with She. It was a suggestion and I always do what they tell me.
Wow. She. Some people actually made this movie! Someone with some money thought it sounded like a good idea - and then went ahead and produced it! Amazing stuff, B-movie bad style + big dose of really intense 80's dumb.
Since the comments are off over there, gotta post here instead - Don't go Limpey! I remember when people were giving you shit because you posted about politics. Giving you shit, that is, on your blog about what you were writing on your blog. Your blog is one I have personally really appreciated both for your D&D-think and (maybe even moreso) the non-D&D.
If you go nuke, won't hold it against you. Can't blame you for not wanting to deal with more assholes than necessary, and blogging is a choice - not blogging is an easy way to cut yourself off from a planet's worth of jerks. It's hard to ignore them when you give them a platform to use (that is, comments on the blog) - but I do sincerely hope you stick around.
Well - I did read some books last month (decided to re-read Song of Ice & Fire in light of the next book apparently coming out soon, and the TV show and whatnot). I'm still enjoying the books, but don't really have a lot to say about them. It's like a soap opera with swords essentially - and I don't necessarily mean that in a derogatory way. These are the days of our lives... (also read a Horseclans book after seeing many internet people say they liked them. jury's still out.)
Didn't read much the last few months, not post much here mainly because I was in the middle of studying for a certification exam. 4 month class leading to a certification. Basically when I was not studying I was not able to get past the feeling that I should be studying, so I did not have much brainspace for gaming and such. Good news is that I have have letters after my name now! (those are CPC-A). The idea now is that I go out and get a big-boy job. After most of a lifetime working in kitchens, this concept is appealing to me, professional development. One of those months involved a wisdom tooth blowup and a big month for freelance writing (sorely needed). -------------- Additionally, broke down and got netflicks. First film watched? They Live. The fight scene based around one guy wanting the other guy to put on a pair of sunglasses is one of the best things in movies. Ever. Carpenter is a primitive. -------------- Did get some of my first deep Runequest reading in there somewhere though. I was pretty blown away. Cults of Prax, Runemasters, and Dorastor. Looking forward to reading more, but that stuff is pretty pricey - also got my first look at a Hackmaster rule book. I've ended up with some of the monster books over the years, but never seen any of their actual rule implementation of 1e. It is funny that the DMG is largely organized in the same way as 1e's DMG - transferring semi-instinctive knowledge is a pretty neat trick(like where the gem tables would be found for example, or rules for spying missions by feel of page thickness). -------------- Since I'm not taking a dump on anyone else's internet life with this post, I'll bypass making a pittance to the brawler right now...
I've not sat down and rolled up any mooks with it, let alone played it, but here's my read-through impressions.
CORE MECHANIC & EDITION DIFFERENCES - Games are games and I don't have a knee-jerk hatred of the core mechanic. Much of my early gaming was with Tunnels and Trolls, and I was grateful to have a default method to resolve actions. When 3rd edition D&D came out I thought that the Fortitude/Reflex/Will saving roll categories were one of the better 'innovations' of the game as regards ease-of-play. So this is not a 'deal-breaker' for me.
- It does take out of 3e iterations some the things that I did not like (feats, skills, etc), and leaves in some that I did like.
- Funky dice? Why not?
CHARACTERS - Luck. Like it. Of course, players will likely 'forget' that their score is low in tight circumstances. I'd also probably ignore the 'sacrifice luck for +6 to roll' thing. My past experience with Fate/Hero/etc points has left a bad taste in my mouth.
- I like that demi-humans learn their native language as an exception. Humanocentrism FTW!!!
- In principle, I like the whole "roll up a bunch of farmers & cross your fingers" thing. Early attrition is a virtue in my opinion - at least the importance of player knowledge of the fragility of their characters in the early game is a virtue. Would the same ends not be served however by rolling up a bunch of 1st level fellers and then throwing them up against some ogres, something tougher than centipedes & slimes?
- Always appreciated Stormbringer's early steps in character generation (i.e. you don't choose to be Melnibonian, you roll on a table and find out that you are a beggar of Nadsokor instead), and so that's one aspect of DCC character generation that I like. It also brings in the background "skill" concept cursorily touched upon in the DMG.
- Not a fan of clerics in general, but allowing their powers to be applied to creature types other than undead is potentially a step in the right direction.
- Cthulhu as neutral? In the three alignment scheme, agreed.
- Apparently I'd really be screwing the thief over if I did away with the luck burn. I like the thief variations by alignment.
- Mighty deeds of arms. Again, coming from a T&T background, this stuff is second-nature. I'm glad to see it dealt with, and the simple categorization (blinding, disarm, etc) is functional.
- Wizards. There's a lot going on with the wizards. I like the random spell determination (big surprise there!) and the patron material. Would initially be inclined to allow wizard players to start with 3 random spells and chose the patron pair of spells in place of the fourth. The patron stuff is the kind of thing I've always wanted to cultivate with players of magic users. Some like the idea, some hate it. It is consistent with the rest of the game though to keep patronage a matter of luck/fate/chance (at least at the beginning of the game, if it is rolled up as a known spell).
- Not much to say about the dwarves.
- AHA! The elves have automatic patron. OK. I like the iron prohibition also.
- Not much to say about halflings either. Been avoiding them for years... they'd be super-screwed by fiddling luck-burn out, and I do like the lucky charm idea here. Multiple halflings in the party? Roll to see which one has the charm for that adventure.
SKILLS - Still not a fan of explicitly tying skills to a single stat for purposes of modifying skill rolls. Leave it up to interpretation. Things that are obvious to one GM are not so obvious to others. Arguments can be made for various interpretations - Balance: agility or strength? Break down door: strength or constitution? As a GM, I would rather figure these things for myself, or be free to use different stats in different circumstances. A quibble. I do appreciate the fact that there is a section called WHEN NOT TO MAKE A SKILL CHECK and think it could be expanded, emphasized, and placed closer to the start of the whole section, before even the mechanical explanation of how to resolve them.
- Reminds me that I need to finish writing about Rolemaster's School of Hard Knocks... Each skill in that book has it's own resolution table a la the spells presented in DCC...
COMBAT - Crits & fumbles. I like this kind of stuff. I like doing it by class/level vs per weapon (again Rolemaster) or general (BRP/Arduin/etc), but I think it might be better to modify the roll by level instead of breaking the tables out into different level-appropriate results. A design decision, obviously, and likely an option considered and decided against.
- Spell duels. Always wanted to see a good implementation of such things, and this is likable. The momentum tracking and phlogiston disturbance table is a bit too fiddly for me (ironic since I still spend so much time proselytizing the theory in pamplets and lectures at society meetings), but wizard players like fiddly things, don't they?
MAGIC - This looks like a fun game to play a wizard in. The uncertainty of successful casting might be mitigated by wizard's increased selection of weapons.
- I disagree with the 'reversed spell is a separate spell' thing, always have. Personal preference. But particularly given the uncertainty of casting built into the system I would be even more inclined to allow a caster to throw a reversed form of a known spell.
- Perhaps it is hypocritical to dislike luck-burn and like spell-burn. Call me a hypocrite.(once per comment though, please.)
- Mercurial magic & corruption: like them both, but corruption coupled with spell-failure effects might be too much. This is the kind of thing I'd have to see in play to decide on I think.
----------- Overall, it looks great. I love the art (personally I don' think there's too much of it) and there's a lot of neat ideas here. Having played a lot of Rolemaster, tables and charts for specific details do not phase me too much, and as you play a game with a lot of such things, you get used to it, or adapt (i.e. use a copy machine). The spell tables are the kind of thing that would be good as reference pages, cards, etc.
Looks like it would be a fun game to play and not difficult to run.
May was not a bad month for personal reading. I needed it as I am drowning in medical coding technical manuals and anatomy and such.
I re-read Fred Saberhagen's Broken Lands trilogy. This is a series that I never really hear anyone talk about, even though it's got "Appendix N" cred. I first read these books (in the omnibus Empire of the East form) when I was... 13? 14? Somewhere right around there. Anyway, it was my first rewarding departure from Tolkien - in fact I think I bought the book because it had a blurb about being better than LotR (a tall claim, sure, and pretty much apples & oranges too - very different writers). I read and re-read LotR as a kid more times than I want to admit, so apparently I was ready for something "better".
I'm not going to say that what I got was better than LotR, but it was different, and it was good. It's science-fantasy, weighed a little heavier on the fantasy side, Saberhagen's style far less lyrical. The story had a good impact on me at the time, and helped me to get some perspective, that there was more to the world that Tolkien.The re-read was good - the books stand up in my opinion.
So in addition to The Broken Lands, The Black Mountains, and Changeling Earth, I managed to sneak in 2 more Vance books.
1. Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph - Jack Vance. This is SO Jack Vance, Ridolph might be the archetypical Vance 'hero', a smug detective for hire, all brain, no brawn. Kinda a cosmopolitan Matlock or something...
2. Blue Planet - Jack Vance. Liked it. The culture of the planet seems to have been started by prisoners (from the Gaian Reach I assume), the current castes and professions all derive their names from the titles of criminals and crimes of the far past (they do not seem to be aware of this fact). For example, the Hoodwinkers. Hoodwinke are in charge of communications between settlements - this accomplished by blinking light semaphore at the top of towers.
The thing I am finding in trying to write about Vance is that I have a hard time pinning down the what's & why's - I am content with appreciation.
Light month on pleasure reading. Getting my ass kicked with class work & real-life in general.
1. Game of Thrones. I read this book back in 2004 or 5, and I think it had a lot to do with reigniting my interest in D&D. So - since I cannot watch the series, I decided to go back and reread the books (also since the new book is due soon). Stands up pretty well so far. It reads like watching TV, and I mean that not in a derogatory sense.
2. Sepulchrave's Story Hour. This page has links to the story threads, and PDF versions of the stories without so much of the reader commentary. Sepulchrave's input over at K&K has always been interesting and stimulating, and while I've never been big on reading campaign journals & such, I was pretty amazed by this one. It is written very well.
Was that it? Really? I'm afraid so. I just don't think that writing about the details of the CPT, ICD-9-CM & HCPCS coding manuals would be of much value here. Trust me on this one. I have continued to acquire more Vance, and look forward to that. Maybe my reading time will increase after June. This month, no Dios for me, :(.
I get to thinking about the Internet/table top RPG intersection somewhat often. It's interesting because in many ways it answers a lot of wishes I had when I was a kid and had time to game all the time - namely, in theory anyway, always being connected to other people and therefore able to 'game' all the time, or whenever you wanted.
When I finally got a stable internet connection a while back and was able to relax into the net and do idle searching and such things, gaming cropped up quick. I was amazed at the creative wealth and vitality, inquiry and general thoughtfulness, etc - the whole bundle. So, naturally, I had to investigate what it was like to play games on the Internet - here was this 'dream come true' technology come true.
Jumped into Alexis' blog game and also a Yahoo group Warhammer game run by Noisms. I started running a game at the Trollbridge, and a (rough and) brief experiment in high level generic D&D-ish play, brief games with Vedron of the potion shoppe, jumped into A long-running game of Snorri's for a minute - tried to use the blog to help write a solo module. So there was the act of gaming, but also it became clear that the web allowed for amazing feats of collaborative work. I feel like an unfrozen caveman in writing that down, it seems like such a no duh thing - but anyway, I was just pretty stunned by the scopes and the scales of possibilities. So I started trying to translate Epées & Sorcellerie from Google english. Got to help compose some the monster tables in the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book, that was fun! Speaking of fun, does anyone remember the rush, the total creative burst, when Snorri dropped Delver of the Unknown on the OD&D board? That was a totally beautiful thing to watch IMO. There's amazing, persistent projects all over the place - the Dragonsfoot project placing encounters on the rest of the D1 underworld map - OSRIC players handbook and Danger Dungeons! - magazines and ezines - the links of wisdom wiki - etc etc etc - again I feel like a caveman...
So, anyway, I think about this stuff and my experience has been mixed (likely the case with most ongoing, consistent elements of one's life). The balance weighs more on the positive side, though I wonder if I got a bad rep from my actions in Alexis' game, or from my initial enthusiasm for a project slowing to an off-putting pace - I wonder if I let my Trollbridge game devolve into tedium for the players, things like that. It is sometimes hard to read people, or be read by people, over the computer, to get a sense of who they are or whatever.
Now I am starting to get back into projects. The other thing about the Internet is the (assumed) persistence of it ('assumed' like assuming the sun will rise tomorrow, assuming that it did today... I suppose the Internet could disappear tomorrow...). The main frustration of gaming by blog/post/email/etc seems to be the pace. So it seems to make sense to play games that are intentionally slowly paced.
While I'm at the total navel-gazing thing, one thing that keeps occurring to me is that I don't buy or read very much by way of products being released. An example is Mythemere's Adventure Design Deskbook. (It was actually Fitz's post that got me thinking about this tonight). It looks like precisely the kind of book I would really get a lot out of, one of my favorite kinds of game aids - but I haven't gotten it. So why? Granted, I'm not in much of a position to buy everything I want to, but that's not expensive, and the fact is that I have picked up old material that I used to have or always wanted to (Jesis! I wanted Monsters Monsters! for 30 years! I had to get it!). I've found that I keep myself away from a lot of the products that have made an impact in the last few years with the internet ol' school gang, and I think the reason is this: my work is already really derivative. Like really - when I write adventure material or setting material or something and look back at it, I see B1. There's the ogre's cave from B2 outside of the "home base" (which reminds me of little more than Hommlet...). So, I'm making this sound like it was an intentional decision on my part, and I don't think that it was. It's a weird dialectic to be really moved by the material being produced and also a little leery of it... ugh.