Monday, December 22, 2008

Months of Silence

I should start by apologizing to my four readers for my long absence. I hate excuses, so you're not going to get one. Just an apology.

I should also add that this blog doesn't really see the attention it deserves anymore because I have a lot of other extra-curricular activities going on and no gaming group to speak of. In addition, AEG doesn't do RPG stuff much anymore (four books a year, none of them mine). Add that all up and there's not much to say on this blog unless it's about TOMB or one of our upcoming board games.

That said, I wanted to take this time to bring a lot of things together and maybe focus the point of this blog.

So. In no particular order, here are some observations. I hope you enjoy them (or at the very least don't spit on them).

Roleplaying is a Hobby For many, many years nay-sayers have been complaining that the industry is dying. Games like Star Wars and Earthdawn used to sell 50,000 copies of a core-book or critical expansion. Now they sell less than 5,000.

Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 sold over 1,000,000 copies. The numbers on 4th edition aren't in yet, but we can assume are much smaller. Vampire and Exalted continue to sell marginally better than most of the industry, blah blah blah. The list goes on.

No one is making a million dollars in RPGs anymore. Let's just assume that sentence is correct and move on.

Let us also assume that the people who are still making 3.0, 3.5, and now 4.0 products from a third-party position, do so knowing that their margin is "good enough."

Let us now slide over to the INDIE-movement, called this because the publishers of these games are more concerned with fun than profitability. [I'm sure there's a more elegant way to say that, but I am far from elegant.]

Indie games are all part of a collective of "hobby" games. Instead of building an industry, these post-modern fugitives have built a co-op of ideas (of varrying degrees and lengths) from which we (the consumer) can cherry-pick the best games and ideas, playing anything from mormon paladins to polish teenagers defending Krakow and Warswaza from the German blitzkreig.

Looking back, I wish I'd stuck to my guns and worked on COIL right after the World's Largest Dungeon, either with AEG or independently. I think there's place for a game like this, especially in an environment where so many people are looking for something NEW.



Bringing me to my next point.

I do not game anymore. It has been five months since I last "played" anything that wasn't work related. And while my wife and I can sometimes sit down for a game of Memoir 44 or some puzzle, that's not the kind of gaming that sustained me for years. Building adventures, making up NPCs, writing plots, and developing worlds are all part of the greater geshalt of my gaming experience.

I've been recently toying with the idea of writing another massive RPG adventure book, something really EPIC, not as large as WLD (in page count), but larger in scope of complexity and earth-shattering, while pitting the PCs in an adventure that no one will help them complete.

It excites me to think about it, but I also know how daunting the workload would be, having done it once before.

We'll see what 2009 has to offer, but I'm expecting that the gaming conditions in SoCal are only going to get worse.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PSA: Goodman is out of the 3.x Business

Last Call for 3.5!

On December 31, Goodman Games will stop selling its 3.5 products. This is the last call.

Visit our online store to purchase what is left of our 3.5 product at 50% off. You can find the online store at http://www.goodman-games.com/store.html

For the rest of December, you can also visit our PDF store to purchase 3.5 PDF e-books at $2 each. Remember – after December 31, they’re gone forever! You can find the PDF store at http://goodmangames.rpgnow.com/

Last call!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Little Thing Called Gencon

OPEN LETTER

Many of you have heard speculation about a pending Gen Con sale and I'd like to take this opportunity to address the situation.

On the eve of our deadline to file our final reorganization plan and disclosure statement, Gen Con counsel received an unsolicited "Letter of Intent" from Gen Con Acquisition Group for purchase of all the assets of Gen Con. We believe this offer was clearly timed to disrupt our ability to get a plan confirmed and is an attempt at a hostile takeover with the intention of ousting Peter Adkison as the owner.

The offer was suspiciously cryptic, with no letter of introduction, good will, or summary of intentions for forward management and opportunities for current staff. Given the date of submission, the lack of prior outreach from this group, and the overt omission of intentions
regarding management of business operations, it was difficult to take this offer seriously. It's from an anonymous group that clearly does not understand the value Peter brings to Gen Con. Any acquisition offer that relies on future profits of the business to service the outstanding debt that does not have a provision for Peter's continued involvement is not a sound offer.

Challenges with considering the offer aside, I have a responsibility to our creditors to consider any alternatives to reorganization. As such I have diligently reviewed the offer in conjunction with our creditor committee and we have determined it is a high risk proposition with far
too many negative implications and is not in the best interest of our creditors. It is our intent to disregard this offer and continue toward confirmation of a plan substantially similar to the offer filed with the Court.

Our goal this last year has been to stabilize our operations and establish that Gen Con Indy could be operated profitably. As such we had our first profitable year since 2005 and are confident in our ability to fund our reorganization plan. Throughout this process we've cooperated and worked closely with our creditor committee — we believe they support our plan. We're expecting our creditors will vote to accept the plan and are currently scheduled to reemerge from Chapter 11 in early January.

The last few months have been very busy here in the office and the plans for Gen Con Indy 2009 couldn't be shaping up any better. I have the distinct pleasure of leading a small team of dedicated and passionate individuals who live, breath, eat and sleep Gen Con. In any organization there is always room for improvement, but it is truly a labor of love for all of us here and an incredible honor for me to be the steward for an event that is as unique and special as Gen Con is. It's more than a business — it's more than a convention — it's an experience that touches each of us in a deeply personal manner and brings us together as a community.

We're excited to bring you the Best Four Days of Gaming! for years to come and we thank you for your support and faith in us.

Adrian Swartout
President
Gen Con, LLC

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Race in D&D

Great article that is making waves on the net.

Check it out.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Plot

I know it's been a while since I posted.

And I have no good excuses.

But I've been writing on plot recently for some upcoming books… I can't tell you which… and I thought, it would be interesting to post what I consider a very non-traditional plot from a Korean film called Voice.
When high school student and aspiring singer Young-Eon (Ok-bin Kim) is murdered, her body disappears but her soul becomes trapped within the school, and only her best friend, Sun-min (Ji-hye Seo), can still hear her singing. Determined to find her friend's murderer, Sun-min's resolve is shaken when a music teacher and another student die on campus. Could Young-Eon have committed these horrific acts or is someone else lurking around for their next victim?
I stole this from Netflix, where you can get a copy of your own to watch.

Enjoy.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Gencon 2008

I will be at the AEG booth this year.

I look forward to seeing anyone and everyone that I missed in previous years.

Good gaming.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Nerd Comic Strip

This may be the best one out there.

For me, it's well-written and expertly drawn.

I am really digging Jump Leads.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Futurama and D&D

The Nerd writers for the four Futurama movies (not sure if you've seen the first two -- Bender's Big Score and Beast of a Billion Backs) are planning a third film, called Bender's Game. In this one, the characters get sucked into a D&D game/world/thing.

It's supposed to be out by xmas.

Looking forward to it.

ASIDE: Bender's Big Score is easily the best Futurama story ever, but you have to like the series to enjoy it. BBB is luke-warm, but certainly worth a couple of views. The extras on it are bipolar as well.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ooof

Almost one month without a post.

What happened?

Yikes.

Well.

Plenty happened. But in the mean time, here's a great link about D&D 4th. Adult material.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Board Games at AEG

I am presently leading the charge on three separate board games. They will all be out by the end of the year (Tomb and Art of War are at the printers now).

And I'm anxious to talk about them.

Sadly, I cannot.

However, I'm willing to share rules and cool stuff with anyone who wants to fill out an NDA.

Let me know if you'd like to playtest and/or be involved.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Funny Gaming Story

It was 1990. Torg had just released. We were in college playing the Possibility Chalice Trilogy (among on the best published adventures ever)... part two or three, I think. A new player had joined, playing a core earth human (the rest of us were really wacky characters).

At one point, we had to determine what he knew about vampires. So, living in the college dorms, the GM took the player into the hallway and asked the first person he saw, what do you know about vampires.

That ended up being what the character knew.

I always thought that was an extremely cool way to deal with "character knowledge."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Board Game Geek

I cannot say enough good things about this site.

It has everything. Even if you need a rules translation, it's there.

I bought DON from a supplier in Germany (shipping was twice the price of the game) and it arrived without a rules translation. I searched online at Queen Games and then gave up. I tried google. And gave up. Then I remembered that Board Game Geek sometimes has stuff like this.

And what do you know... not only do they have English rules, but they have French and a xls file that breaks down care distribution. I don't need it, but it's amazing how much people will support a smart little game like this, even when their only rating it at a 6.3.

I think this game is a 9 out of 10... and I can play it over and over again.

If someone took this mechanic and attached a real theme and a few more steps... this could be a home run.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finally...

After months of waiting, it's finally here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Eric Wujcik

Eric passed away.

I consider him my friend.

He certainly meant a lot to me and I will remember everything he taught.

http://www.palladiumbooks.com/press/erickwujcik.html

Sang-gye nam la kyab su chi

Friday, June 06, 2008

Vampire: Sangiovanni Discipline

Bloodlines: the Chosen is among the poorer products put out for the Requiem line. Without going into too much detail, the poor attention to detail, graphic and typographic errors, weird concepts, and fan-based submissions all combine to make this product less than useful.

That sad, there are some good bloodlines in there. The work is find the nuggets of good and making them stand out.

My two favorite are the Baddacelli (blind Nosferatu) and the Sangiovanni (based on the Giovanni from previous editions, and one my favorite then). Previously using a magic-like ability called Necromancy, they now use a discipline called Cattiveria, meaning wickedness. Thematically interesting and poorly developed in its mechanics, the discipline is getting a severe rewrite from me for my campaign.

Below are my notes.
• Mortician's Appraisal
Does not change

•• Restful Slumber
This power reflects the calm with which Sangiovanni rest. During the day, so long as the Kindred rests in soil or a coffin lined with soil, he rests perfectly and without pause. He awakens refreshed regardless of event and can even awaken from a state of near Torpor. So long as the Kindred has a single point of vitae, he can wake by spending two willpower instead of blood. In addition, if he does not spend Willpower to awaken, his Willpower is fully restored each Night, regardless of event. Nothing short of the most powerful rituals can undo this.

Lastly, the Sangiovanni are less unnerved by the presence of the obscene and foul. The Nosferatu aura of menace does not repulse them, nor do they find it uncomfortable.

••• Shuffling Porter
Same as the book, except increase all Physical Attributes to 2.

•••• Breath of Ash
Same as Predator's Bequest, except that it is at a very short range (no need to touch) and the Kindred can use Intelligence or Dexterity as the base for the roll.

••••• Soul Jar (Needs a name)
The Sangiovanni can actually take the soul of a recently deceased person and put in into a receptical. I don't have mechanics yet, but it won't matter if only the NPCs use this one. This ties into Iro Giovanni's story in the previous arc of my Los Angeles Chronicle.

XBox Commercial

Funny and you learn something.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gamex 2008: Post-Con Report

Perhaps some of the most gaming I've done in years. We started playing at 3pm on Friday and we didn't let up until Monday morning at 2am.

In no particular order, we played

Power Grid
Tomb (four times)
History of the World
Ra
Apples to apples
Wits and Wagers
Wayne's new game design
Rheinlander

and a few other little games that I can't recall

While it's not good for the convention when attendance is down, I prefer not having to arm wrestle to find an open table.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Strategicon: Gamex 2008

I'll be at the local convention, showing off Tomb and gaming with my friends.

Games I hope to play:
History of the World
Battlelore
Power Grid
Zooloreto
Tomb
Maybe some Vampire

Monday, May 12, 2008

Carcassone: The Discovery

While I'm not a fan of Carcassone, Hunters and Gatherers makes my Top 10 list of games, every time. The Discovery is another game in the series, incompatible with the previous games. While gameplay is identical, scoring is VERY different and this sets Discovery apart from the other two.

Each player only has four pieces (a fifth is used for scoring) which incidentally look like little KKK Clansmen. There are three terrain types -- plains, mountains, sea -- and you mostly score for being next to cities, instead of the actual terrain you are on. Game play is otherwise identical, with land masses being "closed" off and completed. Scoring only two lands is heavily penalized and not completing terrain is also frowned on.

The new feature to the game is how and when you score. You do not place and score, but rather choose to either place OR score. A Clansman, once placed, remains until the player chooses to remove him. We had to play twice to really get a handle on this.

Scoring is much lower in this version, although we did lap the 50 point board. I give it a 7 for now. But after I play it some more, I might go to an 8. It's definately not a 10, like H&G.

ASIDE: I just realized that my ex stole Lost Cities from me, so I have to order a copy. 1960 by Z-Man games is also on my list of soon to be purchased games. I'm selling a bunch of junk from my closet. Let me know if you need something. And does anyone have a copy of the Aria RPG?

Friday, May 09, 2008

No Shock Here, But Favreau is a Nerd

Iron Man director finally outs himself.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

GTA Four: Limited Edition


Sorry about the picture quality. I cannot believe all the swag you get for $90. A lockbox, totebag, artbook, CD, one-month of LIVE Xbox, and oh... yeah... the game.

I have not started playing yet, but I had to show this off.

Sweet.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Vampire: Requiem -- Part Two A

James joined the group, playing an Invictus Ventrue (a specific Bloodline in fact, that I do not wish to divulge), spawned by Wolfram himself (see previous post). As the PCs tried calculated the relevance of the Carthians in light of "recent events."

Bjorn (James' character) is stoic and reserved. He's also a plotter. He is certainly seeing the bigger picture, while the PCs scramble about, trying to play D&D instead of vampire.

:)

Anyway. At the moment, the 20 remaining vampires in the city are grabbing up resources as quickly as possible. Only Wolfram and his crew seem unaffected by the events.

Some Interesting Events
The Carthian HQ have been ransacked and everything burned.
Efran's gambling addiction spun out of control in session four and he's turned to stealing from everyone to pay off debts (he's pretty lazy).
Bianca has killed Efran in session five after the PCs failed to intervene.
Guy Chenier has bargained a favor from Paula (Wolfram's right hand) in order to return Davidon to the city (4) and now needs the PCs to escort Davidon back (5).
Wolfram and Camelio seem to have a tenuous alliance at the moment.
Razor and Treska also seem to be working together.
Vasya displayed power (5) that are inexplicable.
Two PCs (Bjorn and Byron) crashed Etienne's hedonistic party after calling a number in Demetrius' old book.
Iro Giovanni and Gregory McMillian are AWOL
The Rossini sisters are cooking up something, having secret meetings
In five sessions, four vampires are dead. The PCs have been "alive" for a week and a half. Jeffrey is having nightmares of some kind.
Byron and Michael continue to debate their role in the city.
Michael has hit a snag in his "floral district" search. Someone has sent him a warning.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vampire: Requiem -- Part One

After the first three sessions, the city of Los Angeles is in a sad state.

But before I get ahead of myself, let's see how we got here.

In the 1940s, as the depression was winding down, two vampires -- Wolfram (a German Ventrue) and Demetrius (a Greek Mekhet) made their way to Los Angeles, where only two other vampires held sway -- Donna and Novella Rossini. Thinking themselves austere members of the ruling Hollywood elite, the two fashioned themselves a domain out of South Pasadena, where the entertained lavish parties for decades.

But without competition, their thirst waned and Wolfram and Demetrius quickly absorb most of the city. The two built an empire, etching their names into the framework of the city, alongside Mulholland and all the others. As time passed, the two became synonymous with the city, bringing more and more powerful kindred into the fold.

Fast forward to the 1980s, with over 20 vampires in the city, competition grew, while many vampires grew comfortable with meager slices of cake. Most, (like Wolfram) wanted more.

And so began the divide.

The Carthians and Invictus drew lines in the sand, each destined to claim Los Angeles as a haven for equality or tyranny (respectively). Demetrius and Wolfram found themselves on opposite sides of the political divide. While still remaining friends, the two found themselves "leading" two disparate movements. Always careful to keep the power balance in check, other covenants were invited into the city.

The Ordo Dracul did not heed the call, and the Crones and Lancea Sanctum found themselves at odds, almost instantly. But the end of the 20th century, the Longinus order found itself beaten back to San Diego, unable to maintain a foothold in the city.

Fast forward again. This time, to 2008. Demetrius has grown tired. He has slumber many times since being sired in the mid-1800s. Having been embraced as a 70-year old man, his body never really achieved the level of potency it should have. Scheming to continue his plans for the Carthians and bid farewell to his long-time friend, Demetrius offered a bargain with his long-time friend and rival, Wolfram, and added three new vampires to the movement (under Miranda Divan's tutelage).

Enter the PCs, unwitting dupes from the UCLA landscape and the new children of the aging and soon to be consumed Demetrius. Long story shot (if that's possible now), Jeffrey, Byron, and Mike did not enter into a typical contract for unlife, nor did they become vampires the normal way.

Not that they know what the normal way is.

Indicating that something is/was amiss.

Over the course of their first week of unlife, they went through a series of hurdles that could have been avoided had people been more honest with them. Instead, they were brought before the kindred of Los Angeles at a meeting in Glendale (late sunday at the Forest Lawn mortuary) and presented in an almost half-cocked attempt to honor Demetrius' wishes.

By the end of the evening, the following happened.
  • A land-grab for power began (with two Crone at the head).
  • The PCs witnessed the diablerie of Demetrius' "daughter" at the hands of Donna Rossini.
  • Chaos, general
  • Lukacs (a local Daeva artist) attempted to kill Jeffrey, only to be pounded into meat by Paula Sibrias-White, the Invictus Warden.
  • Miranda Divan was escorted out of sight by Wolfram (head of the Invictus) and Camelio Constantin (head of the Circle of the Crone).
The PCs are now on their own, as Part Two of our chronicle begins.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Zooloreto

Aaron, Yun, and I played this game twice tonight. The second game included the polar bear and 2 Square expansions (for zebra, flamingos, and elephants -- why those animals I will never know).

Great game.

Aaron won game one. I won game two.

The game is reminiscent of Medici (without a lot of the book-keeping). Faster and cleaner, actually. Which is weird, because Medici is among my favorite Reiner games, but this game takes what Reiner did and streamlines it.

More family friendly, I guess.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Tomb Board Game (at the printers)

Here's some pictures of the box.

Here's the official site.

Here's some news about its release.

The game is at the printers and we are really excited to have this game coming out. The team will (most likely) demo the game at the local con Memorial weekend. News is forthcoming at GAMA. And we'll certainly have lots to show off at GenCon.

It retails for $60.00, despite previous ads to the contrary.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Memoir 44 • 10 Days in Asia • The Lord of the Rings

I have been playing a lot of board games with my wife lately (she's not a gamer, but does enjoy some of the mass market potential board games).

We've played six games of 10 Days in Asia in the last couple days, three games of Memoir '44 (only the first scenario) tonight, and countless games of Lord of the Rings (the non-competitive one) over the months.

These are all fantastic games, and certainly excellent games for couples to play together.

10 Days is simple, straight-forward and with enough luck and planning to keeping players coming back for more (strategic theorist probably won't enjoy it however). It's a simple travel game, done in the style of skip-bo, but adding countries that you must encounter in linear order, although boats, rails, and planes help you get around Asia. This is the fourth game in a very, very successful series. I assume Latin America is the last one they can do (America, Europe, and Africa being the previous three).

Memoir '44 is a light version of the Ambush series, allowing people who aren't World War II nerds to play squad level games without the Ph.D necessary to tackle Squad Leader. There are 16 scenarios in the core box and the rules can be digested in no time. In typical Days of Wonder style the components are gorgeous, high quality, and instantly draw you in. The Command deck of cards really make the game, and I would love to see more, to vary up the tactics in this game.

Since Reiner is among one of my favorite designers and I've had the pleasure of working with him FOUR times now, I can say nothing but great things about the Lord of the Rings co-operative board game. If I was forced to rank his games for myself -- and I would hate to do that -- it would go something like

Samurai
Ra
Lord of the Rings
Medici
Lost Cities
Tigris and Euphrates
Others

[Look for two great new Reiner games by the end of the year, btw.]

Lord of the Rings is the perfect co-operative board game. While Shadows over Camelot (a pristine example of collaborative play) has few, if any flaws, Lord of the Rings captures the essence of the story as closely as any game possibly can. It handles up to four very well (although a fifth requires the use of Fatty, who is hardly a comparable character) and everyone has a stake in the game from beginning to end.

I know I've played this game over 30 times, but I couldn't tell you exactly how many.

Expect more board game posts in the future, alongside my RPG notes (to anyone still reading this thing).

Monday, March 24, 2008

Vampire: Requiem

We are running a short campaign of Vampire (until D&D comes out or something). The game is set in Los Angeles, with all of the characters living near or on the UCLA campus.

We are starting very slowly, trying to learn the system and the environment (two of the players are new and I have to forget 15 years of Vampire lore).

The first session involved an old man (Demetrius) in a house in Westwood, lying in a bed, in an attic, with a tent to help him "breathe" (part of his dementia is that he believes he still needs to breathe). A 200-year old Greek (turned at the age of 70), he has been an important, but frail component in the Carthian movement in Los Angeles for over 50 years. Having amassed some wealth before his embrace, he was able to sustain a good life for himself as a kindred.

However, he is tired of the cycle and had decided to pass on his power to three new Vampires (enter the players), who consumed his essence and became powerful vampires (more than just low-level neonates). They also consumed a great deal of his memories, and acquired his diary.

The vampires have also acquired the modest, but well-protected home that Demetrius built as his haven.

After the game, we spent about an hour making characters and getting into the swing of how the game will go.

End Session One.

Players: Richard, Joel, Aaron.
Clans: Daeva, Mekhet, Ventrue
Covenant: Nothing yet, but the Carthians are their first connection.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Nerds Unite

The G.I. Joe movie is coming.

And Ray Park is Snake Eyes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke Passes Away

Clarke.

Someday this blog will have happy news again. I just know it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fallout 3

Some concept art from Craig Mullins was posted on IGN. Here is the best of them.

Any day now, Craig is going to break out and people are going to appreciate his work.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Gipf

I am constantly surprised to find out that some gamers do not know about this series.

In case you've never heard of it, Gipf is among the most ambitious board game projects... well... ever. Smart, fun, fast, and well-designed. They leave Ingenious in the dust.

Dvonn is the best game in the series, but I recommend that you play them to find your "style." Pünct looks really smart. But it's new and I haven't played it yet.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Gygax: Kind Words

A very nice article about Gygax on a somewhat professional site.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gary Gygax: Requiem

The internet is abuzz with news, in-jokes, award plans, honorariums, and stories about the pathfinder, Gary E. Gygax who passed away at the age of 69 (beating the life-expectancy for writers by 1 year). Gary did not act alone in his creation of Dungeons and Dragons, but he is honored nonetheless as the person responsible for making a game we all chipped our teeth on.

Those of us in our 30s and 40s, we owe a great deal to Gary and Dave Arneson for their efforts.

But for all the noise, most people aren't really saying much. Many are racing to make saving throw jokes or find ways to express how "speechless" they are. And as some one who has made a habit/living in an industry that did not really exist before D&D (certainly Gencon was just a club before D&D), I too should be saying something.

Right?

But why aren't I moved to write or say thanks. Certainly when news of Eric Wujick's health was posted, I was quick to pen some kind words and tell Eric I hope to see him soon.

Why then am I devoid of emotions or speeches for Gary Gygax?

Most likely, the industry is getting older. More and more people are reaching the age where cancer is a possibility. Many of us have lost friends and family. Others are numb to things like -10 Hit Point jokes because we have been surrounded by this kind of blissfulness for 30 years now (crap I've been playing for 26 years). And truth be told, while Gary gave us the tools to spark our imaginations, he didn't give us our imaginations.

And while I would love to thank the guy who invented matches, it's not the same as thanking someone for inventing fire. Maybe I wouldn't be working in a creative field if it weren't for D&D. Maybe I'd be stuck somewhere thinking that managing a Denny's is just what happens to poor, white-trash kids with no connections. And maybe without D&D I wouldn't even know what it is to be some banal cubicle drone, whittling away my days with free cell and yahoo groups.

But I'm going to be 38 this year.

Gaming is less and less a part of my life anymore. Gary's presence dominated my environment 15 years ago.

But not today.

Losing an uncle you haven't seen in 20 years is much different than losing a friend you see every Wednesday.

Gary.

Thank you for enriching my childhood. And you will be missed. But please understand, that I haven't been impacted by you in so long... well... I guess I'm just not going to weep or mourn or even ruminate over what you've given me. I get tired of living in the past, and my only hope is that I can honor your passing by making great games for the future, by gaming and telling stories as much as possible, and once per convention slipping in a bad saving throw pun, even if it pains me to do it.

Thanks for all you've given us and if there are Seven Heavens and you're up there gaming, I hope Gord the Rogue is having a hell of a time.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Monopoly Movie

Even though Monopoly fails to meet the criterion for a game (decisions that matter being one of them), here is a link that should make you nervous.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Guinness Book

Guess who just made the Guinness Book of World Records? No c'mon. Guess.

Really.

C'mon.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Mass Effect

Been playing a lot of Mass Effect lately.

Fantastic.

Just finished the planet (Vrimere?) where you have to make a critical decision.

Wow.

Moving is the best word to describe the drama.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Looking for Group?

So. In less than a month I've encounter... "interesting" drama amidst my gaming groups. The previous incident was posted just a little while ago.

But the new one... well... I'm not even involved in it. I won't mention names, but it's an interesting scenario. Which leads me to an interesting conclusion... that perhaps my previous assessment to hangup my "roleplaying" hat is not too far off course.

The Facts:
  • RPGs require a great deal of set-up time and too many "contracts."
  • RPGs have too many splinted "factions" of fan, thus making it difficult to align tastes.
  • Few of my friends have time for gaming.
  • As a result, their "fun" time is limited.
  • Board games and video games provide immediate gratification.
  • Games like WoW and Halo provide 75% of gamers with their "combat" needs on a level that D&D cannot.
I'm curious to watch this trend through 2008. But it would be sad to see my RPG gaming going out with a wimper, instead of a bang.

More news after the local game convention, where I'm sure to get doses of RPGs, LARPs, and Board Games into my malnourished system.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Onling Gaming Death

Notice how the Russian news agency does not look for a culprit the same way an American new agency would.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dungeons and Dragons

Now.

Before I tell you the story of my latest D&D session, let me preface with...
  1. I do not feel bad about this.
  2. This is mostly an intellectual exercise to sort out what "went wrong."
  3. I have spoken on the phone with three different people (asking their advice) about this and I've received pretty much the same response each time.
  4. I am not judging anyone and I do owe Chris an apology/explanation.
  5. If I'm wrong. I'm wrong.
Recently, I walked out on a D&D game, with the intention of getting lunch and coming back to the game... only I never came back. Now. Somewhere in my brain, I knew I wasn't coming back to the game, but it would have been rude to make a stink at the game about how much fun I wasn't having... it would have been rude to handle the situation any other way... in my opinion. Other people may have chosen to do things differently, but this is just my style when it comes to someone else DMing.

Presently, the game is split into two groups many miles away from one another. I am two session in, sort of "attached" to the smaller group. My character is born with a birthmark that attunes him to others of the same mark, all of whom are destined to rid the world of the shadow. Beyond that I have no reason to be with them (but I'm a seasoned player, I can make it work... give me time).

The larger group is about to go to war with the an army of orcs.

I arrived late on Saturday to what was to be another 10-hour session, and the GM was already engaged with the larger group. I waited my turn and in no time I was roleplaying with the GM (but none of the other PCs yet, because I don't know any of the players who showed up this week). After 40-minutes of some roleplaying and some action (involving myself, some acoltyes and two other PC's), the play shifted again to the group to the north.

The game proceeded for another 90-120 minutes of me flipping through books on the table, writing notes about Coil, and doodling in my book (I also ate two cookies). And this is where the fun stopped for me and I chose to extricate myself from the game.

Normally, I have no problem sitting back and waiting my turn. I'm not a fan of this in D&D (it's one of the symptoms of the turn-based-initiative table top gaming that isn't found in a lot of indie games), but I put up with it when the game is good or the action is high. And I'm gaming with friends who believe in a robust campaign/epic/story.

Heck, if there's something exciting to watch on the other side of the table, I'm all over it.

Now. Bear in mind, that I also left an hour early last week, because the game was grinding and I knew that at 10pm there was little likelihood of the action getting back to my character. I wasn't upset on the previous week, but it did take me an hour to come to that realization that I wasn't doing anything.

So. When it happened again, I realized that this was endemic of something that I could not control. Worse yet, the people I was watching roleplay, were not exciting and at the very least, not doing anything.

After 13-hours of the game play that I have witnessed over two sessions, the PCs in the north did nothing but talk, all the while they supposedly were preparing for an invasion. And when I say talk, what I really mean is.
  1. Arguing about movement rates (this went on for 20 minutes last session).
  2. Talking about mead. Mmm... mead.
  3. Leaving the room to "work on a map."
  4. Talking over and over again about a character's pregnant wife.
  5. Make were-bear jokes.
  6. Staring at the table waiting for the GM to tell them what to do.
  7. And so on.
Now. Tangents are a normal part of game play. I hate them, but I've never seen a group that doesn't do them. So. I endure it. But. In this instance, you have one-half of the table wasting time, while the other half sits there and does nothing.

Bear in mind that two of the players have characters from a previous era of the campaign that can pop in periodically, giving them the opportunity to play twice as much. Which means, neither of them has to "hurry up" because they get to play no matter what.

I think the story for this campaign is pretty cool, but the amount of time spent listening to the players (and not the GM) talk about nothing or just stare at the table and DO nothing was more than I could stand.

I shouldn't have to explain that my "fun-time" is precious and the last thing I want to do with it watched someone pretend to be talking in character, when really they are just smashing the table and talking loud... because that's the only way to play a dwarf... right?

I've gamed with this GM before. He's an exception player. He knows exactly how to keep a game moving. He does not deserve these kinds of players and I don't deserve to have my time wasted, driving 30 miles to a game that isn't engaging... or engaged by the players.

I'd like someone to give me some perspective on why my gaming experience has been waning for the past 5 years... and why having low expectations seems to be the norm among more and more table-top gamers...?!?

ADDENDUM: Someone asked me to amend my comments to read, "When did the passion go out of gaming?" I was trying to avoid anything that sounded remotely judgmental or mean. But I thought it fair to ask this question now, because it might actually be an important question for consideration/debate/hate mail.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Out of a Job

James Wyatt write about 4E
The reason there's a "sweet spot" in the current game is that it's the approximate range of levels where, purely by coincidence, the math of the system actually works. In those levels, PCs don't drop after one hit, and they don't take a dozen hits to wear down. In those levels, characters miss monsters occasionally, but less than half the time, and monsters miss characters only slightly more often. It's pure chance, really, but it means the game is fun. Outside of those levels, the math doesn't work that way, and the game stops being fun.
If a game designer, anywhere in the world, wrote these words about his game, he should be out of a job. I am flummoxed that Hasbro still allows this game to see print.

MOOD: Shaking Head.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Midnight

I will gaming on Saturday in a campaign set in a world similar to Midnight and using the special rules of Midnight (Heroic Paths, etc.). My character is Sedaris, a 20-something human chaneller with a jaded and cynical view of the work.

He should be fun to play.