Monday, October 28, 2013

Inadvertently following a legend

Behold the TRUE face of David "Zeb" Cook!!
So, this Friday is Gamehole Con. After a brief run-in with possible Jury Duty this week, it is confirmed that I will be there for three days. I’ll be gaming, shopping, and just generally enjoying the company of fellow geeks (and hoping I don’t get sick).

Although the whole thing promises to be exciting, the one thing I am most looking forward to is playing B/X D&D with David Cook on Friday. Yes, THAT David “Zeb” Cook. The man behind the first Expert Set, Star Frontiers, and more recently, City of Villains, along with a host of other fine products.

Oddly enough, I didn’t know about the CoV thing until just recently. Apparently he was the lead designer on that game, and known in-game as Lord Recluse. And now he is working on Elder Scrolls Online, which I have been looking at, and will hopefully get a chance to try out. So, in the big picture I have kind of been following David around without even knowing it! Pretty cool. I hope he agrees to autograph my Expert Set book.

In other news, I have suspended all online RPGs. Mainly because my graphics card crapped out, and I need to replace it. But also, I just don’t need that kind of distraction. I don’t get much time to myself, so if I want to see my dream of being a noteworthy writer realized, I really need to pare down the distractions. Of course, I just started playing the Black Ops Campaign yesterday…

And finally, I sold a single copy of Qruzlat – The Way of the Crushing Fist! YAY ME!! Hopefully whoever bought it likes it, and gives me a good review.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Reflecting on Feline

Way back in about 1985 or so, a group of friends and I decided we were going to play a superhero RPG. At first, Darren thought about Villains & Vigilantes. I was cool with that, since at the time I had only played D&D, and V&V sounded like a supers version of that. But then DC Heroes came out, and Darren bought that. I never did make any characters for V&V, and have never actually played it to this day. Hmmm…

Anyways, DC Heroes. I remember we were all walking over to my house to play in my dining room. There were four of us, I think. I was still trying to figure out what kind of character I wanted to play. Then, when I walked into my house, and saw my Siamese cat, Tippy (the tip of her tail was white), I knew. And thus, Feline was born.

His DCH incarnation was a lot like Batman, and he wore a costume that basically looked like a Siamese cat. The only adventure I played him in with DCH started with us fighting animal rights activists who were trying to destroy a college campus, and free the animals. I don’t really remember much beyond that. But I do remember doing superfluous acrobatics during the fight.

Not long after that, we switched over to Marvel Super Heroes, and Feline really came into his own. By this time I had actually started collecting comics, and Spider-Man was my favorite, so the MSH version of Feline was a lot like him. We played many adventures in that game, and Feline has stuck with me as a character for many years now. I think there was even a Champions version sometime in the late 80’s.

The next time I would create Feline for a game would be around 2002 or so, when Mutants & Masterminds came out. I never actually got to play him, but creating him for that game was very cool. To this day, M&M would be my go-to supers game, if I could convince my group to play something other than D&D.

Oddly enough, though all of the years I played the City of Heroes MMO, I never made Feline. I think I tried once, but the name was taken, and I couldn’t bring myself to rename him. I made someone similar named Devil-Cat. He was kind of a blend of Wolverine and Black Panther. Devil-Cat also has an incarnation in DCUOnline.

But, Feline was always my favorite super hero. Probably because he was my first. Today, my favorite comic book character is Captain America, but I’m also a big fan of super strength characters like Colossus and Hercules. Still, if I had a chance to play in a supers RPG again, I would probably make Feline.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Maybe it's for the best

Well, the other day my computer decided that it didn't want me playing WoW anymore. or any MMO for that matter. I'm not sure what the problem is, exactly, but it would freeze up whenever I was playing WoW, and it would take forever to get it to boot back up. I updated the video driver, but, because it's Nvidia, there are issues with that, apparently.

Last night I decided to boot up DCUOnline, just to test it. Yep, same thing. Only now the damn thing won't boot back up at all, no matter what I do. In the past I ran into some bad sectors on my hard drive, and partitioned them off, so it has worked fine. But, now I am wondering if the problem has spread.

Either way, I am without a viable computer at home until I can get it fixed or replaced. I will probably have to get a new Hard Drive, and hopefully that's it. Heaven forbid if my video card is shot too...

Anyways, that leaves me with no gaming other than my bi-weekly game (which we will finally resume once more tomorrow night). I still have no idea how I could possibly wedge in an additional game, what with family, work, and school. So, I guess I'll just be happy with what I got. Though I am still eying the possibility of forcing my kids to play...

On the writing front, I published Qruzlat last week, and even gave it a better cover. To date, I have 2 "sales" for $0 each. Not sure what that means, but according to RPGNow it might be that they have given comp copies to a couple of featured reviewers. Either way, it really means that literally no one is interested in it. I might just integrate it into LoR-OSR and update that file.

And, as always happens, this poor performance has me second-guessing myself. I look at RPGNow just about every day, and I am astounded by the sheer volume of product being produced and published. Which makes me wonder why I bother. What is my stuff but a blip on a screen?

Eh, I will probably eventually finish the three big projects I have going, and let it go. It's been fun, and I've gotten some good feedback. But, I have to face the fact that I'm not a game-designer. I'm just a fanboy, like everyone else.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Social gaming

As I have mentioned before, I only have a single game going on right now. And honestly, as much as I would love to have more, I don’t really have the time or ability for more than that (though I wouldn’t mind if that one game was a bit more frequent). So, in order to get my gamer fix, I have resorted to re-upping my World of Warcraft account.

I’m actually enjoying it. I even got the Mists of Pandara expansion, which is cool because I can play an orc monk (he’s level 33 after only a couple of weeks of casual playing). And my account is getting plenty of use, as my three oldest kids are all playing it too.

But last night I had a bit of saddening epiphany.

I should preface this by explaining that I got into the game several years ago, and would often wile away evenings playing with my RL friends (with whom I would also meet once a week for tabletop games). We all played City of Heroes together as well, and we are all card-carrying altaholics. But, we had our signature characters that we would play together. So, in my mind, those characters are always associated with the memories of those friends.

And thus my sadness last night. I logged on to one of my first characters, a dwarf paladin named Stonegrimm. He was only 15th level, but I remember playing him a lot with my friends a couple of nights. Only last night, I was all alone. John’s gnome warlock wasn’t there, Richard’s dwarf warrior wasn’t there; and it was a little lonely. I played Stonegrimm for about fifteen minutes, getting him over to 16th level. It was cool to be in Loch Modan again, and to see the changes. But, it just wasn’t the same.

So, I went back to my orc and performed some kung fu on unsuspecting pirates in Booty Bay. That was cool. I just wish I could play with my old friends again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Where else to campaign?

I previously discussed the idea of running a game using the Dragonlance setting. Now I will turn my attention to the Forgotten Realms.

As a gamer, I actually have more experience in the Realms. I have played in games set there, and have run a few games there myself. This is unlike my experience with Dragonlance, where I have only every played one adventure set there. I have also read a lot of the fiction. Some of it is great, some...not so much.

I like the Realms a lot because of the diversity presented. Granted, the place has become somehwat bloated with supplement after supplement detailing just about everything you could possibly imagine in a fantasy setting. I hear this as a complaint about the Realms a lot, and while I can concede the point, I have to ask why this makes any difference? If you don't like a particular supplement, or it interferes with the game you wish to run, why not simply ignore it? It's the same arguement I have against people who deride 3E because of all of the excessive third party material. Nothing says you have to all of it, or even any of it.

Interestingly, my most successful string of adventures (I can't call it a campaign, because we never finished) that I ran there started in a village I had created, rather than one of the established locations. However, the information available on the various countries and cultures helped me find a great location to set my village, and the surrounding areas fed into its development, as well as the development of the adventures.

In a nutshell, there are enough tools included in the Forgotten Realms to make any idea you have fully realized, without burdening the DM with having to do too much. Additionally, because the Realms includes so many diverse cultures, you can pretty much justify any character you like. It's no wonder they had made it the default setting for D&D for a time.

So, in the end, there are pros and cons to each world. I would probably end up asking my prospective players if they had a preference. Though I am personally leaning towards the Realms. They have orcs there. Dragonlance doesn't.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Available Now - Qruzlat

An orcish martial art, you say? How can such a thing be?

Find out in my newest supplement to the Life of Rage - OSR Edition game book, Qruzlat for only $1.00!

In the beginning, when Argok lead his people west, across the Dragonspine Mountains, he traveled with an advisor known as Tarok Bonecrusher. Tarok was a warrior without peer, believed to have even bested Argok himself in one-on-one combat. But what made Tarok unique was that he eschewed both armor and weapons, preferring to fight in only foreign robes, with fists and feet wrapped in leather...

Qruzlat is the orcish martial art developed by Tarok to harness the natural strength and rage of the orc. This supplement was written specifically for the Life of Rage - OSR Edition game, but can be used in a number of OGL-based systems.

Where to campaign?

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have been organizing my RPG collection. It is rather extensive, and I have actually removed several items from the main shelf, so I can make room for things I want to have handy. I have all of my D&D books, from all of the editions I own, displayed in a row. Next to the 3.5E core books, I have two setting books that I have always liked.

This is where the majority of D&D-players will probably roll their eyes and navigate to another blog.

The setting books I have are Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms. I love both of these worlds, and each for differing reasons. And since I am jonesing to run a campaign, I thought I would take down one of these books, and begin figuring out some campaign ideas. But, which one?

Dragonlance has always had a certain charm that no other world really captures. I am an unashamed fan of the novels, and am not turned off in the least by their level of writing. Honestly, I find the writing to be more than adequate. Maybe it’s not as flowery or as verbose as Tolkien, but it doesn’t need to be. Truth be told, I don’t particularly care for Tolkien’s writing style. He goes on and on where an economy of words would keep me more interested. Reading the LotR trilogy was actually a chore in some spots.

Anyways, Dragonlance. There are several ways I could do this. I could go with the pre-Cataclysm days, the dark ages just after the Cataclysm, the War of the Lance era, or even the post-war, “godless” era. Each has their challenges and quirks, but I think I am partial to the WotL-era. The time that the Chronicles takes place in.

The danger of using this era is that the major events are covered in the books, and involve the characters presented there. So, I would have to come up with quests and missions that focus on the PC’s, and have them feel that their actions will still effect the overall outcome of the War. Most of my potential players have read the books, and so they know how things end. Which could cause them to wonder why they are bothering. That would be the challenge.

I’m also considering the pre-Cataclysm era. This is a bit more open, and would allow for more freedom. If I set it far enough back, even the events that lead to the Cataclysm (with the Kingpriest and such) would be of little consequence. The more I think about it, the more I think this era would be best. This way I wouldn’t really be constrained by existing characters and events, but I would still have a framework to work from.

Then there’s the Forgotten Realms.

To be continued…

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lost and confused...

I opened my blog to a foggy haze this morning. I...I don't know what to write about. For 30 days I have had a focus. And I stuck to it. But, now...what?

Ok, this is not really that bad of a thing. I just like being dramatic. but, the fact is, I don't really have a whole lot to say. And that's distressing to realize.

Well, the new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hit today. And I must say, I about squeed out loud. I've been a fan of The Hobbit since I was about 7 or 8 years old. I used to catch the Rankin-Bass animated movie on TV whenever it was on. Remember those days? Some of you might. When there were only three major networks, and a handful of local channels. And once a year one of the networks would show classic movies for the family, and it would be an event that dinner was planned around. Ok, it was usually The Wizard of Oz, and Miracle on 34th Street. But still, in my house, it was The Hobbit (for a few years anyways).

Out of all of Tolkien's books, The Hobbit is my favorite. I love Tolkien's storytelling, and Frodo's epic quest forms the blueprint for every aspiring DM. But The Hobbit holds a certain amount of child-like charm. Which makes sense, as it was originally released as a children's book. Wow, imagine that. What do we have today? Captain Underpants? Sheesh. Today, The Hobbit might have found life as a Young Adult novel, but with some heavy editing.

Either way, I've read it a couple of times, and seen the animated film a couple of dozen times. The music alone gets me all misty-eyed for days of yore when I first learned to play D&D. It was my introduction to fantasy, and for years, that film was my only link to the genre (I actually didn't become an avid reader until my mid-teens). And when I started in D&D, Bard the Guardsman was my only real model for the fighter. but that was fine, because Bard is badass (no one else took down Smaug). And now he's in the second PJ film.

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to this. And I really want to play some old-school D&D. Not necessarily the rules (though I would love that), but the style of game. The epic quest, the clash of steel, the monsters, the whole "band of brothers" mentality. Some of that is hard to reach with the newer editions. It's still there. But people tend to get distracted by all of the shiny parts, and forget that, at its core, it's all still just D&D.

And, in case you have been under a rock this morning...