Thursday, June 30, 2011

political rant and ramblings.

Neofeudalism

I like this term. Saw some people talking about the current state of politics in the United States and somebody tossed out this word as an aside. Personally I think it fits perfectly.

Starting with the government punishing people for being teachers. Wages frozen, benefits yanked away, more students crammed into the classroom. Now with the current battle over the budget even more funding will be cut from our education system. Why would anybody want to become a teacher in an environment like that? Why would the government seem to let this happen?

They don't want an educated lower class. It's almost like a drive back to the middle ages where only the church/government families had access to higher education. The more ignorant the lower class is the easier they are manipulate and the less chance of there being some 'competition' from them come election day.

Let's see. Step one start eliminating the middle class. Step two stay in a continuous state of warfare. Step three further segregate the lower class from the upper class by removing educational services. Step four is win. Or something like that.

Keep us poor, keep us stupid, keep us just healthy enough to work.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cyberpunk Role - Courier (well the basics of one)

Going through one of my notebooks I found some stuff I had quickly jotted down for a Courier as a Cyberpunk Role. The kind of Courier found in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. All I got were the system basics. I'll try to do a full write up soon and put it up as well.

Courier

Special Ability: Pilot-Street Board (if you ever read Snow Crash you know these boards require a special skill).


Starting cash:

1-5 = 1500eb - Road Rash
6 = 3000eb - Transporter
7 = 5000eb - Highway Prince or Princess
8 = 7000eb - Prima
9 = 9000eb - Ultra
10 = 12000eb - Elite


Career Skill Package:

Streetwise
Hide/Evade
Language - Street
Shadow/Track
Athletics
Stealth
Melee
Basic Tech
First Aid

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Be A Better Player part 6: Be prepared to play.

GM – Alright folks lets get this rolling tonight got a lot of loose ends left over from the last session that you are probably dying to tie up.

Player 1 – Damn straight. Gonna go shakedown that shopkeeper for my money back.

Player 2 – Yeah I think there was a reason he sold us that fake map. Somebody wanted us to go there.

Player 3 – Man I forgot my notebook, ah well I think I can remember everything.

GM – I hope so. Alright who was...

Player 3 – Hey anybody got a spare set of dice? I think mine are on the fridge back at the apartment. Keep forgetting them up there.

Player 2 – Again?

Player 4 – Here I got you covered just remember to give them back okay?

Player 3 – Oh and I need a pencil also.

Player 1 – Groan.

GM – Did you remember to bring anything?

Player 3- Um... well... actually can I get a soda from you?

There are certain things that are needed for play. Now even though it may vary from game to game or even from group to group there is still stuff you should remember. Having to borrow your way through a session really pulls any sort of immersion that the other players are having and tends to slow things down as well. Now if you are new to playing RPGs then sometimes this can be overlooked. But when you been at it for years there is no excuse. So let's cover some basics shall we?

Dice. Most games require you to have some dice. Some, like D&D, require a full set while others like World of Darkness stuff require just a lot of one type. But they still need them. Any gamer who has been at the hobby for a while should have his own set. Most have several of different colors and styles. Hell I have a box of sets and an extra box of oddities. So it shouldn't be hard to show up with what you need. Find out before hand what is being played and put the needed few aside for the game.

Pencil. Let me make that a bit clearer, pencil with an eraser. You have a character sheet, you will most likely be writing on that character sheet. Then throughout the game things on that character sheet may change or you will have to adjust something else. For this you will need the ever so handy pencil and eraser. So pick up one, or better yet pick up a cheap pack, and put them right next to your dice and bring them along.

Notebook. Not nearly as needed as the previous two items but damn it comes in real handy. Keeping track of npc names, places and various happenings in the game. Hell I used to keep a drawing of the game table with each player marked with their character names so I could refer to them in character while we were playing. So grab a cheap Wal-Mart special out of the notebook isle and put your pencil in the spiral and put your dice on top and you are set.

Now other games and other gamemasters may require more. Plenty of games out there require tokens, cards or some other item. Just check beforehand and find out what you are expected to bring to play. Get it all together in one place and make sure to take it with you. For bonus points bring along that extra dice set in case somebody forgets theirs.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Need weblinks....

Really need to redo the links page on my website. Some major updates are in order. But before I do this are there any particular sites that you would like to see listed there? Your own personal site, blog, a favorite forum, a site that you just think is damned cool. I'll give them a look and if I like I'll post them up.

You can post them as a comment here or send them to peteramthor@gmail.com

Oh and for those who don't know where my website is:

Truly Rural Productions

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some rare color photographs from the 40's.

Some amazing color photographs from the US depression era of the 40's leading up to and including some of the WWII mobilization. Also includes some from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Now historically speaking I find this really damn neat. But also some of the shots of a Locomotive factory and a few others are so steampunk it hurts. You may want to check them out.

Page one.

Page two.

Figured I would just pass these on.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Working on the system for Rogue Televison

Okay been brainstorming on a simple skill system to use with Rogue Television. I don't want it complex or number crunchy but with some variance. Also wanted to step away from the usual method of rolling under your skill level that I usually use in a lot of games.

Here is what I have so far copy/paste from my open office document I'm jotting all of this down on.

----------------------------------------------

Skill ranking and mechanics idea. Uses just six siders.

unskilled roll two dice and keep the lowest
skilled roll two and keep the highest
adept roll three and keep the highest
expert roll four and keep the highest

Some skills would be listed as NA for unskilled and impossible to do at that level.

Target numbers would depend on the action. Some would be based off a preset difficulty. For example with lockpicking the lock would have its own number that needed to be reached. 2 for the easiest and 6 for the hardest. Performing under duress adds one to the target number. Others such as dancing would depend on a number determined by the GM, with 2 being easy and 6 being the hardest.

Target numbers for hitting somebody would depend on the weapon and range/actions of target. Examples: Long range would add one, moving target would add one, duress would add one, weapon is low quality adds one, things like this. So if you are trying to hit a perfectly stationary target at normal range the difficulty would be 2. But a target at long range that is running and you are being shot at also (duress) would be a 5.

Of course this could make combat pretty deadly with expert fighters. But then again, shouldn't it be that way?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cyberpunk Sunday 004 - Virtual Currency and something completely different.

Let's start off this post with a little look at something related to the world economy. Say something along the lines of a virtual currency that isn't backed and supported by any government or major organization. Completely anonymous ability to 'pay' somebody with it. No real world form what so ever. I give you the Bitcoin.

Yes that's right... the Bitcoin.

Now what is this good for? Is this WoW gold or something? Well some places have embraced it completely. Several online services now accept it as payment.

Check their wiki for a list of them.

Now the first thing that came to mind was 'why would they do this?'. I mean it's virtual money and they offering services that usually fetch them real money. But here they are taking the Bitcoin as a form of payment. That's because some places buy and sell Bitcoins for real currency. Of course they charge a small exchange rate, that's how they make their money.

Here's one right now.

Going rate for a Bitcoin as I write this is $18.14 US. That's a pricey bit of coin that is. Trust me when I say people are starting to take notice. It has really become an amazing thing.

SmartMoney even did an article on it.

So now this makes for a very interesting future in money markets. It also proves the power of the internet at this point. When multiple bussinesses have decided to support a currency that only exists online and bears no allegiance to any countries printed currency. Of course there are all sorts of problems that will pop up and have to be worked out over the next few years of it's existance. But Bitcoin is really laying down some groundwork for a virtual economy.

Now remember up there at the top where I said it can be done anonymously. Yeah that's important on this last Bitcoin related link. You see everybody knows usually where there is big money to be made it's in something illegal. There is this Deepnet site (I'll talk about the Deepnet in the future) out there that provides a nice market for illegal goods. Drugs. Any drugs, all drugs, you name it and somebody is selling it for Bitcoin. You can't get to it by normal 'type in the URL' means either. You have to have a masked IP to get there, but once there you can take your pick of poison and pay for it with Bitcoin.

Wired has your 411 all about it.

So buying illegal drugs off a website that you have to know some computer trickery to get to and you pay for it with an untracable anonymous form of payment. Doesn't get much more cyberpunk than that.

Unless it's something that reads your brainwaves.

Yeah how about something that reads your brainwaves... wouldn't that be cool. Well it's out there. It can sense your brainwaves and tell if you are in deep thought, in a happy mood, daydreaming and what have you. It's a brain activity sensor that you wear on your head. No sticky pads with wires either, no surgery on the brain pan with some bits sticking out. That's cool as hell if you ask me.

So what does the company that came up with this thing do?

THEY PUT FUCKING CAT EARS ON IT!

Yeah cat ears... that move around to different positions based on your current pattern of thought. Now I'm no furry fan but this is just such a 'what the fuck are you thinking' idea that even I love it. Absolutely insane. When it's ready to goto market they are going to sell these things like they are a cure for freaking cancer, impotence and heart disease all rolled into one. Going to rake in millions. Hopefully with that millions they will put some of it into making something useful with the technology. Like maybe even the first actual real function mood ring.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Slow week on here....

No nice thought out posts this week until Cyberpunk Sunday. Between my daughter getting sick and some other real world problems rearing up my free time got cut back. Hopefully next week I'll get another WoW and Cooking article up and get things going back in the normal motion.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Little Fears: NE old playtest report.

Two years ago, on my old Livejournal blog. I was keeping track of some of my playtest games for Little Fears: Nightmare edition (which is very well done btw). Here is the entry from June 13, 2009.

-----------------------------------------------------

Some highlights of the playtest session from the other night.

The kids sneak into an abandoned house that is next door to Old Mister Crumpe's house so they can spy on him. When they find a room with a window they can use they also find notes from the child who used to live in the room. Notes detailing the old man following them, people who entered his house and never left, notes about things they saw in his yard... These notes were written in crayon around the window.

Hearing a series of metallic clicks all through the house and then discovering those clicks were all the doors locking themselves. Including the lock on the door for the room they were in. An added plus was the little knob to lock it was on their side of the door.

Zombie cop. Especially since that instead of the usual random moan is croaking out a slow drawn out 'help me'.

'I can' lie my way out of anything.

The npc next door neighbor kid who has a strange hang up with skulls. Then while searching for something that was dropped in the tall grass around Old Mister Crumpe's house he raises up and says 'look a skull!' and is holding an actual skull. Then suddenly everybody realizing the reality of the situation.

Sarah finding a gravestone with her name on it. With her birthday listed and todays date as the day she died.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

L5R again

L5R wiki

Been reading up on the Legend of the Five Rings setting. Finally I found the wiki that has been set up and it's been helping me remember a lot of it. Pretty sure if I do run the game the time period will be either pre-Scorpion Clan Coup or during the events leading up to the second day of thunder aka The Time of the Void(the first big storyline from the CCG which I am most familiar with).

Still not sure if I will ever actually get the time to run it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Be a Better Player 5. Sometimes... you just have to leave...

I'm doing this segment without a little example of play. For what I'm talking about this time I don't really think it's necessary at all. You see sometimes a few of the other players are the problem, or the GM, and it's dragging the game way down. Some times it makes you miserable, you aren't happy playing and showing up for the game is something that inspires dread. So as a player there is one thing you need to remember and it's the topic this time.

You can leave the game.

Now I know this is something that a lot of folks just don't seem to want to do. I know, I've been there. Having dedication to the group once you've agreed to play is something I value, showing up for the game is something I've done an article on before. But even I will admit you can't always continue to show up for something once it turns into something you can no longer stand.

Repeating to attempt to play like this can lead to burnout and discouragement from the hobby. Something that is not good. There is also a tendency to become the 'bad player' in the group. Detracting from everyone else's fun just because you aren't having any. Not a reputation I would like to earn myself.

Every gamer out there, players and GM's, all agree on one thing. You are involved in the rpg hobby to have fun. The problem arises when it comes down to what one person considers fun in comparison to what is fun for another. We just can't all agree on the details, or more precisely the process of creating that fun.

First exhaust your options. Talk to the GM off to the side and explain why you aren't having fun, be sure to do so in a rational manner. Also get a few of the other players off to the side and see if they are having the same problem as well. Just talking to others tends to get a lot of problems worked out. The GM may be unaware of what they are doing or the other players may feel the same as you. I've also had a group point me to a few other groups whose style of play was more to my liking, now that was a class act group of players.

If it can't be helped and it keeps going to the same old direction then it's time to exit the game. Just be sure to do so in a polite manner, but don't lie about it either. Just coming out and saying it's not working for you and you're not having fun at all should be enough for most group. Being a dick and burning bridges just hurts you down the line nine times out of ten, after all, many local gamers talk to each other. Giving them a false story of why you want out can bite you if they ever find out you lied to them.

But some folks can't handle polite or honesty and they will still be pissy about it when you leave. Don't worry that they are getting all butthurt over it. If they act this way over someone parting ways just imagine how much worse things could get if you stay.

So in the end, if things just aren't working out, just leave. There are other groups out there, some may be a bit of a pain to find but they are out there. Be careful not to let it build up into a 'flameout' as you leave.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time of the Void

Been reading the Time of the Void sourcebook for Legend of the Five Rings. It covers that events that took place in the first storyline arc of the CCG. That was the time that I was actually playing the CCG really heavy so I remembered a lot of the events and found myself smiling several times. Really happy to read more of what actually went down and all the storyline stuff they put into it. Just pretty damn sweet.

It also reminded me how much I like the setting of L5R. Great story in there, and both the CCG and RPG had some amazing mechanics. If I ever get the time to run a game again I may actually have to try my hand at running it. Would have to write up an intro packet for my players for some of the terms and setting details. Not to mention fiddling with little bits of the setting here and there.

Yeah I always liked the 'faux oriental' type of stuff. Even my first MMORPG was steeped heavily in it (12 Sky). But around here nobody else really got a lot of interest in it more than some other card players. Maybe one day I will try to get it going.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BG woes... a little look at Arathi Basin tactics.

Going against the grain, a look at the commonly held tactics used in Arathi Basin.

Arathi Basin has always been one of my favorite battlegrounds. You are forced to spread out and communicate in order to succeed. Now there are some stead fast tactics that everyone seems to preach in there. Things that you must do in order to win, otherwise you fail 'u lozer noob'. Yeah well pardon me while I disagree with a few of them.

You must have the Blacksmith in order to win. Bullshit, complete and total bullshit at that. I've had several wins where we don't control it. Many times holding the blacksmith can make you lose instead usually from simple mistakes do to how important people think it is. Teams will over defend leaving to few to go around and take other nodes or they spend everything they have trying to take it. Don't get me wrong it's nice to have with a wonderful tactical position but it's not worth fighting for it while you lose everything else. So if you don't have it, don't worry. Hold onto whatever other nodes you have and keep an eye just in case the opportunity to take it arises.

The Gold Mine is next to useless. Yeah right, only three ways to get at it (each road in and the drop down) which makes it way easier to defend than the blacksmith. You may not have the ability to see the battleground like you can at other points but if communication is going well you don't need to. Not to mention the reputation of the place makes most folks try for other nodes so defenders usually see smaller attacks coming at them. Not to mention the farm or stables can't see you coming until you are more than halfway there. I've personally sat and 'defended' the mines for entire games and never saw a single bit of combat.

You must hold your starting node (stables or farms). Again, nice to keep them, but not necessary. Also this tends to be something the enemy likes to take and hold and will devote several of their force to. So if they hit and take it with a large group then bypass and hit another of their nodes. If you get pinned in at your starting point GY then try to get around (potions to turn invisible are wonderful for this). Actually when they start pinning people in up there they tend to rush from everyplace else to help so it leaves other places lightly or completely ungaurded.

Now another thing I would like to cover isn't really a hard stead tactic but something you see people yelling ALL THE FREAKING TIME. 'Don't fight in the roads fight at the flags' yeah I'm sure you've heard that. To all those genius people I would like to ask “What do you do when you and three teammates run into four team members from the other side while on your way to nodes?”. Do you pass each other and wave nicely and let them continue on to take whatever they want. Hell no. It's a fight right then and there. Sometimes that fighting on the roads keeps them from making it to the flags to fight at. Bonus feature is if they kill you there is a pretty good chance you may rez in time to defend the node they are after, maybe even a few people short themselves now.

Well there is some tactical advice that goes against what a lot of other people tell you. Take it or leave it. Just remember no plan stay intact past the initial encounter with the enemy so be ready to flex.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

MSNBC displays worst news reporting ever....

Read this article

Now I have no clue what it may say by the time you read this. Originally it said '25 to 30 bodies of children found in mass grave in Texas'. Then it changed to children are believed to be in the mass grave as well, then changed a few more times.

Not only that but it went from anonymous tipster to psychic. Bodies found to no bodies found. Area searched to no search warrant and no search done yet.

Yeah it's gone from nightmare fuel breaking news story to psychic says there are bodies buried there no search yet.

This has got to be the worst news reporting ever. MSNBC should issue apologies and admit they really screwed up. This should also show that you can never trust anything the put up as 'news'. The comments section of the article is a real mess because the first posts are response to 30 dead children FOUND, to psychic says bodies. So some folks are wondering where others are seeing what they read and all that.

Yeah. Gonna have to start up one of my old LiveJournal tags to file this one under. Welcome back 'stupid shit'.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cyberpunk Sunday 003

This time we are going to take a look at some links that have a particular interest to the idea of heavily armed gangs as well as a few ideas for Nomad types.

As many know the war on drugs and the cartels that are behind it has been raging in Mexico for several years now. It's been a violent and bloody fight that has left thousands dead. The cartels arm their 'soldiers' very well and when that's not enough they get creative. This time in the area of armored vehicles. Some of these are things straight out of gangland near future fiction.

This first one is an awesome 'narcotank'. I mean this thing looks pretty well put together and very capable of doing it's job. It's hosted on yahoo so don't expect it to stay forever (they tend to delete old news after a while) so grab the picture now.

See the tank

Up next is a youtube video in spanish showing some of the various vehicles Mexican officials have siezed. There are quite a variety ranging from the simple to the more extreme.

Watch the video

Here is another short article showing another big armored vehicle along with a video to watch with it. This one was apparently stopped due to the failure to add some protection to the tires.

Read and watch it

Finally we look at one last link showing something a bit different. Undersea trafficking using fiberglass submarines. The one in the story was carrying around 4 tons of cocaine, but that space could be used for all sorts of purposes in a cyberpunk future.

See the subs

Now the next time you write a bit of cyberpunk fiction or run a game of Cyberpunk 2020 and the gangs start rolling out the armored vehicles you have something to show them. No more cries of 'they can't have those' from the players.

Also keep in mind that Nomads would most likely have a few things like these stashed here and there or hauled in a trailer for whenever they run up on trouble.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Better Bacon Cheeseburger cooking tips.

The better bacon cheeseburger.

First off this tip only works if you have a wide grate grill. The thin bar grills don't seem to do to well since they don't retain a lot of the flavor from the bacon.

The best choice for maximum flavor when it comes to bacon (well in my opinion) is thick cut pepper bacon. Thick cut doesn't curl up nearly as much as the regular cut and it doesn't cook up into a incinerated crisp so easily.

First off prep your burgers before hand, shaped into patties and seasoned with whatever you like. Just keep them on the side in a pan, usually I keep my layered with wax paper to keep them from sticking together.

Heat up the grill to a low to medium heat, you want the bacon to cook for a bit on it. Once it's nice and hot cover the entire grill with a nice layer.



Flip it a few times and try to keep it from burning up. Watch for you hot spots and rotate out some of the lesser done bacon with what is cooking there. Now once you start getting some of it ready to come off get your burgers ready. As soon as you pull it off drop a burger right down in it's spot so it will soak up some of the bacon and pepper flavors. Of course it doesn't all get finished at once so keep it moving and remember which patties you put down first.



Cook the burgers like normal now and you're done. Add whatever you like to them. Personally I go with some cooked onions (I'll put up the tips for that later), Country Bobs and cheese. Of course your tastes will most likely differ.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

BG woes... use your damn tools.

Sometimes I wonder how many people are actually using the tools available to them while fighting in a BG. Seriously to many times in Warsung Gulch have I seen someone call out 'Where are the FC's?'. Or not noticing that there is no defense at the Mine or whatever during an Arathi fight. Really? Not to mention some of the people bitching how other people are playing are the ones making these mistakes.

Minimap, Shift+M, it shows up in the lower right hand corner of your screen. Would you all fucking use it please?

See in areas where you fighting for control it will show you each point and colored to represent who has it. Blue for Alliance, red for Horde and grey for neutral. No more having to ask 'Who has the Mage Tower?' in Eye of the Storm for the flag runner. Just a quick look and you know.

Also it has a little dot for everybody on your side. Giving you and idea of where to go when you have a flag to get some defense. If you have a moment or two to spare before making your move you can mouse over the dot and get a name list of who it is. Running towards the healers is usually a good call, or calling out to one what route you will be taking once you pick up the flag. This it something foreign to some folks, it's called tactics, but I'll rant about that another time.

These dots can also change a bit. They get a little triangle pointing in the direction they are moving if the toon is in a siege engine. In Tol Borad the unmanned sieges show up on the map even. Very helpful for backing up a push to break down a wall.

In some battlegrounds, like Strand of the Ancients, it shows the gates. Along with changing their icon when they are damaged or broken through. The more you know of whats going on where you aren't the better off you are to react and change you plans.

Now it also lets you know where flag carriers are. In Eye of the Storm it shows up blank in the middle of the map and then goes to the color of which ever side is carrying it. Warsung it goes a bit different though. When somebody grabs the enemy flag it immediately shows up so you can immediately react and move into a position to help defend them. However when your flag is grabbed by the enemy they get a short grace period before showing up on the map. Not to long maybe twenty seconds or so but it gives them time to get a bit of a sneaky head start. But soon enough they pop up on the mini and you can go after them.

So in the end the minimap is a damn good and very useful tool that everyone has. It would be an act of stupidity to not use it actually. So hit that shift + M and pull it up and keep a passing eye on it. Nothing about it will hurt you and all it can do is help.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Now this causes me some anger.

Okay this is really getting frustrating. Blogger won't let me comment on my own blog. I keep getting shuffled through pick profile - log in - word verify and then back to pick profile.

Really aggrivating this is. Everything else works fine, my dashboard comes up, access to everything in my account. Just when I goto comment on anything, zip, nadda, zero.

Not sure what the problem could even remotely be.