Sunday, July 31, 2011

This week only, Cyberpunk Sunday is Cyberpunk Monday.

It's going to be a cyberpunk monday this week. I guess most schedules get tossed out the window during the summer when it's nice outside and you have kids.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The ABC's of NVD's

Limitations to keep in mind when players decide to use Night Vision Devices. This article taken directly from the US Army's 'Countermeasure' magazine April 2003 issue.

Hope it helps a few GMs out there.


Wow! A soldier has just looked through night vision goggles (NVGs) for the first time. He can see – he thinks – and he'd like to put the goggles on and go. What he doesn't know is that while NVGs increase night light to incredible levels, they don't turn night into day and they don't show him everything. Like all Night Vision Devices (NVDs), the goggles have some limitations. Some of those are limitations in the devices themselves while others are in the eye. Sometimes those limitations show up in the accident reports and they're worth being aware of. Let's look at some of the most common concerns.

Reduced Field of View
The view through NVDs can be a lot like looking down a tunnel. Your normal field of view is almost 190 degrees – but that is cut down to 40 degrees with NVDs. That side – or "peripheral" – vision you're accustomed to, and from which you often see your dangers, is just not there. To adjust for that you must constantly turn your head to scan for the dangers on either side of you that you can's see in your narrow field of view.

Reduced Visual Acuity (Sharpness)
At their best, NVGs cannot provide the same level of sharpness to what you see as what you're accustomed to in the daytime. While normal vision is 20/20, NVGs can, at best, provide only 20/25 to 20/40, and even this is possible only during optimal illumination and when you have a high-contrast target or scene. As either illumination or contrast decreases, the NVGs visual acuity drops, giving you an even more "fuzzy" image.

Reduced Depth and Distance Perception
Normally you use both eyes (binocular vision) to pick up the cues to help estimate the distance and depth of an object. However, with NVDs you are essentially using one eye (monocular) vision, which can pose real problems. For example, when you are wearing NVDs and you view two objects of different sizes that are side-by-side, the larger object appears to be nearer. When you view overlapping objects through an NVD, the one that is in front "appears" to be nearer – maybe much more so than is true. In addition, some objects viewed through NVGs may appear to be farther away than they actually are. The reason for that is that we tend to associate the loss of detail sharpness with distance. On the other hand, a light source that is not part of a terrain feature – for example, a light atop a tower – may look closer than it actually is. It's important to be aware of these potential problems and that NVG users tend to overestimate distance and underestimate the depth (how tall an object is).

Dark Adaptation
Your eye needs time to adjust from day to night vision. That's why you can barely see when you first enter a dark movie theater during the daytime – your eyes need time to adjust to the darkness. So it is with NVGs. You are basically getting a dim-day view, so when you remove your NVGs, your eyes need time to adapt to the darkness. The amount of time you need depends on how long you have been wearing the NVGs. Most people achieve about a 75 percent dark-adaptation within 30 seconds of removing the goggles. This is especially important to keep in mind if you are using your NVGs as binoculars – basically lifting them to your eyes and lowering them.

In Summary
Accidents ranging from fender-benders to mission stoppers sometimes happen because people misinterpret what they see through their NVDs. To train safely and win on the battlefield, you need to understand the limitations of your night vision equipment and be skilled in using it. Leaders also need to be aware of the hazards involved in NVD operations and take measures to control the risks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Be A Better Player 8 - Stop multitasking

GM – Okay you have the front guard taken out. All that is left are the two inside, what are you going to do?

Player 1 – Well first off I'm dragging the one we took out off to the side. Don't need anybody seeing him laying out there in the open.

Player 2 – Trying to find an area near the door where I can see inside. We need to get a good idea of where they are.

GM – Hey Adam what about you? Adam!

Player 3 – Huh? Oh sorry I was answering an email real quick it was kinda important.

Player 1 – Aren't they all.....

GM – Guard outside is down, two left inside are left.

Player 3 – Ah okay, I guess I back up the others on whatever they decide.

GM – Look can you just put the phone down for a bit. It's really breaking up the flow here.

Player 3 – I don't understand.

Player 2 – Get your head in the game damn it!

Player 3 – Yeah... okay... just let me check on a couple of auctions real quick. Need to see how much they are up to.

GM – What...

Player 3 – I'll start paying more attention, really. Just got some stuff going on you know?

When you aren't chatting with people over IM's or downloading the 'perfect' song to play in case the group goes to a club you are playing the game. Well sort of, sometimes you get distracted and have to be reminded of what's going on at the moment. But that auction ends in two hours and you are sure somebody is going to try and snipe it. Oh and there is always a good argument going on over at the forums you frequent.

Yeah... you aren't a computer so keep the multitasking down. This all rolls around to breaking the flow and mood of the game rather easily. By not paying enough attention play has to stop and the GM has to repeat what he has just said. The GM is most likely getting aggravated by it and the other players are starting to line up right beside him with the same feelings. Thus turning an otherwise enjoyable time into an irritating one.

Let's also not mention the distraction. Ring-tone going off every time somebody send you a text. Alert sounds when that download is done. Even vibration mode still makes noise. All this adds up into a long continues string of interruptions and breaks down the flow at the table.

Now I'm not fool enough to suggest that you should turn off your phone when you sit down at the table to play. Emergencies happen, spouses call and sometimes you need to answer the calls. But put it on vibrate and stick it in your pocket. Don't flip it out and start cruising the net just when the attention on you drops a little bit.

Oh and on a related note, sending text messages back and forth among yourself and the other players isn't a good idea also. Not only does it cause many of the same problems but usually it's done in some effort to 'undermine' the GM. I mean, after all, trying to do this is basically saying that you don't want them running a game. Some will get that message and you'll be a bunch of players sitting around a table with their phones in their hands and nobody running the game.

So please, unplug for a bit, be social without a social network and get in the game.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Class/role ideas

Okay I'm going to go with classes in my cyberpunk game I am trying to make. But I'm going to make two groups. One for street level type of games and one for the high end special ops type of groups. Just off the top of my head.

Street level classes- Courier, Musician, Freelancer (media type), hacker, street tech, some sort of freelance thug or bodyguard class, cop

Special Op level classes - Corporate executive, Security Specialist, a Tech class, a hacker class, police captain

All of this is up in the air as to how I will sort it out in make them different. Most likely giving the Special Op classes more starting points or some really nifty class only skills.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

classes or classless?

So I've been thinking of making my own cyberpunk game to run here locally at some point. Setting is going to be pretty generic standard stuff (no fucking magic though that shit isn't cyberpunk) so I'm really looking at the system. A cyberpunk heartbreaker if you will.

Here's my sticking point. Should I go with classes, like the roles from Cyberpunk 2020? Or should I go with a classless set up? Or some mash up in between? Which do you prefer and why? Just looking for stuff to get my creative thoughts flowing on this.

Cyberpunk Sunday 006 - Music and some of the technology behind it.

Let's talk a little bit about entertainment. Now while the base of most forms is pretty much the same as always: music, movies, book, etc the way it's being done is changing. Some of the changes are rather impressive. We'll look at music this time around. Also for a change of pace all my links in this edition of Cyberpunk Sunday are to Youtube videos, so turn up the sound or toss on your headphones.

First up let's look at music. Now the front man of a group is usually the person who is recognized by most people. They get the most camera time in the videos, they get more interviews and people remember their names. Now what happens when the front man isn't really a person at all? Enter Hatsune Miku, she isn't real, she's a hologram.

Here's some footage from one of 'her' concerts.

Hologram technology has really been taking off in some places. The ability to create a false 'front man' is just one of the many uses of it in the entertainment area. Plus in this particular field it can also prove to quite profitable, and that can lead to plenty of money being put into developing the tech even further. Another band that has used this is the Gorillaz. In the clip below you can really see now good they can be. They perform their normal routine until a certain point where Madonna rises up onto the stage and then walks around them at the 2:50 mark.

Notice how she doesn't show through from behind.

Now the holograms are impressive. But lets go back to Hatsune Miku for a second. Not only is she a hologram, but even her voice is artificial. She is powered by Yamaha's VOCALOID technology, which stand for Vocal + Android, and was developed by Crypton Future Media in Supporo, and released on August 31st, 2007. You can create some amazing human sounding voices with this software, complete pitch control and vocal stresses. There have been several different 'singers' that have been created using this mix of Vocaloid and hologram technology.

Here are two singing together.

Now onto somebody live on stage. House DJ's have reached a new level of popularity in recent years. Again, as with holograms, this is bringing money in and allowing them to put it into technological advances with their tools of the trade. The mixing table has been something that has really evolved over the years, starting with a couple of turn tables and a few slider controls to something that just looks completely cyberpunk.

Here's one...

and another.

With bands like Daft Punk, The Glitch Mob and many others driving the techno house musician style further into the mainstream their styles are becoming the future. How far will they reach, well that remains to be seen. But personally I think they fit more into the cyberpunk genre than what we thought about ten to fifteen years ago. Rockerboys are being replaced by one man sound machines.

Friday, July 15, 2011

just ranting

Personal rant I needed to do. Me bitching about something that most won't care about. So if you are here for gaming stuff just go ahead and skip to another post. I just gotta bitch someplace and facebook doesn't let me type this much.


You hear people complaining about the use of certain words. They get angry when people nearby use them. Hell primetime television shows can get big rating boosts just because they are going to use the word 'shit' in an episode. Personally the word I keep finding more offensive than anything else is quite different from all the others.

Hope. I fucking hate that word. How people like to give it away and instill what it means into people. They tell people to hope and get them to hope only to actually have no intention of going through with anything they say. Keep your hopes up. Why? So they can just fall all that much further? I'm tired of it. People keep telling me to look on the positive side of things, that things will change, things will get better. Bullshit. False hope.

Somebody recently got my hopes up. Someone I could work together with to get out of the current situation in my life. I got that little tinge of happiness, that shining little ray of hope. Only to feel it burn as is it went black in a moment.

Really I'm tired of it. 'The harder you try the better things get' yeah except lets add in a sudden change in my family insurance plan that shoots it to a 5000 dollar deductible before they pay for ANYTHING at all. That's between a third to a fourth of my yearly take home income by the way, depending on how we work. Trying harder didn't do shit there. Try harder and watch the local school district constantly sending your children home with their hands out for such and such project/fund raiser/whatever. Making THEM feel guilty if I don't pay up something, forcing them to be the outsiders even more if I'm broke and can't do it. Trying harder did what? Busting my ass at work only to get wrote up when a sickness goes through my family and I end up missing days to stay home with one of my kids who is throwing up all night. Try harder...

Everybody can take their hope and shove it up their ass.

Why the FUCK can a single mother that makes the same as I do get government aid to help a little bit with daycare bills and some with food costs? Why is the system sat up to FUCK somebody who is white, male and happens to actually try and work for a living?

Why do people even bother trying to give others hope.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Be A Better Player Seven - Enough jokes already!

GM – Okay guys enough jokes for a bit let's get back on track here.

Player 1 – heh heh... yeah okay you're right.

Player 3 – Sorry bout that.

GM – Okay now back to where we were. Your party finally makes it way through the rubble up to opening of the cave. There are the remains of a few previous adventurers like yourself lying about near the entrance.

Player 2 – Oh shit watch out for rabbits around here.

Player 3- hehe oh hell I didn't think about that.

Player 2 – “That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!”

GM – No that's not what....

Player 2 - “Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer!”

Player 3 – Oh damn my sides hurting I'm laughing so hard.

Player 1 – I should have known better than to trust the gm to NOT pull out the rabbit.

GM – groan...

Okay I'll admit a little humor at the game table is welcome when I'm running a game. Getting a good chuckle over something while in the middle of some number crunching makes the numbers flow a little better it seems. HOWEVER... you have to stop at some point. You may have the best joke in the world suddenly on your lips, but there are times when you need to just shut the fuck up.

First thing it can throw off the enjoyment of others. Some people are there to play the game and not sit around for three hours playing amateur comedy club night. You need to understand that they are there to invest their time into something and you may be keeping them from doing that. These are also the kinds of players that a lot of gamemasters like and if it comes time to cut somebody they won't be the first on the list and will probably be whispering about who they would like to see gone.

Second thing is that all this joking stops gameplay. So if there is an 'stop point' planned for the night you are pushing it further and further away. Maybe even past the point to which the players are willing to stay for. When game play stops like this it has a tendency to stop dead in it's tracks and takes some time to get rolling again.

Third is the complete destruction of the mood. Not all games are dungeon romps through perfectly made corridors and shop keepers that are merely vending machines for arrows and rations. In nearly any sort of horror scenario the mood becomes very important. The intent is to keep the players themselves on the edges of their seats to try and make them feel a bit of what their PC's are experiencing. Suddenly busting out a song of 'Knights of the Round Table' when you find a dining room with a circular table can throw all that right out the window. In a high action game the mood is for fast thinking and quick decisions, making everyone giggle every two minutes destroys that as well.

Forth thing, well lets just face it, usually you are never even half as funny as you think you are. So not only is everyone else getting belted with jokes but they are bad jokes at that. You are not a professional comedian, if you were you would probably be up on stage at a club on Saturday night getting paid instead of at the gaming table. We've also seen The Holy Grail about a dozen times and can repeat the lines as we watch it, we don't need your refresher course.

So watch for the subtle signs. The gamemaster or other players glaring at you, the lack of anybody but you laughing and everyone suddenly having to 'other things' come up. Being to much of a disruption is a sure fire way to not be told that the game night is switching to Fridays starting next week.

Google +

Been trying out Google + for the last couple of days. It's a very interesting social networking application. Now for some opinions on various features it has or lacks.

Circles. Okay this is absolutely, hands down, one of the best things about G+. Basically you start off with so many circles already named, Family, Friends, Acquaintances and Follow. Now the idea you take the people you connected with into any circles they belong in. You can also name your own circles for further division if you need, for example I made a 'local friends' circle. Now whenever you make a post you can choose to make it only viewable by specific circles, all circles or even completely public.

Now people don't know what circles they are in, just that you put them in a circle. So there is no worry about people getting all butthurt over iDrama. This is all done with a drag and drop interactive interface. So much more better than clicking buttons over and over. More visually appealing and is automatically ready for touch screens.

+1. I've been seeing the little +1 buttons all over the place here lately to show that you like something. Now people can see what you gave one to in your profile.

The stream (sort of like a wall in fb) also has a neat little tool. You have your circles listed on the side of your screen. If you don't want to read everything you can just click the circle and see only the posts from people in that circle.

A notification button is also at the top of your screen. basically it turns red with the number of notifications listed in it. One nice touch is that it's also there when you are checking your gmail.

Voice, webcam and text chat are there but I haven't tried them.

What I see missing so far that I enjoy over on FB.

Public groups, interests and ... well that's all I can think of.

Now I will say I like the overall interface a LOT better than Facebook. It takes some getting used to because it's a step forward instead of just copying what we all are used to. This is a risk for Google but I think it will pay off, somebody has to move forward and somebody will hit the magic path (kinda like the Wii remotes).

More on this as I keep trying it out.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Datafortress 2020

Just for those who may not have noticed.

Over on the right side is a small section called 'Gaming sites I recommend'. It's rather short right now but one day I will get around to adding to it. Anyways there is one called Datafortress 2020. Now what the guy behind this site did took a lot of work. He has been gathering Cyberpunk 2020 material off of the net for years. Some of it from sites that vanished. When GeoCities announced it was disappearing he went into action.

He started contacting site owners, authors and anybody else he could to get permission to host their material. Following years old emails on pdfs, doing web searches for names and asking for help on various forums about getting ahold of these people.

Amazingly he managed to track down a whole lot of them. So all this material that may have been lost to the shut downs of the net has been saved and stored. My hat is off to him for this effort, not a small undertaking was this. If for all your Cyberpunk 2020 fan material needs, Datafortress 2020 is the only place to go.

Give it a look. It's just right over there on the right.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

When the new giant bought out the old giant.

A little bit of gaming history here. This is a release from Ryan Dancey about the time when WOTC bought out TSR. He discusses the state of the company when they took over an what he thought what was killing it. Interesting to read if anything.


Originally Posted by Ryan Dancey: the man, the myth, the legend

In the winter of 1997, I traveled to Lake Geneva Wisconsin on a secret mission. In the late fall, rumors of TSR's impending bankruptcy had created an opportunity to made a bold gamble that the business could be saved by an infusion of capital or an acquisition with a larger partner. After a hasty series of phone calls and late night strategy sessions, I found myself standing in the snow outside of 201 Sheridan Springs Road staring at a building bearing a sign that said "TSR, Incorporated".

Inside the building, I found a dead company.

In the halls that had produced the stuff of my childhood fantasies, and had fired my imagination and become unalterably intertwined with my own sense of self, I found echoes, empty desks, and the terrible depression of lost purpose.

The life story of a tree can be read by a careful examination of its rings. The life story of a corporation can be read by a careful examination of its financial records and corporate minutes.

I was granted unprecedented access to those records. I read the TSR corporate log book from the first page penned in haste by Gary Gygax to the most recent terse minutes dictated to a lawyer with no connection to hobby gaming. I was able to trace the meteoric rise of D&D as a business, the terrible failure to control costs that eventually allowed a total outsider to take control away from the founders, the slow and steady progress to rebuild the financial solvency of the company, and the sudden and dramatic failure of that business model. I read the euphoric copyright filings for the books of my lost summers: "Player's Handbook", "Fiend Folio", "Oriental Adventures". I read the contract between Gary and TSR where Gary was severed from contact with the company he had founded and the business he had nurtured and grown. I saw the clause where Gary, forced to the wall by ruthless legal tactics was reduced to insisting to the right to use his own name in future publishing endeavors, and to take and keep control of his personal D&D characters. I read the smudged photocopies produced by the original Dragonlance Team, a group of people who believed in a new idea for gaming that told a story across many different types of products. I saw concept artwork evolve from lizard men with armor to unmistakable draconians. I read Tracy Hickman's one page synopsis of the Dragonlance Story. I held the contract between Tracy and Margaret for the publication of the three Chronicles novels. I read the contract between Ed Greenwood and TSR to buy his own personal game world and transform it into the most developed game setting in history - the most detailed and explored fantasy world ever created.

And I read the details of the Random House distribution agreement; an agreement that TSR had used to support a failing business and hide the fact that TSR was rotten at the core. I read the entangling bank agreements that divided the copyright interests of the company as security against default, and realized that the desperate arrangements made to shore up the company's poor financial picture had so contaminated those rights that it might not be possible to extract Dungeons & Dragons from the clutches of lawyers and bankers and courts for years upon end. I read the severance agreements between the company and departed executives which paid them extraordinary sums for their silence. I noted the clauses, provisions, amendments and agreements that were piling up more debt by the hour in the form of interest charges, fees and penalties. I realized that the money paid in good faith by publishers and attendees for GenCon booths and entrance fees had been squandered and that the show itself could not be funded. I discovered that the cost of the products that company was making in many cases exceeded the price the company was receiving for selling those products. I toured a warehouse packed from floor to 50 foot ceiling with products valued as though they would soon be sold to a distributor with production stamps stretching back to the late 1980s. I was 10 pages in to a thick green bar report of inventory, calculating the true value of the material in that warehouse when I realized that my last 100 entries had all been "$0"'s.

I met staff members who were determined to continue to work, despite the knowledge that they might not get paid, might not even be able to get in to the building each day. I saw people who were working on the same manuscripts they'd been working on six months earlier, never knowing if they'd actually be able to produce the fruits of their labor. In the eyes of those people (many of whom I have come to know as friends and co workers), I saw defeat, desperation, and the certain knowledge that somehow, in some way, they had failed. The force of the human, personal pain in that building was nearly overwhelming - on several occasions I had to retreat to a bathroom to sit and compose myself so that my own tears would not further trouble those already tortured souls.

I ran hundreds of spreadsheets, determined to figure out what had to be done to save the company. I was convinced that if I could just move enough money from column A to column B, that everything would be ok. Surely, a company with such powerful brands and such a legacy of success could not simply cease to exist due to a few errors of judgment and a poor strategic plan?

I made several trips to TSR during the frenzied days of negotiation that resulted in the acquisition of the company by Wizards of the Coast. When I returned home from my first trip, I retreated to my home office; a place filled with bookshelves stacked with Dungeons & Dragons products. From the earliest games to the most recent campaign setting supplements - I owned, had read, and loved those products with a passion and intensity that I devoted to little else in my life. And I knew, despite my best efforts to tell myself otherwise, that the disaster I kept going back to in Wisconsin was the result of the products on those shelves.

When Peter put me in charge of the tabletop RPG business in 1998, he gave me one commission: Find out what went wrong, fix the business, save D&D. Vince also gave me a business condition that was easy to understand and quite direct. "God damnit, Dancey", he thundered at me from across the conference table: "Don't lose any more money!"

That became my core motivation. Save D&D. Don't lose money. Figure out what went wrong. Fix the problem.

Back into those financials I went. I walked again the long threads of decisions made by managers long gone; there are few roadmarks to tell us what was done and why in the years TSR did things like buy a needlepoint distributorship, or establish a west coast office at King Vedor's mansion. Why had a moderate success in collectable dice triggered a million unit order? Why did I still have stacks and stacks of 1st edition rulebooks in the warehouse? Why did TSR create not once, not twice, but nearly a dozen times a variation on the same, Tolkien inspired, eurocentric fantasy theme? Why had it constantly tried to create different games, poured money into marketing those games, only to realize that nobody was buying those games? Why, when it was so desperate for cash, had it invested in a million dollar license for content used by less than 10% of the marketplace? Why had a successful game line like Dragonlance been forcibly uprooted from its natural home in the D&D game and transplanted to a foreign and untested new game system? Why had the company funded the development of a science fiction game modeled on D&D - then not used the D&D game rules?

In all my research into TSR's business, across all the ledgers, notebooks, computer files, and other sources of data, there was one thing I never found - one gaping hole in the mass of data we had available.

No customer profiling information. No feedback. No surveys. No "voice of the customer". TSR, it seems, knew nothing about the people who kept it alive. The management of the company made decisions based on instinct and gut feelings; not data. They didn't know how to listen - as an institution, listening to customers was considered something that other companies had to do - TSR lead, everyone else followed.

In today's hypercompetitive market, that's an impossible mentality. At Wizards of the Coast, we pay close attention to the voice of the customer. We ask questions. We listen. We react. So, we spent a whole lot of time and money on a variety of surveys and studies to learn about the people who play role playing games. And, at every turn, we learned things that were not only surprising, they flew in the face of all the conventional wisdom we'd absorbed through years of professional game publishing.

We heard some things that are very, very hard for a company to hear. We heard that our customers felt like we didn't trust them. We heard that we produced material they felt was substandard, irrelevant, and broken. We heard that our stories were boring or out of date, or simply uninteresting. We heard the people felt that >we< were irrelevant.

I know now what killed TSR. It wasn't trading card games. It wasn't Dragon Dice. It wasn't the success of other companies. It was a near total inability to listen to its customers, hear what they were saying, and make changes to make those customers happy. TSR died because it was deaf.

Amazingly, despite all those problems, and despite years of neglect, the D&D game itself remained, at the core, a viable business. Damaged; certainly. Ailing; certainly. But savable? Absolutely.

Our customers were telling us that 2e was too restrictive, limited their creativity, and wasn't "fun to play'? We can fix that. We can update the core rules to enable the expression of that creativity. We can demonstrate a commitment to supporting >your< stories. >Your< worlds. And we can make the game fun again.

Our customers were telling us that we produced too many products, and that the stuff we produced was of inferior quality? We can fix that. We can cut back on the number of products we release, and work hard to make sure that each and every book we publish is useful, interesting, and of high quality.

Our customers were telling us that we spent too much time on our own worlds, and not enough time on theirs? Ok - we can fix that. We can re-orient the business towards tools, towards examples, towards universal systems and rules that aren't dependent on owning a thousand dollars of unnecessary materials first.

Our customers were telling us that they prefer playing D&D nearly 2:1 over the next most popular game option? That's an important point of distinction. We can leverage that desire to help get them more people to play >with< by reducing the barriers to compatibility between the material we produce, and the material created by other companies.

Our customers told us they wanted a better support organization? We can pour money and resources into the RPGA and get it growing and supporting players like never before in the club's history. (10,000 paid members and rising, nearly 50,000 unpaid members - numbers currently skyrocketing).

Our customers were telling us that they want to create and distribute content based on our game? Fine - we can accommodate that interest and desire in a way that keeps both our customers and our lawyers happy.

Are we still listening? Yes, we absolutely are. If we hear you asking us for something we're not delivering, we'll deliver it. But we're not going to cater to the specific and unique needs of a minority if doing so will cause hardship to the majority. We're going to try and be responsible shepards of the D&D business, and that means saying "no" to things that we have shown to be damaging to the business and that aren't wanted or needed by most of our customers.

We listened when the customers told us that Alternity wasn't what they wanted in a science fiction game. We listened when customers told us that they didn't want the confusing, jargon filled world of Planescape. We listened when people told us that the Ravenloft concept was overshadowed by the products of a competitor. We listened to customers who told us that they want core materials, not world materials. That they buy DUNGEON magazine every two months at a rate twice that of our best selling stand-alone adventures.

We're not telling anyone what game to play. We are telling the market that we're going to actively encourage our players to stand up and demand that they be listened to, and that they become the center of the gaming industry - rather than the current publisher-centric model. Through the RPGA, the Open Gaming movement, the pages of Dragon Magazine, and all other venues available, we want to empower our customers to do what >they< want, to force us and our competitors to bend to >their< will, to make the products >they< want made.

I want to be judged on results, not rhetoric. I want to look back at my time at the helm of this business and feel that things got better, not worse. I want to know that my team made certain that the mistakes of the past wouldn't be the mistakes of the future. I want to know that we figured out what went wrong. That we fixed it. That we saved D&D. And that god damnit, we didn't lose money.

Thank you for listening,


Ryan S. Dancey
VP, Wizards of the Coast
Brand Manager, Dungeons & Dragons

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pathfinder vs D&D 4th ed.

Just got back from the local comic/game shop. It's a rarity that I get to go there anymore with my full time job and raising both of my kids. They aren't old enough to be trusted in there without tearing stuff up so I have to elect just not to go but once in a great while. I was looking for a couple of comics a friend on facebook wrote (Project Superman and Rocketeer Adventures) but more about those later.

Talked with Dave (the owner) for a while about a few things. One thing came to mind that I had to ask him. The CEO of paizo recently made the claim that Pathfinder books are outselling D&D books (haven't read the actual claim myself but have seen several people talking about it). Dave agreed that this is currently the trend at his shop. Pathfinder is the number one seller when it comes to books. Overall, if you count other D&D products, they come in number two because he sells quite a few of the D&D Dungeon Tiles.

I found it interesting to see what is basically the older version of the D20 rules selling better than the new version. Plus he also noted that he still gets people in asking him to find 3.0 and 3.5 stuff. Now of course this appears to only be print copies of the books sold through distributors and not every shop will be the same. Not to mention we have no idea how much is coming in from DDI online.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Dug out my copy of Kromosome today. For those who have never heard of this game it was one of the titles for TSR's Amazing Engine game line. While the Amazing Engine system leaves something to be desired this cyberpunk setting is rather well done. Squeezing in setting information, full game rules, all the needed system stuff for cyberware, bioware (genemods), netrunning, you name it; all into 141 pages. It's worth buying just to mine for ideas.

One of my favorite ideas is the Microcorp. The players basically form their own during character creation. Deciding what services or goods they offer, how they are going to go about making money, etc. It's a really neat angle to take with the game instead of just mercenaries out for a quick buck like most cyberpunk games.

I'll be posting up a few more things out of it as I give it a reread over the next few weeks. Heck I need to just write out a full review on it someday.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cyberpunk 2020 role: DJ


Charismatic Leadership

Wardrobe & Style
Play Instrument

Starting cash same as a Rockerboy.

You are the lone performer up in front of the crowded club. You don't have a band backing you. It's just you and the equipment you bring with. Mixing, overlays and mash ups, this is what you do. Taking samples from anywhere between two to two hundred songs, laying in some beats behind them along with fades, swipes and scratches and making it one stream that will move an entire audience. You do this in front of them, all eyes and ears on you, timing is everything. You get good enough and people will come from miles to hear you, you get better and they will fly from other countries, you become the best and they all will do what you say.

You have a lot in common with the Rockerboy. But you are a bit different. You mind works differently and instead of a single instrument you have a board with the ability to use songs as instruments. You are a bit tech savy along with some programming skill, this helps you put on a good show. Just remember to keep your head in the scene or get left behind.

Note: Watch for Cyberpunk Sunday 006 where I will cover entertainment a bit. Having some direct influence on this role and along with some other ones I am thinking of. Considering making a little sourcebook with various roles that are all entertainers and variants of the Rockerboy.

Cyberpunk Sunday 005 - hearts, politics and chips.

This week I'm going to give you a short and sweet with three links. Each rather interesting if you ask me.

First up. We have all heard of pacemakers which make a heart beat in a specific rhythm, then there were artificial hearts that pump the blood through your system mimicking a normal human heart, well now it's to well with making a copy of the heart and just downright improving it. How about a set of turbines in your chest? Now how are these different than the others you may ask... I'm glad you did. You see they don't pump the blood through in bursts, instead you get a constant flow. Now add a level of creepy to this lovely little bit of protocybertech... this means there is no pulse and their EKG is constantly flatlining. Yeah no thump thump in the ole' chest anymore. Go ahead and read up some more on this by following the link.

The turbine heart

Now for a little political/social outlook. Michelle Bachman is currently tossing her hat into the ring for trying to become the next President on the GOP ticket. However she seems to be lacking in her facts on things. One, she claimed that John Wayne was born in Waterloo Iowa; two, she claimed that John Quincy Adams was one of the founding fathers of the United States. Both of these are wrong. But her supporters aren't letting that get in the way and they take a turn that gets them a cyberpunk mention. They log in and alter the details of John Wayne and John Quincy Adams to make them match what Bachmann has said. Rewriting history a bit if you will.

Now with more and more information being put online and a large number of folks depending on the internet to get their facts this can get interesting. Now these two changes got spotted because her claims got some national news media attention. But if people were to start going in and altering the facts of things that aren't being scrutinized right now how long would it take to be noticed? Would it get noticed? Once this false information is up there and people start reading it thinking it to be real it becomes more ingrained into ourselves that it's a fact. For those Cyberpunk 2020 fans out there this has a whole feeling of the Rache Bartmoss history altering virus he created.

Read the article

Finally IBM has just blown the doors off the memory market with their latest little invention. Phase Change Memory, or as it's been getting called 'instantaneous memory'. You thought the data flow was quick before, get ready for the doors to get blown off. This little thing is around a 100 times faster than the current top of the line memory technology (resetting the top of the line I guess). It uses controlled bursts of electricity to shift the special alloy into different physical states allowing it to do more, a lot more.

See the chip

That's it for this Sunday. Two weeks from now I'll be putting up an entertainment themed Cyberpunk Sunday installment. Hope you come back to give it a read.