Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First thoughts on Wicked Fantasy

Well in the mail today I got my copy of Wicked Fantasy by John Wick. Backed it on Kickstarter and not only did it come out on time I got it a month early. I was pretty sure it would come out near the estimated release date, John Wick does have a good track record on getting things out when he says they will be.

Haven't gotten to far into the book yet but what I've read so far is really good. Taking a bit of time to get through because there isn't much wasted space. Plenty of text and apparently they decided to keep the pictures down to a lower limit and then only use full page color illustrations. Not to mention it comes in at just a hair over three hundred pages. Have to say that I am quite happy with this purchase already and can't wait to read more.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cyberpunk Sunday 2.005

It's been a while since I've done a Cyberpunk Sunday installment so I feel it's about time I corrected that. What a good time to do so also, been some nice stories this last week that fall well into that realm. So let's take a look at three of them.

First up how about using your cell phone to track somebody and then send a drone their way? Evidently that's what the CIA can do when working with the NSA now. Now drones are costly as hell so I don't see them using this against low threat targets. But if the costs go down.....

CIA NSA killer drones

Now let's look at implanted false memories. Such as implanting a memory, or at least altering a memory, in the brains of mice. They've done that now. Sorta gives you the vibes of visiting a Rekall station in the near future doesn't it? Can I get my ski vacation now without ever having to risk breaking my neck on the slopes?

False mouse memories

Style over substance and fashion is everything. Here's a look at various wearable tech that is either in development or already hitting our store shelves. Some interesting ideas here, along with a few terrible ones in my humble opinion, that may be the next fashion trends. Personally I need something that tells me when I about to trip over things in my way.

Wearable Tech

Now hopefully I won't take so long getting the next Cyberpunk Sunday out.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rules for Asshole Gamemaster number two.

Nearly every GM I've ever talked to has ran into this problem at the table. They are going along and things are starting to pick up in pace and excitement. Finally the action starts and things get fast paced and they are going from player to player asking them what they are going to do. Then they get to that one player, the one who looks dumbly up from doing something else and goes “Huh, oh what's going on?” and the pace comes to a sudden halt like a car hitting a reinforced brick wall. Finally one time I had enough.

I was running Sla Industries for a group who were mostly new to the game. Two of the players picked Ebb users. So I gave them a quick explanation of how it works and handed them a copy of the rulebook flipped open to he Ebb section so they could look over what they could do. The first one began checking it out as soon as it hit the table, she didn't waste a moment. But the other one, he started to draw a picture of his 'cool bad ass' Brain Waster character. He spent nearly the entire time doing that, almost no interaction with what was going on just following the other PCs.

Finally combat started up and I started going around for actions from the players. Everybody was on top of their game and ready to go... until I go to him. His words were “Okay... now what can I do with this Ebb stuff again?” as he finally looked up from his drawing. He had done zero effort to be involved or to look through the power list for his abilities. I was a bit aggravated at this so I simply called out “Okay you are trying to figure out how your Ebb powers work.” and went on to the next person in line. Needless to say his character ended up getting killed that game... then he made a second character, the brother of the first character, out to avenge his death... but that's another sad gamer story for another time.

But in that story I just told lies my point, my advice for being an asshole when you have to. When they look up from their cellphone, sketch pad, whatever and ask what's going on during the middle of the action you just pass their ass up. Their character stands there like a fool trying to figure out what to do. Do not stop the pace, especially once it's up to speed, just to explain what is going on to somebody who can't bother to listen when you're talking.

Now be prepared for all manner of crying and bitching from them. But you just have to keep moving and don't listen. If they want to disrupt the game completely over this tell them to leave. Stand your ground, be an asshole. Smart ones will learn from this, sit down, shut up, take their lumps and do better the next time around. Others may not, but those are probably the few that you would have to stop the game for repeatedly every game over and over again. So it's no big loss when it come to running a good game for your players. At least the players who can pay attention.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Rant: Piracy and the gaming hobby

I've seen a lot of people get all outraged about the watermarks that appear on many of the pdfs sold through Drivethrurpg. Before this is was the DRM which everybody complained about, which I agreed with them at that point it really sucked. But the watermark isn't nowhere near that restricting. Basically it's just your name printed onto the file... and some people just hate it.

So you see these people complaining about the measures being taken in attempts to deter filesharing and piracy of these files. But most of them don't say a single thing about middle ground solution or any ideas on other way to deter the piracy of pdfs that is apparently pretty heavy among game material. They want their pdfs with no strings attached and usually use the excuse 'Piracy is going to happen anyways' over and over again. Along with the tag line that piracy and filesharing helps increase sales.

Now I'm going to give some of my opinions and observances on things that I've actually seen or experienced. That's mainly because it's shit that actually happened and not made up excuses like a lot of people use or repeat after somebody else says them. Actual real experiences not depending on somebody else to be telling me the truth.

Nearly every person I know that gets pirated pdfs never goes out and buys the book. Nor do they try to help it sell in any way shape or form. They actually do more to convince others that there is no reason to pay 'outrageous' prices for game books when they can get them for free. The other players don't need to buy that they'll just pass them a flash drive with all the books on it for nothing. Along with passing on the information of what torrent sites are the best to use, where to find the pdfs online as regular downloads, etc. They help convince others that piracy is the best way to go and not to hand any of their money over for game books ever again.

This was going on long before pdfs became a big thing even. Case in point, around here Sla Industries took off like nobodies business. Not everybody had a copy of the Karma sourcebook though so one guy asked to borrow the book so he could 'copy the gear chart in the back'. What he really did was take it to the place he worked at and made five copies of every page and passed out these copies to the other GM and players. None of them, to my knowledge, ever went out and bought Karma after that, they didn't even bother looking for it.

Another person I used to know was always looking for free copies of anything he wanted. He would come up and ask about a game, some of would do some looking and see how much a copy of it would cost and then he would tell us he didn't want to pay for it. The other pirates would then find it for him and they would all swap files around and 'help each other out'.

Met an entire table full of gamers who all believed that they didn't have to pay for anything also. They had printed out copies of the books they wanted and externals full of stuff to share. Their overall attitude towards others was that they were idiots for paying for a game book.

These were usually the same people who had CD cases full of burned music an not a actual purchased one to be found. Cracked copies of software on their computers. Movies on their hard drives before they were ever released on DVD. They simply would not pay for anything that they could get for free. It's almost like a subculture within a subculture in gaming. A growing population of parasitic leeches living off the rest of us who support the designers, writers and artists.

But nobody wants to do anything about them or the problem that they have become. Although they sure want to bitch and complain when an attempt to work against the problem comes along that may offer them the most miniscule bit of an insignificant problem. They are all full of complaints but never bring any sort of solution to the table. The reasons against the watermarks are pretty flimsy at the best. Some don't want their names on the pages if they print them out, some say 'what if' my pdfs get stolen and then spread among others, claiming that the watermarks crank up the file size (which they do if done wrong, drivethrurpg does it right) or the most laughable is that they ruin the appearance of the pdf like if somebody wrote in a book. It doesn't matter that somebody worked and put effort into producing the product and all they want is paid. They may claim they care but if they did then they would understand the reasoning behind it.

Now I will say that recently one person came up with a solution to some of the complaints in a thread over on Simply replace a persons name with an account number. So then the 'my name is on it' bawling will stop... and we can watch those folks scramble for another excuse to cling to.

One solution is also obvious. Stop playing with or socializing with the people that you know are pirating the files. Why shouldn't they be treated in the same fashion that the cat piss smelling folks are treated. They should be shunned by all of us who go out and spend our money supporting the hobby we enjoy. But nobody will do this. They simply turn their heads and pretend it's not happening and go along as normal... and complain about other measures being taken to stop piracy.

I'm going to do this. For now on anybody who refuses to buy the books they use will not be playing in any game I run. Nor will I play in a game being ran by somebody who does it. Hell I would be pretty tempted to not play with other players who do it. If more people would attempt to be part of a solution instead of just sitting back and bitching about the proposed solutions then maybe a difference could be made.

But then again, sometimes I think a lot of those who complain about the watermarks are doing so for another reason.

Funny hat characterization random chart

Funny hat characterization is when you give a character a noticeable sign that makes them stand out.  Commonly used as the first bit of description when that character is seen again later so the reader/player/viewer/whatever knows immediately who it is.  So here is a random chart to let you roll up a bit of funny hat for an NPC or three.


1 – Severe overbite to the point where their eye teeth are constantly visible.

2 – Nose is crooked and bent from being broke multiple times.

3 – Missing a pinky finger easily visible since they move their hands when they talk.

4 – Scar across their forehead.

5 – Walks with a noticeable limp and sometimes uses a cane.

6 – Stands hunched over and complains of their bad back.

7 – Missing an eye and has a collection of colorful eye patches that they wear.

8 – Right arm is always bandaged up and they don't move it much.

9 – Their hair is balding in random patches.

10 – False teeth that are to large and very noticeable.

11 – Keeps clothes spotlessly clean, or at least attempts to.

12 – Missing an ear.

13 – Red gem embedded in their skin at the base of their throat.

14 – Always wears a worn out military uniform.

15 – Hair is always an unruly mess.

16 – Changes the color of their hair constantly, always to bright colors.

17 – Their eyes bug out and are always looking around nervously.

18 – Always wears some sort of dog collar.

19 – Never sits down, always pacing back and forth.

20 – Keeps an unlit cigar or cigarette in their hand, never smokes it.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Be A Better Player 16 - Find the right group

GM – You watch as the Ork raiding party surrounds the Inn. Their red eyes gleaming in the darkness as they prepare to attack.

Player 1 – Okay if all doors are all braced I'm going to a second story window with my crossbow.

Player 2 – Walking up behind the other people here who are at the windows with bows. Giving them a firm pat on the back as a sign of reassurance... it's not much but it's all I can do.

Player 3 – I'm going to drop out of the second floor window onto the ground below.

Player 4 – I'm... um wait... what did you do?

Player 3 – Going to try and reason with them. See if we can reach some sort of agreement here.

GM – You do realize these are the Orks that have been raiding the countryside for the last few weeks. They've left almost a hundred people dead in their wake.

Player 3 – Still it's worth a shot right?

Player 4 – I would say it's suicide actually.

GM – The Orks eye you very carefully, grins spreading across their faces as several ready their bows.

Player 3 – I hold my hands open and to my side showing I'm unarmed and slowly approach them.

GM – And they let lose with their arrows. Let me make some rolls to see how many of them hit.

Player 3 – What? Don't I even get a chance to talk to them? Try to work something out?

GM – I think I made it pretty clear over the last couple of games that these Orcs are killing everything they come across without hesitation. Even the survivors you have found have repeated this.

Player 3 – Well you should at least let us try diplomacy. You should run this differently.

You see what's going on there? A clash of play styles is occurring. The way the GM and the rest of the group are going about the game is different than the way player 3 wants. Instead of the action and combat approach to this situation he wants the diplomatic approach. Now the thing is neither play style is wrong. But sometimes they just don't work all that well together. This is where the problems usually come in.

The normal way this becomes a problem is when a new person who is used to one playstyle joins a group that enjoys playing with a different playstyle. At this point there seems to come a clash where either the player wants the group to change to match him or the group expects the player to change. Sometimes this works but other times it results in a lot of bad feelings between the two.

Now a bit of sit down and talking with the people in the group before hand can tell you what kind of playstyle they are used to. This also gives you an idea of how well you will fit in even if your ideas don't match up with theirs. A little variety in a group is nice and having people who think differently helps create some interesting games. Communication is key of course, let the others know what you think and why but also be prepared to hear them out as well.

If this still doesn't work out then you need to something different. You need to find a group that fits the way you want to play. This may be as simple as finding an existing group that you can fall into or putting one together a person at a time. Otherwise you will either be unhappy fitting into a group where you don't belong or they will be unhappy as you try to change the way they do things. Both can lead to somebody not having fun and having that fun is precisely what gaming is all about. So be prepared to do some looking to find the right people. You may pass through two or three or even more gaming groups before you find that one where you belong.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I found what in my bag of holding? Part 2

My Bag of Holding had what inside? Part 2
The first batch of twenty random things seemed to get a few likes so I came up with a second list.  Hope you enjoy.

1 – A chess piece (Knight) carved out of black stone.

2 – Quiver of old warped arrows.

3 – A water damaged cookbook on how to prepare various dishes using snails.

4 – Ring with four skeleton keys on it.

5 – Pair of leather gloves made for somebody with six fingers.

6 – Box with four very old and dried cigars inside it.

7 – A pink handkerchief with lace trim that smells of perfume.

8 – Deck of cards but each card has a completely different back.

9 – Box with a bottle of dried ink and a writing quill.

10 – Empty vial labeled 'Unicorn Blood'.

11 – Two toy wooden swords.

12 – Leather pouch containing random mix of wooden beads.

13 – Bottle of wine, well aged and rather good. No label.

14 – Sectioned box, each section has a small jar filled with a different kind of sand in each one.

15 – A three foot section of leather strap.

16 – An ordinary broom.

17 – Common cookbook with burnt edges.

18 – Three vials of 'Fresh Breath' potion.

19 – A 20gp marker from a high class gambling hall.

20 – Shoe horn, made of wood and rather old.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Peter Cushing and his toy soldiers

Here's something you don't hear about every day.  Evidently Peter Cushing was a wargamer.  Specifically of Little Wars by HG Wells.  Here is video of him with some of this figures.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I found what in my bag of holding?

I've never seen a player use their bag of holding only for good stuff. They toss of every scrap and bit into there so it's out of the way. So why would the previous owner be any different? Here is a quick little chart to give a bit of variety to what they find inside. Roll a D20 and give them something to scratch their head over.

1 – An incomplete deck of playing cards.

2 – A D6 of torches that have burnt to a stump.

3 – A rat skull with runes painted on it.

4 – 3 shiny copper pieces.

5 – A scale from some sort of large reptile.

6 – An empty water skin.

7 – A blacksmiths hammer.

8 – Small block of wax.

9 – An empty wasp nest.

10 – Lock of long black human hair.

11 – Two feet of rusty chain.

12 – A small vial filled with Oregano.

13 – Handful of small bird feathers.

14 – Sewing needle and half a spool of thread.

15 – Nice black leather boot, the left foot and no sign of the right.

16 – Unused sheet of parchment.

17 – Scrap of paper with writing in an unknown language.

18 – Set of eyeglasses with one lens broken.

19 – Pair of worn riding gloves.

20 – Crumpled up map with no writing of an unknown land.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Corvus Corax - Ergo Bibamus

Ergo bibamus, ne sitiamus, vas repleamus!
qisque suorum posteriorum sive priorum
sit sine cura morte futura re peritura
ergo bibamus

Alas, let's drink, not thirst any longer, refill our mug
Every single one should be without worries about his future or past,
because of the coming death, all will perish.
Alas, let's drink.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rant - What is really hurting the hobby.

Really?  Just.... really?

One thing I really can't stand in the hobby nowdays is the division between the various groups supporting different playstyles.  I understand there being differences, that the games one group likes the other doesn't.  What I don't understand is the unending amount of hate flung back and forth between the two.  The completely imaginary 'war' that some see (and fail to see just how stupid it looks to anybody on the outside of the 'battle lines'). 

The Ego's of some of these people... that is the real kicker here, the part that really sets my teeth on edge.  When people claim that they are the ones to set THE definition of what a RPG is and nobody else can claim otherwise.  When people claim others have suffered legitimate brain damage from playing a certain game.  The edition warriors who outright attack anybody who says anything negative about their favorite... or anything positive about the edition they don't like. 

Some of these outright assholes need to seriously GROW THE HELL UP.  All those riding along on their coat tails need to learn to stand on their own two feet.  Actually there needs to be a lot of growing up by several people.  Hell even I could benefit from doing a bit more of it.  But it's hard and to many people just don't want to do anything that requires effort.

In the end if the gaming hobby is at risk of tipping over dead or falling to pieces then this is the reason.  It will be killed from the inside by people like this.  By the division they create.