Monday, August 31, 2009

Shakespeare...With Ninjas...and Sumo

My wife got a DVD at the library recently. As You Like It, written by The Bard Himself—Billy Shakespeare.

This particular adaptation of As You Like It is set in 19th century Japan at a time when many English traders made their homes in Japan.

The Film starts with a Ninja attack to explain the banishment that is a major plot point of the play, also one of the characters has a scene where he fights a wrestler, and since this adaptation takes place in Japan—he fights a Sumo wrestler.

It's one of Shakespeare's comedies and so has a lot of silliness in it. I thought it was good and would reccomend it.

The "All the World's a Stage" speech is from As You Like It as well as the origin of the phrase "too much of a good thing."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ahhhh—Now That's Much Better

Last Session wasn't so great. This session however was a great session.

Every time I plan a session I send out a formal invitation. The invite has a very brief recap of the previous sessions and then the time, place, etc. Generally the only thing that changes is the date. I invite people to come over at 6:00 and the game is supposed to start at 7:00. This actually worked for a couple sessions, but lately it has not. People are showing up between 6 and 7:30. The game is generally started by 8:30, and honestly it's because my daughters are not as good at going to bed at 7:00 as they once were.

So we did get started a little late. P was not here, but my GM friend was—so I just put my GM friend on the map where P was at the end of the last session...sort of; after about ten minutes or so, we realized that we had backed up the time line ever so slightly. But whatever, we moved on.

For this session I had six players, a seventh had come—but she really didn't want to play, and I'm not going to force anyone to play—so she played Dr. Mario on the Wii in the next room.

Because of the cats I knew it would be a good night. I knew that the character that hates cats, would really have a hard time leaving it alone. He jumped right into character and was about to shoot a firearm at the cats that were practically standing in a spill of diesel fuel.

In an effort to make things not seem too linear, while everyone was still worrying about the cats I had a poor unfortunate soul and his daughter run in and ask the group for assistance. His bed ridden wife was stuck in their house and because of some situation last night, the house was surrounded by the undead.

Most of the party went down the street a couple houses and was picking off zombies from the top of the cinder block wall. They were tossing grenades and molotov cocktails over the wall. I was really hoping for a bad toss that would cause problems—but the dice were really on their side. They were taking out zombies left and right.

Those left behind, were there to protect the still re-fueling bus, and the man's young daughter. My sister got this crazy thought in her head that the cats would be a useful weapon against the zombies and set out to capture one.

Meanwhile the house was on fire, the cinder block wall protecting them had fallen down and half the group at the house had wised up and was circling around to the front of the house while the zombies were distracted.

So at one point, this fly dove into the midst of the group of zombies and just stopped. I've been hunting this thing for a week and haven't been able to kill it. I asked, "Did that fly just dive into the zombies and die?" Those close to it indicated that it had indeed. I just had to get a picture of it, but as I was taking said pictures. I noticed it was moving and urged someone close to kill it. I was trying to get a napkin to grab it with and my sister was trying to move it out of the radius of the zombie horde and the thing just flew off. Grrr.

It's still flying around here taunting me.

The fact of the matter is, things were moving pretty fast, there was lots of action, lots of creativity. I'm relatively sure that most everyone was having fun. I was flexible, not tired, and not hung up on who was there and who was not and what parts of my story weren't working out. I've decided that planning less is better, just as long as I have a sketchy idea—Savage Worlds is an easy enough system to make it work. I only had a very rough idea of what I was going to have them do and I felt it turned out pretty great.

Something that I find amusing for me as Game Master is when I throw large crowds of Zombies at them [60 or so in this instance] and they miss their shooting roll. I'm not strictly following the Innocent Bystander rule, I just have it hit other zombies as I feel appropriate. It's fun to describe the bullet going right through the intended target with no effect, but striking the one behind it. Players like it when they get to roll damage on what they thought was a wasted action.

I have one player that likes to argue about what was said, he claims that originally I called the large burst template the area where the fumes from the diesel fuel spill were volatile, and then changed it to the location of the spilled fuel and that two squares away there is still a chance that the fuel will ignite. Come to think of it,I think he's right—but what is really happening is not me changing the story—it's me correcting the story to what I had originally intended; in an effort  to compensate for my poor story telling skills.

I think it's because we're looking to get different things out of the game. He's my munchkin friend, when we play board games, he analyzes everything in seconds and comes up with crazy schemes and tactics that net him the win 95% of the time. Whereas I play those same games for fun and rarely win. When we play role playing games he seems to always want "treasure" and I just want to tell a story.

I felt bad last night because his girlfriend was the one that didn't want to play. He ended up leaving with her early. For a portion of the night he wasn't even in the room. He was just telling us what his dice rolls indicated when his turn came up—I wish I could get him to role play more, instead of roll playing. Three sessions ago when I first ran an interlude session, his portion was great. Though he still can't let go of my Brother's story from that same session because it's unrealistic and that is still bothering him. He's complained about it every session since.

Now that I'm thinking about it. I think part of it is that he is playing his character. He made a thief—I think that perhaps he's trying to play the typical D&D rogue in the wrong setting.

Next session we'll be getting back to the plot points out of the Zombie Run book. I think his specialized skills may be more useful in the next arc of the story.

Things of note in the picture:
Bus on top of a Large Burst Template that represents spilled diesel fuel.
Box of Monster Snaps that Represents a Humvee.
Red Mini Poker Chips in the Background that Represent the location of a fire (This is what happens when you let your players find a convenience store [Bottom Right] that has the lock on the beer locker still intact—can we say Molotov cocktail?)

One more thing I want to talk about here. Back when I got into playing RPGs, I was sitting there playing D&D and having fun, but felt that there had to be more to it—so I picked up someone's Player Handbook and started browsing it in the downtime. My eyes started to open to some of the possibilities, and eventually  ended up finding a used copy to purchase.

Even during the time that I didn't own a copy I found it useful to read that spare when it was floating around the table. Sine Savage Worlds is so cheap—I bought another copy to be the floater at our game table. This has led to a wonderful thing. My wife was sitting there feeling that if she read the book, she'd have a better understanding of how the game works and perhaps be able to have more fun with it; then she was thinking to herself when would I have time to read it? Then it donned on her that she had time when it wasn't her turn during combat. This led to her seeing the illustrations of the cowboys in the book, this led to her wanting to play a western but lamenting the lack of magic. Then we told her about Deadlands:Reloaded being a western setting for Savage Worlds and a setting that includes magic.

I was planning on running Necessary Evil when Zombie Run was over, but perhaps that plan has changed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

When Google Maps Doesn't Work

I use Google Maps to find places. If I look at it using satellite view on Google Maps, my chances of not getting lost go up exponentially.

So, my sister and her hubby were speaking in church this weekend and we were invited. We thought to ourselves, "Well—we haven't seen their new place of residence yet. Let's go take a gander."

The address of the church was included in the e-mail, but I couldn't get Google Maps to point the way, it kept jumping to Hill Drive in Dover Arkansas. Even though the address was on Dover Hill Dr. After much struggling and then just using the co-ordinate system to locate the street manually, I discovered that Google Maps has the street named Doverhill Dr.—one word.

I was all set to mock my sister about having the street spelled wrong, and then as we arrived, this is the street sign (I Photoshopped out the city name and co-ordinates to protect the innocent) that we were met with. [Click Images for Hi-rez if they're too Small to Read]

So, then I was thinking about how stupid Google maps was for having the street named wrong; then we left the church and were following my sister to her house and saw this.

Apparently it's the city that doesn't know the name of the street.

This is not the first time Google Maps has failed me for this very reason. So today's advice is: If you have a street with more than one word and it's not working for you, combine words; or break compound words into their base parts.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Absent Characters and My Inflexibility Lead to a Not So Great Session I'm Afraid

First off I need to apologize to everyone that actually made the game. I was feeling a little down since some of the planning that I had done for the week's adventure was rendered null by the fact that none of the characters that I had specifically planned things for were able to come to the game. I feel that my attitude rubbed off a little on the game and the mood was just not as great as in previous sessions.

The game this weekend was supposed to be great. Because I want everyone to explore their characters a little more, I deviated from the plot point campaign and developed my own encounter to help bolster the role play; I had planned specific things based on the backgrounds of some of the characters and hoped that that would trigger a chain reaction wherein other players could get into the spirit of really roll playing their characters.

I'm not going to get into specifics, because I think I'm going to try and resurrect some of the ideas next session. We ended up starting late, much later that normal late—also my fault, so I really couldn't run the session as deadly as I had planned, there simply wasn't time.

I started things off with an Interlude session that generated bowling for trees, and almost broke the plan for the evening—due to the interlude providing needed items that the planned encounter was supposed to provide. I had to resort to GM fiat, I hate that.

We only ended up using half of the giant map that I made for the encounter (and I forgot to take pictures because I was thrown off by the unexpected variables).

In planning the session, I had even tried to come up with specifics for every character's background, because I know that things never turn out as planned. In fact, I can say that I've learned the only constant in running a Role Playing Session is that nothing works out how you plan it. I didn't manage to figure out things for all eight characters. (Please don't feel left out if I didn't plan something for your character; and know that I tried and that it was on my mind.) I had worked up three really good ones and all three players were unable to come.

This is definitely a failure on my part as GM, unable to be as flexible as needed, and unable to improvise alternates on the spot.

It just wasn't a good week for me. Hopefully I can get back into the groove for next session.

Update: P took a picture and linked to it in his comments. I'm adding it to the post for all to see.
(As always, click for higher rez)

Friday, August 07, 2009

Guess What?! I've Got a Fever, and the Only Prescription... is More Dice!

Occasionally I take an impromptu trip to local thrift stores. There is an order to what I look for in thrift stores, but I'll leave the full list for another time.

Step one, the Game and Toy aisles. I generally look for games that I'm unfamiliar with and check the box for unique dice. If the die or dice within are unique enough—I'll purchase the game. I like to try and make sure that I have all the game pieces—though this is not always an option.

Recent acquisitions:
 Scattergories—For the Gigantic d20 with letters. It's only missing Q, U, V, X, Y, and Z.

Scattergories Jr.—For the Gigantic d20 with letters. It's missing even more letters as some have been replaced with a star.

Advance to Boardwalk for the d6 with colored Squares, F, and M...or is it a W? I don't know, I haven't read the rules yet.

I have one more, but I'm going to save that for the end. In the interim I'm going to mention that the Mini Dice that I used to not really care for have grown on me. I've purchased Four Sets over the past few months.

I somewhat recently picked up this question word die and parts of speech die. What would I use them for? No Idea, but they're fun to have.

Quite a while ago I got my hands on these Pre-shaken Dice.

My Sister got these Mice Dice for me at Disneyland.

When I first started collecting dice there were some types of dice I wanted to get, but kept putting it off. Then recently I finally got around to trying to obtain them and apparently they're not so easy to get anymore. But I found some. First up Fudge Dice.

Fudge is a Role Playing Game System. The name comes from the phrase, "just Fudge it." I've tried reading the rules several times now, but my eyes keep glazing over. The dice are cool though; and it's an interesting mechanic where you roll a dice pool of 1–4 dice yielding a number between -4 and +4.

The other dice that I had trouble finding were these TALI bones.

They were created for a Role Playing Game called FVLMINATA: Armed with Lightning. It too uses a dice pool system (They come in a set of Eight—they are rolled in sets of Four). The Dice are eight sided, but the Roman Numerals do not correspond to 1–8. The faces have two sets of I, III, IV and VI. These Mimic Dice that Romans used. FVULMINATA is an Alternate History game set in the Roman Empire, with the addition of gunpowder (i.e. Guns) and a light sprinkling of magic.

Speaking of Dice Pools—I have a set of Ubiquity dice.

Ubiquity is the Role Playing system that drives the Role Playing Game Hollow Earth Expedition (often referred to as HEX). HEX uses a dice pool system that turns every die into a 2 sider (odds and evens). I heard it explained five times and still didn't understand it until I had read it twice more. Ubiquity dice negate the need for having handfulls of dice to throw. The White ones Represent 1d2 each. The Red ones 2d2 each and the Blue ones 3d2. So with a set of 6 dice you can roll the equivalent of 1–18d2.

I like the World of HEX (It has a hollow Earth, Dinosaurs, and Nazis), but I think the system would confuse me, so I'd rather just Savage it.

I have a weakness for glow in the dark things. This pink die for instance.

No, it sadly doesn't glow pink, it glows green like every other glow in the dark product that you've seen since you were a kid.

I do have a rather rare set of dice that do in fact glow blue.

I purchased them directly from Lou Zocci, he no longer makes them as the cost of the blue glow in the dark powder that gets mixed into the plastic costs far more than the green.

My newest Glow in the Dark Dice are Cthulhu Dice.

Behold the Horror! & Hang on to your Sanity.

Now let us return to my thrift store acquisitions. Escape the Mad Mummy. Gyroscopic d6. Let it sink in.

This thing is insane. In the game they're using it as a d3, it spins on the top of this ziggurat, which sits in the middle of the board. Why the middle of the board? Because when it's done spinning the big hefty die falls onto the board and disrupts pawns and tokens and what not. I haven't played the game or read the rules but it seems like a dumb kids game. But it has a gyroscopic die and cool little figs that I can use for Savage Worlds.

Now....Bring Me More Dice.

Bad News and Bad News

Continued from the preceeding blog.

First the Bad News: Paula may not be entirely out from American Idol (Can we say Publicity Stunt—thank you Twitter )

Next the Bad News: Paula May be in Negotiations to be a Judge on So You Think You Can Dance.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Internets......They're Messing With Me Man!

I did a search on Google this morning. I was trying to find out if there was any place (other than the game store I generally frequent) that caries Savage Worlds Books. I used the following search string:

"Savage Worlds" "Salt Lake City"

I clicked on the first hit, not really paying attention to the details other than the fact that it was something at the Pinnacle Entertainment Forums. Pinnacle Entertainment being the publisher of Savage Worlds. Here I must mention that I use Google Toolbar extensively; When searching I use the Word Find functionality.

So I arrived at the page and it just looked like a lot of noise, so I wanted to find out what had brought me to that page. Since Salt Lake City was in quotes it shows up as a single word on my Google Toolbar. I clicked it to Jump to the first instance of Salt Lake City on the page. As I was reading, it donned on me that it was my post on the Pinnacle Forums—then I took a closer look and realized that the page was a list of All my posts on the Pinnacle Forums. —Spooky.

So I had decided to post this blog and I was trying to think up a good title. I had this notion of what I wanted to call it but one of the words just wasn't coming to me. I went to and searched coincidence. A little down the page was the Main Entry: circumstance—and the first word on the list was jumping off the page at me: Moira.

I couldn't figure out why Moira was synonomous with circumstance. So I looked it up at

1. Classical Mythology.
     a. the personification of fate.
     b. Moirai, the Fates.
2. (often lowercase) (among ancient Greeks) a person's fate or destiny.
3. a female given name. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

When we were thinking about naming our daughter Moira, I researched the meaning extensively—I wasn't about to name her something that had a bad meaning or origin. Apparently I didn't research extensively enough, because I never came across definition one or two, let alone something that wasn't Celtic.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Good News and Bad News

I always end up watching American Idol.

I start watching the early shows because of the general insanity and then get sucked into it. Last season was the worst. The Judges were all on something (except Simon) and it took the talent a lot longer than normal to get into the groove of things and stop sucking. Then the only person with any artistic originality didn't win—as usual America votes for some bland artist whose album they probably won't actually buy.

The Bad news? Extraneous Female Judge, Kara DioGuardi will be returning to the show.

The Good news? Paula will not.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Reconnecting With the World

My favorite talk radio station is moving from AM to FM. This means I can now listen on my Zune.

I've been disconnected from the world events that effect my family because I haven't had the opportunity to listen to news from a source that I trust.
I had disconnected myself from current events because of this. I've been listening to a lot of podcasts about gaming, and while that is an enjoyable pastime; we live in dangerous times and under a government that is blatantly going against the architecture laid down by our founding fathers.

Our country was founded on the rights of the individual—but our government is increasingly trying to look out for the "good of the community," and when government looks out for the good of the community, that always leads to the trampling of the rights of the individual. What they fail to realize, is that if individual freedoms are preserved, the good of the community will take care of itself.

Our government representatives are now (and have been since the new deal) striving to move toward a more socialistic model. Socialism fails every time, the reason governments continually strive toward it is because it equals more power and "prestige" to those in positions of leadership—let's not mince words: it's a pride thing.

More than ever we are busy with our lives. More than ever it is important to be involved in the proceedings of our government. There is a loss of representation in our representative government, as much as we'd like to blame the leaders right out, complacency by the represented is also a part of the mix.

By no means are we past the point of no return. If we are not vigilant, and hold those that we have voted in to positions of power responsible—if we do not make our voices known, then we will not be represented properly and we will pass that point where return is a bloody affair. We must be peaceful and use the infrastructure laid down by our founding fathers to return freedoms to individuals before it grows too late.

Though the mishandling of power has been a constant—from both sides of the aisle—since the days of the new deal, the current administration has escalated things. In a way that's frightening and bad, but at least is has woken people up. They're no longer frogs simmering in a gradually heating pot of water. The temperature change has been a little abrupt and many people that have been content to lose their rights for "the good of the community" or for "safety" are now realizing that those were not rights that should have been so willingly given away. We must strive and work to remain free. Freedom is God's intended way for all men and thus the natural entropy of this world tends to lead away from freedom. A Nanny state is not what I want.