Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I've been without Employment for Seven Months and I went to a workshop today. I need to work on my networking and for that purpose I have swallowed my pride and Joined Facebook—Though I kept my personal details at a minimum; Facebook does not instill confidence in me as far as security and privacy are concerned.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

TRON: Legacy

Loved it, Loved it, Loved it.

I loved the original from the moment I saw it. I didn't understand all of it when I was six, but my Dad is a Computer programmer and explained some of the Geek Speak to me.

I love that in the original, there was large touch based flat panel technology—which is just now starting to be commercially available.

Everything that needed to be in the new movie, was in it—except living bits, though there were some mantle ornaments.

We saw it in IMAX 3D. Not all of the movie was in 3D, so it gives your eyes some rest. The only problem here is that some of the 3D Trailers were Headache inducing (particularly the Morgan Freeman Voice Over IMAX Orphan Animals Hippie Movie). Also, some of the hand-to-hand combat action was so crazy that it became hard to read in 3D on such a gigantic screen, so I'm expecting a Transformers experience (I Liked it on the big screen, but what looked like a lot of flying metal at the theater was actually separate characters doing really cool things once I saw it at home on DVD [i.e. Optimus Prime Sword Hand vs. Megatron Mace Hand]).

Everything was a nod to the old film, and treated the original material with respect, while building on it in amazing ways.

This Movie Excited me in the Same way the original did. The original sparked my imagination about a Glowing Digital World inside computers where video game death-matches took place and Frisbees were the coolest weapon imaginable, and light Cycles the greatest form of transportation. Those same ideas are updated and if I were a six year old today, I think this movie would hit me the same way the original did back then.

When a movie is over, and I just want to sit through it again—I consider it a success.

One last thought, You do not have to be a fan of the original to enjoy the new film—it is written as it's own thing. Familiarity with the original just adds to an already good movie.

Another Non-Game

Saturday I was invited to play some Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. The Players started Arriving around Nine in the morning and we started actually playing around Ten. There was a break around Noon for Lunch and then we continued play until Four.

One of my Deadlands players was also at the game, and when I asked him if he was coming to the Deadlands Game he flat out told me that he didn't like the game anymore since it became so easy for him to take out the Villains.

I told him, "Here's an Idea, don't maximize your bolt spell." To which he was somewhat speechless.

At that point, based on the people that were going to be able to make it to the game, I was going to Cancel it. Players that I wanted there for the more important Plot Points were missing from the list of people that were coming—but I called one of the players I hadn't heard from as of yet, and he was planning to be there, so I planned to run a game.

I read through the Plot Point during the slower portions of the D&D game.

When the time for my game arrived later that evening, the first person to show up, was the player who was at the D&D game and told me he didn't like Savage Worlds anymore and that he didn't feel like playing. (He's decided that he doesn't like it because of its lack of hit points—I think because he's a walking human calculator he has issues with that, I tried to explain to him that the effect is basically the same [i.e. you hit them over and over and over and eventually they go down, but the lack of a tangible numbering is currently bothering him])

So, I got the game ready and I was about to start, but in the back of my head I was thinking that I really didn't want to play with him there, and so many of my enthusiastic players missing. Also, having Role played for the better part of the day at that point, I wasn't sure I was mentally there enough so we bailed at the last minute (Literally. The Battle Map was on the table, Fate Chips were Handed Out, Everyone had their Character Sheets ready to go) and we played Betrayal at House on the Hill instead.

The Non-games seem to pile up at this time of the year. However, I think that the way I run the game, and my  determination to play, prevents my games from suffering the Holiday Death that I've heard so much about on blogs and podcasts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Role Players

I'm assistant Scout Master.

Some of the Scouts showed some interest in playing Savage Worlds—so I told them to Schedule a time and come over and that I would run a game for them. They voted and the consensus was a Pirate themed game.

They came over, we spend about an hour creating characters—a couple of the boys couldn't come until later so I created characters for them real quick and let the two that were there use them using the Allies rules, until the players showed up (one of them actually died—we brought him back when the characters player arrived).

I used the "Dead Men Tell No Tales" One Sheet Adventure that is available at the Pinnacle Website.

It was very fun playing with them. None of them know the rules, so there are no rules lawyers. When I do forget a rule and then remember it, they didn't get upset; they were having so much fun that they just rolled with it.

I spent a little more time than I usually do in drawing the map—then I forgot to take time to take pictures. I had them bring Lego Mini-figs, and when it came time to Put Figs on the map and play there was much rejoicing. Similarly, when I placed my Skeleton Figs on the Table the was much nervousness.

I made the Mine in the story a lot bigger and threw a few non combat problems at them as well. They were creative in coming up with solutions—and when it was time to stop playing they were not ready to end the session, and they definitely want to play again.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I Want a Mulligan

The game seemed to go okay (mostly), but the more I think about it—I'm just not happy with the session.

My wife disappeared for most of the session to feed the baby. This led to some weirdness—should this happen again, the Figure of the Missing Player will be removed from the table until their return.

My player that I thought would not be back for a very long time, was back—everything was fine until the last scene, and he started acting odd, I can't even figure out what happened. 

From now on I'm doubling all toughness numbers in the Campaign. Fanning the hammer, and Maximized Bolt Spells are really bugging me. 

I was so distracted by the attitude weirdnesses that sneaked into the players during the endgame, that I forgot to use a Villain and I forgot to describe something important. 

Maybe I will mulligan the last scene in a couple weeks, I really wasn't happy with how it turned out. 

One Point of XP to all the players present. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Stops Speaking Mid Sentence and Just Stares Off.....

Posting a Little Late this Week about Our Deadland's Game Saturday.

But first. . .

I have the best wife in the world. We've been participating in the Marriage and Family relations class for Sunday School. This is a class that the leadership of the church wants everyone to have an opportunity to attend. This is the third time the class has been offered this year, and my wife and I finally get to attend. In one of the recent classes it was discussed how a husband and wife should support each other's interests, it's nice taking the class and feeling that we've already got certain things going right with our relationship. I have to say that I feel very blessed to have a wife that supports the enjoyment that I get out of "Nerdy" stuff. I feel like we don't really have that confrontational man vs. woman thing in our relationship, that seems to be so prevalent in our society.

On a related note, I was listening to a Gaming Podcast recently, and the hosts of the show were commenting on some of the things that they hear on gaming forums, etc.—one of them that they hear more often than not is the: I would like to X but my wife won't let me... (where X is the playing of certain games, or spending time doing a certain hobby). They went on and on about how this is such a detriment to the relationship and such behavior is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

When I hear these sort of things I realize how blessed I am. My wife is not against my playing of games, and in fact—more often than not she will participate. She enjoys crafty things like, making beaded watch bands, or flower hair clips—I don't necessarily participates, but I don't ban her from it entirely. She's not into the whole Zombie Apocalypse thing, but doesn't try to stop me from enjoying it. Just being around each other as we enjoy our various personal likes is enriching; for instance, I would never in a million years have voluntarily exposed myself to Pride and Prejudice, however it is one of Emily's great joys, when she is feeling under the weather, she Watches one of the Four Movie Versions that she owns and she reads it once or twice a year.

It took some time, but I am now familiar with the story,  I can enjoy it, and yes—I have a favorite part. What's really great about this exposure, is that I have learned to enjoy something that I normally wouldn't have even given the time of day. (It's also really cool that there is a book, soon to be a movie that collides with one of the things I enjoy: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I still haven't had a chance to read it, but I'm definitely looking forward to it, and I can guarantee that I will probably enjoy it more than the people that are just checking it out for the Zombies, because I'm already so familiar with the original source material.)

So what does all this have to do with the game Saturday?

There was a Family party taking place that very night, and my Wife didn't even consider asking me to cancel the game (How Great is That?!). I still attended the party, so it wasn't like I was skipping out on the family (actively participating in-fact, I cooked the Steaks and the Potatoes), I just took the kids home and put them to bed like I normally would and then ran the game. My wife skipped the game for the family party (first time she's missed getting XP since the campaign began) and all is well.

So let's talk about the game. This session was supposed to take place last time, but I didn't have enough people. I had read through the material two weeks previous, but I had not looked at it again since—I wasn't exactly prepared.

The way the previous session left off was a bit of a loose end. The characters could choose to immediately follow up on the information given them (snagging the plot hook so to speak), or they could choose to go a completely different way.

The players that had shown up were an interesting mix. There was one person that is very out-spoken, there were two that don't speak up much. This made the deciding-where-to-go part of the evening really fun since I got to hear from the more quiet players in the decision making process.

The other interesting thing about this session, was that the Plot Point book was a little vague on one of the details concerning how the characters could get from point A to point B. In fact the general vicinity of point B was mentioned, but not how to find the exact location of point B. I went with a prospector, a prospector that was not all there in the head, and I played up his personality quite a bit—it was really fun making that character up on the spot.

It was a very heavy RP (Role Play) evening, with very few dice rolls. The dice rolls that were made were fun though. They at one point were pushing boulders off a cliff trying to hit a boat-full of pirates. I had them make a throwing roll for it, it made sense at the time.

I heard something great during the game. One of the players told me that if he could, he would have given me a Benny.  Good Times.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buried Alive!!

My Saturday Savage Worlds Game did not take place. I only had My Wife and three others R.S.V.P. and one of them was unable to make it. I was not upset by this, since I was only marginally prepared for the evening.

We had a little Holiday recently, you may have heard of it. . . Halloween. 

I had some birthday money, and wanted to get a new game for Halloween, but the game I wanted to get was sold out, I tried my favorite game store, the discount game store (Which looked to be closed for good), and the game store that's practically around the corner. None of them had a copy of The Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game.

Seven years ago, when we first lived here, we had a Halloween Party. I wanted to play a Halloween appropriate game at said party. The game I ultimately chose was Betrayal at House on the Hill. It took me a while to make that decision and when I went to get the game. . . no one had a copy—it had gone out of print and used copies were going for a premium.

So, I decided to go with another game that had piqued my curiosity, Zombies!!! I had seen some pictures of games in progress with hundreds of zombie figures on the table. I had heard it said that there can never be too many Zombies, and I had noticed that they sell Extra Zombies in bags of one hundred for a ten spot, and that they had Glow-in-the-Dark Zombies as well. 

I was pretty new to the specialty board game scene at the time, I had not yet played a game, and then not wanted the expansion or expansions—and of course, I can never do anything half way. I found an E-bay auction that had Zombies!!! and two of its expansions (Zombies!!! 2: Zombie Corps(e), and Zombies!!! 3: Mall Walkers) for just a little more than the base game would cost. Could I stop there? No. I also picked up a bag of Extra Zombies (100 Glow-in-the-Dark—I'm kind of a sucker for Glow-in-the-Dark, I'm not sure why) and the other two available expansions, Zombies!!! 3.5: Not Dead Yet and Zombies!!! 4: The End?.

I really like the Zombies!!! games, but the people I generally game with are rarely in the mood to play it. I've still picked up Zombies!!! 5: Schools Out Forever, Zombies!!! 6: Six Feet Under, Zombies!!! 7: Send in the Clowns, Zombies!!! 8: Jailbreak, Zombies!!! 9: Ashes to Ashes, Humans!!!, Humans!!! 2: Sea Food, Martians!!!, Zombietown, Zombietown 2: Road Rage, Zombietown 3: Big Boom Theory, MidEvil!!!, MidEvil!!! 2: Castle Chaos, & MidEvil!!! 3: Subterranean Homesick Blues, plus extra Zombies in Standard and Glowing Varieties of the Following Types—Zombies, Zombie Babes, Zombie Dogs, & Zombie Clowns, Plus Extra Skeletons (MidEvil!!! Uses Skeletons instead of Zombies—Skeletons are just like Zombies with no flesh right?)

Zombies!!! is pretty much reviled in the Board Game Community, ranking only 5.65 out of 10 on Board Game Geek. I've yet to see a very positive review of it, nothing down right bad, nothing truly positive either. The Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game however, has ratings in the High seven to low eight range and I've heard reviews of even non-gamers really enjoying it. Which is why I really wanted it—if the game I love seems to be almost universally hated (I mean, come on, someone has to be enjoying it enough and buying enough copies for them to keep pumping out expansions) then the game that has the same thematic elements, but is beloved in comparison has to be fun, right?

Of course, when I have birthday money, and it's Halloween, and I'm in the mood for a new Zombie game, it's nowhere to be found (one of the game stores told me it was out of print)

So what do I do?

Save my money and buy it online of course. . . no. I ended up getting Betrayal at House on the Hill. It had recently come back to print.

If you've read this far, I'm impressed—I've been rambling.

Still wondering about the Blog Title up there? Since we didn't have enough people for me to want to run the game session, we played Betrayal at House on the Hill.

So, here's how Betrayal at House on the Hill works. You are exploring a haunted house. There are Six pre-painted explorer mini-figures and each figure has a corresponding character card; the cards are double-sided and have a different character on each side. The Character Cards are pentagons and have four character attributes, two physical and two mental. There are little plastic arrow clips that slide onto the card, and as your attributes are effected you slide them up and down.

When exploring the house you move through the number of rooms that equal your speed, when you encounter a room with an item, you pick a card from the item deck, read it aloud and keep it. When you encounter a room with an event, you pull the event card and read it aloud, follow the instructions and discard the card. When you encounter a room with an omen, you pull an omen card read it aloud keep it in front of you and then make a haunt roll. When making a haunt roll if you roll a number lower than the number of omen cards on the table, the haunt begins.

There is a chart in the Traitor's Tome that tells you which haunt to play (based on the room and omen card) and which player is the traitor (hence The Betrayal at House on the Hill). The Traitor then takes the Traitor's Tome and Reads the Haunt. The rest of the players take the Secrets of Survival book and read the corresponding Haunt.

The Haunt we played was called Buried Alive. The Survivors had to find their missing friend that was buried alive and dig her up before she dies. The Traitor's goal was to kill the survivors before they could dig up their missing friend.

It's a fun game.

I played again with some other friends on Monday, and the Haunt had no traitor, we had to fight our Evil doppelgängers.

Again, a very fun game. I've played two of fifty scenarios, and due to the house being modular in design, even if I played the same scenario again, it would be different. I highly recommend playing it—a great alternate since Savage Worlds didn't work out.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

King Brian's Antics

In March I tried to Purchase Darby O'Gill and the Little People on DVD, but it was sold out. I found it a month later and picked it up. I was looking at the DVD Case and noticed immediately that there was something wrong.

Still Don't See It? Try taking a look at it on the shelf.

King Brian is Definitely Up to His Tricks Again!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

I had a good time Saturday running the Deadlands game. Last session we were running an adventure that had nothing to do with The Flood, but right after I ended the game I figured out how to tie it in.

The Posse spent a lot of time trying to destroy a sort of MacGuffin (Not a true MacGuffin I guess, okay not really a MacGuffin, but I didn't really want to let them destroy it...yet) and I had a lot of fun creatively not allowing them to do so. Normally this is a type of behavior I frown upon, and in hindsight, I should have let them blow it up and then try to use it after the fact—that probably would have been more fun. Ah, Hindsight.

Then they got onto the next section of the plot. They had fun storming the most notorious prison in California. It was really fun for me to spend Bennies on a non-important extra that just happened to be a Wild Card. The only thing I regret is sticking to the map as far as what prisoner was in what cell. They found who they were looking for in the first cell they looked in. I fixed it though when I realized that the people in the cells would notice what was going on in the cell block and could in fact talk.

The mistake I made was having the Magic Dispelling Runes wear off while they were in the boat in the bay. The prisoner that was a Werewolf changed in the light of the Full moon and I didn't want to randomly attack certain extras quite yet (two of them were wounded pretty bad already) so I dealt cards. My wife needed to step away from the game (to feed the new baby), and since her character had been keeping an eye on the werewolf (not trusting him) I let her take her action, and she shook it.

I couldn't get unshaken and the rest of the players tossed him into the drink—and I still couldn't unshake.

I should have waited until they were on the shore.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Support Pakistan Flood Victims
Doctors Without Borders RPG Bundle (and Comic Bundle)

Back in January, Gamers Donated to Help Haiti. Now there is an opportunity to Donate via the same Organization, but this time in support of Pakistan Flood Victims. I must admit, I had not even heard of a Flood in Pakistan, I've really been out of the News Loop since I've been unemployed.

There are Two Bundles available via donation. An RPG bundle $25, and a Comic Bundle $10.

There were several things that Caught my Eye in the bundle, I'll Highlight them for the Curious.

4-Color: Super Teams Super Bases
Accent Your Character: Standard British English
Adventures in OZ: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
Alien Planets
American Artifacts
Age of Volondor: Midlands Map Set
Apocalypse Prevention Incorporated Worldwide: Europe
Avalon Design Elements: Asian Elements Set 5
Behind the Spells: Permanency
Blessed By Poison
Character, Infiltrator
Church & State
d66 Spaceport City Names
Dark Waters
Dhanurvidya & Varman: The Arms and Armor of India (4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons)
Disposable Heroes Cyberpunk Statix 1 (Anime 203X)
Divine Foes
Don't Rest Your Head
Dragon Warriors RPG
Exalted 2nd Edition
Fear Itself
Feudal Characters: Noble
Firepower Pass
Fort Triside
FSpaceRPG Air Grid 1 board maps basic
Gaslight Victorian Fantasy (OGL Version)
HarnMaster: Third Edition
Himmelveil Streets / WorldWorksGames / TerrainlinX
Hot War
House in the Hills
Hyperlite: The Sirius Treaty
Karmic Places: Revelation
Kingdom Builder Generator Pack
Kingdoms of Legend: World Guide
Legacy of Maela: Campaign Setting
Legendary Blades [PFRPG]
MADS: Quickstart Rules
Objective Interim Modern Combat System
Open Game Table: The Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs, Vol. 2
OWG: The Original Witch Girls
Phaethos RPG: Core Rulebook
Pnumadesi Player's Companion
Scaldcrow Generic: Goron'Talteth
Spycraft 2.0 Rulebook - Second Printing
Starblazer Adventures
Sufficiently Advanced
Supplement I: National
The Cursed Chateau
The Pine Ridge Horror (Savage Worlds)
The Sanctuary Ruin (Blackmarch: Module 1)
The Sensitive [PFRPG]
The Ultimate GM Screen 2
The War of the Goblin King
The WatchGuard Sourcebook (Preview Edition)
Time & Temp: Paperless Office Edition
Undiscovered: The Quest for Adventure (Core Rulebook)
Unnamed Heroes #2
Unsung: Deluxe
Wild Talents 2nd Edition
Wrack & Rune
Zombie Death Town
[PFRPG] PaperCraft Legions: Titanic Clash!
[PFRPG] Player's Aid II: Monster Summoning Cards

Total Value $724.46

Then there's the Comic Bundle, which I wouldn't normally be interested in—except for the fact that they included some RPG Goodies in it.

2000 AD: Prog 1610
Alpha Gods OGN
Art of Vampire: The Masquerade
Cadre #1
Cwen's Quest Vol. 1
Dark Champions (Hero System)
Deadlands: One Shot
Descended From Darkness: Apex Magazine Vol. I
Equinox #1
Exalted Comic #1
Fana The Jungle Girl
Grumlahk's Troll Tales
Hawaii Star Manga Project #4
Jon Pay P.I. vs. Machine Gun Kelly
Livin' La Vida Dorka
Memoranda #1
Mouse Guard #1
Mutants & Masterminds, Second Edition
Roll Them Bones Unabridged Audiobook
The Gunfighters of Korv Nikul : Sorcerers and Six-Shooters
The Uniques #2
Wombat Rue - Chapter 1: After Armageddon

Total Value $173.91

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Dungeon Crawl..............and Cheating!—Five Times!!

Saturday's game went very well, with only one casualty (it's not what you think).

When we last saw our intrepid Posse they had been sent by their mysterious benefactor (Mr. White) to a small, nameless, mining town north of Virginia city to investigate the reason there had been no contact with the Silver operation. This was also my way of using an adventure in the Supplement book, Saddle Sore.

What I liked about this particular adventure, was that it had a system in place for generating a "Dungeon." The mine that the Posse is investigating is not mapped out completely, but each section of the mine/cavern system is abstracted; what the Posse encounters is determined by a card drawn from the deck of cards used for initiative.

In essence they were doing a dungeon crawl. Unusual for the setting, which made it a fun and unique experience. When we entered a new section of the Mine\Caverns, I would draw out the section in which the encounter took place, but I tried to make sure that everyone understood that this was just the part of the mine that they actually encountered something, in a half hour to an hour of in-game-time. When we got to the room that became the final encounter of the evening I had one of the players draw the cavern; he drew a bat-o-lantern, which turned out to be a very fun environment to deal with.

I think I need to be a little more mindful of the descriptions. I feel like I need to paint better mental pictures, particularly when it comes to environments. There's a lot to keep track of when being a game master, so I find there's always something I wish I had done a little better.

We started late, about 7:45pm if I recall correctly, and we played until 10:45pm. A three hour session, in which we had a total of four encounters, and about thirty  monsters (Have I mentioned that I love this game?). Speaking of the monsters, I kept doing damage on the monsters incorrectly most of the evening, but when we got to the final cavern, I realized this and tried to rectify the situation—nothing wrong with the monsters in the final room of the night being stronger.

Truth be told, I think I get the math wrong a lot when playing this game. In my haste to keep things rolling, I might gloss over the arithmetic a little, I never really claimed to be strong in math. I think this caused some consternation with one of my players, who gets math the way I get art— instinctualy.

One of the things you do as GM, is try to make sure that there is a sense of danger; some actual challenge. If every encounter involved the posse just mowing over everything with no resistance, that wouldn't be very fun. So, if I feel the party is walking all over the monsters, I do things to ramp up the monsters. Flexibility like that, being able to adjust on the fly, is just one of many GM tools that every GM has to learn. Something that I might do, is roll one of the monsters as if it were a Wild card, instead of an extra. This gives them an extra d6 when rolling skill and attribute rolls (and you pick whichever die rolled highest).

I did that very thing last night, I had been doing the damage wrong all night, giving the Posse an incredible advantage, so it was getting near the end of the evening and I finally figured out I had been doing it wrong (it had been pointed out to me earlier, but it took me some time to put two and two together in my mind—yes sometimes I'm very slow), and started doing it right. I also rolled two of the extras as wild cards. On one of those two occasions, the dice exploded and I got a good damage hit on the character played by my friend that had drawn the environment.

He got up and left the room, mumbled something to my wife, and then left. My wife was playing also, but she is nine months pregnant and has trouble sitting on a kitchen chair with her feet not up for the duration of the game and thus was spending time between her turns on the couch; my wife was also playing Dr. Mario with the wife of the person that left, since she had just arrived, but felt the table was too crowded to join (also, she's not a huge fan of the game).
[Was that confusing enough?]

I overheard the word cheating, and I couldn't resist asking who had left and why. Apparently he had caught me cheating five times, and if I did it again he was going to murder everyone (his exact words) and he wasn't having fun anymore, so he was leaving.

Now, I may be bad at math, and I may forget or misinterpret rules from time to time (remember there are 157 pages of  rules), and I may adjust difficulty on the fly—but one thing I am not, is a cheater. The only thing that is important, is that people are having fun. If I have to sacrifice the fun of a single rules lawyer for the benefit of the crowd, Mr. Math Wizz\Expert at Everything will probably walk out of my game again in the future.

I'm glad he didn't make too much of a scene. My wife wishes he'd taken his stuff with him, so it was a good thing he and his wife arrived in separate vehicles. Yes....yes, we mocked him heartily after he left. Yes, I hope he can come next time and have fun.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

No Game

Due to Lack of RSVP and RSVP in the negative, I called off the game for Saturday and went to Inception. It was every bit as good as people were saying it was. The funny thing about movies like this (well twisted plot with lots of room for unanswered questions) there's alway the people that think they're too cool to think it was good  and think they understood the whole thing after 15 minutes into the movie. The friend that I went with and a group of people I overheard after the fact fall into that category. These people have forgotten how to have fun.

I think I missed a few things, and will need to see it again. I was certainly on edge for a good portion of the film.

I definitely recommend it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Savage Cake

The Cub Scouts have a Cake Auction/Pot Luck Soup Dinner every year as a Fund Raiser. This year, I had an Idea for a cake.

My wife covered the cake with orange (because that's what we had on hand), then I put on a one inch grid. Dropped some Dice and figures on and viola. The Zombie vs Robot vs Pirate vs Ninja Cake was born.

I had the Zombie and the Pirate and the Ninja on Hand, but I had to be a little creative for the Robot; I had a generic cake topper Soccer guy and spray painted him silver.

We included with the cake a copy of the Savage Worlds Test Drive Rules, and Character Sheets for a Zombie, Robot, Pirate, and Ninja.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dicecreator's Dice Update

I've had these dice on my person, almost since I received them. Yesterday I pulled them out of my pocket because I was playing with Handful of Heroes Figures with my daughter and wanted to give some structure to the play. I noticed that the Gear Die had developed a problem, the #2 Gear's edge has popped up.

Now to be fair, I have been very hard on these Dice. They have been in my pocket since April. They've been in my pocked at scout camp, they've been in my pocket in 100+ degree weather, they've been in my pocket when I've been fishing, they've been in my pocket at church. They bounce around with other things in my pocket, and deal with extreme temperature changes, I think they've done very well. The Halo Die is still in perfect condition.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Older Movies

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a fan of movies. I have a rather large DVD collection—some would say it borders on the ridiculous in sheer size, some would say that my taste is ridiculous. The oldest film in my collection was made in 1911, the newest 2010. Many people mock me because of the way my collection is arranged on the shelf—alphabetical by distribution company (My wife makes sure that her movies are in her own section so she can find them). This, of course, was so I could keep all my Disney movies together. Yes, I owned all the princess movies before I had kids...even before I was married.

I had a birthday recently, I never expect gifts, but I am always appreciative of them. I got a stack of old Disney movies, also I've been spending a lot more time at the library during my unemployment, and the library has movies. As a result, I've been watching a lot of older movies, and I've noticed something. The Pre-Computer Graphic era of Film has a certain reality, and grittiness that the newer stuff just can't hold a candle to.

I'll start with something newer to provide contrast. We got 2012 at the Red Box, since I still had not seen it. Yes, I recognize that 2012 is not great cinema, and I enjoy it for the same reason I enjoy (and own) The Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno: I like Cheezy disaster movies. It is fun to watch things get destroyed, it's fun to watch ordinary people overcome the extrordinary. I don't know how they are ever going to top 2012—they destroyed everything in that movie.

We watched Flight of the Navigator the other night, and I was very impressed by the interior of the Space Ship. First of all, it had to be a nightmare for the crew to keep that clean during filming. Every surface was mirrored, which also had to be a problem; when you film mirrors you have to be extra careful, because the filming crew can be seen in them, but not once during the watching of the movie, did I even think to look for that detail. I was worried that that movie wouldn't hold up—but it did.

Flight of the Navigator vs. 2012: The Space Ship in Flight of the Navigator seemed more real than the Arcs in 2012, because there were so many exterior and interior shots that used real props and sets.

I watched The Final Countdown today. First off, how is it possible that I have never seen this movie? It was great!! Not only were the characters great, and the concept great, but watching all the Aircraft Carrier stuff was Amazing! It was all real, there was one major special effect in the movie (used twice) and a few models used for explosions. All the shots of the airplanes, the loading of missiles, etc.—it was all real. When you see the same sort of shots in newer movies, it's all too perfect—even the stuff that isn't animated is all slick and perfected.

The Final Countdown vs 2012: The Final Countdown was shot on a real ship, with real planes. It was gritty and real, it was imperfect, it was wonderful. 2012 was shot with chroma key. The planes were fake, the ships were fake, even the ocean was fake, I believed it during the movie since the visual language all jived, but watching The Final Countdown made me realize how fake it was.

I got some Gumby stuff for my kids (and Myself) at the library. We've watched Episodes from the 50's, 60's, and 80's; as well as the Move made in the 80's (Gumby Fights an Evil, Robot, Clone with a Light Saber!). Is it hokey? Yes. Do I Love It? Yes! Frankly, I find it refreshing to watch entertainment that is honest, and not sterilized by political correctness. Occasionally, there's a statement that is "political" but nothing that preaches to me and tells me that my way of thinking is wrong.

Gumby vs 2012: Gumby's animation is all jittery and you can see the fingerprints in the clay, the people barely look like people, and I love every minute of it. 2012s animation is perfect, they destroy everything, with so much detail that you don't realize how unreal it is, unless your one of those people that don't understand how to have fun watching movies anymore.

The other thing I've noticed about older movies, is that they don't try to shove as much into the plots. They keep them simple, the camera movement is simpler, the effects are simpler, but they don't necessarily feel that way. We watched the entire planet of the Apes series recently. My wife pointed out to me how they dragged out certain scenes. Taylor running from the Apes went on and on in her mind and after a while she was saying (out loud) "Ok, we get the point. Can we continue on with the plot?" Watching those movies felt like watching an Epic Bible movie, in terms of pace—yet not one of them is longer than two hours, and most are closer to 90 minutes (a length reserved for Children's movies and comedies in modern cinema).

But I like modern movies as well. I did in fact enjoy 2012. It wasn't any better or worse in terms of story than the slew of disaster movies from the 60's and 70's. It just looks slicker.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fire Wire

So I had a birthday recently, and my Mom gave me these Fire Wire things. I'd seen them on Woot! occasionally, but I was still a little unclear as to what they were. They are skewers for doing shish kebab, made of flexible surgical stainless steel. We used them the next day.

Thanks Mom!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine...
Nine Players Ah Ah Ah!

My players have been increasingly bad at the RSVP thing as of late (again)—I guess it's time to start offering an incentive to those that do. I hold my games on Saturday. I send out an Invite e-mail for every game usually a week prior, sometimes earlier—as of Friday I had one RSVP, on Saturday I received another that was for two players, and Justin came over earlier in the day. This means that as of Game Time I was expecting four people. Game Time is seven, players are invited to show up as early as 6:30, however Justin and I had gone out to eat and were not back until a quarter to—P was sitting on my porch waiting. (up to Five) 

By the time we got started (a very late start, which was okay) there were Eight players. After playing for a while one person had to go, but another had arrived, so in the aggregate I had Nine. This is by far the largest group I have ever Game Mastered. 

One of the problems you get with large groups is Off topic/ Out of Game chatter—there was a lot of this. Despite that, I felt we did pretty good. Looking back at the session, this is what was accomplished: Three Combat Encounters, A Social Encounter, and an Environmental Encounter in a three and a half hour session. Have I mentioned how much I love Savage Worlds? One of the first Dungeons and Dragons games I ever played in had just as many players and after playing around six or seven hours I only remember two combat encounters and it didn't seem like we had gotten to do much.

The first combat encounter was my favorite. I was using something out of the Saddle Sore adventure book, and tweaking it to my own devices. Here's your peek behind the  GM Screen for this weeks session. I threw one of the creatures from the encounter at them early, just for kicks. Something that I did when I started this Campaign, was to carry XP from the previous game—I should not have done this, because The Flood is written for novice characters. This has led to some combat encounters that just end too fast, and I've been trying to learn how to adjust.

Now the first encounter of the evening was something I just came up with on the fly. The first person to hit the creature, threw a lot of power points in and the damage roll was ridiculous. However, I wasn't ready for it to die, so I gave a creative description that the giant millipede-like creature was ripped in half; the back half skittered off into the forest, and the front half was angry. I continued to fudge it a little like that for the rest of the encounter—It still died before everyone had a chance to take a turn, which I wasn't too keen about, so I tried to be a little more careful about that in the combat that was to come.

Another issue with large groups is decision making. I think I stumbled upon a solution (or perhaps I've just absorbed it from all the Gaming Blogs and Podcasts I consume). Allow everyone to chat it out, but not for too long because, honestly, most have made their mind up pretty early on in the "discussion," and then just call for a vote by show of hands. The adventure I'm using has an abstract representation of the mine/cave system that they are exploring—after allowing a little bit of discussion I just called for a vote on the cardinal directions available. Things moved along nicely.

In conclusion, I felt I handled the large group fairly well—which surprised me, I anticipated a little more trouble. I should also point out that my 12–13 year old Scouts are easier to keep on-task than a rambunctious group of Gamers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This was on my porch August 30, 2010 7:38 am

Does this qualify as Early Snow, or Late Snow? It's Madness I tell you!  However, I'm extremely happy for the cooler weather. Have I mentioned that I HATE Summer? It's true.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Deadlands Session Photos August 28, 2010

I'm always forgetting to post the photos that are taken at the session. The figures we use always amuse me. P tends to bring his own Hero Clix, and had some Jonah Hex figs this evening. Everyone else generally uses what I have on hand, which is currently figs from the Deadlands Board Game. This session they were in Shan Fan and were fighting Martial Artists, and I used some Colorful Ninjas that I got at a Party Favor Store some time ago. I apologized for the scale mismatch and Back to the Future was quoted, "Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn't have time to build it to scale or to paint it."

I'm still laughing about that, just thinking about it.

Using Salt Water Taffy as Rubble.

It's inevitable, if P and I are both taking pictures, we will take pictures of each other taking a picture.

See? I told you.

How Absent Characters Can Simplify Things

Our latest session of Deadlands was great. I had a really good time as Game Master.

One of the players has missed a couple sessions. Now my normal take on this is to just pretend that everyone has been there all the time—kind of like Lost I suppose, there were characters that were present since the Plane crashed, but only featured prominently on one episode, when it was convenient to the plot to focus on them. I wonder if there is a T.V. Trope name for that? Absentee Actor almost fits the bill, but there's probably another, however, after a few hours on the site, I've been unable to locate what it might be (Seriously, that site should come with a warning!—Danger! one article will lead to many more, leave now if you do not have several hours available). Moving on.

Some of my most regular players were unable to make it to the game, and one of the players that has missed a few sessions as of late was able to come. I used this to get things going in the right direction, after the possible derailment of last session—which I allowed, just so I could see what would happen. Before P came to the game I told him why his character had not been with the rest of the posse, he had been gathering information on his own that the rest of the posse had spend a good chunk of the previous session trying to gather, but coming up short.

I didn't give them too much information, and they almost walked away from the exact location they needed to be, due to a miscommunication on my part—a notice check nudged them in the right direction. We were able to complete two combat encounters, and a fun time was had by all.

I love Savage Worlds, and this session made apparent one more reason why it's such a fun system. There were four players; two Novice level, one Heroic, and I think a Veteran—and I don't think that the novices were having any less fun, or feeling like they weren't part of the action just because their characters are of a lower Rank. I've played D&D where my character was lower than the rest of the party by a large gap, and frankly, I couldn't do anything, The monsters were too tough for me to handle, so I could get killed or hide behind the more experienced characters while they took multiple attacks and dealt high damage; in hindsight, letting my character get killed so I could go home would have been the better decision.

Part of that was due to my handing an NPC (that the posse rescued) over to one of the players that has a novice character, and partially due to the player of the Novice Mad Scientist having so much fun with his one invention (even using it when possibly detrimental to the posse; not because it's detrimental, but because his character just didn't think of it that way—Hijinks Ensue).

One final thing. We all owe S a big thanks. Without P, there would not have been a session, and it was a really fun session.

So thank you, Thank you, Thank You.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thrift Store Score

My second daughter had a birthday recently. We had looked for a cheap Ken Doll at the Walmart, but the only cheap one they had was Identical to the one that my four year old has—since we were trying to remedy a source of argument between them, my Wife wanted it to be different.

My Mom mentioned the Thrift Store at the Birthday party and frankly, I don't know why I didn't think of that—I love buying toys at the Thrift Store. So, we planned a trip to the store of thrift.

Now, I have my particular brand of Thrift Store Shopping down to a science. First, go straight to the Toys. What I look for is small scale plastic figurines, not necessarily articulated. When I was a Kid (and to this day) my favorite toys are the ones that are small, make no noise, and inspire imagination. Examples: Action Figures in General, Fisher Price Action People, Muscle Men, Fisher Price Little People (I don't like the new ones as much as the ones they made in the 70's–80's), Playmobil, Little Green Army guys (anything made in the manner of Green Army men), but my favorites are the small PVC plastic figures like the ones featured on my Savage Worlds Character Blog.

After I dig through the Toys, I check the Games (looking for games with interesting dice or components), I  give the electronics a cursory glance, I check the CD's and Vinyl Albums (generally finding some really good stuff in vinyl), the books, the Good Stuff (a.k.a. the things kept locked behind glass), and finally the Ties (it has become increasingly difficult to find the good ties [I like ties that are stiff, thick, made in the 70's, polyester, with outlandish non-repeating patterns])

I started rambling didn't I?

My find this week? An Almost Complete, Dungeons and Dragons—Dragons Quest "Board" Game. The only thing missing was The Cover to the Rule Book (a.k.a. the Dungeon Masters Screen, of  which I found a scan online), and the Adventure Book—which is kind of a bummer; but for two dollars I got six metal fantasy figurines and six polyhedral dice (1d10 was missing), 14 paper doors, and 48 varieties of paper monsters (only 2 missing).

Notice there are three Zombies...any day you can get Zombies and Dice at the Thrift store is a Good Day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Monkey Off My Back

I thought I may have gotten myself in trouble.

Tuesday (the 16th) Emily called to schedule the City Code Officer to come out and inspect our property, he said he couldn't come next Monday, so he planned to come the 31st. I called him back and talked to him I wanted him to come this week (I had Friday in mind). I wanted him to come earlier, in case I had to have him come again, I wanted to have time to be in compliance before the fine started on September First. He stated that the fine didn't really start on the 1st, but when he filed the paperwork.

I had a little chat with him about the papers I received containing deceptive and incorrect  information, he said he would look into having that changed (I've said that a time or two myself on the phone—I understand that that is highly unlikely)

Turns out he was going to be out that day and he stated that he would stop by, I asked him to come to the Door and talk to me so I could make sure that I understood his requirements. Oops, he's coming today instead of Friday was all I could think after I hung up.

Turns out he didn't come...but he did this morning, and he told me that he was going to close the case. Just a lot o' bit of stress off my back. Hopefully I didn't exceed the normal limit of water consumption and incur a higher than normal water bill.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I just approved a comment on my blog, and Google Finally made it say who was commenting and what Post they were commenting on part of the approval page.

I've wanted this for a long time. The only workaround I had was to enable the e-mail notifications, because in the    e-mail notification it would actually tell me what blog post they commented upon. This means I can finally stop spamming myself every time I approve a comment just to avoid confusion for those rare moments that someone comments on an old blog post.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Little Bit of Action—A Lot o' Bit of Social Interaction

Interesting Game Last Night.

In the previous session, Mathias removed an object and killed a creature. This session, the Creature returned, got the drop on a sleeping Mathias and got a pretty good damaging blow in before the object was destroyed.

I'm glad the creature didn't kill him, but I would be lying if I said I didn't get a little bit of pleasure out of hurting a character. (I only hurt him a little, and he soaked the damage, so really he was just shaken—but it was a very satisfying shaken.)

Then play moved to Shan Fan. This is an interesting part of the plot point, I can't say a lot about the details, but what it caused to transpire, was a lot more of the non-combat type of play. My wife gets a little frustrated with these parts of the game because she's not sure what to do.

Recently I've read some advice that says skip the boring parts; which makes me wonder if I should have just railroaded it a bit...but I wanted to see what happened. The plot point book assumes that the party will go about obtaining the needed information a certain way, of course my players never do things the way the book assumes. In many cases when there are alternate ways to go about obtaining information the book at least gives you some idea as to how it might play out, this time it did not. The book also assumes someone in the group has a d4 skill in Chinese (any dialect) and still makes them roll streetwise at -4; so...Big Ears Tam speaks English now, and streetwise rolls are still at -4.

When I have to come up with things off the cuff, I generally inject a little humor—whether purposefully or not. Shan Fan is a city almost entirely comprised of Chinese immigrants, but I still made the Mafioso meetup take place in an Italian restaurant (though Sesame Chicken was still on the menu).

The posse finally got together and made a plan, and in the middle of the plan, a certain someone decided to not follow it. So things got a little weird, I didn't know exactly what to do, it was eleven o'clock (my preferred ending time that I'm always shooting for, but missing)—so I ended things for the night.

I have no idea how this is all going to play out, but I know where it's supposed to go.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yard Work

The More Yard-work I do, the more I see problems with the yard. Under normal situations, I would see that as a sign that I need to cut back.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ah, Memories

This is not the kind of post I normally make—i.e. embedding a video, or pointing to another blog post sans commentary, etc..

However, I know a lot of my cousins visit the site, and I know that we used to play Oregon Trail on grandma's computer. I didn't like it or play it that much, I found it to be repetitive, still I played it enough to understand the humor in this fake movie trailer. So I though I would share...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Seeking Employment

My Temp Position ended.

For the past week—and this week as well... I've spent 3–4 hours working on my yard every morning (and sometimes some time in the evening as well), trying to get it acceptable for the impending inspection.

Some time ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and he had mentioned to me that when you own your own house, there is a certain desire to do yard work that you never had when you were a kid and taking care of your parent's house. —I tried to feel that when we first bought this place, but I have to respectfully disagree, I still hate it. Perhaps it's that I dislike the desert, or maybe it's my allergies, perhaps my aversion to temperatures that rise above 68° Fahrenheit.

There is a certain satisfaction when I'm done—but I've always had that, be it an art project, or just cleaning the kitchen really really well. In fact, I don't mind cleaning every square inch of the kitchen or bathroom, but I'm really not fond of yard-work.

It has been a blessing to be unemployed at this time, in a weird way. There is no way I would have been able to get the yard looking as good as it is currently, had I been working. So, I think we'll be able to pass the inspection when it comes due. (Speaking of which, I should probably schedule that...)

On the other hand though, I have spent a lot more money than I really can afford, being unemployed, trying to get things looking decent.

I've been tempted to post my resumĂ© here, but something keeps telling me that's not the best idea. If you're interested in seeing it, let me know and I will consider your request (How Conceited of me...).

Speaking of employment, I have an incredible opportunity waiting in the wings—but I'm in the midst of a waiting game, and it's probably two or three months out. Some of the lawyerly stuff went through on Friday, so things are looking great...I've got to last until then however.

Anyone out there need someone with skills in Animation, Video Editing, Photoshop, Illustrator, Traditional Illustration, 3DS Max, or Desktop Support? . . . Anyone?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

DJ Hero House Party

So, not everyone that said they would come was able to make it.

I never borrowed the Fog Machine from P. No one offered a disco ball. I've been working so hard to get the yard cleaned up to avoid a $25 a day fine from the city that I never put up any lights.

I did however manage to build a Daft Punk Helmet, but the Visor was lacking in both tinting and lighting effects, and I never did complete the costume, but I think what I did was pretty decent considering I'm unemployed.

The game was fun, and I think everyone that came had a good time.

Here are some Photoshopped Pictures:

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I Have Not Blogged Enough Recently

Then again, I've had other things on my mind. My Blogger Dashboard is always there when I open my browser, I look at it every day thinking that I need to click the new post button, but I just haven't had anything that truly made me want to post.

We received a courtesy note from the city that our yard is not up to code. No big deal, I've gotten one of those every other year since I moved in. I do not have a green thumb, nor do I have a sprinkling system, so my lawn tends to be on the yellow end of the spectrum. Partially that has to do with my knowing that I live in a desert—why do I need a green lawn? Then there was a little something I learned in Geology Class.

Groundwater related subsidence is when the ground level drops as a result of removing too much groundwater, and it's something that must be closely regulated, because once the ground level has dropped, nature can no longer return the ground water levels to what they once were—very important thing to keep track of when you live in a Desert.

The thing that stuck in my mind is a picture of a Fire-hydrant that is high up in the air. I recall the picture being from Mexico City which, like the city I live in, is built on a dry lake bed—I couldn't find the picture that my Geology class was shown, but I found a similar one from Southern California.

I prefer that water goes to Crops and Drinking instead of keeping grass in the desert green—and if we use too much then we lose our ability to store as much. Also, I think it's a very communistic law telling me what to do with my property. People keep arguing about property values, but my wife is a Realtor, and she has never seen an ugly lawn effect the value of property.

So there's stress from needing to green up my lawn during the worst time of the year to be trying to green up a lawn (What a Brilliant Law—please note that statement is dripping with sarcasm). On top of that I'm unemployed, and I've already sunk way more money into the yard than I want, I don't need to be spending money on grass right now.

We are expecting a third little girl in October. My wife has entered the Nesting stage, so we've been trying to get the house ready for that, since we really don't have enough space.

We also got the opportunity to Host a DJ Hero House party. So we've been cleaning up for that.

Busy, Unemployed, Stressed, Wife Expecting—so blogging has suffered.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Schilling for contest Entries

Troll in the Corner is Having a Contest.

Like they used to say in the 80's—You may have already Won the Pathfinder Core Rulebooks or Various PDF files.

Here's How to Enter.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Being Off the Rails is Hard

We met for another exciting adventure in California. This marked the first session of Deadlands that was truly off the rails. Back when we started, I began in Colorado and used the adventure module Coffin Rock as an introduction to Deadlands. I did this because I was still reading The Flood, and I wasn’t ready to start. In hindsight, that was probably backwards. It would have made more sense to start The Flood and Throw in Coffin Rock as a Savage Tale (Savage Tales are Smaller Stories that happen between the main plot points).

So, the beginning of this evening was to finish off the plot point that was started last time. In prepping for the game, I really didn’t know what to prepare ahead of time. The Posse had a number of ways they could possibly go—they could choose to go to Virginia City, the destination they were headed toward when they were literally railroaded to California; or they could follow the plot point and head to Shan Fan; or they could decide to do something completely different.

I read half of the Shan Fan plot point. I had decided what to do if they went to Virginia City and read that Savage Tale (but apparently I skimmed a little too much—more on that later.) When the game started, I felt half prepared—which is more than I can usually expect for an off the rails session.

When the Posse was deciding what to do, I looked at the Map and realized that Virginia City was a lot further north than I thought it was.  Which kind of messed with the way I connected Coffin Rock and The Flood. . . but I didn’t mention that to my players. However, it did solve their question of where to go due to the fact that Shan Fan was closer than Virginia City, and they could take a train from Shan Fan to Virginia City.

Looking at the Distance between where they were, and where they were headed made me think about the way that other people must run these games. There were charts and tables in Zombie Run for traveling, and the book assumed that you would make the use of a map, choose the way to go, roll to determine what happens every ten mile stretch of road, or some nonsense like that. Old D&D has similar charts and tables for wilderness travel. Similarly, The Flood also has rules for traveling in California, which differ a bit from the charts in the base Deadlands book. I simplified a bit and tried the random encounter table.

Due to the Great Quake that occurred in the canon of Deadlands, California is an even harsher wilderness to travel than in other parts of Deadlands America. It’s supposed to take longer to get from point A to point B. The tables indicated that the Posse should encounter nothing—I ascribe to right of Game Master Fiat and moved the encounter planned for Virginia City to middle of nowhere California. I grabbed Saddle Sore and I was running one of the Savage Tales found in that Volume, but I definitely didn’t read it thoroughly enough. I had to retcon several times throughout the evening, and when I got lost, I found myself sitting there a little confounded—just reading. I feel bad about that, because it just leaves my players in limbo, so the conversation wanders to extra-game topics.

I have to apologize to P the most, since he had to leave before there were any mini-fig-on-battle-mat encounters. A creature did attack, during the day this time, in broad daylight, in the travelling show. I’ll have to think about how I’m going to use the outcome to my advantage.

Speaking of the encounter, I pulled the low card, and Brandon’s character is overpowered (for this part of the Plot Point) I don’t know what to do about that.  It’s not that my creatures keep feeling the wrath of his “razor sharp cloud of card shuriken” (Bolt), it’s that I had to finagle things just to give the group the clue that the encounter was to provide. How many power points do you have Brandon?—I think I need to look at your character sheet again.

All in all, it wasn't a bad session—but it wasn’t the greatest either. I think the person that gets the most impatient with me when I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, is my wife. . . that’s stressful to me.

I have to admit though, that the actions of certain Posse members have set in motion some very interesting possibilities. Mwa–ha–ha–ha–ha.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

House Party July 31

So, my Wife applied to be the host of a House Party that Activision is using to promote their rhythm game DJ Hero.

We're big fans of the rhythm game genre at our house. We have Three Rock Band Games and Six Guitar Hero Games—still I was pretty skeptical about the announcement of DJ Hero. I'm not as much into the DJ style music, and though I played around with a real turntable setup once, I never really got into it.

However, I saw the Game setup at Best Buy once and gave it a Spin (Ha Ha). It was not easy, my mediocre Guitar Hero skills didn't transfer directly to the turntable controller and I scored an abysmal, one star...It didn't help that the guy that was playing with it before me had chosen the Hard skill level.

It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, and I've sort of wanted to get it since then...

Our home was picked as a location for one of the House Parties. We'll be provided with a copy of the game and Two Turntables. We're going to put up some Christmas Lights, and have a Daft Punk costume contest.

If you've received an invite from my wife please RSVP, it's a real thing and we would love for you to come, it's going to be fun. Set aside July 31... the more the merrier. (This conflicts with a Deadlands Game so all My Deadlands players are invited) More invites will be going out shortly...

More Details Here.

Bluetooth + Wii Remote + Classic Controller + Glovepie + Joy to Key =

A Nostalgic Journey with a twist (For those the grew up playing games on the Nintendo Entertainment System).

Bluetooth Dongles can be obtained for Pennies plus Shipping from Amazon.

Wii Remotes and Classic Controllers cost a bit more ($40 and $20 respectively)—But we already had those.

Glovepie can be found Here. (Free) The Author Really Wants You to Believe in Man Made Global Warming, It appears the link I had here previously was outdated (I think It changes frequently to force you to read the global warming messages) Click: Downloads, then click: I already have 100% Green power, I'm ready to download GlovePIE, then click on the version you want, as of this update I clicked: Click here to Download GlovePIE 0.45 Free (with Kinect support)

Joy to Key can be obtained Here. (Also Free) Click the big link in the upper right corner that says: Download Joy2Key.

Connect the Wii Remote to the Computer using Bluetooth (skipping the authentication number bit). Then connect the classic controller. Open Glovepie and apply the zSNES Script found here. Then Run Joy to key and map the arrow keys to the directional pad, and z, x, and c to buttons.

{edit: I've found that if I run Joy to Key then connect via bluetooth, then run Glovepie that it's easier to get the bluetooth to connect and stay connected.}

Then You Go Here for Squeee (You may have to setup the controls in the game options for it to work right) Link Has Been Updated and is Working as of 6/19/2014.

I'm going to create a tutorial video of this, since I get more hits on my blog for this post than anything else. 

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I Finally Got to Play 4th Edition
Dungeons and Dragons


Well, I still like Savage Worlds Better. Part of that is probably the fault of the Character Sheet I was given, and another part of the fault may be Dungeon Master that was running the game, and part of that may be the rules system...but I'm not completely sure about the rules system part of the equation.

The game took place in the home of the same person that introduced me to the game back when Third edition was making the transition to three dot five. Their group has grown too big, and so they have decided that the thing to do, was to split the group and run two games. Both groups would be playing the same adventure and have the same encounters planned. The plan was for it to be a competition, and allow both groups to compare notes afterward for camaraderie.

I've been wanting to try 4th edition since its inception two years ago (2008), but that was about the time our regular D&D group stopped being regular, and then stopped altogether. I was actually excited about the game, and I talked it up with our Dungeon Master—He got the books and we never played (I felt bad about that, since they aren't exactly cheap, and he was having some employment issues at the time.).

I eventually got the books (Heavily discounted—a lot of people disliked the new edition so much that it became easy to find them cheap in the second hand market), and I finally got to bust them out Monday.

I didn't go into this completely blind. Granted, I haven't really had a chance to read the books, but I have listened to/watched several actual play recordings/videos that I found on the internet. It didn't seem terribly different—roll d20 to determine success or failure, roll other dice to determine damage, and every one has specialized skills that they can use with varying frequencies.

Having played 3rd edition and 3.5 edition, I should have been able to understand the character sheet, but I couldn't. Some of the acronyms made no sense to me, even after seven hours I still didn't get it. This is not the fault of the system, this character sheet was a custom one, created by the host for their regular group. The Regulars all seemed to understand the formulas. That was my first frustration.

The second thing that I found frustrating, was that the Dungeon Master was not terribly descriptive. For an example, in our first encounter we found ourselves in an arena being attacked by creatures. When I asked for a description, all I got was, "Green Humanoids." According to the Tournament Rules anyone could ask to do a Lore roll to see what they know about the creatures encountered, and when someone did that, depending on a measure of success he would read a portion of the description directly out of the Monster Manual. I just wasn't feeling terribly immersed in the world, it felt like the focus was more on the Game portion, rather than a balance of Game and Role Play. It went something like this:

Game Master Reads Some Story, then an encounter that was just an exercise in die rolling. No descriptions of the action. These figures on the Grid Surround these figures on the Grid, and every one just roll dice until the Game Masters figures are removed from the table. Role a die for loot and move on to the next encounter—which goes down in pretty much the same way, starting with the reading of some story.

I'm pretty sure that could mostly be attributed to the Game Masters abilities, and I'll cut him some slack, because I know from experience how difficult it is to run a game. I've done it quite frequently in the past year.

The part I will put more blame on the rules for, is the seeming lack of room for creativity. The encounters seemed to be an exercise in picking the Rule off of the Character sheet that would allow you to create the most damage with your die roll. It felt stifling and uncreative, and I was bored with it after two encounters. In the third encounter I wanted to do something that wasn't, "I hit it with my short sword."

My trying to do something creative with the rules at hand made me think of a line from Galaxy Quest:
"I know! You'll need to make a weapon. Look around; can you construct some sort of rudimentary lathe?"

In the second encounter I had picked up a bag of nails and a small hammer, and I was trying to come up with something creative when we were attacked by Giant Spiders. I decided to do something different than just hit it with my sword, I tried to jump on the spider's back. I failed, but I was close. When it came around to my turn again I had decided to tie my rope to one of the legs and then weave myself in and out of the legs and tie it to a tree. I succeeded, but it was dead as soon as I started to drag it toward a tree. I felt much more satisfaction from that than the previous encounters, and I continued to look for opportunities to pull off such maneuvers in the remaining encounters, but the rules don't seem to award that sort of thinking.

To me it felt as though you'd be less likely to pull that sort of creative move off (one of the other players in the upstairs game tried to use the bag of nails in a creative way and the Game Master disallowed such an action), and you'll be less likely to take an enemy down through creative tactics, than if you just pick one of your encounter powers and roll the dice accordingly; I fully admit it might just be my lack of familiarity with the rules that make it seem so, it also could be that the lack of description made it feel like we were playing with  figs in an empty space, just us versus the monsters in a board game sort of way—rather than feeling like we were adventurers battling for our life in a fantastic and strange land—which made it difficult for me to creatively use the space tactically.

Don't get me wrong, I had fun, and the game wasn't that bad—I think I just have different expectations than this group of players.

Friday, July 02, 2010

I think I Handled the New Player a Little Better This Time. . . Maybe

It's been a month and I finally got to play Savage Worlds again.

We have a neighbor who expressed curiosity in playing with us some time ago, so I've been inviting him since then and Saturday he was able to come to the game. Brandon helped him to create a character (So I could read a One Sheet that he has written to give him some feedback), but I handle character creation differently—so I'm kind of regretting that (just a little bit).

It took longer than anticipated, but I finally got the game going. This was a high box-text part of the adventure, and rather than paraphrase like I normally do, I decided to just read the text, as is, from the book. We're still in the highly railroady part of The Flood. My wife constantly mocked me during the reading portions.

Then Finally, they got to the encounter. The whole thing felt forced and inorganic. When they started fighting the bad guys, I finally remembered something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. The technique is called: yes...but...

I think I heard about this Technique from Sean Patrick Fannon on one or more of the Gaming Podcasts to which I subscribe. I believe he stated that it is an old improvisation exercise. It works like this: If someone asks a question, the answer is yes...but there is some caveat .

I.e.—"Is there a Garbage Can I can Hide Behind?"

—Absolutely, but it's across the street, you could probably make it past the crossfire to take cover. . .

This, added to the fact that this game marked the first use of a Battle Mat owned by myself, made for an interesting encounter. My wife was holding the Wet Erase Marker, and was using the Yes...But... technique to her advantage, drawing in all the fiddly bits.

What I thought would turn into a shootout in the street, ended up with the Posse holing up inside: throwing tables in front of the windows, locking the proprietor of the establishment in a closet, Molotov cocktails. The most creative maneuver by a Player Character of the night, happened because of the Yes...But... technique. He asked if there was a Sign hanging from the Balcony above, that he could shoot the supporting ropes of, and have it fall on the guys below. The answer of course was yes...but it's going to be a difficult shot to do so. Essentially, he had to roll a six on a six sided die to be successful. He rolled, and because of the exploding dice mechanic he got a fifteen on his six sided die, that's a very solid hit, which means that he gets to roll an extra six sided dice for damage.

In this case that meant 3d6 for damage—He rolled a one a one and a two for a grand total of four. Which was the lowest number he could get and be successful in breaking the rope. Then the damage the sign caused didn't even phase one of the guys, but the other guy was out of the fight because of it.

At this point it was late and all they had to do was get out of Lost Angels. I threw one more group of bad guys on the table, just for some dramatic flair—make them feel like they were being chased and there was danger around every corner. They were on the opposite side of the Map, all they had to do was run around a corner and make a stealth check and they were safe—so of course they took cover and proceeded to take them all out.

My conclusions for the evening:
Players never do what you think or hope they will—luckily that's a big part of the fun. I'm starting to enjoy the Behind the Screen part of the game a little better. Molotov cocktails need to be less easy to create. I love it when players are more creative about the encounters, now if I could get them to be more creative with the use of the game mechanics (Taunts, and Ganging Up, and getting the Drop...that sort of thing). I need to use the awesome weapons that my wild cards have, instead of forgetting that they have them until after they are incapacitated—this game was not the first (and probably not the last) example of this happening.

As for the new player thing. I ruined someones enjoyment of RPGs during one of the first sessions I ran. I feel bad, because they still won't play with us and have no desire to do so at all. I completely recognize that I ruined their enjoyment of the game, and their view of role playing games in general. I also recognize that I was so new to the Game Mastering side of the hobby that I had no way of recognizing that I was creating a negative experience.

This time went much better, he had played D&D once before, but I think allowing him to come up with this plan concerning the hanging sign really added to his enjoyment of the game. (I overheard him telling his Dad about it in Church between meetings the following day) Yes...But... is a tool that every Game Master Should be using. It allows people to come up with crazy things, and go away with an amazing cinematic experience.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Little Job to Tide Me Over

I'm signed up with a temp agency, that belongs to a contractor that my previous employer utilizes. My previous employer is going to contract me to finish the video project I was in the middle of, when my position was eliminated by a third party efficiency audit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free RPG Day 2010—Oddly Successful

In a strange sort of way, Free RPG Day was a weird success.

As I Chronicled Previously. I found that I was going to be in Boise on Free RPG Day 2010. I had found the closest participating store to be in Mountain Home (A smallish city [population aprox. 13,000] about an hour drive from Boise). The store seemed odd on the internet—and it was odd when I got there.

Picture a normal hobby game store. Then Randomly pick a place in the middle and put a shelf up that has collectible statues on it—not the kind of collectible statues that you normally find at a game store like superheroes and nerdy movie properties. No, there were no Star Trek Crew Members, No Star Wars Heroes, no Marvel or DC properties, not even a Cthulhu Idol. There were tiger busts, fairy figurines, cowboys and indians, Precious Moments, and Hallmark type stuff. Then another wall and two random aisles get stocked with Model Airplanes and Model Airplane Parts (The Kinds of Models that you actually fly). Add 2 Cats and one Rather Large Dog into the Mix; put Grandma and Grandpa (who know nothing about hobby gaming) behind the counter to run the cash register.

I'm getting a little ahead of myself. If you recall, I had called around to all the game stores that I could find in Boise, and none were participating. When we got to Boise, I spent some time going to different game stores when I had nothing else to do—it filled the time nicely and I enjoyed it, but I still was unable to find a store participating in Boise Proper.

I had planned to run down to Mountain Home on Saturday morning, and one of my Wife's cousins (Jacob, Age 14) opted to tag along—I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce him to the role playing scene; unfortunately it turned out badly.

We couldn't communicate very well due to the road noise while driving there. I arrived a few minutes early and we waited for the store to open. We were the first non-employees in the store, and when asked if they could help me find anything particular, I indicated that we were there for Free RPG Day. The woman behind the counter told me that the person in charge of that would arrive soon ("the boys" had gone for a food run to the McDonalds down the street). So I browsed the merchandise, and took in the sights.

Fist thing I noticed was the complete and utter lack of cool dice—all they really had were the opaque flat colors from Koplow. With the board games, they had a lot of expansions for games that I want, but not the base games (Cut Throat Caverns for instance, three expansions but not the base game). They had a lots of figures to paint, for every table top war game I've ever heard of, and more variety than my game store has in many cases (Malifaux had not only starter sets and cards, but single figures as well). I looked for Savage Worlds product and only found one, it was an Adventure for Savage Worlds, published by one of Pinnacle's Licencee's, which is a really strange thing to have in your store if  you don't carry the core product.

So a few minutes later someone came in and the woman told him what we were there for, so I walked over to talk to him and he informed me that they were starting Free RPG day at Noon. I plead may case...that I was from Utah, that I drove an hour from where I was staying just to get Free RPG day stuff, that we were in town for family and we had things going on to which we needed to return. My pleas fell upon deaf ears, he just reiterated that they would be starting at noon.(He was the epitome of the Role Player Stereotype: awkward, quiet, could use a little more attention to personal hygiene) So I browsed the store, my compatriot was less than thrilled (read: bored) but there was enough there to keep me busy for an hour, but not two.

After about half an hour the guy running free RPG day told me they would be starting soon, this excited me because soon in my mind was early.

Their prices really were good, so I picked up some new things for myself: Zombie Dice Game, Cthulhu Dice Game, Warhammer Fantasy Role Play Dice (I'll probably never play this RPG—but it has cool dice). I wanted to get a Chessex Battle Mat (I noticed that they had a good price online), but they only had the ones with 1½ inch squares, and I wanted the one with 1 inch squares. At this point Jacob borrowed 4¢  and went down the street to the McDonald's, and I entered the Gaming Table Section of the Store to open my new stuff.

When Jake got back we played Zombie Dice, no they had not started and it was about a 11:30. Shortly thereafter, they got a box out from under the counter and laid out the Six free adventures, did they tell me it was okay to pick up the free stuff? No. It's not like I had been there since they opened, waiting specifically to pick that stuff up. I thought to myself that perhaps they would make some announcement to the store that the festivities would begin. (And I guess when he told me they would be starting soon, he meant on time. . . weird.)

Then this other guy walked in ans asked about Free RPG Day and they let him take some adventures. So I got up and took the two I knew I wanted, Jake picked up two that were a maybe (He didn't want any so he was just going to give them to me anyway). I didn't want to be greedy, and my game store puts up signs that says two only please.

We left immediately. I think the reason they were waiting, was that they had people scheduled to run the adventures that were available. There were supposed to be some Dice and a Dice Tower as part of the give away; I didn't see the Dice, and it looked like they only had one dice tower, and it looked like they were going to raffle it off. Perhaps they were saving the dice for people who played, but I didn't have time for that.

On the way back I ran into one of the game stores I had been to earlier in the week and grabbed a Formula D dice set (I wanted a set of these a long time ago and when I went to get them the store no longer had them and the game was out of print), I quickly checked if they had Battle Mats and I was glad that I did, it was even cheaper than the Mountain Home Store (and a dollar less than it would have been to buy a factory second directly from the manufacturer).

Our story doesn't quite end there however. I was in the neighborhood of my Local Gaming Store this week and I stopped in and found they still had copies of the two adventures I had not picked up (and of the four adventures I had picked up, they only had copies of one), so I got all six adventures, and a bunch of stuff I've wanted at discounted prices.

I would call Free RPG Day 2010 a Success.