Friday, February 26, 2010

It Must Be a GM Thing

So, back when I was playing Dungeons and Dragons, I would laugh a little inside every time our Game Master (GM) would drag this big giant bag full of books through my front door. Usually only four or five of the books would even be referenced; The Player's Guide, The Game Master's Guide, The Monster Manual (occasionally), A Guide to Faerûn since we were playing in the Forgotton Realms, and a Psionics Guide (since we had one mental player, hehe).

But now I'm running Savage Worlds and even though I rarely need to reference a Book that is not the Core Rulebook or the Setting Rulebook. I find myself wanting to always have all those other books available—you know, just in case.

Though I've always wanted all my information to be close at hand.

I remember when I was a kid, I had this Astronaut action figure that was my favorite and I took that thing everywhere.  I imagined how cool it would be, if inside the domed helmet  there was a tiny little bookcase that had all my books and records on it—and a little tiny astronaut that could load said records onto a little tiny record player for me so I could listen to them. (I don't think I ever thought about how I could read the little books...)

It's no wonder that I carry an MP3 Player (80 G Zune for the Curious) with close to forty  gigabytes of Music and just under forty gigabytes of Movies stored on it—I even have ten novels stored on it in picture format (it's not an e-reader, but I was bound and determined to use it as one).

I'll be glad when I have a Notion Ink Adam and can more easily carry all the books around that I want.

Sometimes I feel like I have the brain of a Dragon—I have all this stuff that I hoard (Music, Movies, Books), I may not use it all, but I want access to it at any given moment, so I must have my collection within reach at all times.

So maybe it's not a GM thing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Deadlands: Reloaded—Coffin Rock—First Play Session

Saturday marked our first session of Deadlands: Reloaded. Seeing myself as a greenhorn Marshall (That's Game Master in Deadlands Speech), I've chosen to start the Campaign using the Adventure Module Coffin Rock.

This is my second campaign and the first thing that is different, is not the fact that I'm running a Western instead of a Modern Day setting. The first thing that became apparent to me, was that I had pre-game jitters again. The reasons are two-fold: First, this is a new setting. Yes, I ran what I felt to be a successful Savage Worlds game last year—Yes, Deadlands: Reloaded is a Savage Wolrds Game; but there are parts of the setting that are just different enough that I'm nervous about running them (High Noon Style Gunfights for instance [and fear levels]). Second, the adventure/setting is much more open ended.

Zombie Run was a very linear tale, each session consisted of a fairly self contained story, and I probably could have run them all out of order if I wanted to and it wouldn't have made a difference. I only really had to have one chapter in mind for each session.

Coffin Rock is a very different creature indeed. It's a thirty page adventure, with multiple plot hooks that are all intertwined. I have to keep track of everything going on in and around the town of Coffin Rock (thankfully it's a small town).

I feel that the session went fairly well. Most of the things that I had pre-game jitters about, were non issues when it came right down to it. [Though I'm still a little shaky on handling Fear Levels]. Right now my biggest concern is that I didn't give the players enough direction. I know one of the things that my wife doesn't like when playing Role Playing Games is feeling directionless—this is a little tricky when there is a level of investigation involved.

Investigation in Role Playing is a sore spot for some, because in a lot of games it is handled in such a way that the players may not obtain the clues. This is something that the Gumshoe system has tried to change by making it so that players always find the clues—making the game about what they do with the clues obtained. I haven't read my Gumshoe book yet, so I don't know exactly how that system accomplishes that particular task—this is something I wanted to integrate into my Savage Worlds games. I think I faltered on it a little bit, but not enough to say I failed (as a whole they were rolling well enough that it was a non issue).

They hit upon about a dozen of the intertwined clues in the course of the evening, but none of them went to conclusion. There are quite a few subplots in the adventure as well and I hope we get to explore some of them.

One of the changes I made for this campaign, was to do character creation as a full session. We didn't quite finish that night, so we tied up the loose ends before jumping into play. I didn't do that when I ran Zombie Run, because I thought it was going to be so deadly that character creation would be a regular part of the game. It didn't turn out that way, and I think it suffered a little because of it—but not enough for it to be a game breaker.

With Deadlands: Reloaded, I'm hoping that people really get to explore their characters and develop them on a deeper level, which is why I took a whole evening for character creation—an evening augmented by conversations on Google Wave. I feel that we have some really nicely fleshed out backgrounds and it showed in-game. My wife really got into her character and was channeling someone else completely when speaking in-character.

What I learned:

My Improv skills are a little rusty.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Year Of Traffic

So, I started monitoring traffic with Google Analytics one year ago. Feb 18, 2009—Let's look at the traffic stats.

Feb18, 2009–Feb 18, 2010

I've had 1,660 visits, 697 unique visitors

2,567 page views

1,257 of the page views were to The Blog's main page
The page visited the most excluding the main page with a total of 389 page views:
Guess What?! I've Got a Fever, and the Only Prescription... is More Dice!
Perhaps I need to blog about dice more often, though none of my other Dice Posts have been quite that popular.

Most of my traffic comes from a direct hits.
Though, in very close competition are referrals from my cousin's blog.
The next three sources are Google related and then things drop to double digits.

The Browser Usage I find interesting


Internet Explorer




(not set)




Mozilla Compatible Agent


Sea Monkey? I'd never heard of that one. (not set) makes me curious.

Browsers is also an interesting Stat.





(not set)










Hmmmm? (not set) again?

That's everything that caught my eye that I found interesting.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Google Buzz

I know you can link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Buzz—but does it work in reverse? If it does I MIGHT consider signing up to the social networks I've been shunning.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Think I've Developed An Obsession

I mentioned a while ago, that I was looking to get an e-reader. I think I've decided which one I want. Funny thing about it—it's not a dedicated e-reader, and it's the fault of a Mac rumor that led me to its discovery.

Before the iPad was announced there were rumors a plenty. I happened across a diagram that detailed the rumors vs. their likelihood of turning out to be true. One of the technologies that was very unlikely to be true was the implementation of Screen Qi technology. (Pronounced Chee)

This was something that I had never heard of before—so I looked it up.

Part of what makes e-readers so great for reading, is the screen technology. Most e-readers use e-ink. What you have is these tiny little capsules with even tinier capsules inside. The tiniest capsules are half black and half white. Depending on the polarity and amount of electrical charge a number of those capsules "rise" and "fall." So for a pixel to be all black, a charge tells all the black particles to rise, for white (or blank space) all the black particles fall, for shades of gray only some black particles rise. (Here is an Illustration from Wikipedia for those that need a visual explanation.) The reason it's easy to read is that they pack about 200 of these per inch—which is comparable to print. The other reason this is so great for a reader is that it only requires power to change the image, not to maintain it.

That's e-ink, it's a great technology, but has limitations. I.e. Color is only experimental at the moment, and it changes slow.

Back to Screen Qi. The difference is that it is a modified LCD technology. In order to see a normal LCD screen, it must be back lit, and that demands a lot of power. Screen Qi is a flexible technology. When backlit, it looks almost like a normal LCD (maybe a fraction of a fraction dimmer), where it differs is a reflective layer that allows it to use the ambient lighting of the environment to light the screen. In other words the back light can be turned off and you can still see the screen. This makes it easier to view than normal LCD screens in an office environment or in direct sunlight (as you have probably noticed your cell phone screen is difficult to read in direct sunlight). This is not the only innovation of Screen Qi.

Color in LCD, CRT, Four Color Printing, Etc. is created by the eye's ability to blend colors. Each pixel is actually comprised of Three Components; and by varying the intensity of red, green, and blue in each of those components the colors of the visible spectrum can be created. In Screen Qi the red, green, and blue filters that make those components can be turned off, changing each pixel into three gray scale pixels. Screen Resolution is around 72 dots per inch—turning the color filters off would then give us around 216 dpi which is equivalent to print and looks a lot like e-ink. The difference here is that it's still LCD technology, so it still requires constant power to maintain the screen, however the amount of power required is significantly reduced. So I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

I immediately started searching for a device that uses this technology. The only one I can find presently is the Notion Ink Adam, a tablet "PC" slated to be released around June of this year. I think this thing will be the device for me.

Multi-touch interface (up to 6 fingers), Accelerometer, back side track pad for on screen control without your hand being in the way, NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, 3 megapixel camera, HD video output via HDMI port, three USB2 ports, 3G, Wi-fi, Bluetooth, Digital Compass, headphone jack, microphone, speakers, SD card support, 32 gig flash drive, water sensor, and all running on a customized Google Android platform in a convenient 6.3" x 9.8" x 0.5" package. (It may even end up a little slimmer.)

Cost estimates are $300–$400 and I'm saving up now. The only thing more I could ask for is Stylus input in the style of a Wacom tablet.

Just Check out the Video Here. Keep in mind that the case it's being demoed in is a mock up hand carved out of wood and not the final.

Next week there is a Mobile World Congress Convention in Barcelona, and Notion Ink is preparing to announce more details about this device. I'll probably Geek-Out even more.

Monday, February 08, 2010

New Campaign—Character Creation Thoughts

We held our character creation session for the upcoming Deadlands: Reloaded Campaign this weekend. P's wife and kids were sick, so he was unable to attend. I think things went relatively well, but we didn't get to the portion of the character creation that I wanted to make sure happened.

So we have: Matthias Wilkinson, a Gambler that got caught up in some women troubles in New Orleans and took a slow boat to Shan Fan; Ada Pearl, southern belle with a nasty case of wanderlust; I didn't get Tiffany's Character's name (I don't think she chose it yet) a Bounty Hunter, and ... Not exactly fleshed out, but the numbers are on the character sheet; and P's character (He's probably got a great name picked out—but I don't know it yet), a Law Dog that had a Falling out with the Texas-Rangers and is now working as a free agent.

The one thing I wanted to get to was finding some connections between the character's past lives—before they were hired by their mysterious benefactor. I have an Idea for a connection between my wife's and Tiffany's characters that I need to run by them.

I'm looking forward to playing a game with more fleshed out characters. I think Tiffany's would be further along, if we could talk her into hopping onto Google Wave with the rest of us.

I'm a little torn now about the invitations that I send out for each session. During Zombie Run I had a group of fifteen people and no more than five ever actually showed up. Characters were a little more two dimensional, but I think that was okay for the setting, and for my first campaign as Game Master. I was hoping this game could be a little more fleshed out, so at this point I'm considering changing the invite to only people that have fleshed out a character, however, I'm of the opinion that the more the merrier (even though I think I'd panic if fifteen people showed up to a session). I don't want to Exclude anyone that just wants to show up some random week—but throwing together a character in 5–10 minutes like we did for Zombie Run is not what I had in mind for this campaign. I'm not sure what to do...any thoughts?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I Was Asleep—I Was Dreaming

I don't recall dreams as much as I once did. I think it's because a) I don't get enough sleep, and b) I wake up using an alarm and therefore I'm waking up during the wrong cycle required to remember.

Saturday last, I woke up during the right cycle, after being afforded the opportunity to sleep in for a change.

I found myself being flown into (via Helicopter) what appeared to be a post Apocalyptic city. It was mile upon mile of  midrise apartment buildings that were burned on the outside. They weren't falling down, some glass was missing. It was if they all caught fire, but the fires burnt out before the fire reached the interior.

Once I was on the ground though, it appeared that the buildings were scorched inside and out, but not enough to compromise the structural integrity (for the most part). Every surface was charcoal black—and fractured. Some interiors seemed to be more in tact than others.

This is when I noticed I was in a Suit and Tie—and a name badge was fastened to my pocket (It's been a long time since I had a missionary dream). A name badge much like this one. There were quite a few of us that exited the chopper. My wife was among the crowd, but we were not paired up as a companionship which struck me as odd only after I woke up.

We scattered in different directions, and we were moving fast as if our lives depended on it.

After a time I was able to ask a uniformed person (soldier, or peace officer—I'm unsure which), "What caused all this?"

He rattled off a list, "Death, destruction, corruption, prostitution, drugs, name it."

The next thing I remember was going door to door. For some time there was no answer. When someone did answer, we found ourselves surrounded by a gang and guns were involved. No shots were fired, and I stood boldly—they believed we were there to help.

I recall teaching a discussion in a building that was severely scorched on the exterior, but was relatively unscathed inside. The lesson was taught to a large group of men and women. One woman in particular was interested, but scared—at some point I was speaking to her as she bussed tables in an empty ballroom next to a swimming pool.

I meant to write about this days ago—you know how details of dreams fade over time unless you make note of them. Perhaps my wife can remind us of any details that I've forgotten since I told her about this dream.