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Jeff's Gameblog
Wednesday, 14 July 2004
Beware the Basilisk
Topic: Chess Variants
My 2-D BasiliskHere's my graphic demonstrating the powers of the Basilisk, as translated into a two-dimensional piece for my chess variant Draconian. The orange circles mark the squares that the piece can move to, capturing any foe inhabiting the space. The yellow circle represents the basilisk's retreat, which can only be directly backward to an unoccupied space. The blue circle indicates the cell that is affected by the basilisk's gaze. Any enemy piece on that square is frozen. It cannot be moved until the basilisk is captured or moves to another space.

Posted by jrients at 3:35 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 July 2004 3:58 PM CDT

Topic: Books
Got over to the library over lunch, mostly to return some videos I had checked out for my daughter. We need to get her some Dora the Explorer DVDs for her birthday. She eats that stuff up. Anyway, while I was there I snagged a book on the history of political parties from 1890 to the present. I would have preferred a complete overview going back to before the Revolutionary War, but I was in a hurry and grabbed what I could find easily.

Posted by jrients at 2:33 PM CDT

Topic: RPGs
Tonight is Savage Worlds night and I got a hankerin' to beat up some bad guys, now that my character actually has a rank in the Fighting skill and all. :) I'm certainly hoping we can get a decent lead on a means of defeating the Ant Riders of Doom.

Posted by jrients at 2:03 PM CDT

Topic: Books
Last night after Elizabeth went to bed I finished reading Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars who Lie While Lying Down or whatever it's called. Good read. Very funny. Also very, very partisan but in an amusingly unabashed way in most passages. In the interest of fairness I tried checking out www.frankenlies.com for some perspective on the work. Surprisingly, I had trouble finding real substantive gripes about the factual assertions that Franken makes. I really expected there to be more oomph to frankenlies.com. To be fair, maybe I just clicked on the wrong articles. I didn't feel like reading the whole thing.

Since I enjoyed Lies I decided to try the other Franken book my wife owns, Rush Limbaugh is a Big Poopy Head. Okay, that's not actually the exact title, but you know what I mean. Another good book so far, though the writing isn't quite as tight as in Lies. Here's my favorite passage so far:

You know what I dislike most about these guys? They're always so certain. They're always 100 percent sure of what they're saying. Even if it's wrong. It must be a great feeling for a guy like Rush Limbaugh. To be able to sit there and say, "There are more Indians alive today than when Columbus landed," and really believe it.

This is why I like being a Democrat. When we see a complicated, semmingly intractable problem, we have the only really genuine, authentic human reaction you can have: we're confused.

Fortunately, I believe that "confused" is a majority position in this country.

Certainly Mr. Franken is oversimplifying. I can find plenty of people on the left who think they know what they're talking about. Still, the right drives me nuts with this sort of stuff.

But I think he hit on something crucial in American politics. Ordinary folks are intimidated when they encounter the confusion surrounding the big problems in the world. Some guy who steps up and confidently says "here are the answers" will do a lot better than an honest man who shakes his head and mutters "this is awful mess, but we'll get through it as best as we can." I know I would rather vote for a genuine Shell Answer Man than the other guy, but we as a country need to stop being taken in by the easy answers. We're the greatest nation on Earth, for crying out loud. When did that mean life would be easy?

"With great power comes great responsibility."

Posted by jrients at 12:00 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 July 2004 12:15 PM CDT

Topic: Video Games
Last night my wife helped our daughter Elizabeth play her Sesame Street computer game so I broke out Namce gamestick again for a little bit. I played Galaxian, Rally-X, and Bosconian before Elizabeth finished her game. She saw me putting away the joystick and insisted I get it back out. She then sat on my lap and play Rally-X and Pac-Man. Very cute. She's still not too good with the joystick so I helped her out. After she finished playing those she ran to the gameroom and brought back my SpongeBob gamestick, so we got to play some Bubble Pop for a while too. She's a big SpongeBob fan too.

Posted by jrients at 11:02 AM CDT
Tuesday, 13 July 2004

Topic: RPGs
Wow, that last post was a gret deal more acidic than I usually like to be. The forums on RPG.net were getting a little bitey today and I think I allowed it to color my writing.

Posted by jrients at 8:48 PM CDT
Hating the Haters is No Vice (A Rant)
Topic: RPGs
One of the things that drives me crazy in the rpg hobby is the system haters. I can stand most diehard system cheerleaders, but the haters make me fucking nuts. The D20 haters are the worst of the lot. I don't much care for the d20 scene either, but I don't make harping on it into its own sub-hobby.

And I don't want to hear any whining about "everyone around here only plays D&D". Tough shit. When I started in the hobby no one was playing anything. I had a Basic D&D boxed set and no players. So I talked 4 or 5 friends into giving this unknown game a try. Starting from nothing we formed a gaming group that took us through the last few years of grade school, thru junior high, and into high school. Get off your butt and get together a game group. On this side of the millenium I have recruited a new player into 1st edition AD&D. Why can't you make this happen with your shiny new copy of Orpheus or Unknown Armies or whatever flavor-of-the-month you're into? Maybe the problem isn't D&D. Maybe it's that you need to stop being a dillhole.

And frankly I no longer give a crap that Wizards of the Coast is the 900lb gorilla of the gaming world. So what? I wish Wizards the best of luck in all their endeavors. I think they were dicks about the whole Book of Erotic Fantasy debacle, but it's their IP and they can be dicks about it if they want. While the d20 haters moan and weep and gnash their teeth and curse the day Magic: the Gathering ruined "their" game I'm gonna be busy doing other things. Like playing musty old games like Lords of Creation or the '81 version of D&D. Or maybe I'll be busy trying out the hip new rpgs coming out of the Forge. Or maybe I'll be playing all the games that Mr. D20-Hater wants to play, but can't find a group for because everyone around him thinks he's a jackass.

Posted by jrients at 4:41 PM CDT
Monday, 12 July 2004

Topic: Video Games
Tonight while my wife and daughter were at the computer playing Sesame Street Toddler I got another chance to play some video games on my gamesticks. I must really like SpongeBob's Bubble Pop, because I ended up playing that again, though I didn't continue it a bunch like last time. Still, it's got great gameplay. I can't offer much higher praise in a game. I also had another go at Super Chum Bucket, the platformer of the set, and this time I did continue the game a couple times. Chum Bucket is one of those relatively slow, screen-puzzle type jumpers where the main trick is figuring out how to get from point A to point B. Not a lot of franitc action feeling, but a decent little game nonetheless. I wish I could say something nice about Invasion of the Hooks, but I can't. It's just too darn repetitive.

Posted by jrients at 9:20 PM CDT

Topic: Chess Variants
Made a good start today on the text and HTML coding for my 6 Islands chess variant. I'm steadily improving on the coding end of things. My image files are being properly tagged and I've even started doing some gifs with transparencies. Heck, maybe one day in the far future my webpages won't suck. I'm also thinking about putting together a physical set for 6 Islands Chess. I think I have enough components laying around to make a stab at it. Making decent champion and pawn of champion pieces are the only real hurdle. Hopefuly, I won't have to disrupt to many individual chess sets to make this work.


Posted by jrients at 9:01 PM CDT

avatardMy buddy Pat came over for supper last night. I grilled up some ribs that turned out fairly decent. After we did some catching up since the last time we chatted, we fell into our usual pattern of geekery. Tha main topic for discussion was Star Trek. I have often wanted to run a Trek rpg campaign of some sort, set either prior to the original series or during the era of movies II thru V (with those suave burgundy tunic uniforms). I've always had two major hurdles when it comes to Trek gaming. First, I need a system that will keep me happy. Mechanics-wise none of the licensed systems I've seen have ever done much for me, apart from the FASA's ship-to-ship rules. Recent candidates for system include QAGS (for enthusiastically punching rubbersuit aliens) and Sorcerer (for something a little more serious) and Savage Worlds (similar in tone to QAGS but significantly crunchier). The other big hurdle has been my own limits as a GM. I'm a dungeon man. Site-based adventures are what I do best. Storytelling or narrative premise stuff does not come easily to me. At its best the original series were solid sci-fi stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. I fear my take on Star Trek would be painfully bad pastiche that went nowhere. That's one of the reasons Sorcerer is on the short list. My sense is that Edwards's intense rpg would help push me in a different direction than I would normally go myself.

Posted by jrients at 11:53 AM CDT

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