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Jeff's Gameblog
Friday, 16 July 2004

Mood:  sad
This is my three hundredth and final post to this blog. Tripod's blogging tools have gotten too darn buggy for my tastes, so I'm moving to a new location at http://jrients.blogspot.com/. I really never thought of myself as a blogger. I just tried out Tripod's blog service when I decided to find new digs for The Erol Otus Shrine. Now 5 months later I'm averaging about 2 blog posts per day. Who knew? Anyway, thanks to all the nice people who have read and commented on this blog. Hope to hear from you at the new location!

(The Erol Otus Shrine will remain at its present location. I have had no problems with the non-blog services offered by Tripod.)

Posted by jrients at 10:54 AM CDT
Thursday, 15 July 2004
I am Rients the Hooligan!
Topic: RPGs
Must have had my back turned, cause the Castle & Crusade Society has really started to look sharp! Most nifty of all is the fact that I am listed among the Society's humble knights! You can find me in their Doomesday Book as Rients the Hooligan. Too cool! I swear to God, I have no memory of selecting a title for myself when I signed up months ago. My guess is that a simple google search led them to my Jeff Rients, Game Hooligan website. Incidentally, the new Castle & Crusade Society is composed of the authors, playtesters, and general boosters of the new OGL game line called Castles & Crusades. I haven't seen a C&C rulebook yet, but the idea behind it is to take the best stuff from ALL editions of D&D that can be used to produce a rules light approach to fantasy adventure gaming. C&C is the one gaming product I am awaiting this year with baited breath. I know I've told myself this before, but I more serious than ever when I say This Could Be The One. Hackmaster is nifty, but I lack the energy needed to really tackle such a monster system. I hate to knock the third edition, but 3E changed all the wrong things, in my humble opinion. Savage Worlds is close, close enough I'd consider runnig Keep on the Borderlands with it, but no cigar. C&C may be my shot at a game that captures what I loved about D&D and AD&D in a shiny new format that will allow me a chance to recruit new players. My comment from the most recent RPG.net thread on C&C:
I just got off the phone with my friend Pat. We agreed that our current gaming group (mostly younger than us) probably would never go near my '81 Basic/Expert rules. But bring in a shiny new C&C manual and I may have a shot.
Whether I like C&C or not, whether I can get people to play it or not, I just can't get over the fact that I am Rients the Hooligan. I'm giddy like a little girl.

Posted by jrients at 1:51 PM CDT
If You Build It, They Will Play
Topic: RPGs
Last night at the Avatars campaign Dave announced a sea change in his gaming habits. Savage Worlds has been dethroned as his system of choice for new games. He obviously still likes and plans on using the game in the future, but only for published SW adventures. Avatars is the last homegrown campaign he plans on running with Savage Worlds. For gaming projects that aren't canned campaigns he plans on reviving his RPM project. RPM is a homebrew generic system that he was working on a few years back in some sort of association or collaboration with some other local gamers. The project went dormant at some point, but not before an ashcan edition of the rules circulated at a Winter War awhile back. The version of RPM I flipped through back then seemed to be descended from the HERO System and/or GURPS. From the brief discussion last night I'm not sure that it jibed well with Dave's vision of the game, as he made some remarks regarding a need to trim some fat from the previous version.

Anyway, kudos to Dave for pursuing his own work in the hobby. I think I know exactly where he is coming from on this. He needs to do his own thing. I'm not big on whipping up new game mechanics, but I feel the same urge when it comes to fantasy settings. I love many of the old stand-by's, the World of Greyhawk in particular. I've also had a lot of fun running MERP and Bard Game's Atlantis. I look forward to checking out the latest version of Arneson's Blackmoor as well as the World of Khaas, the new 800+(!) page worldguide for the Arduin setting. And there are lots and lots of other great settings out there for rollicking fantasy adventure.

But still, everytime I use someone else's setting I start to hear a naggling little voice in the back of my head: "Write your own setting, Jeff! That's what all the grown-ups do! Who cares if it's a patchwork of derivative hackwork? It would still be your setting and no one else's!" That voice has gotten especially loud since Ron Edwards outlined his great "Your Own Private Hyboria" worldbuilding techniques in Sorcerer & Sword. The 6 Islands setting started out as my most recent stab at a generic kitchen sink fantasy setting, but I've co-opted it for possible future use with World of Synnibarr, which is decided more science fantasy.

I guess this worldbuilding urge is part of my gaming purist streak. Probably motivated by little else than addle-brained nostalgia, I long to run a D&D Basic/Expert game in a nice little pseudo-Arthurian/faux-Tolkien setting of my own devising. Nothing big or particularly fancy. Just some knights and wizards and dragons and princesses and all the other stuff that nowadays seems to be tired old cliches. Still, these cliches are an important facet of my hobby and 20 years after starting I still feel like I haven't finished exploring them.

Posted by jrients at 1:17 PM CDT
Murphy Says: Friendly Fire Ain't
Topic: RPG Actual Play
avatardLast night was another great session of Dave's Savage Worlds campaign, filled with wacky hijinx and gratuitous violence. Just the way I like 'em. Our Heroes finally went down into one of those damnable giant ant tunnels. We were chasing an old Twisted friendfoe who decided he needed to avenge himself upon us with large quantities of arrowing. Then he ran into some Ant Riders of Doom sans ants. After falling down an antpit and repeated hits with arrows, my guy finally succumbed to a wicked combination of the sword stabbies and some friendly fire from Jonny the Kid. We went into double overtime on this one, ending at 11:30 still deep in the Ant Tunnels of Woe, nearly out of power points and me still grievously wounded. Cliffhanger for next session: Hordes and hordes of giant ants are creepy-crawling towards our rag-tag band of already spent adventurers. Can't wait to see what happens next! (Though I'm thinking about building a replacement character to bring to the next session.)

Posted by jrients at 11:04 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 15 July 2004 2:50 PM CDT
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

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