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Jeff's Gameblog
Monday, 26 April 2004

I fired off my Pen & Paper entry for Excursion into the Bizarre. I'm putting off the review for a bit, as at the moment I am hot and heavy into coding/writing my Enochian chess essay.

Posted by jrients at 8:56 PM CDT

Today I wrote a letter to Mike Carr, creator of the game Dawn Patrol. The earliest edition of Dawn Patrol was a 25-copy run back in 1968 (back then the game was called Fight in the Skies) and I'm curious to know how much has been added in later editions. Particularly, I'm curious about the age of the role-playing rules section. As written, the rpg rules are a relic of the bygone transitional era in which rpgs still looked a lot like traditional boardgames run at a 1:1 scale. As I've mentioned previously in this blog, Dawn Patrol is a roleplaying game in the same way that BattleTech or Car Wars can be called roleplaying games. You can track the adventures of individual pilots/mechwarriors/drivers from session to session, but past that their isn't much to work with.

Still, these games aren't that different from the original version of Dungeons & Dragons. Keep in mind that in the little beige books giving a name to your character was optional. The baseline assumption was what Dave Arneson has referred to as "doppleganger" play. The players pretend that they themselves are operating in the gaming milieu. Hence Richard Snider's paladin is named Snider, Tom Keogh's character was Keoghtom, and the spell Sustarre's Flaming Chariot was named after Dennis Sustarre. From this point of view, Dawn Patrol actually goes farther than original D&D into the realm of what we now consider roleplaying.

What's my point? With all due respect to Mssrs. Gygax and Arneson, it looks like maybe, just maybe, they did not publish the first roleplaying game. If the roleplaying rules in Dawn Patrol appeared in Fight in the Skies, then maybe Mike Carr beat D&D to the punch.

But let's not make a mountain out of a molehill here. I'm not a D&D hater by any means. The '81 Basic/Expert D&D rules is still my favorite roleplaying game and I'm certain I've logged more hours hacking orcs in dungeons than any other roleplaying activity. EGG and Dave Arneson are still aces in my book. Heck, when I sat down and ran D&D 3E I set the campaign in the World of Greyhawk, more specifically in Blackmoor. Keep on the Borderlands is still one of my all-time favorite modules and the 1st edition DMG is still my fave hardbound RPG book.

But in the interest of an accurate historical perspective on the hobby, I'd like to know which came first: Mike's chicken or Gary's egg. Hopefully, Mr. Carr will get my letter and solve this little mystery for me.

Posted by jrients at 2:51 PM CDT

Last night I attempted to create my first Game Courier preset, for Erez Schatz's nifty contest entry, Oblong Chess 44. I'm not sure whether I successfully created a preset or not, so I'm dying to hear back from the editors. If I got it right, it shouldn't be too hard to whip up a preset for my own contest entry.

I finally got my hands on a replacement copy of Excursion into the Bizarre, the first indie game I ever owned. I'm definitely going to do a Pen & Paper entry EitB. I'd also like to review it for Rpg.net, but I've been telling myself for years that I'm finally going to do a review for this product or that product. Before I've never had the confidence to sit down and crank out a review for submission. I think I might be able to pull it off now. I feel like I'm finally an rpg.net regular and blogging daily has made me less self-conscious about the idiosyncracies of my writing style. And unlike many products I've wanted to review in the past, no one has covered this material.

Posted by jrients at 10:07 AM CDT
Sunday, 25 April 2004

My sister Jenn didn't make it over to the folks place to play games today. Too bad. I really want to play my new chess variant with her.

On the way up to Mom and Dad's place I heard a brief NPR report about the current National Footbal League draft and it struct me that a great game could be built around the mechanics of the draft. Maybe it could be a sci-fi piece in which the imperial bureaucracy open up frontier worlds to exploitation by noble houses. Each player would have differing victory conditions based upon their perceived value of the planets up for bid. After each round dice rolls would be made to indicate whether the perception and the reality met.

Here is one of the more interesting passages so far from The First Air War, 1914-1918 by Lee Kennett:

In a big fight over the Ypres salient in July 1917 there were 37 planes fighting at 8,000 feet, 40 more at 12,000 feet, and another 17 at 17,000 feet--in all, nearly 100 single-seaters." (from page 75)

Posted by jrients at 6:59 PM CDT

Today the whole family is piling into the car and driving up to Pontiac, Illinois to see my folks. I'm hoping my sister will be there to so we can finally get a chance to try SpaceWarp44 or maybe play another game of Carcassonne.

My dad saw my old gaming buddy Gopher yesterday. This comes as no big surprise since Gopher sells my dad all the seed for his farm. (It may sound odd to some that a kid his son grew up with is now doing business with him, but that's life in rural America.) Anyway, I kinda cringed when the whole thing was brought up on the phone yesterday. Mom and dad are aware of the fact that Goph, Dave, and I have had some problems recently but I have no idea what dad might say to Goph about it. I'd still love to get together with the two of them, but I'm not going to be the one to orchestrate it. I've been burned twice in a row now.

Posted by jrients at 6:48 AM CDT
Saturday, 24 April 2004

Today I took another step in the long dark road to grognardery. Inspired by my recent readthrough of Mike Carr's Dawn Patrol, I went to the library and checked out some history books: The First Air War, 1914-1918 by Lee Kennett and The Red Baron, Rochthofen's autobiography.

Posted by jrients at 12:32 PM CDT
And here it is...

The Queen in Enchian Chess is a color-bound leaper. This same piece can be found in the Chess Variants Piececlopedia as the Alibaba.

Hopefully, this really is my final enochian chess graphic.

Posted by jrients at 10:06 AM CDT
Re-reading your source material is a good idea
So I'm not done with graphics for the Enochian Chess essay. I re-read the rules of the game this morning, something I hadn't done in months, and I re-discovered that Queens don't move as orthodox queens, so I'll need a graphic showing their special movement. Also, I realized that my "concourse of queens" graphic depicts an illegal move.

Posted by jrients at 9:48 AM CDT
Last Enochian chess graphic
Now all I have to do is finish the research and write the page.

This fellow is the Black Knight in a traditional Enochian set. I colored him myself. The guidelines for doing so are not complete, so I had to make a few guesses.

Posted by jrients at 8:32 AM CDT
Friday, 23 April 2004
This will probably hose the screen width...

Here's the first draft of an initial array for a chess variant that combines the more interesting features of 3 well-known large board variants: Omega Chess, Tamerlan Chess (a historical variant that has also been called Shatranj Kamil and Shatranj Al-Kabil), and Gothic Chess. Gothic Chess is an improvement upon Capablanca's Chess, which itself is a re-invention of Bird's Chess and/or an older variant by Carrera.

The rules for this variant basically write themselves. The "pawn of X" promotion mechanic comes from Tamerlane and Chaturanga. The other new pieces are directly adopted from Gothic and Omega chess. The only real questions are the castling rules, any special rules regarding the wizards' corner spaces, and the pawn of king promotion. For the latter, the easiest solution would be for the pawn of kings to promote to Men, i.e. non-royal kings. I am also considering using the Prince, which is a similar piece but in this case the prince would also have to be captured or mated to insure victory.

Posted by jrients at 4:12 PM CDT
Updated: Friday, 23 April 2004 4:17 PM CDT

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