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Jeff's Gameblog
Tuesday, 30 March 2004
All Genres Must Be Eaten
Eden Studios is one of the rising stars in the world of RPG publishing. Although it doesn't particularly interest me, their Buffy the Vampire Slayer roleplaying games has recieved kudos for its topnotch execution of genre emulation. Two Eden games that do get under my skin are Terra Primate and the All Flesh Must Be Eaten (AFMBE) line. The AFMBE corebook has sat on my shop.rpg.net wishlist for several months now. These days I am finding it harder and harder to drop thirty bucks on a corebook, especially considering how much vintage gaming that $30 can purchase on the eBay. (Getting my copy of Savage Worlds was considerably easier than most such purchases, since I was already in a Savage Worlds campaign.) Still, AFMBE has a lot going for it. First there's the zombies, of course. The idea of running my own Zombie Apocalypse campaign appeals greatly to me, especially something that takes the Book of Revelations and runs it straight.

Also, the Unisystem game mechanics are highly thought of. In fact, you could argue that AFMBE is really a generic rules system hidden under a zombie facade in much the same way that Big Eyes, Small Mouth is a generic system hidden under anime window dressing. By publishing the TriStat dX rulebook, the folks at Guardians of Order have basically admitted that BESM is really a generic system that previously had a non-generic marketing plan.

Then there's the oft-praised AFMBE genre supplements: Enter the Zombie, Fistful O' Zombies, Pulp Zombies, Dungeons & Zombies, Zombie Smackdown, and the forthcoming zombie/pirate book. These books take your favorite genres (Hong Kong action, Westerns, Pulps, D&D fantasy, wrestling & pirates, respectively) and zombify them. Now I'm feeling zombified!

Still, I haven't bought AFMBE yet. I'm trying to figure out why. Part of it is undoubtedly my apprehension about learning a new system, especially a target number system. I hate assigning target numbers. In my experience systems that rely on target numbers invariably push the GM into a corner where I find myself hosing my game because I pulled the wrong target number out of my ass at a crucial moment.

Another problem is similar to issues I have with running Call of Cthulhu: everyone expects the unexpected. If you're running AFMBE you can't really shout out "Surprise! Zombies!" and expect your players to react. This is why fewer and fewer CoC games I run actually use Mythos monsters. Last CoC game I ran used mummies, a randomly generated Lesser Other God, and a Hellplant or two.

Then there's what I call the "X plus Zombies" factor. Just because I like Zombies and something else doesn't mean the two go well together. Admittedly, lotsa people rave about Enter the Zombie. Just today some bloke on rpg.net acknowledged that he wasn't expecting Zombies and Kung Fu to mix, but, by God, the folks at Eden had made it work. Zombie Smackdown still looks dubious to me though. I mean, I like big time professional rasslin' as much as the next guy, but zombies and wrestling? I just don't get it. What next? You got your zombie in my peanut butter?!?

Finally, I guess I'm feeling some sheepishness about diving into the subject matter. I like zombies and ninjas and pirates and all that other stuff. But let's face facts: these genres are the geek ghetto of popular culture. I kinda wonder if I'm not selling myself short by going for this stuff, when I could be tackling heavier stuff, like an intense Sorcerer storyline or a meaty tale of political intrigue in the 3rd Imperium. Zombies and ninjas seem like cheap trickery compared to some of the stuff out there waiting to be played.

And yet as I write this blog entry I'm also scanning eBay for cheap copies of AFMBE and Terra Primate. My instinctual urge to buy more games can override a whole slew of other concerns.

Posted by jrients at 4:42 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, 30 March 2004 9:16 PM CST
Monday, 29 March 2004
new Rondoo advancement plan
XP purchase
5 Edge: Healer
10 +5 Power Points
15 Spirit to d10

20 Smarts to d10
25 Healing, Faith skills to d10
30 Edge: Power Surge
35 New Power: Dispel

40 New Power: Greater Healing
45 +5 Power Points
50 Edge: Common Bond
55 Spirit to d12

The Common Bond edge could be moved to just about anywhere on the chart, since Rondoo qualifies for it right now. The Dispel power could be bumped to as early as the 20xp line, if it turns out we are facing a lot of magical foes.

Turns out that the folks at dragonsfoot.org are into Savage Worlds and have a bunch of useful stuff on their site, including D&D/d20 to Savage Worlds conversion info.

I'm already getting my butt kicked over at ItsYourTurn.com. No big surprise there, I guess.

Posted by jrients at 5:03 PM CST
Speaking of Chinese chess...
I started playing a game of Xiangqi on ItsYourTurn, a great free gamesite. Its been months, maybe years, since I played a game over at ItsYourTurn. I've stayed away a bit because last time I let the games take over my life. I was playing maybe 20 or 30 fast-moving games at any given time. This time I'm planning on sticking to a handful of slow chess games.

(It sure looks like I got the chess variants bug again, don't it?)

Posted by jrients at 11:14 AM CST

I spent a little time this morning snooping out online used game sellers. One company I found also sells some new stuff. In their boardgame/wargame department I found a publisher offering "Oriental" chess sets. Oriental? WtF? Is that supposed to be Chinese chess (Xiangqi) or Japanes chess (Shogi) or Korean chess or what? Last time I checked it was considered impolite to lump together the vast array of cultures and peoples living on the Asian landmass. And it is just plain stupid to use the term Oriental when you need to be more specific. I could use a Shogi set, but not from these guys.

Posted by jrients at 9:57 AM CST
Sunday, 28 March 2004
Okay, this is f'ing creepy...
That eva person who bid on all those copies of Dawn Patrol just outbid me on a first edition Boot Hill. I'm just gonna chalk it up as a coincidence, but it still sent a chill down my spine to see that same name.

Posted by jrients at 9:21 PM CST

I finally set-up a working copy of draft 3 for my chess variant Spacewarp44. I've even played 12 turns of a solitaire game. It's a lot to handle, getting used to the Berolina pawns, Popes, and Crooks while at the same time dealing with the warpsquares. I made at least 3 dumb mistakes already in the game. No actual illegal plays, but stupid, stupid moves.

Later in the afternoon my good buddy Pat, John Pedigo, my brother-in-law Jim, and his son Alex came over to game. Alex's brother Ian had a handbell rehearsal followed by baseball practice, so he could not attend. Mr. Pedigo was running a bit later than the rest. The rest of us elected to start up a game of Carcassonne without him, hoping that we might get through it before he showed up. No such luck. We got a good start on an interesting game, but only about a third of the way through the tileset.

Jim had brought over his copy of El Grande, a great German game. It's significantly more complex than Carcassonne, but not quite as complex as a fully-expanded Settlers of Catan game. I really like El Grande. Unfortunately, Jim and Alex had to leave earlier than usual so we only got through 6 out of 9 turns. I was in the lead for a change, so of course we had to end early.

Afterwards John, Pat, and I sat around a chitchatted about games. It was nice to get a bit of an opportunity to catch up with John. Among other things, he was able to confirm some of my thoughts regarding Savage Worlds. I also think Pat and I managed to convince John to try Starmada in the foreseeable future, and maybe Star Fleet Battle Manual.

The mint-in-shrink Dawn Patrol copy I had bid at $20.50 (max $25) is now bid up to 26 bucks. I still don't understand what's going on with the strange bidding on these copies. If the earlier, non-mint copy went for $62.50, why is this one only at $26?

Posted by jrients at 9:15 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, 28 March 2004 9:30 PM CST
Saturday, 27 March 2004
More Dawn Patrol Weirdness


These Dawn Patrol auctions on the eBay are freaking me out. This eva chick bid on every stinkin' copy, right? She was outbid on the copy I bid on when somebody else went up to $51. That means she bid 50 bucks on the copy I wanted for ten. So I figured she must've bid fifty on all of them. There was nothing special about that particular copy. So I do some net research to try to find someone else who has a copy. I find a dealer who has two copies. The lame copy is for sale at $15 and the better one at $25. Both are playable copies but not pristine. So I figure I could bid up to $25 on one of the two other copies remaining. Though I don't think it will work. After all, the nonremarkable copy I wanted eva was willing to bid fifty bucks on. She must've bid 50 on all of them. Right? Wrong. The best set being offered for sale, a mint-in-shrink copy, I currently have the high bid for at $20.50. What is wrong with this chick?

Posted by jrients at 3:53 PM CST

That copy of Dawn Patrol sold for $62.50. I'm going to continue to follow the other Dawn Patrol copies up for sale, to see how much they go for.

So it turns out that both the battles of Mulhausen and Sambre are fought on map D (blank map). The set-up sheet I downloaded has an error in it, according to the Ancients scenario book.

Posted by jrients at 11:43 AM CST
Friday, 26 March 2004

The Dawn Patrol situation on eBay is getting even stranger. The copy that I had the high bid on for several days at $9.99 is now up to fifty-one bucks! Is this thing a collector's item and I don't know it?

Got an email back from Thom Hendricks thanking me for the invite to Sunday's game, but declining the offer due to prior gaming committments. Apparently Egyptian Campaign, the annual con in Carbondale, IL, is this weekend and he has CIRCA/RPGA duties.

Still slowly reading through my copy of Savage Worlds. I'm now in the GM section, which includes lots of useful advice. Its short on good theoretical understanding of rpgs, but long on good practical advice. (Like, if the players are fighting worry about your friends first and the stupid game second.)


Posted by jrients at 9:22 PM CST

Well, Kathleen can't make it but seemed open to the idea of coming over some time. (This was the first time I had invited her and Dave over.) Still no word from Thom or Paul. I need to give Pat a ring since he never, ever checks his email.

Printed off set-up sheets for some Ancients battles. It looks like I was wrong about the battle of Sambre being terrain-less. Muhlhausen, the preceding Caesar scenario, is the one played on a blank map.

I was the winning bidder on eBay for a copy of Dawn Patrol up until a little bit ago, until someone came along and bid on every single copy for sale. They also used buy it now to win one of them immediately. Very strange. I know that there's an active Dawn Patrol community at www.dawnpatrol.org, but who needs 5 copies?

Posted by jrients at 4:20 PM CST

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