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Jeff's Gameblog
Thursday, 22 April 2004

Looks like I'll have some homework at lunch. I've been working on some graphics for a ChessVariants.com write-up on Enochian Chess. I've got the initial set-up boards done, but I read a line in my source material that indicates opposing bishops should be on different colors. All my bishops are on the same color. At this point I don't know if I got the set-up wrong (likely) or if the author's description of the game is contradictory. Honestly, I don't see that an Enochian Chess enthusiast using a tradition board would be able to tell whether the bishops are on identical colored squares or not. The boards are colored in a confusing way that does not enable gameplay.

Posted by jrients at 11:47 AM CDT

Last night's Savage Worlds game was a blast. Best session so far. We tracked Rat Bastardo the Bandit/Con-man to his cave lair, but the sam of a batch got away again! We tangled with a half dozen of his minions in a sort of warm-up fight and later threw down with a trio of Bonejaws. These critters are kinda like direbears with skulls where their faces should be. That was a hell of a fight. The two bigger Bonejaws were Wild Cards, making this our first fight with enemies who were our mechanical equals. Artemis the Ranger overcame his yellow streak long enough to prove instrumental in our victory, but was tragically and horrifically disemboweled by the biggest of the Bonejaws. Amazingly, my PC Rondoo achieved a couple of successes in melee combat, thanks to my new favorite maneuever, the wild swing.

Ray's druid character mysteriously vanished. Apparently the character was not clicking for Ray. His replacement PC is a punk kid named Jonny. Unlike almost every punk kid I have seen played before, Jonny is not an orphan. This presents all sorts of difficulties such that I'm kinda wondering if Ray thought this through. Next session my character Rondoo will be pushing for temporarily abandoning the purusuit of Rat Bastardo in order to reunite Jonny with his parents, especially after the poor lad was nearly mauled to death by a Bonejaw while in our care. Maybe Ray is used to the sort of game in which player characters have a special "I'm a PC" light over their head. Or maybe he wants to stir things up in this manner. Either way, it should be interesting.

Posted by jrients at 9:22 AM CDT
Updated: Thursday, 22 April 2004 11:27 AM CDT
Wednesday, 21 April 2004
Blogging like mad today.

I guess I was inspired by the timely completion of my entry into the ChessVariants.com 44-square contest. Today I whipped up a small submission outlining Alex Randolph's Knight Chase from the book A Gamut of Games by Sid Sackson.

Posted by jrients at 4:04 PM CDT

Tonight is Dave Hoover's Savage Worlds game. Once again I'm really looking forward to it. I'm hoping the party gets a chance to track down the Big Bad behind the con artists/bandits we've been tangling with. After that I hope to continue the crusade to get the Twisted Ones accepted by mainstream society.

I've discovered that other members of the party have the healing power. If I'm gonna carve out a healer niche for my PC Rondoo I'm really going to have to concentrate on that angle during character advancement.

Posted by jrients at 12:09 PM CDT
RPG.net feeds my ego.
Nowadays I'm pretty much a regular over at RPG.net, having 3500 posts logged. Once in a great while I manage to write something that someone finds worthy of dumping into their sig file. Today I discovered another rpg.netter sporting this little beauty:

You are the Kirk. Go out and grab the galaxy by the gonads. - jrients

I'm really proud of that line. It's the last two sentences from the rough draft of a Star Trek pre-Original Series campaign proposal I put together a while back. A thread about Trek campaigning came up so I copied & pasted the entire doc. That campaign never got past the planning stages, primarily I think because I couldn't decide on a system. Maybe I should take a look at using Savage Worlds.

Anyway, I've only seen myself quoted in a sig file on two or three other occasions. It really gives me a boost to see it when it happens. Last time this happened it was for "If Jesus games, he plays Nobilis."

Posted by jrients at 11:30 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 April 2004 12:53 PM CDT

They haven't posted it yet, but ChessVariants.com has acknowledged receipt of the email containing my contest entry. I always get a little anxious in the time between submitting to another site and the appearance of my submission. Did they get it? Is my email on the fritz again? Did I send it to the wrong address? Just me being neurotic I guess.

Posted by jrients at 10:37 AM CDT
Speaking of Horus...
There's some minor drama going on over at ChessVariants.com due to one of the entries in the 44 squares contest, a little variant by the name of Horus. Seems the inventor of a game called Falcon Chess or somesuch has taken umbrage at the use of the name Horus and the fact that the game Horus uses his Falcon piece. The perturbed fellow has been bandying about terms like "expropriation", mentioning the details of his patent on Falcon chess, and citing his ownership of the term Horus (with regards to chess variants at least) because Horus figures in his chess poetry.

You got that right. Chess poetry.

Of course it is totally hypocritical of me to take the "geekier than thou" stick to this guy, but come on. Chess poetry. I'm being totally unfair in condemning his work just because it buries the needle on my geekometer. But chess poetry? And this is coming from a guy who maintains a blog about his Dungeons & Dragons hobby. Ah heck, but what do I know? Maybe his chess poetry is good. I can't bring myself to find out, having long ago written off game fiction as wasteland I am too timid to explore.

My main objection to this guy though is his attitude towards ownership of the Falcon piece. He may be dead to rights in that his little patent precludes others from using the Falcon in another variant. Set aside for a moment the fact that the US Patent office will award a patent for damn near anything. (In fact I once read online an IP lawyer's speculation that the US Patent office is trying to demonstrate to Congress how broken the current system is by approving everything that meets the outdated standards.) Even if he's right, he's still being a dick. This other fellow's new variant only brings attention to the Falcon piece and the game Falcon Chess. For God's sake Horus is basically a fan homage to Falcon Chess. Discouraging this sort of activity is exactly the same sort of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot idiocy one expects from Metallica. Or, to take an even closer example, I am reminded of all the fansites TSR shut down in the years leading up to the company being bought out. Way to alienate your hardcore fans, morons. Even I'd stop playing D&D if TSR had put the kibosh on my site.

This guy should be flattered, not pissed off. No one is making any money off of either variant. No one stands to lose money if one of them succeeds and the other one fails. Horus is just a variant in a little chess contest. Nothing more, nothing less. Heck, if someone used the Crook (my homegrown chesspiece) in a new variant I would be happy as a clam. This Falcon Chess guy has taken a complement as an insult, all because his concern over ownership of his chess variant seems more real to him than his membership in the chess variantist family. It's kinda sad, really. When someone picks up their toys and goes home in a pique it hurts the entire community.

Posted by jrients at 9:16 AM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, 21 April 2004 9:38 AM CDT
Tuesday, 20 April 2004

Today I happened to check for updates at the Star Trek Star Ship Tactical Combat Simulator Millennium Update & Archive and it turns out that Brad (the guy who runs the site) rolled out a bunch of new Romulan entries on Sunday. I was a bit taken aback to discover that the two vessels I sent Brad last month were not on the update list. I sent him a quick email asking if he got my submission or not, fearing I had used the wrong address or somesuch. Turns out he got them and will be including them in next month's update. He also mentioned that he just emailed me this morning to let me know. Go figure.

Posted by jrients at 2:32 PM CDT
SpaceWarp44, final draft


by Jeff Rients

SpaceWarp44 plays as orthodox chess, with the following differences:


The front rank of each array is composed of five Berolina Pawns.

Instead of Bishops, two Dragon Horse pieces sit next to each King. A Dragon Horse moves as a Bishop or it is allowed a single orthogonal step.

Next to the Dragon Horses sit Crooks. These pieces combine the abilities of Rook and Knight, but once a Crook has made a single Knight's-move it is demoted to a normal Rook. Castling also demotes a Crook to an orthodox Rook.

Kings may castle by moving the Rook to the space between the King and Crook, demoting the Crook to Rook, and then moving the King to occupy the Crook's starting position.

Promotion of the Berolina Pawns may be to any of the following pieces: Queen, Dragon Horse, Crook, or Knight. Each player may only have one Queen in play at a time. Also no more than two of any other piece type (other than the Berolina Pawns) may be in play. Thus if a player has both starting Crooks in play, he may not promote to a Crook. If one of these Crooks had been captured or demoted to a Rook, then promotion to a Crook is legal. Pawns must promote immediately upon reaching the far rank unless there is no piece to which they can legally promote. In such a case a Pawn must be promoted at the next available opportunity. This delayed promotion counts as a move, expending the player's turn.


SpaeWarp44 is played on a special 5 x 9 board with a hole in the center and 8 special colored spaces.

Location c5, the black square, is not a space. No piece may move through or occupy that location. Pieces are not threatened across it. Exception: A Knight's vault, such as that made by the Crook, is allowed and threatens "across" the black void of c5.

The 8 other colored squares are warpsquares, divided into 2 subsets, the purple inner warpsquares (b4, b6, d4, d6) and the green outer warpsquares (a5, c3, c7, e5). A piece on a warpsquare gains further powers in addition to their normal movement and capture abilities. A piece on an inner warpsquare may forego their normal movement and instead move to any outer warpsquare, capturing any occupying enemy piece in the process. Similarly, a piece on an outer warpsquare may move to an inner warpsquare. Pieces may only use this ability to move to a warpsquare of the other type, e.g. a move from an inner warpsquare to another inner warpsquare must utilize a piece's normal movement. A King sitting on a warpsquare is checked if an enemy piece sit on a warpsquare of the opposite type.

Additional Notes

The inspiration for SpaceWarp44 was the realization that a 5 x 9 board minus the center square could represent a black whole in space. The warp squares are meant to represent the strange things that might happen near black holes. Please note that no actual science lesson is implied. The source of inspiration was more along the lines of Star Trek rather than Stephen Hawking.
This variant may be played with a set of orthodox chess pieces. Simply use the Bishops to represent Dragon Horses, orthodox Pawns for Berolina Pawns, and inverted Rooks for Crooks. Demotion from Crook to Rook is accomplished by flipping over the piece.
Many thanks to David Howe for making available the great images used above.

I just submitted this draft to ChessVariants.com Yippee!

Posted by jrients at 10:28 AM CDT
Monday, 19 April 2004

Uploaded a new Erol Otus Shrine section: the Legion of Gold!

Posted by jrients at 9:26 AM CDT

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