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Jeff's Gameblog
Tuesday, 13 July 2004
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
More on Draconian
Topic: Chess Variants
I'm reconsidering my original plans for the 2-D versions of the Basilisk and Dragon. In Gary Gygax's Dragonchess, of which Draconian is a direct descendant, the normal move/capture and special powers of both pieces do not overlap. In other words, if a Dragon could move to a certain square it could not also choose to use its breath weapon on that square. Ditto the basilisk and its freezing effect. In my first go at translating these pieces to a 2-D board I think I squashed their movement and powers too close together.

Oh, and I've decided that calling the game just "Draconian" sounds cooler than "Draconian Chess".

Posted by jrients at 9:24 AM CDT

Topic: Collecting Games
Lift high the black flag of doom. I won my eBay auction. I'm only out 5 bucks or so but the principle of the thing gets my goat. I really had earnestly swore off browsing for shinies. Still, at least I'm getting something interesting: Pantheon, Robin Law's contribution to Hogshead's New Style Line rpgs. I believe I only need one more game to complete my set, De Profundis, the Call-of-Cthulhu-as-epistolary-novel RPG. I've always been a little cool on getting De Profundis. As my buddy Pat puts it "I can go crazy without the help of an RPG feeding my sick fantasies". That may not be a verbatim quote, but it's close enough to make the point.

Also on the eBay front that copy of Tom Moldvay's Seren Ironhand eventually sold for $39.22, well out of my price range. I guess I'm not the only Moldvay fan out there. Considering the general opinions I've heard on his Lords of Creation rpg I really wasn't expecting a big fight for an old module of his.

Posted by jrients at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 12 July 2004 3:04 PM CDT
Sunday, 11 July 2004

Topic: RPGs
Got over to the Dragon's Table to spend my gifty certificate. Alas, no copy of SenZar to be found. I almost got The Palladium Book of Contemporary Weapons but settled on the Savage Worlds customizable GM screen. This is a lot like the Masterscreen product by Citizen Games, but is done in a landscape format for a lower profile. As I understand it Great White Games makes a PDF of screen-filler for each Savage Worlds campaign book as well as a generic one. But even if I don't end up running Necessary Evil or Savage Cyborgs 3025 or some other SW game I still think this screen will come in handy. Lotsa games don't have screens. I would really like to have a screen if I were to ever run World of Synnibarr or Cyborg Commando or Excursion into the Bizarre or kill puppies for satan. And some games have offical screens that frankly suck. I've never liked any Basic D&D screen I've ever seen. Some Call of Cthulhu screens have been kinda weak. And the original Exalted screen was just plain bad.

Posted by jrients at 4:00 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 12 July 2004 9:11 AM CDT

Topic: Books
Earlier today I picked up my wife's copy of Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Very entertaining book. My approach to this sort of book is a lot like my attitude towards Michael Moore's works: it doesn't matter that much to me if everything in the book is true. It's entertaining either way and pretty damning if even just a few accusations leveled at the Right are correct.

Posted by jrients at 3:34 PM CDT

So last night the Fergusons (my brother-in-law and his sons) and I played Safari Jack and Settlers of Catan. Good times. I came in second on the Settlers game. For my birthday they gave me a gift certificate to the Dragon's Table, the friendly local game store. Neato!

As we were picking up Catan to call it a night I asked the crew if they might be willing to play a four-handed chess variant at some point in the future. They indicated that they might be willing to attempt such an experiment. Guess I need to figure out which one to try and get a board and pieces put together. I supposed something that plays on a standard 8x8 board with orthodox pieces would be easiest to implement. That way all I'll need to do is paint some pieces in two additional colors.

Posted by jrients at 8:52 AM CDT
Saturday, 10 July 2004

avatardFinally got a chance to shave my head today. I feel so sleek and aerodynamic. My brother-in-law and his family are coming over tonight. They're bringing ice cream and presents in belated celebration of my wife and I surviving to yet another birthday. Even better, the bro-in-law and his sons will probably be able to play a game of some sort. I've got out my copy of Safari Jack from Cheapass Games but they may very well bring over something that they want to play. Either way, it's all good.

Posted by jrients at 4:29 PM CDT

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