Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Fertile Crescent: sort of a design diary

I love the idea of design diaries. Looking into the mind of a designer like Cook or Mearls as they hone and craft a product or a setting ([Homer]mmmmm Ptolus[/Homer]) that is going to blow your mind. That's like game designer reality porn.

Part of my design philosophy for the Fertile Crescent has been to see how much of the kitchen sink I can throw at the PA genre and have it not seem silly. The world we live in as dead and a new one has risen from the ashes.

Who gets to decide what stays and what goes? You got that right: me.

To quote the oh-so-dreamy Leo from Titanic "I AM THE KING OF THE WORLD".

Ok so what stays?

1. Football: In the land of Lombardi and the "frozen tundra", not to mention the dawg pound and soldier field (those are football stadiums in Cleveland and Chicago for the sports illiterate among you) there is NO WAY football is going to be stopped by something as measly as the end of the world.

Therefore football becomes Skinball. It's like football, only with brass knuckles.

2. The Mafia: In the first place, Marlon Brando is the greatest film actor who ever lived and the Godfather is the best movie ever made. Got that? In the second place, what do these so-called criminals do for a living: drugs, gambling, prostitution and violence.

All of which are legal in the Twisted Earth.

The Mafia is going nowhere and has in fact thrived in the new world thankyouverymuch.

3. Planet of the Apes: This is the greatest Post Apoc film series ever made. Got that? Although we only get the Charlton "Moses" Heston for one movie, we at least get James Franciscus for the cheesy sequels. Oh and I include the TV series as cool too.

So we need an homage that but we wanted it to be subtle. A free PDF to the person who correctly identifies the Apes homage in the Fertile Crescent.

Hint: Lawgiver.

4. Dawn of the Dead: ANOTHER great PA movie, the Fertile Crescent's early list of "must haves" involved a place where the undead had won.

Enter the Feeding Grounds, a city overrun with an increasing number of cannibalistic ghouls since the Fall.

More when I have time...

Maybe this is going to be a real design diary after all...


Friday, November 25, 2005

Im ready for my two minutes of hate

I'm starting to think someone in the current administration (someone who reads) read 1984 and said "that would be cool".

Here's a Josh Marshal post about Abu Musab Zarqawi, terrorist mastermind and evil genius behind the Iraqi terrorists and al-Qaeda's #2 man.

Here's the part that's really eye-catching:

With some regularity he is apparently killed, but then turns out not to be dead. Often, if you read between the lines, it's not clear that we know enough about Zarqawi to be able to identify him even if we had a relatively intact body to examine. In a similarly odd fashion, second-in-commands seem to be caught with some regularity, only to be replaced by other long-time second-in-commands.
Now check out this, from the Wikipedia entry on the "resistance" to the reign of Big Brother:

In the novel Goldstein is rumored to be a former top member of the ruling (and sole) Party who had broken away early in the movement and started an organization known as "The Brotherhood", dedicated to the fall of The Party. However, in the course of the novel, we learn that we will never know whether either "The Brotherhood" or Goldstein himself actually ever existed, even though we are led to believe that neither Goldstein, nor the "Brotherhood," nor "Big Brother" exists outside of suggestion. Each member of "The Brotherhood" is required to read a book supposedly written by Goldstein, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism (see: Goldstein's book).

Each person is said to have 3 or 4 contacts at one time which are replaced as people disappear, so that if a member is captured, he can only give up 3 or 4 others. Goldstein is always the subject of the "Two Minutes Hate," a daily, 2-minute period beginning at 11:00 am at which some image of Goldstein is shown on the telescreen (a one-channel television with surveillance devices in it). It is thought that the opposition to Big Brother – namely, Goldstein – was simply a construction, which ensured that support and devotion towards Big Brother was continuous. It is never revealed whether this is true.

Maybe this is a paranoid question, but does anyone know if Zarqawi sounds like an annoying sheep when he talks?

Pat Morita dead at 73

Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, has died. He was 73.

Full obituary can be found here.

Was anyone cooler than Morita was in Karate Kid? Well ok, Shaft.

Margaret Atwood on George Orwell

In making the last post, and making the point about the Orwellian nature of the ever-shifting rational for Great Leader's current adventures in Mesopotamia (a war we have won at least three times by my count), I started reading 1984 again and was reminded of an essay on Orwell written by Margaret Atwood.

Atwood might be my favorite living author, capable of making something lyric and powerful and devastating all at the same time.

She's also a huge Orwell fan, having been inspired (at least partly) by her love of his dystopian works Animal Farm and 1984 to write her own dystopian novel (and my favorite work by her) The Handmaid's Tale.

She recently wrote an essay on Orwell in the post 9-11 world that I think should be read by absolutely everyone.


We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Let's see if this quote sounds familiar to folks who like to follow the politics and (what passes for) discourse going on today:

“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

Now think about who might have said it while you hum the jeopardy theme to yourself.

Nazi Reich Marshal Hermann Goering, before committing suicide at the Nuremberg Trials

Here's another one:

“To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed.”

From the novel 1984 by George Orwell

You know, like how we went to war with Iraq over Weapons of Mass Destruction errr because of Sadaam's ties to 9-11 errr because we wanted to free the Iraqi people from torture and tyranny errr because "cutting and running" would make us look weak!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Things I'm thankful for: The Onion

Not the kind you eat, the kind you read.

The onion is a parody newspaper and online news service. Like other dead tree papers that are no less funny, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and Juggs magazine, the Onion will let you read a little on their site for free, or you can pay them and get it delivered.

Here's an example of the dark, demented humor you can find in the Onion along with a bit of background. One of the things the Onion parodies is the President's weekly radio address. On the page where you can listen to these comedic gems, you will find a picture of the sitting President, along with an image of the Presidential Seal.

Apparently after one of these the White House was miffed and informed the Onion that the Presidential Seal was only for non-commercial use and was usable only when permission was granted in writing.

Although there was some legal mumbo jumbo with the Onion defending their ability to use the seal (everyone knows the paper is a joke- well almost everyone- so there's no implied endorsement) and a request to in fact use the seal, the paper really responded a few days later in a way only the Onion can (for those interested in a less-funny description of this little legal back and forth in the so-called news, look here).

No cut and run

As things go badly in Mesopotamia, those who have asked that America reconsider its adventures in the region have been met with a staunch promise that America doesn't "cut and run".

Welll... that's not always true. But *this* President doesn't cut and run and run, which led to the following announcement earlier today:

Now that the Iraq war has been won (three times at last count), Bush says the nation can finally return its attention to these un-won battles around the world, beginning with a planned midnight invasion of North Vietnam.

"America does not cut and run, but there have been times when our nation had to accept deferred victory," said Bush. "But the time has come to return to these places and complete our destiny, not to re-write history but to remake it."

The full hilarity can be found here.

Newton v. Einstein

Newton kicks Einstein's *ass* in this poll by the Royal Society on their relative contributions to science 60.9% to 39.1%

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Quote for the day...

Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.

Isaac Asimov

Friday, November 18, 2005

It just doesn't get any better...

Than this:

Northern Crown (the first book anyway) was great. Liber Mechanus for IK was good to see. Legends of the Samurai is awesome beyond words.
Its a little mention, and a shameless plug, but I just love reading stuff like that :)

(Link to the LoS product page is mine, not part of the initial post- so sue me).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Bad Box

You know, the idiot box, as opposed to the computer, which is the good box.

I've been watching three shows lately, which is almost a record for me.

Rome: Best. Historical. Show. Ever. Great characters, and if you ever wanted to ask yourself while watching TV "is this the week they off Caesar?" then this is definitely the show for you.

The Daily Show: Pure fun. My daily half hour of laughter is what they should call it.

Angel: Yes I was late to the party on the whole Buffy/Angel phenomenon. I saw a couple of episodes of Buffy and dismissed as "sort of a soap" back in the day. It was actually loving the series Firely and loving Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men that got me to check it out, and I was hooked almost immediately.

Having gone through the entire run of Buffy via netflix, I am now working on Angel.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Meanwhile in the twisted rubble, something dark awakens

Starting a new campaign next week, to playtest my, uh, new campaign.

I pitched RPGObjects a plan looooooooong ago to do a supplement on the Great Lakes region of the Twisted Earth. They liked the idea, so much in fact that the region, the "Fertile Crescent" made its way onto the Darwin's World second edition map.

But other stuff kept being put ahead of the idea in my docket (like Blood and Space, Blood and Fists and Blood and Guts). Until now. As of today I am officially writing the Fertile Crescent gazetteer for DW.

Sun Tzu says...

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist
only seeks battle after the victory has been won,
whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights
and afterwards looks for victory.

It's all so clear now. We win first, then we go to war.

Who knew Dear Leader was such a brilliant strategist

I'm so confused

Ok, the image on the top is from May 1, 2003 and the image on the bottom is from November 11, 2005.

Shouldn't you have a strategy for victory and then accomplish your mission, not the other way around?

Let's see what Sun Tzu has to say shall we?

Master of the obvious: RPG file sharing hurts the hobby

And the award goes to this guy.

In other news, water is wet and the sky is blue.

I do, however, before I leave the issue with the brilliant (and might I add, damn witty) summation above have to call out a couple of the most lame arguments made on various sides of this issue:

  • I took an illegal file to my game and my group liked it so much they bought five! File sharing helps the hobby!
Wow. So when a shoplifter takes Tylenol instead of Bayer Aspirin, that's a sign of brand strength that Tylenol execs should be happy about. Gotcha.
  • If someone robs a bank, the bank doesn't have the money! If I download a PDF the guy who wrote it still has it. It's fictional property so I haven't stolen anything!
Someone call all the old people who have to work an extra 10 years because of Enron or Worldcom that it's ok because they still have their stock.

And that's how you got me into this mess I'm in

So what have I been up to anyway?

So I've recently written a long book and a short book recently and felt like it was time to mention them for a change instead of the news of the weird (aka politics), science tech and message posts Ive been doing lately.

You know, work.

So I did a book for the Legends fantasy line called Legends of Sorcery that attempts to put to bed a nagging feeling I've had in my head for some time now: the feeling that the magic system in the Legends books was "ok" but not great.

Well hopefully I've done something about that. This will be the magic book for the Legends line from here on out, which will mean some changes to the line. For starters this will mean that we'll be able to do more Legends books since we won't need to reproduce the magic system every time.

Secondly this will cater to the historical gaming crowd out there who want something like the Bushido Handbook was for Legends of the Samurai. A historical fantasy game assuming there was no magic at all.

In other words those of you who'd rather leave magic by the wayside won't have to put up with 20 or so pages of whitespace (relatively speaking) anymore.

Secondly I did a little book for Darwin's World called Primals (although I'm hearing that might change to avoid confusion with *ahem* another product as they say) that brings mutated animals to a DW game near you.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

d20 Modern 2.0 WWWD?

For those not in the know WWWD= What Would WOTC Do?

Here's a nice discussion online.

As for what I'd do, most of you probably know. It'd involve making the combat feats a little more realistic, giving martial arts and armor makeovers to more accurately represent modern warfare (like how good Plate armor works against guns in d20M- as good as kevlar) and returning a better selection of combat feats to the classes themselves.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Probe Droid Lands on Asteroid

Who knows what this thing could bring back (I'm sure a d20 Modern GM out there has a nasty idea or two that does NOT involve aliens with acid for blood).

Full story here.

Update. It appears the lander is having difficulties and drifted off into space. The Japanese space agency says they are going to try on the 19th and the 25th.

Microsoft to Google: We will bury you

Sounds like something out the Godfather doesn't it. Microsoft is going to the mattresses over the defection of a highly coveted employee. Here's the money quote:

I will bury them. I have done it before, I will kill them, he said. He was not finished, however. He threw a chair across the boardroom in sheer frustration.'

Where is this from? A Hollywood film starring Michael Douglas? A supari transaction in Dubai where a bhai is venting his anger against a rival gang? A meeting in the Command HQ in central Baghdad?

No. It is actually from a court testimony concerning -- hold your breath, as they say -- Microsoft's Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer, the man next only to God in the computer corporate hierarchy, next only to the omnipresent and omniscient Bill Gates.

Ah yes, Microsoft. Full story here.

Tarrasque found

Looks like the Tarrasque isn't so mythical after all.

I'm sure all you GMs out there know what to do with this information.

Of course the Herald (and everyone else) is calling him Godzilla. Someone call Matthew Broderick.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Should weapons be skills?

Joe Kushner thinks maybe so.

Personally I'm of two minds on the subject. Part of me says this is just another step toward making D&D into a point based system. Something I argued against rather vehemently here.

It's not that I don't like point-based systems. Far from it, I have been tinkering with GURPs through a couple of editions and was playing Hero... well, before it was Hero (back when it was Champions and Danger Internation and Justice Inc... ahhh good times).

But I also like variety. In a lot of ways we're in a "one system to rule them all" environment in the minds of many d20 gamers (thank you very much Ryan Dancey). d20 gamers have a tendency to think that they can tweak the system to maximum efficiency, borrowing elements from GURPs and Hero and Traveller and Marvel until they get just the right mix in and BOOM... there is only one game.

I "grew up" (from a gaming perspective) in which people would look around on a Saturday night while Toshiro Mifune was killing things on cable and say "I'm bored, let's play Supers. But not Champions. Let's play Marvel instead".

The next Saturday you might have the same chat but play Villains and Vigilantes... or Hero.

We didn't think we needed one system for all our games. Or even one system for the same GENRE of games. We could appreciate Hero's complexity and Marvel's elegant simplicity equally.

However, the idea of expanding what you do with skills does intrigue me. Which is why I wrote a magic system that is completely skill based. No spell slots... no spell points... just skill checks.

And GURPs does weapons as skills in a way I really like.

Maybe I'll think about it some more and maybe a book like that will be on its way soon.

Nerds. Brilliant. Nuff said.

This. Rocks.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Chuck's Politics

Ok... this will be the first time I have ever aired any of my politics in public. However, this was just too sweet.

Let me preface this by saying that I consider myself a left-leaning centrist (I have voted for plenty of Republicans- the first man I voted for was Ronald Reagan) but I probably voted Dem more.

I have a lot of respect for conservatives who have a set of beliefs that make sense to me, which doesn't really include the guys currently in power.

And then today here comes Patrick J. "Nixons's own speechwriter" Buchanan with proof of exactly WHY he was so coveted as a speechwriter for all those years, as well as what a real conservative thinks about the current bunch of thugs, neocons, Limbaugh-clones and chickenhawks who have been running things for the last 5 years.

Here's the money quote:
Thus, in March, 2003, Bush, in perhaps the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, invaded an Arab nation that had not attacked us, did not want war with us, and did not threaten us—to strip it of weapons we now know it did not have.
And here's another nice little zinger:
Democratic imperialism is still imperialism. To Arab and Islamic peoples, whether the Crusaders come in the name of God or in the name of democracy, they are still Crusaders.
The full text can be read here, and I highly recommend it.


Positive that NO ONE is still reading this blog (well ok, almost no one) I decide to shake things up and post.

But not about work. Fuck that.

Ok maybe later.

I think the two coolest things going right now have to be:

Serenity. God that was a good movie. Im afraid it didnt make enough money for there to be more than one is the only I wish was different about it. Mmmm cannibals and chicks with superpowers.

Civilzation 4. My Islamic Mongol Hordes are going to RULE THE WORLD.

Plus its the best Civ game ever, and that means a lot on the street.


Night Ride Part 1

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