Monday, January 30, 2006

Poetry Corner

"On Fantasy"

by George R. R. Martin

The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real ... for a moment at least ... that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I'd sooner go to middle Earth.

originally published in The Faces of Fantasy: Photographs by Pati Perret copyright © 1996 by Pati Perret

Copyright © George R. R. Martin. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

More Godfather-y goodness

Ok my nephew claims this pic is better than the first one I put up, so I'll let you decide gentle reader. I disagree but never let it be said this blog is not fair and balanced.

For the record both screenshots are stunning. This one just looks like a great picture or drawing of NYC. As opposed to the first image I put up which looks you just stepped out of a time tunnel onto a real street.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Godfather video game

My first thought when I heard about EA Game's upcoming adaptation of the legendary Godfather film franchise to a video game was two-fold: "what the fuck were they thinking" and "how bad could this possibly be".

Then I started to hear rumors in sites like IGN and gamespot that the game wouldn't be a straight movie adaptation, that you'd make up your own character and have the sort of non-linear play options found in the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Then I heard that despite its focus on a new character, you would interact with characters from the movie and that the likes of Robert Duvall, James Caan and Marlon Brando (right before his death) had all contributed vocal talents to the game.

Suddenly I started to realize this wasn't going to be some cheap movie game and might actually have a shot at giving me a chance to step into the world of a movie I love. And the idea of Grand Theft Auto-style gameplay without some of the purile boys-school stuff GTA is married to is always intriguing.

Dont get me wrong, I have played more GTA incarnations than not and its really a breakthrough. I also give props to GTA: San Andreas for breaking the mold of most of the stuff that makes anyone who isnt 14 wrinkle his nose in distaste.

But this game has a chance to be the third entry in the trilogy of games to provide that gameplay *and* an intriguing story (the other two being Spiderman 2 for the PS2 and the aforementioned GTA: San Andreas).

Oh yeah, and then I saw this screenshot from the game and was officially PANTING to play it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Blogs that are better than mine

I know what you're thinking: all of them.

So, this has the potential to be a regular feature around here right?

Well let's get the ball rolling with one that I knew I would love the first time I saw its title: What Would Tyler Durden Do?

I mean, seriously, how could a blog like that go wrong. It would be like if someone made a blog name ""

And in case you don't believe me, here's a recent post about Jennifer Love Hewitt possibly posing for Playboy:

Well, excuse all hell out of me if I don't sound super excited about this. Love has had a huge rack for about 10 years now and she's managed to make it boring every day so far, so I have zero confidence that a nude shoot would be any different. She's kinda dorky, so the shoot would probably be her naked ass at the observatory or something, and it would just be confusing. Like, am I supposed to jack off or study.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Class Design

The more classes I design (and many people would say the answer to that is "too many") the more I find it an interesting challenge that always presents new surprises.

One thing that fascinates me is how the design process for a 20 level class, a 10 level class and a 5 level class are so fundamentally different.

You'd think that you could design a 20 level class and lop off the first 5 levels, and voila! 5 level Prestige Class.

In reality though, each type presents its own unique challenges.

Oddly (to me), the harder classes to design are at the ends. 20 level classes because you want them to be "lifetime" classes. When I design a core class, I want the player to wince when he multiclasses. I want every level to seem valuable enough that he wants to stay.

5 level classes need to be like a laser. Get in and get out. What is this class? Why do you play it? Its like a mechanics poem.

More on this later Im sure...


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ok- I normally dont do this but...

I currently have the #1 fantasy product at RPGNow, as well as the #1 d20 Modern book at RPGNow, and my Space Monsters book is #8 on the sci-fi list.

To the best of my knowledge, no one's ever had a top 10 product in all 3 categories as an author (maybe as a company- Im not sure about that).

I know Ive never had a #1 book on two lists at once, and since it'll prolly never happen again, I decided to revel a little.

neat huh?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A question of balance

So I recently made this feat tree for an upcoming product:

Strength Training

You have worked hard to improve your Strength. Although it takes a lot of training and sacrificing immediate benefits, you will eventually be much stronger than your peers.

Strength Training 1: Your Strength increases by +1 at 6th level (this is in addition to the ability increases all heroes receive every 4 levels).

Strength Training 2 (prerequisite Strength Training): Your Strength increases by +1 at 12th level (this is in addition to the ability increases all heroes receive every 4 levels)

Strength Training 3 (prerequisite Strength Training 2): Your Strength increases by +1 at 18th level (this is in addition to the ability increases all heroes receive every 4 levels)

Someone on the ENWorld boards commented they thought this was unbalancing.

So what do you guys think? I obviously think its kosher, mostly because of the prescribed level "cooling off periods".

Basically, my thought process is +3 to a stat by 18th level not unbalancing. +3 by 5th level (if you didnt have to wait), unbalancing.

Any thoughts on this? I liked it, its different.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Legends of the Sorcery review

I gotta say, I read a lot of reviews, but this is one of the most positive reviews of a book Ive ever seen.

Legends of Sorcery is also selling better than I expected, so maybe I did a good job on this one, or it filled a niche that was bigger than I thought.

You can read the review here, its well worth a read.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Buffy d20

I recently posted my take on the Buffy characters in d20 Modern terms and thought I'd share it here.

This is my take on the iconic characters from Buffy Season 3.

Buffy: Occupation (Adventurer), Fast 4/Martial Artist 2/Slayer 8

Giles: Occupation (Academic), Smart 5/Occultist 7

Willow: Occupation (Student), Smart 3/Mage 7

Xander (Xander's the only real toughie- this take on him is based on the fact that he just seems to take a boatload of punishment and just keep coming): Occupation (Blue Collar), Tough 7/Soldier 3

Wesley Wyndam Pierce (Academic), Smart 5/Occultist 4

Faith (Criminal), Strong 3/Martial Artist 3/Slayer 8

(For the record, were I actually doing such a campaign, Id make a Watcher class and a new Slayer class- but the existing classes I picked emulate their abilities to the degree that I know I'm not the ONLY watching Buffy).

Monday, January 02, 2006

From the pages of the Onion

U.S. Troops Draw Up Own Exit Strategy

Yet another reason for my love of the Onion can be found here:

In a striking rebuke of the assertions of the Pentagon and the White House that a swift exit is neither practical nor possible, soldiers of varying rank have outlined a straightforward plan of immediate disengagement, dubbed "Operation Screw This."

"We kicked around several withdrawal scenarios in our barracks, but ultimately settled on the idea of getting out of here as soon as possible," said Maj. Brian Garcia, who is on his third tour of duty in Iraq.


A recent ABC News poll found that the American people are split on the exit strategy. A University of Baghdad survey, however, finds that the exit strategy has the support of approximately 99.3 percent of the Iraqi population.

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