Sunday, July 30, 2006

Whoa- we're back

Dr Forester: "So, how did you fare going through the asteroid belt?"
Joel (rubbing his bottom): "Jeepers, don't remind me!"

16 days without an update. I think that might be a personal record for me.

So I've been a busy little writing bee of late, here's the highlights:

Updated Blood and Vigilance to version 1.1 with a tweak of the origin no one liked (Advanced Training) some new powers and stunts (you can play Rogue now- if you have the points anyway) and some little balance tweaks to Regeneration and Healing.

Blood and Vigilance: Mystic Arts, which allows you to play Doc Strange type characters. It also gives you the tools you need to play Thor, Crow or Angel. I really like this and it has sparked a full-on Buffy campaign using B&V here at Chateau Chuck.

Vossberg: Superhuman Max- I've taken the old-school prison sourcebook I did and reworked it into a new jack super-prison sourcebook. Never let it be said I let any cliche go unused.

And at the moment, I'm writing a non-d20 game.

No really this time! I think this one might actually get released and everything.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Another perspective on adventures

From Lloyd Brown's excellent freelancing column at He agrees with the points I made fairly extensively which makes me think he must be a wise, sage observer of the market indeed.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bloggity Blog

So Chris, my boss (who my contract requires me to remind you is a damn handsome man) always wants me to tweak the intros to my book.

First, he always wants an introduction. Frequently I "forget" and turn in books with a huge header that says INTRODUCTION, a blank line and then on with the first chapter. This always gets manuscripts bounced back.

However there are times when I do remember the intro, and I usually get the manuscript bounced back ANYWAY with comments like "make the intro longer, make it more conversational".

Then the other day Chris says, "you know what your intros should be more like, your blog".

And here I am thinking, "he has READ it hasn't he"?

Since I can't summon "blogginess" at will, expect to see "blog entries" in the near future that will serve, with minimal editing as introductions to future books.

Hell, I might just use this post for every single book intro from now on.


Scott Adams attends a wedding

Scott Adams is my favorite person ever. From his blog about attendign a Reno wedding.

The guy next to me from the previous half-hour wedding had a mullet and a white jacket. To my left was family friend Joey, wearing a t-shirt with a colorful word writ huge on the back. I can’t tell you the word in this family blog, but it started with M and ended with rfucker. That might qualify as a first for wedding attire. Joey explained that he didn’t see the point in changing his shirt for a wedding that would last ten minutes. I had only met Joey once before, but I think he might become my new best friend.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: the Ninja Review

Ask a ninja is one of my favorite podcasts. This week he reviews Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and savages it. Pity, I had such high hopes for this movie but haven't heard good things from me fellow geeks who's seen it.

At least the review is hilarious.

Modern Dispatch #95 released

Modern Dispatch #95: Deck of Many Actions released today, written by yours truly. It's 52 special actions each tied to a card in a playing card deck. You draw them randomly then spend an action point to play the card and trigger the special action.

On a personal note, I'd like to wax nostalgic about the dispatch yet again. It amazes me it's made it to 100 issues.

Also, keep your eye out, because there's a big change coming to the magazine after issue #100.


Writing: It's the process stupid.

I read a recent take on Joss Whedon's Buffyverse that attempted to contend that he's really a closet racist. The subconscious kind, who thinks "being color blind" is ok. Putting that aside, and I really do think Martin Luther King would differ here- but we're putting it aside because it's not integral to the discussion at hand, one of the writer's points to support her argument really struck me.

She mentioned how stereotypically Gunn was portrayed in his first few appearances. For those not yet on the Buffy-Angel bandwagon, Gunn was a vampire slayer from a poor, inner city neighborhood who basically was a gangleader, but a gang of (relatively) good guys.

This struck me as a classic mistake of a lot of amateur writers (and I don't mean this perjoratively- strictly in the "how do you make your living" connotation). They think of writing in two ways: it can be art and it can be straightforward communication.

This leads to mistakes like the one this author made. If Gunn is the stereotypical black banger, the author either made an artistic choice, or he's flat out trying to communicate something to us.

The problem is, writing on a schedule, with a deadline, a set length and all that other good stuff professional writers must do, is neither art nor communication. It's a craft. It's a process.

Certainly it ASPIRES to one, art in the case of a drama, communication in the case of a news program or documentary but the process, the craft, subsumes and dominates whatever other aspirations the writer might have.

Building a chair for example, is recognized by most people as a craft. The reason for this is that the FUNCTION of the chair takes precedence over any artistic desire on the part of the carpenter to make it aesthetically pleasing.

There are certain things a chair simply MUST have: four legs, a seat. Maybe some other stuff like a back and arms, padding etc but the basic format is determined by the process. You can't make a two-legged chair. You're constrained by the need for functionality.

Which brings us back to Gunn. According to the writers, Gunn was intended as a one-shot character. While you certainly CAN go to the trouble to make each and every guest-of-the-week a fully realized individual, in most cases it's a wasted effort.

Also, relying on a known trope (and like it or not, the banger is a known trope, regardless of race, we all know a Hollywood gang member when we see one) gives you a shortcut. You don't have to TELL us the character is poor, tough and not really fond of cops. Give us enough details to recognize the tropes and we can fill in the blanks ourselves.

When the writers decided they liked Gunn (especially his chemistry with Angel), when they first started to bring him back they were hampered from a desire to make him consistent with what had come before. If they had made him radically different it would have been jarring.

Thus Gunn slowly grew out of the stereotype. Not because the of any artistic or communicative choices of the writers (though they could have chosen to LEFT him one-dimensional). But mostly because the process channeled them in a certain direction.

RPG books are like this as well. Some people moan about crunch in sourcebooks. Everything should be nice and fluffy. But the fact is, crunch sells. There are some exceptions but not many. And even when I have a counter-example pointed out to me, I'm usually left scratching my head.

Magical Medieval Society for example, is often pointed to with a triumphant "fluff rules!" Heck, it even markets itself as 100% fluff as I recall.

This is because people have come to see crunch as just more rules they already have (classes, feats, skills, talents, etc). But Magical Medieval Society is LOADED with tables and game information. That's crunch boys and girls. And if the book had been released without that information it would not have sold as well (imho).

It's the process. TV shows need guest stars, those guests need to NOT outshine the principal characters and RPG books need crunch.

A little rambling but hey, I was rambling.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Part 4

The exciting conclusion. I wish I was this witty.

Part 3

Kevin Smith v. Prince part 2

Kevin explains what it's like to work with a complete nut like Prince. More hilarity in Part 2.

And yes, this means I am too braindead to blog about work atm, but at least you get a multimedia extravaganza.


Work... booze... work... booze...

Been working on a ton of B&Vigilance stuff lately, in the meantime, check out Kevin Smith talking to college students about Prince. Hilarious.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Clerks II Intro by Kevin Smith

Yet more pimpage of Clerks II by me. Because we all need more counter culture in our lives.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Clerks II: Awesome

Ok, I admit to being skeptical. But quite frankly, this looks great.

Clash of the Comics Titans

The Washington Post has a great article comparing/contrasting DC and Marvel. You have to register to read the whole thing but that's free and it's a nice look on how different they used to be and how, in many ways, they're pretty similar these days.

Here was my favorite of the early contrasts in the editorial:

DC invented places to go -- Metropolis, Gotham City, Paradise Island.

In the Marvel universe, New York is New York, and it's nothing but trouble.

DC: It was always the Fourth of July.

Marvel: It was always Halloween.

I like that. Both very different holidays, but both fun.

We have done the impossible, and that makes us mighty.

In case you don't know, that's a line from Firefly's pilot episode, Serenity. What have we done? Serenity the movie, aka the little movie that could, has now officially moved into the black and it aint ever comin back.

Hmmm... maybe it's not too late to think sequel after all.

It isn't any more impossible than the first movie getting made.

Especially not since Firefly is STILL a top 5 seller at Amazon, with Serenity still hanging tough at #11.

Night Ride Part 1

Night Ride Part 1 “Look, Pa, it’s my turn. Also, Nana is having one of her spells again and she has no idea who I am when she gets this w...