Thursday, December 31, 2009

Vigilance Press end of year report

Well, it's been an interesting year to say the least.

Lots of cool Modern20 work for me this year but the big change for me was when Chris took a hiatus from RPGObjects.

This caused me to focus more on Vigilance Press than ever and I have to say I'm happy with how that's been going.

Over the last 4 or 5 months that I've actually been treating VP like a business, I've seen sales increase each month.

And December is the biggest month in Vigilance Press' entire history, going all the way back to the release of the original Vigilance in the late 60's early 70's (ok, 2002 but who's counting).

This is due in large part to luck really- two BIG releases that have been in the works for quite awhile hit in the same month: Mike Lafferty's awesome Wargames and Mecha Omega, written by some guy- his name escapes me.

It was a great 1-2 punch and led to a lot of folks looking at Vigilance Press for the first time.

Now I'm off to drink myself out of one year and into the next.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mecha Omega: Destiny Station released

If you like Mecha Omega, and you like Modern20, then Paul King has written just the book for you!

Mecha Omega: Destiny Station provides some new occupations and NPC mech pilots, written using the Modern20 rules.

It also has some new Mech equipment.

It's a lot of material in a small package, at a low price. How could you go wrong?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Look Short Form "It's Widescreen"

Went to a wider format because I was tired of my embedded video and cover thumbnails getting cut off by the old template.

It's the same old blog, only in sensurround as Jason Fox would say.

Wargames 1: Superhuman threats of the Cold War released

Wargames reimagines the Iron Age as a time when the flag heroes of the NATO Alliance faced down their spandex-clad Soviet opposite numbers across the Berlin Wall and engaged in a shadow war of a super-powered covert adventures.

You might ask: Why a book about superheroes in the Cold War?


Because, when you really think about it, wouldn't Red Dawn have been a whole lot cooler if Captain America were in it?

If you answered that question in the affirmative, then this book is for you.
This pdf provides:

A detailed timeline of the Cold War in a super-powered comic book universe and detailed write-ups and stats of over 15 metahuman threats from both sides of the Iron Curtain ready for use in your M&M Superlink campaign, including:

· Battle Czar -- Can even the most powerful being on Earth restore Lenin's true vision of Communism?

· General Venom -- Formerly the leading patriotic hero in the US, General Venom has gone renegade and sworn to topple the corrupt US government...

· Majestic-12 -- Shape-changing alien in service to the CIA, Majestic 12 uses the persona of a a humble, naïve but wise "stranger in a strange land" to hide his true sociopathic nature as he hunts down Eastern Bloc mutants...

· EmergCon -- An advanced AI designed to take control of US military resources in case senior leadership was killed by a nuclear first strike, EmergCon has decided that détente is illogical and its time to take matters into its own hands...

· The Glorious Worker's Righteous Fury -- the super team of Communist China has seen action against US forces in the Taiwan Strait and Korea, against Warsaw Pact forces in the border conflict with the Soviet Union and with super-powered rebels in Tibet. But their hardest trials have been from their homeland's own political turmoil.

· Sovi-Ape -- The simian Soviet super-soldier grew disillusioned with Communism and defected to America, but after finding the Land of the Free anything but welcoming, he decides to start his own post-human revolution...

Requires the Mutants & Masterminds RPG, Second Edition,by Green Ronin Publishing For Use. Mutants & Masterminds, M&M Superlink,the M&M Superlink logo,and Green Ronin are trademarks of Green Ronin Publishing and are used with permission.

Learn more or purchase this new release here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Vigilance Press Facebook group

If you want to keep up with Vigilance Press, the front company for my world-wide mercenary empire- uh- I mean my self-publishing house, there's now a Facebook group!

Special thanks to Mike Lafferty for thinking of this.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Supplement #1: Alchemist

Supplement #1 presents a new class for your OSRIC games: the Alchemist.

This class is perfect for NPCs, hirelings, low magic games and just for players looking for a unique challenge!

Play the master of potions and poisons, oils and acids, discover the alchemist today!

Check it out here

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mecha at the OGL Wiki

Over at the OGL Wiki, Mark Gedak has created the first fan-created mech (that I know of) using the Mecha Omega rules.

He also has some new features to install on your mech, so go check it out!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Mecha Omega released

Mecha Omega provides a complete Mecha and Kaiju rule set, along with two campaign models, all in a lean 22 page package.

This product provides rules for constructing a mech from the ground up, as well as growing Kaiju for them to fight.

Mecha Omega is a generic OGL product, meaning it should work with any OGL game where characters have a Defense statistic that rises with character level.

Learn more here

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Time to move, I got bad guys to send to commie heaven (Rogue Warrior end theme, very NSFW)

Ok, so this is maybe the funniest thing I've seen ever. Or at least since I watched House a couple of days ago.

Anyway, the game looks terrible, but this looks decidedly awesome.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Modern20 support from the DM Sketchpad

DM Sketchpad continues to be THE place for regular Modern20 fan support on the web.

Awesome, awesome stuff.

I think everyone interested in Modern20 should check out the sketchpad regularly, cause there's frequently good stuff there for you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dragon Age Origins: The RPGDesign Review

So I've been covering Dragon Age pretty extensively around these parts. It's arguable that it's the biggest RPG release since Fallout3, so for a gaming and RPG focused blog that seems only natural.

After about 60 hours, I've now completed my playthrough and feel comfortable giving my thoughts on the game.

I'll start by saying I think Bioware has delivered the best RPG I've played since the original Diablo.

One thing I like about the game is its potential for replayability.

Though I spent 60 hours in the game, I've done less than half of the content.

There are party members I didn't get to know, quests I didn't do, and of course, 5 different origins, besides the Human Noble I picked for my first playthrough.

This is a big plus. It makes the world feel positively huge.

Another strength of this game is the way they've integrated downloadable content. I know this is a sensitive topic among many gamers, so let me say I am pro-DLC.

I like coming back to a game later.

I felt like Fallout 3 and Oblivion have set the bar for this continuing commitment to their games. Bioware has announced 1-2 years of support for Dragon Age. If we get a year, or even more, I will be quite happy.

Certainly they seem to have a solid apparatus in place for such support.

Bioware is a challenging game, which is really the only negative I can place at its feet.

Not the hardness per se, but rather the lack of tutorials and the way the difficulty spikes at times. In short, this game has a steep learning curve and even for someone like me, there were frustrating moments in the early hours of my playthrough, as I figured out more or less by trial and error how to manage my party and how the AI responded to various commands.

Dragon Age is also a remarkably stable piece of software, at least on my machine. I had one Crash to Desktop in my 60+ hours with the game.

Compared to Fallout 3 and Oblivion, that's pretty amazing.

Now of course, what I always look for in Bioware games in the story, and here Dragon Age really outdoes itself. While there aren't many "gasp worthy" twists in the story, it's a fairly traditional RPG tale, the story is engaging, well put together, and extremely well-voiced.

In fact, with almost everyone being voiced, it was a bit disconcerting at the end of the game, where they gave the results of my character's choices in text. With all the voice work, they couldn't get Ron Perlman to do his gravelly Fallout 2 ending spiel?

But I digress. Along with the story, something else Bioware games have traditionally excelled at is player choice. Here again, I think they do this very well. The "dark side" and "light side" versions of Knights of the Old Republic felt almost like different games.

Here, Bioware deals with shades of gray. Sometimes, the evil choice (or the "non-good" choice) looks like it will lead to a greater good down the line.

You're a man on a mission: to stop an archdemon. Sure, preserving a dwarven artifact that makes golems (with human souls) might seem horrible, but having golems at your back when you go to take on an archdemon and his raging hordes might bring about more peace and stability in the long run.


This to me, was a marked improvement on traditional moral choice in games, where your choices are Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil, with little room in between.

So there you have it: apart from an overly steep and at times unforgiving learning curve, Dragon Age is a note-perfect fantasy RPG.

It's vast, complicated and engaging, both from a mechanical and story standpoint.

I'm going to give this game a perfect 5 out of 5 rating.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Generic OGL

One of the things I'm trying with Mecha Omega is "generic OGL".

The Mech design rules will be self-contained.

In a nutshell, this means I tell you how to build a mech without really talking about how you build a mech pilot.

This gives me a lot of flexibility. Basically, if you use Mecha Omega with a set of OGL rules that grant characters a Defense bonus, such as d20 Modern, Modern20, Spycraft or Star Wars, you should be able to use these rules with zero modifications.

Mecha Omega: Excalibur and the Knights of the Round

So it's been awhile since I talked about Mecha Omega, but it's stayed on my "next book" thumb space for a freaking reason.

Here's a taste.

Excalibur (Stonehenge, Britain)

Excalibur lies beneath Stonehenge, one of the largest concentrations of Omega Energy on Earth. Energy from throughout Britain is channeled to this one location through lay lines and standing stones. Because of the abundance of energy, Excalibur is not one mech but many. These are capable of joining together into a truly amazing machine, giving rise not only to tales of the Round Table (which is Stonehenge), Arthur and Merlin but also to stories of groups of warriors joining together for common cause.

Individually the smaller mechs, dubbed “Knights of the Round” in more recent times, look like mechanical lions. When they join together, they resemble a gigantic humanoid that wields a sword of energy.

There are 5 knights of the round mech, which join together to form the Colossal humanoid mech, Excalibur.

Knights of the Round

Superstructure: Quadruped (Huge)

Slots: Chest: 3 (0) Head: 2 (0) Arms: 0 Legs: 6 (0)

Heat: 0

Total Attack Modifier: -1 (-1 Size)

Total Defense Modifier: -1 (-1 Size)

Damage Reduction: 9 (14 vs. physical)

Hit Points: 350

Movement Speed: 140 ft.

Damage: 2d6+20 (melee), 4d12+0 (ranged)

Control Stations: Cockpit 3 (Head)

Defensive Systems: Light Armor 3 x3 (Chest, Head and Legs)

Esoteric Systems: Docking Port 3 (Legs)

Heat Sinks: None

Mobility Gear: Hydraulic Piston 3 x2

Power Sources: None

Sensors: None

Weapons: Claws 3 x2 (Legs), Railgun 3 x2 (Chest)

Total Cost: 113


Superstructure: Humanoid (Colossal)

Slots: Chest: 6 (0) Head: 4 (0) Arms: 6 (0) Legs: 6 (0)

Heat: -3

Total Attack Modifier: (-6 Size, +3 Computerized Targeting)

Total Defense Modifier: (-6 Size, -4 Armor, +3 Pilot Station, +4 ECM)

Damage Reduction: 16 (30 vs. physical)

Hit Points: 600 (+180 Energy Shield)

Movement Speed: 40 ft., Fly 540 ft., Swim 540 ft.

Damage: 4d8+52 (melee), 12d6 (rocket launcher), 4d12 (railguns)

Control Stations: Cockpit 3 (Head), Pilot Station 3 (Head), Weapon Station 3 x2 (Chest)

Defensive Systems: ECM 3 (Arms), Medium Armor 3 x4 (Chest, Head, Arms and Legs), Energy Shield 3 (Chest)

Esoteric Systems:

Heat Sinks: Heat Sink 3 x2 (Legs)

Mobility Gear: Jet Propulsion 3 (Legs), Water Turbine 3 (Legs)

Power Sources (Power Level 18): Reactionless Power 3 x2 (Chest)

Sensors: Radar Sight 3 (Head), Computerized Targeting 3 (Legs)

Weapons: Energy Sword 3 (Arms), Rocket Launcher 3 (Arms), Railgun 3 x3 (Arms)

Total Cost: 326

More Dragon Age DLC coming this holiday season

Recently it was announced that Dragon Age might see DLC for two years. There were three pieces of DLC released day 1, with two of those being free for most people, and one running you an additional 7 bones.

It seems we're not going to have to wait long for DLC, as more will be on the way "this holiday season", which I think would be... a week from now? Isn't thanksgiving when the madness begins officially?

Either way, great stuff.

EDMONTON, ALBERTA, CANADA – November 19, 2009 – Leading video game developer BioWare™, a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that the Return to Ostagar downloadable content (DLC) for Dragon Age™: Origins will be available for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC versions this Holiday season in North America and Europe. The DLC pack, Return to Ostagar, allows players to exact their revenge and embark on a quest for the mighty arms and armor of the once great King Cailan when they revisit Ostagar, the site of the Grey Wardens’ darkest hour, to reclaim the honor and learn the secrets of Ferelden’s fallen king.

“We are very proud of the phenomenal launch of Dragon Age: Origins and we’re pleased to announce the next installment of downloadable content that will be available to fans of the game,” said Ray Muzyka, Group General Manager, RPG/MMO Group of EA, and Co-Founder, BioWare. “The Return to Ostagar DLC pack is a prime example of BioWare’s commitment to give fans a game that continuously offers new experiences and further enriches a storyline that has already received critical acclaim and positive feedback from the players.”

Return to Ostagar, BioWare’s next thread in the Dragon Age: Origins tapestry, summons players to a new quest in which they will return to the fateful battleground in Ostagar where the Grey Wardens were nearly wiped out. Players will discover King Cailan’s top-secret political agenda and go behind enemy lines to revisit a place that many feared had been lost to history.

Return to Ostagar will be available for $4.99 on the PlayStation® Store, for 400 BioWare Points on the PC and 400 Microsoft Points on the Xbox 360 in North America. Return to Ostagar will be released this Holiday season worldwide on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation®3 console and PC. Dragon Age: Origins is rated M by the ESRB and 18+ by PEGI.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Something else I love (Zero Punctuation edition)

I mean, not only is it an incredibly snarky game review, something the world DESPERATELY needs more of, but he says "it's like the difference between being Lawful Evil [flash picture of Pope] and Chaotic Evil [flashes picture of Charles Manson]".

Too freaking funny.

Your daily dose of crazy

Yu Yu Hakusho is a show I really should hate. Its crazy.

In fact, its more than a little dumb.

But it's the right kind of crazy. It's about a kid who comes back from the dead and becomes a "spirit detective", working to combat demon menaces to the mortal world and... well... just watch this, it conveys what this show is about so much better than words ever could.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dragon Age goes all sam crow

I almost titled this post (Sons of) Anarchy Online, but that would have brought in folks looking for a a completely different game.

For those wondering what the hell I'm talking about, it's Sons of Anarchy of course! One of those shows Modern20 GMs (all modern GMs really) should be watching.

When making my Dragon Age character, I was cycling through the truly impressive array of facial hair available, and at some point it clicked that I should make my character Opie, one of my favorite Sons of Anarchy characters (they refer to the club affectionately as "sam crow" if you're wondering where the title comes from).

Dragon Age Origins: Early quests and the party

So, I am continuing my exploration of Dragon Age: Origins.

Thus far the game is excellent. I've gathered a party around myself consisting of Leilani the Bard, Shale the Golem and Morrigan the shapeshifting mage.

The early adventures have been a great mix of combat and story and thus far, I haven't felt like I got too much of one or the other.

This is good, because Mass Effect leaned a little too far in the story direction, giving you numerous characters to meet at the beginning, who all wanted to tell you their life story.

They were really well WRITTEN stories, I just occasionally wanted to tell incidental character voiced by Seth Green that when I asked him how he was doing, "fine" would have been a perfectly acceptable answer.

Along with parties comes more than stories though. New character abilities to learn and new mechanics to master (such as coordinating four fighters in combat, often against 8 or more opponents).

One of the ones I like best so far is the "party approval", which is definitely one place in which DAO hearkens back to its noble ancestor: Baldur's Gate.

For those not in the know, Baldur's Gate is a D&D rpg in which you could recruit followers of varying alignments, but whether they stayed with you was a matter of how those alignments meshed with yours.

For example, playing a Paladin, one of the first followers you can recruit is a Chaotic Evil thief. How do you guess that turns out? I say well! I'm an optimist!

Here though, things are more complex. There's no boiler plate alignment, just your choices as you play the game.

And frequently, two party members will like a decision, while one will hate it.

Something I like even better is that your party often chimes in, letting you know ahead of time that they will NOT be happy if you make a certain choice. This not only lets you get to know them a little better, it also gives you a chance to make a choice just to please a valued ally.

Of course, behavior is good, but bribery is better. You also find items listed as gifts, which have two purposes: you can sell them for cold hard cash, or you can give them to a party member to raise their approval rating.

How much of a boost you get depends on how much the party member will like the item in question, which gives you a tangible reward for getting to know your party members, so you can dole out the right gift.

Though sometimes its pretty clear, like when you find Alistair's Locket. Hmm, hey *I* know a guy named Alistair! Coincidence?

Other times, its just common sense. Giving ale to the bard? Ouch! Suddenly its the 90's and I'm playing Bard's Tale on the C64. Oh uh, I mean the Leilani the Bard loves ale.

Now, this sounds like a lot of work, so what's it worth? Well, if a party member's approval drops too low, they might just leave. And if you raise it really high, then you can get bonuses in combat.

And with some of the characters, you can get those (in)famous Bioware um... romantic... options as well.

The party is always an interesting facet of Bioware games. They're always stocked with interesting, well written and well voiced characters. But often, they follow whatever path the main PC lays out for them, going along whether he is good or evil.

While this is convenient, and even makes some sense, if you see the main character as a dynamic leader the system they have here is rich, deep and extremely interesting.

And of course, it gives you a reason to tinker, looking for a group that gels, or even a reason to play it again to see how different parties mesh.

More to come as I wind my way through this RPG epic!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A look at Dragon Age's character creation

My review copy of Dragon Age has arrived, and I have begun winding my way through the game.

However, as this game is long, my plan is to do several reviews of different aspects of the game, before summing up my thoughts in a final overview.

I have to say, from a system standpoint, Dragon Age is extremely strong.

There are three character classes: warrior, mage and rogue. However, each character class has a lot of room for specialization.

My warrior is a sword&board guy who knocks opponents down or stuns them with his shield, but I could also be specializing in dual-wielding, two-handed weapons, or archery.

There are also skills I imagine every character class will have a chance to learn. For example, I have begun dabbling in herbalism, since I liked making potions in Oblivion, and have learned how to make simple healing poultices from wild mushrooms.

Looking ahead, even though the three classes are broad right from the start, each class also have four potential specializations later.

For warrior, the specializations are: Berserker, Champion, Templar and Reaver.

For mage: Arcane Warrior, Bloodmage, Shapeshifter and Spirit Healer.

For Rogue: Assassin, Bard, Duelist and Ranger.

As a tabletop guy, Ranger as a Rogue specialization jumps out at me. I can see that, personally.

In short, there's a lot of depth here. I think more depth on the character creation/development front than was seen in Mass Effect (whose mechanics I also liked).

Next I'll be taking a look at combat.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dragon Age review forthcoming

Just got the word today that I will be receiving a review copy of Dragon Age: Origins!

So definitely look forward to a review for the game after I've had a chance to work through it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Death from Below: A World of Arkara adventure

Death from Below is an OSRIC-compatible adventure for 1st to 3rd level characters.

Though set in the World of Arkara setting, it is generic enough to run in any fantasy city with a large sewer system.

Death stalks the city of Bondaea, with 17 citizens missing or dead. Clues lead to the sewers beneath the city, where evil creatures have moved in, using the sewers to move unseen, hunting the unwary townsfolk above.

In addition to its adventure content, this module also contains two new monsters and two new magic items.

You can purchase Death from Below here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The David Caruso School of Acting

I love David Caruso.

Not in the sense of, you know, watching any of his acting work that is NOT the first season of NYPD Blue but the fact of his existence allows me to sleep at night knowing all is right with the world.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I'm just going to say this once...

I don't think anyone owes me anything beyond basic courtesy.

I have seen a few fits thrown in my day and usually think these are drama queenerie.

This is all I ask and again I think it boils down to basic courtesy:

1. If you accept things for review, give it a look immediately and decide if you are, or are not, interested in reviewing it.

2. If you decide you are, put it in a stack (or folder) and review things in the order you receive them.

3. If not, just let me know.

That's it, and I really think it's an easy and fair thing I'm asking.

I've had many, many reviewers tell me, sight unseen "I don't like system X, so I don't review for it".

This, to me, is a perfectly acceptable stance and I have never been annoyed by that response a single time.


Friday, October 30, 2009

X-Men Evolution

Hulu currently has all 4 seasons of this cartoon available for streaming on their site.

If you have the slightest interest in comics, the x-men specifically, animation or just good storytelling, I encourage you to watch this, especially for free.

You can also get the first three seasons from Netflix, but the wrap-up 9 episodes of the 4th season are (I think) only available from Hulu for now.

Anyway, it recasts most of the X-men as high school students, with Prof X, Beast, Storm and Wolverine as older professors.

The students on the show attend a nearby high school undercover, where the brotherhood of evil mutants (Blob, Avalanche, Rogue, Toad and Quicksilver) are their fellow students/rivals.

It does a great job of melding superheroics and teen/high school angst, along the lines of Smallville.

It's probably my favorite form of the x-men outside the comics. Yes, I like it better than the movies (though I do happen to like the movies too).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dragon Age Origins TV Spot

More DAO goodness out today.

This game is going to be awesome.

(Golden) Ageism

Over at Grognardia, James gives what I would call short shrift to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Given that I've said, on numerous occasions, that it's the best adventure module of all time, I guess that wouldn't be hard.

Still, James' post reads like a manifesto of the "one true way" philosophy of the old school.

I touched on this in my recent post A Portrait of the Game Designer as a Young Man.

One big part of the one true way is that, at some time in the past, there was a golden age where TSR made products for the love, and they were all big happy sandboxes.

Then, at some point, around the mid-80's, it all broke bad and the game became about the money. This is when Gygax began releasing his "repudiated" works: Unearthed Arcana, Temple of Elemental Evil, Isle of the Ape and Oriental Adventures.

Now, since another part of the "one true way" school is an exegesis of the "pure" Gygax, later works like Temple of Elemental Evil, which was partially co-written by someone else, are especially suspect.

Though as I pointed out in my earlier post, this doesn't seem to prevent repudiation of Unearthed Arcana.

But in the case of ToEE, we see all the things these folks don't like: Gygax not solely involved; suspected reason for the module's release being that evil "money" thing; and *shudder* perhaps worst of all: the module has a story.

I know this sounds like I'm beating up on James a little. Please don't read it that way. I love his blog and check it every day and find it consistently entertaining.

In fact, I thanked him in World of Arkara's first book because reading his blog makes me want to read, play and ultimately write more old-school type stuff.

However, I do think old-schoolers try to separate the old school into WAY too many "small toy boxes".

I prefer only two toy boxes: good stuff, and bad stuff.

I don't care if it's 3e, d20 Modern, Spycraft or AD&D 1e. My only goals are to keep the good toy box as full as possible, and the bad toy box empty (hopefully to good homes of people who will play those games I don't personally like).

I don't care if Gygax wrote it by himself, or if 30 people wrote it.

And I don't care if it has a story or not, as long as the PCs have sufficient freedom.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mind. Boggled.

So in perusing some Fallout3 modsites (readers of my Facebook page will know I recently re-inserted the needle of FO3) I came across this site:

This is a site that sells Diablo 2 Magic Items for cash.

Diablo II came out in 2000. In terms of PC games, that might as well be the 70's.

Although, in checking wikipedia to verify D2's release date, I was similarly boggled to see that the last official patch for the game was released by Blizzard in 2008 (!) so apparently there are a lot of people who have no intention of moving on from this game until Diablo 3 is released?

As the title says: Mind. Boggled.

A portrait of the game designer as a young man

Although I occasionally identify myself as a grognard, it's always a bit tongue in cheek.

Although I am without a doubt a Gygaxian, the weird, invisible boxes many grognards want to stuff old games into is at times frustrating, amusing and downright puzzling to me.

You can especially see this in the progression of Gygax from hip, indie designer, slowly morphing into corporate powerhouse and then magically, back to hip indie designer.

ODD is definitely the hip, indie golden age for Gygax. Somehow, he maintains this luster for most of his AD&D period, despite overseeing some definite cold, calculating business decisions.

But when Unearthed Arcana is released, coincidentally the last AD&D book on which Gygax was a major designer, many nerds draw a line in the sand and refuse to accept it.

I think, maybe, because you can SMELL the "business" on that book. Unearthed Arcana was unabashedly released for one reason: TSR needed money.

Oriental Adventures was rushed out for the same reason.

And it worked. TSR survived, at least long enough to show Gygax the door and usher in 2nd edition as another source of capital.

So for gamers who regard themselves as Gygaxian to reject Unearthed Arcana is one of those places where the old school movement gets weird for me. They try to get as far back to the beginning as possible, find an exegesis of the "pure Gygax", then use that as a justification for their rejection of a book he most certainly was the prime architect of, while simultaneously holding him up as the standard by which all other game designers should be judged.

I think, trying to separate Gygax the hip indie designer from the cold businessman is a big mistake. Unearthed Arcana was most definitely NOT the first book he greenlit for monetary reasons.

That would be AD&D itself, as well as the Red Box games (aka Basic D&D). AD&D was largely in place within the framework of ODD, through the various supplements that had been released.

The re-release, in hardback form, of various supplements and Dragon articles, putting the official stamp on them, is exactly what Unearthed Arcana was.

In short, the "late Gygax" and the "early Gygax" are most decidedly the same guy.

He was the greatest game designer who ever lived.

But he wasn't Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King or the Easter Bunny. He was just a guy who happened to have a great gift for writing awesome games.

Trying to turn him into anything else requires serious mental gymnastics.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some super pretty Dragon Age concept art

That's right, more Dragon Age!

I got a big selection of pics today from my man Romeo, and I am in a sharing mood.

And now, a word from Dragon Age

Man, I hope someone did a hard save recently.

Echelon X at the Grand OGL Wiki

Today the Grand OGL Wiki continues its awesome support of Supers20 with a new villain for your campaigns: Echelon X, along with a new occupation: super-terrorist.

Thanks guys!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

12 to Midnight releases: Horror20

This book is awesome. You should pick it up.

Seeing other people do stuff for Modern20 is something that makes me damn proud, especially when its something this good.

Hey look at that!

I just did an entire post about game design on my game design blog!

I remember when this place had a focused vision and mission.

I think that lasted about 5 minutes.

Loot and exploration

I am writing the first official adventure for my World of Arkara OSRIC campaign setting.

Stop me if you heard this: it's a sewer adventure underneath the city.

Not content to MERELY rip off 25% of all TTRPG adventures, I've added a little old school loot collecting. 17 people have gone missing.

The PCs have been asked to take care of whatever is going on in the sewers, but they've also been asked to return the corpses for burial. The more corpses returned, the greater the reward.

In fact, at least 75% of the monetary return comes from corpse retrieval.

I am wondering if I should TELL my players any of this though.

I have a lot of theories about RPGs which are often disbelieved/disagreed with by folks, and one of them is that the most important elements of RPG design are: character development (and by this I mean mechanical development- stats changing over time), exploration, and loot, ESPECIALLY loot collection.

So as I design this adventure, I am wondering whether I should tell my players "there are 17 corpses, get them all and you get a bigger reward" or if I should just let a thorough search of the dungeon be its own reward.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dragon Age: Sacred Ashes

This is easily the best trailer yet. I like the idea of a fantasy party filled with absolute bad asses.

Things you should be reading: Grand OGL Wiki

So I mentioned Horror20, but there's another cool thing going on for Modern20 fans I don't think I've talked about enough: the Grand OGL wiki.

While a lot of what goes into the wiki is just OGC, and there's a TON of open content there to peruse, they also do a free e-zine every month or so that is packed with gaming goodness and usually includes some modern20 support.

They also release little digital previews, and the last two have been for Modern20.

So go check it out and you can see a modern20 vampire couple, some supers done up for Supers20 and 4C, and if you pick up the last issue of the dm sketchpad, you can read a forward by me, in which I talk about the uncharted future ahead for us in a multi-OGL game world.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Results of the BioWare excursion thus far.

So having heard I was playing KOTOR and KOTOR II, my brother got me Mass Effect and Jade Empire for my birthday, which officially makes him the best brother EVER.

Results so far:

Mass Effect is freaking rad. Astonishingly so in fact. I expected to really be meh on this game, because every preview focused on how great the branching dialog trees were.

Why did no one mention the hiding behind cover, then ducking out to shoot evil aliens in the face?!

Jade Empire is the game I expected to develop a deep, monogamous, hetero man-crush on and its left me a bit meh. It has some weird glitches to the combat and it is a game that is primarily ABOUT that combat.

This makes for some seriously frustrating moments.

I am sure I will finish it though, just because I like the world and the story they're telling. But not till after Mass Effect.

Friday, October 02, 2009

And speaking of Dragon Age

New trailer revealing the city of Denerim today. Awesome.

“Denerim, the capital of Ferelden, began originally as an outpost of the ancient Tevinter Imperium. Its mages rose up a dark tower from the side of a mountain, a symbol of the Imperium’s power. As the Imperium faded, the tower passed to the hands of the teyrns that ruled the region for a millennium.

Today that tower still stands as Fort Drakon, immediately recognizable to any ship that approaches the rocky coast. The city that has sprung up around it has almost been carved out of the side of the mountain it rests on, and during the Dragon Age, its population has grown beyond the city’s ability to cope. The cramped districts, joined to each other by a network of bridges, are built one almost on top of the other. The narrow streets of the Lower Docks have an almost labyrinthine quality, and the walled-off Elven Alienage is so overpopulated that several purges have been required to keep order.

To the rest of the world, Denerim is most famous as the birthplace of Andraste. In typical Fereldan fashion, however, the monument erected to the prophet in the Palace District is unassuming—a great rock adorned with a simple message of peace. Worshippers come from far and wide to touch the Birth Rock and issue a quiet and respectful prayer. This is how things are done in Denerim, and the locals would have it no other way.”

-- From In Pursuit of Knowledge: The Travels of a Chantry Scholar, by Brother Genitivi


So it's my 41st birthday and I treated myself. Having recently played KOTOR and KOTOR II, I decided to build on that success and bought myself Jade Empire and Mass Effect through Steam today.

I'm downloading Jade Empire first because, HELLO, martial arts!

Short reviews of KOTOR and KOTOR II:

KOTOR is brilliant, pretty much perfect in every way.

KOTOR II is awesome but you can tell someone was standing over them with a whip the entire time yelling at them to "get the game out NOW!" which makes for some rough spots. Still very worth playing.

And as the culmination of my Bioware kick, I am really really salivating over the upcoming release of Dragon Age.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Arthur Lives Narrator's Guide released!

The Narrator's Guide for Arthur Lives provides everything you need to run the modern adventures of the once and future king.

This book includes a secret history of the Arthurian age, its wane and the causes of Arthur's return to the modern world.

Details and advice for running a game of Arthur Lives follow, including advice on setting up the campaign and getting things going.

This is followed by a rogues gallery of allies and enemies for your Arthur Lives games. Many echoes of the Arthurian age are awakening and your character might find other Arthurs or Lancelots in the world out to be the only heir to that legacy.

The book concludes with a detailed bibliography, including comics, movies and games that can provide inspiration and get the narrator and players in the zone for running an Arthur Lives campaign.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fallout3 Marriage Proposal

A woman, with the help of the Fallout3 mod community, spent 3 months to come up with this scenario in which her boyfriend could rescue her from slavers in game, so she could propose to him.

Age of the geek baby! (Leverage reference)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Good day

Heard my email read on the Giant Bombcast, the best video game podcast around.

Always a kick and always a sign of a good day.

Chuck's secret to happiness #43: keep the bar low on what makes a good day.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Shows Modern GMs should be watching: Leverage

So I recently discovered Leverage on Netflix and I have to say, this show ranks right up there with Burn Notice as a show modern GMs should watch.

It's about a team of thieves who steal from the REAL bad guys (insurance companies, mercenaries, evil politicians, the mob) and give the money to folks who need it.

Each of the characters fall into recognizable modern archetypes, making this a great show for inspiration, especially in the realm of making sure each PC has time to shine.

There's Nate, the "mastermind", who leads the group and comes up with their plans.

Sophie, the "grifter", the best actress you ever saw when she's working a con. On stage? Not so much.

Eliot, the "hitter", a martial arts expert and all-around badass who hates guns and seems to have no problem taking out thugs who use them.

Parker, the "thief", who handles physical security and obstacles. She's acrobatic, great and coming up with rigs to get the team into or off a skyscraper quickly and also seems to know her way around bombs.

Finally there's Hardisson, a genius hacker who handles electronic security, makes fake ids, finds their clients through web-stories and such.

The characters are really great, the dialogue fantastic. The show is mostly light-hearted, more-so than Burn Notice I'd say (at least lately).

They are wrapping up their second season and have been really good about putting episodes up on Netflix as soon as a week after they air, which is cool.

Also, the first season is loaded with extras, with a commentary for just about every episode.

All in all, a great series, especially to mine for modern inspiration.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

World of Arkara reviews

So the first reviews of World of Arkara have appeared, over at Dragonsfoot.

The review of the main overview is very flattering, the review of the Canterbury Isles is less so.

Still, I will say that I agree with most of Dominic's main points in both reviews, I just don't find many of them bad things.

For example, he would have preferred more information on "infrastructure", roads, weather, random encounter tables, rather than adventure type information.

But one of my goals at the outset was to create a world LOADED with adventure material.

As for the map, I agree it could be better. I used a map of my own creation because it fit within the budget (I work REALLY cheap).

I am no cartographer though. I just hope the map is clear and functional.

Anyway, I recommend folks check it out, especially if you're on the fence about the books. Everything he says is factually accurate, so the review should do a good job of letting you know if the books are for you.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles has been released!

The Canterbury Isles are an idyllic region, once the western edge of the mighty Kingdom of Damask, they were set adrift when that empire descended into the flames of anarchy.

Since then, the largest human settlement in the region, Bondaea, has become a city obsessed with order, dominated by the priests of lawful deities, the Duke has turned the city into a police state, with random identity checks and the gates separating the four quarters of the city locked at night.

Worse, the Duke has fallen under the spell of Therran the White, god of racial purity and forced all demi-humans in the city into the slum quarter.

This action, combined with the clear-cutting of human loggers on the island has move the humans and elves to the edge of a race war that will devastate the isles forever.

Now is the time for heroes. But will they decide the conflict in favor of one side or the other or find a way to prevent a senseless war before it can begin?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Post-Apocalypse20 On Sale!

And after you go get World of Arkara at a discount, put your Hazmat suit on and head over to RPGObjects and pick up Post-Apocalypse20!

Post-Apocalypse20 is the ultimate resource for taking your modern game to the end of the world and beyond.

This new, full-length resource for Modern20 adds new Backgrounds, Occupations, Feats and Character Disadvantages. It also contains rules for Mutations, equipment condition and radiation.

An extensive equipment section adds new weapons and armor to the game. Some of these are common household items adapted for use after the apocalypse while others are the futuristic weaponry of an advanced civilization that succumbed to their own technology and collapsed into barbarism.

Finally, Post-Apocalypse20 contains advice for the game master as well as several brief campaign models. Each of these campaign models contains pre-generated NPC opponents or monsters with rules for creating your own mutant horrors to populate the dark.

In short, whatever your vision of the end of the world, PA20 has something to make your grim vision easier to realize.

Dragon Days Sale

To celebrate... dude I dunno... September? Dragons?

Anyway, RPGNow is running a 20% off sale through the first 7 days of September.

So stop on buy and pick up some Vigilance Press pdfs at 20% off!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Preview of the Canterbury Isles: The City of Bondaea

This is a look at the small fantasy city that will be included in my upcoming World of Arkara: Gazetteer of the Canterbury Isles.

Bondaea (pronounced bond-A-uh) is a city obsessed with law. Containing temples to over half a dozen lawful gods, the city has become a police state with identity checks and a large force of guardsmen.

Recently, the Duke who rules the city has converted to the worship of Therran the White, "human first" god of racial purity. All demi-humans have been restricted to the slum quarter of the city, setting the stage for rising tensions with the elves and dwarves of the isles, who outnumber the humans.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do you want to date my avatar? (The Guild)

If you're not watching the guild, and you read this blog, you should be.

If you don't read this blog, feel free to disregard this and all other posts.

Best fantasy setting material of all time

In writing for World of Arkara, I've been giving a lot of thought to my favorite RPG settings.

Here's my short list and why I think they're awesome.

1. World of Greyhawk.

This world has scope, it has depth and its dripping with plot hooks.

2. Village of Hommlet

The book that really showed me how to "start small" with world design.

3. Thieves' World (Chaosium)

This sourcebook for converting Thieves' World to a score of Fantasy RPGs is just amazing. The best urban fantasy sourcebook of all time by a wide margin.

4. Dawn of the Emperors

Really, I could have picked any of these Gazetteers because I think they all are worthy of a long campaign. But I picked this one because it was first and because it was written by gaming god (just don't call him a Champions guru) Aaron Allston.

These were close-up books focusing on an area of the Known World, the official world of Basic D&D.

If that sounds familiar to you, its because I took this model as an inspiration for the way I'm organizing my World of Arkara setting, with the next book being the first of my close-up gazetteers of Arkara.

5. Dragonlance

Yes, the adventures were railroady as hell. Yes, the novels are really bad.

However, they are railroady adventures and bad novels set in an amazing fantasy world that showed me its ok for your world to have its own rules.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Arthur Lives Narrator's Guide in layout

Now before you get too excited, this process will take awhile, but it IS currently next in the queue.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stuff that is probably only significant to me

So between Arthur Lives and World of Arkara, Vigilance Press has done as much business this month as it did in the last six.

Here's hoping that upward trend continues.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

World of Arkara has been released!

World of Arrkara is an old-school, "sandbox" style fantasy setting for the OSRIC system.
The first in a series, the Gazetteer of the Known World provides an overview of the world, its gods, customs and social hierarchies.

It includes three full pantheons of deities, new rules for making the clerics of one deity different from those of another deity, rules for social class, and a new class, the Crusader.

The Gazetteer also includes four new variant classes: the Anti-Paladin, the Bounty Hunter, the Hunter and the Poacher.

Variant classes take an existing class and modify it just enough to give it a new feel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Survey: Gamers are fat and depressed

And this just in!

"Reporters" and "scientists" are f***ing dumb.

Here's my question for these idiots-

How the hell do you draw a "conclusion" by testing 552 gamers in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

That's right! They tested less than 1,000 people in one localized area.

Here'a a conclusion I can draw from this study that MSNBC was not falling all over themselves to publish (once they found out where Michael Jackson's brain is of course! priorities!):

100% of gamers hail from the Seattle-Tacoma area.

And of course, they were comparing gamers to non-gamers, so actually, they were studying two groups of less than 300 people in one localized area.


So, I watched the Rocketeer again tonight

This is a movie I remember very fondly from seeing it in the theater when it was released.

I was anxious to watch it again because of what I remembered about:

1. Dude with jetpack.
2. Dude with jetpack punching Nazi Timothy Dalton IN THE FACE.
3. Dude! Jetpack! Nazis!
4. Jennifer Connelly.

And despite all that still definitely being there. Plus awesome stuff I had forgotten, like Terry O`Quinn playing Howard Hughes (he had hair!), Paul Sorvino playing a mob heavy (again!) and Timothy Dalton's henchman who was straight out of a Dick Tracey comic, I still can't recommend this movie.

It's pretty amazing to see Jennifer Connelly back before Hollywood figured out that her appeal was not "they're real and they're fabulous".

She's smart and she can act.

Watching her play the vapid starlet and girlfriend of the hero (was she really going out with him?) was flat out distracting.

And the movie was kind of slow paced.

If you're not going to have balls-out action every 20 minutes, cast people who can act (I think they did this) and let them act (this- not so much).

So there you go. That's my review of a 20 year old movie.

Next up- Black Hole!

#89 with a bullet?

Not to be braggy, but Modern20 was 89 on RPGNow's top 100 list yesterday.

Not bad for a book released in October of 2007.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We have always been at war with East Asia

It's been brought to my attention that "Ariakus" is one of the big bads of the Dragonlance series.

Therefor, be aware that the name of the world is now Arkara and has always been Arkara.

Ariakus is down the memory hole.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A taste of Arkara


The Axelands used to be one of the most prosperous realms in all of the Northern Continent. Once this land was the breadbasket of the Kingdom of Damask, the most powerful and influential kingdom in 500 years. All that changed when Lord Illanyra launched his bid to take over the kingdom and attempted to assassinate the entire royal family.

While civil war raged in the south, numerous humanoid tribes that had plagued Damask’s northern border for centuries saw an opportunity to take control of the kingdom’s northern regions. When the dwarves of the Axehandle mountains that border northern Damask decided to use the civil war as an opportunity to destroy the troublesome kingdom of men, and began supplying the humanoids with top-notch weapons free of charge, the trickle of humanoids became a flood and then an army.

Now this region is a war-torn hell of villages struggling just to survive another day, surrounded on all sides by murderous humanoid tribes bearing Dwarven weaponry. Currently the Deathspear Goblins, the Nightstalk Bugbears, the Duneblind Ogres, the Swiftsand Goblins and the Bloodhawk Gnolls infest this region.

Recently the Warband has brought the only glimmer of hope this region has seen in almost ten years. One of the largest groups of Rangers ever gathered together at a single place and time, they are led by Erik Loftin, the leader of the Knights of the Old Order and Leora, Archminister of the goddess Dannos. Still, even this group has served only to stem the tide of evil and chaos, like a tourniquet on a severed vein. They have even had to attack the greedy Axehandle Dwarves to cut off the humanoids’ supply of weapons, adding to the difficulty faced by this powerful, but hopelessly outnumbered collection of heroes.

Still, the Baron who rules this land still lives and has pledged his support to the Warband, offering them what little aid his can while his ragtag army fights a guerilla war. He is as outnumbered and outmatched as the Warband and has put out a call for brave adventurers, promising gold, titles, land and anything else he thinks might attract the ambitious and the young to his standard.

On the coast, across the Axehandle Mountains, live group of elves that have no love for the rampaging humanoids or the greedy Dwarves who have been assisting them. While the Dwarves have closed the mountain passes to these elves, they have begun to make the long journey north around the mountains and have been appearing in the region in greater numbers of late to assist against the threat.

Nominal Rulers: Baron Malcolm Boergrim owing fealty to King Lucius III of Damask (humans); King Branislav, Lord of the Axehandle Dwarves (Dwarves); Lord of the Coastal Wood Mikaere (Elves)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Actual World of Arkara info

Ok, so I've decided to actually talk about the World of Arkara itself, unlike my previous posts which had a kind of "I did it! No one can stop me! It's too late! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!" vibe to them.

World of Arkara is an old-school fantasy world in the vein of Hyboria and Greyhawk. It provides an overview of the world, its gods, social hierarchies, laws and customs, along with a new class, the Crusader, and 4 variant classes: the Anti-Paladin, Bounty Hunter, Hunter, and Poacher.

And it does all this in a very tight, concise 25 pages.

If this does well more installments will follow, each putting a spotlight on one realm and giving it a detailed treatment.


I like this. It's very clean and simple. Which is of course the point. Emphasizes its old-school-ness.

So... uh... that World of Ariakus thing...

The first book, an overview of the world, its gods, customs, lands and laws is done!

I am going to let it sit for a day or so before I send it to layout, because I did 25 pages in like 3 days, including 12 pages last night.

Yeah baby! I am so wasted right now!

But I want to read it after I sleep, to make sure it doesn't read like a frakking dream journal or something.

And of course I wasn't designing from scratch. Bits and pieces of this world are drawn from numerous campaigns I've run over the years.

But yeah.

World. Three days. Done.

Welcome... to Chuckworld

Ok, that's incredibly dumb. How about- Welcome... to the World of Ariakus.

Oh yeah and... Coming Soon from Vigilance Press: the World of Ariakus, a complete campaign world for OSRIC.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Out now from Vigilance Press: Arthur Lives!

Arthur Lives! is a True20 roleplaying game of supernatural adventure, conspiratorial intrigue, and occult mystery. Heroes and villains from Arthurian myth have been reincarnated, coming back to life in the cinematic present. At first, these individuals don't remember their former lives, but as they begin to recognize each other, old feuds and tragic affairs resurface. Why has the King returned now? Does some unseen danger threaten? And even if the answer is yes, will these legendary heroes be able to put their old grievances aside long enough to oppose it?

Arthur Lives! is a complete campaign setting using the True20 system. This book includes:

  • Complete rules for character generation. You can play any character from Arthurian myth, or even make your own character from the myth that no one has heard of until now! You have been reincarnated in the present and so you have your own modern, mundane life. How will you reconcile these two lives? And with your new life comes old enemies, allies, and rivals.
  • Rules for Magic and Enchantment. Enchantment is a new Supernatural Philosophy for True20 Adepts, replacing fatigue cost with an ever-escalating risk that the Enchanter's magic goes out of his control to disastrous effect. This chapter also includes rules for crafting potions and a collection of supernatural Echoes -- visions of enchanted objects like Excalibur and the Holy Grail which characters can quest after.

Friday, August 07, 2009

One more note about the Philanthropist

Those looking to check the show out, the first 7 episodes are currently on Hulu.

Which reminds, yet again, how awesome Hulu is, but that's another thought for another post.

TV Shows you should be watching: The Philanthropist

Honestly, the Philanthropist is a show I usually wouldn't look twice it.

It had "typical TV bullshit drama" written all over it. You know, like Grey's Anatomy.

Then I heard it was by Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, guys who produced a little show called Homicide, and starring James Purefoy, the amazing British actor who played Marc Anthony in Rome.

Before you know it, I was watching the show religiously.

It's about Teddy Rist, an incredibly wealthy financier who makes his money from "natural resources", basically raping countries in Africa. He's a drunk, a womanizer and he likes to spend his money on cars and flashy paintings.

Then he has an epiphany and begins to use his money to help people.

For the comics fans out there, if you think Tony Stark minus the battlesuit, you'd have a really good sense of who this guy is, complete with a Rhodey-esque black bodyguard, played to perfection by Michael K. Williams, who fans of The Wire will recognize as Omar Little (maybe my favorite character of that entire series).

The show is the type of modern campaign I'd never run, but maybe it's the kind I should run, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, if you liked Homicide, Rome and/or the Wire, you should definitely check this show out.


20-page free preview of Arthur Lives! now available at RPGNow

Check out this 20-page PDF preview of the Arthur Lives! Player's Guide for True20, available now from Vigilance Press.

Arthur Lives! is a True20 roleplaying game of supernatural adventure, conspiratorial intrigue, and occult mystery. Heroes and villains from Arthurian myth have been reincarnated, coming back to life in the cinematic present. At first, these individuals don’t remember their former lives, but as they begin to recognize each other, old feuds and tragic affairs resurface. Why has the King returned now? Does some unseen danger threaten? And even if the answer is yes, will these legendary heroes be able to put their old grievances aside long enough to oppose it?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Interface Zero Modern20 edition out now!

So, it never rains but it pours I guess!

Interface Zero, Reality Deviant's cyberpunk setting was converted to Modern20 by me and is available even as we speak!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Voyages of Discovery is on sale!

Check out the awesomeness here.

Also a link to the previously mentioned 20 page preview at that link for those still on the fence (AKA bad people).

Monday, August 03, 2009

Voyages of Discovery Webbook included free with PDF

Just what it says on the tin.

Dear Wizard Magazine

Maxim Magazine is a magazine written by and for frat-boys.

It is not cool.

Wanting to BE Maxim Magazine is a terrible, terrible idea.


Burn Notice

My growing love for Burn Notice has once again crossed my mind.

When I started watching this show, it seemed amazingly simply. Throwback with a retro twist.

It was continuity-free TV. One fuzzy bear short of being Starsky and Hutch.

But slowly, they have woven more continuity and character into the show and have completely sucked me in.

This is in direct contrast to shows that slam you with a front-load of continuity right up front, letting you that they demand, DEMAND I say, a huge commitment from you.

In the case of shows like Lost and Warehouse 13, I appreciate this. It lets me watch them once and NEVER AGAIN.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's a nostalgia thing

And that's ok.

I think a lot of the heat generated over Tweet's comments about Swords and Wizardy (which, as I said earlier, I thought was mostly dumb) is that, at heart, he's saying one of the main appeals of games likw S&W, OSRIC and 4C is nostalgia.

Obviously, this might lead one to assume Tweet believes the inverse as well, that these games are leaning on nostalgia because, well, they're not that good AS GAMES. The game is a vehicle to remind you of your glory days, like the smell in an old musty comic.

The thing is, I think Tweet is right that nostalgia is a draw.

I just don't think that says anything one way or the other about the games' quality.

I draw this conclusion because I can look at which old-school clones attract me and chart my own gaming history.

OSRIC, which is a clone of AD&D and 4C, which is a clone of Marvel FASERIP are both huge draws for me.

Swords and Wizardry, which is a clone of OD&D, holds no interest for me. I was an AD&D kid.

Its like telling me Claremont is writing X-Men, vs. Jim Shooter writing Legion of Superheroes. One got me STOKED and the other was like "oh, that's cool I guess".

So yeah, nostalgia plays a part.

I guess I'm at that old fogey stage of life where I don't really see nostalgia as a bad thing. Some things about my past were awesome and worth reliving.

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

So right now I am:

1. Proofreading a book for a guy
2. Writing Mecha Omega
3. Developing Arthur Lives! Getting art together and generally shepherding that ever closer to release.
4. Playing Mount and Blade in what I laughingly refer to as me "free" time.

All hail multi-tasking! Long may she reign!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

History of Mecha Omega Part 1

4000 BCE (approximate): The first expeditions from the Omega Sector arrive at Earth and begin to investigate the planet as a potential candidate for colonization. Using early population centers as bases of operation, these travelers explore and catalogue Earth’s ecology and make a detailed survey of the planet, perhaps lasting decades.

Over time, the natives grow less and less receptive to the actions of these gods and the terrible beasts that serve them. It is believed that the first heroes rise up during this time, taking psychic control of some Omega Sector devices, called “Star Chariots” and driving the creatures out. Verified Omega Sector bases from this period have been found in the Yangtze Delta, Ganges Valley, Mesopotamia, the Nile Delta, the island of Britain, the Mississippi Valley, Central America and along the west coast of South America.

In the wake of this temporary occupation, Earthlings rapidly gather in larger settlements than before, build large structures to commemorate (and later store) the large devices used by the heroes to repel the invaders, and develop a consuming interest in astronomy, to watch for future incursions. Over the centuries, these events become more legend and less fact and form the basis for the earliest hero tales such as the epic of Gilgamesh.

As soon as the menace had passed however, the heroes lost the ability to summon their great weapons, which seemed to respond to the presence of the Omega Taskmasters who had created them. The people they had saved did not know this however and many of the heroes raised themselves up as king, using threats of divine retribution to build mighty empires for themselves.

A select group of priests knows the truth and preserves it within their sect, even as kings descended from the great heroes of old come to believe the stories of “star chariots” and monsters descending from the heavens to be old wives’ tales. These priests watch the skies obsessively from their temples, waiting for any sign of the beasts’ return.

4000-2100 BCE (approximate): “Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors” era of Chinese pre-history. These eight rulers, wise and long-lived, use the power of the Star Chariot dubbed Emperor Yao to impose peace and stability on China. Their contemporaries called them the August Ones or “supreme beings”. Modern scholars tend to translate their titles as “king” or “sovereign”.

2100-1600 BCE: Breaking the tradition of his eight predecessors, Chinese Emperor Yu does not leave power to the most worthy. Instead he founds a dynasty by passing power on to his son. This leads to corruption and devastation.

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...