Wednesday, May 19, 2010

At last, a cause we can all believe in

Times. Changing.

So Public Enemies has not succeeded. In fact, I think it's fair to say it failed.

On the other hand, Old-School Psionics is a bonafide hit.

What this means I really don't know. Just an honest 7am observation.

Except, if you think it means more OSRIC is on the way from me...


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apparently I am in a Mongoose book. Huh.

Someone asked me about the Conan Compendium, and I had to do a double take. Pretty funny to see your name in the credits of a book you didn't even know existed.

I wrote some Conan Prestige Classes for Mongoose's Signs and Portents magazine, and apparently they got collected!

I'm actually happy about that.


Guess whose copy of Ultraman: the complete original series arrived today?

*Does the snoopy dance*

And a special shout-out to whatever the local TV station was in Peru Indiana, where I lived for only a year, the best TV station I have ever encountered. They showed Godzilla movies, Ultraman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor cartoons, along with the original Star Trek.

If you ever wondered why I'm like this, that station's effect on my 10 year old brain is probably to blame.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Modern20 does TV: Angel - EN World D&D / RPG News

Modern20 does TV: Angel - EN World D&D / RPG News

Another in my recurring translations of iconic TV characters into Modern/Supers20. He helps the helpless. He's a champion. He's the dark avenger. He's Angel.


Officially the title of this game is Sid Meier's Civilization 4: Colonization.

But since that unwieldy, marketing- and brand-driven mess might be the worst word-gruel in the history of the English language (prior to this tortuously long sentence anyway), I will refer it here by the name Colonization.

This game is a classic and is a game any strategy fan, simulation fan or history fan should own. It traces the arc of the colonization and rebellion of the colonies. You can play as a colony of England, Spain, France or the Dutch.

Most of this game is actually a trading sim, where building your infrastructure for successful and profitable trade with Europe is vital. Cash is king in Colonization and you'll find yourself earning it but also spending it in big gobs.

The main way you make said gobs is by gathering raw materials, such as cotton, sugar and tobacco then turning these raw commodities into finished goods such as cloth, rum and cigars. You then load up your ship and take your goods back to Europe and sell them, turning a very tidy profit.

This money is spent on things you can't make yourself. In the early game this might be finished goods you haven't the infrastructure to make yourself, such as guns or ships. More often however, you are hiring specialists, such as Master Carpenters, Distillers or Tobacconists to make your colonial towns even more productive.

If you don't want to hire specialists (or can't afford them, as often occurs in the early game when you're struggling economically) take heart- the new world is a beacon for the poor, the dispossessed and the plain unpopular.

A lot of these are not folks you'd hire, such as petty criminals and indentured servants, while most are run of the mill, generic "free colonists" but there are a few specialists mixed in as well. What you get is pretty random, but the free manpower is nice, especially in the early game.

How combative the early and mid game turn out to be is in your hands for the most part. As you expand into the new world, you will run into the third player in our colonial drama: the natives. There's a quite a few varieties, from the Iriquois to the Sioux to the Apache to the Aztecs.

They aren't super happy about you "discovering" their land but a payment of (wait for it) that cold, hard cash you earn from your lucrative European trade networks in return for their land will keep you and the natives on a peaceful footing.

Or you can buy guns, tell the natives to get bent when they complain about you stealing their land and have a good, old-fashioned manifest destiny.

It won't be a romp though. First, the natives know the land and get movement bonuses, as well as terrain-generated defensive bonuses. Second, there are a lot more of them than there are you (if its early in the game, make that a frakking lot more).

Your advantages are guns and horses, which can be decisive, but watch out for your fellow colonial powers. They have a nasty tendency to make some quick cash by selling the natives guns and/or horses, especially if one of their rivals (like you for instance) are in the middle of a shooting war.

Or you can take a different tack and play nice. While this will cost you some coin, the benefits can be serious. First, the natives are generally nice guys and if they like you, will occasionally just give you stuff.

Second, they know this land better than you and can teach your regular colonists handy specializations, such as Expert Farmer, and a few, such as Expert Tobacco Planter that only the natives can teach you.

And finally, the natives can be a source of manpower. You can establish missions in native villages and every now and then a converted native will appear, ready and able to work to aid your colony.

But of course, you aren't found a civilization but a colony, ostensibly one still loyal to her mother country. Said mother shows up on occasion in the form of a schoolhouse-rock-esque caricature of your home country's monarch, who demands you "kiss his ring".

Kissing his ring, as you might guess, comes in the form of cash- either a straight up demand for a lump cash sum, or a tax, that makes all your trades a little less profitable. Injustices like a 10% tax rate will not long be borne by your hearty colonists and eventually you will want to spread the word of revolution.

This prompts your monarch to get "testy" and begin assembling an expeditionary force to put you in your place. Eventually you declare your independence, raise a militia and see if you can put down the technologically superior force of your motherland.

This last part of the game is always a tense battle and seems to actually be harder if you are a Civilization veteran. In Civilization, bunkering down behind the sturdy walls of your city with a large army is a tried and true tactic.

In Colonization though, cities are a death trap. You're definitely outgunned and probably outnumbered too, especially on the naval front. Thanks to better ships and better artillery, cities tend to be death traps.

So you take to the hills and forests, fight a guerrilla war and if you're lucky, independence will be yours.

The game looks great, with a very authentic feel and might just have the best soundtrack of any Civilization game ever, topping even the great soundtrack of Civ 4.

Colonization gets 5 stars out 5.


I really dislike this cycle.

I am not talking about in my playing life but my writing one.

Because of it, awhile ago, I made a personal decision that anything I wrote would be for an OGL game without any ties to a larger corporate brand.

I've stuck to that decision universally at Vigilance Press, though I've published work by others that tied into larger brands, mostly Green Ronin's awesome M&M and True 20 games.

But for me, it's been OSRIC and OGL all the way.

Recent events have once again confirmed to me that this is the exact right choice. Maybe not from a business sense but again, personally and creatively.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

GROGNARDIA: The Whole Wide World

GROGNARDIA: The Whole Wide World

This is a great review of a great movie, based on "One Who Walked Alone", an account of Robert E. Howard from someone who knew him well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blood and Space 2 for $7


Blood and Space 2: Galactic Edition is on sale for the moment for $7. That's 168 pages of starship combat and giant space monster rules, along with the revised Prometheus Rising setting.

If you're on the fence, the price will never be better.

Return to the Feeding Grounds

Just handed this in. It's a sequel to my original GenCon Darwin's World adventure, in which the Fertile Crescent debuts.

This second module takes PCs back to the Feeding Grounds and will also be an adventure you can play in at GenCon.

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...