a bit of Dresden thinking.

Here is a write up of something I came up with for Dresden Files RPG. This was an attempt to come up with alternate choices for people playing true faith characters, and give them something interesting to do if they are not playing knights of the cross. This is just my idle mind coming up with stuff. Feel free to make suggestions.

 

The True Rosicrucians

 

The True Order of Rosicrucians are a corollary to the Knights of the Cross, those wielders of the swords of faith, who have been called through history to fight in the name of their faith.  The True Rosicrucians were started in the first couple of centuries after the death of Jesus.  Sometimes called the Order of the Rosy Cross, they were called to serve, but in a different way.  Where the Hand of God are the strong blades of righteousness, the Order are the watchers, the investigators, and solvers of problems. They seek out evil and report on it, track it, and report on it, so that it can be monitored and opposed subtly.

 

The order has operated in secret for centuries. In that time, they were often involved in many struggles in the shadows.  Sometimes those struggles would wander into history, such as the catholic churches attacks on the Illuminati, some of the events surrounding the fall of the Templars, and the disappearance of Petra for several hundred years.

 

Today the order is found embedded in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and as a result, spread around the globe. They are often the functionaries of those churches, the men and women associated with the day to day business of the church.  As the group is organized for secrecy, it is easy to suspect them of nefarious purposes, but they are more of a conspiracy of light. Their goals are to oppose supernatural evil whenever and wherever it may rise, through information, and through actions of an indirect nature.

 

Those who act

 

As sometimes watching is just not enough, the True Rosicrucians have a group of men(and a small number of women) who also act directly, the Ashen Staff.  Their primary weapon is the Staves of the Rosy Cross, which are not as powerful as those blades forged with the nails used to crucify Christ, they are still objects of faith and power.

 

Even though the Ashen Staff can and will act directly, rarely will they take a role of the valiant hero stepping to the fight.  More often, they will try to disarm or neutralize the evil by attacking their power base or finding some allies who will aid them.  They are not champions, and they prefer to be unknown by history.  These are the humble strangers in the dark, and will lay their lives down with no one ever knowing their tale.

 

The Knights of the Cross

 

The True Rosicrucians are often in the position of helping the Knights of the Cross fight. They are often the source of funds for the flight that takes the champion of god to his fight, or will help to provide a place to hold the repentant, who is too dangerous to let out in the public, but still wish to change. They often are the local parish priest who knows the Hand of God for what it is, and provides succor when they are needed.  Though there have been some Hand of God who knew of this relationship, many times they did not.  This is a result of the Order’s use of secrecy.

 

The Wizards

 

The True Rosicrucians have been aware of the White council for quite some time.  Their history has not always been cordial. In the middle ages, a number of wizards, thinking the Rosicrucians were some sort of witch hunters, sought to have them destroyed.  The Rosicrucians did as they often do, and attempted to fade into the shadows rather than seek direct conflict.  This furthered the Council’s suspicions of the group.

 

Things became more tense, on the few occasions that the Rosicrucians took actual magic users into their organization.  Over the centuries, someone with some real talent may find themselves involved with the order. The Council felt this was an unacceptable intrussion into their sphere. What is more, the True Rosicrucians did not follow the laws of magic as described by the White Council.

 

An accord was reached in the late 1400’s, called the Treaty of Constance, that should the True Rosicrucians find someone of faith who also had magical talent, they would send them to the council for training, they would require those wizards to follow the Laws of Magic. The Council in turn, agreed that authority of the Rosicrucians on their own members was theirs alone and the Wardens would not have any authority to pursue them. The two groups also agreed that neither would interfere in the affairs of the other.

 

This treaty is maybe not known by the rank and file of the Council wizards, but the senior council and the Wardens are generally aware of it.  The Rosicrucians for their part have kept to it for the most part, though the provision about not interfering is sometimes colorfully interpreted.  Watching is not interference after all, nor is sharing information from time to time.

 

As to the status of Rosicrucian wizards, there are not many throughout the history of the group, and they do not often get directly involved in dangerous situations.  They are more often used as very specialized researchers.

 

The Staves of the Rosy Cross

 

After the Crucifixion of Christ, many things were saved by his follower.  The nails were saved and were later used in the three Swords of the Cross. The cross itself was broken up by Jesus’s followers, and carried away.  One fragment was said to have been buried in a small valley in Europe.  This valley, which was technically part of the Roman empire but was a forgotten by most, was home to a simple farming community.  The cross fragment was planted in a fertile field and a tree grew in that spot.  This eventually became a garden of which was of well cared for.  The trees in this valley are used to craft the Staves of the Rosy Cross.

 

The Staves are considered items of power and are legendary in their own right.  Many an unscrupulous wizard has sought them for his personal use but that is folly. The Staves, when handled by a man of faith often grant protection from magical assaults, but they also have a tendency to break magic as well. A wizard would find his spells simply fell apart.  A vampire would find his forms natural powers would begin to fail him.  In the hands of a man of faith, it is a potent weapon against supernatural evil.

 

The staves can be destroyed or broken.  This is a tragic thing as it is no small effort to make them.  The wood ic cut from the tree and worked for a year by it’s potential owner.  A similar process is involved in replacing the stave.  A broken stave looses it’s power, and none of it’s capabilities are conferred to the fragments.

 

In my next post, I will give some Dresden Files RPG rules details

Marvel Superheroes Role Playing Game

I am a fan of superhero RPG’s.  I have since the first Marvel Superheroes RPG came out.  I have played, or run, most of them, and I buy and read almost all of them.  I learned to love comics at an early age and the combination of comic book superheroes and gaming is my heroin.

 

So, of course, I bought the new Marvel Superhero Game.   It is a game written by some really quality people, and I am a big marvel comics fan.  While I am a big Hero system fan, I am always looking for new systems to run a superhero game in.

 

The system as it stands has a lot going for it. It uses cortex plus as a base.  You have variable die types based on how skilled you are. Yes, you roll a small handful of dice, but not as many as some games and I like rolling a handful anyway. The doom pool as the opposing currency against the pc’s plot dice is a wonderful addition.  Overall the system encourages you to role play, to change up how your character does things and keeps things dynamic.

 

However….

 

There is a problem.  There really isn’t a way to make your own hero.  There is a system in place, that is intended to be used to recreate a character which exists in the comics. The system could be used to make the character of your creation, but the guidance available there is sparse at best.  The overall conclusion is they would really prefer you play an existing character.

 

This mystifies me a bit.  One of the core experiences in any RPG is making your own character.  I would love to play in the marvel universe,  to fight sentinels or doctor doom.  I would love to have characters run into Spiderman and Captain America. I would not want to be Spiderman or Captain America.  There are some who would want to play them, and it is good that you allow for that, but I would think that is the exception, and not the rule in the gaming market.  I would be satisfied if they would even announce an advanced version or a supplement or the like to help you make characters, but that does not appear to be the case. The lack or formal system for character creation is not an oversight.  The little system they do have amounts to “wing it” within a certain loose set of parameters.

 

Ironically, one of the most memorable portion of the Marvel Superheroes RPG that TSR put out, was the character creation system.  It was random, and in no way balanced, but it was always memorable, especially if you used the Ultimate Powers book.

 

The actual game play portion of the system is nice.  It doesn’t blow me away, but it is solid.  There is a strong influence of narrative style games. They do a good job of systemizing the sort of tweaks good GM’s would do anyway, but sometimes not evenly. Unfortunately, I find it hard to picture it a game that my players would want to play.  The lack of full character creation rules is daunting.  In no way is playing an existing hero compelling to me, and I imagine my players will feel the same.  It is just hard to invest in a character you are not creating.  Spiderman is never going to be an extension of me, or my creativity, so I will be less invested in him as a player.  As a reader, I love him, and the only time I want to play him is in a video game, which is very much a different experience.   Given that problem, I have hard time recommending the new Marvel Superhero RPG as a good superhero game.   It could have been an awesome one based on the mechanics they do have, but without a good character creation system, it feels very incomplete.  Perhaps future books will do a better job of giving more guidance on making your own adventures and heroes. It is not for a lack of skill on the designers part or a lack of inventive systems.

 

Worry not though, if you wish to have your good system, and even a token effort to make the characters of your own, then my friend Stephen Cheney, has kit bashed a point based character creation system which can be found here.  That bit of rules mod might make a real difference. Despite my concerns about the lack of strong character creation in the system, I will be asking around to see if anyone wants to give the game a shot.  There is enough there that I am still interested in where they are going.  I just don’t think this is a point they should stop at.

A question of endings

I am taking a screenwriting class this coming semester.  This is cool as i have never really tried my hand at script writing (outside a bad thing I did for high school drama), and I like learning new skills.

I picked up the text for the class, a screenwriting book by a guy named Syd Fields. I decided I would read it before classes started to get a bit ahead in my understanding.  I am about halfway through the book and I have run into something that has gotten me rethinking some things.  His style of writing is very structured, which is a little challenging for me as I tend to be a bit more of a discovery writer, but his contention that you should decide on the ending of the story first is interesting to me.

Endings are hard.  I can’t count the number of story fragments I have had, over the years, that I let drop because I could not figure out how to end them. This idea has gotten me thinking. I may have to try that the next time I write a story.  I have more than a few friends who are writers of various stripes.  How many of you guys use a method like this?

Another fine production I was in over at Pendant Audio

Superman issue 78 and Supergirl issue 50!

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Jerry Gaylord for Pendant Productions

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton, Issue 78 – “A Guest Unbidden”

Lois catches up with friends while Lobo makes a deal with Superman!

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=202788270

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman.php

 

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Peng-Peng for Pendant Productions

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton, Issue 50 – “It’s the Tally Show, Starring Tally”

Metallo is trapped inside his mind while Kara and Kal fight for their lives!

Also availble this month is our Issue 50 Anniversary Reel!

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=256710457

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl.php

 

“Superman: The Last Son of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Susan Bridges as Lois Lane
Dragonblink as Supergirl
Adam Bell as John Henry Irons
Kristen Bays as Maggie Sawyer
Jeremiah McCoy as Dan Turpin
Bruce Busby as Bibbo Bibbowski and Lobo
Anna Rodriguez as Lucy Lane
Bill Young as Dr. Anderson
Jessie Moore as Natasha Irons
Cira as the Barkeep
and H Keith Lyons as the customer

Written by Jeffrey Bridges
Directed by Jared Page
Cover art by Jerry Gaylord
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges
“Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Dragon X. Blink as Supergirl
Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Jeffrey Bridges as Metallo
Megan Pressley as Ayumi
M Sieiro Garcia as Miranda
Michael Liebmann as Sebastian
Anna Rodriguez as Hypnosa
Bruce Busby as Lobo
Cira as the Barkeep
and Jeffrey Bridges, Jack Calk, Jared Page and Kathryn Pryde as the Alien Extras

Written by Dragon X. Blink
Directed by Teresa Keller
Cover art by Peng-Peng
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges

http://www.pendantaudio.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pendant
http://thefranchize.deviantart.com
http://peng-peng.deviantart.com

Thanks for listening!

 

Another fine audio drama I am in



Superman issue 77 and Supergirl issue 49!

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Jerry Gaylord for Pendant Productions

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton, Issue 77 – “The Vast Immeasurable Abyss”

Lois grills a CEO and dresses-down a general while Superman and Supergirl journey deeper into the abyss!

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=202788270

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman.php

 

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Peng-Peng for Pendant Productions

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton, Issue 49 – “Mind Over Madness”

Madness threatens Kal and Kara while heroes and villains close in on Metallo!

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=256710457

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl.php

 

“Superman: The Last Son of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Susan Bridges as Lois Lane
Dragonblink as Supergirl
MJ Cogburn as Martha Kent
Bill Fisher as Jonathan Kent
Geary McAllister as Sam Lane
Lyn Cullen as Ella Lane
Anna Rodriguez as Lucy Lane
Jeremiah McCoy as Dan Turpin
Kristen Bays as Maggie Sawyer
Jared Page as Snapper Carr
and Laura Frechette as Lorelei Leland

Written by Jeffrey Bridges
Directed by Jared Page
Cover art by Jerry Gaylord
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges
“Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Dragon X. Blink as Supergirl
Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Jeffrey Bridges as Metallo
Megan Pressley as Ayumi
Melissa Hearne as Cameron Gage
and Anna Rodriguez as Hypnosa

Written by Dragon X. Blink
Directed by Teresa Keller
Assistant Director Dragon X. Blink
Cover art by Peng-Peng
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges

http://www.pendantaudio.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pendant
http://thefranchize.deviantart.com
http://peng-peng.deviantart.com

Thanks for listening!

dresden game update

I ran my second full game session of Dresden Files(the campaign is called Shadows over Appalachia) and I think it went well.  The heroes did some spell casting, learned some more about the dragon sleeping under the mountains, and ran the hell away from a Loup Garou.   They have one more night to save the world or at least the eastern portion of the continent. They are over their heads and the only people who can do anything to stop it.  So, a typical Dresden adventure.

 
We are still figuring out the flow of the spell casting and action scenes.  It is interesting to watch the guys who are super rules wonks learn their way around the system, and then become the guides to the folks less focused on the rules. It is hard to do the sort of prep I would like while I am also doing school work, but I will figure it out.  I am pleased at things so far.  Now, I need to make time to just be a player in a game sometime.

My homework

I have an Intro to Media class at Pellissippi State.  Nice class.  I had to take a series of photos related to a form of media.  I have tweaked them in photoshop and otherwise made them more presentable. I am not at great at photography.  It is something I wouldn’t mind being better at actually.  I like good photography.  Still, these were all taken with my point and click or my phone.  I am somewhat pleased with how they came out, so I thought I would share.

I chose as my media, games.  Specifically, I chose table top RPG’s such as Dungeons and Dragons.  This is a media which is both print and interactive. These are photos of dual games running at the same time in the local game store, Organized play.

Entering the store
Entering the store
prep and shopping
prep and shopping
Book on the table
Book on the table
Game Master
Game Master
The game is afoot.
The game is afoot.
The story is running
The story is running
Meanwhile
Meanwhile
The other game master
The other game master
brings a bit of color to the tale
brings a bit of color to the tale
The perspective
The perspective

The photos were taken the Living Forgotten Realms event at Organized Play in Knoxville, TN.

Launch day

I have been helping to write a larp for a while now.  It is called Dust to Dust.  We have a really good development team and I would like to humbly say, it is one of the more detailed larp worlds ever written.  The rules are interesting and have a lot of depth as well.  It is a project with a lot of text.  The plot committee are all fans of the text prop.  Anyway, I can’t give you any event dates yet.  Those come later, but what I can do is provide you with a website to see what the game is about.

You can find it here.

I hope you like what you see.

critical thought vs being critical

Sometimes game designers and rules wonks can be less than fun to play games with.  This is not to say they can’t also be awesome, but the critical way of looking at games can be problematic.

Case in point, I played Empire Builder with my mom recently.  She has loved that game for years. I played it with her back when, I was in college the first time.   I enjoyed it back then as well.  Recently though, we played and I had long ago forgotten most of the rules.   Sitting down and playing, I began criticizing the game design.  I got locked out of action for several turns, as did someone else at the table.  I began talking about how that was bad design at the table, and I think that is where I began to go wrong.  Being critical is often an unpleasant experience for the people around you.  Mom did not have as much fun, despite winning.  I didn’t really enjoy myself that much either, because I was focusing on what was wrong.

I have been on the receiving end of this. I have tried to run games for people and had the fun in running the game drain away because some of the players kept focusing about how bad the game was.  They would joke about it at the table.  Normally in conversation, I would likely agree with them, but it killed my enthusiasm for the game.  Everyone involved did not have as much fun as we could have had.  I don’t think the player was wrong about his criticisms.  I don’t even mind him bring them to me, but that should have started a different conversation.  It should have been “I don’t feel like playing this game and this is why”.

So, am I saying being a rules wonk is a bad thing? No.  Being able to analyze, understand and critique a subject does often increase your enjoyment of that thing.  I love comics.  More importantly, I made a point of learning about the art and storytelling in comics, so now I can enjoy them even more. I can pick up on subtle nuances and influences. It makes the reading experience much more rich.  It is the same with games.  If you know more about the games, you will appreciate the nice new mechanic,  and the simple ways of conveying story.  You gain something with the analysis, but you can loose the ability to simply play and enjoy game.  There are too many examples I can think of, where someone would decry the horrible game design in games they got hours of enjoyment out of.  First and second edition D&D were games that many of us started on.  They were brilliant.  By modern standards in game design, the thinking in them is out of date, but damn it we had fun playing them.

What I am saying, is don’t let your critical mind get in the way of enjoying the experience or ruin it for someone else.  I have done a podcast critiquing games.  It was my job to find problems in computer games at the last company i worked for.  This may predispose me to find fault in games, but I shouldn’t be so vocal about those critiques when I am at the table.  It will not help anyone there have fun, not even me.  I would suggest to other game rules gear heads, would be designers, and critics to look out for it in themselves.  We all love to talk rules. There is nothing wrong with sharing your thoughts on a game, but save it for the right venue.  If you can’t relax and enjoy the game despite it’s flaws, then don’t play.   Explain it to the group and say, this is not their fault, but the game is not for you.  Maybe they pick another game to play, or you don’t get in on that game.  Either way, clear it up before you get to the game table. Don’t be vitriolic or rant about it.  You may not like the game, but others might.  It is not your job to convince your friends how wrong they are.

As an added note on larps, you are often asked for feedback on the larp events.  There are some people, who treat this as an opportunity to tear down every minor annoyance they had in a game.  There are some people who are completely insensitive and become vitriolic in their feedback.   What are these people thinking?  Maybe they tell themselves “we were just being honest.”?     “Just being honest” is often code for “I am profoundly unhappy person who wants all attention focused on me and when it isn’t i will be an asshole till you give me what I want.” What it does do is wear down the COMPLETELY VOLUNTEER STAFF.   You are killing their fun.  Their desire to keep running the game is diminished.   It is okay to express concerns.  They want to know when people are not having fun, but don’t let yourself treat them like strangers.  Just because the feedback is not face to face, does not mean you should suddenly forget these people are often your friends, or in the least are putting in a lot of effort without any tangible reward, so you can have fun.

Live by the axiom, “Don’t be a dick.”

Whatever the venue though, being critical and thinking critically are two different things. Don’t get them confused.  Be considerate of the people you play with and how your input effects the mood of those around you.

update and some gaming decisions

So, going to school eats a lot of my energy and time.  It is going to a good cause, but it is still eating it up.  One thing I have hard time doing, is taking time to play games.  Too much else needs my attention. I have writing projects for Dust to Dust, podcasting, hopefully some game and fiction writing, on top of the school work.

I think will settle into the routine a bit more and I will make more time.  The first few weeks should be a time of adjustment as you get used to the new work load.  All of that said, I am paying for some things I really don’t need to be.  World of Warcraft is not really a good investment for me.  I am not spending time doing it, and for a while now, when I did get on I couldn’t play wiht the people I wanted to.  They out leveled me a while back, or they are not on as often any more themselves.  Either way, I am just not having much fun in the game even when I can play.

What I am going to do is cancel it and uninstall it.  I need the hard drive space anyway.   I have a number of single player games I can play when i have the time. Also, there are too many quality free MMO’s to play if I want to do that.  I may get too the point I have time for social gaming online.  When that happens, I will post something to my friends seeing if they want to play some free game with me.  Champions online seems a good one for me, or Lord of the Rings online.

I am going to make some time to do some more tabletop gaming.  I need the social interaction if nothing else. It is easy to let school eat you up and depression can set in as all you seem to do is school.  Table top gaming has always been a bit more rewarding, anyway.  How and where I get that type of gaming in is still a work in progress.

For those interested, school is going pretty good.  There are some subjects I am better at than others.  I am tired of being the broke college student and I will be glad when that phase is done.

Sharing my homework

I was asked as part of my Web Design class, to pick three sites I use a lot and explain why.  After doing the write up, I decided it was worth sharing beyond class.

http://google.com
When I originally composed this post I specified gmail, but let me rather say Google as a whole. I use GMail and from there I can get social networking, phone calls, video conferencing, and task management.  Add to that, google calender where I track my classes, gaming sessions, and other important events.   Also, add Google Reader, which allows me to track feeds from over a hundred sites including news from Reuters, all the major blogs I follow, and updates from the blogs of friends.  I can easily share links with my contacts in gmail, and  I even do a lot of my writing in google through Google Docs.  I work on a number of projects, where I need to share creative work with others, and Google doc’s makes that so easy, as we can both edit the same document.  Google is my one stop shop for a lot of the things I do online.

http://boingboing.net
Boing Boing is a simple blog, but it is a blog run by some very savvy people.  They share fascinating bits from around the internet. Whether it is the news of some new political movement, or a scientific breakthrough, or even a new book release from a favorite author, it is always interesting and well thought out.  If it is cool, eclectic or smart, it has probably shown up on Boing Boing.

http://temporaryhitpoints.com
I was going to list another geeky news site, but I decided to list one I actually work on.  Temporary Hitpoints is a 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons blog, providing support for players of the game.  I am one of the bloggers who contributes to it.  I have been helping out on the site since it’s launch.

Another fine podcast

I occasionally contribute to the Tome Show podcast.  Jeff is a good guy and he has a fun little podcast about D&D, and more specifically 4e D&D.  I appeared on the most recent episode which can be listened to here.

The episode is meant to be a review of the new D&D series.  We meander in the beginning on some recent news from WotC and I get a bit curmudgeonly, but all in good fun.  You should go and give the show a listen.

This just in

Another fine, fine, article I wrote for the 4e blog, Temporary Hit Points.

http://temporaryhitpoints.com/2011/01/17/i-want-to-be-good-really-i-do/

I wrote it as part of a series I am doing for the blog on playing evil.  This one is a counter point article, talking about playing goody goody characters.  I feel like the article on playing evil came out better and I need to work on my closing.  Still, I like it.

Oh, I am going to try and be better about noting here on my blog when something I worked on goes up somewhere else.  We will see how well that one holds up.

My Mom

I am occasionally surprised by my mom.  I sort of forget, she has spent a lot of time around people who I and many of my friends admire.   She get to do this by being one of those people who helps run science fiction conventions.  She tends to do stuff for World Con among other things.  The economy being what it is, she has had to slow down some, but she has been doing it for years. So last night we were watching thing I recorded off HBO.   It was the movie, Public Enemies.  It is a fairly good movie all told, and mom enjoyed it as well.  After the movie was done, they were playing “making of” segments for Game of Thrones.  They had George RR Martin on the screen talking about the time mom had walked into the room after taking some of her evening meds. She looks at the screen and says, “Oh, hi George.” I look at her.  “Mom, you know George RR Martin.” “Oh yeah.  He is a nice guy.  I have hung out with him a few times.” “you know they are making that show based on his books, right?” “Oh.  Thats nice.” The fact she knows George RR Martin is bad enough, but the fact she hasn’t read his stuff and just knows him as George, the nice guy she hung out with at a con, is why it is a bit of a disconnect.   When I was growing up she was a firefighter and paramedic. As she grew older and slowed down, she transitioned to a new life where she gets to hangout with world famous authors and is not star struck by them. She has had a meal with Neil Gaiman, she and her husband are on a first name basis with Terry Pratchett, and all the while she is still just mom. It is very possible, my mom is cooler than your mom.  Just Saying.

Merry Christmas gamers!

So, it is Christmas time.  A season of giving, of snow and family.  It also a great time to work in some gaming if you can.  To that end, some friends of mine and I wrote a bit of a Christmas project.  We called it the 4E Christmas Special.  It is filled with goodies for DM’s and players a like.  The contributors are myself of course,  Jeff Griener of the Tome Show, Tracy Hurley of SarahDarkmagic Blog, and Samuel Dillon of RPG Musings.  The 4E Chistmas special is a PDF and free of charge to anyone who wants it.  It can be downloaded from here.  That is part of Sarah Darkmagics Adventure Vault, which as actually a handy resource anyway you cut it.

It is my hope folks will like our little bit of holiday cheer.  We have 3 Delve style encounters, some feats, and a magic item all with a holidays theme to them.  IT is also released on a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike Licence.  That is a fancy way of saying you can redistribute all you want. You can change it all you want.  All we ask is you say where you got it and don’t make any money off it or a derivative work. Tell your friends about and spread the Christmas cheer.

Enjoy.

The blame game.

The thing that always fascinates/frustrates me, is the tendency of people to blame the ills of the world on one group or another.  People all the time, will blame any number of things on the group with whom they dislike or disagree with.  The group that is not you, is always the problem.

It is easy to see in politics.  The Republicans will blame the infringement on your paycheck on Democrats. Democrats will blame the downfall of the economy on Republicans.  Fox news will let you know terrorism is the fault of Islam.  Many Middle Eastern groups and nations will blame the United States for the troubles in their nations.

The problem is that almost nothing is that simple.  The world is so complex, and the factors are so many, that blaming one group or another for any problem is specious.
A good example, was an argument that started up at a party, I was recently at.  The fact someone brought up the illuminati, will be ignored for the moment.  The contention that was put forward, is that all of our jobs going over seas, was due to the Republicans gaining the presidency in the 80′s with Reagan. All of our financial woes could be traced to his administration, as far as this guy could see.

This is ridiculous, of course.   I am not a big fan of Reagan’s policy decisions, and I am unlikely to agree with many Republican sacred cows.  I am a progressive, but even I can see the problem with this contention.  The fact jobs started going over seas may have had more to do with weak economies in the individual nations that are getting those jobs.  Weak economies mean our dollars buy more there and so it is cheaper to move the factories there.  What is more,l governments like say China, would help subsidize the companies and artificially deflate the worth of their money to strengthen the trend.  And still more factors play in to this, the rise of a consuming middle class, the birth of big box retail outlets like Walmart, and the cheaper cost to transport goods over seas, all played a huge role in the jobs slowly drifting overseas.  Republican deregulation initiatives may not have helped the problems, but they did not cause it either.

In most issues you can name, (the rising cost of health care, environmental damage, the recession, wars in various countries, the slow degradation of civil rights)  you can find a myriad of factors that play into them.   To blame them on anyone group or cause actually clouds things. The truth is, the world is complicated.  It is not so easily broken down into simple statements and maybe we should have less of that going on.

I think people do this, because they need someone to blame.  It makes the world feel more controlled than it is.  It also saves them from looking to themselves to blame.  We are the cause of our own problems more often than not.  We accept certain notions, let them guide us, and we are doomed to accept the outcomes.  We could stop the shipping of our jobs overseas, by not buying things made over seas.  Of course they are more expensive, so instead we buy the cheaper product and loose the jobs.  We could get rid of corrupt career politicians, but we are told nothing we do will matter and so we believe it.  The result of course is we get the politicians we deserve, for believing we can’t effect the outcome.

I am not saying there is no one is ever to blame.  A man pulls a gun on a shop clerk and kills him. The gunman is to blame.   Your direct actions do bear a responsibility.  I am just saying, it is a more productive use of our time to think of big problems without the illusion of blame to cloud things.

In defense of Brave and the Bold

So, I am a comic geek.  I have been since I was a little kid.  I honestly can’t remember what my first comic was.  It was either a thing with Batman and Green arrow, a Captain America comic or a Rom the Spaceknight.  Since then, I have collected comics off an on for decades.   I can tell you about most characters in the long and storied history of both DC and Marvel.   I have my favorite stories, characters and writers in the form just like any fan.
As a fan, I can’t help myself.  I will watch anything comic book related.  Even if I know it will be bad, I will at least check it out.  I may wait for video, but I will check it out.
Here, I also have my favorites.  The so called “Timverse” which starts with Batman: The Animated Series, and went through Superman, and Justice League, is about as perfect a set of cartoons based on superheroes as you will ever find.  Bruce Timm was the primary creative force behind those cartoons, hense the name and they were really brilliant.  To this day, I prefer that continuity to any other version of the DC universe, including the comics themselves.  They ended that run a few years ago and it will be missed.
This brings me to Brave and the Bold.  I have many friends and acquaintances who share my love for comics.  When Brave and the Bold was announced to run on Cartoon Network, I and many of folks I spoke was dubious of it’s quality.   Where the Timmverse shows were handled seriously and with weight, Brave and the Bold went a more campy and silly route.
Despite this I watched and was surprised to find I liked it.  The show is silly, but it also is clearly made with love and affection.   Batman is less the grim and broken avenger and mroe the ultimate hero.  His guest stars are a long cavalcade of the second tier heroes found in the DC universe.   From Green Arrow and Aquaman, to the obscure Kamandi or Enemy Ace, they present these characters with a tremendous amount of thought and affection.  They have fun with some of the sillier characters, but without making fun of the world or the people who are fans of it.
The problem comes in, that a number of people completely disapprove of this show.  I am guessing the complaint is that, the show is too silly with characters that could be handled with deep pathos.   The Timmverse version of Batman was a grim and brooding hero.  Even Superman, who was obviously more hopeful character went to darker places.  There was weight to their narrative and a sense of the dramatic.
Not everything in comics was always serious.  Batman for more years than not, was a kind of a funny character.  You can look on those days as the “bad old days,” but honestly a lot of people grew up loving those stories for a reason.  Not everything in comics has to be continuity and have deep meaning.  There only so many stories you can tell with these characters, after all.  There is a place for one off stories and humor.  Being silly is not insulting all that came before.  They can still respect the characters as they are and show them as they once were.
So I guess my point is, give the show a break.   It is simple fun and made with some obvious love if they are going to bring up characters like the 10 Eyed Man or the Sportmaster. Stop trying to force it into a mold of a show that no longer is and enjoy the show for what it actually is, a loving homage to the comics of yesteryear.
My two cents.

Old Ideas and new.

So I had a notion just after 4th edition came out, to come up with my own game world.   My rather ambitious notion, was a fantasy world set in a Dyson’s sphere.  I called it Hallow.  It was not a terrible notion all told, and I had some idea in it that I think are kind of cool.  The idea eventually petered out.  I think the problem I ran into was one of scale.

How do you describe a world that is literally hundreds of millions of kilometers across.  A Dyson sphere is a a theoretical construct that would encompass a star to catch all of it’s energy.   There are all kinds of problems with having one that actually existed.  No material known could survive the stresses of it’s construction, it would have problems providing gravity to the folks inside, and the problem of orbital drift could have it running into the sun eventually.  I just liked the visual, but how do you define a world with 550 million times the surface area of the Earth.   It is too much.
I was listening to The Tome Show today.   They had Kieth Baker on, talking about the process of world creation, and it started me thinking on how to maybe salvage the idea.  The other parts of the idea I think kind of worked.   The world is obviously artificial and essentially a vast city.   All of the people(more or less) found the world by portal and or accident and settled there.   They found a vast empty city world and made it their own.  I think that part is still workable. I like some of the back stories I had for some of the groups on the world.
I had a Human nation that were essentially a wayward band of Spartans and a few other Greeks, that stumbled upon the world.  There was a nation of barbarian raiders lead by a tribe of Dwarves that would put Conan to shame.  A floating citadel, became a small nation of Halflings, that had the secret behind making flying ships.   They created a trade empire that stretched across the known portions of the world as a result.  The Drow were deep runners still but nomadic ones with a claim to being the original race on the world, or at least one that had been there the longest.   They were gypsy themed in my approach to them.
Like I said, I had a lot of interesting little notions going into the world, but I think I was stymied by the scale problem.  So I am reopening my old wiki and doing some reworking.   I think there are some cool notions there still I can turn into something worth playing in.  I will likely get rid of the Dyson’s Sphere aspect but keep the world city and some of the other notions.
That is what is occupying some of my head space today.  I may add little bits I come up with here.   I am planning on writing more often on the blog, at any rate. This may be the subject for some of those posts.

Writing for a larp

Writing for a larp

So, I have done some writing for two larps now.   This does not make me the worlds leading expert, but it has given me some fodder for thought. The process of writing for a boffer larp is interesting and worthy of a few notes beyond the usual sort of world creation skills.

Let me first say, that I am concentrating on boffer larps in this post and future ones.  This is not to say anything bad about the parlor larps.  I have had fun in the Camarilla and other parlor style larps. I have written some weekend vampire games in my time.  What I will say is, they are different.   Writing a world that happens essentially in the real world only with a supernatural overlay, is not quite the same as making a whole new world and rules set. They each have their own challenges.

On to the subject at hand though.  The standard boffer larp is a fantasy larp.  There are certainly some that have claims to other genres, but if analyzed beyond the few trappings, they are all still fantastical.  If your in a scifi larp and the psionics in it strongly resemble spell casting from fantasy, then it is not really science fiction.  Star Wars is not science fiction. It is more accurately called Science Fantasy, I guess.

Why is the distinction important?  On some levels it is not, but what it does effect is expectation.  I can write a detailed larp about investigating a new scientific principal expanded out into a concept piece.  It might make good fiction.   It is unlikely to make a good larp, though.  Players of boffer larps, are expecting looking for fantastical and adventurous elements.  The expectation is a place where they can be heroes(or anti heroes) and not spend days and months trying to figure out a scientific puzzle.  They will want a blaster, a sword, and some sort of power that will allow them to be awesome.  This places it more in the fantasy genre.

So more generally though, where do you start?  I suppose that depends on your approach. I know several folks who started with “I don’t like this aspect of existing larp blah.”  That is a place to start.  When you first get in to such games, your just happy to find the game.  After a while though, you will find there are aspects you feel you could do better.   The story elements might not be to your taste or the rules may be bothersome.  What ever the reason, you don’t like game A and you seek to improve it in game B.  This will lead to a game with a lot of similarities to the original game.  It leads to iterative game development. If you want to see a good example of this, compare the national level larp Nero, to it’s various spin offs.

Another place to start is a mechanic.   This may be related to not liking an aspect of a previous game but does not have too be.   This is really the place a lot of the rules oriented people tend to start.   Say you have a cool idea for how to do magic differently, or martial skills.  You define that idea and then begin building a world to match those notions.  If you magic system is purely based on writing spells out on a sheet of paper and destroying those papers to cast the spell, then you need to think of what kind of world would come of that.  What sort of mages would come up?  How powerful are they?  How do they compare to guys with a sword?  It seems like the guy with a sword would be more dangerous in personal combat because his effects happen in less time, but you would need to process out the magic system to be sure.

A place I prefer is start with the world and make the rules to suit your vision.  If you picture a low magic world where mages are few and far between, then you will design the magic to more difficult than just saying a few words and casting.  If you want the world to be ruled by wizards then you might make magic easier to do for those who have it, but make it hard to get.  What ever the story and the theme for a world, they will need to influence the rules.

Generally though, it is a combination of those various starting points going on that leads to a larp being started.  One guy says “Hey, I have an idea for a larp.” and gets a few friends to help him write it.  They all have different starting points and reasons.

Another thing to keep in mind is….YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET PAID FOR THIS.

Seriously, writing for a larp is a labor of love.  You just have to love larping and running them to do it.  It will be lots of work for no pay, save people telling you they liked your stuff. If you are concerned about getting paid for your work, write for someone else.  Write fiction or for the tabletop gaming market if you must.  Neither of those pay super, but it will be more than you get from writing for a larp.

Also, this is a job for a committee.  Generally speaking most boffer larps cannot be run by just one man.  You have to write a fully formed world, character creation rules,combat rules, flavor text for a website and run plot lines in said world.  It might work for one guy to do it for maybe a dozen people, but much beyond that and you are asking for it to fail.  it is too much work.

As it is a committee, try and work with people you know and like.  Plot committees historically are the source of much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  You get together more than 3 creative personalities all working on the same project but from different direction. They all have their vision of how things should go, their own level of organization skills, and their own style of running things.  It is trying on a friendship and considering the above mentioned not getting paid, your stress level for no pay can put a strain on anyone’s patience. Blow ups will happen.

Try and work with people who you know will come to their senses after a blow up.  Work with people who can let go of an idea in favor of letting a prevailing idea win out.  Try and be able to do that yourself.  Try to avoid folks with control issues or ego problems.   No one is perfect and always right, not even you.

Anyways that is my first post on this subject.  I will post more later.

The Last Airbender

I am trying to sum up my opinion of the Last Airbender.   I don’t want to come off as negative.  I went to see the movie because I loved the show very much and the movie deserved a chance despite getting some terrible reviews.

How do you get The Last Airbender to be a bad movie?  Take the events of the first season of the show overall and remove all the heart, humor or wit.   When you have done that, then shorten it down to 2 hours so no one has any chance be on screen long enough for you to identify with them.   That is the recipe for the live action Last Airbender.  There are some high points.  The actor who plays Iroh does an excellent job as does Aasif Mandvi.  The fights are interesting to watch and the effects are really stunning.   I also sort of liked what little I saw of the guy playing Prince Zuko.  Again you don’t get enough time to see why he is interesting or cool.  You get told only in brief  exposition what happened to him and why he is the way he is.

I am firmly in the do not recommend category, on this movie.  I really wanted this to be better than expectation but it really it isn’t.  I didn’t hate it.   I didn’t walk out or anything.  It was not a Uwe Boll film or anything. I just didn’t care about anything in it. Nothing had any weight.   It was merely adequate at best.   The source material deserves better than merely adequate.

What I will recommend, is go watched the series again.  It is leaps and bounds better and you will not regret the time you spend watching it.


a bit of Dresden thinking.

Here is a write up of something I came up with for Dresden Files RPG. This was an attempt to come up with alternate choices for people playing true faith characters, and give them something interesting to do if they are not playing knights of the cross. This is just my idle mind coming up with stuff. Feel free to make suggestions.

 

The True Rosicrucians

 

The True Order of Rosicrucians are a corollary to the Knights of the Cross, those wielders of the swords of faith, who have been called through history to fight in the name of their faith.  The True Rosicrucians were started in the first couple of centuries after the death of Jesus.  Sometimes called the Order of the Rosy Cross, they were called to serve, but in a different way.  Where the Hand of God are the strong blades of righteousness, the Order are the watchers, the investigators, and solvers of problems. They seek out evil and report on it, track it, and report on it, so that it can be monitored and opposed subtly.

 

The order has operated in secret for centuries. In that time, they were often involved in many struggles in the shadows.  Sometimes those struggles would wander into history, such as the catholic churches attacks on the Illuminati, some of the events surrounding the fall of the Templars, and the disappearance of Petra for several hundred years.

 

Today the order is found embedded in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and as a result, spread around the globe. They are often the functionaries of those churches, the men and women associated with the day to day business of the church.  As the group is organized for secrecy, it is easy to suspect them of nefarious purposes, but they are more of a conspiracy of light. Their goals are to oppose supernatural evil whenever and wherever it may rise, through information, and through actions of an indirect nature.

 

Those who act

 

As sometimes watching is just not enough, the True Rosicrucians have a group of men(and a small number of women) who also act directly, the Ashen Staff.  Their primary weapon is the Staves of the Rosy Cross, which are not as powerful as those blades forged with the nails used to crucify Christ, they are still objects of faith and power.

 

Even though the Ashen Staff can and will act directly, rarely will they take a role of the valiant hero stepping to the fight.  More often, they will try to disarm or neutralize the evil by attacking their power base or finding some allies who will aid them.  They are not champions, and they prefer to be unknown by history.  These are the humble strangers in the dark, and will lay their lives down with no one ever knowing their tale.

 

The Knights of the Cross

 

The True Rosicrucians are often in the position of helping the Knights of the Cross fight. They are often the source of funds for the flight that takes the champion of god to his fight, or will help to provide a place to hold the repentant, who is too dangerous to let out in the public, but still wish to change. They often are the local parish priest who knows the Hand of God for what it is, and provides succor when they are needed.  Though there have been some Hand of God who knew of this relationship, many times they did not.  This is a result of the Order’s use of secrecy.

 

The Wizards

 

The True Rosicrucians have been aware of the White council for quite some time.  Their history has not always been cordial. In the middle ages, a number of wizards, thinking the Rosicrucians were some sort of witch hunters, sought to have them destroyed.  The Rosicrucians did as they often do, and attempted to fade into the shadows rather than seek direct conflict.  This furthered the Council’s suspicions of the group.

 

Things became more tense, on the few occasions that the Rosicrucians took actual magic users into their organization.  Over the centuries, someone with some real talent may find themselves involved with the order. The Council felt this was an unacceptable intrussion into their sphere. What is more, the True Rosicrucians did not follow the laws of magic as described by the White Council.

 

An accord was reached in the late 1400’s, called the Treaty of Constance, that should the True Rosicrucians find someone of faith who also had magical talent, they would send them to the council for training, they would require those wizards to follow the Laws of Magic. The Council in turn, agreed that authority of the Rosicrucians on their own members was theirs alone and the Wardens would not have any authority to pursue them. The two groups also agreed that neither would interfere in the affairs of the other.

 

This treaty is maybe not known by the rank and file of the Council wizards, but the senior council and the Wardens are generally aware of it.  The Rosicrucians for their part have kept to it for the most part, though the provision about not interfering is sometimes colorfully interpreted.  Watching is not interference after all, nor is sharing information from time to time.

 

As to the status of Rosicrucian wizards, there are not many throughout the history of the group, and they do not often get directly involved in dangerous situations.  They are more often used as very specialized researchers.

 

The Staves of the Rosy Cross

 

After the Crucifixion of Christ, many things were saved by his follower.  The nails were saved and were later used in the three Swords of the Cross. The cross itself was broken up by Jesus’s followers, and carried away.  One fragment was said to have been buried in a small valley in Europe.  This valley, which was technically part of the Roman empire but was a forgotten by most, was home to a simple farming community.  The cross fragment was planted in a fertile field and a tree grew in that spot.  This eventually became a garden of which was of well cared for.  The trees in this valley are used to craft the Staves of the Rosy Cross.

 

The Staves are considered items of power and are legendary in their own right.  Many an unscrupulous wizard has sought them for his personal use but that is folly. The Staves, when handled by a man of faith often grant protection from magical assaults, but they also have a tendency to break magic as well. A wizard would find his spells simply fell apart.  A vampire would find his forms natural powers would begin to fail him.  In the hands of a man of faith, it is a potent weapon against supernatural evil.

 

The staves can be destroyed or broken.  This is a tragic thing as it is no small effort to make them.  The wood ic cut from the tree and worked for a year by it’s potential owner.  A similar process is involved in replacing the stave.  A broken stave looses it’s power, and none of it’s capabilities are conferred to the fragments.

 

In my next post, I will give some Dresden Files RPG rules details

Marvel Superheroes Role Playing Game

I am a fan of superhero RPG’s.  I have since the first Marvel Superheroes RPG came out.  I have played, or run, most of them, and I buy and read almost all of them.  I learned to love comics at an early age and the combination of comic book superheroes and gaming is my heroin.

 

So, of course, I bought the new Marvel Superhero Game.   It is a game written by some really quality people, and I am a big marvel comics fan.  While I am a big Hero system fan, I am always looking for new systems to run a superhero game in.

 

The system as it stands has a lot going for it. It uses cortex plus as a base.  You have variable die types based on how skilled you are. Yes, you roll a small handful of dice, but not as many as some games and I like rolling a handful anyway. The doom pool as the opposing currency against the pc’s plot dice is a wonderful addition.  Overall the system encourages you to role play, to change up how your character does things and keeps things dynamic.

 

However….

 

There is a problem.  There really isn’t a way to make your own hero.  There is a system in place, that is intended to be used to recreate a character which exists in the comics. The system could be used to make the character of your creation, but the guidance available there is sparse at best.  The overall conclusion is they would really prefer you play an existing character.

 

This mystifies me a bit.  One of the core experiences in any RPG is making your own character.  I would love to play in the marvel universe,  to fight sentinels or doctor doom.  I would love to have characters run into Spiderman and Captain America. I would not want to be Spiderman or Captain America.  There are some who would want to play them, and it is good that you allow for that, but I would think that is the exception, and not the rule in the gaming market.  I would be satisfied if they would even announce an advanced version or a supplement or the like to help you make characters, but that does not appear to be the case. The lack or formal system for character creation is not an oversight.  The little system they do have amounts to “wing it” within a certain loose set of parameters.

 

Ironically, one of the most memorable portion of the Marvel Superheroes RPG that TSR put out, was the character creation system.  It was random, and in no way balanced, but it was always memorable, especially if you used the Ultimate Powers book.

 

The actual game play portion of the system is nice.  It doesn’t blow me away, but it is solid.  There is a strong influence of narrative style games. They do a good job of systemizing the sort of tweaks good GM’s would do anyway, but sometimes not evenly. Unfortunately, I find it hard to picture it a game that my players would want to play.  The lack of full character creation rules is daunting.  In no way is playing an existing hero compelling to me, and I imagine my players will feel the same.  It is just hard to invest in a character you are not creating.  Spiderman is never going to be an extension of me, or my creativity, so I will be less invested in him as a player.  As a reader, I love him, and the only time I want to play him is in a video game, which is very much a different experience.   Given that problem, I have hard time recommending the new Marvel Superhero RPG as a good superhero game.   It could have been an awesome one based on the mechanics they do have, but without a good character creation system, it feels very incomplete.  Perhaps future books will do a better job of giving more guidance on making your own adventures and heroes. It is not for a lack of skill on the designers part or a lack of inventive systems.

 

Worry not though, if you wish to have your good system, and even a token effort to make the characters of your own, then my friend Stephen Cheney, has kit bashed a point based character creation system which can be found here.  That bit of rules mod might make a real difference. Despite my concerns about the lack of strong character creation in the system, I will be asking around to see if anyone wants to give the game a shot.  There is enough there that I am still interested in where they are going.  I just don’t think this is a point they should stop at.

A question of endings

I am taking a screenwriting class this coming semester.  This is cool as i have never really tried my hand at script writing (outside a bad thing I did for high school drama), and I like learning new skills.

I picked up the text for the class, a screenwriting book by a guy named Syd Fields. I decided I would read it before classes started to get a bit ahead in my understanding.  I am about halfway through the book and I have run into something that has gotten me rethinking some things.  His style of writing is very structured, which is a little challenging for me as I tend to be a bit more of a discovery writer, but his contention that you should decide on the ending of the story first is interesting to me.

Endings are hard.  I can’t count the number of story fragments I have had, over the years, that I let drop because I could not figure out how to end them. This idea has gotten me thinking. I may have to try that the next time I write a story.  I have more than a few friends who are writers of various stripes.  How many of you guys use a method like this?

Another fine production I was in over at Pendant Audio

Superman issue 78 and Supergirl issue 50!

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Jerry Gaylord for Pendant Productions

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton, Issue 78 – “A Guest Unbidden”

Lois catches up with friends while Lobo makes a deal with Superman!

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=202788270

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman.php

 

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Peng-Peng for Pendant Productions

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton, Issue 50 – “It’s the Tally Show, Starring Tally”

Metallo is trapped inside his mind while Kara and Kal fight for their lives!

Also availble this month is our Issue 50 Anniversary Reel!

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=256710457

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl.php

 

“Superman: The Last Son of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Susan Bridges as Lois Lane
Dragonblink as Supergirl
Adam Bell as John Henry Irons
Kristen Bays as Maggie Sawyer
Jeremiah McCoy as Dan Turpin
Bruce Busby as Bibbo Bibbowski and Lobo
Anna Rodriguez as Lucy Lane
Bill Young as Dr. Anderson
Jessie Moore as Natasha Irons
Cira as the Barkeep
and H Keith Lyons as the customer

Written by Jeffrey Bridges
Directed by Jared Page
Cover art by Jerry Gaylord
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges
“Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Dragon X. Blink as Supergirl
Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Jeffrey Bridges as Metallo
Megan Pressley as Ayumi
M Sieiro Garcia as Miranda
Michael Liebmann as Sebastian
Anna Rodriguez as Hypnosa
Bruce Busby as Lobo
Cira as the Barkeep
and Jeffrey Bridges, Jack Calk, Jared Page and Kathryn Pryde as the Alien Extras

Written by Dragon X. Blink
Directed by Teresa Keller
Cover art by Peng-Peng
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges

http://www.pendantaudio.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pendant
http://thefranchize.deviantart.com
http://peng-peng.deviantart.com

Thanks for listening!

 

Another fine audio drama I am in



Superman issue 77 and Supergirl issue 49!

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Jerry Gaylord for Pendant Productions

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton, Issue 77 – “The Vast Immeasurable Abyss”

Lois grills a CEO and dresses-down a general while Superman and Supergirl journey deeper into the abyss!

Superman: The Last Son of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=202788270

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/superman.php

 

PENDANT PRODUCTIONS PROUDLY PRESENTS:


Original art by Peng-Peng for Pendant Productions

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton, Issue 49 – “Mind Over Madness”

Madness threatens Kal and Kara while heroes and villains close in on Metallo!

Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton is a serialized, full-cast audio adventure with one new episode every month! Available for free download in .mp3 format or as a Podcast.

Also available — a commentary track with the director and writer!

iTunes link:
http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=256710457

Podcast feed:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl-podcast.xml

Download link:
http://www.pendantaudio.com/supergirl.php

 

“Superman: The Last Son of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Susan Bridges as Lois Lane
Dragonblink as Supergirl
MJ Cogburn as Martha Kent
Bill Fisher as Jonathan Kent
Geary McAllister as Sam Lane
Lyn Cullen as Ella Lane
Anna Rodriguez as Lucy Lane
Jeremiah McCoy as Dan Turpin
Kristen Bays as Maggie Sawyer
Jared Page as Snapper Carr
and Laura Frechette as Lorelei Leland

Written by Jeffrey Bridges
Directed by Jared Page
Cover art by Jerry Gaylord
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges
“Supergirl: Lost Daughter of Krypton” features the voice talents of:

Dragon X. Blink as Supergirl
Ryan H. Nelson as Superman
Jeffrey Bridges as Metallo
Megan Pressley as Ayumi
Melissa Hearne as Cameron Gage
and Anna Rodriguez as Hypnosa

Written by Dragon X. Blink
Directed by Teresa Keller
Assistant Director Dragon X. Blink
Cover art by Peng-Peng
Edited by Teresa Keller
Continuity Editor Kristen Bays
Produced by Pendant Productions
Executive Producer Jeffrey Bridges

http://www.pendantaudio.com
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pendant
http://thefranchize.deviantart.com
http://peng-peng.deviantart.com

Thanks for listening!

dresden game update

I ran my second full game session of Dresden Files(the campaign is called Shadows over Appalachia) and I think it went well.  The heroes did some spell casting, learned some more about the dragon sleeping under the mountains, and ran the hell away from a Loup Garou.   They have one more night to save the world or at least the eastern portion of the continent. They are over their heads and the only people who can do anything to stop it.  So, a typical Dresden adventure.

 
We are still figuring out the flow of the spell casting and action scenes.  It is interesting to watch the guys who are super rules wonks learn their way around the system, and then become the guides to the folks less focused on the rules. It is hard to do the sort of prep I would like while I am also doing school work, but I will figure it out.  I am pleased at things so far.  Now, I need to make time to just be a player in a game sometime.

My homework

I have an Intro to Media class at Pellissippi State.  Nice class.  I had to take a series of photos related to a form of media.  I have tweaked them in photoshop and otherwise made them more presentable. I am not at great at photography.  It is something I wouldn’t mind being better at actually.  I like good photography.  Still, these were all taken with my point and click or my phone.  I am somewhat pleased with how they came out, so I thought I would share.

I chose as my media, games.  Specifically, I chose table top RPG’s such as Dungeons and Dragons.  This is a media which is both print and interactive. These are photos of dual games running at the same time in the local game store, Organized play.

Entering the store
Entering the store
prep and shopping
prep and shopping
Book on the table
Book on the table
Game Master
Game Master
The game is afoot.
The game is afoot.
The story is running
The story is running
Meanwhile
Meanwhile
The other game master
The other game master
brings a bit of color to the tale
brings a bit of color to the tale
The perspective
The perspective

The photos were taken the Living Forgotten Realms event at Organized Play in Knoxville, TN.

Launch day

I have been helping to write a larp for a while now.  It is called Dust to Dust.  We have a really good development team and I would like to humbly say, it is one of the more detailed larp worlds ever written.  The rules are interesting and have a lot of depth as well.  It is a project with a lot of text.  The plot committee are all fans of the text prop.  Anyway, I can’t give you any event dates yet.  Those come later, but what I can do is provide you with a website to see what the game is about.

You can find it here.

I hope you like what you see.

critical thought vs being critical

Sometimes game designers and rules wonks can be less than fun to play games with.  This is not to say they can’t also be awesome, but the critical way of looking at games can be problematic.

Case in point, I played Empire Builder with my mom recently.  She has loved that game for years. I played it with her back when, I was in college the first time.   I enjoyed it back then as well.  Recently though, we played and I had long ago forgotten most of the rules.   Sitting down and playing, I began criticizing the game design.  I got locked out of action for several turns, as did someone else at the table.  I began talking about how that was bad design at the table, and I think that is where I began to go wrong.  Being critical is often an unpleasant experience for the people around you.  Mom did not have as much fun, despite winning.  I didn’t really enjoy myself that much either, because I was focusing on what was wrong.

I have been on the receiving end of this. I have tried to run games for people and had the fun in running the game drain away because some of the players kept focusing about how bad the game was.  They would joke about it at the table.  Normally in conversation, I would likely agree with them, but it killed my enthusiasm for the game.  Everyone involved did not have as much fun as we could have had.  I don’t think the player was wrong about his criticisms.  I don’t even mind him bring them to me, but that should have started a different conversation.  It should have been “I don’t feel like playing this game and this is why”.

So, am I saying being a rules wonk is a bad thing? No.  Being able to analyze, understand and critique a subject does often increase your enjoyment of that thing.  I love comics.  More importantly, I made a point of learning about the art and storytelling in comics, so now I can enjoy them even more. I can pick up on subtle nuances and influences. It makes the reading experience much more rich.  It is the same with games.  If you know more about the games, you will appreciate the nice new mechanic,  and the simple ways of conveying story.  You gain something with the analysis, but you can loose the ability to simply play and enjoy game.  There are too many examples I can think of, where someone would decry the horrible game design in games they got hours of enjoyment out of.  First and second edition D&D were games that many of us started on.  They were brilliant.  By modern standards in game design, the thinking in them is out of date, but damn it we had fun playing them.

What I am saying, is don’t let your critical mind get in the way of enjoying the experience or ruin it for someone else.  I have done a podcast critiquing games.  It was my job to find problems in computer games at the last company i worked for.  This may predispose me to find fault in games, but I shouldn’t be so vocal about those critiques when I am at the table.  It will not help anyone there have fun, not even me.  I would suggest to other game rules gear heads, would be designers, and critics to look out for it in themselves.  We all love to talk rules. There is nothing wrong with sharing your thoughts on a game, but save it for the right venue.  If you can’t relax and enjoy the game despite it’s flaws, then don’t play.   Explain it to the group and say, this is not their fault, but the game is not for you.  Maybe they pick another game to play, or you don’t get in on that game.  Either way, clear it up before you get to the game table. Don’t be vitriolic or rant about it.  You may not like the game, but others might.  It is not your job to convince your friends how wrong they are.

As an added note on larps, you are often asked for feedback on the larp events.  There are some people, who treat this as an opportunity to tear down every minor annoyance they had in a game.  There are some people who are completely insensitive and become vitriolic in their feedback.   What are these people thinking?  Maybe they tell themselves “we were just being honest.”?     “Just being honest” is often code for “I am profoundly unhappy person who wants all attention focused on me and when it isn’t i will be an asshole till you give me what I want.” What it does do is wear down the COMPLETELY VOLUNTEER STAFF.   You are killing their fun.  Their desire to keep running the game is diminished.   It is okay to express concerns.  They want to know when people are not having fun, but don’t let yourself treat them like strangers.  Just because the feedback is not face to face, does not mean you should suddenly forget these people are often your friends, or in the least are putting in a lot of effort without any tangible reward, so you can have fun.

Live by the axiom, “Don’t be a dick.”

Whatever the venue though, being critical and thinking critically are two different things. Don’t get them confused.  Be considerate of the people you play with and how your input effects the mood of those around you.

update and some gaming decisions

So, going to school eats a lot of my energy and time.  It is going to a good cause, but it is still eating it up.  One thing I have hard time doing, is taking time to play games.  Too much else needs my attention. I have writing projects for Dust to Dust, podcasting, hopefully some game and fiction writing, on top of the school work.

I think will settle into the routine a bit more and I will make more time.  The first few weeks should be a time of adjustment as you get used to the new work load.  All of that said, I am paying for some things I really don’t need to be.  World of Warcraft is not really a good investment for me.  I am not spending time doing it, and for a while now, when I did get on I couldn’t play wiht the people I wanted to.  They out leveled me a while back, or they are not on as often any more themselves.  Either way, I am just not having much fun in the game even when I can play.

What I am going to do is cancel it and uninstall it.  I need the hard drive space anyway.   I have a number of single player games I can play when i have the time. Also, there are too many quality free MMO’s to play if I want to do that.  I may get too the point I have time for social gaming online.  When that happens, I will post something to my friends seeing if they want to play some free game with me.  Champions online seems a good one for me, or Lord of the Rings online.

I am going to make some time to do some more tabletop gaming.  I need the social interaction if nothing else. It is easy to let school eat you up and depression can set in as all you seem to do is school.  Table top gaming has always been a bit more rewarding, anyway.  How and where I get that type of gaming in is still a work in progress.

For those interested, school is going pretty good.  There are some subjects I am better at than others.  I am tired of being the broke college student and I will be glad when that phase is done.

Sharing my homework

I was asked as part of my Web Design class, to pick three sites I use a lot and explain why.  After doing the write up, I decided it was worth sharing beyond class.

http://google.com
When I originally composed this post I specified gmail, but let me rather say Google as a whole. I use GMail and from there I can get social networking, phone calls, video conferencing, and task management.  Add to that, google calender where I track my classes, gaming sessions, and other important events.   Also, add Google Reader, which allows me to track feeds from over a hundred sites including news from Reuters, all the major blogs I follow, and updates from the blogs of friends.  I can easily share links with my contacts in gmail, and  I even do a lot of my writing in google through Google Docs.  I work on a number of projects, where I need to share creative work with others, and Google doc’s makes that so easy, as we can both edit the same document.  Google is my one stop shop for a lot of the things I do online.

http://boingboing.net
Boing Boing is a simple blog, but it is a blog run by some very savvy people.  They share fascinating bits from around the internet. Whether it is the news of some new political movement, or a scientific breakthrough, or even a new book release from a favorite author, it is always interesting and well thought out.  If it is cool, eclectic or smart, it has probably shown up on Boing Boing.

http://temporaryhitpoints.com
I was going to list another geeky news site, but I decided to list one I actually work on.  Temporary Hitpoints is a 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons blog, providing support for players of the game.  I am one of the bloggers who contributes to it.  I have been helping out on the site since it’s launch.

Another fine podcast

I occasionally contribute to the Tome Show podcast.  Jeff is a good guy and he has a fun little podcast about D&D, and more specifically 4e D&D.  I appeared on the most recent episode which can be listened to here.

The episode is meant to be a review of the new D&D series.  We meander in the beginning on some recent news from WotC and I get a bit curmudgeonly, but all in good fun.  You should go and give the show a listen.

This just in

Another fine, fine, article I wrote for the 4e blog, Temporary Hit Points.

http://temporaryhitpoints.com/2011/01/17/i-want-to-be-good-really-i-do/

I wrote it as part of a series I am doing for the blog on playing evil.  This one is a counter point article, talking about playing goody goody characters.  I feel like the article on playing evil came out better and I need to work on my closing.  Still, I like it.

Oh, I am going to try and be better about noting here on my blog when something I worked on goes up somewhere else.  We will see how well that one holds up.

My Mom

I am occasionally surprised by my mom.  I sort of forget, she has spent a lot of time around people who I and many of my friends admire.   She get to do this by being one of those people who helps run science fiction conventions.  She tends to do stuff for World Con among other things.  The economy being what it is, she has had to slow down some, but she has been doing it for years. So last night we were watching thing I recorded off HBO.   It was the movie, Public Enemies.  It is a fairly good movie all told, and mom enjoyed it as well.  After the movie was done, they were playing “making of” segments for Game of Thrones.  They had George RR Martin on the screen talking about the time mom had walked into the room after taking some of her evening meds. She looks at the screen and says, “Oh, hi George.” I look at her.  “Mom, you know George RR Martin.” “Oh yeah.  He is a nice guy.  I have hung out with him a few times.” “you know they are making that show based on his books, right?” “Oh.  Thats nice.” The fact she knows George RR Martin is bad enough, but the fact she hasn’t read his stuff and just knows him as George, the nice guy she hung out with at a con, is why it is a bit of a disconnect.   When I was growing up she was a firefighter and paramedic. As she grew older and slowed down, she transitioned to a new life where she gets to hangout with world famous authors and is not star struck by them. She has had a meal with Neil Gaiman, she and her husband are on a first name basis with Terry Pratchett, and all the while she is still just mom. It is very possible, my mom is cooler than your mom.  Just Saying.

Merry Christmas gamers!

So, it is Christmas time.  A season of giving, of snow and family.  It also a great time to work in some gaming if you can.  To that end, some friends of mine and I wrote a bit of a Christmas project.  We called it the 4E Christmas Special.  It is filled with goodies for DM’s and players a like.  The contributors are myself of course,  Jeff Griener of the Tome Show, Tracy Hurley of SarahDarkmagic Blog, and Samuel Dillon of RPG Musings.  The 4E Chistmas special is a PDF and free of charge to anyone who wants it.  It can be downloaded from here.  That is part of Sarah Darkmagics Adventure Vault, which as actually a handy resource anyway you cut it.

It is my hope folks will like our little bit of holiday cheer.  We have 3 Delve style encounters, some feats, and a magic item all with a holidays theme to them.  IT is also released on a Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share Alike Licence.  That is a fancy way of saying you can redistribute all you want. You can change it all you want.  All we ask is you say where you got it and don’t make any money off it or a derivative work. Tell your friends about and spread the Christmas cheer.

Enjoy.

The blame game.

The thing that always fascinates/frustrates me, is the tendency of people to blame the ills of the world on one group or another.  People all the time, will blame any number of things on the group with whom they dislike or disagree with.  The group that is not you, is always the problem.

It is easy to see in politics.  The Republicans will blame the infringement on your paycheck on Democrats. Democrats will blame the downfall of the economy on Republicans.  Fox news will let you know terrorism is the fault of Islam.  Many Middle Eastern groups and nations will blame the United States for the troubles in their nations.

The problem is that almost nothing is that simple.  The world is so complex, and the factors are so many, that blaming one group or another for any problem is specious.
A good example, was an argument that started up at a party, I was recently at.  The fact someone brought up the illuminati, will be ignored for the moment.  The contention that was put forward, is that all of our jobs going over seas, was due to the Republicans gaining the presidency in the 80′s with Reagan. All of our financial woes could be traced to his administration, as far as this guy could see.

This is ridiculous, of course.   I am not a big fan of Reagan’s policy decisions, and I am unlikely to agree with many Republican sacred cows.  I am a progressive, but even I can see the problem with this contention.  The fact jobs started going over seas may have had more to do with weak economies in the individual nations that are getting those jobs.  Weak economies mean our dollars buy more there and so it is cheaper to move the factories there.  What is more,l governments like say China, would help subsidize the companies and artificially deflate the worth of their money to strengthen the trend.  And still more factors play in to this, the rise of a consuming middle class, the birth of big box retail outlets like Walmart, and the cheaper cost to transport goods over seas, all played a huge role in the jobs slowly drifting overseas.  Republican deregulation initiatives may not have helped the problems, but they did not cause it either.

In most issues you can name, (the rising cost of health care, environmental damage, the recession, wars in various countries, the slow degradation of civil rights)  you can find a myriad of factors that play into them.   To blame them on anyone group or cause actually clouds things. The truth is, the world is complicated.  It is not so easily broken down into simple statements and maybe we should have less of that going on.

I think people do this, because they need someone to blame.  It makes the world feel more controlled than it is.  It also saves them from looking to themselves to blame.  We are the cause of our own problems more often than not.  We accept certain notions, let them guide us, and we are doomed to accept the outcomes.  We could stop the shipping of our jobs overseas, by not buying things made over seas.  Of course they are more expensive, so instead we buy the cheaper product and loose the jobs.  We could get rid of corrupt career politicians, but we are told nothing we do will matter and so we believe it.  The result of course is we get the politicians we deserve, for believing we can’t effect the outcome.

I am not saying there is no one is ever to blame.  A man pulls a gun on a shop clerk and kills him. The gunman is to blame.   Your direct actions do bear a responsibility.  I am just saying, it is a more productive use of our time to think of big problems without the illusion of blame to cloud things.

In defense of Brave and the Bold

So, I am a comic geek.  I have been since I was a little kid.  I honestly can’t remember what my first comic was.  It was either a thing with Batman and Green arrow, a Captain America comic or a Rom the Spaceknight.  Since then, I have collected comics off an on for decades.   I can tell you about most characters in the long and storied history of both DC and Marvel.   I have my favorite stories, characters and writers in the form just like any fan.
As a fan, I can’t help myself.  I will watch anything comic book related.  Even if I know it will be bad, I will at least check it out.  I may wait for video, but I will check it out.
Here, I also have my favorites.  The so called “Timverse” which starts with Batman: The Animated Series, and went through Superman, and Justice League, is about as perfect a set of cartoons based on superheroes as you will ever find.  Bruce Timm was the primary creative force behind those cartoons, hense the name and they were really brilliant.  To this day, I prefer that continuity to any other version of the DC universe, including the comics themselves.  They ended that run a few years ago and it will be missed.
This brings me to Brave and the Bold.  I have many friends and acquaintances who share my love for comics.  When Brave and the Bold was announced to run on Cartoon Network, I and many of folks I spoke was dubious of it’s quality.   Where the Timmverse shows were handled seriously and with weight, Brave and the Bold went a more campy and silly route.
Despite this I watched and was surprised to find I liked it.  The show is silly, but it also is clearly made with love and affection.   Batman is less the grim and broken avenger and mroe the ultimate hero.  His guest stars are a long cavalcade of the second tier heroes found in the DC universe.   From Green Arrow and Aquaman, to the obscure Kamandi or Enemy Ace, they present these characters with a tremendous amount of thought and affection.  They have fun with some of the sillier characters, but without making fun of the world or the people who are fans of it.
The problem comes in, that a number of people completely disapprove of this show.  I am guessing the complaint is that, the show is too silly with characters that could be handled with deep pathos.   The Timmverse version of Batman was a grim and brooding hero.  Even Superman, who was obviously more hopeful character went to darker places.  There was weight to their narrative and a sense of the dramatic.
Not everything in comics was always serious.  Batman for more years than not, was a kind of a funny character.  You can look on those days as the “bad old days,” but honestly a lot of people grew up loving those stories for a reason.  Not everything in comics has to be continuity and have deep meaning.  There only so many stories you can tell with these characters, after all.  There is a place for one off stories and humor.  Being silly is not insulting all that came before.  They can still respect the characters as they are and show them as they once were.
So I guess my point is, give the show a break.   It is simple fun and made with some obvious love if they are going to bring up characters like the 10 Eyed Man or the Sportmaster. Stop trying to force it into a mold of a show that no longer is and enjoy the show for what it actually is, a loving homage to the comics of yesteryear.
My two cents.

Old Ideas and new.

So I had a notion just after 4th edition came out, to come up with my own game world.   My rather ambitious notion, was a fantasy world set in a Dyson’s sphere.  I called it Hallow.  It was not a terrible notion all told, and I had some idea in it that I think are kind of cool.  The idea eventually petered out.  I think the problem I ran into was one of scale.

How do you describe a world that is literally hundreds of millions of kilometers across.  A Dyson sphere is a a theoretical construct that would encompass a star to catch all of it’s energy.   There are all kinds of problems with having one that actually existed.  No material known could survive the stresses of it’s construction, it would have problems providing gravity to the folks inside, and the problem of orbital drift could have it running into the sun eventually.  I just liked the visual, but how do you define a world with 550 million times the surface area of the Earth.   It is too much.
I was listening to The Tome Show today.   They had Kieth Baker on, talking about the process of world creation, and it started me thinking on how to maybe salvage the idea.  The other parts of the idea I think kind of worked.   The world is obviously artificial and essentially a vast city.   All of the people(more or less) found the world by portal and or accident and settled there.   They found a vast empty city world and made it their own.  I think that part is still workable. I like some of the back stories I had for some of the groups on the world.
I had a Human nation that were essentially a wayward band of Spartans and a few other Greeks, that stumbled upon the world.  There was a nation of barbarian raiders lead by a tribe of Dwarves that would put Conan to shame.  A floating citadel, became a small nation of Halflings, that had the secret behind making flying ships.   They created a trade empire that stretched across the known portions of the world as a result.  The Drow were deep runners still but nomadic ones with a claim to being the original race on the world, or at least one that had been there the longest.   They were gypsy themed in my approach to them.
Like I said, I had a lot of interesting little notions going into the world, but I think I was stymied by the scale problem.  So I am reopening my old wiki and doing some reworking.   I think there are some cool notions there still I can turn into something worth playing in.  I will likely get rid of the Dyson’s Sphere aspect but keep the world city and some of the other notions.
That is what is occupying some of my head space today.  I may add little bits I come up with here.   I am planning on writing more often on the blog, at any rate. This may be the subject for some of those posts.

Writing for a larp

Writing for a larp

So, I have done some writing for two larps now.   This does not make me the worlds leading expert, but it has given me some fodder for thought. The process of writing for a boffer larp is interesting and worthy of a few notes beyond the usual sort of world creation skills.

Let me first say, that I am concentrating on boffer larps in this post and future ones.  This is not to say anything bad about the parlor larps.  I have had fun in the Camarilla and other parlor style larps. I have written some weekend vampire games in my time.  What I will say is, they are different.   Writing a world that happens essentially in the real world only with a supernatural overlay, is not quite the same as making a whole new world and rules set. They each have their own challenges.

On to the subject at hand though.  The standard boffer larp is a fantasy larp.  There are certainly some that have claims to other genres, but if analyzed beyond the few trappings, they are all still fantastical.  If your in a scifi larp and the psionics in it strongly resemble spell casting from fantasy, then it is not really science fiction.  Star Wars is not science fiction. It is more accurately called Science Fantasy, I guess.

Why is the distinction important?  On some levels it is not, but what it does effect is expectation.  I can write a detailed larp about investigating a new scientific principal expanded out into a concept piece.  It might make good fiction.   It is unlikely to make a good larp, though.  Players of boffer larps, are expecting looking for fantastical and adventurous elements.  The expectation is a place where they can be heroes(or anti heroes) and not spend days and months trying to figure out a scientific puzzle.  They will want a blaster, a sword, and some sort of power that will allow them to be awesome.  This places it more in the fantasy genre.

So more generally though, where do you start?  I suppose that depends on your approach. I know several folks who started with “I don’t like this aspect of existing larp blah.”  That is a place to start.  When you first get in to such games, your just happy to find the game.  After a while though, you will find there are aspects you feel you could do better.   The story elements might not be to your taste or the rules may be bothersome.  What ever the reason, you don’t like game A and you seek to improve it in game B.  This will lead to a game with a lot of similarities to the original game.  It leads to iterative game development. If you want to see a good example of this, compare the national level larp Nero, to it’s various spin offs.

Another place to start is a mechanic.   This may be related to not liking an aspect of a previous game but does not have too be.   This is really the place a lot of the rules oriented people tend to start.   Say you have a cool idea for how to do magic differently, or martial skills.  You define that idea and then begin building a world to match those notions.  If you magic system is purely based on writing spells out on a sheet of paper and destroying those papers to cast the spell, then you need to think of what kind of world would come of that.  What sort of mages would come up?  How powerful are they?  How do they compare to guys with a sword?  It seems like the guy with a sword would be more dangerous in personal combat because his effects happen in less time, but you would need to process out the magic system to be sure.

A place I prefer is start with the world and make the rules to suit your vision.  If you picture a low magic world where mages are few and far between, then you will design the magic to more difficult than just saying a few words and casting.  If you want the world to be ruled by wizards then you might make magic easier to do for those who have it, but make it hard to get.  What ever the story and the theme for a world, they will need to influence the rules.

Generally though, it is a combination of those various starting points going on that leads to a larp being started.  One guy says “Hey, I have an idea for a larp.” and gets a few friends to help him write it.  They all have different starting points and reasons.

Another thing to keep in mind is….YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET PAID FOR THIS.

Seriously, writing for a larp is a labor of love.  You just have to love larping and running them to do it.  It will be lots of work for no pay, save people telling you they liked your stuff. If you are concerned about getting paid for your work, write for someone else.  Write fiction or for the tabletop gaming market if you must.  Neither of those pay super, but it will be more than you get from writing for a larp.

Also, this is a job for a committee.  Generally speaking most boffer larps cannot be run by just one man.  You have to write a fully formed world, character creation rules,combat rules, flavor text for a website and run plot lines in said world.  It might work for one guy to do it for maybe a dozen people, but much beyond that and you are asking for it to fail.  it is too much work.

As it is a committee, try and work with people you know and like.  Plot committees historically are the source of much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  You get together more than 3 creative personalities all working on the same project but from different direction. They all have their vision of how things should go, their own level of organization skills, and their own style of running things.  It is trying on a friendship and considering the above mentioned not getting paid, your stress level for no pay can put a strain on anyone’s patience. Blow ups will happen.

Try and work with people who you know will come to their senses after a blow up.  Work with people who can let go of an idea in favor of letting a prevailing idea win out.  Try and be able to do that yourself.  Try to avoid folks with control issues or ego problems.   No one is perfect and always right, not even you.

Anyways that is my first post on this subject.  I will post more later.

The Last Airbender

I am trying to sum up my opinion of the Last Airbender.   I don’t want to come off as negative.  I went to see the movie because I loved the show very much and the movie deserved a chance despite getting some terrible reviews.

How do you get The Last Airbender to be a bad movie?  Take the events of the first season of the show overall and remove all the heart, humor or wit.   When you have done that, then shorten it down to 2 hours so no one has any chance be on screen long enough for you to identify with them.   That is the recipe for the live action Last Airbender.  There are some high points.  The actor who plays Iroh does an excellent job as does Aasif Mandvi.  The fights are interesting to watch and the effects are really stunning.   I also sort of liked what little I saw of the guy playing Prince Zuko.  Again you don’t get enough time to see why he is interesting or cool.  You get told only in brief  exposition what happened to him and why he is the way he is.

I am firmly in the do not recommend category, on this movie.  I really wanted this to be better than expectation but it really it isn’t.  I didn’t hate it.   I didn’t walk out or anything.  It was not a Uwe Boll film or anything. I just didn’t care about anything in it. Nothing had any weight.   It was merely adequate at best.   The source material deserves better than merely adequate.

What I will recommend, is go watched the series again.  It is leaps and bounds better and you will not regret the time you spend watching it.