Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Journeys in the dark

Last weekend, finally got a chance to play Descent. I've been wanting to play this game for ages. Every time it gets brought up, we opt to just play dungeon, or do a cheap D&D dungeon romp instead. The rules were intimidating. Pretty weak excuse for not playing something you want to play for the past four years or so.

It's like a roided up version of Heroquest. Tons of plastic monsters and cardboard doors. In many ways, it is superior. One of which is the variety of characters you can be. The rules suggest randomly picking them, and that's what we did. I got a battle specialized minotaur, Jum got a magic/archery/battle mix female tiefling looking thing. With a tail. We stomped ass all over the dungeon. It took about three hours to play, but most of that time I think was just learning how to do everything. I want to play again. Right now!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Over at Paizo, they are selling the original Hook Horror toy. Hell yeah! I need to get me onna these!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I can see Russia from my house!

I was watching the Saturday night live Thursday special thing, and Alaska came up. Of course it did. Which reminded me of the boxed set of Twilight 2000 I picked up at a flea market five or six years ago. Contained within were the original rules, a few issues of Challenger, some modules, vehicle guides for Soviets and NATO, and a copy of the Indianapolis Star from November 8, 1987. This is why.

A map of the "Arctic Chessboard". Does it get cooler than hovercraft, frost bite, and killing Russians to keep America safe?


There are few things as manly and dorky at the same time as playing Twilight 2000. Most RPG's, yeah, girls can get into them. Not Twilight, a gun-porn game of shooting and stabbing and looting.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

We have a pulse!

Ooof. Stopped gaming, because life got in the way. Laundry list of life events derailed my dice time. I WILL start playing some damn games! 4th ed., Magic, Battletech, everything in sight. Watch out now games! I'm coming for you!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not the ones with Monster Mash on them...

I've found a new reason to love Halloween time. Cheap spooky instrumental soundtracks. I think most DM's have bought CDs for the express purpose of using them as background music. The earliest ones I remember trying to hunt down were the Conan and Excalibur soundtracks. Around Halloween, every supermarket, costume shop and drug store has a small stack of creepy party music. Usually for dirt cheap. The ones I have found the most use for is the Midnight Syndicate ones. I looked at their site, they even specifically made a CD of D&D soundtrack music. Can't wait to try out the one I just snagged for 2$. Vampyre, Symphonies from the Crypt. Makes me want to run Ravenloft or something like that.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Searcher of Lost Souls

If your mom decided to dress up as a beholder after being inspired by a Grenadier miniature in 1986, this is what it would look like. Revel in its glory!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Let's Get Silly!

Toon. Good times. I've only had a chance to run it on one night, and damn it was a lot of fun. Adventures are classified as quick flicks, short subjects and feature films. A quick flick is supposed to last about 15 minutes per player, a short subject about 20, feature film around 30. Characters don't die, they fall down. They then have to sit out the game for 3 minutes. This timed set-up makes for some fast furious fun. I wonder if this is one of those rules that pop up that few people actually use? I consider it one of the best features of the game. That, and the gajillion random tables.

With this timed scenario idea, you can cram like 2 to 4 crazy little scenarios into one gaming session, with like 1 to 3 scheduled breaks. I really can't see playing this as a campaign, even though they suggest it. Themed cartoon series, the examples are a knock off of ghost busters, a space opera, and spies. Great game to use as an introduction to our crazy little hobby I think.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Magic Abuser

I'm playing a wizard in ol' Jum-Jums game. What I have learned so far, is wizards shoot from the hip with the wands. Like pointy hatted gunslingers, they make with the wand action. Zero level spells are for usage against NPCs that annoy you. Those area affect damage spells that annoy other classes will destroy a mage. Having a limited spell book is more appealing to me than having to sift through the entire spell list every time I pick spells. Ignore your familiar, and hopefully the DM will too. You can never have too many scrolls.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The secrets of the spirit world unveiled for the first time!

This supplement came out when AD&D was seriously winding down. White Wolf was kicking their ass without a doubt. It introduced the spirit world, and three classes that gained their power from it. Saying three new classes was a little misleading, it was more like one new class, three kits.

The new classes were a little like priests, but when they chose spells for their spell slots, it was permanent. If they wanted to switch out a spell it would offend their patron spirit. Most of the spells dealt exclusively with spirits. One gave the shaman the ability to bind spirits into fetishes.

Pretty pointless supplement. In the DM only section, it is revealed that the spirit world doesn't exist. It's all in the heads of the shaman. Stupid. Integrating this into a running campaign would assuredly end it. Starting a new campaign based on this would turn into one guy is the hero, everyone else follows him around as he reads omens and barters with ancestors.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More Parlainth

Last post really felt incomplete, so I'm gonna revisit the boxed set. Still strong smell in it, I'm hoping the more I open it, the better it will smell. The smell I would prefer is rotting paper, like the funk given off by the 1st ed. AD&D books. Maybe even the sweet ink smell that books with lots of color illustrations seem to emanate.

The box contains two punch out card sheets of monsters and magic items detailed in the enclosed campaign book. Awesome idea, I'm glad Paizo is running with this now. The one pictured on the left is the Butterspider Box. It's a beat up rusty tin box with a lump of lard in the shape of a wolfspider inside of it. When you touch the spider, you heal, and it melts. This is one of my favorite magic items ever. That is some flavor right there (lard flavor at least). Makes a healing potion look lazy and weak. The illustration doesn't make the box look all beat up. It makes it look like a eldrich rune encrusted obvious artifact. The real shape of it makes it look like some sort of random flea market junk. Something a compulsive hoarder would store with all of their mason jars and christmas cards.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Forgotten City

About seven or eight years ago, I stumbled onto this boxed set at a flea market. For a short span of time, maybe about a summer, I found a big stack of loot there. The blue cover Holmes D&D, Twilight 2000 boxed set, a D&D calendar from like 1981, a couple of issues of dragon from the early eighties, and this boxed set. The stall selling it had like ten copies of it. Awesome.

I ran Earthdawn, maybe four to six times. Didn't get a chance to use anything from this set. I'm pretty sure I found it near the end of my interest in said campaign. It is a pretty sweet box of goodies though. Nice almost sandbox style setting. Rough maps, all sorts of adventure seeds. I really should have read through it again if I was going to blog about it I guess. Huh. Inside of it I have typed notes of all the Earthdawn adventures I ran in the mini campaign. Also in there is the stale smell of smoke. I used to be a smoker, quit about a year ago, so now when ever I open a book or boxed set that I haven't touched in a while, I get a whiff of old smoke. It's kind of gross.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Big one

So Jum-jum mentioned something about going down to gen con next month. Great idea, says I. Only been there twice, but well worth the time on both occasions. I really need to sign up for some events this time though. Last time I went, just browsed around, and spent tons of money.

I really miss the gen con preview and event information that used to run in Dragon. It made it seem like gen con was the most important gaming event in the world. Might finally sign up for the RPGA if I go down there.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Gaming Hath Shown

So, before, there was the post about what our gaming influences are. Made me think of the other route, what gaming has done to my influences. Or, what I discovered through being a gamer.

1. THE Authors. Lovecraft, Leiber, Moorcock. All of which I discovered through a lucky find at a salvation army. The Deities and Demigods that contained all of these. I ended up selling it at the first gen con I went to, meh.

2. Cyberpunk. I might have discovered it later on, when love of film would have shown to me that Blade Runner kicks all kindsa ass. For me though, it was Shadowrun. Orcs with guns and cybernetics happened to be the gateway drug for me.

3. Music. Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, X, Robert Johnson. For as reviled as White Wolf is, at least it had awesome suggested listening lists.

4. John Woo. The Hong Kong stuff at least. Hong Kong Action Theater had a super awesome suggested viewing list, which I only scraped the surface of. The Gun Fu stuff really sated me I think. So fricken awesome.

5. Samurai. I really only watched Kurosawa and read Book of the Five Rings so I could run a kick ass game of Legend of the Five Rings. Never did, though.

6. Anime. I'm sure I would have eventually seen Akira, MD geist, Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D. Heavy Gear just gave me the kick in the ass to get around to it. Starting with Patlabor.

Monday, July 21, 2008


The sunday D&D game I'm playing in just descended into a gore fest. Now if boobies are inappropriate in gaming, gore is totally kosher. How can you have a game that 75% of the time involves people chopping away at each other with swords and not have a little viscerata? The grinding and chopping was all happening to townsfolk, so it was especially brutal. Gore is blunted in gaming, and wisely so, because if your axe can lop off slabs of ogre flesh, it stands to reason that his cleaver will do the same to you. No player wants to get maimed in every fight.

Gurps goblins used nasty injuries, but in that game, your characters are virtually unkillable. The injuries would just make your phobic sickly alchoholic goblin more miserable. Seems with healing spells, chopping the hell out of players would be ok. The cure light would just stick that flapping chunk of flesh back on you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ye Ole Teat Bar

I'm playing in a new game on sunday nights, good times. Still trying to get a handle on the personality of my Mwambi (African) tribesman magic user, Witch Man. Just talking in third person all the time doesn't seem like a deep enough characterization, but meh, I'll get the hang of it eventually.

During the scenario, it became obvious to me that in fantasy towns and fairs there is an abundance of sex workers. Brothels, dancing girls, street walkers, saucy barmaids, willing succubus's, all kinds of naughty girls. In addition to this, I just saw the south park episode Major Boobage. Ahh, one of the hidden ingredients to perfect fantasy. Puerile adolescent nudity and violence. Korgoth of Barbaria, Heavy Metal, Frazetta, Nekkid titty demons in the monster manual, all these reflect this naughty piece of the fantasy puzzle.

Try running naughty things in your game though. It's pervy as hell. For the most part, players are going to be guys. As much as they like boobies and sex scenes, they don't really want their buddies to think them up for them and then tell them about it around a table. I guess it is sexist as well, to plaster manuals and scenarios in boobirific art. Still, I'm thinking the best fantasy has awesome boobage and mysterious super science.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

5 Influences! Yay memes!

1. Piers Anthony
As much as I wanted to read real fantasy fiction as a lad, the local library left much to be desired. Of your fantasy mainstays, seems like they never had more than one or two of any given series, and never the first episode. Except for the Xanth books. Think this is where I decided a little bit of silly anachronism is ok in fantasy.

2. Elfquest
When Marvel comics reprinted this under the epic imprint, in color no less, I was lucky enough to stumble onto the first issue. I was just strolling through the local drug store, when BAM! I espied a first issue of a new series. I spouted "Wow! This looks just like dungeons and dragons!" From there on I was hooked. Took periodic three mile walks to the local comic store to try and snag the current issue. If I missed an issue, hunted for it in the back issue bins of whatever comic store we might visit on family vacations. I'm still missing one issue, which I have sort of avoided finding. I like having that quest unfinished.

3. Krull
My brother had the board game, which came with little resin figures of The Prince, and The Beast. They found their way into the first couple of sessions I ran, along with whatever half painted mini's of my bro's I could scrounge up.

4. Zork
Not the computer game, we were too poor for that. Nope, the What-do-I-do-now books. Good stuff, picked them up at school book fairs, when I could beg the change for them. Still have a copy of #4 Conquest at Quendor. Bivotaur and Juranda have to face down a riddle talking cat head on the end of a tentacle. The demon Jeearr!

5. Dr. Frankenstein's Haunted Castle
Awesome attraction at Indiana beach. Just really think a good dungeon should kinda be like a haunted house ride. Like the intro to the DnD cartoon. Rat tails tickling at your feet, drop away balconies, false doors, all kindsa tricksy fun.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Free Game Day!

So, free game day, pretty ossim eh? All kinds of free starter rules, think the one I like the best is the Harnmaster Field of Daisies. Never really paid much attention to Harn, but looking through this, I'm thinking I should have. Half realistic middle ages, half typical fantasy, nice middle ground between the ole D&D and Pendragon. The scenario itself seems like it would be great fun, with a sort of made by Europeans feel, like the old Warhammer fantasy adventures. One of the character stats I've never seen in any other system, is for how pleasant one's voice sounds. That just might be the key to easy role playing (for npc's at least) that I have been searching for!

Field of Daisies also has a new fun toy in it for me, a extensive map key. I really feel like map making in RPG's fell by the wayside. Probably in the early nineties, when on one side, you had TSR trying to convince you to make 3d maps (Castles and Catacombs guide) and on the other, White Wolf telling you that maps are for railroading suckers. This map key has usable symbols for ceiling height, whether or not a door has a bar, what type of ceiling, how to mark changes in elevation and floor height easily, all sorts of goodies.

The castles and crusades quick start has character creation in it. Neato! Reminds me of the Holmes blue book Dnd, without monster and magic item listings. Traveller 0, full set of rules, plus character creation as well. This really impresses me. I thought demo and quick start rules were made of about 5 pre-generated characters, a rough run down of the rules, and a short scenario. Quite a few of these little booklets are just rules, no characters or scenario. One of them is just setting information (the goodman games one I think). Would be nice to have the time to sit down and blast through one or two of these eventually. Heh, seems like the backlog of gaming is just piling up.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Road

I just finished reading The Road yesterday. It's a Pulitzer prize winner by Cormac McCarthy. Pretty powerful stuff, it's about a man and his son wandering the burnt out ashes of a nuclear war ravaged earth. Of the two visions of a post apocalyptic world, I prefer the one with crazy psychic mutants over the one with endless winter and people slowly dying of radiation poisoning. But as a depiction of the more likely scenario, this book is tops.

Besides being a moving read, this book also conveys the brutality and just wrongness of a world with no order. Everyone but the main character eats people, that's about the only food source. If you meet someone, 90% chance they want to kill, rob, and eat you. It's set like ten years after the fall of civilization, so there is just about nothing left to scavenge. Shoes are as rare as ammunition and guns. A world full of barefoot bearded killers wielding lead pipes.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Do I wanna play some Mutant Future? Hmmmm...

So this here is Jedediah "Smell Good" Xerox, orneriest mutie to prowl the wastes. He's got a firm sense of what's right and wrong, and since most folks are wrong, it gives him a reason to bury an axe in your face. His mutation takes the form of fragrant flowers sprouting every where hair should. These daisies put out a hypnotizing aroma, which has saved his irradiated rump once or twice. He's stubborn, so don't try any funny mind tricks on him. Jeb ain't afraid of a scuffle, because he can't feel pain, gotta look at the hole in his hide to know he's been hurt. So get some other reckless types together, and he'll go sifting through some ruins in no time!

I'm thinking lawful is like the chaotic of the apocalypse. The status quo seems to be survival of the fittest, kill or be kill. Someone who wants to instill law or order would be the aberrant weirdo in that situation. Without any static society to base his lawfulness on, it would be just do as I say, because I am right!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Less than once a month!

I've been far too lazy to post, this is a pretty common occurrence so it really shouldn't raise any eyebrows. Anyway, as far as gaming goes, I've got mixed feelings on how soon Shackled City is going to be over. On the one hand, I'm a little dissapointed I couldn't meet my personal goal of finishing it by summer, setting back further the much anticipated (at least by me!) start of Rise of the Runelords. On the other side, kinda glad it's dragging out, because I've really enjoy trying to kill Krunk, Midori, and Silverswift.

Things I am diddling with:

A Subsector of Traveller. Something I started in september, and have slowly been adding to over the past nine months. Tedious, mind numbing at times, but also super fascinating. Trying to make each world stand out, when there are dozens in a system, pretty damn hard. Eventually it will be to the point where I can drop players in on a planet and have the fun explode out from behind the screen by the gallon!

Omega World. From the polyhedron article that I borrowed, and will give back, because I just downloaded the pdf. Making a ruin crawl and such, drawing up maps, slapping together monsters and npc's. Planning on adapting Legions of Gold to it next, for a micro campaign (four to eight sessions tops).

4.0 Random Dungeon. Love randomizing dungeons, and this one set of tables really breathes life into my random dungeonizing. Pretty much the only table I use on a regular basis is the Gygax ones from the DMG, so using these makes me happier. No 45 degree angle tunnels, curved tunnels, tunnels that smack into each other, x intersections, all that poop. Made up 3 levels of my 4.0 MEGADUNGEON! so far, it has way too many goblins in it for my tastes, gonna have to go back in there and change them into robot dogs or something.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Maybe give TMNT another go

So my current campaign is winding down after over a year, good times. Only two more chapters left (I'm thinking anywhere between 3 and 9 sessions, most likely 7). Secret to a successful long running campaign? A published campaign with a definite end. Makes it a lot easier to soldier through the rough spots.

Unless I intend on playing Paizo adventure paths for the rest of my life, gonna have to learn how to start and then continue a campaign for longer than three sessions. That's pretty tough.

Here's some ideas for what to do when the campaign ends;

Take a break (little risky, might be hard to get back in the groove)

Ask someone else to run (Rise of the Runelords anyone? Castles and Crusades?)

Run or play (or both) 4e when it comes out

Play a chain of three session rpg miniseries, with rotating games and gms, with beer + pretzel games thrown in every once and a while

Try to run a superhero game (whole big can of worms there, from what I understand, there is no such thing as a good superhero system)

Thursday, May 1, 2008


I bought the fourth issue of Kobold Quarterly last week. Gotta say, I'm really happy with it. Really miss having a gaming mag in print. Just doesn't seem the same, reading printouts on the crapper instead of a periodical.

It really reminds me of White Dwarf, or White Wolf, back before they both became essentially a catalog for their parent company. Interesting how what would have been game specific content is now generic content. Seemed like before, the current edition of D&D was the default, with a little bleed over between editions. Now gamers seem to want to stick with 3.5, play a cloned version of an older edition (osric, labyrinth lord, hack master), or a progressed version of an older edition (castles and crusades).

They all have the same basic framework. Sessions could be damn near identical, only differences between them would be matters of preference in specific rules, mechanics. It's like D&D has gone from chess, to a deck of cards and whatever version of poker you prefer.

Anyway, loved the articles, funnies, and even ads in Kobold. Makes me wanna get a copy of Fight On!

Monday, April 21, 2008

D&D commercial, accurate depiction of actual play! (except for the lightining bolt part)

So the Champions of Cauldron defeated a pyroclastic dragon. Not surprising, considering they have also killed a lich, a draco lich, a room full of mustache twirling villians, and eradicated an entire thieves guild. How they bested it was the shocker for me.

Going into this fight, I was pretty sure this bad mamba jamba was gonna kill one if not all of them. They decided to chat with it first, which was a good thing. Slight chance they might be able to achieve their goal by cleverly lying to him. Seemed possible, they did roll enough to change his attitude from hostile to friendly. The lying part though... well he had a sense motive of +31. Not so easy to fool. Especially when you come in telling him you are gonna kill his employers.

The fighting starts, and the party wizard tries yet again to disintegrate. On paper, disintegrate seems like whoop ass in a can. Never seems to work though, after the ranged touch attack roll, overcoming spell resistance and save, the baddies get at least one lucky roll. I roll a two on the save, which is still enough. Now my stomach drops, because I can tell I'm gonna have to kill characters now. Lots of them, unless the Champions get really really lucky. This thing has like 312 hp, and breathes superheated ash for 14d6. Its favorite tactic is to bull rush people into the lava, then grapple to keep them cooking. Painful, very very painful.

They try to banish it. Banish is turning out to be a super useful little spell, considering everything seems to be extra planar at high levels. Knowing that only a botched save on baddies part is gonna save them, I roll it right out in the open. I roll a one. It was kinda weird, it was like everyone was really too shocked to react. Plus it was like the first round of combat. I'm thinking if this had happened a little deeper into the combat, when like two or three cohorts had been toasted, there would have been whooping and cheering like in the commercial. It was more like "huh, wow, umm.. no fricken way... huh" Awesome, utterly awesome. I'm glad after like twenty years, the game can still surprise me.

Also, that's Jami Gertz and Cameron from Ferris Buehler in this commercial rocking it with the polyhedrals. I guess it originally aired only a couple of times, once of which was during Saturday Night Live. That table looks pretty damn uncluttered for a gaming session.

Don't even remember this being on TV

Here's a show I'll probably never get to see. Pretty sure thats a good thing, cuz this show looks like one hell of a stinker. It's unattainable status is just about it's only appeal for me. That and it's 80's fantasy capitalizing on the popularity of D&D.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


This bad boy right over here is a pyroclastic dragon. Or as I like to call it, dismiss him with a spell real quick before he breathes whoop ass all over you!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hook horror!

I bought a couple of boxes of Dungeons of Dread, the new DnD mini set. Lucky me! I scored a hook horror, not accurately represented on the left. No, that over there is one of the damn coolest toys ever. Meaning I never owned it, other wise it wouldn't be so cool. This is one I desired greatly, but never acquired.

The hook horror seemed to be one of the most important DnD monsters to me as a kid, for three reasons. It had a toy, a whole bunch of them were featured in the cartoon, and I had the stats in the only monster book I owned, the fiend folio. Having only the fiend folio and the players hand book (both scored in a bargain rack at Kaybee toys) gave me a strange, skewed vision of how to play DnD. I had to cobble together the rules from those two books, maybe one of the books from the basic set, and an adventure written for the expert rules (Quagmire!). Occasionally I would check out the dungeon masters guide from the library, but that tended to muddle and confuse more than help. When I finally started earning enough allowance to start to buy the needed books, seemed like all of the ones I needed were never in stock. Probably because they were out of print. Second edition was soon to be released!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Not funny haha, funny AWESOME!

The April fool's page on WOTC? Right up my alley! Autognomes, evil squirrels as players, all kindsa Erol Otis art. That's what the site should be all year long. Lurkers above and below 24/7. Grumble grumble, wish those links were real though.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tarry Wisdom

Another critter the Champions fought was a farastu (tarry) demodand. That's the scrawny little critter on the left. Four of 'em exploded outta some zombies. Not much of a challenge, but sure evokes some nasty imagery, very Dead Alive.

Not a big fan of demodand, just kinda feel stuck on, because they needed neutral evil demon/devils. They excrete yuckiness, and in the farastu's case, it is tar. This tar makes weapons stick to them unless a relatively easy save is made, all saves were made so I couldn't use these scummy little boogers to take away some weapons.

In second edition, when they didn't want to call fiendish critters demons and devils, they changed demodand's name to ghereleth's. The decision to try to disguise demons and devils always pissed me off. In a weird way, the belief that D&D was devil worship gave it a little more credibility. Something you might play with metal heads, instead of a hobby exclusively enjoyed by dorks.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Garycon: Face the Eye Tyrant!

In celebration of Garycon, I put my players up against a beholder. Awesome. I've never had a party high enough level to even look at a beholder without dying. It was pretty crazy, they kinda peppered it with arrows till it died, which shows just how awesome the Champions of Cauldron are.

I wish I had a picture of it handy, but back in the day my mom made a beholder costume for halloween. My brother used to play D&D, he's the one who I inherited my first rule books from. He had a fistfull of mini's (which my dad would paint up for him) one of which was a cheap grenadier beholder knockoff. The bad boy shown over there on the left. Think it was painted glossy grey, if I dig deep enough, I might be able to find it in my box of discarded mini's.

Her "eye monster" was a big purple scaly thing with a giant eye for a head, and tubing tipped with styrofoam eyes dangling around the bottom. For some reason she didn't win the contest she went to, got beat out by a sexy witch or something. I'm thinking the judges thought it was a rental, not made from scratch (which it was!).

Really have nothing to say about E.G. Gygax's death that hasn't been already said, more eloquently, on other blogs. It really is a pity, makes me sad.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pros and Cons

So I slapped a new section over there on the left for conventions. Really haven't been to too many, went to Gen-con back in the nineties, and once more about four years ago. Few other ones I went to, didn't really sign up for any events, just looted through the dealer area. Then there was Winter War. Signed up for events, got a room, the hole shebang. Tons and tons of fun. Really puts gaming in a different perspective to do it with bunches of strangers, in games ran by guys who do it like the "how to game master" section in most rule books tell you to.

This means now I want to go to butt-tons of cons, and go completely broke. Or just spend less on food and obscure out-of-print games. Meh, we'll see.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

And summa this..

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They don't make 'em like they used to...

So I watched Solarbabies again last week. It's been a while, and I'm glad I rewatched it. It is one of those eighties movies that is unmistakably dated. Seems like most Jami Gertz movies are, Lost boys, this one, Less than Zero. Like a trilogy of eighties movies that can be pointed to and said "aha! that's what they really thought of themselves, and also why it is so ridiculous now!"

It's a messed up mash up of Dune, Road Warrior, Xanadu, Beastmaster, E.T., and Rollerball. In the future, water is scarce, society has crumbled, the bombs have dropped. Orphans are raised in prison like fortresses in the middle of deserts. For entertainment, they play this game of roller skate lacrosse or just skate around in a circle during free skate while propaganda done in an MTV style plays on big screens.

It's got a flimsy plot, which I wasn't as interested in as what they do with civilization in the wastes. The meat and potatoes of this post nuclear mess.

You got a tribe of gypsy/amerinds called the Chicani (I think) who live in a nomadic tent carnival style place, complete with a mystic who lives in a giant plaster demon head which contains a complete wax museum. They all wear ponytails on the sides of their mulleted heads.

There is a town called Tire Town, surrounded by cars set up like standing stones, and built around a giant tire melting factory. The guards all wear armor made of tires like Wesley Snipes in Demolition man.

There is a group of rebels called the Eco Warriors, who fought the government a generation or so ago, they run around dressed like dervishes, with a lot of white and pastels. They also found a way to live in a paradise down in a cave with an almost intact glacier. Under the desert.

The "Man" or whatever has taken the nearest body of water and built a big shell around it, so they can control it. At the end the solar babies blow it up. The person in charge of this giant water management facility is the broad who played Evil Lynn in her best nazi scientist style. She even has a robot built to torture, and cut down gemstones.

An enjoyable mess, worth the time

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wrath of the Dragon God

I watched the second D&D movie the other day (well, kinda watched it while I did the dishes and cooked). Wasn't so bad. Had the essential elements, bad guy gets his hand on evil artifact, party of adventurers formed to fight him, solve some puzzles, go to a dungeon, deal with a dracolich.

A few things I liked. Mentioned the barrier peaks, shrine of the Kuo-toa, ghost tower of Inverness when the adventurers talked about their past career. The dungeon had a chessboard style trap. The adventurers had to go find a tribe of goblins who worship Jubilex. The cleric of the party gets eaten. The rogue fails a save and goes negative. The wizard botches a teleport and gets her arm stuck in a pillar.

Things I didn't like. Everyone talked in Ren-Faire British. The party tangled with a huge white dragon, a lich, and about sixty bandits, but when faced with about six darkmantles, they ran like sissies. The Black dracolich spewed fire, not acid. When the villain got the artifact taken from him, fairly, he shows up later to just snatch it out of the adventurers hands, to complete his evil plan. From a gamer perspective, that is friggen cheap, and a good way to piss off your players. Especially after killing off the cleric and having the wizard lose an arm. The tribe of goblins who worship Jubilex were all dead, so they just searched an empty village.

Still, liked it a little more than I though I would, worth seeing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Got bored at work, started thinking about building a campaign world. This has been in the back of my brain since I downloaded When the Sky Falls from Rpgnow. It's a supplement detailing what would happen to a fantasy world if meteors started raining down on it. I guess you could do it to an existing world, but what's the fun in that? I'd rather carefully craft a world, then unleash a randomized series of cataclysms on it.

So, to do this I came up with shortcuts and vague ideas. The basic idea is to draw up a map on an erasable vinyl hex map, then drop a bunch of counters on it to see where the meteors hit. To name the places on it, I decided to come up with a half-assed fantasy language. Kinda like Tekumel, but lazier. My language only has twenty syllables. Figure I might make them sacred runes or something, or just make it part of the language. I did this because I like the random Chinese name table in palladium's Mystic China. Here's the table so far.
1. Ad
2. An
3. Ce
4. Do
5. Gil
6. Ift
7. Kru
8. La
9. Lee
10. Mi
11. Na
12. Nor
13. Ri
14. Ru
15. Sil
16. Shnu
17. Swi
18. Unk
19. Ute
20. Ver

To generate a name, roll twice. For a last name, roll twice and add -Dra for daughter of, -Gon for son of. Still working on suffixes to denote villages, towns, and cities. Something like our -burg, -ville, -opolis.

I intend on attaching meanings, colors, and runes to these at some point. For the planet itself, I used the system generation tables from Traveler book 6, scouts. It makes this world only 2,ooo miles in diameter, orbiting a binary star. No moons, only 20% water, with a thin tainted atmosphere. Right now I'm stuck on whether this is going to be DnD, or D20 future/modern set during a pre renaissance era.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I just finished Canticle for Leibowitz. Took me awhile, a bit of a boring read. The premise is after the bomb, society will crumble and it's only salvation is the catholic church. Right after the balloon went up, an engineer and a bunch of scientists decided to get together with some monks and store all the information they could. Society decided to kill all men of learning and burn all books, because they were so pissed that technology had made their world into an irradiated waste land. So these monks became "bookleggers". After a hundred of years or so, of copying and recopying any text they could find, they had no idea what any of it meant. One guy made an illuminated gold leaf copy of an electronic schematic. Crazy stuff.

It goes on to detail three ages. A few generations after the bomb, few hundred years later when there is a new renaissance centered around the abbey of Leibowitz, and even farther in the future when space travel is possible. Nice to read a cold war era, pre Mad Max apocalypse story. I like Mad Max, but it seems like he turned the irradiated future into a place full of hard ass punks in muscle cars. Anyway, this book works as inspiration for Gamma World cryptic societies, and a less gonzo view of what happens when society crumbles.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Read more of Empire of the Petal throne, couple things jumped out at me. The first was about player dominions. It's stated that when a player buys a dominion, the referee may let them map it out, put a few underworlds in it, and run it as their own.

I know I've heard of this before, possibly a suggestion in the DMG or an issue of Dragon. I like the idea. Play long enough in my game to buy some land, and you can be a sub GM. You are still subject to my general rule, but still autonomous enough to control reality in your own hex.

Since families and clans are so important, it lays out rules for chances your concubines or wives will give birth. Only other time I've seen a game mechanic for that was Pendragon. Always wondered what the chance is that a player would knock up a bar wench. There is also a one percent chance that a relative of yours will show up once a month. Probably subject to a reaction roll, just like every other npc. So there is a good chance your long lost uncle will come looking for you. To kill you.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I just downloaded Empire of the Petal Throne from Rpgnow. The whole time I've known about this game, I assumed that it was a convoluted, obtuse exercise in linguistics. Not so, no it is seven kinds of awesome.

I can see why it gets lumped together with Talislanta and Skyrealms of Jorune, it is bizarre, no doubt. Seems to be easier to start in though. With Talislanta and Skyrealms you really need the prep the hell out of the players for them to "get" it. In Empire, you just have players show up on boats (which they can sell for extra cash) at the capital city. They are all foreigners, so they don't know the customs, and have no clan or family to rely on. They have to shack up in the flophouses designated for foreigners until a citizen comes by and gives them a job. This continues until third level, wherein they are trusted enough to leave the foreign quarter by them selves. Punishment involves getting impaled on the neighborhood stake.

Its flavor is kinda india/aztec/arabian, more along the lines of Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsay than Tolkien and Moorcock.

The rules are pretty close to original d&d, they would have to be. They were both published by TSR. It even has a forward by Gygax. This was a heady time for gaming, the early years. This gem is written by Professor M.A.R. Barker. Rpg's had professors writing and editing them. Credibility!

The rules differences are pretty strange. Last person to hit a monster and make it die gets all the xp. Rolls are referred to as "shakes", as in shake a twenty sided to hit. Using eyes, which are like wands, causes you to only get half the xp for the monster defeated. As you gain levels, you gain less of a percentage of xp, untill you reach tenth level when you only get 5% of the normal experience, but you still need a quarter of a million to advance. Every time you level up, you reroll your hit points, and take the better of your original score or new roll.

I got so fired up about it I printed the whole thing up, put it in a binder, and made a screen for it outta orange cardstock.