Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Inspiration: Elmore's Out of the Darkness

This reminds me of Monday, rearing it's ugly head once more. Blech. I'm working on slaying this most horrible of days once again. The fight is almost over for another week...

P.S. Saw the recent Conan movie this weekend. You know, the one starring Jason Momoa as everyone's favorite barbarian? Holy crap, did it stink (IMHO). And I'm not just saying that because I really like the source material (but indeed, the movie was an affront to Howard's stories). It was really a boring entry in the fantasy film genre. Another missed opportunity...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Checking in from the depths of a long weekend...

Hail, one and all! I hope all my fellow Americans are enjoying a long weekend, such as I am enjoying. I am having a great time with family, and also loving that I have time to do some casual reading.

I'm assuming that most of you know about the Chronicles of Prydain. I for one find it superior to the Chronicles of Narnia, but both have their merits. It's a matter of personal taste, of course. At any rate, I've decided to reread the Prydain Chronicles, and I'm really enjoying The Book of Three. I'm almost done, and can't wait to move on to The Black Cauldron. I can't wait until my kids are old enough to appreciate Prydain, Narnia, and Middle Earth, so I can read these wonderful tales with them.

I am also working my way through The New Death and Others by James Hutchings. I'll be writing a review of Jame's work soon (and perhaps a deeper discussion of Prydain).

Anyway, time to run off and do some more holiday relaxing, etc. Hope one and all are well out there!

P.S. One of the Encore channels on cable is showing all three Lord of the Rings movies all day long. I love the holidays! You can tune in at random times to such marathons and just drift away...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Bein' Thankful for Roleplaying!

Nothing profound about this post, everyone (and I think that my posting has been a bit more on the fluff side of late). I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I also wanted to say that I'm definitely counting my blessings and giving thanks for the roleplaying I have going on in my life.

I sometimes have to sit back and remind myself how long I was "away from the table" before this past year or so. I'm very fortunate to have a great group to game with, and a great place to game. In reading other blogs, I see some lamenting their lack of ability to actually roleplay, rather than just blog about it. So I am fortunate indeed!

Thanks for reading, thanks for the community, and (as always) happy gaming!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Idle Musings: Elf Ear Length

I for one can't stand those long, World of Warcraft elf ears. Is WoW to blame for the popularity of extra-large elf ears? Blech.

Gimme slightly pointed elf ears any day.

Of course, if the elf is being portrayed by Felicia Day, that's when I stop caring about the ears.

So, what are your preferred elf ears?

Oh, and for those who are hardcore about their elfish-ness, there's always body mod (of course this would also work for those Trekkers who wish to be more Vulcan).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Favorite OSR Products

Brace yourself, bandwagon, 'cause I'm jumping on! This is my list for James at Underdark Gazette.

He asked, and I obey!

In no particular order:
  • Stonehell Dungeon
  • Swords & Wizardry Monster Compendium
  • Points of Light
  • Blackmarsh
  • Death Frost Doom
  • Encounter Magazine
  • Knockspell Magazine
  • Expeditious Retreat Press (all old school modules) 
  • Goodman Games (all old school modules)
  • The Majestic Wilderlands

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Ultimate Non-Stick in the Mud is...

Alexis Smolensk. Thanks for this. It was great to see the real person behind the huge volume of words written on that blog. For me, this proves that Alexis is more than just the curmudgeon he makes himself out to be on the blog. It was a bold stroke on his part, if you ask me. He came across as pretty down-to-earth, and that was refreshing. Changed my whole perspective on the guy, I have to say. It was conversational in tone and I think that's what stood out most for me.

Kudos to you, sir. You're definitely a braver soul than I. Major props, and happy gaming!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Just another messed-up Monday...

I've written here at least once (over a year ago) about how much I hate Mondays. And that hasn't changed. In fact, it's gotten worse, that hatred. When last I posted about my disdain for the first workday of the week, I was actually in a comfy and familiar (albeit lower paying) job that I had been at for years. If only my then-self knew how much more Mondays would come to suck.

If you've been following this here blog, you know that I was downsized in February of 2011. In a flurry of job-hunting activity, I found my current position in record time (was only out of work for three weeks or so). Well, I'm about seven months into the new gig, and I'm still struggling to get the hang of the gig. I've never worked for a firm the size of my current employer (thousands of employees versus the less-than three hundred that I used to work with). And the position comes with much more stress, speed, and responsibility than my last job.

I know, cry me a river, right? I try to be thankful that I have a job, when so many don't. I try to get ahead of the game at the new gig but haven't yet been able to get my head above water. Part of it might be a bit of a crisis within. I'm questioning if I want to keep on with the stress of my type of work (proposal writing) and am also asking myself if an entirely new vocation shouldn't be in my plans for the future.

To add insult to Monday injury, this morning I discovered that something horrible has happened to the Axe and Hammer blog that once belonged to fellow blogger Grendelwulf (who, ironically, commented on my "Me versus Monday" post that I linked to above). He was one of the first bloggers I interacted with when I got into the RPG blogging game. GW, I hope you are still out there and fighting to get your blog back, whatever happened to it.

Depressed? You could say so. I'm feeling an eerie sensation that my current real-life pressures are going to have a deep impact on my gaming life. And perhaps sooner rather than later. You know how you can just feel these things?

And this thought is making me really, really angry. I'm getting squeezed from all sides with regard to my work, and I'm just feeling like there's no way out at the moment. But there is a way out. It will just take work. And the time for that work needs to come from somewhere. And unfortunately, the time will most likely be stripped away from my gaming life.

Sorry for being a downer. I figured I'd share with the group and see how much misery loves company, etc. For now, I'm NOT giving up on my Wednesday night gaming goodness. I just might be missing more Wednesdays in the near to mid-future, unfortunately. But then again, who knows? Tomorrow is another day.

If anyone can give me any intel on what happened to Grendelwulf, I'd appreciate it. In the meantime, I'll be searching for some inspiration...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blog Word Verification as RPG Inspiration?

Atom Kid, the mind behind blogs such as CROM! and Maximum Rock & Role Playing, recently wrote a post that I find to be nothing short of genius! It was a head-slapping moment for me, because I don't know why someone hasn't thought of it sooner (and if they have, then I don't know about it).

Atom Kid put forth an idea related to those Blogger word verifications that many blogs (mine included) require before a comment can be posted. What's the idea, you ask? Well, he thought it would be cool to use those zany words as the basis for names for characters, creatures, and places! Really cool and creative idea, right?!

Go here to read the post I'm talking about. I hope that Atom Kid continues with this project, and perhaps he wouldn't mind if I picked up the torch as well. If anything deserves to become a blogosphere meme, it's this one!

Monday, November 7, 2011

ALERT: Crypts & Things PDF Released!

Attention, RPG blogosphere! Newt Newport of Sorcerer Under Mountain has released the PDF of his much-anticipated Swords & Wizardry variant called Crypts & Things! If you've read my blog at all in the last few weeks, you've probably read just a wee bit about this sword and sorcery-focused version of Matt Finch's beloved Original D&D retroclone.

Newt, that sly fellow, had scheduled the PDF release for mid-November. So imagine my surprise when I received an email from Mr. Newport with the C&T PDF attached! Talk about a pleasant surprise!

Anyway, I am going to no doubt lose some sleep tonight digging through the game. I've been itching to get my hands on this thing, as I've been dreaming of doing some hardcore sword and sorcery gaming!

Below is a video walkthrough of the book, conducted by Newt himself. I hope that it gets you as excited as me for this game! Do yourself a favor and get your own copy! From what I'm seeing just on an initial skim-through, you won't be disappointed!

Monday Inspiration: David Bowie's Ballad of the Adventurers

[This always makes me think of 1st-level D&D characters still new to their adventuring careers]

Sickened by sun, with rainstorms lashing him rotten

A looted wreath crowning his tangled hair

Every moment of his youth apart from its dream was forgotten

Gone the roof overhead, but the sky was always there

Oh you, who are flung out, alike from heaven and from Hades

You murderers who've been so bitterly repaid

Why did you part from the mothers who nursed you as babies

It was peaceful and you slept and there you stayed

Still he explores and rakes the absinthe green oceans

Though his mother has given him up for lost

Grinning and cursing with a few odd tears of contrition

Always in search of that land where life seems best

Loafing through hells and flocked through paradises

Calm and grinning, with a vanishing face

At times he still dreams of a small field he recognises

With a blue sky overhead and nothing else

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thoughts upon my 100th post for 2011

Hello fellow gamers! This is a pure fluff post, I suppose, because I'm just going to pat myself on the back for what is probably not a very impressive stat: this is my 100th post this year. Yeah, I know. Big deal, right?

But let me take the opportunity to say thanks to all who stop by and read. I try to return the favor when I can. I perhaps spend more time than I should cruising around the blogosphere. But then again, that time is worth it. Because I need the support system. I need to be reminded that there are like-minded souls out there, working hard to have adventures. Keeping the RPG flame alive.

That's why the cynical souls who say that we shouldn't trust each other, that your fellow bloggers are not your friends, blah blah blah, can frankly suck it. They can shut the F up. We may not know each other beyond our little virtual world here, but those who never took a chance never had a chance. So every day we take a chance and share our experiences, thoughts, inspirations, etc. with near-strangers. And that's alright by me.

Why? Because this hobby-that-isn't-just-a-hobby is important to all of us. It brings us together, our diverse group of dreamers. For what are we if not the lords of imagination, purveyors of dreams? We, who mourn the passing of our comrades (farewell, ChicagoWiz, and the rest who have gone before) and laugh in the face of those who proclaim that our dungeons suck. We, who are wary of those who claim to know the "true way" of how to roleplay. We know the truth: that any roleplaying is good roleplaying. Those who say otherwise are lost souls, and rightly so.

The name of my blog derives from the famous speech in Shakespeare's Henry V. I chose it originally because I was returning "once more unto the breach" of roleplaying. But now that title also reminds me that I have indeed found a "band of brothers" in this community of ours.

So, I dedicate this post to you, my fellow roleplayers. Hail, and well met! May your adventures always be plentiful! As always, I wish you happy gaming!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Look out, people! It's another RPG blogosphere meme! I'm actually going to participate in this one, since it's pretty short. This one is the brainchild of noisms at Monsters and Manuals. It's called "Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About" or TRPBTNTWA!

So, here goes:

Book binding: overall I've been pretty lucky with book bindings holding up well. Then again, I am a book snob and treat them like human babies when handling them. Plus, apparently a lot of recent RPGs have some binding problems. I am not encountering that, because for the most part I've been getting PDFs and having them spiral bound. It's so much better to be able to have a book lay flat, being able to fold it this way and that, etc.

"Doing a voice": despite having a lot of acting in my background, I don't really like to do voices. I usually like to describe how an NPCs voice sounds and let the player's imagination take over. I also like to change how I phrase things, alter my syntax and sentence structure, etc. in order to make an NPC's manner of speaking sound unique, rather than rely on some weird voice. However, there are times when I'm inspired and will do a voice. This is especially true if there's some comedic effect I'm going for (these go over much better than me trying to do an intimidating voice, which I am not sure I can make believable). Then there's times I like to do some gruff voices for grizzled warriors or haughty voices for wizards or nobles. But there's not much beyond that.

Breaks: These are usually just spur of the moment. If a player's had too much Dr. Pepper at the table and has to go, they usually just pop up for a quick pee. I've been considering calling breaks half way through a night's session, though. Just to stretch the legs, etc.

Description: This depends on the situation. It's all about context. If you're just entering another tavern, then there's not much need for description. But entering a specific NPC's lair, or some other place that's destined to be an important "set piece," then that calls for me to pull out the stops and slather on the details like only a true B.S. in English can! ;-) Simply put, there are places where you need to evoke a mood, and places that you don't.

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?: This is a weird one for me because I play with a really great group of nice people at the moment, so there's not a dickhead to be found! But back in the day, as a kid playing the game, there were one or two guys who were dicks, DM and player alike. Those guys, we just stopped playing with them. Nuff said.

PC-on-PC violence: I think this goes hand-in-hand, more often than not, with the dickhead thing. Only dickheads tried to abuse fellow player's characters. Thus, we stopped playing with those guys. If I ever get into playing at conventions with strangers, I might start running in to more dickheads. But at the moment, I've got my small and close-knit band of like-minded gamers, who are a blessing!

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player?: I try to explain it simply for the most part. I say "It's board gaming without the board." Or I say "It's cooperative storytelling." Or "It's like acting, and our imaginations are the stage." Usually it's a combination of these. That's how I start out, and then try to explain the basics quickly, just a summary. Sometimes I feel like being glib and say "It's the adult version of playing pretend." But I usually try to not say that, because it might help to spread the anti-gaming stigma. I think that people who would never want to play an RPG will never be able to truly compute the concept, because it's something they would never want to do. So they don't try hard to understand. That's (sadly) how many people approach a lot of things in life, I think.

Alcohol at the table?: I wouldn't mind trying it. I think I've done it once, and we didn't have enough alcohol to get truly drunk while gaming.

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session?: When I start a campaign, one of the things I do for the players is outline my ideas for what to do when a player is absent. I usually give them these options: when you're not here, I can A) use your player as an NPC and promise not to kill him/her or B) have your character become somehow indisposed for the session, either by falling unconscious, disappearing mysteriously, etc. This second option usually lends itself to some interesting plot developments and side quests once the player returns to the game in a later session. Either way, though, the character earns no XP for the session. I've tinkered with the idea of offer another option: if a player allows me to use their character as an NPC that could get killed, I will allow them to earn XP. But I'm still on the fence about that. Now, if during a session another player is willing to play another player's character, and the owner of said character is ok with it, that's another way that a character can earn XP (but the stand-in player needs to make good use of the borrowed character during the session).

So that's what I've got to say about that! What about you? Come on, everybody's doing it!

Call me Alice...

...because I just slipped down the rabbit hole again. What rabbit hole, you ask? Why, the gaming blog rabbit hole! Surely you've taken that darkling path yourself! Down and down you go, clicking on link after link. You start out on one blog, then make the error of looking through that blog's list of links to other blogs. And on and on it goes, until, lo and behold, your entire lunch hour is gone! It's enough to drive one quite mad, and cause the afflicted to break into nonsensical rhyme...

Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Have I mentioned Crypts & Things yet?

"Is the soup ready yet?"

I may have already talked about this before on my blog, but I can't remember. ;-) Anyway there's a pretty cool Swords & Wizardry variant out there called Crypts & Things (the image above is one of the many illustrations in the book). Creator Newt Newport has taken the S&W rules as a foundation and made them more swords and sorcery-friendly.

The project is about to hit the streets, and a lot of people are buzzing about it and have put in their pre-orders (myself included). The PDF is slated for release in the next couple weeks, with the print release before the end of the year. They've almost reached their pre-order goal. So go check it out, and get in on the action!