Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Land of Ice (Introduction)

If the gods are finally helpless before evil, men and women must be more so. The heroes and heroines of the early stories face disaster… This is the conception of life which underlies the Norse religion, as somber a conception as the mind of man has ever given birth to. The only sustaining support possible for the human spirit, the one pure unsullied good men can hope to attain, is heroism; and heroism depends on lost causes. The hero can prove what he is only by dying. The power of good is shown not by triumphantly conquering evil, but by continuing to resist evil while facing certain defeat.

From Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, The Mythology of the Norsemen

When is a legend legend? Why is a myth a myth? How old and disused must a fact be for it to be relegated to the category “Fairy-Tale?” And why do certain facts remain incontrovertible while others lose their validity to assume a shabby, unstable character?

From the introduction to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight

We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!

Led Zeppelin The Immigrant Song

They will tell you they are descended from the gods, but this is not true.

They will tell you their ancestors came to this world by design, but this is a half-truth at best.

They will tell you their divine forefathers came from another realm beyond the sky, crossing the gulf between worlds in a ship of immense proportion and grand design, bringing with them the people that would populate the world, and this is accurate…though perhaps not in the way the skalds imagine.

They came from another world, fleeing fire and death, pursued by their hated enemy, the Jotun. They crossed the vastness of space travelling within the nothingness, that place between the icy emptiness of space and the fiery blaze of the stars, finding a way their pilots could navigate using their evolved minds and ability to sense beyond the physical. To this world they came, finding it a restful respite from the pursuit that hunted them for so long.

But it was never their plan to stay for long. The world was too metal poor for their purposes. Yes, there was gold and silver to be mined, useful in ritual and technology as well as decoration, but the harder metals – those needed for machinery, weapons, and space travel – these were conspicuously absent. Even poor iron was scarce except in the frozen mountains, extremely difficult to procure. And while there were gemstones to be had, the crystals they relied on as both power source and mental focus were nowhere to be found. No, they could not stay on this world.

But there were those that dissented from the opinion. The crew members of a more spiritual bent felt the world could be a new home, a fresh start, leaving the mistakes of the past behind. The stark, cold landscape had a pristine beauty that was a marked contrast from the extravagance of their former realm…and its very lack of distraction proved conducive to the exploration of psychic powers they hoped to develop, though their fellows mocked them for their vanity.

But these vanir (as they came to be known) were simply non-cooperative and apathetic; others took more direct action to sabotage the mission. The genetically engineered technicians of the ship had long felt their life as one of virtual slavery to their creators. With the opportunity of landfall, the dvergar (so they are called) found a way to shirk their yoke and escape into the hills, absconding with materials and equipment necessary for the repair and operation of the craft…including the focus crystals of the pilots.

Effectively hamstrung by this defection, the remaining crew members, organized by their captain, set-off for the south and warmer climate, seeking to escape death at the hands of the encroaching winter. The vanir elected to stay with the ship, having made contact with the native sentient species; a humanoid race of ethereal beauty, the newcomers called them “alfar,” though they had no name for themselves. A telepathic race, they and the vanir shared an interest in the development of their psychic potential, and over the next many years would work together to create the seidhr crafts. They would also find that the two species were physically compatible with one another, and children born of both races soon appeared, further rooting the immigrants in their new world.

Meanwhile, the remaining newcomers attempted to carve out a home in a fierce wilderness, using the tools and weapons of their former world. It wasn’t long before they realized the hope of rebuilding their technologically advanced civilization was a lost cause. The resources they’d brought were finite, and the environment yielded no replacements, especially the fuel and energy needed for their greatest machines. Much of their might was expended against the native animal life, deadly and predatory in nature, as well as combating the elements, which proved exceptionally hazardous. The rotation of the planet led to exceptionally long, cold winters and the erratic moons created erratic tides along the coast of the southern sea, to go with the hurricane strength winds. Blizzards out of the mountains and permafrost where mining might otherwise yield valuable mineral resources made it clear that taming the planet to their own purpose would be a losing proposition.

Still under the leadership of their captain, it was decided that a last push would be made to gather and unite the crewmembers and attempt to get off-world before their diminishing resources forever marooned them on a hostile world. Mustering their strength, they marched back to the north and to war with the vanir who, by this time, had no interest in returning to the stars. Even with the aid of their psychic powers and their alfar allies, the vanir were no match for the well-armed and organized crew members, and the vanir were forced to capitulate.

The victory proved to be a hollow one. Knowing the captain’s next step would be to root out the dvergar mutineers and force them to return the piloting crystals, the last of the vanir resistance did the unthinkable, destroying the bridge and piloting controls of the ship, permanently stranding the star-travelers in the new world.

A pragmatic man as said, the captain took stock of what was and put away the dream of returning to space. He ordered the cannibalization of the ship and organized the building of the newcomers permanent settlement. Envoys were sent to the dvergar, who declined to return to the crew (being wary of once again becoming servants) but pacts and agreements were reached for mutual benefit, and peaceful trade precedents were set.

On the other hand, the alfar had no interest in joining with the newly reunited crew, feeling those in positions of power were far too warlike and aggressive compared to the peaceful vanir (with whom they continued some relations). They removed themselves farther north into the mountains, and endeavored to have as little contact with the immigrants as possible.

The alfar blood continued to circulate within the population, however, often accompanied by a strong, natural psychic potential. The crafts (seidhr training) were still taught within the settlement, especially among the descendents of the vanir, but it was often viewed with suspicion as “sorcery.”

A new culture evolved among the colonists, one in which martial prowess was held the greatest virtue, and where pragmatism and acceptance of fate to be the preferred outlook on life. Courage was valued above cleverness…especially in the face of so many dangers (environmental and predatory)…after all, the courageous individual is more likely to save many while the clever individual seeks mainly to save himself. True or not, it is the way the newcomers have come to look at the world being correct more often than not.

Because of this, one’s honor and one’s oath need be defended at all costs, otherwise showing an individual as a weakling and a coward. As the centuries have passed, and the once star-faring race has become the equivalent of a medieval, feudal society, and such a reputation is enough to ostracize an person, possibly leading him to become a true outcast, forced to live a life of banditry outside the warmth of the communal halls.

Far better to die a hero than live such a life of shame. Far better to seek glory and fail than to seek comfort and ease. Such an individual as would do the latter is of little use to their clan, considering a hostile world where every able-bodied person is needed to ensure the survival of all. Life is harsh; accept it and prepare to meet it, axe in hand.

Welcome to the LAND OF ICE.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Money Issues

So today I've been researching medieval and ancient currencies in prep for my posted world setting. Ugh...what a freaking nightmare.

I won't say it hasn't been worthwhile reading, but it's a total pain in the ass trying to bend a fantasy game equipment list to anything historically accurate. And the conclusion I came to in the end is, it doesn't need to be "historically accurate." This isn't history we're talking about, it's fantasy.

Why does B/X D&D use a gold standard of currency instead of a silver standard? Because it's a damn fantasy world, that's why. While I can see that Gygax's AD&D currencies are based in large part on medieval England (with the pound substituting for the gold piece, the schilling for the silver piece, and the penny for copper...all in the appropriate rate of exchange of 1=20=200), who's to say what might be more (or less) valuable in an alternate (i.e. self-devised) fantasy setting? I'd want to build my fantasy economy on the silver mark, personally (the coins were a lot more portable)...but would a dragon want to sleep on a horde of guilders or florins?


I have seen, in more than one writing (and not just the internet) people complaining about the "unrealistic" costs of armor in the B/X system (for example, 60gps for a suit of plate mail, 40gps for a suit of chain). Per wikipedia (sorry) a hauberk alone cost the equivalent of 12 dairy cows and a full suit of mail might cost "as much as a small house." Well, okay much would a dairy cow have cost in the 11th century?

Well, per one web site, the cost of a good cow in the 12th century would have been 10 schillings. If we use the AD&D Gygaxian conversion (pound = GP, schilling = SP, pence = CP) then a cow would be 10sp and a chain hauberk about 120sp (6gp, using AD&D conversion of 20sp to 1gp). The same site lists a 14th century merchant's house to cost from 33L to 66L (that's 33-66gp in conversion)...although a 14th century cottage is only 2L = 2gp. Guess it depends on your definition of a "small house."

The same site lists the cost of a suit of chainmail (12th century) as 100 schillings (sps); the equivalent of 5 pounds (or 5gp with D&D conversion). A complete suit of "lance armor" (plate & mail) as 3L 6S (that's 3gp and 6sp), while "ready-made milanese armor is L8 6S 8D (8gp + 6sp + 8cp), and "armor of proof" (plate tested against pistols and such) being L14 2S 8D. Under 15gp seems pretty good for firearm-sturdy plate armor, right?

As I said, it's enough to make your head spin. 13 schillings converts to about 1 silver mark. A silver mark is (or was rather) the value of half a pound of silver. In D&D terms, that's 5 silver pieces in any edition due to the giant-size of coins in the Gygaxian universe (10 coins = 1 pound). So if I do a straight conversion from real world to fantasy world (rather than just have the Gygaxian stand-in of 1=20=200 or L=gp, S=sp, D=cp), then you get this in real world terms:

Chainmail = 100 schillings
100 schillings = 7.69 silver marks (we'll round up to 8).
8 silver marks = 4 pounds of silver
4 pounds of silver = 40 silver coins in D&D (40sp)

Which means chainmail in D&D should be either 4gp or 2gp (in AD&D).

Now the cost of chainmail in B/X D&D is 40 gold pieces, not 40 silver pieces. Can we do a straight across conversion (i.e. real silver = "fantasy gold")? I mean it IS a "fantasy world," right? Sure you which case, the costs in the B/X book seem just fine without blowing up the costs. I mean, the average cost of plate and mail is about 60 silver (i.e. 60 fantasy gold pieces). There may be an issue with the amount of starting wealth characters have (and some of the other equipment seems a bit over-priced), but I don't think inflating the prices makes the game more "realistic."

Interesting that "armor for the Prince of Wales, gilt and graven" cost a grand total of 340 L in the 17th century. Even converting pounds straight to gold pieces, I've seen an awful lot of "plate mail" listings post-B/X in the 400+ gp range (even DCC lists half-plate as 550gp and full plate as a whopping 1200gp!). Totally ridiculous!

All right, that's enough for now. My new world setting is going to be on the gold system, and costs will be fairly equivalent to B/X, but I plan on doing some weirdness with starting wealth (and I may also reduce the cost of some items...or not). But if anyone's wondering why I don't up the price of armor, well, this is why.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cold Snow Bloggery

Okay, back to work.

Now that the Seahawks have tanked for the season, I can get back to work. Not literally, of I have the day off (though I've been watching my boy all morning; he's asleep right now). And I think it's high time I returned to a bit of B/X madness...specifically with a wintery twist.

Before I explain exactly what I mean, I'd like to make a note of JM's recent post over at Grognardia. I didn't get involved in the discussion (and, frankly, stopped reading the comments after the first 60 or 70) because he specifically asked folks to be polite and respectful and I'm not sure I could have been such on something I consider to be a fairly silly topic.

What do I mean "silly?" Well, there seems to be an implication (and JM's own comments lead me to infer this also, not just the initial post) that there is a greater value to RPG material ("product") that arises organically from play. James isn't just talking about product that's been playtested versus product that hasn't...he's talking about "the origin of the content."

To me, the whole discussion is ridiculous. Look, there are folks who fancy themselves designers and publishers (like myself, in my own admittedly poor, small fashion) and there are those who simply "play." If the latter are creating material/settings/adventures, they probably are NOT interested in publishing their stuff (i.e. for money or "professionally"). If the former, than most ANYthing they create is given at least a cursory glance with an eye for profit.

I know I do...whether it's a one-page micro-system or an adventure for bar-hopping gaming group, there's a part of me that says, "hmmm...should I type this up and sell it as a .pdf for a handful of bucks?" That's just how it is. And when writing adventures for said game group, there's always the idea (in the back of one's mind) that this might be, or could be, a "future product."

Now, perhaps Mr. Maliszewski himself wasn't originally intending to publish appears this was originally more of a thought experiment/blog stunt to see how the whole OD&D/megadungeon thing works. Maybe he never intended it (in the beginning) to be published and it is only now that he has amassed a substantial amount of material that he sees potential (monetary) value in a Dwimmermount product.

Fine and dandy...but most of us in the publishing business (and, yes, I again count myself as one of these, despite having printed only a single book) have more definite objectives in our own adventure creation from the outset. Why? Well:

- few of us have the resources to devote to game design full time
- time to actually game/play is limited
- writing and playtesting takes time as well
- the best way to kill two birds with one stone is to make sure your game/play time is being used to playtest that which you've written

Again, only so long as you consider yourself a game designer/publisher. If you don't, than play/game whatever the hell you want.

Anyway, having said that, I'm interested in writing up a little something-something on the blog for those folks who are into the B/X thang...specifically a series of posts detailing a possible world setting for a B/X campaign. This will, of course, be done with an eye towards future publishing (for the reasons outlined above) rather than for any particular game I'm running (since I'm still intent on playtesting my space game at my weekly session). However, if the series is never compiled/printed, that's fine too...this ain't something I'm particularly attached to, and it IS something of a thought exercise; I'm just not ruling out money as a background motive for the stuff I write.

Jeez...I do live in the real world after all.
; )

So, right...there are two ideas I want to postulate/discuss on this post ('cause I'm not sure how I want to approach them in the series):

Idea #1 - The Setting

My setting is going to be a very specific one, rather than a generic World of Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms/Etc. It's going to be set in a cold and snowy environment...something like the planet Fenris from the WH40K fluff/novels. This is due to my own interest/fear/fascination with things snowy, arctic, and mountainous. Monsters, characters, rules, magic, etc. are all going to be adapted/skewed to this setting. Here's the part I haven't decided: Do I make the default character assumptions one of Norse Mythology? Or do I do something more in line with MZB's Darkover novels (including ancient space colonists and psychic powers)? I have an attraction to both styles of "snow" and can see value in both, but to keep the setting specific, I feel I need to keep on a single tract. Since this is going to be published in installments on my blog, what would readers like to see?

Idea #2 - The Style

A while back I started working on my own Fantasy Heartbreaker, just to get the damn thing out of my system (basically, "knocking off" D&D with my own "fixes" or "what I would have done different from Gygax & Arneson"). While I made quite a bit of progress on the thing (about 30 pages, last count), it remains backburnered at this time because A) it's a FHB, and B) I have non-FHBs (i.e. potentially lucrative products) waiting in the wings. However, there are plenty of things about "my system" that I like...prefer in standard D&D. Should I incorporate some of them? A new setting book is a great time/opportunity to throw in some "house rules" that are setting specific. OR should I make the game adhere closer to the standard B/X rules? Or Labyrinth Lord for that matter...I could toss an OGL on the thing and see about making it a semi-official supplement for LL rather than a setting for an out-o-print game system. Again, the only plan at the moment is to post the thing up on my blog (I have one or two other books that need printing before this one)...what style would my readers be interested in? Do you want Vancian magic and Gygaxian combat? Or something different entirely?

All now you know what I'm thinking about/plotting. Depending on feedback, I'll probably start the posts this week.

And whadya' know...I finished my post and the baby is still asleep! Maybe I'll take a little nap!
: )

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tebowed or T-Jacked

This will...almost my last NFL post of the season, for which several of my readers will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief. The reason being that, barring a near miracle, the Seahawks chances of catching the 49ers...or even a wild card berth...are near nil.

[I say "near" miracle as the 49ers have shown the ability to self-destruct in recent years; however, tough as their remaining schedule is, I'm pretty sure they can manage at least one win, which is all they need]

About seven weeks ago, Steve-O was telling me with great interest (on his part) that he'd read a rumor on line that the Seahawks might be working out a trade for Tim Tebow from the Broncos. This was, of course, back when Tebow was still riding the pine in Denver. At the time, I told Steve that, bad as the Seahawks quarterbacks were, just about the last thing we needed was a Tim Tebow being adding to our roster, and that I was pretty sure the Seahawk brain trust felt the same way. Also, I figured it didn't matter who was starting behind our O-line with the messy state of it. Finally, I also had some less-than-flattering words for what I though of Denver's chances should Tebow ever take over the QB job.

Welp, the Seahawks did NOT work some trade for Tebow, just as I told Steve. But that's about the only thing I got right. Tebow has continued to roll, "Tebowing" opponents and making believers out of his naysayers.

Meanwhile the 'Hawks have been "T-Jacked." That's when you get great protection from your offensive line, great running form your H-back, and pretty stout defense...and the QB play is so awful that you can't close the deal, even at home.

Oh, there are certainly plenty of problems with the team...T-Jack wasn't on special teams when the Seahawks squandered their momentum in San Francisco allowing to kick returns for TDs. T-Jack hasn't been the one jumping off-sides even in our home stadium, killing drives over-and-over again.

But there are quarterbacks that inspire and provide leadership, and there are those that don't. Pro-Bowl QBs like Tom Brady or, yes, Matthew Hasselbeck...or guys with some undefinable quality (and tenacious athleticism) like Tim Tebow. And having those guys leading your team can make up for a lot of other shortcomings.

All right, that's enough bitching. The family's still sick (the baby has had a cold the last couple days), so I haven't got much sleep (I was up six or so times last night), and am probably crankier about today's loss than I really should be. It is just a game, after all. I can still enjoy the rest of the season by picking other teams to follow/root for. Lord knows, I had enough practice doing that back in the 90s.

Okay, so, yeah...that's it for NFL posts (unless I'm congratulating the Super Bowl winner at the end o the year). The good news for blog readers is I'm starting to percolate a few ideas for a new, B/X series of posts. Just give me a little time to rest up.

Dragonriders of Pern

As others have mentioned around the blog-o-sphere, the scifi world mourned the passing of Grand Master Anne McCaffrey this week. Her accomplishments are a little too numerous to mention here, but folks interested in Old School D&D would do well to read her books, which readily mix science fiction and fantasy...she IS one of the authors listed in the inspirational source material of the Basic rules, and I know she's been an inspiration for me, even mentioning her Pern books as "game setting" material in my B/X Companion.

Though I haven't read a single one of her novels.

Nope, I haven't. Don't look at me like that! I have read many of her short stories, and I do know quite a bit about Pern. And her Pern novels are high on my list of "books to read" that I just haven't got around to yet.

[truth be told, I don't do much fiction reading these days, except for "research" purposes. Right now I'm in the process of reading someone's rather dry, if fascinating, doctoral thesis on the state of science fiction literature for young adults and children]

Thing is, when I was first introduced to her books (back in grade school by older friends), her stuff was a little "over my head." I was busy reading Piers Anthony and Robert Aspirin and Steven King...sleezy fantasy of the type that appeals to adolescent boys, in other words. But then, I'm a guy that didn't even get through The Lord of the Rings trilogy until after high school...

Anyway, that's all beside the point. I recognize her work and DO intend to read more of it (as soon as I can find it at my local used book store); however, my interest is more in the "game design" department than "classic literature" anyway. For me, I celebrated Ms. McCaffrey's life by picking up a copy of the Mayfair Games' old boxed set Dragonriders of Pern. There was a complete (though used) copy down at Gary's for $20 and I was more than happy to snatch it up.

Dragonriders of Pern was published in 1983 and I can recall seeing it at a game shop or bookstore "back in the day" and wanting it (my friends and I were into Anne McCaffrey, even if I personally hadn't read the novels at the age of 10-11), but having no money to spend. Or maybe I did, but I was put off by the fact that it was a board game and not an RPG (in my younger days, I snubbed many a game for not being of the "cooler" variety). As I hinted earlier, I was a pretty dumb kid when it came to some things.

I can say "pretty dumb" with my adult hindsight now because I spent yesterday reading and exploring the game: what a great piece of design!

[the following is a gross simplification, but I'm pressed for time at the moment]

Dungeons and Dragons started its existence as a war game (via Chainmail) and has (since then) moved into the realm of true "role-playing," given birth to numerous "role-playing" games, and then morphed (in its current state) into some sort of board game with computer RPG sensibilities.

Dragonriders is a bit of what Chainmail might have morphed into with an Indie-game sensibility and a strong commitment to the source material. By "indie-sensibility" I mean, the indie concept of making a game with a specific purpose in mind, rather than a generic "this game system can model EVERYthing approach." Dragonriders has definitive, specific objectives of play, not the least of which is being true to the themes of the novel. This in addition to being a fun, balanced game.

But what is this? you ask. Is Dragonriders of Pern some sort of role-playing game? Yeah, I'd actually go so far as to call it a primitive form of RPG...definitely moreso than Chainmail, maybe a bit less than OD&D. Here's how it works:
  • Each player takes the role of a specific weyr (i.e. "dragon rider clan") with specific named personalities.
  • Game play is played in turns consisting of two phases, an alliance (political) phase and a combat phase (where players must repel the spaceborn menace, thread, from threatening the planet).
  • Play continues until all city-states (called "holds") are aligned and all thread destroyed OR until the thread has managed landfall in enough locations wreck the ecosystem and cause mass extinction; in the former case, the player with the most political alliances wins, but in the latter ALL players lose.
Doesn't sound like much of an RPG, does it? It's not "open-ended." Play is divided into distinct phases (alliance and fighting). There's a definitive "endgame," and nothing in the way of serial/campaign play or character development/advancement. In addition, a number of external factors are determined by random "event cards" drawn each round.

And yet...

Players represent specific, named persons (characters from the novel); those familiar with the books can add their own spin to their actions. Each of the two phases have distinct "role-playing" opportunities...decisions that need to be made by players that are completely at the discretion of the players.

For example, the alliance phase...which dragonholds characters decide to "woo" to their cause, where they devote their resources (money and personality-wise) are all determined by the individual strategy of the players. However, players also have the option of playing (or not playing) Event cards that cause gatherings of individuals...conclaves, weddings, dragon hatchings...that are "invitation only," based on politicking and jockeying for position.

Likewise, the combat phase seems fairly simplistic...commit certain troops (dragon flights) to areas of thread incursion, roll dice and determine victory and casualties sustained. However, it's NOT straight-forward as that as:

- weyrs need to commit strong forces to fighting thread lest they risk threadfall hitting the surface and burrowing.
- damage to weyr forces means full-strength flights are not always available
- invitations to other weyrs can be extended...and the other weyrs can either choose to come or not

The invitations are complicated by the penalties imposed on ALL forces for failing to defend against thread, but calling for help means rewarding (monetarily) those forces that respond...possibly heated rivals or those who have been thwarting your alliance attempts or otherwise being a pain in the ass. And yet NOT inviting help can have absolutely disastrous consequences for your own weyr and for the planet in general.

It's an interesting, fine line, couple with the game's own explicit instructions regarding diplomacy:
Any deal may be made between players including exchange of Event cards and Marks, and permission to use another player's Weyrleader or Weyrwoman for an Alliance Attempt. No rule requires any player to fulfill his end of a bargain.
That's from the basic rules and is similar to what one finds in Monopoly...except in Monopoly there's no risk that the world will end and EVERYONE loses due to the petty squabbles and in-fighting of robber-barons.

I find it fascinating...especially with the addition of the Masterharper character, available in games of 4 or more. This Taliesin-like wild card picks his own agenda, not shared with the other players, of either favoring a specific weyr leader or maintaining the status quo. He then lends aid (or hindrance) to the various players during the alliance phases, along with his little apprentice helpers. It's a nice way to play "spoiler," though if he rocks the boat too much and the weyr leaders are unable to effectively fight thread then everyone dies...again, it's a fine line.

Couple all that with the in-gam glossary and discussion of how to curse with Pernese the example of McCaffrey's novels...and you have a game that can allow you to live the danger and intrigue of the Pern dragon lords.

Only if you want to, of course. I'm sure there are those completely uninterested in this kind of play, just as there are players of Once Upon A Time who don't give a shit if the story told is any good, so long as they can empty their hand of cards (yes, I've played Once... with players like's a bit frustrating). Again though, to me the interesting thing is the rudiments and potential of an RPG in the can see how one could easily elaborate on the existing system (much as D&D is an elaboration of Chainmail) to create a true RPG.

Not that I'm interested in doing anything of the sort...I've got plenty to do with my own RPG projects as it is. And Dragonriders of Pern is a fine game as written...I wouldn't mind playing it with some like-minded folks.
; )

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stuffed and Thankful

I've had a chance to revisit the blogs today (specifically this evening) reading stuff I've missed over the last couple weeks, something I just haven't been in a position to do lately for one reason or another. *sigh*

Anyway...I saw this post over at Demogorgon's temple, and it struck a bit of a chord in me. Enough so that I felt I'd throw out a post on the subject. First to address an idea Brunomac brings up (if briefly) I've seen in print before:

Those who can't game, blog.

Sure, there is something to this. When I first started blogging (and reading other RPG blogs) I was in a "non-gaming phase" of my life. Well, as much as I ever am (I've generally kept an eye open and ear to the ground with regard to RPGs over the years...even during "the dry times"). But it's true that I was gaming a LOT less during the height (read: most prolific) of my blogging a couple years ago.

Fact of the matter is, I needed a creative outlet that involved gaming and I didn't have one. Reading other folks' blogs, commenting, and writing my own allowed me to be involved in the gaming hobby. To be a voice in the conversation. To be a participant...something I desperately wanted...perhaps something I really needed.

There are many, many reasons to write blogs and many reasons to write gaming blogs. I'm not a least not by profession or education...and the blog wasn't really about needing that kind of creative outlet. Nor was I interested in acquiring a big following (um, "glory") and having a spotlight shone on my silly thoughts. Nor was I trying to drum up "buzz" for my RPG products (I hadn't written one at the time).

Nor was it even about nostalgia...hard as that might be to believe. My recollections and musings on my gaming childhood certainly gives me plenty of "blog fodder" (I've got a LOT of gaming history) but even though I wrote (at the beginning of this blog) that part of my reasons for starting it was "edification of memory," a glance over the subjects posted shows I've strayed a long way from that more often than not.

The fact of the matter is, I love role-playing games. I love games in general, but I especially love using your imagination to create characters and worlds. I love to pretend. Hell, that's probably most of the reason why I switched my major in college from engineering and pre-law to dramatic arts.

[though in retrospect, a minor in business and/or technical writing would have been smart]

And blogging about games allowed me to converse about those games that I first with the empty space of the internet, and then with the readers that started checking in at the ol' Blackrazor.

And it was a worthwhile conversation to have. It allowed me to keep my hand in. It forced me to both scrutinize and crystalize my thoughts on gaming. It allowed me to be a participant in my favorite hobby industry.

And it led me back into gaming...serious gaming, regular gaming. First with people who would allow me to play with them. Then to my own table and my own players. Now...well, despite a few slow weeks due to the holidays, I still have several people emailing me to see if they can join my group or asking me to participate in their own games.

And I've inspired some people. And that's the best part of this whole "blog thang" - the thing I love the most and yet something I was totally not looking for, nor expecting when I started this. I see other people gaming now that weren't doing so before. People gaming at least in part (I won't take all the credit) because of my actions.

And that is truly a great thing. Because I believe (and have written before) that it is a worthwhile pastime. That it is important in this day and age to have rituals that bring people together, engage them, force them to interact face-to-face, and use both their minds and their imaginations. sitting down to the gaming table on a weekly basis, taking out your dice bag and notebook (electronic or not), and ordering a beverage (alcoholic or not). Taking time to delight in the joy of fantasy and imagination, not just individually but communally. Building a community. Sharing the love.

Yeah, I'm passionate about it...perhaps overly so considering it's "just a game," not a cure for cancer or hunger or anything. Hell, it's not even exercise (after all the chow I put away tonight, I could use a work-out or two)...but exercise doesn't generally build "community" even if it does make for healthier, longer-lived, happier humans, which in turn can improve the world we live in.

But exercise is soooo much work. Or feels like it, compared to gaming.
; )

And so (I guess) I'm trying to say, I am VERY thankful...both for my opportunity to blog AND to the folks I've had a chance to game with over the last year AND to the role-playing community in general. I wish I had more time (and energy) to devote to both. But I'll do what I can for as long as I can.

All right, that's it. Time to go sleep off this zinfandel.

[by the way, don't forget to shop small business and local this weekend...and always...whenever possible. Good luck, folks!]

Cleaning My Plate

[do you think Cheers was as popular as it was, simply for its kick-ass theme song? Sorry for the digression...just distracted by a commercial]

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving Day weekend is off to a wonderful start! I, of course, am in the midst of watching the Lions-Packers. This year, for a change, we have almost nothing to mom is hosting and doing all the cooking, and we'll be heading over to her house sometime after the baby's morning nap. Until then, it's just me, my coffee, and a hard-fought football game on HD.

Man, I am a lazy bum.

Of course, I've had plenty to do with the sick family the last 10 days or so. The baby's been better for awhile, but it turns out the wife developed bronchitis...something I myself have had a tendency to pick up annually the last several years (for me, I chalk it up to a legacy of being an ex-chain smoker...for my wife, it's more an issue of over-work and inability to relax).

But she's got some meds now and is on the mend

[ope! My boy has just joined me...guess he hasn't gone down for his nap yet after all. Ah, well...I'll be picking up some breakfast sausage at half-time anyway]

[Doh...Megatron! You have GOT to make that catch! Oh, well]


Needless to say, my life is hectic enough that I've been unable to do much writing at home this month (duh...look at my blog count for the month!), and I've been relegated to catching what snatches of time I can at work. The good news? I've got quite a bit written on the new game...and I'm loving it so far.

HOWEVER, I realize I have a bunch of other projects that have been sidelined by my constant my B/X supplement book that I've got artists already working on (and have had for a few months). And that's not cool of me to leave people hanging like that.

So I'm cleaning my plate.

[sorry...halftime...just a minute]

Yes, "cleaning my plate:" I'm getting all my half-finished products DONE (and with a quickness) so that I can give my total focus to development of the new game/system.

So, yesterday (Wednesday), I spent all my free time finishing up the B/X supplement. And I got it done. At this point, the writing is complete and put simply needs the artwork added and then the final formatting and table of contents added. It didn't take more than a couple-five hours, but it's something I've been putting off (again, duh). My hope is to have it ready for printing/release no later than January (as I told my artists, I'd prefer to release it before the end of the year, but I don't think my holiday travel schedule will allow that to happen). Fortunately, a lot of the challenges/issues I had with my first book (the B/X Companion) got worked out during the process of that was quite the learning experience. I am optimistic that this one will go smoother.

All right, that's the update...a new B/X book will be shortly in the offering from Running Beagle Games. I think I'll have enough artwork with the pieces already being contributed, but if anyone else is interested in submitting something for the book, drop me an email. Folks who contribute at least three pieces get a free print copy.

Have a great Thanksgiving folks! A big thanks to all my readers for the support over the people are the greatest!
: )

Friday, November 18, 2011

Damn Holidays...

[no, not really]

Just about everyone bailed on me for my play-test last night (including one guy just as I was leaving the house...jeez, H!), but I still ended up going down to the Mox last night because, well, beer and because I didn't want to stand up the one stand-up guy that was hanging out and waiting for me at the bar.

Eating a big-ass sandwich. Thanks, Matthew.

[Besides Tebow was playing on the Mox television and, yes, I was able to catch that fourth quarter knife in the heart of Jets fans. In a season where the Seahawks are once again hit with more than its fair share of bad luck (after two weeks of the best offensive line production in years, we lose the two starters on the right side for the season plus...who tears their ACL on a Wednesday practice drill in Week 10? Who does that?!)...welp, I'll take any NFL chuckles I can get, and seeing the AFC implode and the Pats (again) rising to the top is plenty entertaining. I hope Tebow & Co. slaps 'em down in the play-offs. If he can somehow lead the Broncos to a Superbowl win one of these years, we're probably looking at a future Republican candidate for VP...Congress at least (from Colorado, of course).]

Since it was just Matthew and I and he'd never had a chance to play MDR or Out of Time, I went over the basic DMI rules with him, including the new and improved updates I've thrown in. Here's something neat: he was excited and engaged just in discussing game play. He thought it sounded neat, and is looking forward to playing...just by describing the card/dice mechanic, over a hand of cards. Now...that's cool.

At least, I think so. A lot of game designers attempt to suck people, "engage their clients" providing them with a cool premise. "It's Star Wars!" or "It's fighting Nazis and dinosaurs in the Hollow Earth!"or "It's undead cowboys in an alternate history world called the Weird West with magic-slinging gamblers and mad scientists and steam-punk!"

I don't fault them for that, by the way...I buy games like Deadlands and HEX and other weirdness, based on cool premise just like the next person. Airship pirates are cool, dammit. I want to experience that world for an evening or two for the fun of it.

But what you don't see much least I don' designers hawking their game system based on its ability to engage players in a cool role-playing experience. Oh, you see designers promoting their systems based on "universality" (GURPS, HERO), or simplicity (FATE, FUDGE), or attendant slew of compatible IPA and ability to model cool settings (Storyteller system, Savage Worlds).

I mean there are some: the One Roll Engine (Wild Talents, Godlike) and GUMSHOE (Mutant City Blues, Trail of Cthulhu) are two that spring to mind. But again, they entice you in with the premise, the story of the game first...then they talk up their "unique game system" and how it contributes to the game play.

My approach is going to be similar but lazier: it's space opera, dude.

Anyway, the explaining stuff went down pretty easy and I caught Matthew saying, "cool" or "neat" or "wow, I like that" on more than a couple which I replied, "I know, right?!"

So that was promising.

Unfortunately, we won't know how it REALLY works in practice until we get a chance to play-test, which (because of Thanksgiving) is probably not going to be for two weeks. Damn holidays! Actually, Matthew was trying to talk me into running the game next Thursday anyway, it IS a holiday after all.

Dude has got to cultivate a healthier interest in football. My man is originally from Michigan and the Lions are playing their first meaningful Thanksgiving day game in decades!

Again, though, I appreciate the interest AND the enthusiasm; I was pretty excited to try the game myself and bummed that it didn't go down. But this is the time of year when people are winging around the country (or getting stuck in the Occupy Seattle traffic...when are folks going to Occupy Walmart? That's what I want to see...burn that shit down...) and we just have to bite the bullet on that one. But I definitely have some encouragement for continuing the writing.

All right...gotta' get to work, as I'm already running a bit behind (the wife and baby are still sick, so I was up both very late and early this morning getting everyone to sleep). Glad I've got holiday time to spend!
; )

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Playing Hooky

My son has been ill recently, and was unable to sleep last night except in my arms...which meant I was unable to sleep last night, except for the occasional dozing.

Which is fine because it gave me a good excuse to call in sick to work today.
; )

So other than some napping today, I had the opportunity to revisit a couple episodes of Firefly and check my ideas on removing wounds from the game I'm currently writing. And what do you know...even when you take out the blasters and arm people with standard guns & ammo, the rule remains the same: one shot = one kill (except for the heroic Player Character equivalents).

Again, this seems perfectly fine for a cinematic-style RPG...which is what I'm attempting to design. Doesn't matter whether one is shot with a pistol or a rifle or a grenade; if the "attack roll" succeeds, the target goes down. Which helps keep the pace of the action lively AND allows the story to move forward to the next scene.

I was talking with the Doc about this the other day (yesterday) and he wasn't a fan of the idea. 'What if someone gets shot in the leg?' No one gets shot in the leg, except possibly a protagonist. 'Then you need to do hit location charts and such.'

No, I don't.

Because it IS a space opera game, there is armor (from low-tech ballistic cloth to hi-tech, environmentally-sealed power suits) that needs to be accounted. And so weapons do different amounts of damage in order to determine their armor penetration (armor reduces damage in this particular game). For the most part, though, this just means PCs need the right tool for the job...a thrown rock isn't going to do much against a stormtrooper, but a blaster will burn a hole right through a chest plate.

Anyway, I need to get back to my writing right now (before I take a nap). Just wanted to give a quick update.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Done With Wounds

[I realize the last couple posts have been a bit "whimsical;" sorry, but I'm easing my way back into the whole blogging thang...]

Previously when considering alternative combat systems to B/X, I put forth the idea of cutting out attack rolls altogether. At the time, my reasoning was this: one works so hard, sometimes damn hard (at low levels) to even hit some critter, then you just roll a “1” for damage anyway? Wouldn’t the monster lose 1 hit point (call it “fatigue”) just dodging all those previous “missed” attacks?

The idea was “just roll damage.” And while I still see SOME merit to the idea, I never bothered to implement if for two reasons: A) too complex and B) too slow. Fact is, B was directly caused by A, and since part of my whole thing was “making combat faster,” well…you see how it goes.

So now, I’m working (working, working…oh so busy!) on my space opera game and I’m kind of looking at combat through the opposite lens of the spectrum; namely, do we really need damage rolls?

No, really. Do we?

Now, I will be the first to argue (and have argued in the past) that random, abstract damage (especially in an “all D6 damage” world) is not only desirable but downright realistic…or as close to realism as one might come, representing damage in an abstract fashion. Sometimes a sword nicks you, sometimes it runs you through your gizzard, and only heroic luck (i.e. “high level hit points”) is going to save you from the well-placed blade.

Good. Great, even. For a game like D&D. How about a space opera game, like one that might model Star Wars?

Let’s take a look at this: in the films we see a lot of blaster fire traded between protagonists and their opponents. Sometimes there are misses, sometimes there are hits. How many times does an enemy stormtrooper get tagged and say, “whew, that was close…just a flesh wound.”

Um, never.
Getting hit by a blaster is a “no one gets up from that” kind of proposition.

In fact, there are only two instances (in all six films) where a character is hit by blaster fire and survives (no, Grievous doesn’t count…he was toast with the first shot; Obi was just being a sadist when it came to shooting him again). The first time occurs in Return of the Jedi when Luke gets tagged in his cyborg hand on-board Jabba’s sail-barge. The second time is Leia during the battle of Endor. Neither hit puts our heroes out of the fight…or even slows 'em down much.

By contrast, everone else who gets tagged by blaster fire is dead-dead-dead. At least, if they did survive, their recovery took place “off camera;” we never saw their faces again.

Blasters are freaking deadly…makes one wonder why stormtroopers even bother wearing armor (hint: see the rock-throwing natives on Endor). But this is pretty much par for the course when it comes to “lasers” or energy weapons in space opera. I don’t remember anyone in the original Battlestar Galactica ever walking away from a laser burn…and victims of a phaser in Star Trek tend to be burned to a crisp (unless the weapon was “set to stun”).

So why do you even need a damage roll for a space opera game? Characters are hit (and killed) or missed and fine…OR characters are heroic protagonists that aren’t killed by weapons fire.

That’s right, the same rules do NOT apply to player characters…because in space opera, PCs are really and truly larger-than-life heroes. Whether we’re talking Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon or Luke Skywalker or Mr. Kinnison and family from the Lensmen series.

If we don’t need damage rolls (and I’m telling you right now I think we do NOT), if we don't need damage rolls, do we need hit points?

I’m starting to come to the conclusion that the answer is “no.”

How do you want to kill your opponent? With a blaster? With a lightsaber? With a curvy knife (a la Vin Diesel as Riddick)? The question, for the most part, is not “how much damage do you do?” And that kind of quantitative one-upsmanship is the kind of TWINK QUESTION that just starts the whole game on a downhill slope towards 4th edition and their “one encounter per session” system.

No, the question is more (or should be): can you get things done? Can you rescue the princess? Can you blow up the Death Star? Can you free your buddy from the bounty hunter’s clutches? Can you take out the Sith Lord in hand-to-hand combat?

There seems to be three types of mortal combat that need to be accurately modeled in order to make the space opera game work, and none of them really require hit points or damage rolls:

Shooting scrapes: blowing holes in each other with guns. One Shot = One Kill…but characters (PCs) can get off a number of shots and get a number of kills. As Han Solo said, “Pray they don’t have blasters.” Because folks with blasters tend to put people in the ground.

Starship combat:
more involved in some ways because ships can take various amounts of damage with decreasing functionality before being destroyed. At least the good guys’ ships (and some of the bad guys’ ships, too). Back when my space opera game was still B/X based, I had an excellent way of modeling this…now I’m thinking it may need to be worked out along different lines, more similar to personal combat.

Sword duels and hand-to-hand combat: mano-a-mano, that’s what it eventually boils down to, right? Whether we’re talking Skywalker versus Vader or Malcolm Reynolds versus the Nameless Agent or Shatner versus Lloyd the Klingon, eventually you get up-close-and-personal with your nemesis and forced to “duke it out.” Jockeying for advantage, wearing down your opponent, looking for that chink in the other’s defenses…that’s a bunch different from simply shooting a hole in the target.

Certainly with laser blades, the chaff can be reaped as easily as with a repeating blaster (see Skywalker versus Jabba’s goons or any of the prequel Jedi versus the droid army). Against a similarly armed opponent with a bit of moxie, though, things get a lot dicey-er. If one actually bothers to time out the action sequences in the Star Wars films (and a Big Nerd like myself has, let me tell you), the personal combats can be broken down fairly easily into 10 second “beats” (or as we call it in the B/X business, “rounds”). The final fight between Dooku and Obi-Wan/Anakin takes 9 beats (90 seconds) from start to finish. Between Mace and Sidious the fight lasts approximately 8 beats (plus 4 beats of electro-shock therapy). The final battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan on Mustafar takes roughly 20 beats depending on how you count time during the cut-away scenes with Yoda.

The thing about these duels is that there IS damage taking place, even before the final “cut” (that singular blow that severs limb or torso or whatnot)…generally, there are body blows and telekinetic slams and falls and bruises and bloodying. Again, though, this type of drawn out combat only takes place with prominent antagonists. Jango Fett has no problems gunning down a nameless Jedi at close range and Obi-Wan slashes through multiple droids with a single sweep of his blade.

Anyhoo, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately (the last 48 hours or so)…having hit “points” gives you the ability (from a design perspective) to do a bunch of fun, crunchy math bits with the numbers…but is it necessary for game play? Does it FACILITATE game play? See, if it doesn’t, maybe it needs to be thrown out. I’m tired of all these “default RPG presumptions.”

Hell, I already got rid of “initiative” for the game.
; )

Tim Tebow

My buddy, Steve-O, is no great football fan, but he does love to socialize and is happy to do so on Sunday mornings while watching football with Yours Truly and others. And since he's gregarious and a kind of "go with the flow" type...and as susceptible to mob rule and passion as anyone...I've turned him into a Seahawk watcher over the last few years.

Actually, Steve was (at one point) more of a football fan than myself, insomuch as he went to a Division I school, while my alma mater had no football team at all. Being a former WSU Cougar, you'd think he'd get all excited when Fall rolls around, but as with many former Cougars, he spent most of his five or six years in Pullman skipping class and partying like a rock star and doesn't remember much more than a deep abiding hatred for the Huskies. Oh, yeah...and Ryan Leaf. Steve-O was the same class and, boy, has he got some stories about that guy.

Anyway, recently Steve (who really is not much of a football fan, college or otherwise) has become smitten with Tim Tebow and the whole mystique surrounding the polarizing quarterback. Me, I could give a rats ass about young Tim's politics (I was and am a Hasselbeck fan and he is just about as dyed-in-the-wool Republican as they come...barf). For myself, I'm following the whole Broncos-Tebow story because I keep waiting for Denver to go down in flames. Sorry, old habits die hard and as a lifelong (since '73) Seattleite, I will probably carry a special loathing for all things Orange for the rest of my days.

And yet, Tebow continues to win despite being...well, is inept too strong a word? I mean, there is a certain idea about the role of the quarterback in the National Football League, and Tebow ain't it. Sorry, running backs are supposed to run, receivers are supposed to catch, etc. Young Tim ain't living up to the billing of a starting QB by anyone's stretch of the imagination.

So, yeah, "inept." And yet he continues to win...3 of his last 4 games. I find myself hoping that he will lead the Broncos past the implosive Chargers and Chiefs as well as the cast-off Raiders and into the AFC playoffs. Not because I like Denver (as I said, I don't) and not because I like to root for an "underdog" (I don't like that either).

What I DO like is people who can "shake things up" and throw off the expectations and perceptions of others. Like when the Seahawks blow up the Giants or the Ravens when everyone expects 'em to tank (including me). It's not that Tebow's detractors are wrong...he IS a terrible quarterback relative to the caliber of NFL starting QBs (including Seattle's own terrible, terrible passers). The detractors are right, he's terrible...but he is turning the league on its ear when it comes to showing what one needs to win in the League. Maybe you don't need an Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. Maybe you can win with a guy who completes two passes in a game...even though the starting two running backs are injured.

I wouldn't call it inspiring, exactly. But it makes me glad to know that some people can still, through their very actions and effort of being true to themselves, give all those set-in-stone presumptions a big middle finger.

For a guy who writes pen-and-paper RPGs in a world of increasingly complex video games, there's a lesson there.

Anyway, Steve-O called me twice today, which is very unusual. His first cal was to find a fried chicken place in Greenwood; his 2nd was to to tell me Thursday was Tim Tebow day. I had to remind him that I do NOT get the NFL cable package, so the game won't be on at my house AND ALSO remind him that Thursday is gaming night.

Of course, Cafe Mox does get the NFL cable package, so Tebow will be playing on their TV screens. Perhaps, that will be enough enticement to get Steve to come help me playtest the space opera game this week.
; )

Clone Wars (no, not Retro-Clones)

[or not]

My wife and I have been talking about down-sizing our TV costs by dropping our “On Demand” service, mainly because we don’t watch nearly as much television as we used to. The problem is that we DO enjoy a few television shows but due to scheduling conflicts we don’t often have the chance to view them when they actually air…and while I could go without most TV programs (I have in the past, lived for years without a television set), watching the occasional show on TV is one of the few things my wife and I can share. We just don’t have many hobbies in common: she is NOT a gamer.

So we’re talking about dropping the On Demand, but we haven’t yet. So over the weekend I had a chance to watch something that I had never yet seen, namely episodes of the Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Now it might surprise folks that with all my Star Wars love I’ve never (before) watched the Clone Wars…after all it’s been around for four or five seasons, and my favorite character (Count Dooku) figures prominently in the series, or so I’ve read. But as with gaming, my wife does NOT share my love of Star Wars and is likewise NOT a fan of cartoons/animation. And, truth-be-told, I’m not as big a fan of animation as I once was…certainly not television, syndicated animation. Yes, some of it is clever, maybe even quality, but as I said I have little time for television in general…tuning in to an animated series that my wife would pitch a fit over is pretty low on my priority list. Especially on Friday nights!

But I happened to be up REALLY late Saturday night (a little too much coffee with dinner) and there was nothing else on, and the wife and child were asleep and I happened to see the Clone Wars On Demand…a few anyway. So I watched the three most recent episodes.

Here are my thoughts:

- Wow. Cartoons have changed a helluva lot since I last watched ‘em. Talk about fantastic animation. If CGI can make kiddie shows look this good, why do all the movies on the SciFi channel end up sucking so much? I mean, besides the poor stories, plotting, and acting?

- Wow. Cartoons have changed a helluva lot, STORY-WISE, since the last time I watched ‘em. Linked episodes, the ones I watched were a straight-up war story, not an action-adventure-in-space cartoon. The plot centered military tactics and chain-o-command problems, duty and loyalty, honor and conscience. At the same time, the episodes managed to A) show the human side of (basically) stormtrooper clones and B) show the utter callous nature of clones towards anyone besides their own. The way they casually walk by downed opponents and fire a few shots into ‘em to make sure their good and dead…this is on the Kids Network? Whoa!

- I wouldn’t call The Clone Wars space opera…and I don’t want my space opera game to look like it. At the same time, I don’t think you could model it using an RPG like Cartoon Action Hour. I’m not sure if it IS RPG fodder. Which is (in some ways) kind of sad. Even Robotech/Macross had story lines in addition to being a “cartoon war story.” Clone Wars is a strange beast.

- I see why an outfit like Fantasy Flight Games would pick up the license for Star Wars when this is the main media output of the Lucas franchise. The Clone Wars is just begging to be made into a table-top war game, similar to what Games Workshop did with The Lord of the Rings. Watching the show was like watching a dramatization of a WH40K game, except with more meaning or “context” due to the storied history of the Star Wars universe. That context is what GW’s 40K universe lacks…I can’t imagine that FFG isn’t partnering with GW to make a tabletop game using clones and Jedi versus various Separatist forces. NOT that this is what *I* want from Star Wars, but it’s tough not to see the marketing potential inherent here.

- The CW gives me even more reason to ignore the growing “Star Wars canon.” The besalisk jedi master? He’s a role-playing twink’s wet dream. Three meters of Jedi muscle, four arms, two double-bladed sabre-staffs, and the ability to leap 30m into the air. Now THAT’s cartoony. Difficult to believe this guy got punked by clones the way Aayla Secura did (though as I’ve written before, she was only a ret-conned badass…same with Ki-Adi Mundi).

All right, that’s all I planned on writing about yesterday (that I didn’t get to). I have a couple more RPG-specific thoughts that are non-Clone Wars related that I hope to pen in the next couple days. Provided I can find a little time!
: )

Monday, November 14, 2011


...was my birthday. I celebrated by hanging out most of the day in my jammies, drinking coffee and watching football (the Seahawks once again stomping someone who may not have taken them very's pro football, dudes).

Later I ate fresh cracked crab of the Dungeness variety, drank wine, and ate apple pie. My wife and child were, of course, in attendance making the day a smashing success.

Just dropping a line to say, no, I am not dead or in terrible, dire straits. I've just been enjoying myself too much to blog.

I will be writing more today, though (I have the day off work)...right now, however, I need to make a post office run.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Terrible Terrible Stuff

I just want to share how utterly disgusting and reprehensible I find the whole Penn State affair to much so that it's been preying on my mind for the last two days. So much so that it actually dwarfs the terrible voting record of Washington State voters this week ( just had to privatize liquor, didn't you? Stupid stupid stupid...).

I am alive and I am doing some writing, just not on the blog lately...sorry, folks. I really, really do intend to get some stuff up here in the next couple-couple. Last Thursday we skipped our normal game, and tomorrow...well, the actual course of events may be up-in-the-air. I really don't have the time to get into it. I'm just taking a moment away from the radio discussion for a much needed breather.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Feliz Dia de los Muertos

Another very long weekend involving pumpkin patches and trick-or-treating and watching the Seahawks get blown out at home (my wife and mine's first "date" since the baby was born...we had fun but were still glad to leave early to retrieve the kid. How the Bengals added an extra ten points to the score in the 7 minutes it took us to walk to our car is a completely ridiculous mystery).

Anyhoo...I just wanted to drop a quick note to folks who've recently purchased copies of the B/X Companion and not yet received it: I've got all the packages ready-to-go, but just have not had the time to get 'em to the post office. Hopefully today or tomorrow they'll be shipped out. Now that the World Series (go, Cards!) and the Halloween holiday have cleared the schedule, life should be returning to some semblance of normalcy. Maybe. At least for a week before November birthdays and holidays start to hit.


[***EDIT/UPDATE: All purchases of the B/X Companion have been mailed out effective yesterday (11/1) afternoon; sorry for the delay!***]