Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hey everybody!

Just wanted to drop a line here and let everyone know that my hard drive died Christmass morning.

I lost every thing.

I`m in the process of buying a new one, but with the move it has been slow going. I should be back to blogging soon. Sorry for the lack of posts as the only thing I had in the pipe was the Friday Art Fest stuff.

Hope to be back soon,
Charlie

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Artfest: Another Carpenter Who Knows What Nails are for by Joe Coleman

Another Carpenter who Knows What Nails are for by Joe Coleman
As I understand this self-portrait by Joe Coleman, it is a representation of the artist's work in his own view of himself. Wrapping about his head like a halo are the various caricatured creatures who have populated Coleman's work over the years. They worry at him and tear at the edges of reality, crossing the line between what is imaginary and what is real. But is his eyes that hold the real meaning in this piece for me. The eye on the right side of the canvas is clear and seems to focus on you, seeing you as you really are; while the left eye is clouded and focusing somewhere higher than the audience. It's as though this eye sees the potential of the world and reveals the artistic majesty that only Joe can see.

Your thoughts?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Moving Day!

We're moving into our new place today. Should be lots of freaking fun.

Will post more when I'm able.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013

If You're Going to Be Evil Part 8

"State your business," came the terse bark of the guard. 

Poot stepped up and started telling them our business, giving them fake names and false reasons for traveling across the wilds of this land. There seemed to be a bit of static going on there but nothing that Poot couldn't handle. So I started jotting down a loose framework plan that we could use for our next big operation. Seems that while I was jotting down my notes the group had made its way to an inn, rested, and been well fed; because by the time that I looked up and suggested it they were laughing at me for being in my own little world.

We sat about the table in Elton's Lifetime Loser Lounge discussing our next move when Neverwas' new character started working his way through the streets towards our inn. He had rolled up another thief, since the last one had gone so well, and was picking pockets as he went. The pickings were good too as he had more in his bulging pockets than we had managed to collect the whole time we were raiding caravans out in the woods. 

It was too easy and had I have been more awake I would have noticed the noose being set about our necks and gotten us out. As it was, I was too busy trying to entice some non-player characters to escort us back toward Darkholm, the town we had burned to the ground, so that we could murder them in the night on the way and steal all their shit.

You'd be amazed at how many epic level characters are bored out of their skulls and just begging for an escort mission. 

Anyway, it wasn't until Neverwas had his little halfling thief sit down at the table that any of us noticed the guards coming in. I should have gotten up, and brought Poot and Biggboy over to the bar with a loud display. Maybe I should have screamed It'll be a cold day in Hell before you find us working with you fuckhead! But I didn't. Instead I sat there watching these incredibly well equipped guards take up their positions around us, and then I watched as they put us all under arrest.

We were so taken aback that we didn't even resist.

-------------------------------------------

It was a good point to be wrapping up the night and as we shoved books in backpacks and picked up loose dice Little Boy looked over at me and Poot and said, "I thought I was fucked up, but you fuckers . . . Jesus Christ."

What?

"Don't you fucking what me! You've killed like 200 npcs and 8 player characters!"

You're way off. And he was too, we had killed way more than that.

I was looking forward to the next session, but sadly Little Boy had an emergency come up and had to move across the state two weeks later. We never did get to escape, but I've often imagined that between me, Poot, Biggboy, Kid Icarus, and Baby Momma that not only would we have escaped, but we would have burnt Harn to the ground as well. 

I hope that you've all enjoyed this short series as much as I have. Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing, and all your Google +1s. 

Feel like you've missed something?

Tales of Love from the Spam Bot 2

Spam gets more sophisticated as the years go by and now they not only address you by name but attempt to form a personal connection with you (read last week's Tales of Love from the Spam Bot 1). Today's wonderful addition to my collection features a little dig into my greedy, little heart.

Hello Charlie,

I got in this thing for some finances and… I’m embarrassed to say, but I traded like playing the roulette -> I ain’t got a shit!

So when I first heard of this Profitin60seconds software I was like C’mon, give me a break.

WRONG!

Anyway, I joined the 30-day free trial and got so much that… I wanted to punch myself in the face for not trying it earlier!

Charlie, don’t do like me
==> Go profitin60seconds NOW!
Cheers mate,
Shawn
The phrasing of this particular spam is weird, to say the least, but it is endearing to my heart. After all, who doesn't want to take financial advice from a complete stranger who played the stock market like he was playing craps? 

I know I certainly do!

So Anzo, Master Chief, and Laura Croft Walk into the Mushroom Kingdom . . .

If you haven't seen this great little video by the Corridor Digital guys then you've been missing out on one of the great videos of the year.


I love the idea that of all these modern heroes that Mario is the one you should really be afraid of, and why not? He's been at this longer then all the other guys combined and has fought people from a wide swath of video game styles and formats. He's the safe bet.

Thoughts?

Best Reads of the Week! December 14 - 20



With the coming of the holidays we're seeing several blogs taking a break till the start of the New Year; but don't let that discourage you as there was such a prodigious amount of great ideas put out this week - so much so that it often felt like I was linking to everyone who updated! So get ready, because this week we've got some major cross-blog projects going on for GURPS and a great project for those forgotten games we all love, the official launch date for the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons was announced, fantastic monsters, outstanding bits of short fiction, and some amazing new gaming scenarios that will make you long to play in them.

As always, these guys and gals spend a lot of time working on their blogs and if you like one of the posts these fine authors have published be sure and let them know.


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Action X is dead . . . Long live Grit and Vigor by John Mathew Stater, from the blog Land of Nod: While it's easy to lament the death of anything from the mind of John Mathew Stater this new suplement sounds like it's going to be one hell of a good time.

Calling All Bloggers: GURPS 101 and Melee Academy by Douglas Cole, from the blog Gaming Ballistic: Do you know the GURPS game? Then it's time to join the call to arms and start selling that game to the masses. Join Mr. Cole and his friends as they help build a GURPS community.

Compulsive goblin carolers by the Great Acorn, from the blog the Acorn Afloat: While there is a certain amount of seasonal compunction about this article, you shouldn't hold that against it. The author - whose name isn't actually listed so I called them the Great Acorn - has come up with a fantastic disease that could be dropped into your campaign regardless of the time of year and that can easily be modified to suit your purposes. Really a great idea put out in the wilds in a fantastic way.  

D&D Next "Summer Release" Date Announced by Morris, from EN World: There are many questions that have arisen from the announcement and Morris does a good job of answering some of them. 

Escape from the Gladiator Pits of the Yoblin Kings pt 2 by Arnold K., from the blog Goblin Punch: If you're looking for a great place to stretch your creative legs this series from Arnold will really get you motivated. Read it and be better for it. 

Holiday Traditions by Jim White, from the blog Wombat's Den of Gaming Iniquity: Do you ever consider using holidays in your games? You really should, and this great article by Jim White is a prime place to start thinking about them in your games. 

If You Love Somebody, Set them Free by Patrick Stuart, from the blog False Machine: Patrick is donating one hell of a storied character to the wilds of the internet for use in your games and in your worlds. Take this fantastic character and run with it. Push it to new horizons and make it's journey as wild and weird as you can. Fantastic character.

Living Statues are not Golems by Beedo from the blog Dreams in the Lich House: An interesting look at the Living Statues and Golems from AD&D and Basic/Expert. It's got me inspired to use the living statues in my own games.

More Participants Signed Up for the Obsolete Simulations Roundup on Dec. 29 by Tim Snyder from the blog The Savage Afterworld: If you're not down with this fantastic idea by Tim Snyder then I don't know what to tell you son. Get on board today, pull out your favorite obsolete game, and get ready to sell us all on it!

On What a Devil is? by Courtney Campbell, from the blog Hack and Slash: This is one of the best things I've read this week. A great bit of set up for a campaign I can't wait to see take off. Really looking forward to more.

Parading Villains are Now a Problem? by Nick Wright, from the blog Lawful Indifferent: Do you think it's a problem when villains are powerful and players stupidly engage them in a fight? This insightful article from Nick Wright challenges the assumption that every villain should be an appropriate challenge level for your players and that a player character's death is meaningless as both a life lesson and a game lesson.

Playing Dungeons and Dragons is Math without a Calculator by Digital Orc, from the blog Digital Orc: A simple little love letter to the game we all enjoy so much. Really enjoyed this article.

random unusual steeds for low-level characters by paul, from the blog Bag of Holding: Are you tired of using the same old tired mounts that every other corn gobbler is using? Well this article by paul is a fantastic place to start thinking about new mounts that can be brought into your home games.

Simplified Old-School Play Instructions by Rodger, from the blog A Life Full of Adventure: You don't need to buy magazines, books, or how-to guides to figure out how to play the Old-School way. Instead, just read this simple primer and be better for it.

Some Thoughts on Veils and Lines by

Steve Perrin Interview by Random Wizard, from the blog Random Wizard: Steve Perrin is one heck of a cool guy, and after reading this great little interview by Random Wizard I'm more convinced than ever of that fact.


The Lich is Away from its Lair by jasons, from the blog The Dungeon Dozen: Like so many of the wonderful d12 tables that jasons creates this one has a fair bit of humor to it but with enough teeth to send any group of wondering adventurers into nightmarish fits of anxiety. Not a bad answer on the table. 

Miscellany and Iambic Doggerel by Tom Fitzgerald, from the blog Middenmurk: This great article from Tom is one of many reasons why I'm really loving this blog. It starts out with an assessment of the blog-o-sphere and its impact on the author, then moves to his difficulty with writing a dungeon for his setting, and then deviates into a great little poem. If you're not already reading this blog readily then you're missing out.

The Point of Narrative Interpretation by Arnold K. from the blog Goblin Punch: Have you ever wondered why you sessions seem to bog down during combat? Does this sound familiar: you rolled an eighteen? That fails. John, what did you roll to hit? Quit being boring and read this fantastic article from Arnold that will make your combats more dynamic and improve the way you run as a whole.

The Spindles: Origin Story II by John Till, from the blog FATE SF: Are you looking for a weird encounter that will spook your players and leave them wondering what the hell they just encountered? Then just read this short introduction to the Spindles for the sort of inspiration you've been looking for.

Troll World by Pearce Shea, from the blog Games with Others: If this article doesn't make you want to play this game then I've got nothing for you. The set up is ripe with brilliant ideas and the whole thing just screams that this game will rock. I am both enthralled with the ideas in this article and jealous of the people playing in it. Fantastic.

When Dungeons and Dragons Turns 40 by Jon Peterson, from the blog Playing at the World: In this insightful and well researched article Jon attempts to define the actual release date for the game we've all be playing for so long. After reading this article I have to ask, what will you be doing to celebrate the game? 


The Best from Dyvers this Week

If You're Going to Be Evil A series of eight posts detailing a single night's wild and mad rush through an evil campaign. Lots death, lots of theft, and at least three inter-party plots going on at the same time.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Artfest: Barbarian by Frank Frazetta

Barbarian by Frank Frazetta

I love, love, love this picture of Conan. Behind him rise the grisly images of his future and past. Death over his right shoulder and a serpent coiling back on itself through the kingdom that he'll one day rule over his left. And below that, the world is in flames as he stands atop the dessicated bodies of his enemies while a naked damsel slumps against his leg. 

The bodies of both Conan and the woman are typical of Frazetta's over muscled and sexualized bodies. And while some will criticize this piece for the naked female on the Barbarian's hip, they often overlook the fact that Conan's only clothing is his weaponry and the belt that holds them. It's as though each figure is a representation of our primal origins, like a murderous Adam and Eve burning their way back to the garden of Eden over the countless bodies of those who would hold them to our modern ways and mores.

A great piece all the way around. Your thoughts?

Thoughts About the Dungeons and Dragons Next Launch Date

December 19, 2013 – Renton, WA – Wizards of the Coast today announced that the highly-anticipated new rules system for Dungeons & Dragons will release in summer 2014.  After nearly two years of an open public playtest and more than 175,000 playtest participants, the rules are complete. Players will be immersed in rich storytelling experiences across multiple gaming platforms as they face off against the most fearsome monster of all time.

“Just like a perfectly balanced party, Wizards has worked cohesively with fans, designers and partners to create the next generation of D&D,” said Nathan Stewart, Brand Director for Dungeons & Dragons. “We whole-heartedly thank all of the play test participants, whose feedback has proven instrumental in shaping the future of Dungeons & Dragons.”

More information about the exciting Dungeons & Dragons entertainment offerings will be available in early 2014. To learn more about D&D, visit dungeonsanddragons.com.  (from the Launch Announcement)
Last night it was announced that the next version of Dungeons and Dragons will launch this upcoming summer. The safe money has the official launch date coming in August at GEN CON 2014 as was the case with Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons; though it would not be that surprising if they released the Player's Handbook in June as both the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons editions released their Handbooks in that month.

I signed up to join the open playtest and was actually able to download it on the first day. I've really been digging a lot of what's been going on with the new system and the possibility that I can ethically talk about it soon has me just thrilled. But like so many of you out there, I have concerns about the new system and I wanted to take a few minutes to discuss them.

My Concerns

Price Point: While it isn't discussed in the official release, and the folks at Wizards proper have been way too closed mouthed about the subject for my liking, I'm really nervous about the price point for this product. I started playing with Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons and bought my books for $30.00 each. I have purchased a ridiculous amount of books for that system because the price was affordable whether I was working part-time and single, or full-time with a family to support. By contrast, Fourth Edition was on the cusp of being out of my price range at $40.00 a book; which is why I only own five books from that entire edition, and three of them were bought used for twenty dollars a piece. 

So for me, the price is going to determine how much of a financial commitment I can make to this system, and anything over $35.00 is going to find a very limited level of engagement on my end.

Third Party Licensing: I have no interest in publishing my own materials for the system, but I have a lot of companies that I trust when it comes to purchasing their third party products. So if I'm going to become committed to this edition I need to have people like Green Ronin and Mongoose Games able to crank out some top notch products for it. 

I was on the line with the core products, but these guys set the hook. 

An Introductory Box: I firmly believe that one of the biggest problems for Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons came when they attempted to drop the system flat on us without an introductory bridge. They attempted to rectify this with the Essentials line and with the "Red Box" but in many ways it was too little, too late. 

I want an Introductory Boxed Set for this edition of the game.

Dungeon and Dragon Magazine: I want these magazines back, and I want them back in a way that matters. 

I fully understand that if they come back it will be as a house organ and not as an industry wide magazine, that's all well and good. But when you bring them back make them something worth subscribing too again. I want short stories from authors that matter in the world and authors just starting out. I want to see articles from people who have a vested interest not only in Wizards of the Coast but in the hobby as a whole. And I don't want to see a magazine that has six articles and expects me to pay ten dollars for them.

The Name: I will hate this edition forever if the damned fools actually keep the "Next" in the title. Call it 5e or even better, Dungeons and Dragons, but not Next. That is the sort of name that you give to a character you have no interest in playing for longer than five minutes - and the same would hold true for an edition calling itself that.

Things that Aren't Bothering Me 
that Probably Should

I've seen quite a few people focusing on the lines: ". . . Players will be immersed in rich storytelling experiences across multiple gaming platforms as they face off against the most fearsome monster of all time . . ." (from the Launch Announcement). I have no problems with this statement as it seems to hold in line with what Greg Leeds said earlier this year (see Greg Leeds, C.E.O. of Wizards of the Coast, On the State of Everything) and with the Sundering Event that has been running since August of 2013. 

With the Sundering Event we've seen Wizards integrate their Encounters program with video games and books creating an immersive and engaging program that has me - traditionally a passionate anti-Forgotten Realms Dungeon Master - actually enjoying, and even loving, the Forgotten Realms. So let's say that comment has me cautiously optimistic, rather than worried.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

If You're Going to Be Evil Part 7

Sixteen.

What the fuck does a sixteen mean, I wondered as Little Boy started looking though his notes. If this was a legitimate wandering encounter, it would be only the second one we'd had since we started playing tonight; which meant that I had yet to figure out if high or low results triggered the encounters. He was running his finger down a chart and shaking his head. I could hear him clucking to himself as he went down the list, "Not good," he mumbled, "not good at all."

As he picked up the d12 and rolled I leaned over to Poot and whispered, Is this legit or is he going along with the plan?

"I'll be damned if I know," Poot whispered back.

"Baby Momma," Little Boy called out as he looked at his map, "You see movement to the south, just beyond the tree line."

"I'm going to slowly pull out my knife and walk over there to see if I can tell what's moving. What do I see, smell, hear?"

"There's definitely movement out there in the darkness. They appear to be about the height of a man, so six feet, and there's a heavy aroma of lavender in the air. All you hear is the sound of trees moving in the wind."

"Okay. I'm going to creep a bit closer, near Neverwas, so that I can wake him if it looks like we're going to have trouble. And -"

"Roll me a d20."

She hung her head low and I could hear her mumble, "Well, fuckballs."

"I got a 19, is that good enough?"

Little boy was looking at his notes and had already started rolling dice. First a d4 and then two d10s struck the table; but for the first time since we had started playing he covered the results. "Neverwas, high or low?"

I cut my eyes at Poot as Neverwas threw up his hands, "Fucking A. You should have just woken me up when you fir-"

"High or low mother fucker? This ain't no time to be bitching at someone else; call it. High. or. low?" Neverwas still had his mouth hanging open and his hand was mid thrust towards Baby Momma, but the look of shock he had was all for Little Boy. His hand dropped and he shook his head, "Low, damn it. Low."

Little Boy still had that hand cupped over the dice, and as he raised it up I swear you could have heard a pin drop in that room. 78.  

What the fuck did that mean?

"Neverwas, you're going to take 16 points of damage directly to your carotid artery as Baby Momma stumbles and plunges her dagger into your neck. Make me a Fortitude Save."

"Are you fucking kidding me?"

As he chucked his d20 onto the table I could hear Poot next to me whispering, "One, you dirty mother fucker, give him a one." 

The die bounded about the table like a drunken Brahma bull, crashing against Biggboy's drink and landing in front of me. I couldn't help but smile as Neverwas reached across the table to snatch the die back. "A one!" Poot shouted

"No it wasn't," Neverwas started to protest. But it was too late as Biggboy and Kid Icarus both looked him in the eye and said, "Yeah it fucking was."

---------------------------------------

Baby Momma didn't let the scene crystallize in Neverwas' mind as her next move was to call out, "We're under attack! And they got Neverwas!" Naturally we all jumped up and searched the area for Neverwas' murderer. 

You know, we never did find them. 

Found a lot of trees on the edge of the encampment and some tall bushes, but no bandits. However, rather than tempt them back to kill the rest of us in our sleep I suggested that we gather our shit, piss on Neverwas, and head on into Harn. By the time we made it to town we'd be just in time for the shops to open and could get a fresh, hot meal and a warm bed to sleep in for the next couple of days. Baby Momma seconded the idea and after a quick vote we made our way to the entrance. 

After two hours of hard walking Little Boy started to describe the town we'd been so near.

"Harn," we were told, "was a major city of some 250,000 people. Their guards were wary of strangers and their merchants had a pretty solid reputation for being shrewd businessmen. The walls, of which there were two, were well made and looked as though they could resist a major assault most any day of the week."

As we approached the entrance I took a careful note of the guards. They were really well equipped for a couple of door jockeys, and I suddenly had the feeling that perhaps Baby Momma wasn't the only one to set someone up tonight. 

More later.

If You're Going to Be Evil Part 6

Walking over to the squad car I realized that there were only two people on that corner who could make this situation better: Poot and me. Neverwas, for all his bluster, was essentially a coward who tended to hide back and then tell you afterwards, "Everything alright? I was listening trying to decide if I should jump in and knife 'em." Little Boy had been arrested enough in his life and was making every effort to avoid even the suspicion that he might be involved in something illicit. Thief 1 and Thief 2 tended to hang back hoping that no one would notice them; while Baby Momma and Kid Icarus really didn't want to get involved in anything that might screw up their day (I've since learned that this is called prudence). Pony Tail was afraid of his own shadow and Biggboy was so high at that time that he can't remember this game. 

So like I said, only Poot and I were in any shape to make this situation better; and that only got clearer as I looked into the squad car and saw a friendly face.

"What's up kids?"

Tiger had escorted me to the bank at the end of the night more times than I can count, and on top of that he was a damned fine cop. It seems that he had been patrolling the area and had seen everybody out on the corner at 2:00 in the morning and decided that he had best find out what was going on. He'd just started talking to Poot when I had walked up. So we're standing out in the cool of the morning telling him about all of us playing a role-playing game; and then having to explain what the fuck that was; and then having to explain that we're not dressing up in silly costumes or attempting to summon real demons. Finally he laughed at us and told us, "Mind those dangerous friends of yours," and drove off to fight real crimes.

Life in a small town.

---------------------------------------------

As we sat back down at the table Poot started telling me about our options. "On the one hand we could let the plan play out. I think that most everyone is fed up with Neverwas and they're all ready to have a hand in killing his character off; or we could just knife the mother fucker while he's sleeping."

Who would you have do it? He won't sleep if it's me, you, or Biggboy on watch.

"Baby Momma."

Seriously? Is she ready for the backlash?

"Most definitely."

Then Baby Momma it is. 

Each of us started passing the word along to the others in the group. I slipped a note to Biggboy and he whispered the plan to Thief 1 who tapped out the change in Morse Code for Thief 2; while Poot announced, "Looks like this shit's getting old. I think we should press our luck." 

If Neverwas had been spending his time paying attention to what we were doing instead of ordering us about he probably would have survived that night, but as things were, he was far too wrapped up in the idea of being the leader to actually lead us. So he assigned us our watches for that night. I would be on first along with Biggboy, Poot and Neverwas. Second watch consisted of Pony Tail - who was still in Neverwas' pocket - Kid Icarus, and Thief 2. Third watch had Baby Momma and Thief 1. 

I noticed that Baby Momma was furiously writing so before Little Boy could move past our watch I asked him a few questions to give her the time she needed to finish.

What's the weather like tonight?

"I don't know, cold and clear."

Do we hear any animals making noise out there? Or is it completely quite.

"You hear the normal night critters."

That's bad. 

"What? Since when is that bad?"

Well, I was reading about a group of Native Americans who would mimic the natural sounds of the night as they approached a settlement for a raid. 

"Really?"

I don't see why not. Do I know of any local tribes who might employ that tactic?

"Roll me a Knowledge Local."

No sooner had he answered my question then did Poot jump in asking about the type of wildlife in the area, and if there were any recent reports of bandits, other than us of course. On and on we went, pushing to give her time to finish writing what must be the Moby Dick of ninja notes. Until at last Little Boy had, had enough and told us that our watch was over and moved on to the next watch. 

Never have I enjoyed myself more then when I got to listen to Kid Icarus and Thief 2 argue about the magical properties of the woods about them. Little Boy got caught up in the distraction and they bought Baby Momma the ten more minutes she needed. 

Finally it was third watch. 

Little Boy began to roll his dice when Baby Momma handed him a note. He read it once, and looked at her. Ten seconds, twenty. Then he read it again and started laughing. "Are you sure you want to do this on your watch?"

She nodded. 

"Okay."

He rolled a d20 and started the ball rolling.


Just a Little Update

Just a few quick notes for those of you wondering about Dyvers. I'm currently working on a project in my spare time that is taking...