Monday, December 03, 2018

Three Mirages

Like most people who GM a lot of RPGs, I sit around thinking about campaigns I might run sometimes. Right now I've got an Icons campaign going that I love (although I still haven't written up the most recent session and the holidays have, as always, slowed it down), so the thing I pine for is D&D. Despite the picture, it would be 5th edition. I just really like that old Erol Otus cover. Anyway, these are the main ideas that keep surfacing.

World of Greyhawk
I had this one going for a while, and had to drop it because I was gaming all the time and had to cut a few things. It started off with a weird vegepygmy adventure which led to Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh and then off into the Hool Marshes where they stumbled into the Feywild and then Castle Amber. I could easily pick this up again. While the time-sink was unfortunate, I was having a blast. This is probably the one I'd be mostly likely to do, because, even if I started a spinoff instead of resuming with the same characters, a lot of the set-up is already done.

Xarkis or Sarkis or Something
I think it might also be fun to run something in the world of The Nameless Way. I wouldn't try to follow the plot of the novel, because that feels a little to railroady. There are plenty of places to explore that I don't even go in this book, and of course the ones the book does visit still have other adventures to offer.

Middle Earth
Ever since Adventures in Middle Earth was announced, I've been turning the thought of a campaign over and over in my head. I've been thinking that, deviating from the official line, I'd run an alternate history where Isildur destroyed the Ring instead of keeping it, but there's still other stuff going on which I'm not going to get into right now. Some of that stuff helps explain why the present-day world (right after the events in The Hobbit) isn't really all that different. A drawback of this one is that I'd have to get the players to acquire and understand their own copies of the Player's Guide. The classes and the way characters are created deviate so much from standard D&D that, otherwise, I would go crazy, constantly trying to explain how everything works.

But of course I probably won't be doing any of these any time soon. Maybe after I catch up on some other stuff. I dunno.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Carnage 21

Okay, so, there were some bad spots and, to top it all off, I think I came home with con crud. All I want to say about the bad spots is that they had nothing to do with Carnage or the resort. Most of it is on me.
On the good news side, I got to hang out with friends I don't see often and made one or two new ones. I even reconnected with a friend I hadn't talked much to in a few years. I got to spend a long weekend on the mountain and stay in a nice room.
I missed my role-playing game session, but the other game I was running was Dungeon! and it was awesome. I had forgotten how much fun that game could be. I'll definitely be doing that again.
Oh, and there was lots of fog. Fog is cool.
And I got some writing done on the way home. I don't have any pictures for that.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Cat Day

For cat day, here's my buddy, Ninja. He had a rough life before we got him, and he didn't last all that long after, but I'm glad we were able to give him enough love and comfort to take regal poses like this. And of course he paid us back a hundredfold for the love we gave him. He had a seductive, drowsy-eyed smile that I used to call his Idris Elba look.

And here's his brother from another mother, Tio, who did NOT have a rough life, but has also left us. He used to run in whenever I took a bath, demanding wet-handed skritches until he was all spiky-haired, after which he'd just blissfully chill out by the warm tub.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

No Fury Like Mister Fantastic Scorned

I was poking at a friend for pairing Susan Storm with Namor, because Namor is a dick. Plus, Reed is awesome. How often do you get a mad scientist of his caliber as a hero? During the conversation, he told me I should read What If #21, What If Invisible Girl Married the Sub-Mariner. I'm a fan of 70s & 80s comics anyway, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

At first, I didn't like it, because the portrayal of Reed was so negative, and I like Reed. In retrospect, it wouldn't be the only time he's been in a mood like this, but I guess what bugged me was seeing it contrasted with Namor, who is always like that, and was being portrayed as the adult in the room.

As I continued to read, though, I noticed something that the author was doing, and I'm pretty sure it was intentional. Reed is so bitchy, here. He yells at people for nothing, he throws tantrums, and he sulks. Johnny follows his lead. Ben is the only one with any sense.
Namor, on the other hand, while portrayed as mostly respectful and attentive to Sue, is all smug and nest-buildy, but simultaneously super-insecure, pouting over the least hint that she might care about anyone other than him in any way. 
Reed even goes so far as doctoring video footage to try and start a war with Atlantis, because obviously that's a great plan which could never backfire. Namor is mostly cool about stuff, but you have to remember, that's because he got what he wanted. Namor's type are often magnanimous when they feel like they're on top. 

And the way they're acting feels really familiar, doesn't it? Who else acts like that? Oh yeah, women! Well, women in stories written by men, anyway. Especially the older ones. Keep this in mind as Reed totally goes off his rocker. His plan to engineer a war foiled by Ben, he concocts an even more insane plan to turn all the people of Atlantis into air-breathers, while they're still underwater, in order to deprive Namor of his kingdom. Hell hath no fury, amirite?
Johnny seems to think they'll have time to make it to land, but I don't think Reed cares, because he's crazy jealous. You might even say he's hysterical. Of course, he snaps out of it. I guess, even in What If, an iconic hero like Reed being a mass murderer is a little too dark. Still, it takes some special persuasion from Sue, who, despite being in a lot of pain, manages to smack some sense into him.
So Reed switches off his gadget and (despite the death of at least one Atlantean soldier) everybody looks at the baby and starts making nice. Well, except for Johnny; he's still pissed off. In the end, even the Watcher is like, "I dunno. Reed might pull this shit again. Laterz!" 

And yeah, knowing Bill Mantlo, I really do think this role reversal thing was a deliberate move, engineered to make a point. And it totally kicks ass.


Friday, September 21, 2018

Stuff and More Stuff

I guess I should blog again, so, I guess maybe soon.

Writing's going well, although I'm a little distracted by the Blackridge project which has been so persistently worming through my brain that I've had to do a little work on it. I've also worked on The Nameless Way, too, though, so there's that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Gen Con 2018

Sazerac
The main thing about Gen Con this year is that I took it easy. I only ran two games. Both of them were in the afternoon so I could sleep in every day. I didn't try to promote anything or even hand out business cards. I just gamed, shopped, and hung out with people I like hanging out with. I didn't find all of them, but it's always like that. I even managed to keep up my meditation schedule.

Here's what I ran:

Archer: Phrasing (Thursday)
Vortex System
Nobody's sure what year it is, but the Cold War is still a thing and Mallory Archer is in charge of a spy agency.

Just Another Layover (Friday)
Star Frontiers
Diverting to a newly-charted system to answer a distress call, you find an outpost crew claiming it was a computer error, saying everything is fine. Of course, everything is not fine.

I was signed up for an interesting-looking seminar by Shanna Germain about staying creative in stressful times but the "Will Call" booth was unapproachable through most of the convention, so I never picked up my ticket. I've never been more glad that our GM badges come from a different booth. See that line, going off around the corner into the trees? That's nowhere near the beginning. It also runs all the way to the booths close to the main entrance.
So anyway, Tom and I slogged through the Indianapolis rush hour on Wednesday and arrived at the Marriott a little after 5:30. Check-in was quick, but it took a while to get rid of the car. They had a newly remodeled lobby. I was disappointed at first, because I always loved the old one, but this one was really nice and a lot of fun to hang out in, so it grew on me fast.
Curtis was already there, so he, Tom, and I had a drink at one of the two lobby bars. Someone gave me a sparkly d20 pin. Then we headed over to High Velocity in the JW for Old Home Night. We had a long table there. I think it's the only time I saw Jerry but we did get to chat some about D&D so okay. After dinner a lot of us went to the upstairs lobby and made a nest there. The idea was to discuss plans for Brett's giant superhero LARP, but several of us were just there to socialize.

I think they got stuff worked out. I don't know. We were out pretty late. I had a good time anyway.

Thursday I was hung over, but I still made it to my Archer game. Six of the eight people who signed up were there, so Curtis jumped in to play Lana. It went well, which means there were traffic-related deaths, plane crashes, mad scientists (more than one!), infighting, and alcohol.

I still wasn't feeling well, so after a brief visit to the exhibit hall, I went back to the room to chill.

Later on I met Tom and Caed at The Ram, and then Curtis, Dylan, and Jordan showed up too. I walked with Caed & Curt to get ice cream at Steak & Shake, but didn't have any myself.

Yeah, that's pretty much it for Thursday.

Friday, like every other day on the trip, started with me lounging around the hotel. Eventually I wandered off to run Star Frontiers. I had a good group, including at least one who was trying it out for the first time. One guy did show up an hour late because he was still on Central time, but it wasn't hard to work him in. They did well with the mystery and the alien communication stuff.

After the game, I stuck around the table for a while listening to Tom and Curtis run their games. He was doing a Crawlspace World War I horror thing, and Curtis was doing an Icons game about sharks. There was a third game going on, but I never really figured out what the deal was. In my head, I started labeling it, "Garden Party, the RPG" because it seemed like all they were doing was role-playing ordinary people hanging around a suburban neighborhood. The GM had a great voice, though and, whatever the game was, the players were way into it.
I wandered off for some more shopping, then hiked out to meet Tom, Caed, and Dylan at Scotty's. It was a good time, but the waitress was busy or something. They were giving away free dice, though, bringing my freebie total to three. Gotta love the free dice.

Later on, we hooked up with Bill and Darrenn at the one of the Marriott bars (Conner's) and closed it down, even going back to the room for a while. I don't remember that night very well, except that it involved a lot of whiskey sours and then just whiskey. It's not easy keeping up with Bill.

I was hung over again on Saturday, but it didn't last as long as the one from Wednesday night. Tom came by and we grabbed some bratwursts at one of those lobby concession things. I was done with all my obligations, so I just wandered around after that.

Eventually, Tom texted me about meeting for dinner at the Omni, so he could go from there to Rise of the Overlord, Brett's superhero LARP. He also wanted me to bring him some game stuff that he had left in the room. That restaurant was super-expensive, so I just had a salad, but I was introduced to a piece of alcoholic poetry called the Sazerac. It had whiskey, bitters, and absinthe and it was awesome. John showed up too and we opened the little bottle of wine Tom had bought to share. 

While Tom started constructing his cardboard villain costume for the LARP, Curtis got in touch with me and I talked him into coming over to watch the game, despite the fact that he was actually hoping to go eat.

Brett neatly divided up the room, set out some props, and got started. It wasn't as much fun to watch as I had hoped. I mean, the players seemed to be enjoying it, but nobody came in costume and it was impossible to follow all the different groups doing their stuff.

Curtis and I decided to go eat and maybe come back later. We stopped at the Old Spaghetti Warehouse, but there was a long wait and people were just packed in all around. Waffling on where else to go, we eventually found our way to Rock Bottom.

Curtis went back to the room to pack. I was going to go back to the LARP after dinner, but I had the beginnings of a blister on my foot and decided to just stay in. I had new stuff to read, anyway. Around four in the morning, Curtis woke up to catch his flight home. Tom and I wished him a groggy farewell and went back to sleep.

Tom had a game Sunday, so I wandered around some more. I thought I had done all the purchasing I was going to do, but then I found those Dice Saber things on sale. They had green, red, and blue, so I grabbed a blue one. I brought it over to Tom's game to show him, then went back to the room.

Later, after a brief return to the exhibit hall because Tom wanted to pick some stuff up for a Cleveland friend, we met up with Jordan to have a few drinks and play Imhotep, the board game he had just bought. It was faster paced than I expected. Good game, except that Tom won.  Then we headed over to Acapulco Joe's for our traditional farewell to Gen Con meal. Not much to say about that, I guess. It was good and, you know, margaritas.

And after that it was pretty much just winding down. We've been booking through Monday for the past several years because it makes Sunday so much more fun. It was a great Gen Con, a real vacation. Also a real expensive vacation, but oh well.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Goodbye Tio

The obligatory Gen Con blog is coming soon, but first I just wanted to say goodbye to Tio (Prince Theodoric, Golden Boy, Blondie Bear, Rednose, and other names) who has finally been reunited with his brother from another mother, Ninja. He literally died in my arms yesterday, quietly, after having been sick for a while. The vet never firmly identified the problem, but believed it was cancer. The last thing he did was knead my arm with his paws one more time.