Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Qalidar for True20 Reviewed by Eposic

"If you're a True20 GM wanting to throw your PCs into a dismal but intriguing setting, Qalidar is for you. To this reviewer, the value in this supplement is not so much in the True20-specific information, but in the setting itself, so this supplement can be of value to you, giving you some great ideas regardless of your gaming system of choice."

The whole review: 

Monday, December 08, 2008

Wars, Fours, and Curvy Horns

After reading and playing here and there, even DM'ing once, I have some more thoughts on 4th Edition D&D:

I really hate the ram horns and the big meaty alligator tails on the tieflings. Hate. Them. I hate them more every day, especially since they all have them now. For the most part, though, the new background stuff is pretty nicely done. I like their arrangement of the planes, the way demons and devils make sense (always thought the Blood War was silly), the "points of light" assumption, and "just the facts" monster stats. And, I have to say, the pared-down skill list is a thing of beauty. There are several other things that got pretty sensibly streamlined in 4E, and I have several other minor gripes (like the fact that, even at first level, 4E characters are nearly impossible to kill).

By the way, does anybody remember when they were saying that Star Wars Saga Edition might be looked at as a preview of things to come in the fourth edition D&D rules? They did some neat stuff with that game. They cleaned up the skill system in much the same way, so that it actually helps move the game along instead of cluttering things up. They also went with the "defenses" philosophy like 4E, so that armor class and (what used to be) saving throws all use the same mechanic. I think that, with just a little extra work, they could have done away with feats and replaced them entirely with their new class-based "talent trees" rather than leaving them side by side. The interlocking systems get a little tangled, meaning that creating higher level NPC's is the same kind of headache it is in 3.5 D&D, especially for characters with Force abilities. Overall, though, I still think this game is a serviceable way to bring Star Wars to life in your living room.

And that brings us back to 4th Edition D&D. In the Star Wars game, talents are a way of customizing your character, choosing whether your Jedi has more mind tricks or light saber maneuvers, whether your soldier is a brawler or a sharpshooter, or a bit of both. In 4th Edition D&D, you have powers instead of talents. Powers are like the buttons you click to make your hydrocephalic gnome attack in World of Warcraft. Sure, you can do other things in D&D but, most of the time, there's no reason to. Most likely, you're going to do the same thing every time you run into trouble - use your encounter powers, then keep clicking on the at-will powers until the fight is over, because any other action is markedly inferior in game terms. Maybe if the fight's going slow you'll go ahead and use a daily power. Maybe you'll get creative and try something else, but this will upset the other players because you're not living up to your damage potential, and may even throw off the party's numbers by not doing what your class is supposed to be doing on round three.

Which brings up my other main gripe with the game: roles. Sure, all RPG's assume that you'll go for a certain balance of different character types, but I've never felt as railroaded by the concept as I do in 4E. Do you like the way you can customize your character with multiclassing in Star Wars (or even 3E D&D)? Not so fast! There is a form of multiclassing in 4E, but it's not much more than a quirk. You can pick one other class and get a few of its powers, but anything more would be a lethal mutation for the new sacred cow of role balance. How does a character who's a little bit striker, a little bit defender fit into the party? You don't know and, according to the rule books, you have to know. This is actually not as big a problem as it first seemed because I've found that you can ignore it and your players will do fine. They are, as I said, pretty much indestructible anyway. I just rant on because the way they obsess over it rubs me the wrong way. Think of it as another tiefling tail.

So anyway, I don't think fourth edition is for me. I don't hate it, but the style of play it encourages just doesn't agree with me. I've been having too much fun with True20 these days, anyhow.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Grog's is Back!

Well, not really, but I've posted a map for my new campaign that rips it off.  Sort of a "Grog III" except... not:

It's really exciting to have a campaign again.  Sure, I've been running games at conventions here and there, but an ongoing campaign is a whole different flavor, with the long-term plans and the world-building and player characters that you can actually get to know.  I had forgotten what it was like.  Really, brilliantly invigorating.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Silver Bullet

A friend who's into guns sent me this.  Apparently Winchester is ready for the coming werewolf apocalypse:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

About That 'Yaay' Post

The details I promised:
  1. I was about to go eat at Fat Cats, one of my favorite restaurants, to celebrate my birthday, and some fun presents had recently arrived in the mail.
  2. My vendor ID registration for Peryton Publishing went through quickly and easily. There was no reason it shouldn't have, but it was still a relief.
  3. The distributor I've been talking to presented me with a contract that covers everything I wanted it to cover and I'm getting every indication that the rep will be a great guy to be in business with.
  4. It looks like our fiction anthologies might be marketable through the same channels. The distributor offered a way to try this out that makes good sense and doesn't involve me gambling a bunch of money.
  5. I found a way to make an attractive map for my updated Qalidar with old software, replacing the disappointing piece of crap (Dundjinni) that I bought awhile back, and not requiring me to do it by hand, which just would not have been good for anybody. Finishing this map means the book is ready to send off for a draft printing now.
  6. Halloween, one of my favorite holidays, was coming up, and it was on a Friday night, and Tom was off work.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Evil ACORN Conspiracy

Good article. Here's my favorite quote:

If the howlings of maddened Drudge-readers were to be believed, vicious gangs of ACORN thugs are roaming the ghettos forcing people to register to vote over and over again. And it's all part of a huge conspiracy to defraud (great white hope) John McCain and install (black Muslim terrorist) Barack Obama as president.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Neolithic Spiral People

Mysterious Neolithic People Made Optical Art
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

Sept. 22, 2008 -- An egalitarian Neolithic Eden filled with unique, geometric art flourished some 7,000 years ago in Eastern Europe, according to hundreds of artifacts on display at the Vatican. Running until the end of October at the Palazzo della Cancelleria in the Vatican, the exhibition, "Cucuteni-Trypillia: A Great Civilization of Old Europe," introduces a mysterious Neolithic people who are now believed to have forged Europe's first civilization...

...the Cucuteni might have seen the world as cyclical -- a concept they might have expressed in the circles they painted on their pottery. According to this hypothesis, every some 60-80 years they would sacrifice whole cities by intentionally burning thousands of their houses. Then they would move to create another settlement...
The "let's burn our city every 60 years" theory seems a bit silly, but would make a cool fantasy element.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Remember that one episode of Farscape where Rygel and D'argo were negotiating with Scorpius and the diner they were in got robbed, and one of the robbers kept screaming, "WHY SO DIFFICULT?" as his plans went further and further awry? That's how this week is going.



Friday, July 25, 2008


Over the past few months, I've heard a few references to something called "ska." I gather that this is a musical style of some sort, possibly one that's been around a while. Everyone else seems to accept it as a familiar term. To me, though, it still sounds like some kind of fish disease.

"Hey Roy, what's that crusty stuff on your tetras?"

"Oh, they got that ska fungus. I've changed out the tank twice but I still can't get rid of the damn stuff."

"Have you tried putting in some of those sucker fish to clean the walls?"

"Ayuh. Killed them too."

"Nasty stuff, that ska."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Good Morning Morpheus

I got a text message on my phone this morning that just said "wake up." I didn't recognize the number it came from and I still haven't figured out who it was. I'm still waiting for it to add, "the Matrix has you."

Friday, July 04, 2008

Origins 2008

We scouted out Origins last weekend and had a great time. Tom sums it up nicely on his blog, along with other stuff.

I got to try out 4th edition D&D, which... I don't know. Several things about this version are starting to bother me. Anyway, even if it was only because we had a good DM and players, it was fun.

Next year maybe I'll run some games.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Rainy Day Adventure

This isn't finished, but I thought since it's already gotten to the point where the first sentence is wrong (it was two Sundays ago, now) I should go ahead and post what I've got, and just wrap it up later.

This past Sunday we decided to go to the movies. Not much of an adventure in itself, but we recently discovered a new bike trail that starts near our home and runs along the Cuyahoga valley all the way to the movie theater at Valley View. It may run all the way to Akron, but we weren't looking for that much of an adventure. So we bussed it over to the Old Angle Inn for our traditional Sunday lunch, then took another bus down to Steelyard Commons (near the trail head) and started hiking, I brought my big umbrella because they were predicting thunderstorms, but Tom didn't bring anything because he thought it would just be a few sprinkles.

Despite the fact that it runs right through the city, the valley is sheltered enough that it harbors some decent forest growth and makes for a very pleasant walk. The rain started fairly early on the walk, so Tom was good and drenched before long, not wanting to slow us down by huddling under my umbrella. At first the trail favored the river or some tributary, but then it joined up with an old canal trail and stayed mostly on that side. We passed a few bikers, a whole herd of joggers, and several other walkers going the other way, not seeming to mind the rain too much. We got to watch a train go over on a high bridge (I snapped a picture) and encountered a few branches with somewhat puzzling signs but decided not to indulge our curiosity this time. After all, the straight path along the canal was just as new.

Later the path got a little twisty and started going under unfamiliar bridges and we started wondering if we were going the right way, until we caught sight of

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back to Work

Okay, a week is long enough to wallow in new rules, even if they are bright and shiny. Time to put away the D&D books and get back to my own stuff! Loar: Lair of the Minotaur has been glaring malevolently down at me from the eaves for far too long, and Qalidar (our first True20 book and what promises to be my gaming masterpiece) can't really move into the spotlight until its done. Eventually I'll probably do a D&D adventure or two for the new rules - I have some ideas - but let's not get too far ahead or I'll start daydreaming in the wrong direction again. Speaking of which, this resolution to get back to work is turning into its very own form of procrastination.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Doctor, Doctor

This weekend, my Doctor Who obsession soared to new heights of geekery. I've just discovered the joy of "watch instantly" on Netflix, and I've been using it to sample an assortment of Doctors. I was still kind of sick this weekend, so I had an excuse to sit around and veg out. But ah, what wondrous vegitude! To sit back for hours and hours, bombarded with strange stories, cheap special effects, and British accents. Why would I ever want to leave the house again?

So far the only Doctor I don't particularly like is Patrick Traughton, but I intend to give him another chance. He is, after all, still the Doctor. I haven't yet sampled Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy, but they're on my list for tonight. Christopher Eccleston is still my favorite. I've also watched some more Tom Baker episodes. I was already familiar with him, but there were several that were just too tantalizing to resist. Last night I discovered Horror of Fang Rock, for instance, a wonderful little sci-fi/horror/suspense story set in a lighthouse.

And once I've completed my sampling, I have a new project. WikiPedia, you see, was kind enough to provide an episode guide. With this handy list, I can dig through the depths of Netflix and find as many as possible, put them into my queue in order, and start becoming the wild-eyed, half-autistic Doctor Who fanatic I've always known that, deep down, I truly am!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Einstein on God

Belief in God 'childish,' Jews not chosen people: Einstein letter
Tue May 13, 9:02 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - Albert Einstein described belief in God as "childish superstition" and said Jews were not the chosen people, in a letter to be sold in London this week, an auctioneer said Tuesday.

The father of relativity, whose previously known views on religion have been more ambivalent and fuelled much discussion, made the comments in response to a philosopher in 1954.

As a Jew himself, Einstein said he had a great affinity with Jewish people but said they "have no different quality for me than all other people".

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Desert Power

Here's an advertisement from some random dumbass on Delphi:

Will Muhammad image ignite holy war?

You decide


In Miguel Diocuore's CERRCO

My thoughts:

I get to decide whether or not there's a holy war? Wow, that's heavy. My first impulse would be to say no, but we shouldn't be too hasty about that. Maybe I could also decide who they go to war against! It would be like having my very own army of religious fanatics, something I've dreamed about ever since I read Dune back in the 80's. Onward, my minions! Die for Robinnianity!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Headin Out to Eden

Remember that original-series Star Trek episode about the space hippies looking for a "paradise" planet? For some reason the songs from that show keep rattling around in my head. They've been with me all week, and it's starting to creep me out.

"Let's get together and have some fun. I don't know how to do it, but it's got to be done!"

Guess I'm stuck with it. Here's to Spock jammin on that Vulcan harp.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

I have something to confess.

(deep breath)

I like the Star Wars prequels.

There, I said it.

I know, I know. The plot is full of holes, Hayden Christensen is a model trapped in an actor's body, Jar-Jar is annoying, the yappy little cartoon droids are annoying, and it's all a big toy commercial. I don't really think they're good movies, but I watch them often. And, Grod help me, I enjoy it.

Please forgive me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


And I guess I should mention the Baltimore trip back in January, described Tom's blog.

St. Patrick's Day

The bus ride to Ohio City, around 1pm:

The Old Angle, one of our favorite pubs, where we went directly after a corned beef-heavy lunch at the Market Cafe.
The Bier Markt, also in Ohio City. Strangely, people weren't flocking to the German pub for St. Patrick's day:

At South Side, one of many bars in Tremont we went to after wandering across the bridge. I don't know who this man is. I think he's an acquaintance of Tom's. Or just some guy who wanted his picture taken:

Awww. Aren't we cute?

List of Stops:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.
-Albert Einstein.