Monday, October 18, 2010

Taking a step back.

I did something this weekend I haven't done in a very long time:  I missed a game I could have reasonably attended.

I did genuinely have other things to do, but they could have been rescheduled.  I honestly did need to spend more time with the wife-to-be, but she wouldn't have begrudged me another Sunday with the gang.  I sortof needed to get in bed earlier than usual for the long day ahead, but work/travel arrangements make catching up on sleep less of an issue than it could be.

I honestly cannot remember the last time I have voluntarily missed a game of any sort, short of stepping away from a group permanently.  I have driven 250 miles one way to play GURPS (a system I've never been overly fond of) and have jacked myself up on caffeine to stay up for 36 plus hours to join in a game where I was completely unfamiliar with the system.  (I am a grown-ass man, by the way, and staying up for anything more than 16 hours without chemical inducement is a herculean feat these days.) Yet for all my love and dedication to gaming, I chose a quiet afternoon at home taking care of Responsible Adult Things™ and an evening not doing a whole heck of a lot.  Throw in some stewed prunes and grumbling about neighborhood children on my lawn and I'd have had the Octogenarian Special.

So why the sudden change in behavior?

Back in my day, we had to walk 20 miles uphill just to read what was after the bump!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

...Revels in Nostalgia

I'd hoped to be putting up a review of the two new D&D Essentials books this week, but a combination of UPS incompetence and some work-related matters have put that on hold.  In place of my review (which will doubtless join hundreds more on the subject) I'd like to speak on a related note:  Nostalgia, Edition Wars, Game Bashing and the oft-misunderstood NNS. (Neener-Neener Syndrome)

I'd like to preface by saying there's nothing wrong with a little unreasonable love for things long gone--the romanticization of the "Good Old Days" is a common thing for everyone--even the young.  We all have a atendency to remember things better than they were, and few people are willing to be honest with themselves about exactly how frequently they may have stated that such things "sucked total donkey balls."  It's understandable, relatable, and no matter how stupid it seems when examined closely it's something everyone does.  The problem doesn't lie in the fact that it's so widespread, or even that it's irrational, but the fact that people take this irrationality to ridiculous extremes and simply refuse to stop.  

Dammit, Anakin, I told you I hate SAGA EDITION!
So, how many of you know "That Guy?" You know, the one that uses every game to bring up his favorite system (usually as a way to bash whatever you're currently playing) and will rave for hours about how wonderful it is unless you distrtact them with things like... playing the actual game you're trying to play.  Got a picture in your head?  A specific incident picked out?  Maybe you've heard one particular speech so very much that you're actually replaying it in your head right at this very moment.  Good.  Now I want you to realize that you have every potential to be That Guy to someone else, and likely have been at some point in the past.

More questions (and lame recaptions of movie stills) after the bump.

Friday, September 24, 2010

...A Study in Evil

In deference to some of our more squeamish readers (assuming I have readers) today's illustrations will be composed entirely of kittens, as opposed to some of the horrific squick-inducing crap otherwise available on the intertubes.

Most people take a binary view of things: good and evil, black and white, order and chaos, etc. Others argue a trinary view, where gray, balance, and middle ground are as clearly defined as the polar opposites. Still others argue that it's all an illusion, and the concepts of good and Evil are only the result of an inadequate mind attempting to relate much higher concepts in a way that it can understand.

Granted, most of the folks you hear about in the third group are attempting to justify actions people in the other two groups would consider horrific... If it's all an illusion, then satisfying my own idle curiosity by releasing a necrotic, flesh-sculpting virus that drives its victims hopelessly insane is not really that different from making a nice apple pie for orphans, right?


I guess you could even do both at once.  They've already lost their illusory parents, might as well give them some pleasant, pastry-related memories before you warp their little frames into gruesome death machines, yeah?

When it comes right down to it, what defines the evil that our players (hopefully) strive against?  How do you motivate them beyond the promise of wealth and other fabulous prizes?  Aside from railroading them into a specific story, how do you engage them and keep them interested in Mr. Big Bad?

MOAR after the bump.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

...On the love of Goblins

I love goblins.  Despite the fact that most people consider them a target of derision and a laughable foe at best, and not worth including as anything beyond a joke at worst, I have much love for my tiny greens brothers and sisters.

Hail to the King, baby.
One of my gripes about 3.5 is that with all the monster races playable, goblins were 'technically' playable, but crippled to the point of being terrible.  I generally resorted to using halfling stats.  I played goblins frequently, and enjoyed every minute of it--even when being pursued by well-meaning but xenophobic townsfolk.  In keeping with all of this, I've spent plenty of time considering goblins, their mannerisms, societies, and their place in the world beyond "generic punching bag/chew toy for low level adventurers."

Creating entire goblin civilizations doesn't necessarily mean converting them into technophiles or merchant societies, (a la Blizzard) and giving them a bit more depth doesn't mean pulling them away from the role of villains, or even making them sympathetic--although those are both options.

More pocket-sized, green-skinned goodness after the jump.  (Including some gorgeous artwork courtesy of Aureath over on deviant art.  Pop by and give them some props, add them to your favorites, buy some prints, etc.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

...Written In Blood.

Much like serious warning labels on seemingly innocuous products, many of the games we play wind up with a set of rules--often unwritten--that go beyond the bounds of moderating combat, passing out loot, or rolling to see if someone is getting drunk.  

@#$% scissors, don't run with marshmallows.  Let's not mention the diabetes, though.

These rules are the result of extensive testing, and are often learned by spilling the inky lifeblood of many characters, NPCs, and perhaps even entire worlds of imagination.  On occasion, ignoring (or learning) these rules can cost friendships... although I'd argue that's as much a result of poor communication and interpersonal skills as it is breaking the rules.

I present to you a few I've learned myself after the jump.