Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Video Game question

We identify ourselves as Gamers.  To us it has been a mantle we have alternately been burdened by and worn with pride.  Mostly pride, given the group that usually reads my blog.  But we are not the only ones that call themselves Gamers.  There is that other group.   Video games and RPGs have always coexisted in the popular consciousness together.  Yeah..yeah H.G. Wells blah blah Little Wars...that is not what I am talking about.

In the popular consciousness RPGs hit the market maybe 30 seconds before video games did.  The Atari 2600 entered into home market in October of 1977, around the same time as the first printings of AD&D.  Sure OD&D was out before that and there were video games before the 2600 too.  Indeed the 2600 is part of the 2nd Generation of video games, with the 1st gen starting in 1972.

The cost of entry to the home video game hobby is higher than RPGs, the prices are remarkably stable.  For example RPGs have been something of a steady state tech, video games and their hardware are fully in line with Moore's Law; getting cheaper while getting better.  The 2600 retailed for $199.00 in 1977, the Wii retailed at $249.99 30 years later.

Video Gamers and TT Gamers have always seen to eye to eye.  I know for a fact that someone on my reader list has seen someone come into their FLGS to look for a video game only to be mocked out of the store.

The issue I have is that this divide really should not exist   Granted. I have no clue what some Video Gamers are talking about sometimes. I am still only level 2 in Skyrim, never played WoW, Everquest or anything else like that.  I have been playing Lolipop Chainsaw for about 8 months and still am not past "level 2" on it.

So before I go deeper into this I want to ask.  What video games are you all playing?

Did you pick them because they appeal to your TTRPG background? Or because they are opposite of an RPG?  Why that game?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #54

White Dwarf #54 comes to us from the far off time of June 1984. This was a time when I probably played more AD&D than any other time in my life, before or since.  Let's talk about that cover for a bit. Wow. Could it be more 80s?  Mystical wizard with a glowing eye and a huge, almost to damn big to be useful Sword-Axe!  It's the mighty Sword-Axe! The only weapon that can kill the dark lord holding the hero's love.  Stick in a metal guitar riff and that is all you need.  Of course I love this cover.  The wizard is actually kind of cool looking and that sword is EXACTLY the sort of ridiculousness that I would loved to have stated up back in the day.

Ian Livinstone brings up the Satanic Panic issue. I guess he was abroad in Australia and New Zealand and the subject of "black magic" was brought up to him.  I like his response, one of dismissive confusion.

Not content on bring logic to the real world, the next article tries to bring logic to the fantasy world as well.  Christopher Hunt gives us Laws of Nature; or how to create a logically consistent game world.  There was a lot of this around this time and I think a hallmark of the Silver Age.  While older adventures were content with the dungeon crawl and room after room of monster and treasure; the mid 80s was a time when people began to ask why are these rats here? and why do they have a sack of 2,000 coins?  This is reflected in the modules and the articles we read.  I took a lot of this to heart then and as a consequence my games are still not full of gold or even magic items.

There is a Barbarian writeup for RuneQuest next. I know I never read it then because it was too new to me. I never got into playing barbarians at all.  I never read Conan growing up and I preferred the magic using types. But the article is quite good.

Marcus Rowland is back with Name of the Game.  This entry is on Sci-Fi games, with Traveller dominating the article.  Others are mentioned, Space Opera, Star Frontiers, Star Trek (FASA) and Laser Burn.

Microview reviews two computer games Apocalypse and Battle 1917, both are for the 48k Spectrum computer, which of course means most people could run an emulator and put these on their phones.  While reading about their tape loading woes was nostalgic, I never heard of either of these games.  There is a BASIC game aid included in the article as well, a random name generator.

Table Top Heroes is reserved for the color page again (as it should be) to show off the miniatures.

Open Box reviews Traveller Adventure 11 (7/10 by Andy Slack), Book 2 of Steve Jackson's Sorcery, Kharé -  Cityport of Traps (Marcus Rowland gives 8/10 as a book 2, 6/10 as a stand alone).  Espionage  and an adventure Border Crossing by Hero Games.  For Hero's entry into Spy Games Marcus Rowland gives them a   8/10 and 9/10 respectively.  Nic Grecas reviews Theatre of the Mind Enterprises' Pursuit to Kadath, a third part of a Call of Cthulhu adventure. He gives it 8/10.

Critical Mass has a review of Battlefield Earth.  I thought the book (when I tried reading it in the late 80 say 4 years from this review) was abysmal dreck.  I am happy say that all the reasons I hated it are brought up here. Well, not all, my reasons are a long and varied, but they hit on the big ones.

The solo "adventure" The Castle of Lost Souls is back for Part 3. This time it is longer than Part 2. A few of the entries are fun, but it's still a programmed adventure.

RuneRites has some undead.  As always, some great ideas for the the AD&D gamer here too.
Thurd is back.

Temple of the Doomed Prince is up. An adventure for 5 to 8 AD&D characters of 4th to 6th level  or RuneQuest characters of 45% to 65% weapons skills.  It also mentions Empire of the Petal Throne.  The adventure is simple and the monsters are dual stated.

Letters from Hobbits grace the Letters page.
What follows is a first, a mid magazine full color ad for Battlecars.

Fiend Folio has two related ghostly creatures; Surrogates and Shapelings.  Related in the fact that have one set of stats.

After that the parallel color page for I.C.E.'s Fellowship of the Ring boardgame.
Travellers is next.

Some more ads with color (but not full color) are next.  This is a change form all the ads being at the end of the magazine.

Treasure Chest cover Goals for Role-Playing. Or basically, what drives your character.

News this time looks like a posting board of newspaper clips.

Small ads, Gobbledigook and the ads close out the issue.

Like last issue this is a solid, serviceable issue but nothing that sticks out. It seems that despite all the physical growth of the magazine the creative and critical growth is off.  I see more of the same ahead at least for the rest of 84.  We will see.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cover Me

I was reading the good old Facebook this morning and noticed this picture of author Joanne Brothwell's new book and the cover of another book by Loren Manns.

The books are of course not related outside of both in the modern paranormal genre. But I thought it might be fun to imagine one.

This is not uncommon for many indie and newer authors to use stock art for covers.   Sometimes you can even find them.  It is interesting though to see what a difference Photoshop makes.

It even happens in our publishing.
Here is a cover of a game you might recognize, and it's doppelganger.


Obviously mine and one called Magic & Miracles for the D6 system.  In this case though both of us are using the famous John W. Waterhouse painting.  I make no excuses for that, I love the Pre-Raphaelite style.

I'll have to go over this alternate version of the witch in detail.

I know they say you can't judge a book by it's cover, but sometimes you can use that cover for some fun!

New Releases Tuesday

Time for the 2013 edition of New Releases Tuesday for two of my favorite authors (you can click to see 2012, 2011 and 2010).

Up first is my talented friend Amber Benson with the next installment of the tale of Calliope Reaper-Jones, the girl that would be Death in The Golden Age of Death.

This book is out today!

Next is everyone's favorite red-headed witch/demon, Rachel Morgan in Ever After.

Rachel has more trouble, this time cleaning up a mess she made a few books back.  Of course if she doesn't fix it all the demons in the Ever After will be coming for her.

This one has been out for a bit.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Going to Valhalla, Alaska

Back when I was in high school I had these two friends that put together this "fake" band ala Spinal Tap.  The name of the band was "Harvey Goes to Valala" which was an obvious play on "Frankie Goes Hollywood" and my high school and college nickname "Harvey" (long story).  I say "fake" because it was supposed to be in fun, but my two friends really got into it to the point of "releasing" an album called "Pocket Full of Braincells" (also a full year before Spin Doctors came out with A Pocket Full of Kryptonite, no no there was nothing too that, something in the water in the late 80s/early 90s I am sure).

I liked the town, Valala, and always thought it was this out of the way place up north where the people were weird but had limited outside influences to keep themselves sane.

Valala, Alaska took various shapes and forms in my mind since the late 80s.  It wasn't till the late 90s/early 00s that I considered using the WitchCraft game.  I thought about it again when I was running a WitchCraft game online a few years back, "Vacation in Vancouver" which was a fun, but really dark and adult game (deaths in a prostitution ring that catered to supernatural clients).
The Valala game was going to be something along the lines of a weird Northern Exposure.  A town full of odd folk and supernaturals.  There was going to be humor, but dark.

Over the weekend I was doing laundry and found the "concert" shirt for the Harvey Goes to Valala World tour.  All the towns were places where we all had run off to go to college.  But it got me thinking about this game again.

I still think WitchCraft is a great choice for it, but again with dark humor and really strange people; both mundane and supernatural. Everything in most modern supernatural games are so serious.  This would be.  Sure things would still be dangerous. But the characters would all be locals and quirky ones at that.

With WitchCraft I could use all the supernatural types.  I have always wanted a Werebear character in one of of these games.  I also had this idea for an old and lazy vampire.  Basically the opposite of every other vampire you have ever seen. He's old, ugly, poor and lazy. He survives by trapping animals.
I'd also have to include some crazy ass, conspiracy theory- believing, "prepper" guy.  Someone living in a hole in the ground with his guns and cans of beans.

It was pointed out to me that this is a similar idea to Buffy.  But mine would be less Joss Whedon and more David Lynch.

I would need to get some basic adventure ideas together.  The trick is to take a normal supernatural adventure and do something bizarre with it.   The first one I came up with was about a Sasquatch.  In the normal adventure the Sasquatch is causing problems or killing the local livestock.  In a "Buffy" version the Sasquatch is a demon.  In the "Valala" version the Sasquatch is having sex with the females of the local moose population.  The cries of the moose are keeping people up at night.  The moose hanging around the outskirts of the city because they are enjoying are causing even more problems.  So the issue is not "wow Bigfoot is reall!" it's "Bigfoot is real. And he is a nasty perv keeping everyone up at night."

If I come up with some more ideas I'll share them.  Thought with what I have been thinking of lately you might not want me too!

I'll have to look to see what I have of this.  I seem to recall making a map of the town at one point.  It was on the water.

Though I think I am going to rename the town to be Valhalla, AK.  Kinda like calling a town "Hell" or "Purgatory".

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Vampires and Demons

Working on a bunch of projects, might have over extended myself.

To maximize my time and effort (and everyone's enjoyment) one of my projects will be posted here.

I am just unsure about which one.  So I'll throw out to you all.  What do you want to read about more? Vampires or Demons?

Let me know!