Getting the itch again…

As this week has progressed, I’ve come to realize I really want to GM again. I’ve been listening to The Tome Show a lot, especially the Behind the DMs’ Screen episodes, which is three DMs discussing their games and giving each other advice and ideas. They’re the ones that have inspired me to try to run Madness at Gardmore Abbey, which if the kids don’t want to run it, I might do it with my Thursday night group as a short term game after our current campaign ends.

This has dovetailed with stuff going on in our home game. Therein, our DM has decided to use a storytelling technique I’ve found and used from the Critical Hit podcast. In this technique, part of the story is being told with alternate characters in the past or some other part of the setting. In our home game, I’m playing a dragonborn sorcerer from Abeir, the parallel world to the Forgotten RealmsToril. I’ve been doing some research into dragonborn (as there are a few light texts on them, and I stumbled across the stuff on Returned Abeir, a chunk of the world of Abeir now part of the Realms (or at least in 4e; I have no idea if this has been erased by the Sundering event that transitioned the Realms to 5e). Just looking at it inspired me to run a game there, as I tend to dislike the Realms.

On the other hand, I’ve also been thinking of running the Neverwinter season of Encounters for my home game, as I ran it before at CSGS for Encounters. As well, I’d want to continue using the Neverwinter book to run longer. I was impressed with the book and how it detailed enough material to go beyond just 10th level, as the book itself states.

This morning, in the shower, I was inspired again, but this one I put out to all of you who might read this blog and GM. I ran into someone at one of the hobby shops in town that sells gaming stuff. This particular player had fielded his Warhammer 40K Tyranid army during a D&D for Kids game a few months ago. The Tyranid are a biotech “species” who move from world to world, ingesting all life, adapting whatever genetics improve them, and moving on. My mind moved on into how this faction of beings could be incorporated into an RPG. In the games that include such creatures (the Zerg of Blizzard’s StarCraft and WH40K), they are pretty much nothing that can be negotiated with. The Bugs of Starship Troopers are similar creatures.

My idea was to incorporate similar ideas into a fantasy RPG. This could give a more unifying framework to the aberrant creatures of D&D as currently, through 4e, the only unifying element of the aberrants is that they are from the Far Realms. Something like this gives them a more coherent set of goals. The idea could also be the machinations of some creature like Kyuss or Lolth, if she decides to forego the drow and instead rely on insects. Either way, the invaders are rapacious, destroying everything in their path. Beyond that, the idea is very sketchy. I didn’t really get time to think it through beyond that. Just a unifying theme for a campaign.

Even though I haven’t mentioned the StarSea, it’s not far from my mind in all of this. I’ve been thinking about the place of the Orders in the setting (Are they rulers? Are they law enforcement? Are they something else?), as well as other things, like technology and economics. I sometimes wonder if I’m thinking too much about all of this, but I want a solid setting with a lot of verisimilitude.

Well, that’s pretty much all I’ve got for this week. I’m out for this week. Later.

Playing Catch-Up

I’ve been playing catch-up the past couple of weekends. Last week, I took a trip out of town last Saturday (the 19th) for my birthday. This weekend, I spent my time trying to redownload a D&D podcast I listen to because my iTunes corrupted them the first time.

My birthday weekend included a trip to the Winchester Mystery House, a landmark on the National Registry. For those who might not know, the heir to the Winchester firearm fortune was told in the late 1800s that she was haunted, and the only way to keep the spirits of those killed by the Winchester firearms was to build a home and never finish it. As a sufferer of Rheumatoid Arthritis (treated with opiate painkillers), Mrs. Winchester developed some strange ideas, so the house takes some weird turns. Some of the rooms are quite beautiful, even after 100 years, and so are just downright strange.

Surrounding that, Dad, the Kids and I went to a variety of gaming stores. We all picked up odds and ends of goodies as we did. Each shop was within about three miles of the others, and each had a different focus or specialty. It was pretty wild to see, as we don’t have enough gamers here in Fresno to support so many stores that they can focus so much (although we do have a number of MTG stores).

We all had a good time, doing a little exploring and having an adventure. Now, what do we do next year?

This weekend, as I said, I’ve been fighting a podcast. Once I got my iPad, I started listening to my backlog of podcasts. So far, all have been fine. But one, The Tome Show, a D&D podcast, was fine until just after GenCon 2012. After that, the downloads I have are corrupted.

This was likely caused by the crappy Internet connection we’ve had around here combined with a bit of weirdness from iTunes. Basically, the podcast episodes I captured often restart some number of minutes in, then end abruptly. It seems like iTunes didn’t verify its downloads beyond confirming that the length of the file was correct.

As Apple only hosts the most recent 100 episodes, and the Tome Show posted about that many episodes in the first eight months of the year, I had to go back to the Show‘s website and download individual episodes. I did that wrong, so I had to repeat my actions with corrections, verify which episodes I had and which I needed, etc., etc. Wasn’t technology supposed to make our lives easier?

Something I’d forgotten to mention in the last posting was having bought a couple of novels at the Book Nook recently.

I picked up The Crystal Shard, R. A. Salvatore’s novel that is the first appearance of his best known character, Drizzt Do-Urden, the dark elf ranger. I’ve listened to interviews with the author, and I’ve heard differing reviews of his work, and I decided I wanted to read some of his work first hand.

I’ve also picked up City of Towers: The Dreaming Dark, Book 1 by Keith Baker. The book is set in Eberron, a D&D world that I also count an inspiration for the StarSea, as there is a certain admixture of technology and magic I really like. I wanted Baker’s work as the creator of the setting to get his vision of the world.

I’ve set the Moorcock Mars books aside for now. I couldn’t get into them again as they seem so juvenile. Kane is an ubermensch of a character, and upon arriving on Mars, he immediately meets a beautiful woman, every bit his equal, and immediately develops feelings for her. This is a common trope for the fiction Moorcock’s imitating, but I’m painfully aware of the trope’s presence and it’s pulling me out of the reading. So, I’ve set those books aside for the moment.

I’ve really been interested in reading fiction right now. I’m slogging through the Cypher System core rulebook, as the typical dry rulebook reading. However, I’m seeing ways to do what I want for character creation for the StarSea, so I’m continuing reading when I can. But the fiction is calling my name…

Anyway, outside of getting some more of the typing done, I really don’t have anything more to report on the StarSea. I’ve been working a lot the last few weeks, which is good because I have a couple of pretty major bills (or at least they are vis-a-vis my wages) that come due in the next couple of weeks. I’ve had some random thoughts about various facets of the StarSea, but they’re just mental tinkering. Nothing is really solid or sticking in my mind.

So, that said, I need to call it a night. I need to be up in the morning to take my car to get it a smog check.




Another week, another blog post

(I wonder how many times I’ve used that title…)

Again, not much to report, which means I’ll be writing more than I think. It always seem to work out like that.

I watched the Habitica videos, but I still haven’t pulled the trigger on using it. I like the way it works, but I’d like to have more folks in my party that I actually know rather than the random people you meet on the Internet. Sorry, random folks who follow my blog.

I’ve taken to retyping my old notepads on Friday nights at my friends’ place, after their kids go to bed while we watch whatever’s on the tube (usually Bill Maher and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). Seems to work pretty well for me, as I can jump back and forth from the two activities pretty well. I was thinking I might do some retyping tonight, but as you might expect, I got distracted.

I’ve had a bit of a backache the past couple of weeks. A rib is not aligned correctly. I’ve had this problem before, so I know the feeling. I took some Tylenol PM last night in the hopes that I could relax my body enough to shift the rib back into place. I slept for 12 hours, with a couple of awakenings to go to the bathroom. It’s 10PM, and I feel like I’m ready for bed again. Blech. The Tylenol really wipes me out; I seem very susceptible to it. I remember the first times I took it at work. That was an accident, and not good. Once I figured it out, I never took it at work again, and it part of the reason I only take it when I’m not working.

So, on that note, I think I’ll make that all I write tonight. I just don’t have the focus to put more into this blog tonight. So…


Back so soon?

Yeah, I’m posting again, even though I’ve had little time for anything.

I haven’t had much time to do any research about how Habitica works, but I’m going to watch their tutorial videos tonight before bed, after I finish this post. I need to pitch this to my friends again to see if I can get them on board with trying this. The Habitica site does mention this game being used at schools, so maybe that will help get the kids interested.

Outside of that, I got a couple of world building ideas the other night. One was for how the different orders increase their numbers. This came out of a discussion on how the SCA “knights” go through their knighting process, as well as the items that designate them knights (spurs, belt and chain/necklace). I think the process described was very European, but I think it’s a workable place to start.

The other idea was how the engines of StarSea ships function. My older ideas were for a rudder-like set of “exhaust ports”/thrusters, like this ship had:

(not that you can see them in this image, but this is the best I could find. And both characters get more realistic clothes in later issues.)

but this just wasn’t working for me. This image is how I was viewing travel through the StarSea:

The mistiness around the boat in particular, but also the rocks in the background, are what I like in the image.

One idea I used in my 4e game for a ship that plowed through the Astral Sea (4e’s version of the Astral Plane, depicted above), had a sort of propeller, and I’d seen this image from Monte Cook Games’ new Numenera Kickstarter for an outer space book:

so repeating this sort of propulsion system wasn’t appealing to me, no matter how cool it might look. But I’ve also had the idea of a warp bubble kicking around in my head, with the Star Trek idea that warp drives need to be paired to create a bubble around the ship. These ideas mixed in my head, as I was envisioning a StarSea ship sailing along, creating a bow wave, and I thought, “Why not have the engine set around the hull, creating the misty, wavy look?” I need to sit and do some sketches of how the internals of the ship would be laid out, but I think I have an idea I like and that is different than others I’ve seen.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for this week. Considering it’s only been a couple of days, I think this is more than enough.


Will I ever get back to a regular schedule?

I swore to myself that I’d get this post done today, and by The Powers That Be, I will get something up. Every other time I’ve sat down with the laptop, I’ve gotten drowsy and crashed out within a few minutes. Hopefully, that won’t happen in the middle of the day, but I have been out doing yard work, and I’m kinda tired. But I’ll have something posted before I leave for my Thursday Night Game! I so swear!

While listening to my podcasts a few days back, I learned of Habitica, an online motivation RPG. The idea is to game-ify your life, earning in game rewards for accomplishing goals and changing bad habits. I think I need something like this. I’ve mentioned it to the Family, as I’d like to have others join me. I need something to help me focus on getting things done, and other things I’ve tried haven’t worked. The discussion in the podcast gave me the impression that this app is fun, rather than the tedium of the to-do apps I’ve tried. Hopefully, that will keep me focused.


A couple of weeks ago, out in social networking land (Google+, I think) someone posted up a link to a discussion on a gaming forum about using RADAR images of storms as templates for gaming maps. I took the idea and found some hurricane images that would work for a galaxy. Some of them even would provide me with political divisions.

On the other hand, I’ve wanted to have an ancient feel to maps and symbols. This is the interplanetary map that Monte Cook Games is doing for the new expansions for Numenera they’ve kickstarting right now:

I’ve thought about something like this as well. I just have no ideas for such a map. I’ve thought about using the Tree of Life, but I think the Tree of Life is a little limited, and doesn’t suggest politics or other geographical divisions. So, it’s still percolating through my mind what I’ll be doing for this map. And this mapping technique will also work for the worlds on the StarSea themselves.


I’ve recently be trying to rereading Michael Moorcock’s Mars/Michael Kane books. I’m not especially interested in rereading the Elric series (especially as it’s been expanded on since I read them so long ago), but I wanted to reread the Michael Kane series. I’m finding them nowhere near as good as I did so many years ago. I forgot how far they drift from the Burroughs John Carter books, while being obviously derived from them. Burroughs’ Mars is a desert world, in keeping with what we’ve observed of it from Earth. Moorcock’s Mars is in the distant past, one of the martians commenting that the Third World is only inhabited by giant reptiles. That’s fine (there’s supposed to be some time difference between Earth and Barsoom, too). However, Moorcock’s Mars is verdant and green… and blue and purple and so on. He quickly descends into his usually fantasy tropes, but I’m just not feeling it for these stories. It doesn’t jibe, for whatever reasons. I’ve been more entertained by the new fluff for the new version of the Warhammer Fantasy world(s). I’m finding that much more entertaining.


Last weekend, I borrowed a different keyboard for use with my iPad (which I really shouldn’t have done, as that unpaired it from the tablet it was supposed to be paired to, which had been a fight. I was bad, and I apologized). In doing so, I used it to start retyping notebooks again. It was good to make some progress on that front, as I want to get that completed and start using those books as a basis for the bible I’m creating for the StarSea. Another item to be added into the goals for Habitica.

So, I need to get some food in my belly before I head out for D&D tonight. I have successfully posted! Ha!



Just Thinking

So, life continues as it does. Nothing to really report there.

On to thinkings on the StarSea. I’ve actually had some. :-)

I’m kinda doing some worldbuilding again in my head. First, I was thinking about the dwarves and gnomes, and how maybe I’ve got them misconceived a little. I’ve wanted to take Earth mythological concepts for creatures in the StarSea and give them a twist. Mythologically, dwarves are miners and masters of the forge. Gnomes, in contrast, are literally earth elementals (as per Paracelsus, an alchemist of ancient Europe). Currently, I have the dwarves as earth and wood elementals, and the gnomes as pixies and tricksters. While the trickster personality can work with anything, I’m thinking the elemental nature should be part of the gnomes more than dwarves. The pixie aspect is not one I was enthusiastic about (except having created a concept image I really liked). If I go ahead and change the gnomes into elementals, that aspect of the dwarves will have to be changed. It a wyrd-technological setting, I think that focusing on the metallurgical aspects might be the way to go. These are largely my initial thoughts on the subject, and I likely need to do some more tinkering before I have these changes settled.

I’ve also been thinking about dragons and their anatomy. I’ve commented on how I want my creatures to have a logical anatomy (no muzzles on humanoids, no odd joints, chair-headed aliens, etc.). I want winged dragons, but I don’t want the wyvern-style creatures for dragons. That is, I want hexapodic dragons, not quadrapeds. The wings of dragons have to fit on their bodies and make sense with the rest of their skeletons and musculature. I just dug out my copy of Michael Whelan’s art book, Wonderworks, to see how he did the dragons of Pern, as there is a couple of different ways to do dragon wings out on the Internet. Some people swear by the wings in front of the forelegs, and some put the wings low on the back, down near where the kidneys would be on a human. A very few folks put the wings aligned with the forelegs, but if they do, they don’t seem to think anything of how the musculature for all four limbs work.

I’ve managed to get about 2/3rds of the way through the Fantasy AGE rulebook, getting into the GMs section, which seems to mostly be advice. I’m skimming that, as no one is ever a good enough GM to not learn more. I’m also starting to dig into the character creation stuff in the Cypher System, which is also largely skim-able. When I had for bed in a few minutes, I’ll see how much farther I can get.

That’s really all I have for now. Later.

So, where was I again?

That title is a riff on both the fact that I didn’t post last week and the fact that I actually have some memory holes over the past couple of weeks.

Last Sunday, I took The Kids to a baseball game. It was their last weekend before school started, and we’d managed to waste the summer without getting to a game. We finally coordinated a weekend as the last Sunday. I didn’t get home until late, and had to work Monday, so I didn’t even get to draft anything. We all had a good time, so maybe some time in the future we’ll do it again.

I got my physical copy of the Cypher System, but I haven’t gotten to really read much of it. I did do a page-by-page skim, and read the odd paragraph here and there. The upside is, it looks sufficiently like Numenera in writing that I don’t think I’ll need to do more than a more thorough skim of older rules, which will allow me to read it faster. I’m also not expecting to read all of the setting advice, as I’m creating such a fusion setting that I’m betting the printed advice will be of limited use to me.

In the reading time I’ve gotten (mostly at work), I’ve focused on the PDF version of Fantasy AGE. I like the system (and I’ve enjoyed the Titangrave liveplay series on Geek and Sundry immensely), but I’m not sure it will work for the StarSea. It is less open-ended than Fate, but I also feel that’s a good thing. It looks, though, like I’d have to create a fairly large amount of house rules to get the setting to work like I’d prefer. It’s not off the table yet.

Reading the basic AGE mechanics, as well as an article mixing the Apocalypse/Dungeon World system with Fate, the two mixed in my head, and I thought of another way that might help folk get used to the Fate Invocation/Compel mechanics. The idea is to mix dice colors of your Fate dice. One die is a different color, and that’s your “Stunt” die. If that die comes up “+”, the player can use a stunt or get the effect of a Fate Point. A “–” on the die results in a GM compel. This might be too easy, and success or failure might be used to determine if the Stunt Die is in effect. As players get used to this, the GM might ween the players off this and start using Fate Points instead. All of this is just an idea, and I don’t know if I’ll implement it. If you read this and you’re a Fate GM introducing new players, feel free to give it a try.

Otherwise, I’ve been feeling I need to start creating a setting bible. I’ve been listening to D&D podcasts from back about 2012, just after the 5e playtests started. I’m only now getting to those as I got behind when I lost my iPod, and I had a lot of backlog to dig through. But there was a lot of talk about a Forgotten Realms setting bible, and it’s inspired me to do the same. I have a skeleton of same, and I think I need to start fleshing that out.

Thing is, I think things will start being delayed by my ramping my job hunt up again. Things have been going on at work I’m not happy with, so it’s time to get out, and the DMV job test is about to run out. In three years, I’ve had maybe three interviews that have led nowhere, so I’m thinking that line is exhausted and there’s no point in continuing to bark up that tree. I have no idea where I’ll go, but I can’t stay where I’m at much longer.

In fact, I need to get another application out to the DMV (I’ll keep responding to the interest letters I’m getting), so I think I’ll call this a post.


Nothing new under the Sun

So, again, not much going on. An emergency situation came up that’s requiring me to do a lot of yard work in short order. It leaves me drained, as it’s freaking hot locally. I’m not much in the mindset to think about much creative. However, I’ve got a few ideas rumbling around my head, but nothing really new or complete.

I have been inspired to draw a little, but I’m just not getting the time to do anything display worthy. Just sketches, on my tablet, that are very incomplete.

That’s really about it. No lengthy discussions of ideas; just a guy trying to get a lot done in six weeks.



Yeah, that’s where I’m at right now, where this blog is concerned. At the moment, I’m trying to get over being pissed off because of a post on Facebook (someone being an asshole on my wall), and I’m full of nervous energy. I’m hoping writing will work off some of that energy.

I’m still in the mindset that Fate is almost too flexible. I can’t get over that idea. I’ve gotten my copy of the Cypher System in PDF format, but I haven’t taken time to do much more than skim it. I know the system is solid, but I don’t know if the character building will work to create what I want. However, it looks like I might be able to make it work with just a little tweaking. I could be wrong, of course. I’ll have to figure out how cyphers (powerful, one-use items) would fit into the StarSea, but I’m betting I could figure out something.

I’m also interested in seeing Green Ronin‘s Fantasy AGE when it comes out in a couple of weeks. It’s the system that Green Ronin created for their Dragon Age tabletop licensed game, without the Dragon Age stuff. I’ve been watching Wil Wheaton use it for a “Thundarr the Barbarian“-style game on the Geek and Sundry website. I’ve been interested in the system, but I never picked up any of the books. I was expecting that the Dragon Age stuff could be taken out and still have a viable game system, and Green Ronin went and did it. So, I’ll pick it up when it becomes available.

Other than that, I haven’t really been thinking about the StarSea. I’ve been reading stuff from Games Workshop on their new version of their fantasy battle game, called Age of Sigmar. I like their “Sigmarines”, as they’ve been dubbed, but they are huge compared to other figures. But I like their fluff, and the Realmgate scenery pieces look really cool. It’s been a little bit of a distraction, but not a huge one.

So, that pretty much covers my last two weeks. I’m feeling better now. More relaxed. Later.

Another Week of Nothing.

Nothing but being sick. The cold I reported last week was rough on me this week. It migrated, as usual, to my chest, so coughing became the norm. One afternoon after work I came home with an upset stomach that had me in the bathroom a number of times. That night I went to bed early, after forcing myself to stay up longer than 8PM. I have found that NyQuil gives me weird dreams and has me sleeping 12 hours at a time (with a full dose). So, many days I’ve been out of bed late and into bed early. Not much going on otherwise.

Yesterday was the Boy’s 13th Birthday. He got into Magic the Gathering just before the end of the school year, and I found out that this weekend was a big pre-release weekend at the FLGS, so we went and played MTG until the Midnight Release of the new Core Set (said to be the final Core Set), got our cards, started deck building for the sealed deck tournament, but left before the first round as the Boy was tired. He said he had a good time, and even though he said he was tired, he was kinda hyper, so I think he was honest with me.

My only creative thing I did this week was working out a spark I got while listening to a podcast. It was the Gaming Careers podcast, and it was really a long chain of thoughts, but I sparked on a mystic circle idea, as it relates to game stats (but not necessarily anything I play or am reading right now). Maybe by next time I’ll convert it to a graphic I can post up here. It’s very bare-bones and incomplete, so you’ll have to forgive me that.

I was trying to get a hold of Issue 75 of White Dwarf, which shipped with a promo mini for their new game, but no one in town has had it. It’s already going for $25 to $50 on eBay, so I doubt I’ll be able to get the magazine. >sigh<

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ve got going for this week. Later.


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