I’m not in the best of moods, so take this for what you will.
I’m tired of the puppy. She just pissed on the brand new carpet with no warning that she needed out. I’m the only one that even tries to discipline her, and that work is constantly undone by the other members of the household. I’m tired of being responsible for animals I didn’t bring into the house.
While everyone else in the world has been on Pokemon Go, I decided to try out the older game by Niantic, Ingress.I was just looking for something entertaining to do while getting some exercise. The local players are jerks, and my entertainment has been spoiled. All of the younger folk at my Thursday night game are doing Pokemon, and there doesn’t seem to be the douchebaggery in that game, so I’m thinking of making the switch, even though I have zero interest in Pokemon.
I have no idea why I keep trusting in players on the Internet. Every game out there has it’s early adopters, and those folks seem to all be assholes who trample anyone new who joins. The social elements of these games are pretty anti-social.
I wonder why I bother to do this blog any more. I get five visits a post, and I haven’t had a comment in months. I’m really not enthusiastic about writing it, it’s feeling like a chore, or just a place to vent. That’s why I blew off making an entry last week.
Maybe it’s just my mood tonight. I could gripe about how work has been giving me very few hours, or any of a number of other things. Why bother?
I think I’m done for tonight. I wanted to get something up, and this isn’t really what I wanted, but obviously it’s stuff that I needed out.
Anyway, I’m done for now. Later.
So, over the last couple of weeks, I’ve managed to find a way to keep from being distracted by the Internet. That’s basically by not using it and doing other things. Amazing, no? Now that I’ve gotten past the sarcastic remarks, I can get into a little bit of depth. I’m going to try to keep things short, as usual. we’ll see how that works out this time.
I started rewriting Adventurers!, adding in a few minor details from Dungeon World. With the way Adventurers! works, the partial success of DW won’t work in combat. It could make a nice addition to other skill use, but has no real function in combat, as A! uses the difference in attack and defense rolls to determine damage. Otherwise, I realized that most of the stuff I’d want to add from DW was non-combat associated (except the use of six stats instead of three). Makes the rewrite a bit simpler.
To accomplish all of this, I’m using 3″x5″ cards. I started with writing a card comparing the rules systems for each different segment of the game. One card for each attribute’s associated skills as well. At this point, I’ve focused purely on game systems that affect characters, mainly creation and combat, as well as advancement. Once I had the two different systems outlined, I started in on writing notes on the fusion between the systems. By that point, I’d already determined that DW wouldn’t have as much impact as I’d originally thought.
Additionally, I picked up and started reading Microscope. I was going to use it with the group to create the history of the subregions of the local area, but I don’t think the kids would click with it. The Boy likes to be silly, and I think the Girl would be bored with the game. I’d love to run it with a full set of adults.
That’s really all I feel the need to comment on tonight. I think I’ve managed to keep this short and simple.
So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been kind of immersing myself in storytelling media: Movies, TV, etc. This started partly because a good friend gave me access to her Netflix account so I could watch Voltron, and about the same time, Mom ended up in the hospital again. So, I’ve basically had the house to myself in the evenings. Some of what I’ve taken in has been stuff Mom wouldn’t appreciate (actually, most of it), while some she watched as well.
In all cases, while I’ve tried to watch it for the enjoyment, part of my mind has also examined the things I’ve viewed with a critical mind. Is the storytelling any good? Were the characters handled consistently? Do the writers have a clear idea of what they’re doing with this work?
So, here’s the stuff I’ve watched lately, and what I thought about it:
Voltron – Legendary Defender: I really enjoyed this one a lot. They’ve handled it like the Thundercats of a few years ago, giving the series a total reboot. Voltron Force isn’t part of the canon, and in fact the original GoLion is more of the source, it seems.
I really enjoyed the show. There are subtle hints as to future plot events that play out naturally. In fact, the entire series is handled rather organically. I got no sense of the plot being forced (although it is strange that the Galactic Garrison cadets that form the Voltron team don’t seem in a real hurry to return to Earth), but there are plot holes that are pretty easily handwaved (like the aforementioned AWOL situation). The villains are cool and powerful and somewhat creepy at the upper ends. I’m looking forward to the next season already.
Penny Dreadful: I picked up the DVDs of the first season a while back, and I actually watched the first couple of episodes before Mom was sent to the hospital. Now that I’ve completed the series, I can say I’ll happily give the disk set away.
The idea behind the series is a kind of “What if…?” focusing on the kinds of stories that were present in the Penny Dreadfuls of Victorian England. Those were cheap, tawdry novellas combining crime, sex and the occult. The main character is Mina Harker’s father, Sir Malcolm Murray, with Jonathan Harker playing no part in the story. Murray is a “Great White Hunter” who is determined to free his daughter from the grips of Dracula, who never appears in this season, but rather is represented by another, Nosferatu-like character (probably because the writers realized they misplayed the Count).
I felt this series was directionless and focused too much on being a “cable show.” There is a lot of sex and violence in the series, for no apparent reason than to titillate or terrify the audience, and failing to do either. Related: Apparently, absinthe had the power to make straight men gay for the night. (I have no problems with homosexual or bisexual behavior, as long as it makes sense for the character; the scene in question did not.)
The quest for Mina is eventually completed, but it seemed overly drawn out, almost forgotten most of the time, with constant delays and misdirections (usually for sex or violence), until the final episode of the season. Then, it seemed like the creators decided they should wrap up the main plot unless the series was not picked up and rushed the ending.
All in all, I think the series didn’t deserve the second and third seasons, and I am not surprised it was cancelled before the fourth. I simply can’t recommend the series.
Brain Dead, S01E01: Another series that doesn’t seem to know what it is. The commercials suggested the series was to be a comedy, but the creators (who created The Good Wife, a very serious show) seem to want a level of drama to the series. The series revolves around why politics are so crazy in 2016, and the Macguffin that’s causing the insanity is some space ants that came to Earth in an asteroid that crashed in Russia. Every time the bugs seem to be influencing someone, our heroine hears All I Want Is You by The Cars. This is more jarring than funny, and the exploding head (handled in the usual “off camera” manner) only serves to make the series more grim. Without a direction, I can’t see the series lasting long.
Person of Interest, Final Season: Fucking brilliant! The storytelling this season has been focused and well thought out. The battle between the Machine and crew and Northern Lights and Samaritan seemed well done and believable, for the most part. The stoicism of Reese and Shaw was shown to be a veneer each character used to hide their true feelings (and yes, I know Shaw was supposed to be a sociopath; she maybe the diagnosis was wrong, or maybe she grew as part of her character arc). The finale, with the final fate of the characters revealed, had every character meeting a logical fate.
I admit that my love of the subject matter in the cases of Voltron and PoI may be influencing my opinions, but I feel that if either of these franchises had produced crap, I would see it for such. Of course, the above was my opinions, and your mileage may vary.
I’ve been tinkering with Dungeon World and the two-page RPG Adventurers! RPG. Last Saturday, I was at my FLGS talking to an old friend who had more experience with DW, and I was explaining my issues with DW‘s lack of organization. I failed to convey to him that I am interested in tinkering with the system on a pretty deep level. When the subsystems are scattered throughout the book, it can be difficult tinker with things and know how it will affect balance and game play. But he did follow my rambling enough to convey to me how DW is not good for long running campaigns like we tend to run in our home game.
So, later that day, as I was looking at adding things from A! into DW, eventually I realized:
Why use Dungeon World as the core system and not Adventurers!?
And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I liked the idea. I was looking at eliminating classes and the pseudo-Vancian spellcasting of DW, and I realized it would be easier to add the things I like out of DW and mix them into A!. I think this is going to result in rebuilding the A! system, as it is a three attribute system, and I like having six attributes (especially as they use two physical stats and one mental, like the Cypher System), as well as some other minor issues. But I think I can work it out pretty easily. And then again, I may be kidding myself. I think two systems with the same dice mechanic can be mixed-and-matched in some respects and work together.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for this round. Later.
There was no post last week, not because I went to see a presidential candidate (I wish) but rather because my left shoulder locked up. A pinched nerve flared up, and I avoided my laptop as much as possible all this last week. I could think of at least seven reasons for the problem, but why (except the lack of exercise) is really irrelevant. I was unable to move my arm without pain and didn’t want to stress it more by dealing with the laptop.
Last Tuesday, I went to one of those mall massage storefronts (I don’t want to type “parlor” ), and the masseuse there managed to get my back loosened up enough that my body was able to do the rest. I’m just getting full range of movement back, but there’s still some (tolerable) pain.
Sunday, instead of finishing this post, I watched The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, loaned to me by one of my Thursday night group. It was a lot of fun, and hit a lot of the notes I’ve seen from gamers in my nearly 40 years of gaming. I could see myself in a couple of the characters, and other friends in other characters. The appearances by the gaming industry folk and the support they gave the movie was great. Two thumbs up on the movie.
I’ve also realized I’ve come to an understanding the OSR movement, finally. I don’t get the reminiscing that I see in that group, but I understand the desire for simpler games. This realization dawned on me as I was reading Adventurers! by GRAmel. It’s an extremely simple RPG (as evidenced by the “an RPG on 2 Pages” tagline), very similar to Dungeon World. I could easily see mixing and matching the two systems, especially as I’m considering rewriting the core of Dungeon World after my outline of the system.
My gaming currently is also contributing to this thinking. The amounts of accounting and combat slog in 4e is really beginning to get to me. The various distractions at the home game don’t help (being a 14-year-old who wants to ignore all non-combat activity and his adult brother coming in and ranting about his day, ignoring that the rest of us are in the middle of something else), but the general tediousness of the game is at the core. And the FLGS game is no better, as we’re epic level, and there are a large number of us, so combat gets bogged down to one or two rounds a night.
I want to be able to do faster encounters. I want more story, again. I’m getting bored with the games I’m in right now. I need a change. And the streamlined nature of Adventurers! and Dungeon World seem to provide that. For now.
Anyway, I need to head off towards bed. Gotta drive tomorrow.
My eyes are on fire, having been worked hard today, so I’m going to try to not be so long winded as I can be. I’d rather have a larger word count, but it’s quality, not quantity that important.
Once I got the idea in my head that I needed other worlds for the Reincarnated campaign, I decided to read the Plane Shift Zendikar file WotC made available a couple of weeks ago. Basically, the file takes one of the worlds of Magic the Gathering TCG and gives some background and racial mechanics for use with D&D 5e. The background was what sparked my interest. I was looking for how the world was structured in relation to the five types of mana in MTG, what influence the plane-devouring Eldrazi had on the world, what the Eldrazi themselves are like, etc.
After reading the digital file, I found it points the reader towards an artbook on the Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch MTG releases. So, I went to the local Barnes and Noble and picked up the artbook. I’ve read some snippets here and there, and what really interested me was the idea that over the millennia since the Eldrazi were imprisoned, the three main creatures had become worshipped as gods, disassociated from the monsters they spawned. They become heroes in the eyes of the descendents of their victims. I thought that was a great twist on the history of the world. The kind of twist that it might be interesting to have the PCs in the Reincarnated setting have to deal with.
That is, what if the gods the PCs worshipped and worked for so long ago are now reviled for abandoning their followers to the horrors of the invader gods. This makes for a more interesting origin for the dark elves and goblins than I originally had, which was simply the pressures of wars against immigrants. That still has an appeal, especially with modern politics, but it’s almost too close to reality.
That last bit was also suggested by some of the rules in the PSZ PDF. Each race is presented in that file as a partial set of stats, but each non-human character must decide on a tribe or philosophy they are part of, which completes the race by providing the missing pieces. For example, all elves have +2 Wisdom, but the Tajuru Nation elves get +1 Charisma and the Joraga Nation elves get +1 Dexterity. There are more special items in each division, but this gives you a general idea of the importance of the subraces. Each race is also associated to a certain type of mana, which suggests personality traits and other roleplay elements.
I’d like to incorporate some of these ideas into the Reincarnated setting, as I think that world might benefit from some of these sorts of ideas. The mana flavor idea is what I want from the worlds beyond the world of the Reincarnated. I had originally had an idea for humans to have different races based on locations of origins as an explanation for skin colors and such.I have no idea if I’ll stick with that, and in fact I probably won’t. But I do know I want to get away from some of the tropes of fantasy that currently exist in gaming (like the very white high elves and very black dark elves). I’d like to more the route of the elves of Warcraft (the Night Elves are human allies and blue skinned, and the Blood Elves are orc allies and European in appearance), but different.
Yeah, so much for not being long-winded. I’ve written far more than I wanted here. I think this is a good thing, but my eyes are killing me. Time to go.
Last time was a bit of a pity party, as I look back on it. I wrote that I thought I was depressed, and I might still be. But I’m feeling better now. I can’t tell you why, though. Nothing has really changed in the household, except my sister’s stress level, which seems to have gone down a bit. She took a short “stay-cation,” which sees to have helped her. And that helps me some. And the puppy is a little less rambunctious (or she was until tonight, in which she seems to want to test me), which also helps.
The Boy and I went to the local event for International Tabletop Day, sponsored by the FLGS, Crazy Squirrel Game Store. We had a good deal of fun, even though we couldn’t stay all day. Maybe because we couldn’t stay all day. Maybe that made us put in more effort towards just enjoying ourselves. One of the other good things to come out of the day was a game called Loot ‘N’ Run. I was immediately taken by it, and picked it up during my Thursday Night D&D game. The Boy and I played a couple of times that day, and last night before our home game we played a number of times. We’ve had a load of fun with it. It plays fast and is simple to play. I recommend it, heartily.
I had forgotten last time that I’d done some map sketching for the Reincarnated campaign. I don’t think I’m going to use the sketching I did at this point. It adds some mythology to the world that I don’t believe I want to deal with. I’d rather keep things simple, and as I’m thinking like Michael Moorcock in regards to my storytelling (who never really deals with creation myths), I think not going that far, which this map idea does, is probably a good idea. Yeah, that was a horrible sentence. To simplify, my inspiration wouldn’t do something like this for a map, so I won’t.
I’ve gotten absolutely no farther with 13th Age. I just haven’t been especially inspired to read it. Not sure if it’s the d20-based system, or just that I have so many other things to read, but I just haven’t pursued it further. And I’ve been considering adding more to the reading list, re-reading the Chronicles of Corum, the other three Corum books by Moorcock in which Corum is mistaken for Lugh Silverhand of Celtic Myth. I’d mention a year or so ago re-reading The Swords Trilogy. I prefer those, as they storytelling is more fantastic, and Corum survives the series. Yes, Corum is dead by the end of his eponymous chronicles, and it seemed a bit of a downer. But the subject matter (invading gods) is in line with some of the ideas I have for the Reincarnated campaign. Just not sure I want to dig into books I didn’t like so long ago.
On the other hand, I’ve been thinking about doing some deconstruction on Dungeon World. I was reading a little about the system somewhere (a Wiki/a page somewhere, I think), which had some of what I want. I really want to get in and figure out what the bare minimum of the system is, and how I can maybe try building something more personalized to the settings I want to explore. Stripping it all the way down to the bone like I’m thinking might be going too far, and may be a lot more work than I need to do, but I feel the need to do it, regardless. The Apocalypse System is fascinating to me, and I think I need to indulge that. That may also be what’s blocking me on reading 13th Age.
In fact, I was approached by the owner of CSGS a while back about a D&D “Summer Camp” for kids at the store, and I think if I did it, I’d use Dungeon World for it’s simplicity. I don’t know that I can do the “Summer Camp” any more, with the responsibilities to the house, but the idea is still in mind, and Dungeon World is a possible game for it. It doesn’t sell as many D&D books, directly, but it’s what I’d like to try.
Well, outside of a quick comment on Pinterest giving me ideas for things in the StarSea as well as the Reincarnated campaign, shaking up my creativity and making me realize I can be a bit hidebound, I’m pretty much done for tonight. I’m hoping things continue forward like they have the past couple of weeks (with things feeling better). Time will tell.
That’s it. Later.
Last week ended up being pretty rocky. Somewhat hellish, even. After the fire and my last post, we took my mother to the hospital again, as she’d been having bathroom issues since Friday. She was diagnosed with C-Diff again. On the upside, she was released the same day. The downside was I had to go retrieve her. Wednesday as pretty decent, as I worked. I was lead to believe I’d be off early, but I ended up finally checking out two hours later. Pay is great, but I was looking forward to getting out early. Thursday was okay until game time, but then I learned something else about technology that I didn’t know before: Group texts require your cellular data to be on. I usually leave mine off to keep usage down. So, I ended up sitting at the FLGS for an hour and a half because I didn’t realize that a text cancelling the game had been sent 24 hours previous. The week ended with having to put one of our dogs to sleep as she had advanced congestive heart failure. On top, Saturday morning, as I was leaving for the Kids D&D game I run, my laptop crashed on shut down, and my Launch Services crashed again, forcing me to run the script again.
The past couple of days have been better. I’ve started reading through 13th Age a bit, and a little other poking around. I did some thinking about the status symbols of the Raiders in the Reincarnated campaign, and I think I’ll be basing it on weapons and armor. A slave has no weapons, a freed man has a knife, a full warrior has an axe, an overseer has a whip, and powerful warriors have armor in addition to their weapons. This idea came from thinking about the economy the raiders might have substituted for a coinage system, core to civilization, which they would see as a sign of weakness. I need more than this, but it’s a start.
That’s really all I have time for tonight. I got involved in a long conversation on Facebook regarding how magic might change a medieval society, and got distracted from this, but it was a good conversation.
So, I have my laptop fixed. It took all week, but I finally found a forum with the answers I needed.
First thing I did was backup my files. That took quite a while, as I have so many files locally. Then I scanned both my old laptop and the new one with Norton Antivirus. I followed that up with a Mac specific program called ClamXav. Norton proved what I paid for it (free app), but ClamXav found a couple of virii on each box, which I quarantined. However, that didn’t fix things. Each scan took a day or more, again because of the number of files I keep locally.
Ultimately, I did a search for the specific phrasing of the error, and found some forums that told me what I needed to know. Saturday night, while watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (I haven’t seen any of the other movies, and I now don’t feel I need to), I managed to execute the cure, a command-line process kill, and fix things. Apparently, since they introduced OS 10.11, there has been an issue with the Launch Services commands. When LS croaks, it hoses the Applications and Utilities folders. The apps are still there, but the OS can’t find them. But the command-line Terminal is an app, so you have to trick the OS into showing you an app, and they’ll run. Apple seems to be aware of this problem, but doesn’t seem to be doing anything about correcting the problem. And after releasing an update that hosed USB ports, or something like that, I’m still in a state of lost faith where Apple is concerned.
I managed to start getting things back up and running yesterday before bed. Some of my apps were screwed up by this, like not showing icons and such. When I didn’t complete things by 1AM, I went to bed. About 2:30, I was awakened by my frantic sister. There was a fire in our side lot, and I became a firefighter in short order.
I’ve written quite a bit on my Facebook about it, and if you’re a friend, you can read that there. I’m fatigued of it, at this point, but I expect I’ll tell the stoies a couple of more times this week. Once at work (as I didn’t work today; thank you, dumb luck), once for my Thursday night crew, and once more Friday night with the kids.
Between all the other crap of last week, I read a little of 13th Age, as I’m getting to The Tome Show 13th Age episodes from last year’s GenCon. Just an option I’m considering for the Reincarnated campaign. Cypher is also in the running, but I’m really not very enthusiastic about that option.
But that’s all for this week. Even after a nap this afternoon, I’m thinking I’ll be in bed as early as possible. So…