Sunday, September 30, 2007

Checking In

Just wanted to let everyone know all is well--been doing the whole dad thing this week and last with daughter #2. But hey, I've got a full reading list, and plan to be sharing the result of that with everyone soon. That, and some thoughts on some other RPG stuff, to boot.

I was thinking about picking up Rolemaster Express this week, but despite the great price sticker, I didn't go for it. First, I'm more of a RMSS/RMFRP guy, and I've found that this document usually does pretty well for my groups. Past that, I've got the books I need, the houserules to streamline, and I'm good to go. I think that 3 years ago, I'd have jumped to buy Express, but these days, with the gaming library I already have, I find myself asking more and more, "Can I already do this with what I have?". More often than not, the answer is yes. I tell you what, though--my purchases have become fewer of late, but there's also been a lot fewer duds.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Magic in Rolemaster

The different lists and spells of Rolemaster remain among my favorite RPG magic systems of all time. Rolemaster magic is deadly, unpredictable, and quite varied. Imagine my happiness, therefore, at stumbling upon this:

Unusual Magic Items For Rolemaster

Yep, homebrewed magic items. A mixed bag, but I think that's exactly why I enjoyed reading through it so much. Found some gems for my next RM campaign, for certain.

Rolemaster grognards have to be third only to Traveller and older-edition D&D grognards for breadth and intensity of fan-produced material for their game of choice, I think.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In With The New, In With The Old

While I'm celebrating the birth of our second daughter, I don't have have a long post for today, but this link to Jonathan Tweet article did show up over at The RPG Site:

The Arduin Grimoire: The Coolest RPG Ever

Great look at an old classic I like to think of as "proto-Rifts" sometimes (though that hardly does Mr. Hargrave's work justice). See if this excerpt can be applied to any other game we might know:

Arduin's appeal isn't in its elegance, its comprehensiveness, its game balance, or its presentation. It's the author's enthusiasm that counts. Hargrave loved running his Arduin campaign, and the books read like the campaign notes of a manic DM. He often refers to his own campaign and how he makes rulings, runs combat, handles treasure, etc. Hargrave's enthusiasm is contagious.

I also love this:

page 65 - 66: Dinosaurs
Ankylosaurus has the best AC, as it should be.

You know it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Future Gamer #2.... here!!!!

May I present Miss Lilly Parker Houghton (and her radiant mother):

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


In the hospital--wife in labor.

You'll excuse me for not liveblogging this one.

And yes, my "Roll 3d6 to determine hours of labor" joke fell flat.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Space Saga Support

Here's cool freebie I found from Adamant Entertainment--the intro to their new system-generic Star System line, complete with an adventure seed locator. And if you even had to ask, yes, I am way cool with there being more system-generic space/sci-fi material out there. Nice work, and I'll look forward to checking out the rest of the line!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shady Brady & Bill Belicheat

If I may, I'd like to depart from the world of gaming for just a moment and talk about another topic near and dear to my heart: The humiliation of the New England Patriots*.

If you haven't been following the NFL lately, then you may not know the story about the Pats getting caught illegally filming opposing coaches (in gamer terms: fudging dice rolls). For those of us who think Bill Belichick is a grumpy old unsportmanlike asshat, this is basically confirmation of what we've known for years.

To follow the story, you could go here, but I think this is much, much better:

Since they got away with a B.S. slap on the wrist, I'll have to content myself with knowing Belichick's reputation is now solidly in the crapper.

Fantastic. Go Colts.

Kevin Siembieda Live

Robotech (warts and all) is one of the games that started me out in the hobby (along with other Palladium standards like Palladium Fantasy & TMNT), so I'm curious to hear more about the upcoming Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles RPG Palladium is putting back out. So I'll be listening to the Kevin Siembieda Live Call-In Show tomorrow night, hoping to hear some good things/hints about the game. Judging how certain online communities feel about Mr. Siembieda, I'm wondering how many of the call-ins will consist solely of enraged, near-incoherent gouts of profanity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fellowship of the Dice

OK, this was rough.

This DVD submission to the ENnies this year was not one of the more enjoyable outings I've had thus far. Frankly, most of the acting was awful, the dialogue was terrible, and one of the characters may have been portraying gamers as mentally handicapped throughout the entire movie. Unenjoyable, and perhaps worse, pretty unrealistic in a lot of ways.

Here's a clip from YouTube:

I am sorry to the folks who worked on this, but I didn't like it. I didn't feel it celebrated or even accurately portrayed the hobby I know in any real way. For now, I guess I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Little Bit About What's Going On

Hey guys, just wanted to let you know the wife started having contractions yesterday. They ended up admitting her to the hospital, then letting her go home after they didn't progress, so Future Gamer #2 is still in a holding pattern, as of now. If I suddenly bug out for a few days, now you know why.

As a side note, my wife did not go for my suggestion of Radio Rivendell streaming in her room during the labor (she has another quiet/soft CD I made for her instead). I can think of no better inspirational song during labor than "The Bridge of Khazad Dum".

Hey, I'm a seven-year vet of the married life, fellas. Hope you're writing these tips down.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hey, One More Contest!

Hot on the heels of my previous entry, Q-Workshop announces a dice design contest. Oh, how I wish I had pursued Art, and not Art History. Perhaps they will mistake feebleness for vision.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Charts For Cash

Second perhaps only to my love of hexmaps is my love of random, fun, crazy, and/or useful tables and charts for RPGs. So I of course have to mention that The RPG Site, one of my internet abodes, is having a chart design contest. Here's the publicity blurb:

Random potion effects, critical fumble tables, encounters for underwater volcanoes, random arcane weather possibilities, dungeon hoard generators. Feel like making a good chart or a table for a fantasy RPG? What if there was $50 in it for you, and the chance to be published?

That's exactly what you can do right now with The RPG Site/ Adventure! Table Creation Contest! Simply post your entry in the main designated forum thread at The RPG Site, and if chosen by our panel of judges, you could win one of the following prizes:

1 Grand Prize: $50 CASH (via check or paypal)

2 Second Prizes: Print copy of FtA! (or equivalent Flying Mice Game of choice)

5 Honorable Mentions: PDF copy of FtA! (or equivalent Flying Mice Game of choice)

All entries must use ONLY d6s (or d3), period. All entries must be in by September 29. All submitted entries become the property of Flying Mice Games, and may be featured in an upcoming Flying Mice product (with full credit given)!

Old-school, new-school, show us what you've got. Whether it's down to earth, traditional, avant-garde, bizzare, dungeon-crawly, or just plain weird, sent it this way, and maybe you'll be $50 (or one cool prize) richer!

Contest Thread

Commentary Thread

I'll be checking it regularly! Here's hoping there's plenty of great entries...

Best Podcast

Another ENnies category is that of Best Podcast. I do listen to a few gaming podcasts right now, especially when I'm doing work in the yard or on the work commute, but I will admit, I'm not one of those guys who listens to 14 podcasts like clockwork. I do listen to Fear the Boot quite a bit already, and along with All Games Considered and Animalcast, those are the ones I listen to the most regular-like. (Once the good DocRot gets a host for I Waste The Buddha With My Podcast, that's another one). I've also listened to Sons of Kryos on occasion, but beyond that, I'm a blank slate when it comes to being podcast-savvy.

But I know I've got a lot more listening in front of me--to get a good grasp on podcasts, I'm going to have to really hit at least a couple episodes of each. Even on a couple of the podcasts I like, the sound quality makes my ears bleed. So along with Not Making Zachary's Ears Bleed, gaming discussion and overall entertainment value will be the big things I'm looking for.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mail Call!!!

Today, as promised, I'm sharing the most recent emails that have come in (which is like, all of them but one; yep, pretty hefty mailbag). Always happy to talk gaming!

Hey there,

Congrats on becoming a judge! Just one question: wanted to know if you thought Green Ronin would win more or less than 27 ENnies this year. :P

(snip really long part about previous Green Ronin performances at the ENnies)

-Tom P. (aka "Midnight Man")


Thanks for writing in, and thank you for your kind congrats!

Holy cow, buddy, you wrote A LOT about Green Ronin. And after all that, I can't tell if you like them or don't like them winning as much as they do.

Personally, I think it would be rather tough for ANY company to win 27 ENnies in year (where'd you come up with this number?). However, Green Ronin seems to have a wide base of fans that vote each year, and they always seem to do quite well. And of coursel, once the nominees are announced, it's out of judges' hands.

However, just like any other product submitted, Green Ronin has a long road ahead of it before getting that nomination. The label or company name on a product doesn't matter at all to me, just what's inside. But, if this year is anything like last year, I'm sure they'll be competing in the hunt yet again.


Can you tell me how close was the judge voting this year?


Devon Marshall


No idea, old boy. No one I hobnob with has been informed of any numbers yet. Color me curious, too.

Dear Zachary,

I wanted to know if you had planned to comment/give your reaction to this (WARNING: POSSIBLY NSFW DUE TO SUBJECT MATTER).

-Preferring to Remain Hidden


No. I think it says plenty on its own.

Dear Zachary The First,

Congrats! I saw you were taking emails, and I thought I'd better ask a question to keep my streak alive. :-) What gaming accessory have you gotten the most use out of?

Stannis (your old buddy from the 1st RPG Blog)

Stan the Man! Good to hear from you!

Well, I love two (ok, three) items around my gaming table. One is my GameMastery Combat Pad, which rocks for moving around folks for initiative and the like, and the second is a tie between my Steel Sqwire Flip-Mat (which I use for travel/demos) and my Tact-Tiles (which I use the rest of the time). In addition to that, I love my glass counters that I picked a while back from Chessex. I use Drama/Action/Mulligan Points/Stones/Counters in a lot of my games, and its a little bag that's seen a lot of use, also as markers and miscellaneous indicators around my gaming board.

Aside from that, plenty of blank notebooks, pens, pencils, index cards, and the like has been as of much use ot me as anything. But I LOVE cool new gaming accessories. Anything that makes my game rock even a little more is always eagerly welcomed.

Lastly, we have my first piece of gen-yoo-wine hate mail! I'll print the part that I can (the fellow in question seems to know me from a couple of message boards, and I have evidently pooped directly in his Cheerios at some point in the past):

Hey [extremely unsmart person] you [unsmart posterior area]. Burning Wheel does not mean you are up on the newest stuff. We'll probably see I just want you to know I didn't vote for you, and I hope you don't [mess] this up as much as I think you will. You need to spend time at other forums to catch up on the most recent innovations. I read what you say, boyo.

(Unsigned, except for the prominent biographical email address)

I hope I don't [mess] this up, either.


I've actually had a few emails and whatnot on the site! Like with the previous RPG Blog, I'll try to answer questions folks send in, and I'll try to make it not completely as dull as dishwater. You can send correspondence to mail(dot)rpgblog(at)gmail(dot)com. I'll try to answer a few this week, and get them up here.

Changeling: The Lost is coming up on my reading list. I'm not a White Wolf guy traditionally, but I'm going to do my homework and give it the best go I can. Changeling/White Wolf fans, if you have any advice or anything I should be on the lookout for, send it this way.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day Weekend Review

Well, a decent chunk of this weekend could be titled "Getting Ready For Kid #2". That meant a LOT of cleaning. Fortunately, I still had plenty of time to get crackin' on several products that I really wanted to get a good (and in a couple of cases, second) look at:

-Campaign Coins. Wow. I tell you, I don't know what folks will think of the cost of the product, but for sheer coolness/rockingness, its way up there. I absolutely love new, well-considered gaming accessories, and Campaign Coins would fall right in there. It also may have the most interior packaging of any RPG product, ever. For those who haven't seen them yet, here's a pic from their website:

-Reaper's Goroloth mini is quite nicely done, but is going to take some extensive work before I have it in good shape. Here's Goroloth's yearbook pic, for the curious:

-Staying on Reaper for a minute, I was pretty excited when they announced a few months back their Legendary Encounters prepainted plastic minis line. Regrettably, the Minotaur I received for the purposes of judging is striking visually, but has a bit of trouble standing totally upright and balanced. It looks as if the base may have been bent/warped a bit in packaging. Bummer!

-Colonial Gothic by Rogue Games is one of the best ideas for an idea that I'd heard of in a good while. Upon further reading, though, I think there are some issues with the system that I really need to playtest, mainly in the area of skills. This RPG has some really cool concepts, but I'm just not sure how that'll weigh vs. the editing issues and rules questions I have.

-I'm reacquainting myself with BattleTech! There's a lot of product here to review, and I'm making sure I don't miss anything. Some products are such that you can just look at it and know an extra dose of work and consideration went into their completion. BattleTech's current line=that.

-As a long-time Palladium fan, that side of me was very much looking forward to Rifts Dimension Book 10: Hades. The book itself is chock full of concepts and great ideas for Rifts, Palladium Fantasy, and more, but the layout is standard Palladium Fantasy, somewhat disappointingly organized, and detracts from the overall product to a point. On the other hand, Carl Gleba provides really good bits in here, and really shows off his stuff as a writer (just really good writing throughout). So, a mixed bag, but one that was still a fun read.

I looked at a few other products this weekend, but more on those as I get a chance to look them further.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Free PDF Weekend!

Not sure if you're aware or not, but this is evidently Free PDF Weekend. Here's the games/products I've found for download thus far. This isn't an endorsement of any product, mind, just a listing, but hey, free is free. Happy hunting, and may you find something that you dig!

Phrenic Creations: Memory Crystals (Dreamscarred Press)

Supers, Inc. (HinterWelt Enterprises)

Bits of Magicka: Pocket Items (Tabletop Adventures)

Dunsany's Book of Wonder (Creative Mountain)

The Monstrous Societies of Argyle (Silver Oak Studios)

This is supposeed to run through this Monday, September 3rd. I know a lot of companies out there already have great supplements or RPGs out there for free 24/7, but I still think this is a great idea, and I'd love to see more companies jump in on this. Nothing like a limited-time special offering to get folks excited!

If you see anymore pop up that I've missed, please, pass them along!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hex Appeal

Man, seriously, that was the best title I could come up with for this post. I have all the cleverness of an ABC sitcom writer.

Thanks to several conversations recently taking place on several of the RPG forums I frequent, I've had hexmaps on the mind. Seriously, how cool is a blank hexmap? Is there anything outside of digging up an old character sheet that gets you nostalgic for some good old-fashioned marathon campaigning? Designing worlds? Mega-adventures? Creating your own worlds and running your friends through them (and into the ground, sometimes)? Give me a blank hex map and let me go, and I'll still happily while away hours I don't have, doodling up the Swamp of the Fire Kobolds, or the Border Baronies of the Wildlands.

A lot of folks already know about the excellent program Hexmapper, and some have stumbled upon Incomptech's great hex/graph paper page. But did you know that there was a Hexmapper Yahoo! Group, complete with files and discussion on optimizing Hexmapper?

Here's a few more hexy links that might interest those of us who appreciate this fine, stalwart, six-sided shape:

Free Graph Paper: Not only offers customizable hexmaps, but plenty of other types and sizes of graph paper as well.

The Hexagonal Grid Font: A TrueType font that will allow you to merrily type away different types of hex grids and yes, even hex terrain!

mkhexgrid: Prgram for creating all different types of hexgrids, to include different numbering, shades, thickness, and more.

Hexmap Designer: Havem't tried this one out, but was recommend to me by a fellow hex enthusiast. Try at your own risk.

EDIT: Just saw that Jeff's Gameblog mentioned hexmaps as well earlier today!!!