Tuesday, May 25, 2010


One thing I’ve always hated are the obligatory “sorry I haven’t posted in a while” posts that every sporadic blog seems to have. This won’t be one of them.

There comes a point in your life where you realize the limits of your talent. God gives talent, but he can also give us the perception to see the limit of that talent. One day, you wake up and realize that limit. It can keep you from frustration and spinning your wheels fruitlessly, but it can also be a very hard thing to accept.

For a very long time, I wanted nothing more than to be a writer. This blog was one of the ways I tried to follow that. But simply put, I’m tired of slamming my head up against the wall and getting nowhere. There’s something to be said for perseverance, but there’s also something to be said for knowing when to pack it in.

I don’t feel that in the long run, I can keep this blog up with the sort of quality I want from it. A lot of that is just realizing the limits of my own talent. Some of it is personal/family-related, but ultimately I’d rather do no blog at all than a poor one. This isn’t spur-of-the-moment, and I’ve taken the time to think it over. But I’m tired of trying to mold my life on a dream that isn’t going to happen. Too much frustration, too much mediocrity, and too much time put into it all. My family deserves more than that, and maybe in the end, I do, too.

I’ll be doing some articles up through Gen Con Indy, in large part because I have a number of obligations I need to meet, including another year of liveblogging Gen Con (I have to think that will continue in some form, somewhere, for a while yet). Once that’s over, I’ll either be stepping aside or fading into the background, possibly as a minor contributor with another blogger taking over day-to-day things. I still plan to be involved in a few online communities, as well as with RPG Circus, so that won’t stop. There may be other projects, but I don’t just don’t know.

We still have a while before the road ends, but I wanted to tell you now. Thanks for reading, and I hope you join me for the rest of the trip, wherever that leads. So many of you have been so kind, I can’t begin to thank you enough for what your words of encouragement have meant. I wish that alone was enough to give you quality content, but at the end of the day, it just isn’t there.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Taking a few days off. I know, I know--but it's been over a year since my last break, so let me have this one.

Letters To Mearls

So, since he wants suggestions in his new position, can we start a campaign to email mike.mearls(at)wizards.com and ask nicely for them to put the old D&D pdfs back out there for sale? It probably isn't totally his call, but at least he could put in a good word for it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Question: Internet Discussion vs. Actual Play

What RPG or RPGs do you think are underrepresented online in terms of discussion vs. how much they are actually played? RPGnet tends to skew how much games such as Exalted are discussed vs. how much I suspect the hobby at large plays them, so what about the other way around?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Laptops At The Gaming Table

This post over at Wondrous Imaginings got me thinking about my stance at laptops at the gaming table and how it's changed.

Laptops have only recently (read: the past few years) been a potential issue in my campaigns. When I first came back from overseas, the shop we gamed at didn't allow for laptops at the gaming table, and we just sort of followed suit. I wasn't using my laptop nearly as much to game, and my crop of players at that time didn't seem to have a need, either.

Laptops can be a terrible distraction at the table. Yet as I've increasingly added to my pdf library, my own no-laptop at the table rule has gone the way of the dodo. The players who have used laptops have utilized them properly, and I can't think of any distractions they've presented. So, the laptops stay.

Could I get by without it? Easily. It really does pretty much just exist as a pdf and media reader.

I'm waiting to see Instant Message programs take over some of the note-passing functions currently a part of the game.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Season 2 Episode 9 Of RPG Circus: Rumor Has It

This week on the newest RPG Circus episode, we tackled three new diverse topics:

-Using Rumors In Your Campaigns

-Running Mini-Campaigns

-Using A Book As Your Game Setting

Plus, news and commentary! Take a listen as you drive, relax, or putter around the house this weekend, and enjoy! Fight On!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Helping VulcanStev

Vulcan Stev's wife lost her fight yesterday with cancer. If you've been around the online RPG blogging community for any amount of time, you probably already know that Vulcan Stev is a cool guy and big contributor to our overall goodness. I'm sure words aren't adequate to describe his loss right now, but it sounds like his strong faith is helping him through.

The battle against cancer isn't cheap, and it can wreak havoc emotionally and financially. There's been a fund started up to help VulcanStev with defraying some of the heavy financial costs of this battle--you can chip in a few bucks here.

On a personal note, my wife is a survivor of a much less-lethal form of the Big C, but I can't even imagine what this has been like for his family. Take a minute today to tell someone you love what they mean to you, and please, follow all due diligence in regard to your medical screenings.

Stev, hang in there, and know that the gaming community is there for you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday Wrap-Up, 5/12/10

Just a few cool items to get us over Hump Day:

-Microlite 20 OSS (Old School Style) Playtest Version 0.95 is now available for free download! It's been a lot of fun to follow the iterations of Microlite, and this one is no exception.

-It looks like Rite Publishing is up to 71% of their Patronage Goal for the Erick Wujcik Diceless Project Lords of Gossamer & Shadow. I know a lot of my fellow Amber fans are very excited about this! You can find out more about Patronage for the project here.

-For our Canadian and bilingual readers, there's the new RPG forum Roludo. Talking gaming in French or English, your call. Even if you understand half of it, that's still 50% more intelligible than a thread about Nobilis (rim shot).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

RIP Frank Frazetta

Whether you not you liked his art, Frazetta was an incredibly influential artist, one who likely affected how people imagined many fantasy RPG campaign, both for good and for ill. More here:

In the 1940s and 50s, Mr. Frazetta drew for comic strips like Al Capp’s “Lil’ Abner” and comic books like “Famous Funnies,” for which he contributed a series of covers depicting the futuristic adventurer Buck Rogers. He also had his own newspaper strip that ran from 1952 to 1953, called “Johnny Comet” (later retitled “Ace McCoy”).

He drew the movie poster for “What’s New Pussycat?” in 1964, and hit his stride executing detailed illustrations of pulp heroes like Conan the Barbarian and John Carter of Mars for their comic magazines and books. His realistic renderings of otherworldly scenarios (and barely clad women) made him the ideal candidate to illustrate the album covers for popular heavy metal albums like Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster” and Nazareth’s “Expect No Mercy.”

In November, Wired.com reported, Mr. Frazetta’s cover artwork for the paperback reissue of “Conan the Conqueror” by Robert E. Howard sold to an unnamed collector for $1 million.

I didn't like all of Frazetta's work, but to a 13 year-old boy, it was awakening, in more ways than one. He put a fantastic vision of badassery out there for all the world to see. I like to think that wherever he is, it includes a kickass classic metal soundtrack, a giant axe ready for wielding, and a warhorse with nostril flames. And then he rides for eternity, stopping only so he doesn't run out of wenches. And you'd better believe isn't running out.

Monday, May 10, 2010

RPG Circus: You Pick The Topic

This week, we'll be recording another episode of RPG Circus. I thought that this week, I'd do something a little different for my segment and let RPG Blog II readers choose my topic. So long as it's gaming and I have any sort of knowledge/opinion on it, I'll go with the majority opinion, assuming there's anything that. So let's hear your ideas below--it could end up front and center on our podcast!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Discussion: Your Favorite Supers RPG?

The weekend is upon us, and none can deny that spring is in full bloom! With that bloom comes another round of Friday Discussion: nothing too heavy or serious, just gamers talking about the hobby they love.

Today's quesiton is a total softball: What's Your Favorite Superhero RPG? Mutants & Masterminds? Truth & Justice? Heroes Unlimited? Marvel FASERIP? What do you look for in a supers RPG or campaign?

To me, the supers genre is personally a tough one to GM. I do fine with goofy, Mystery Men-like games, but if I try to do something more traditional, I really have to work at it. Players want to be heroic, but making sure that players of different power levels get equal face time is always something to watch for.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Racing RPG?

I’ve often thought about trying to combine my twin passion, IndyCar racing (May means the Indy 500, of course, at the most historical, wonderful, beautiful, and spiritually powerful track in the world), and roleplaying, into some form of a RPG. I can’t imagine many people in the world being interested at all in trying this, but I think it’d be fun to simulate a season of racing, with the players as drivers, getting into rivalries, trying to make it the entire season while picking up sponsorships, spectacular crashes, and someone just maybe bringing home the championship.

Above: Not bringing home the championship.

Assuming for a minute that someone in my two very niche hobbies there’s someone who would deign to play this campaign, my question would be what system to use? One of my first ideas was to go conmpletely freeform, but I think I’d want some way to quantify drivers and their respective abilities. Perhaps a bare-bones d6 system, just north of freeform? Could I combine it with the boardgame Formula De (not based on IndyCar, but could be modified)? What system to use for the races—I imagine I would have one turn represent so many laps, and so on. I could roll for obstacles, race events, weather, etc. You could have advantages/disadvantages like Poor Road Course Driver, Fast On Ovals, Inferior Car, Bad Teammate, Uncharismatic To Sponsors, or Sloppy Pit Crew.

Off the track, you’ve got young drivers trying to impress sponsors and car owners to find and keep a ride, and depending on your relationship with other drivers, they might block you on track, or eventually become a teammate. Of course, get too nasty a feud going, and you could be suspended by the league.

I think each campaign could be a season of racing. Eventually, racers could retire, and there’d be a protégé system, where younger drivers could move up to take their place. Hey, it could be Pendragon on Wheels!

Finding an awesome sponsor is just part of the fun. If they bring the cash, it could be Depends for all I care.

Yet another idea that probably won’t ever happen, but is still fun to think about.

Drivers & Downforce?

Crashes & Cars?

Generic Universal Racing Player Simulation?


Of course, it, too, could have an old-school movement:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Vintage Dragon Magazine Adverts: Extended Cut

We've had such a good response to our last two days of Dragon Magazine adverts from 25 years ago, I've decided to add just a few images as an encore. Come back with us one more time to the ads of Dragon Magazine #97, May of 1985:

I wonder if this was any good. I've never been a fan of Pern, so I probably wouldn't have cared for it.

I wonder if they had one for playing a bomber crew or anything? I don't mind military gaming, but this seems awfully obscure.

I had a guy in one of my early gaming groups that swore this was the worst product TSR ever made, and was the start of their downfall. I can still see the specks of spittle as he expounded yet again on the topic.

REALMQUEST: Sparing no expense in advertising to bring their product to you.

....But that is another story...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vintage Dragon Magazine Adverts: May Edition, Part 2

Today sees Part 2 of our look at the ads in the May 1985 edition of Dragon Magazine. For me, I think the ads just might be the best part! There's something of the mystery lost when you can just find everything online instead of paying a dollar for someone to send you a catalog.

That top number, in case you're wondering, now goes to Alliance Game Distribution.

By request:

It's easy to forget that Fantasy Games Unlimited used to have a plethora of ads in Dragon.

As a sometime Rifts GM, I have no excuse for not having named a session or adventure "Battle For The Ancient Robot. Jim Ward shames me.

Sold, sold, sold. Because the two are a natural pairing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Vintage Dragon Magazine Adverts: May Edition!

Time for another fun look at the great (and not-so-great) ads that graced the pages of Dragon Magazine. Today, we'll be going back 25 years to the May 1985 edition. Let's see what was going on in the pages of Dragon #97:

I don't wanna grow up, 'cause if I did...

Wanna bet the dice roller feature took like 6 minutes to process results?

I literally just realized that Palladium's ads have had like the exact same format for the past 3 decades.

I'm pretty sure there's some context I'm missing here.

Starring: David Bowie and his pet mutant lynx.

Only if that's defined as me wanting more random tables.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

General Housecleaning & FATAL

I went through this weekend and cleaned up some of the link lists, dropping a couple of blogs that were either dead or veering too far from tabletop gaming. As always, any link suggestions are valued, and as always, thanks for reading.


Yeah, if you haven't seen it yet, Something Awful covered the FATAL RPG.