Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween From Adam Ant


I'm the dandy highwayman who you're too scared to mention
I spend my cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention
The devil take your stereo and your record collection!
The way you look you’ll qualify for next year's old age pension!

Stand and deliver your money or your life!
Try and use a mirror no bullet or a knife!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wanted Trailer

So, the first trailer for Mark Millar's Wanted. It doesn't appear to have much in common with the comic though.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Japanese Vending Machines: Books & Earthquake Aid : Japan Probe

I wish that Americans were honest enough to have the same sort of vending machine culture that they have in Japan. I really think it would rock.

Here are two examples of what is new in the world of Japanese vending machines.

First we have a video of a new book vending machine at JR’s Ebisu Station. Some customers prefer buying books the old fashioned way, but a poll found that 75% find the new vending machine to be convenient.

Next we have a new model of Coca Cola vending machine that receives news signals and informs people of current events and weather on a news ticker. In the event of a major earthquake, such machines will get a special signal that makes them display emergency messages and converts them into free drink dispensers. There are already 10,000 machines of this type throughout Japan.


The linked article has links to a couple of (Japanese language) YouTube videos.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Four Color: Free and On RPGNow


Philip Reed's Four Color (4C) System is done and ready for the public!

This complete in 34 pages role-playing system is all that you need to launch your own adventures in super-hero universes. An emulator for an old MARVELous game, the new material and old material are all compatible and can be used in each game system.

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Beyond the Groovy Age of Horror

Here's a cool little blog that I found when I was trying to Google up some information on a cheesy 60s "Black Magic" English horror novel that I picked up cheap a while back.

If you're wondering, the book is The Curse of Rathlaw by Peter Saxon (which was apparently a publisher's house name) dealing with a group called THE GUARDIANS who fought against Black Magic and the Dark Arts.

It's actually pretty good. Eventually I'll have to see if I can track down others in the series.

But regardless, check out this site. Not only does it has some good stuff about 60s-70s horror but it's got the goods on the pulps and various hardboiled/noir writings as well. I know that there are readers of this blog that are interested in that stuff as well.

Friday, October 19, 2007

National Do Not Call Registry

If you signed up with the National Do Not Call Registry in 2003, it is time to re-up your registration. Registration only lasts for five years.

The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home. Most telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at this Website. You can register your home or mobile phone for free. Your registration will be effective for five years.


A public service announcement from Dorkland.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Pop!Casts

While you will find plenty of interesting people talking about interesting things at this page, I highlighted two that I thought might be of particular interest to the audience. Check it out.
Author, journalist and contributing editor at Wired magazine Bruce Sterling understands why people get confused about new technology concepts. In what he sees as a culture war of web semantics, Bruce gets the audience’s attention with a unique call for a new vocabulary to better describe experiences with technology.

Listen to the Pop!Cast here.

Musician, producer and artist Brian Eno shows how simple things can give rise to complex things—in art and life. See how he uses Darwin’s ecological model of the world as a roadmap for human culture now and in the future.

Listen to the Pop!Cast here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gaming Library Update

Well, since I've got the time on my hands I decided to organize things a bit. Today I tackled some of my gaming stuff.

Gaming Library Update

Gaming Library Update

Gaming Library Update

Gaming Library Update

Gaming Library Update

Of course, now I have to find a place to put the books that I had to take off that bookcase.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Youngblood at Heart

I think that I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Liefeld and McFarlane were like the rock stars of the comic world, the two most recognizable of the faces among the new upstarts, having also been instrumental in the creation of such up-and-coming Marvel characters as Cable, Deadpool and Venom.

Casper The...Friendly Ghost?

He’s been around since 1949, but what do we really know about Casper the 'Friendly' Ghost?

Looking over the remarkable Casper The Friendly Ghost omnibus (Dark Horse, $19.95) of almost 500 pages of Casper stories from 1949 to 1966, some scary patterns begin to emerge.

Is Casper really so 'friendly' as he lets on? What do we really know about him?

I was bored and took a thorough examination of the so-called 'friendly' ghost.

Right there, in the introduction to the book, Harvey Comics editor Sid Jacobsen is quoted denying that Casper is the ghost of a dead child. He says a ghost just exists, with no past, like a giant or a fairy.

This disputes the religious worldview that declares that ghosts are the souls of the dead, unless of course Casper and his people are something altogether new and different.

Like Skrulls.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Designing Influences

Since I am against innovation, I thought that I would talk about some of the things that have been influencing my designs lately. Since Origins, I have been slowly working out some ideas for a renovation of the system that powers Seraphim Guard's HeartQuest game. I like the existing system but I have felt for a long time that it could have gone farther in attempting to simulate its source material. That's not saying that HeartQuest as it is is a bad system, far from it. It is a solid game system that is really robust and flexible in what you can do with it. The designers did some really good stuff with making that game, it just isn't the approach that the ME in the here and now would have taken. Different strokes for different folks.

So, any way, I said that I would be talking about design influences in this post.

First off is The Story Engine, originally published by Hubris Games and currently published by Precis Intermedia Games, is one of the big influences. A friend loaned me his copy of this slim, tiny little hardcover a couple of years ago. Now, I will be the first to say that this game could have been done better, and it certainly could have been written better, but I just love the concepts that are buried in this system, particularly in regards to character creation.

The character creation in Story Engine has this freeform nature to it that really appeals to me as both a gamer and a designer, and I really like how it maps easily to the freeform nature of Fudge as well. I like the idea of character creation by the process of "describe your character and then pick out the few important pieces of the character that you think need/deserve mechanical backing." Brilliant idea, and one that is so very helpful for HeartQuest. After all, shoujo anime is so very, very broad that HeartQuest needs a character creation system that covers a lot of bases, is easy to handle at the gaming table and that covers all the characters more or less equally during play. Game balance may be a myth but that doesn't mean that there can't be ways to make things a little more equal at the table.

Next up is an important part of the source material of shoujo anime -- relationships. If I had to point to one place where the current HeartQuest trips a little bit it would have to be in dealing with relationships between characters and their world(s). This is so very important to the source material, and it should be even more important to the game simulating it. There's a couple of games that influence my thinking in this area. The one that stands out is Chad Underkoffler's PDQ system. I love Truth and Justice for how it mechanically handles so many things, and many of these things are certainly applicable to how to think about Fudge in general, and then HeartQuest in specific. Even just in the way that T&J handles how characters can get damaged brings a lot to the table.

The two games that are the most recent additions to my "design stable" for this project are games that I picked up while I was at Origins this past summer. Those games are Weapons of the Gods by EOS Press and HeroQuest by Issaries. Both of these games blew big holes in my head while I was reading them at the Con this summer, pointing me to ways to have the characters (and their players too) not only develop ties with each other and their worlds, but also how to shape those worlds too. I have, for a long time now, been big on interactively creating the bullet points of a campaign with the players, after all what is important to them will cause them to have a deeper commitment to the game and what is happening in it, as well as helping to create a world that they're going to appreciate more. In the end, everybody wins. These two games then gave me some new perspectives into running and designing my games.

There are some others that trickle in as well, but those are some of the big ones that pick at my thoughts.

Yeah, That Is Sad

This, my friends, is the sort of crap that we have to put up with.

I signed back up for the Fudge list maybe a week ago to see what I could do to help with this whole 'Fudge is dead' sentiment that cropped up... and today I unsubscribed again. Some folks are just too innovation-averse for me to want to use my breath on. Certainly not a malady afflicting the entire community, but man, nothing kills joy like someone who looks at efforts you're making and dismisses them on the basis of 'nothing's wrong here'.


Why have I been upset about all of this? Well, let me tell you. Fred Hicks quit the Fudge list. That's cool, I've quit it before too but at the same time I realize that it is one of the true lifelines of the Fudge Community (even if I have disagreements with the people who run it) and because of that I came back and stayed. I stayed because I like the people of the community, even when they disagree with me or I them, and I like the fact that they like Fudge. That's kind of important to me.

The thing with Fred, to me, came off as a Triumphant Return To Save Fudge. Unfortunately, from that viewpoint, Fudge didn't need to be actually saved. And, there were those from the community who said so.

Now, when people from the Story Games/Forge communities run into a roadblock they start saying the sorts of things that Fred says in his LiveJournal post above. People are resistant to innovation, usually in some variant that is a bit more negative. Innovation is all fine and good, and there's a place for it. After all, frankly, the last that anyone in this hobby wants is for all of us to still be playing brown box D&D (despite what Old Geezer on RPG.net may think about the system). Innovation for its own sake is, in my opinion, pointless. I really don't see the point behind it, to tell the truth. I know that it means something for the people doing it, and the people getting something out of those games but it just comes off as hollow to me.

The thing is that this doesn't discount what those people are doing. They aren't going to be relevant to everyone. I'm not really sure why this would come as a shock to anyone (that different people have different preferences). There's nothing wrong with the people who don't share those preferences.

Now, part of the reason why I used Fred's post as a springboard for this is because I think that it really typifies a lot of the attitude of the Story Games/Forge communities. If they don't get their way, they pick up their toys and leave, blaming the people who aren't interested in their message. I guess that I don't see it as a productive way to bring your ideas across.

I await the flames that will come over this, and I know that they will. I wanted to get my opinions out on this because, this might come as a shock to some, but everyone gets to have opinions even if they're contrary to those of the "cool" kids.