Monday, February 28, 2011

For Your Consideration: Simple Skills Option for Castles & Crusades

The rules in this post are cribbed from StarSIEGE, and as such are not considered Open Content. I'm sure Troll Lord Games would probably prefer I not do this, and if they would rather I will take this post down.

For me, a major flaw with Castles & Crusades is the lack of a skill system. Ironically, this wasn't an issue for me with D&D or AD&D back in the day, at least until I got the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia and they included Weapon Proficiencies and skills. I don't know if I necessarily want that level of detail, but I know I want more than just the SIEGE Engine to handle skills. The abstraction is a bit too much for what I'm looking for currently. Yes, I've been told by fans that it is bad of me to want this, after mentioning it at places like RPGnet. I rarely let something being bad for me stop me.

Let's Talk About The Black Seal #3

Back when I was studying Journalism in high school and college I did a lot of what was called Opinion writing, and of that writing much of it was taken up with writing reviews. While I still have no shortage of opinions, I don't do much reviewing anymore.

Well, that's something I want to change.

In the spirit of disclosure, I received my copy of the PDF of Black Seal #3 as a complimentary PDF from the publisher. You can get your own copy of the PDF from here (yes, I have an affiliate code on that so I'll make something if you buy it with my code. It keeps me in games).

Let's start with the easy stuff. In this 100 page PDF you get about 98~ pages of Call of Chthulhu support material. The art and graphics are ok, about what you would expect from RPG publishing  of this level, and the layout is clean if a little cramped.

There is a good deal of British-centric material in this issue (which makes sense since the publishers are British) and I think it would be of good use to someone using Cubicle 7's Laundry RPG. Obviously the tone of this material is more serious than the base tone of the Laundry RPG, but since both use the underlying Call of Cthulhu mechanics, fitting one into the other wouldn't take a lot of effort on the part of a Keeper/Game Master.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Random Musings on Cyberpunk 2020 #2: A Little Traveling Music...

Ok, so this is going to be a little bit of "filler" almost. I'm going to share some more contemporary music that sets a tone (for me) for Cyberpunk gaming. I'm going to try to keep away from the expected. These are all songs and artists that come from my personal music collection. Are they "cyberpunk" enough? Do I care?



Why am I going through music, you might ask? Well, I'm looking at how to rework the Rocker Role from Cyberpunk 2020 to give it a more contemporary fit. I don't think the term "Rocker" fits for what I think the Role should be, as it wouldn't give justice to any of the above artists (except for Florence, maybe) and it isn't encompassing enough to cover someone like, for example, Brad Pitt, an actor who uses his fame to get things done (like his housing work in Post-Katrina New Orleans) that others wouldn't end up with the same impact. And what about DJs/Producers like Diplo who end up being a technology icon through their direct interaction with fans through Twitter?

Hell, how would Twitter work in a Cyberpunk world? As you can see, I'm asking a lot of questions.

In case you came to this post directly, here a link to Random Musings on Cyberpunk 2020 #1 for you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Musing on Cyberpunk 2020 #1: The Celebrity

As I warned on Twitter, I'm going to be going through my Cyberpunk 2020 rulebook and posting some of my musing about it here. With any luck there will be a reason for all of this, if not at least people will have some cool stuff for their future games.

A few ground rules to this, however. I'm going to be talking about the rules as written and published. If something that I go over was addressed in some online fan supplement somewhere, there is probably a good chance that I saw it already...but fan work isn't what I am talking about in these posts (except obviously my own), so if it isn't in an official rulebook it doesn't count for the purposes of these posts. At first I will be confining myself to the core Cyberpunk 2020 rules, but as time passes (and if there's ongoing interest in these posts) I will include more of the supplements into my musings.

Paris Hilton
Many of these musings will be about how the real world has passed that of the Cyberpunk game and the Night City setting, and how we can remedy that in our games.

For this first musing, an idea came to me last night: The Celebrity. One thing that has become much more prevalent in this day and age are those who are famous mostly for being pretty, already famous, rich or some combination of them. Whether it is someone who got their fame for appearing on "reality TV" (something else needed to be addressed in these musings), or just by being the offspring of the rich and already famous, these glittering kids prance and dance about the clubs and TV screens of the world. Sadly, the old Eurosource and Eurosource Plus supplements would have been a perfect place to explore this the first time but outside of some talk of Goldenkids, there's not much practical for use in play. Interestingly, Call of Cthulhu's Dilettante occupation does a better job of covering this niche than Cyberpunk 2020 has.

Corporates are almost there, but they are still beholden to their bosses and employers. You could do a "Corporate Celebrity" off of the Corporate role, someone who is a celebrity spokesperson/model or reality star, and their Resources Special Ability would be useful for getting things the celebrity needs. You could also loosely model the rich family as the corporation for this sort of character (and Paris Hilton, above, could fit into this sort of Role).

Right now I am going to propose this new Role:

In the world of the future, there are still those who are famous for being famous -- whether that fame came from luck, being in the right place at the right time (and being televised while there), being rich, or inheriting the fame of your family doesn't matter. What matters is that you continue to be in the right places to be seen, and that you look fabulous at the same time.

The Special Ability of the Celebrity is Access. Doors open for you that are closed for others because you can bring exposure and popularity. Add the rank of your Access to Persuade & Fast Talk or Seduction rolls when trying to get people to help you or let you into some place you probably shouldn't be. This shouldn't get you into places that require a security clearance, but you never can tell.

Personal Grooming
Wardrobe & Style
Persuasion & Fast Talk
Human Perception

Up next time will be reworking of one of the existing Roles, either Rocker or Media. Both still have places in Cyberpunk 2020 but their "roles" have changed a bit in this post-Cyberpunk world. Medias need to a little less Edison Carter and a little more Spider Jerusalem meets blogging. Rocker, mostly, needs a name change to cover a variety of differing performers from white hot club DJs to evangelizing actors with a cause. Whichever I get to next will be the one that gets talked about first.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is A Borders Near You Closing? [Updated]

Update: Borders has opened a website that's a clearing house for information on the bankruptcy and reorganization. You can find it here, at the Borders Group, Inc. website. Among the points they make on that site are:

  • Borders stores are open for business. We will continue to provide our customers with a vast assortment of books in a warm and relaxing environment - and we intend to build on this. Our stores will continue to be places where families can gather to enjoy enriching events including author readings and signings, book clubs as well as kids storytime and parties.
  • is operating as usual. We are fulfilling online orders as customers choose from among more than two million books, music, movies as well as other entertainment items.
  • Our Borders Rewards programs, including Borders Rewards Plus, remain in effect. Customers can continue to earn and redeem their Rewards in stores and on and they'll also continue receiving coupons. As always, we are honoring gift cards, which can be redeemed in stores and online at
  • Borders will continue to maintain its strong national presence. Our nationwide network of stores is a key foundation of the Borders brand. Borders, however, will be closing underperforming stores within our network over the next several weeks. Should your local store be affected, please visit to find another Borders store near you, or to purchase our vast selection of books and other merchandise on-line.
I know that Borders has to make the claims that business will be going on as usual, but I find it hard to believe that, for example, author signings will progress when Borders isn't getting new books and is having difficulty with paying publishers. I guess we'll see. Locally for me, the few remaining independent booksellers have more book signings than the local Borders anyway.

A pdf is from the Borders bankruptcy filing lists all of the locations that will be closing. While many Florida locations will be closing, strangely it looks like the closest to me (St. Petersburg, FL) is not on the closing list.Click here for a copy of the list of store closings that I uploaded to Google Docs.

Update: A second (and cleaner) list organized by state is here (from the reorganization site above). I will upload a copy to Google Docs or some other external site, in case the Borders site takes down their copies.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Music Mix Challenge: 80 in 90

I like music. I like finding new music. It's always interesting to hear what others are listening to, even if I don't like it. When I was a kid, I loved making mixtapes for people. So, let's make a little bit of a challenge, shall we?

I want everyone within the sound of my virtual voice to put together a virtual CD of some of their favorite tunes right now. The stuff that is burning up in your iPods and MP3 players and computers and you want to share with other people. It can be the brand new latest hot track, or it can be something older that you still can't stop listening to. Regardless of age, it has to be music you love...not the stuff that blogs and magazine and critics are talking about. And it has to be something you want to share, regardless of how goofy it might sound. Musical genre or style doesn't matter for this, just that you love the music.

Now, here's the challenge part: You have 90 minutes to put together 80 minutes worth of music. It doesn't matter when you start doing the assembly of track, you just can only take 90 minutes to do it once you start assembling. Once you have that, put it into a format you can share with the world. It can be the tracks you've picked in a .zip file and shared on Mediafire (send me a message if you would like the tracks hosted for you instead), or it can be a continuous mix put up on a site like Soundcloud. Just make it so that it can fit onto a CD, and that it's in a format that's burnable. I'd prefer people stick to an MP3 format obviously, but if you want to do it in some other format just make sure that it can be easily read and burned by most home computers.

Tweet and Facebook about this, share with your friends online and off. Let's get a crapload of music together so that people can be introduced (or reintroduced) to some new stuff. If you tweet about this please use the #80in90 hashtag so that we can find each other and share the wealth. If you have questions, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments on this post.

Let's share some music.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Serpent King Games is new home for the Dragon Warriors RPG

Press Release

Serpent King Games is new home for the Dragon Warriors RPG

1st February 2011, United Kingdom

Dragon Warriors, the classic 1980s dark-fantasy RPG recently re-released by Magnum Opus Press, is moving to new British publishing company Serpent King Games.

From 1st April the game will no longer be available from Magnum Opus, which had published Dragon Warriors through Mongoose Publishing’s Flaming Cobra imprint.

Serpent King Games will keep the existing Dragon Warriors books available, and will publish new supplements for the game. The first new release will be the Dragon Warriors Players Book, in July 2011, with another two releases planned for the first year.

Serpent King Games is industry veterans Gareth Hanrahan (former Mongoose Publishing writer and lead designer on the new edition of Traveller and the Laundry RPG), Jon Hodgson (art director at Cubicle 7 and cover artist for Dragon Warriors), and Ian Sturrock (ex-Mongoose writer responsible for the Conan and Slaine RPGs, but who also worked on most of the recent Dragon Warriors books).

"I’ve worked with everybody at Serpent King over the last ten years, and they are fiercely talented," said James Wallis, director of Magnum Opus Press. "Dragon Warriors and the Lands of Legend are in the hands of amazing people who are going to take it in some very exciting

Dragon Warriors is SKG's first project, but more great games are in the works. Check out for regular updates.

All rights in Dragon Warriors are the property of Fabled Lands LLP, and are used with permission by Serpent King Games Ltd.

For more information, contact

Friday, February 04, 2011

Internet Piracy Boosts Anime Sales, Study Concludes

I'm sure someone will look at the source of this link and discount it automatically, but I think that would be a mistake.
A prestigious economics think-tank of the Japanese Government has published a study which concludes that online piracy of anime shows actually increases sales of DVDs. The conclusion stands in sharp contrast with the entertainment industry’s claims that ‘illicit’ downloading is leading to billions of dollars in losses worldwide. It also puts the increased anti-piracy efforts of the anime industry in doubt.

One interesting point made:
One point of critique based on the main conclusions of the study, is that the observed relation only appears to be correlational. This may mean that the results could in part be influenced by significant third variables such as promotion and overall popularity. Since the report is only available in Japanese we were unable to confirm whether this was taken into account.
Obviously, any sort of study like this has to be taken with with a grain of salt. We don't know the hows and whys of the study, so there could be any number of factors that throw out the results. It is interesting that more and more place are coming out with data to suggest that the correlation between piracy and lost sales isn't as strong as anti-piracy advocates would like to present.