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Showing posts from 2012

Mystery Reading

I have been thinking about mystery gaming recently. I am not usually much of a mystery reader, I loved Sherlock Holmes as a kid, but I tend towards science fiction. Obviously, as a lawyer, I have read many real life mysteries. I am not a criminal lawyer, and have no interest in practicing criminal law, but you don't get through law school without reading an awful lot of criminal cases.  Even though I do not have an interest in criminal law, the single best piece of advice I have ever read about being a lawyer came from a criminal law story. In Helter Skelter, Vince Bugliosi stresses the importance of a lawyer doing his/her own investigations. I try to follow this advice as much as possible in my professional life, and have yet to regret it. I consider Helter Skelter to be the best book about the legal profession ever written, it is a study in the application of rational thought and elbow grease.  As I have been thinking about a mystery game, I realized that I am not well versed in

Gaming with Kids Again

This week I have had a chance to game with my nephew again. It has been a couple of years since the last time we played D&D and he is 10 now. Obviously, his ability to understand and play the game has improved greatly since the last time we played. In the past we have played a very loose game of D&D, the Lord of the Rings Introductory Adventure Moria Box Set, and a few games of Descent. This time I broke out the Mentzer Red Box and adapted the solo game in the Players' Book for his use.  I added a little depth, I made the magic mouth be the spirit of a wizard trapped in the wall, the wizard's body was turned into the statue in the entry room. The statue's eyes had been made of diamonds, but the goblins living in the cave stole them. In his first, solo, foray into the dungeon he had a brief encounter with some goblins where he got surrounded and badly wounded. He managed to kill all but one of them and made it back to town with a bit of gold. When he started flashing

Delay of Game

I am going to have to delay the AGE Star Wars playtest due to gaining a life level this week, along with it comes the level title of "Parent". Our daughter threw us all a curve ball by coming at the very beginning of her due date period. I am not cancelling the playtest session just moving it back a week, possibly two (I work a schedule that gives me every other Friday off). I will have more information over the next few days. Everyone is healthy and adjusting well.

Star Wars AGE Online Playtest

Quick update. I am still aiming for a game on Thursday the 26th using newbieDM's Star Wars AGE hack. The game will be set during the time period of Episode IV and will be a one shot. Players will not have to have knowledge of the rules, and pre-gen characters will be provided. I am planning an adventure that will be about two hours long to give us plenty of time to get the rules straight. I will be submitting my game proposal to ConstantCon either tomorrow or Wed.

EA is Confusing

I don't understand EA. They have in their possession, one of the most  infuential RPG developers in history, Bioware. I would say that in the history of computer RPGs (actual RPGs not Diablo-likes) the timeline basically flows from Origins to SSI to Bioware. If I were to pick a fourth, it would be Bethesda. EA not only owns Bioware, but also the Ultima series, probably the most influential RPG series in history. But EA does not seem to know how to make this all add up for some reason. While I was concerned about EA buying Bioware, since they have ruined so many great developers before, I was excited by the prospect that Bioware might bring us an Ultima game. It seems like the logical thing to do, Bioware is the clear heir to the style of gaming found in the Ultima series. Their games are about more than combat, and the choices you make really matter. But, of course, this is not what EA has done. Instead we got Dragon Age, now I realize that Dragon Age was in the works before EA bou

Online Space Opera Gaming Update

Based on my research and some comments I have received, I am going to use Google Hangout to run a game. I also found Roll20 , a virtual tabletop that claims it integrates with Google Hangout that I would like to try. I am pretty sure that I am going to run a one-shot the first time, just to try things out. I am currently leaning towards using newbieDM's AGE Star Wars playtest for that game (but not necessarily for the ongoing game). I will provide pre-generated characters so we don't have to waste any time on character generation for a one shot. You will not have to know how to play AGE to play in the adventure. My current plan is to run the game on the evening of July 26th , Eastern Time. I plan to use ConstantCon to run and setup the game (thanks for the tip David). I will finalize my plan and make arrangements this weekend. The goals of this game will be to 1) have a good time, 2) meet some players, 3) test out the online gaming setup, 4) possibly test AGE Star Wars.

Thoughts on Mass Effect Part 2: Revelation Effect

WARNING: This post contains spoilers for the Mass Effect series and for the Revelation Space series of novels. While the Mass Effect series and Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space series may be very different on the surface, they both draw on similar influences. Wait, you haven't read the Revelation Space series yet? I'll wait here.  Mass Effect presents a fairly shiny version of the future, the future looks like the future you would have been watching on TV in the late '70s and early '80s. The world has a style similar to the one seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Buck Rogers, and Battlestar Galactica. Heck, there is even a space disco in the world of Mass Effect (although it plays techno). Mass Effect also comes from the Star Wars/Star Trek funny forehead school of alien life. There are a number of alien species, most of which walk on two legs, some of which you can engage in sweet, consequence free lovin' with. People (and aliens) are getting it on like C

Online Space Opera Gaming

Since finishing Mass Effect I have had a desire to do some space opera gaming, specifically Star Wars. My WEG Star Wars game was the longest running campaign of my DMing career (4 years), and I look back on it fondly. The problem is, I live in the middle of nowhere in Southern Maryland. SMD is not a fun place to live to start with, and the lack of gamers my age (34) makes it far, far worse. So I am looking to start an online space opera game, preferably Star Wars.  This is still in the R&D phase, I have not even decided which system I want to use. I also need to figure out what online gaming tool I want to use. I know there are many available, and I have fooled around with Fantasy Grounds in the past. I am not sure that I want to go full tactical combat with a simulated tabletop though, so I may use something like Google Hangout.  I do know what era I want to play in, Episode IV. For the purposes of the game, only Episode IV will exist; I will ignore all sequels, prequels, cartoons


Questlord, an old school, first-person dungeon crawler, looks promising . Some of the more appealing aspects to me are the '90s styling and the fact that it can be played with one hand in portrait mode on your phone. There have been a number of good old school RPGs on mobile devices, Guardian Quest and Gurk stand out in my mind. 

Thoughts on Mass Effect Part 1: The End

I recently completed the Mass Effect series, and I have a lot to say about it. Actually I have a massive amount to say about it (sorry). I am going to start at the ending, because with Mass Effect that is the best place to start. This means that if you have yet to beat Mass Effect you should stop reading now. You have been warned. The ending for Mass Effect 3 generated a small amount of internet controversy. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I feel that most of the controversy was due to a lack of perspective. Many people were upset that the choices they made throughout the series did not impact the final 10 minutes of the game. In fact, the choice you made right before the final 10 minutes did not really impact the final 10 minutes of the game pre-revision. Players protest that in a series built around choice, this was treasonous on the part of Bioware. They say that Bioware abandoned their commitment to player choice at the very end. I willingly concede that the final

Kingdom the Final Frontier

My favorite podcast, The Podge Cast , is ending in a few weeks. In fact, they are recording their final episode this weekend. I have been a fan of Adam,/David, Luke, and Matt since their days on  Fear the Boot . The Podge Cast alone will total 200 episodes (plus some extra stuff) and they each have a number of episodes as cast members of Fear the Boot. Without a doubt the community that has formed around the show is my favorite internet community.  The argument could be made that The Podge Cast is not the greatest RPG podcast in the game. Other shows are more focused, have hosts with more game design experience, or actually talk about gaming. As a counter example I would put forward their series of actual play episodes, "Kingdom the Next Generation". They are not actually actual play I guess, they are more like recaps after the fact, which is a much less annoying way to get actual play information. For my money, this is still the best example of actual play in podcasting, and

AD&D Reprints

Recently WotC revealed that they will be republishing the three core rule books for AD&D. This probably serves as a way to keep D&D books on shelves during the period between editions, and possibly to gauge interest in re-releases. This will no doubt result in some players encountering the classic game for the first time, a whole new generation of people experiencing it. It will be interesting to see what those players may come up with based on their experience. They will be coming at the game from a totally different direction. It is impossible to say how many younger players will pick it up. Will they play it in large numbers, or will it be almost totally older players buying it? I plan on picking up copies, but mostly just for collector purposes. At this point I hardly ever use the original rule books anyway. OSRIC works so much better at the tale, due to its better organization. At this point only a a rerelease that had substantial reorganization would replace OSRIC at my t

Tropes in RPGs

One of the most valuable sites on the internet for adventure writing, actually almost any writing, is  . While tropes are often something to be avoided, or at least subverted, in fiction writing, they can be very valuable in adventure writing. The value of tropes is even higher in a convention setting. They are a shared vocabulary and shorthand that you can leverage to get your players on board with the setting.  Getting players on board with the setting can be one of the most challenging parts of preparing and running an adventure, especially at a convention. Setting presents problems for gamemasters that writers do not have. A writer has the luxury of exploring his setting, revealing the rules of his universe as he goes. A writer knows what parts of the setting his characters, and thus the readers, are going to interact with and can provide the reader with the necessary rules and background. Furthermore, readers never do anything unexpected, they either keep reading or p