Saturday, May 31, 2008

Let the headaches begin...


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Things to do

No, not a practical list of things to do around the house like paint the door or get a machete and blaze a trail from the patio to the back yard. This is important stuff... what I need to do to get my campaign converted to 4e. And by need, it's more like would rather not have to wing but will if I run out of time.

I've already shaken up my campaign world but letting the players go back into the past and help an ancient empire that once occupied the same geography as the current campaign import iron and steel technology. This allowed it to stay in power longer, changing several historical events including a deific war that brought down one of the three moons.

I've already made a new broad map, including moon-induced changes to geography (aka big honking craters where some cities used to be). This map covers the equivalent of the eastern half of the US. The landmass and major features such as mountains and large lakes remain the same, and many localities and kingdoms that weren't part of the old empire are recognizable.

Having the empire stick around longer also lets me indulge in some linguistic amusement. I have a penchant for using real languages as the basis for my campaign languages. The predominant language of the old campaign area was Cymraeg (Welsh), while a gypsy-like ethnic group called Vagistos had a language called Vagistol (Spanish) and the inhabitants of a nearby group of large islands of very similar racial stock spoken Catalan (Catalan... because I was too lazy to even file a serial number). This racial stock is descended from the ruling ethnic group of the old empire. Since this empire was farther spread and much more recently fallen, I had to give it a name and a pseudo-language.

Thus was invented the Empire of Qatal and the language Qatol. For words I decided to start lopping trailing syllables off and fiddle from there, as well do some consonant sleight-of-hand. Leading C became Q (pronounced like the German of Scottish ch) and Catalan became Qatal. I've also started reverse engineering significant place-names from my pseudo-Welsh sounds to the new style. So what was once the Duchy of Cymwr became the Kingdom of Qimur. The surviving cities had the Caer changed to Idad (from Spanish ciudad), so Caer Gwlad becomes Idad Gulad.

So on to the list:
Name cities and countries/kingdoms
Name towns the players are likely to go to or ask about
Name the new pantheon, establish cleric abilities and church roles
Create basic monk and bard rules to cover allies in cast
Create House Rule for utility skills to fill in gaps since Perform, Craft, Profession and some other fluff skills are all gone
Create guideline governing availability of Rituals
Create new commerce organization to replace the Temple of Paulic (in the old world, the Temple to the God of Wealth also functioned as a bank)
Decide how much debt the PCs still owe above
Determine trade route travel times
Set up place on new website for House Rules

crap... it seems like there was a lot more rattling around in my skull.


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Oz can has

My web-fu has finally paid off. This will probably keep me busy for at least a day. I've already got more house rules brewing in my skull.


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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Working on a website

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

A while ago I got a domain, but I'm just now starting to mess with it.


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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Amazon breaks 4e street date

Reports are trickling in from both ENWorld and WotC forums that folks have received the new books from Amazon. I'm not sure how "hard" the street date is for 4e, but I'm hoping that WotC will allow actual stores that have the books (and at least some have received their shipments) to go ahead and sell them.

And I really hope the store that I pre-ordered them through has them in stock tomorrow when I go to pick up my comics.


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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Batman vs. Dark Knight

Genius... frigging genius.

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Spore creature creator demo

This is a game a lot of uber-nerds have been waiting for, with the ability to create and evolve your own creatures. Now if only I could make critters that would do my yard work for me.


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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Movie review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Given what happened with the Star Wars prequels, I was a little nervous about the return of Indiana Jones after 19 years. But overall, Indy 4 is a good movie. Not as good as the original Raiders but on a par with Temple of Doom and Last Crusade.

I think one of the reasons it works despite after all of these years is that the movie acknowledges and incorporates that the fact that Indy and the world have all gotten older. Jones has a lot of grey and Commies have replaced Nazis as the "bad guys".

Fortunately Spielberg directed... but the movie isn't without Lucas' influence...

(Think Robot Chicken)
Spielberg (on phone): Yeah George, that's great but this is Indiana Jones, not Star Wars. There are no Ewoks. I know they're great for merchandising, but it's the wrong movie franchise. I'm sure your grandkids love them... (mutters) the little bastards loved Jar Jar too I bet. What? No, I was asking someone else here something. George, I let you have the CGI prairie dogs, but no Ewoks. George? Come on... George, don't cry. Ok, ok, we'll have some Ewoks George. I'll take care of it. Bye George. (Hangs up, the makes another call) Frankie, it's Steve. Yeah, we need to add a scene with monkeys. Yes monkeys... I just got off the phone with George and he had one of his muppet meltdowns. No, just make them monkeys, I'll tell George that they're primitive pygmy Ewoks living in secret."

But overall the movie was the popcorn-munching fun we've come to expect from the Indiana Jones movie. The addition of "Mutt" wasn't annoying, though it helped he was an adult and not another Short-Round. It's a shame that the spoilerific deluge of media will ruin any "reveals" for the movie, and Blanchett bordered on cartoony as the villian, but the movie is definitely worth the price of admission.

My rating: 3.5 tomb-raiding whip-cracking flying monkeys.


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Friday, May 23, 2008

Open open open open

Humorous Pictures
more cat pictures

For some reason I laugh whenever I see this one. It must be my evil sense of humor.


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Thursday, May 22, 2008

4e official character sheet

This article at includes an image of the 4e character sheet.

I'll be using it to help design my own sheets. I need my own sheets because I never met a rules system I didn't want to tweak.

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Highlander remake? There can be only one!

Spotted this article and had to say wtf? Doesn't anyone in Hollywood remember that every Highlander movie made since the original has blown chunks? I liked the series, but all of the sequels sucked... and this is from the guy who in college figured out how to rig a katana scabbard under a trench coat.

I predict this will be bad... very bad.


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Saturday, May 17, 2008

More 4e tidbits

Some distributors have been bringing copies of the new books to game stores for previews. Folks have taken notes, giving us these bits of info.

Meanwhile I've been redrawing my campaign world map. Something about a deific spat and a missing moon. Well, not so much missing... if you find a big crater, odds are there's a chunk of that moon in the bottom.


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Friday, May 16, 2008

4e preview - Magic Items

WotC has been cranking out excerpts from the upcoming 4e books three times a week. Today's featured something near and dear to every player: Magic Items.

Overall, I don't mind the reduction of the importance of carrying around an arsenal of mystic goodies as I myself have run some magic item lean campaigns. But, as usual, I won't be able to let the new rules stand intact.

One of the cool things about getting magic items was figuring out what they were. One of the most memorable moments in one of my D&D games occurred when the players, lacking a wizard of their own, went to the local wizards' guild to get a magic ring identified.

Literal Mage: What do you want?
Player: (Holding up ring) Can you identify this?
Literal Mage: Yes.
Player: (After confused pause) What is it?
Literal Mage: It is a ring.

They went on to negotiate a price to have Literal Mage identify and tell them the magic properties of the ring, but to this day "it is a ring" still gets uttered in my gaming group.

Now, if a player gets a magic item, to identify it they have to take a short rest.

Huh? Where's the frakking fun in that? Weapons and armor can be tested in battle, but more complicated items should require some skill, research or magic to figure out (or hiring someone with one of the three).

*sniff* *sniff* I smell a house rule.


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Five Hottest Women Who Secretly Play D&D

OK, this list is somewhat dubious, as the author even admits that the presence of one of the prospects is just so he has an excuse to look at pictures of her while he writes the article (you need an excuse?).

Yeah, I know, many of my readers have no interest in this. But how could I pass up an article like that? Plus it gives me an excuse... wait, I need an excuse?

Out of the five, my guess is that only Kristin Bell is a slam dunk to have played the iconic nerd past-time, at least willingly and not as part of some public relations thing.

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Dollhouse Trailer

Joss Whedon's new show...

Hopefully it gets more than a few episodes scattered all over the schedule.


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Romance Martial Arts Test

My score on The "What's Your Romance/Martial Arts Style?" Test:


(You scored 42% romantic, 14% modern, 35% aggressive and 42% sensual!)

You are Judo!

Simple, straightforward, respectful. Your antique sensibilities belie a very realistic approach to love and life. However, you may be relying on the same techniques over and over. Competition can spur you to get a bit more aggressive.


Pragmatic - Old-Fashioned - Receptive - Thoughtful: &Judo
Pragmatic - Old-Fashioned - Receptive - Sensual: &Pankration
Pragmatic - Old-Fashioned - Aggressive - Thoughtful: &Taekwondo
Pragmatic - Old-Fashioned - Aggressive - Sensual: &Muay Thai
Pragmatic - Modern - Receptive - Thoughtful: &Krav Maga
Pragmatic - Modern - Receptive - Sensual: &Jeet Kune Do
Pragmatic - Modern - Aggressive - Thoughtful: &Combat Sambo
Pragmatic - Modern - Aggressive - Sensual: &Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Romantic - Old-Fashioned - Receptive - Thoughtful: &Ba Gua Zhang
Romantic - Old-Fashioned - Receptive - Sensual: &Capoeira (Angola)
Romantic - Old-Fashioned - Aggressive - Thoughtful: &Pencak Silat
Romantic - Old-Fashioned - Aggressive - Sensual: &Monkey Kung Fu
Romantic - Modern - Receptive - Thoughtful: &Aikido
Romantic - Modern - Receptive - Sensual: &Capoeira (Regional)
Romantic - Modern - Aggressive - Thoughtful: &Competitive Wushu
Romantic - Modern - Aggressive - Sensual: &Savate

Link: The "What's Your Romance/Martial Arts Style?" Test

View My Profile: LordOz1

(OkCupid Free Online Dating)

Fear my kung-fu judo of love!


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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

d20 UTH: 4e musings

I read a great remark that echoes some of my concerns over 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

"I don't want my game to become Sailor Moon meets Kill Bill."

One of the things I've been doing in my current D&D game has been downplaying the "sorcery" in favor of "swords". Magic is not (in my campaign) supposed to be so easy that one can fling it around casually. To quote Steven Brust, "No matter how subtle the wizard, a dagger between the shoulder blades will cramp his style."

In 4e, magic becomes less of a resource, especially with At Will powers. Wizards will be able to throw an endless number of magic missles (as an example), never needing to fall back on a staff or dagger.

At least until I get my hands on the rules.

Of course, there are several considerations to take into account when I "nerf" magic. To be fair, if I limit wizard's At Will powers, I should do the same to other classes. I don't have a problem with this, because over all, the whole At-Will power concept seems a little too wahoo. There is no reason not to use them.

One of the limitations in my current rules is that casting spells slow your initiative, with the higher the level spell the more you are slowed. While that has some potential, changes in the rules will require an change in application, as spells no longer have the same distribution of levels. So instead of losing the spell level from your initiative, it might be a flat amount like -2 or -4 (as I type this the thought of -4 but have a feat available to reduce the penalty to -2).

If I went that route, I'd be inclined to come up with a different limitation for martial maneuvers. The first notion that springs to mind is give a +2 bonus to basic attacks, meaning they'd be more likely to hit but wouldn't have the special effects of the powers.

Another line of thought would be to place a limit on how many times at will powers could be used in an encounter. A couple of thoughts require expending healing surges to activate powers (the sample dwarf fighter from Keep on the Shadowfell has 12 per day, the sample human wizard has 7. My other thought is to link it to the stat bonus for that Power Source, such as 1 + Int Bonus for wizards.

I get the books (hopefully) 48 hours before I run the next occuring session of the game.

Nom nom nom.

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Maybe I need this...

more cat pictures


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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Movie review: Speed Racer

OK, I admit it. After watching Speed Racer I had the teeniest urge to paint the PT Cruiser glossy white with a big red M on the hood. Right after the autojacks get installed so I can jump over traffic.

Speed Racer is the kind of movie that takes place in the mind of a kid with tons of imagination, a box full of toy cars and a basement full of Hot Wheels track. Physics, realism and fuel economy be damned, it's about fun. And Speed Racer is fun, especially if you were one of those kids.

Now that's not to say Speed Racer is a great movie, or even a very good one. My enjoyment is partially fueled by nostalgia as I watched the cartoon back in the early 70s. But it was like reliving all of the cool memories of a childhood guilty pleasure without being confronted by the lameness that becomes evident in our modern and grown up world.

The Wachowski Brothers didn't bother trying to transplant Speed Racer into the real world. The movie exists in its own psuedo-70s quasi-anime universe, where gladiatorial car-fu bouts take place on elevated steel tracks that look engineered for a Mattel commercial. Unlike in the cartoons, the body count is kept low through a bubble-creating "QuickSave" system, letting cars wreck spectacularly without racking up a death toll.

There were plenty of little touches for those of us who remember the cartoons, from bits of the original music being woven into the soundtrack to the sound effect of the autojacks. The cast also did a surprisingly good job of bringing the characters to life. I think John Goodman has found his niche and Christina Ricci already looks like a manga character.

But as I said, it wasn't fantastic. Too much Spritle and Chim Chim. In my opinion, the whole "Freebird" sequence could have been edited out. You'll see what I mean when you see the movie.

Yes, go ahead and see it. No one will hear you making the autojack sound effect when you're in your car waiting in traffic.

Rating 3 of 5 car-fu racing flying monkeys.


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Friday, May 09, 2008

1 hit point orcs... wtf?

WotC had a big update today for the 4e preview material, including a link to a pdf full of orcs.

Reading through, I noticed that the "minions" had 1 hit point. One. Uno. Ichi. Even the Level 9 minion had 1 hp.


I get the notion of popcorn monsters, but this takes it to an extreme. It's an excuse to clutter the board with minis which means people in theory would need to buy more minis. I'm not plunking down any money for an effing mini with 1 effing hit point.

Then again, I won't be using the 1 hit point minion rule. A poster on the EN World board made a valid point... he doesn't want every dungeon crawl to be Sailor Moon meets Kill Bill.

The House Rules will be coming.

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New Clone Wars trailer

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Wolverine and the X-Men trailer

Um. Okay, I'm a pretty big Wolverine fan, but I still to say...


This would be like making "Batman and the Justice League". Why does Wolverine get lead billing? Wolverine leading the X-Men... with Scott still there? Sorry, he ranks about #3 in my book for X-Leader (Cyclops and Storm being 1 and 2).

And as much as I love to see new X-Men material, this looks like someone has taken the last 20 years of X-Books, put it in a blender and hit puree.

But you know as much as I'll bitch about it until then, I'll probably buy the damned thing when it comes out.

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Florida school district fires wizard

Just when I thought Kansas had cornered the market on stupid people involved in education... this article pops up.

Yes, in Florida a substitute teacher got accused of wizardry and fired because he made a toothpick disappear. Look out Dumbledore!

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Iron Man post-credits surprise

Only click thru if you want to see what appeared at the end of the credits of Iron Man.

*Spoiler Alert!*

You have been warned. That and the clock is ticking until this clip gets yoinked I'm sure.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Learn to English

Is that self-ownage or what? You fail!


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Saturday, May 03, 2008

New PC checklist

I bought a new PC to replace my gaming one, which a friend is buying. Before I can set up the new machine, I have a checklist that has been in my head to get done. While not all of these are crucial, it gives me motivation to do stuff I've been putting off by tying it in to the new toy.

I figure maybe actually typing this out will also help me stay on track. That, and if I don't finish it, M and N can mock encourage me.

Assemble new bookcase for bedroom (it has been in a box for roughly 6 months)
Move antique table from shrine to bedroom
Assemble comic boxes
Clean and swap bookcases in den
Move any files I want to keep from old g-pc to shared folder on my main pc
Purge browser info from Firefox (bookmarks and passwords)
Copy down Vent info
Make sure Trend Micro and Spysweeper are fully uninstalled

Any bets on how long it will be before I have the Chronovore up and running?



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New Hancock trailer

Movie review: Iron Man

Iron Man's conversion to the big screen is the best adaptation of a Marvel Comic character since Spider-Man. I already had high hopes for the movie based on glimpses of Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as scotch swilling playboy genius billionaire Tony Stark.

The story does its job with plenty of comic book fan service. While it's no Lord of The Rings, it doesn't need to be. While it may not win any Oscars, the script keeps things moving without too many clunker lines or plot holes (but there are a couple).

The effects were good, too the point that my biggest problem with the Mark I suit was that it had no eye protection. I kept thinking "what if he catches a bunch of shrapnel in the face... or why doesn't someone think to shoot at the eyeholes", not "fake... it's all CGI... faaake>"

And Gwyneth Paltrow as a redhead... me gusta mucho!

Make sure you stay until the end of the credits if you are a comic book fan. While it may be lost on non-readers, I literally blurted out something along the lines of "effing A".

Oz's rating: 4 of 5 battle-armor wearing flying monkeys.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Meatloaf makes a mortgage payment

New Hulk trailer

Hopefully this one won't suck.

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