Monday, August 31, 2009

Disney buying Marvel

In another sign that the end times are nigh, Disney is buying Marvel and getting the rights to Marvel's 5000 characters. Check out an article here.

I can just see it... High School Musical 4 - Singing Mutants with Hannah Montana as Kitty Pryde.

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Friday, August 28, 2009


Bonus points for:
"I prefer to let George Lucas disappoint me in the order he intended."

If you're a geek and you're not watching Big Bang Theory, you need to start.

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Why You Should Homebrew

Just thought I'd share this article from Gizmodo on why homebrewed beer is better than store bought.

Now at some point I need to work up the enthusiasm to tackle cleaning out 2 dozen bottles and 2 carboys. Granted, I'm not up to making beer, but it's been ages since I made a batch of mead.


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Glau joining Dollhouse

Can you say "made of win" boys and girls? Because that's what adding Summer Glau to Dollhouse is... it's made of win. She's already got the socially-detached scary-smart bad-ass chick down to an art form.

Check out the news. Now with all of those Batlestar alums popping up on the show, they need to add Grace Park.

(found via Io9.)

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Make your own Green Lantern ring

Star Wars: The Old Republic - dev walkthrough videos

Be sure to watch all 4 (yes I said 4) videos... 20 minutes of Star Wars gaming goodness.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's A Kind of Magic - for Cortex

These game design posts are as much a sounding board for me as anything else, something to help me put my thoughts in pixels. I've been mentally chewing on the magic system for Sundered Veil in Cortex.

I'd already decided I want three kinds of magic (available to players). Sticking with Arcane, Druidic and Spirit I considered how to approach them in Cortex.

If you aren't familiar with Cortex, skills and stats are measured by die type starting at d2 and progressing d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 then picking up additional dice so d12 + d2 and so forth.

Skills are basic through d6, then specialize past that so one might have Firearms d6 / Pistols d10. I had at first considered treating Magic as a general skill and having the three types be specializations, but that would reduce the distinctiveness of each kind. I decided to make each type of magic it's own skill, with specializations within them. I'm also intending on providing at least one spell per die step through d12 so now I'll have generic spells for that kind of magic at d2 through d6 then individual specializations.

Arcane is easy, the specializations are Fire, Earth, Water and Air. Druidic will have Primal (nature spirits and forces of nature), Ancestral (tapping into ancestral wisdom and tribal spirits) and Oether - that name may change - (dealing with the Otherworld and entities from the Otherworld). Spirit will break down into Healing, Empathy and Inspiration.

Casters will need to have the Channeling trait to use magic. Spells will have thresholds based on complex action difficulties, which means in most cases channeling the magic to cast a spell will be a multiple round endeavor. Once the caster reaches the threshold then they make an actual casting action to target and release the spell. Add some flavoring to reflect fatigue and it will be good to go.

Now I just have to create and write up 39 spells (at least).

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GenCon brings in millions

I had originally read Russ Pulliam's GenCon article in the newspaper (yes, I like to read dead tree newspapers)and had intended to look for it online, but with as most things I forgot.

Purple Pawn made a post about it on the RPG Bloggers Network pointing out that GenCon attendees spend on the average $1,000 each.

That seemed high to me, then I remembered the cost of parking downtown.


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Friday, August 21, 2009

Smallville trailer on IO9

Since I can't embed it, I'll just link the IO9 page with the trailer for the next season of Smallville.

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Sundered Veil - P39 or Cortex

So I picked up the Cortex Core Rules at GenCon. These are the rules used in the Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, and Supernatural role-playing games by Margaret Weis Productions. As I was looking through the book I realized the rules would be well suited to my ideas for the Sundered Veil campaign setting.

Crunch work would be tuning the magic system, coming up with the spells, tweaking advancement, and building my bestiary. Fluff work would be the same regardless of what rules I use.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

GenCon - Day 4

Sundays are always kind of bittersweet at GenCon. You're wiped from the last few days (especially if you went out partying Saturday night) but you're sad to see GenCon end. Some people end up skipping Sunday entirely.

Usually Nicole and I take a Sunday minis painting session so that way there is something to compel us to be there, but mini painting classes are not very demanding. This year we couldn't find one on Sunday that we wanted, so a bunch of us at the pre-reg party signed up for a LARP.

Nicole texted me shortly before the LARP, "What was I thinking, signing up for a LARP on Sunday?" Everyone else in our group bowed out, leaving me facing a LARP with 30 strangers, including two guys who took playing female characters *really* seriously... one was wearing a chong-sam and the other a corset.

I decided to give the LARP a go, and I'm glad I did. The setting was in a world where magic and magical creatures existed and most people could do at least a little magic. The timeframe was 1933... cross Vampire with pulp noir. Every character had some special gift, ability or origin as well as secrets.

The climax of the session came when one of the characters had engineered a trap for my character and my character's business partner/love interest. About 15 other players were involved for various reasons, but it boiled down to they wanted to capture Dolly (my partner/R.I.) and needed my character, Charley, to provide the books that would be used as evidence.

After avoiding the poison drinks and scuffle that ended with Charley and Dolly handcuffed to each other surrounded by mob goons with guns, crooked cops lurking outside the door, and various other parties watching our fate. Our captor then produced a torture kit and informed us that he would torture Dolly until I cooperated.

His smug grin vanished when I announced that Charley teleported himself and Dolly away, totally derailing his carefully planned and heavily financed scheme. I had kept my gift secret, and when the flabbergasted player of our nemesis said "I didn't know you could do that" my reply was "that's kind of the point."

The LARP was a serial one, which means if it's back next year, I'll be able to play Charley again. It didn't hurt that Dolly was played by a cute blonde (I don't even know her real name and she has a boyfriend), which made it easier to play than if Dolly had been a guy in drag.

After the LARP I high-tailed it back to the X Hall in time to pick up my artwork before closing. For some reason I always end the Con in the X Hall, it's one of my GenCon rituals.

On my list of stuff I'd buy if I hit the lottery, the makers of the Sultan game table were back with a more reasonable idea. The new table can be built as a coffee table or dining room table and has interlocking slats that game be remove to reveal the game space.

Anyway, another year is wrapped. Hopefully Nicole and I will stick to our resolution to paint more and I stick to my resolution to lose the 10 pounds I picked up since last GenCon.

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Do You Want To Date My Avatar - The Guild Music Video

GenCon - Day 3

Saturday is the biggest day for costumes at GenCon, mostly because of the Costume Contest. A lot more people dress up than enter the contest, so it makes the Exhibit Hall and the area around it a spectacle. Then at night comes the Masquerade Dance (the theme of the Saturday dance changes every year) and the White Wolf party.

I didn't take a lot of pictures because I'm a crappy photog and I figure there will be much better pictures on the net. However, I forgot to get a picture of me, so I have this artist's rendition. (artwork by Brent Woodside.

The trick to the costume contest is to get there early. I got there an hour early and just by luck ended up with a good seat. I was pleased because my favorite, the winged elf from a couple years ago was back and won both the professional category and best of show with a new costume.

After the contest was a costume change for me. I had originally intended on putting mad scientist gear for the Masquerade Dance, to the point that I bought goggles to replace the ones that I forgot at home, over my outfit for the White Wolf party. At the last minute decided to forgo the extra gear.

Last year's theme for the Dance was Steampunk. This year's theme, Masquerade, had a much better participation rate and attendance. One couple I met actually bought their outfits in the Exhibit Hall for the Masquerade. Let's just say that couldn't have been cheap.

A good tip if you attend the annual dance in Union Station - there is a bar, The House, in the basement. The wait to get a drink is *much* shorter than the long lines that form at the bar in the ballroom. Plus it's easier to talk downstairs. We met up with more friends there before moving on to the White Wolf party.

The White Wolf party was back at Ice Lounge again. It's not my favorite venue because the club is long and narrow, as opposed to Club Industry, and the A/C isn't up to the task. But evidently Ice has a higher capacity, and capacity is an issue at White Wolf parties. When we arrived, they were only allowing in people with invites (which a few in our party did not have) and were 12 people away from stopping admission all together.

On the plus side, the White Wolf party has free booze. For some that ends up being a down side. When they finally closed things down we were invited to a private after party, but I was too tired, knew I had a noon game, and knew that I didn't want to drink any more alcohol and drive home.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

GenCon - Day 2

Gaming is what GenCon is about, and today was about gaming for us. We had two events we had scheduled back during our organization party. The first one was a D&D game (pictured) where for the first time (I think) I played a gnome, a chaotic neutral gnome rogue. This is the rpg equivalent of handing me a can of gasoline and a book of matches. Fortunately I restrained my more chaotic impulses and settled for chewing up the scenery and hamming it up with a high, nasal voice. I think our party wizard was irritated with me, but that's okay because he sucked as a wizard.

Since Nicole and I dressed as our characters from the Firefly LARP we played a couple years ago, we had GBH take some pics. I think his ideas for the shots turned out pretty well.

One of the things I noticed in the dealer hall was that Paizo had restocked Pathfinder. Remember the huge line I mentioned yesterday? Today there was a huge pile of books. I didn't pick one up, but I did get a copy of Adventurer's Vault 2. I also got a few dice, I kept finding better dice for the same character. Fortunately it was just 3d6 each time, so it didn't rack up too much of a bill.

Our last event was another RPG, this one a d20 Pulp. It was fun, although I was starting to tire. My character managed to abruptly end a car chase by bringing down a boulder from higher up the mountain to take out the pursuing car. Yay Natural 20!

Tomorrow is the most complex because I have three costume changes.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

GenCon - Day 1

Made it downtown in time to find a decent parking space and got to the Convention Center with enough time to wander a little before the Exhibit Hall opened to the gathered masses. I opted to wait for the crowd to go in rather than get jostled and bludgeoned by backpacks.

I had no "must gets" this year, so I wandered the Hall, starting with the art show. The Paizo booth had a monster line due to the release of Pathfinder (D&D 3.7), with people in line holding multiple copies of the monster $50 book.

I did end up picking up a couple of new releases from the folks that put out the Serenity RPG, Six-Guns and Spaceships and the Cortex System. One of the things I'll be looking at is if it would be easier to run Sundered Veil in Cortex than P39.

A lot of time (and money) ended up being spent at the Reaper Mini booth. Their salespeople deserve credit... if you give them a character description they will come up with a mini as close as possible.

The mini and brush purchases were for a workshop Nicole and I had, Blending For Cheaters. I was pretty unsatisfied with my results, though I understood the technique. I think the highlight was that the instructor was wearing a Captain Hammer t-shirt. This was significant because Nicole and I were both wearing Captain Hammer t-shirts. Is that a spork in my leg? Hilarious.

After some more hall browsing, one of Nicole's guests told us he had a free pass for two tickets to see a sneak preview of District 9. Fortunately I was able to score a pass at the theater itself just by asking a lone stranger for their spare ticket. The move was good, but a bit uncomfortable to watch. See it.

Tomorrow we have two games.

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GenCon - Day 0

Wednesday is the new Thursday. More and more attendees are arriving early and more events are appearing on Wednesdays to accommodate them. Most of these are open gaming, but the big one on Wednesday is the Forum Stink, put on by the Indy Mavens. This year would be the 6th Stink and the theme was Vegas.

The hardest part about the Stink is getting it all together. As part of the set-up team, I went downtown early, much earlier than the 3 o'clock we were to get access to the ballroom. But in years past, the room has been empty and open ahead of time. Not so much this year. It was full of business people having some sort of meeting and/or training.

I killed time until we could get into the hall. Once we got access, set-up went smooth and much quicker than before. Deciding not to pack a hundred swag bags helped speed things along. The biggest complication was that the souvenir dice we had ordered from on of the dice companies had been left behind. These were rushed to us, but didn't end up arriving until halfway through the Stink.

The other disappointment was that Peter Atkinson didn't make it while I was there. I left a few minute before the end to get to N-Con, so it's feasible he showed those last few minutes.

N-Con is Nicole's annual pre-con get together. It involves food, beer, games, movies, and gaming friends both local and from out-of-town.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Yes, it's that time of year, time for me to join a few thousand of geeks at Nerd Mecca, GenCon. I'll post recaps as I get a chance. I almost succumbed to the siren call of Twitter so I could do updates from the con, but no good can come of becoming a Twit.

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How long until the holodeck?

The holodeck just got a step closer as Japanese scientists are pioneering touchable holograms.

Check out the rest on Geekologie.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

SW:TOR talks Smugglers

Bioware gives us more insight into the swashbuckler smuggler class for the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. I have to admit it sounds like a lot more fun than "kill ten boars".

Check out the article here.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

LOTRO PvP video

Friday, August 07, 2009

Felicia Day on GameTrailer TV

Yes, this is me feeding my weakness for cute, smart, geeky red-heads.

Of course I won't be searching for that music video on the interwebs. Nope, not at all.

Faster, Google! Faster!


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Project 39: It's a kind of magic

So for my Sundered Veil campaign setting I'm thinking there will be three kinds of magic.

Arcane Magic is classic energy manipulation, making things move or burn. While there won't be any room clearing fireballs, this is the most useful magic for combat.

Spirit Magic is derived from faith, and in fact many users won't even think of it as "magic". It will be healing and protection magic. Always useful to have when combing otherbeast infested ruins.

Druidic Magic (working title) taps into the primal magic that flows between the Otherworld and our world. Most useful for "tweening" between the worlds, affecting otherbeasts/otherkin and affecting nature.

The approach I'm looking at has some resemblance to the Force users in Star Wars Saga. The hero has a feat to qualify, a la Channel Magic, has a specific skill to use a given kind of magic, then uses additional feats to pick up "spells". More powerful spells would likely have lesser spells as prerequisites, such as having Ignite (a minor spell used to light fires) as a prereq for Combust (a combat fire spell useful for setting bandits and ogres on fire).

The hero has their "suite" of spells, each of which may be used once per encounter. Some might take multiples of the same spell to get multiple uses, others might have feats that let them get certain spells returned to their suite under certain conditions during the fight.

The other mechanic I'll be using I call Axiom. It represents the mundane worlds "resistance" to magic. When a spell is generated, a number of Axiom dice are rolled, and the result is subtracted from the skill check. So Ignite might have an Axiom of 1 (roll 1d6) while Combust might have an Axiom of 3 (roll 3d6). Of course there will be feats that modify this mechanic.

The idea is to keep more skilled casters from automatically toasting everything every time and to reflect the difficulty inherent in more advanced spells. Say Willy the Wizard has an Arcane asset of +10 (that is his skill plus all modifiers come to 10). With an average d20 roll of 10 (I know, it's really 10.5), that generates an average of 20. The odds of a target not getting hit by Combust is pretty abysmal given an average Reflex Defense of 10 to 12. Willy has to autofail to miss anyone with a Reflex lower than 14.

Throw in Axiom, and now it becomes more challenging for Willy. Using Combust becomes much dicier, as the average Axiom generated will offset his asset.

I'm still chewing on the terms Druidic and Axiom. I'm staying away from the term Primal Magic because of the Primal Power Source in 4e, but I haven't thought of a better name.

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Wizard's fan site policy ruckus

Wizards of the Coast released a fan site "policy", which has created some chatter. In a nutshell, in exchange for using the graphics from their fan site kit you have to agree to a bunch of conditions, some of which are reasonable and should be done anyways, some of which are not.

Instead of going into a detailed breakdown I'll point you to couple of good posts that go into deeper detail. Check them out at The Seven-Sided Die and Geek Related.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ragnarok at Costco?

It looks like I have another book to add to the list of books to read. Norse Code sounds very much in the vein of Gaiman's American Gods. Check out the review on Io9.


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Dinosaur riding cowboys don't pay taxes

One of the creationist-dinosaur theme parks was seized by the government. No for being crackpots trying to derail science (there's no laws against crazy or ignorance), but for not believing in one of the inevitable truths... taxes.

You can get more info from Io9 here.


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Chicks don't want to bang Nosferatu

Another PvP Online classic...

Maneuvers In The Dark.

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