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Showing posts from March, 2013

Never Unprepared (Book Review)

Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep (EGP42003) by Phil Vecchione

I spotted this book at my FLGS about a month ago in the new product section and was immediately taken by the fact that the store had stocked not a gaming book but a book about gaming.  The gaming store owner told me he was trying to stock products that would appeal to a wide base of RPG customers.  It certainly appealed to me, because I'm not the greatest GM prep person in the world.  Part of that is because I am inherently disorganized, and the internal struggle between my lack of organizational discipline and venues such as work and my house makes up a lot of my life.  I've recently been reading Zen to Done, a book on how to increase productivity and organization, and Never Unprepared reads more than a bit like the GM's version of that book (in fact both book reference the same source material).

So here's what's in Never Unprepared: a step-by-step guide on the phas…

Why I asked

I raised the question about how you know when I post to this blog for two reasons.  First, I was curious about the mechanisms involved, and how many people use(d) Google Reader.  Other blogs I follow had been tackling the Reader issue and I was curious about how many people were affected by this.

The other reason is a more personal one.  I have three blogs: the blog dedicated to my solo zombie campaign, my wargaming blog and my roleplaying game blog.  Now I do both wargaming and RPG's fairly consistently, at least in terms of painting miniatures, etc.  But because I have different blog posts in different areas, content is more spaced out between each entry on the individual blogs.  In addition, I don't know where to put posts on books I'm reading or other things that don't specifically speak to the blog's main topic.

What's funny is, I don't see a lot of people who straddle RPG's and wargaming, as far as I can tell.  Obviously there's overlap--they…

Grognardia Projections

I suppose, one could say, that I'm a Grognardia apologist, by that I mean that I tend to not excuse what has happened with Grognardia's author James Maliszewski (hence called James from here on out) and his failure to produce Dwimmermount, his Old School Megadungeon for which he raised around $48,000 on Kickstarter.  But instead, I try to understand what happened, as best I can from what scant detail is running around, and perhaps try to share what I think.

Part of this, I'll freely admit, is that there is a part of my personality that seems to resonate with what is known about James and the last six months or so.  It's easy, all too easy, to get swept up in the emotional gratification of being appreciated for something you do or say online.  I love the support I get from my AAR's over at Hard Boiled Zombies.  I like being told I'm a clever storyteller and that my solo campaign is inspiring to others.

It's also easy to get a huge rush from what you think is…

Book Review: Woken Furies

Woken Furies is the third (and I believe last) book by Richard Morgan featuring the body-jumping Takeshi Kovacs.  Kovacs, back from his misadventures in Broken Angels, has returned to his home planet of Harlan's World, the mostly ocean-covered world featuring the bizarre Martial "orbitals" that blast anything out of the sky.

In Woken Furies, Kovacs ends up hooking with a bunch of "decom" mercenaries whose job it is to wipe out a region on Harlan's World that is under the control of robotic drones.  The leader of the merc unit he joins turns out to have a bit of a weird glitch in her digital personality--a second persona claiming to be a notorious rebel leader.  Kovacs is then swept up in the political and military intrigue of the planet as powerful forces attempt to recover her, even employing a bootleg version of his own personality from his youth in the Envoy corps.

In addition to a solid sci-fi romp, Morgan gets some of his magic back from Altered Carbon

Three things out of the early 1970's

I mentioned in my last post that I've been reading some reprints of the Avengers from 1969-1971 (sort of the "bronze age" of Marvel) and that I had an unexpected, well, let's call it a "bonus."  Our tale begins with this fellow from Avengers #75:

Did you know John Buscema also drew Conan the Barbarian?  Of course you did, and what better way to capitalize on that fact than to have a figure from a sword-and-sorcery world make his way into the Avengers universe?  And, just as a bonus, you get two of the things I mentioned last time about this era: wince-inducing storytelling and social commentary.

So here's the set-up.  Arkon is the warlord of a violent planet named Polemachus lit by a ring of asteroids circling around it (its "heated from within" so that's not an issue).  When the asteroids begin to dim, the world is plunged into darkness, killing off all plant life and encouraged famine and plague (Polemachus already had a lot of war and d…

Reading the Essential Avengers

To help get me thinking about how a team book works, especially in the Marvel style, I headed down to my local public library and picked up Essential Avengers, Vol. 4 (Marvel Essentials)




Volume Four covers Avengers 69-97, which is roughly 1969-1971 and for the most part features Roy Thomas as writer and John Buscema as artist (and Stan Lee consistently getting top billing as editor).  While the cast rotates a bit, it's a mostly Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Clint Barton as Goliath, Vision, and the Scarlet Witch.  There's a few leit motifs throughout these years.  For example there is the snarky sarcasm and semi-affectionate name-calling between members of the Avengers, especially Goliath, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp.  There's the somewhat overbearing tendency to have people verbalizing the action as a way to help the reader follow along (e.g. "Goliath's bringing down the entire building!" or "Your bullets can't do anything again…

Our first Marvel Heroic Roleplaying recap!

Here’s the campaign journal  to our first Marvel Heroic Roleplaying session. Freedom City is hosting a peace conference between representatives of the Latin American country of Paragonia and members of the People’s Socialist Front, a leftist group of rebels who have been engaging in acts of insurgency to attempt to gain political reform in the region.  The talks are being mediating by U.S. Senator Jason Rybeck, an up-and-coming figure on the nation’s political scene.
Novice superheroes Positive Crisis and Mr. Eternity have volunteered to provide additional security for the conference, and are present when the plane arrives bringing the dignitaries.  The mysterious vigilante the Ferret is also on hand, quietly keeping an eye on things.  In the crowd the telekinetic Dr. Mind is present out of costume, just taking in the event, while Samkhara is at the airport bar looking for free drinks from pilots she can manipulate.  Meanwhile, the solitary gargoyle Abrasax observes as strange trail o…

So I played Marvel Heroic Roleplaying...

...and here's what I thought.

The whole dice mechanic takes people a while to get used to.  I did some fairly straightforward combats to get people in the swing of how everything worked.

The fact that you can add an opponents damage die to your attack die meant there was a tendency for players to pile on opponents.

While some people liked the open ended, narrative feel of the game, others thought that it was too easy to talk your way into getting a better situation rather than just going with it "as is."

Miniatures helped keep track of who was with whom at a given time.

Having six players meant it was easy to get to 2D12 in the Doom Pool, thus ending a scene. Some players didn't like how that meant I could call a scene to an end fairly arbitrarily as a result.

All told though most people liked the fluid feel of the game and the fast pace of the action. More thought after some time to process.