Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Two Greatest RPG Books I've Read in Over a Decade---Maybe Ever------and I Never Heard of Them Before Last Week...

Warhammer's Realm of Chaos Slaves to Darkness (1988) and the 1990 follow-up The Lost and the Damned.  God! Damn!  These are awesome.  I'm not that big into artwork, doesn't really do it for me in an RPG book---but the artwork in these books is heads and shoulders above anything I've ever seen in any RPG product---ever.  And the content is doubly awesome.  Massive work of the imagination, full of all kinds of useful stuff related to demons/daemons/chaos.

Zak S. mentioned it offhandedly in one of his Vornheim/Grindhouse podcasts, and I'm glad I caught the reference.

Get them.  Get the older versions, before they got all Puritan with the art. 

How come they don't make shit like this anymore?  Seriously?   The company who can put out stuff like this today WINS.  Period.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vornheim Reviewed (and my 200th post!)

When I first got Vornheim it was the pdf version.  I started to quickly skim through it.  My first reaction:


I skipped the intro and TOC, like I usually do, and went for the first thing after that---a sideways map which I couldn't figure out where or what anything was at a glance, and two pages of a tower unlike any DnD map I've ever seen.   They weren't in a style I was used to.  So I skipped to the content section.  Not seeing a detailed static city plan with all the numbered buildings, my second reaction: WTF?  So now I skip to the tables.  Ahh, old familiar territory.  I like these.  I'll go back and read them later, but they're probably the mushroom tables and other weird stuff Zak used in the IHIWMA show, so they likely won't be that useful to me, because people always put stuff from their own games that no one else would use into these things. Then I got to the pages with the numbers all around them.  Back to:  WTF?  Next:  Map of the city---how is this at all useful?  I can't make out the turns in the road.  No numbered buildings, nor any buildings with names on them.  Load up the WTF again.

So I skipped reading it in any detail and went back to Grindhouse, which was my more immediate need anyhow, as I was prepping for a game in which it is the base system.

Then Vornheim came in the mail with the boxed set---(note to self---never be a tightwad and choose the cheapest shipping option from Finland again.  Raggi's cost-saving delivery system apparently consists of strapping packages to the backs of polar bears and sending them on a leisurely swim across the North Atlantic.)

The first thing I'm confronted with (once I took the dustjacket off it to protect it from tears----I'm like that)  is the cover with all the confusing numbers on it that was at the back of the pdf.  Because I couldn't make sense of it earlier with a 2 second glance, I skipped it.  The rest of the book, content-wise, was more interesting when actually reading it in book form.  I could actually focus in and twist and turn pages around to see the stuff which was harder to see on the computer (I don't like playing with pdf sizes, or rotating them, etc. to read something on a screen.  Pain in the ass/laziness.) Also, the city content is written in such a way that isn't extremely Vornheim-specific, so it can be lifted for home campaign use.

Upon closer inspection of the charts at the end, they turned out to be way more useful than I figured they would be.  They are, as I heard Zak describe it later, good tools to develop your own Vornheim.  They were the tools he used to make his city.  They are tools to make the city your own, create your own Vornheim.  They weren't the random mushroom effect charts from the IHIWMA series that I expected them to be.  Neat stuff.  Besides, paraphrasing Zak here, who wants to spend a week memorizing the ins and outs of someone's setting, just to have the characters skip the bulk of it and go shopping?

At some point after this I IM'd with Jim that I liked Vornheim, but still couldn't figure out Zak's weird table on the cover thing and some of the other stuff like the city buildings thing.

Then I listened to one of the podcasts that Zak and Jim did, while I was playing the D&D Online MMO.  (Khyber server, toon is Drakenforged, if any readers play on there).  Anyhow, while slaying gnolls out in the Menechtarun Desert, I hear Zak start to describe the number grid thingy.  I hid the toon in a safe place, pulled out the book, and started to follow along.  In a few seconds of explanation I got it.  The shit's simple as hell.  And also potentially one of the most useful things ever made for a DM.  Pure fucking mental laziness on my part that I didn't invest the less than 10 seconds of reading which it would have taken to learn the thing in the first place.

That goes back to my first impression of reading the pdf---it's not the standard RPG book.  I looked for  familiar things and didn't get them.  Which really shouldn't surprise me, since it came from Zak.  I mean, the guy created this.  And he wrote this.  The only things readily familiar in style and form were the random charts in the back of the book, so I wrote off the bulk of it at first glance, since it didn't fit my preconceived notions of what an RPG book ought to be.

Don't do that.

You'll miss out on an awesome tool.

I'm glad I gave it a second look.  It's a damn good book, full of useful stuff.  And its small too.  One of my first thoughts when I saw it was "Goddamnit Jim, aren't you ever going to print something the size of the old 1st ed. PHB like I've been asking you to for like forever now?  At least it would have made the text easier to read."  Based on the podcasts though, I think if he ever did that, Zak would fill up the extra space with even more material at the same font.  As well he should.  It's good stuff.

I think the size of the book is actually a good thing, because no matter how many other books you have in your DnD-night bag, I guarantee you this one will also fit in there.  You can always have this with you in every game.   It's a zero-encumbrance item.  Plus, now that I've given it a good read, I can't think of anything I would leave out of Vornheim.  Based on that, I'll deal with the font because I like the content, and the only way to get all that content into 64 pages was to lay it out like Zak did.

Anyhow, I don't have a formal rating system of stars or thumbs or anything as I rarely do reviews, so I'll just finish by saying its a damn good book with pretty useful tools.  You may have to drop your preconceived notions of what an RPG book ought to be, like I had to do, in order to really appreciate it.  I'm glad I bought it.  I'm gonna use it.

Hasbro Doesn't Even Sell the Latest Version of D&D on Its Webpage

Check it out.  I was taking a look at the latest quarterly report for some mention of D&D (none again, as usual) and decided to see what they have for sale for D&D on the Hasbro site.  The boxed set of D&D they have up there, along with 6 other items, seem to be ancient.  Maybe you guys can tell me, is that boxed set from the 3.0 or 3.5 days?  It certainly is not Essentials, and doesn't appear to be 4e by the description.

Too bad its not a complete product listing from a few years ago, or we may have been able to get the pdf's for sale via a loophole caused by Hasbro's apathy for the brand.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What a Goddamned Ripoff!

Apparently the world is ending sometime today, I scheduled an Old School D&D Meetup  for tomorrow, and my birthday is Monday.  Shit.

Friday, May 13, 2011

CRAP! Blogger Deleted the Post Wherein I Wrote the D&D Clone Which Was Guaranteed to End All Edition Wars and Unify All Roleplayers Under One Game!!

Due to the combination of cough medicine and Captain and Coke that night, I forget what I wrote down, and didn't save it anywhere else.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Game of Thrones

I just read this post, and have to say I agree with her that Game of Thrones is hard to watch. 

I was just saying the same thing to my brother the other day.  He hasn't read the series yet, and I have.  For him, it's a must see event every Sunday.  For me, I know how things go, who dies and when, and what senselessness there is in many of the deaths of some of the people I grew to care about.  The whole series is depressing, as I turn each page wondering who the author is going to kill off randomly in the next chapter.  I find myself watching the series with the same sense of dread as reading the books, especially since the series makes me like some of my favorite actors even more, due to their excellent acting.  Plus, having nephews and nieces the age of the kids on the show, it breaks my heart to see what they have gone through, and knowing what they will go through is even more gut wrenching.   But damn its a well done series, in terms of an adaptation to the books they were based on, as well as the sets and acting.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Story of Donut Cores and Forgotten Rums, By Sean K. Reynolds--Goddamn Hilarious Inside Look

This is hilarious, an "an allegorical story about writing fantasy books," purely fictional of course.  ;) 

"This is a story about the elves who work in Gameland. The elves write recipe books ... two kinds of books in particular: books about Donut Cores, and books about Forgotten Rums. The Donut Core books had a lot of recipes (the elves called many-recipe books "crunchy books" for a reason that is too long to relate here), and gave a lot of suggestions about things you could make with Donut Cores, but didn't have a lot of history and interesting descriptions of where the Donut Cores came from, their history, or famous people who used Donut Cores. The Forgotten Rums books were less crunchy, but had the stories behind the Rum recipes, history of where the Rums come from, and information on the people who make those Rums. Still, the elves knew that a lot of people like the Donut Core books and a lot of people like the Forgotten Rums books, so they continued to make both kinds...."

Continued on Sean's site.

More interesting posts by Sean on tons of topics here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Paizo to Release an Introductory Boxed Set for Pathfinder

Check it out.  I wish them all the best with this.  Anything that is sold in mainstream stores that is stylistically closer to the game that I like to play is a good thing.  Increases the chances of getting players in my games. 

I just wonder...will it be more like Holmes which lead players to AD&D by design, but leading folks to Pathfinder? Or more like BECMI and stand alone as a game in itself, a more simplified Pathfinder, taking characters to high levels with more releases?

Edit--Seems more like Holmes---see this discussion... where Jason answers the question

If they wanted to, they could do both I think.   A rules light PF would be a good game.