Friday, August 26, 2011

All Day Hurricane Google+ Constantcon D&D Event! Play 'til the Power Goes Out!

Because I've got nothing better to do than drinkin' a 6 pack or two and eating cold pizza while the world ends---I'll be running D&D over Google+ this Sunday, starting at 1 pm Eastern USA time.  I may run Castle Zagyg Upper Works, or a classic module or two.  Ruleset = AD&D/Osric.  Basically, I'm gonna play 'til the power goes out, or I pass out, and hope that there is no work the next day, 'cause like, hangover...

If interested, go to my Google+ page at 1 pm EST Sunday.  If I still have power, I'll be there.

(I'm Joe Thelawyer on Google+)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seeking Advice: Original Dragonlance Modules for the Nephews' First Real D&D Long-term/Campaign Type Experience?

Here's the deal:  I have 2 nephews, age 6 and 7.  I'm thinking they're just about the right age for some sort of regular D&D gaming.  I've played a couple random one-offs with each of them, to give them the flavor, where I made it up as I went along, and they rolled dice to do certain things, and we all had a good time. They played Jedi, of course.  :)

Much as I'd like to introduce them to what we all love, the old school sandbox style of play, I think they're too young.  I'd like to give them some sort of story, like a series of TV shows that builds to a season finale.  I'd like to make it as fun as I can for them.  Most likely playing with us would be my brother, who I've gamed with forever.  He can help guide the kids towards the obvious best ideas and actions, thus ensuring a good time.  It seems that Dragonlance may fit the bill, despite it being the doom to old school gaming by some. 

I've never actually run any of the modules, although back in the day I made up a variation on them which my players enjoyed, based on the Chronicles book series, adapted for their characters who were trapped in the DL universe.  I have most of the modules, just missing a few, which I could acquire easily I'm sure. 

Honestly, what I like about it is the railroad-y story aspect, though it goes against all I'd like to play in now.  I think the kids would like it.  I think it would give enough guidance and direction to help ensure they have fun all along the way, especially if they know they are building towards something big, one module at a time.  I think the aspect of having what looks like a big huge season finale type thing would get them more into it. Plus, its a simple story, which I know I can dumb down to make it age appropriate if needed without losing the best parts of it. 

What do you guys think?  Anyone have any experience with either the DL series, or with introducing kids of this age to a long term game?


Monday, August 15, 2011

Awesome Rob Kuntz Interview!

A while ago Rob and I spoke about potentially doing an interview.  We talked via Skype, and it was very interesting.  I jotted down some notes, which I then sent to him in the form of questions, in order to flush out some of his more interesting points.  He mentioned that he had one big interview that he was working on with another blogger first.  I think this may be the one he was speaking of.  It's awesome.  Read it! 

Even if we never get to finish up our interview, I have to say Rob is one of the most interesting people I've met, and he has insights into the game, and its history that no one else has, due to his involvement in creating the genre.  A lot of that comes out in the interview above.  I hope he does one day finish his memoirs so we can have more insight into those early days of the hobby.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Review: New Swords and Sorcery Trilogy---Den of Thieves, by David Chandler

David Chandler sent me an email asking if I would be willing to review his new book, Den of Thieves, the first book in the Ancient Blades Trilogy.  He said it was in the swords and sorcery style, part of a three book series, where each book will be released two months from each other.  My first thought was "Shit, free book, I'm all for it."  My second thought was that I was glad someone was trying to keep that style of fiction alive.  I'm tired of epic fantasy, I think it's been done to death.  I felt the Black Company lost its way after the first three books, and George R.R. Martin gives me a headache with all the complexity.  The best series I am reading now are the Dresden books, by Jim Butcher. 

When you think of swords and sorcery, its scary to realize that an author today has to compete against the greats---like Leiber, Moorcock, and Howard.  These people are legends.  That's because there just aren't that many people writing good swords and sorcery style books these days.  With that in mind, I started reading his book, prepared to be disappointed by comparison to the Godfathers of S&S.

Far from being disappointed, I'm happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Without giving away too many spoilers, the main character comes from nothing, bastard child of a whore, surviving by quick wits and quicker feet.  You can't say he's "a lover, not a fighter," because he's neither.  He's just a guy trying to get by in a harsh unforgiving world.  The book is set entirely in a city, reminiscent of Lankhmar, where life is cheap.  Magic is mysterious and to be feared, takes a harsh toll on its practitioners, and was much more powerful in the past than the present.  Religion really does not dominate the story at all.

There are elves and dwarves, but they are not what you would expect at all.  Only the dwarves are represented in this book, and only by one character.  They seem to be rare indeed.

There is one ancient order of knighthood, given 7 blades with which to slay demons, but even they have fallen.  One of the side conflicts of the book has to do with a knight who essentially said "fuck these vows, I'm gonna get mine."  He kept his sword, and puts it in service to the highest bidder.  Even the virtuous knight of the story is shown to be weak through self-delusion about the world around him.

The story itself has several twists and turns, and the hero of the story has to basically think his way out of situations, fighting only when he has to, while avoiding several groups who all want his head for one reason or another.  Through it all, he does what he has to do to survive, forced by self-preservation to make harsh decisions.

That being said, it's not all grim and dirty.  There were several funny moments, and interesting supporting characters, like the women of the whore house the main character grew up in, and a ghostly presence I won't say too much about, so as not to ruin your fun.  I also like the moments of perspective the author gives his characters, so that you understand who they are and why they are that way.  It makes it a much richer read than I expected. 

The book moves along at a good pace, and I never once found myself getting bored.  About my only criticism was that the main character spoke much more eloquently that I would have expected, given his background.  Also, the accent of the ghost took a bit of getting used to. 

This is a book that turns certain themes on their heads.  The main rogue is not dashing, good looking, or rich.  You question whether the "princess to be rescued" is even worth saving.  The fallen are not redeemed.  The virtuous are not worthy of admiration.  Yet in spite of all that, or perhaps because of all that, it's a damn good read.

It reminds me of Moorcock saying that his Elric character was like the anti-King Arthur.  Weak, from a decadent empire, and destroyed his homeland--- as opposed to strong, from Camelot, and protector of the realm.  Chandler does something similar with this book, and pulls it off rather well. 

I think it was a very good book, and I am looking forward to the next one.  It seems to be available now on Amazon, though the official release date is August 11.  The series website is


Star Wars Old Republic Trailer

In case you haven't seen it---pretty badass!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Is There Any Doubt That Paizo Rules the RPG Industry?

The swept the ENnies, beating WOTC wherever they competed.  The only Gold WOTC won was for a "boardgame", in the category of "Best RPG Related Product" or some shit.  Too many jokes come to mind for that one. 

ICv2 released its latest quarterly report, and Paizo wins yet again.

What a sad ending for what was once a good company. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On the Use of "He" or "She" in Gaming Material

Both Zach and Odyssey have interesting points to make.

I'll just say this:  I'll put "she" in there all over the place if I ever publish something.

So you know how big a moment this is:

In college in the late 80's (yeah, I'm an old fuck) I worked at a convenience store which sold cigarettes.  One of the perks of the job was that I got first dibs on any cigarette schwag they passed out to get people to smoke more.  I had unlimited t-shirts, lighters, mugs---and my most prized possessions--Virginia Slims boxer underwear. They were marketing to women, and women in men's boxer's was hot at the time.  (Shit, it's still hot to me.)  The more boxers I had, the less often I had to do laundry.  #Winning!

Anyhow, Virginia Slims' slogan at the time was "You've come a long way baby!"  So I had like 7 boxers with that slogan tattooed all over it.  As a guy who grew up watching All in the Family and thinking that Archie Bunker was usually right BACK THEN-- because that's just how I was brought up--- (yeah, I'm an old fuck)---

--take a look at this, and repeat after me:  We've come a long way baby!

Now excuse me as I continue to watch/listen to Lady Gaga's live performance on Howard Stern, and get choked up, after hearing her describe what it's actually about...