“As the days trickle down…”

My… My… My. How time does fly apparently at warp speed. It’s almost 2016 and quite frankly I really haven’t done squat with this blog. I would like to change that though and I hope to in the upcoming year.

This was supposed to be a blog about “my thoughts on stuff”. But it hasn’t quite worked out that way. I do appreciate all the support from all of you that read this blog have given me about my struggles as it were. I hope to post more here on different topics. I was seriously considering making this blog all about my role-playing games. I do like them and I think I will include them but I’m going to expand it a little… Hell I’m gonna try and expand it a lot.

I think it’s time that I blogged about both my political views and my faith. Don’t worry, I will still find time to blog about my beloved Ruritania as well as my favorite RPGs specifically Numenera.

I want to thank you all for your patience and your support and away I go into 2016. Have a Happy New Year my friends!

Another Glorious First of June

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Today, is June 1. In some circles it is known as “the glorious first of June”. Which I believe relates to a British naval victory. It was apparently a very great one as it has lent its name to this day.

For me, it is the beginning of a new phase of my life or at least an attempt at it. I’m pretty much doing this whole post using Dragon naturally speaking vocal recognition software. I just talk into the mic and away we go. I’m not sure how this is going to work out but it should prove to be interesting.

So here’s to a journey started on this first of June. I’ll be back later with some genuine stuff to say. Take care everyone.

A Sad Truth

This past Memorial Day weekend I did something quite remarkable…I submitted a 5,000 word  story to TOR.com. It was the first time that I’ve ever done this. Now, I know that I have been published in the gaming industry but my output was sparse even though it was well received. Eventually, I faded away. The reason was depression.Now I know that you might be thinking “Yet another story of depression.” You don’t have to read it but I have to write it.

Most of my adult life I’ve suffered from it in varying degrees. One of the worst parts of it is that for me it has stifled my creativity. In my case, it has left me with a crippling sense of inferiority. A feeling that I was not good enough…that people were going to make fun of me. I hid in many different ways. One of them was to simply not put out my writing in public. This is why there are such large gaps in my blog entries and videos.

But all that is starting to change. A large part of that change is due to my wonderful wife, Mame Wood. It is her love and support that is bringing me out of the darkness. I hope to post more frequently, write more stories and  make more videos.

It’s going to be a long journey but at least I’m headed in the right direction and I am not alone.

Thank you for reading this.

“When History Wore A Rose…” Welcome to the Kingdom of Ruritania!

Thought I’d bring this forward since I’ve already mentioned it.

STATELY FREY MANOR

1100 Ruritania King's or Reigning Queen's Standard

When history wore a rose and diplomacy moved at the speed of a waltz…

So begins the great classic 1937 swashbuckler movie The Prisoner of Zenda. Based on the 1894 novel of the same name by Anthony Hope (Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins) an English barrister turned writer. There were two other books in Hope’s Ruritanian trilogy Rupert of Hentzau and The Heart of Princess Osra. The Hentzau book was a direct sequel to Zenda with Princess Osra filling in some of the background. The first two books were set in the 1870’s while the last one was set in the 1730’s. Hope wrote many other works as well but none were as highly regarded as The Prisoner of Zenda or as famous.
There have been many versions and variations of this classic adventure story. One of my favorites is The Androids of Tara. This variant is an…

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Space : 1889…Mars My Way.

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Recently, I wrote a post on the Space: 1889 Facebook page about two Deputy US Marshall’s heading for Mars to assist Wyatt Earp who was the US Marshall for Mars. Another member of the group asked what was their jurisdiction. This made me realize that outside of a small circle of friends, I haven’t really told anyone else. So here is my version of Space: 1889.
1.) The history is mostly the same up until 1870. That’s right, the Confederacy still lost the Civil War although they still exist in the form of a secret group called the Knights of the Broken Sword. Think of them as the Ku Klux Klan with better table manners. The Brazilian Empire is going strong under the guiding hand of Dom Afonso I. He is the oldest son of the former Emperor, Dom Pedro. Dom Pedro has retired and is now one of the Chancellor’s at Sao Paulo University. Brazil and the US are rivals for hemispheric dominance.

2.) On Mars, the Tossian Empire is the largest single political entity. Stable, wealthy, with a large well trained military, the Empire is starting it’s own version of “the Era of the Four Good Caesars”. They do a healthy trade with the US, Brazil, and of late the Kingdom of Ruritania. The only thing that is stopping the Tossians from expanding into the Meridani Sinus region is the threat of the Belgians in the Coprates.

3.) Ruritania exists…Map Ruritania 0001 (1)

…it is a nation of around 10 million people and makes some damn fine beer.

So this is my version of Space: 1889. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Space: 1889 Relaunched! A Review.

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In 1988, Game Designers Workshop brought out the first “Steampunk” RPG. It was titled Space:1889 and was the brainchild of Frank Chadwick. Chadwick was and still is an award winning historical wargame designer who’s creation built on actual historical events to produce a Victorian Science Fiction RPG that was an instant success. It spawned a series of adventure books as well as two sets of wargames rules, The Soldiers Companion which covered ground combat and Ironclads and Ether Flyers which dealt “aeronaval” combat. There was even a boardgame, Sky Galleons of Mars, complete with plastic miniatures of the aformentioned ships. My friends and I got countless hours of enjoyment from adventuring on the Red Planet.

But all good things eventually came to an end. Game Designers Workshop shuttered it’s doors in 1996 leaving Space: 1889 without a home. Over the years, various other publishers reprinted parts of the line. Pinnacle Entertainment came out with Red Sands, a plot point campaign for Savage Worlds set in the universe of  Space: 1889.  It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. However, a lot of fans of the game were hoping for a new edition. In 2012, Uhrwerk Verlag, a German game publisher fulfilled those hopes. They brought out a new edition of Space:1889 in German. There was great enthusiasm for an English language edition as evidenced by the wildly successful  KickStarter  campaign to fund an English language edition. Angus Abranson and his crew at Chronicle City made it happen. I recently received the PDF and here are my thoughts on it.

The Game System 

The system used in the new Space:1889 is the Ubiquity System. This system was originally used in Exile Game’s Hollow Earth Expedition. It has also been used to power Triple Ace Games All For One: Regime Diabolique and their own Steampunk RPG Leagues of Adventure. I highly recommend all of these games. They are a part of my gaming collection. If you want a really good look at how the Ubiquity system works then head on over to You Tube and simply type in Ubiquity System. There are some good videos on it. The one posted by Runeslinger is my favorite. One of the other advantages to using the Ubiquity System is that material can be ported over from the various game worlds without a lot of unecessary crunching of numbers.

The Background Setting

The background setting for the new edition has some interesting changes from the original. First of all, there is a lot more material on Venus and Mercury. Each world is explored in more detail than in the original. The German efforts at colonizing Venus as well as the political background for these efforts makes for some fascinating reading.

The background setting of the United States is very fascinating. In the world of Space:1889 , the South won the Civil War due to the death of Abraham Lincoln from Typhus in the spring of 1862. Without his iron willed genius, the North was riven by petty political squabbling. In 1865, President George Brinton McClellan signed a peace treaty recognizing the Confederacy’s independence. By 1889, the United States is a rising industrial power while the slave-holding Confederacy is a rapidly failing nation.

The other major change occurs with France. In 1871, the Paris Commune seizes power and voila’ the Democratic Republic of France is formed. By today’s standards, the DRF would be a Center-Left state but in 1889 it is a bastion of dangerous radicalism.

There are other smaller changes as well as expansions of the original setting. All in all, I really like the new background setting. It provides endless possibilities.

What’s Not In The Book. 

There are several things missing from the new version in terms of rules. First of all, there are no rules for Player Characters inventing things. In the original version, there were extensive rules for Player Characters being able to invent all manner of interesting things that had direct application to the game. Not so here. However, if you really would like to include rules to allow PC’s to invent things, HEX: Secrets of the Surface World  works just fine.

The other thing that was left out was the idea of racial “packages” for the various alien races. The designers have left it up to the PC’s to work out  their visions of what a Canal Martian Scholar or a Venusian Lizard Man Warrior would be like. In my opinion, it’s not that big of a deal. If you feel as if there should be pluses or minuses for various stats, the system makes it easy to create.

Conclusions 

The PDF is a Beta version which means there still some editing work to be done. Having said that I can tell you that this is an excellent piece of work. I cannot wait to get my hands on the final hardback book. Overall, Angus Abranson and his crew have done an outstanding job of bring new material to one of my all time favorite games.

To Mars and Beyond!

 

 

The right way to play

I really like this essay. I couldn’t have put it better.

Casting Shadows

For whatever reason, there is a strangely large divide between those who want to talk and write about the different tools and techniques GMs and Players can use in their games, and those who do not. Technique is slightly more acceptable as a topic than the benefit of a capacity for showmanship, meaning it is not a very popular topic at all. Tips and tricks for common problems are all well and good, but an extended conversation about ways to expand your awareness of your game and work toward making it more consistently enjoyable for your group seems to be a problem. When conversation dares to move toward actual theory concerning games, interactions, improvisation, and performance, tempers can flare and the rallying cry of “Just Game!” echoes out and shuts down productive discussion. I wonder if this full-cup response is experienced by sex therapists as often as it is by…

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Dark Dungeons Strikes Again!!!

A while back, I read an article where a group of people were running a Kickstarter to fund a movie version of a fundamentalist pamphlet called Dark Dungeons. This piece of how to put this politely while I’m not literary crap was spewed forth by a deranged individual named Jack Chick. Chick has made a lifetime career out of bigotry in his own warped Fundy Christian viewpoint Everybody that’s not exactly like him is going to burn in hell he produced these nifty little tracts that managed to excoriate and condemn everybody and everything. There were actually quite funny. As far as I know, he’s still around and still spewing bile.

It was during the moral panics a.k.a. the Satanic panics of the 1980’s that a Virginia housewife named Pat Pulling launched a crusade against role-playing games which she blamed for the suicide of her son. Pulling founded an organization called Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons or BADD for short. She gained a lot of traction in the media. Pulling blamed D&D  for her son’s suicide. She led the charge blaming D&D for everything from seducing teens into Satanism and the Occult to drug addiction. Pulling was a talk show favorite and actually appeared in court as an expert on the Occult.Finally, Mike Stackpole, author, game designer and journalist did a long investigative piece which exposed Pulling’s questionable methodology. FBI Special Agent Kenneth Lanning debunked the whole Satanic Conspiracy in a series of reports and interviews. As the Satanic Panic ran out of steam in the 90s so did BADD. Pulling faded from the public eye and eventually died from cancer in 1997. With her death BADD became defunct. I was an active gamer during that period. Let me tell you it was pretty scary at times. The evangelicals were out in full force and bound and determined to purge America of this dread menace. Thank goodness that reason and sanity prevailed.

Now we have this movie coming out based on that notorious Jack Chick tract. I’m actually looking forward to it. However, there seem to be some folks in the gaming community that are taking it seriously. I’ve actually read comments from people who are worried that it will give Role Playing Games and Gamers in general a bad name. Really, seriously? They’re worried about a frackin’ movie!? With all of the misogyny and racism that’s been publicly discussed…with all of the death threats and rape threats directed at women bloggers who dare question the status quo…with all of this horse crap going and some people are worried about a movie that is a satire? Somebody needs to get hit with a clue by four.

Next time…I think I will explore the whole morality in gaming issue but for now…

PLAY GAMES and HAVE FUN!

Women and Gaming: My Take.

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Recently, with the tragic events in California, more attention has been paid to the ongoing issue of women’s rights. In the geek community, this translates into a even more ramping up of the ongoing debate/argument/discussion about women and their role and their reception in geekdom. There have been numerous articles and essays about such topics as sexual harassment at conventions, how well women customers are treated in retail establishments i.e. comic shops and of course in various forms of gaming.
Now the gaming that I’m most familiar with is tabletop role-playing games. I’ve been around the RPG scene for a long time. I can remember in the early days in the late 70s RPG’s were basically the boys only club. The only women that were around the gaming table were the usual somebody’s girlfriend who tagged along.I was fortunate in fat my gaming group had several women at it. Colleen and Misty were excellent players and as far as I know still are. They made the gaming sessions better by their participation.
I’ve run games at conventions where I’ve had as many female gamers as male. So when this whole business of misogyny came up I really was rather surprised. Now I’m not going to say I am totally without sin as were in these matters because there have been times when I think I have behaved badly. However, I would like to think that now I’ve grown out of it. I guess the bottom line is that I’ve grown up and it pains me to see these misogynistic ass hats with their sexism and their death threats surfacing. Perhaps, I’m old-fashioned but I was raised with the idea that you treated other people the way you yourself would want to be treated. I’ve tried to live up to these principles and at times have failed but that doesn’t stop me from keeping on trying.
In conclusion, let me say that all are welcome at my gaming table. My only requirement is that you behave in a civilized manner. Leave your prejudices your attitudes your misogyny at the door and let sit down and have what I hope to be a damn good time.

Have fun! Play games!

Some Thoughts On Gaming Controversies.

With the release of the latest edition of Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edtition) there has been the usual flurry of reviews and comments ranging from “this is the best…evar!” to “this game sucks!” It is the latter opinion about suckage that I wish to address.

I have been playing role-playing games since around 1977. The first game I remember really getting into was traveler. Those three little black books from Game Designers Workshop hooked me for good.My friends and I spend many hours enjoying the universes that we created. We had marathon traveler sessions at by old apartment in what was then the student ghetto of North Tampa. Those were the days when we would literally play all weekend.For the record, at the age of 65, I don’t think I could do those marathon sessions again although I might give it a try.

I got into Dungeons and Dragons through some of the players in my traveler group. I was a bit leery at first of the whole fantasy thing until one of those friends pointed out that Dungeons & Dragons was actually derived from a set of medieval wargames rules called Chain Mail. I had been playing Chain Mail since the early 70s and really liked it. So I figured I’d give this Dungeons & Dragons a try and I’m glad I did.

What made the game so much fun for me were the people who were running. Bob Peterson and Olof Rydholm brought the settings to life. They made the adventures more than just a dungeon crawl. Our group did more than just kill other beings and take stuff. And this made all the difference in the world.

The lesson that I took away from those games was that a game master can make any experience either a good one or a bad one. Thank you gentlemen I am forever in your debt.

Now to bring this up to present times I would like to address some of the criticisms of the new dungeons and dragons game. The biggest one I’ve heard so far is the same one that I heard and have been hearing for a number of years now is that the rules are very heavily combat oriented. Well, in truth they are my response is so what? The rules may be heavily combat oriented and trust me as someone who has run and played and written for the twilight 2000 game I am certainly familiar with combat heavy games. Well here’s a surprise! They don’t have to be. As game master, you have the ability to make these games as combat intensive or not as you and your players see fit. It can be done I know it can I’ve seen it and done it myself.

A good example of this comes from the call of Cthulhu role-playing game. One of the biggest complaints that I have heard about the game is that if the player blows a die roll they can’t get a vital clue. They miss it. My answer to that is simple. As a game master or in CFC terms more master, if that clue is vital and important enough to the investigation then I am going to make damn sure the players get it. They may not know how to interpret it once they get it but they will have it. There are a number of ways to do this the most basic is to of course fudge the die roll all well you are really made it type thing okay fine you know they get the clue. The best way, in my opinion, is to set up a couple of different ways that they can get the clue/item/artifact whatever they need.

As for the whole games suck… well for me it’s very simple. If I don’t like the mechanics or I’m simply not interested in the subject matter then you know what, I don’t buy it. Now I will say that I do play in a lot of games that well let’s just say I’m not all that interested in them but I like the people running them so I will give the game a shot.

Bottom line… In my view, it’s the people involved in the game/campaign that are the most important. The rest is just window dressing.

Play games. Have fun!