Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What is the OSR?

Okay, so there has been a lot of discussion lately on blogs and G+ things I follow on "What is the OSR?"  As I see it the OSR has two communities and they overlap some (how much is open to debate).  One community is what I'll call The Grognards.  These are people who started playing D&D back in the AD&D 1st Edition era or earlier and still play an early edition.  They love the original rules, are super-nostalgic about campaigns they were in, the early modules they played, etc.  They have reams of house rules, might have miniatures, but never used a battle mat.  The other community is The Hipsters.  This group loves the early editions for their quaint simplicity and the default requirement that you must house-rule a lot because of their primitiveness.  This is generally younger DIY community wants to make new stuff, such as Red and Pleasant Land, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Old School Hack, White Star, etc. using the early editions as a jumping-off point.

Where do I stand?  Well as I've mentioned before I played the original D&D rules in the white box back around 1978 and thought they were atrocious.  After a couple sessions, including my first cleric and a dangerous raft trip down a river, it was obvious to me D&D would never catch on.  A couple years later, in college, I played a monk in a really fun AD&D 1E campaign run by my friend George.  At that point I was still appalled by the cludgy, primitive, random rules but I could see the fun aspect of all the random tables and thought the classes, spells, and monsters were way more interesting than the ones in the rather stodgy Chivalry & Sorcery rules I was using.  Today I still wouldn't play anything pre AD&D 1E (or Chivalry & Sorcery for that matter).  I would definitely consider AD&D again (my nostalgia game) or a clone, such as Swords &  Wizardry or Adventurer, Conqueror, King System (ACKS).  The later 3.5E and Pathfinder rules (I sort of skipped AD&D 2E) are very attractive but the massive crunch level and rules bloat is tough to keep up with.  I missed the 4E era but admire the clean design approach.  I've played 5E a little and think that it's probably (currently) the best balance between the early simplicity and later "modern" rules design concepts.  And of course I love Old School Hack and my own Neo School Hack of it.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Super Dungeon Explore - Painting Underway!

Okay, so my thoughtful family got me Super Dungeon Explore for Christmas and we had fun playing a couple games.  I hesitated on plunging in on painting the miniatures because I'd want to do the fine detail justice but my eyes are not good for sustained close work like that anymore.  But a lot of the kodama (plant faction) minis are hard to tell apart during play because they're all tiny plant creatures.  So I decided to do a simple dry-brushing approach with a few bits of detailing afterward.  I'm starting with a solid black undercoat followed by a dry-brushed white highlight, both using regular hobby acrylics.  Later I'll dry brush the main colors and add details, especially on the heroes and bosses.  Here's the progress so far:

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snowmageddon 2016!

Yes, as an east-coaster type in Maryland I am suffering the effects of the massive snowfall like everyone else around here.  I spent about an hour shoveling yesterday and figure on another hour or more today.  Heavy snowfalls are just frequent enough here that the state is equipped to handle them adequately.  So I can look out at the winter wonderland, put some seed our for the birds so they won't starve (and enjoy watching the cats enjoy watching the birds visting), and catch up on blogs and stuff on Netflix.

Technology at our Table

A couple weeks ago my buddy Steve ran another session of his campaign, which is set 100 years after our last campaign.  I was surprised at how much tech we had at the table.  Well, maybe not *that* surprised given that this is the 21st Century and our group is pretty tech-oriented in real life.  But still, it was interesting.  This was also my first session as player where the only analog gaming stuff I brought was my dice bag.  Everything else was loaded on my tablet or accessible on the net through it.  This was greatly aided by my use of Hero Labs for my character and the extensive Pathfinder SRD site online.  With those two aids I can dispense with dead-tree gaming stuff at the table now.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A look back at 2015

This year was pretty good, postings-wise. I did a lot of stuff for Old School Hack (and my twist on it called Neo School Hack), a goodly number of reviews for gaming products and movies, and a couple discussions on using technology at the table.  In the coming year I expect to be doing more of the same, generally speaking.

A new addition will be stuff for my "Cauldron Seven" campaign using Pathfinder and the Shackled City Adventure Path.  The original magazine articles and later hardcover book are packed with information but a lot is still left uncovered.  The forums on it at the Paizo website have a lot of additional content, alternatives, and links to blogs and campaign wikis with more.  I plan to fill in some gaps, starting with maps of key buildings in the city.  I will also be filling out my campaign wiki as a resource for others looking to run this adventure path.

Also, since I just got the fun board game Super Dungeon Explore I will be posting some thoughts on it, maybe some alternate rules, etc.  If I decide to paint the minis (which really cry out for a nice paint job) I'll post progress pics and thoughts.

A real-life scenario for Fiasco?

Okay, so I've been intrigued by the game Fiasco because I loved the movie Fargo.  It's meant to model criminal capers involving too much ambition, not enough brain cells, and a dose of gonzo.  So I came across this news item alleging racketeering by Gaston Glock, head of Austrian weapons manufacturer Glock Ges.m.b.H.  The article started out as a mildly interesting business news item about corporate insider sleaze but then suddenly went all Fiasco:

"Glock’s former business associate, Charlie Ewert, was christened with “Panama” by the press for the international shell corporations he set up for Glock Inc. At some point, Glock became suspicious that Ewert may have been moving some of the company’s money to places and accounts to solely profit Ewert, and in 1999, the aging founder set off for Luxembourg to confront his partner. Rather than be found out, Ewert engaged the services of Jacques Pecheur, a former French Legionnaire who also wrestled professionally as “Sparta,” to have his employer killed.

Ewert drove Glock to a parking garage where Pecheur waited with a rubber tire hammer. As Pecheur attacked Glock, Ewert ran away, and somehow Glock survived seven blows to the head and sustained choking without any serious injuries. (Both assailant and victim were in their 70s.) Ewert was convicted on charges of attempted murder in a Luxembourg court in 2003 and sentenced to 20 years in prison."

So, you hire a guy in his 70's to carry out a contract hit on someone using a hammer?  O.M.G.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Draft template for OoTS character portraits for Roll20

Okay, so earlier I posted some of the Order of the Stick style character portraits I made for a Roll20 game.  I made them using a pair of base silhouettes, one female and one male, which I embellished to create each character.  The silhouettes were made with a bordered 64x64 pixel square to work with Roll20.  Then it occurred to me that I could expand on the two base outlines to include elements which could sijmply be pasted on to speed up the process of building characters, including NPCs.

Drawing the various embellishments is slow and tricky, because I use MS Paint (I'm slowly learning Inkscape!) and a mouse, but I enjoy it.  For a lot of people, however, artsy stuff like this is way too much work and not particularly fun.  So, I figured if I could draw up a bunch of elements, eventually including equipment, hats, hair, shields, etc. then people could just paste them onto the base silhouettes, change colors with the paint can tool, and quickly make their own.

So here is my start on a draft of the template.  Ideally it will be just the one file but we'll see how crowded it gets.