Monthly Archives: August 2013

RPG’s that come and go

Each year a slew of new role playing games come out, occasionally one of these games becomes popular. I generally refer to these games as the darlings of I have written about a game called Noblis before, this is the paragon of this type of game. Basically this type of game is an RPG that sounds good in theory, this generates a lot of excitement in various gaming circles and by extension the internet. You start seeing thread after thread on “Sell/Unsell me on XXXXX” and everyone gets on the thread and praises the brilliance of this new RPG and how it is going to replace D&D. Then the game reports start trickling in, it becomes obvious no one is playing more than 1 or 2 games with this new RPG and eventually it fades from site without anyone really saying what is wrong with the game and why it lost momentum.

Usually, as was the case with Noblis, is the game is just plain boring. Court intrigue style games are entertaining for about 20 minutes, after that 99% of all gamers get bored. With other games it is the lack of support material, this was true of The One Ring. The core books came out then it was almost a year before there was a  follow up product and by that time most everyone assumed the game was dead and moved on. The other primary reason is a tragically flawed game system, this is where games like Adventure! went down, either it was too easy to build an unbeatable munchkin or it was too hard to build a reasonably fun character. Alternately combat is slow and bloated with no good way to house rule it without switching to a new game system.

The newest darling is Numenera, I am starting to see the threads  and even some “I have not played this yet, but I am going to review it anyway” articles. I am thinking about starting a pool so we can bet on how long it will take for Numenera to go from darling to damned.

My wifes family

You know our culture is rife with urban legends about the horrors of in-laws. Millions of hours of TV sitcoms have been dedicated to the subject. Nothing, but NOTHING prepares you for the reality of in-laws. From the very first time my wife took me home and introduced me to her family, I could tell something was off and it wasn’t just the shock of a different family in a different city with whom I had no shared history. It was just a couple of days near the holiday and at the end I really knew all I needed to know, my first impressions were completely accurate.

The first thing I noticed was everyone treated PezWitch differently. I mean everyone was nice enough, but their body language changed when they talked to her and the way they would look at her when her back was turned. The one sole exception of course was her Grandmother Ellen, who obviously loved Shannon. At first I thought the others were jealous because Shannon was Ellen’s obvious favorite, but after a while it occurred to me they were oblivious to this. It took me a while to figure it out, but the real issue was they hated PezWitch’s mother, no one in the family liked her even a little and they seemed to hold the child responsible for the mothers sins.

It was not just that, these people snipped at each other, the talked about each other behind backs, they set each other up for failure, they undermined each other and over the years more than one family dinner ended in arguments and crying. This was a far cry from my own family. Granted my family is not perfect, we have our own personality issues. But at the end of the day we love each other and would go to the wall for each other. I’d give a kidney to any of my brothers or sisters, nieces or nephews. In PezWitch’s family, I doubt they even like each other and they definitely do not respect each other. I am certain if any of them ever read this, they will be outraged about it and claim I don’t really know any of them. The only thing I can say to that is, I lived in Bozeman for 6 years and watched you all from the inside, if that is not the way it is, then you all have funny ways of showing each other affection.

Recently, PezWitch has become estranged from her family. After Ellen died, her Grandfather Ham went batshit crazy and while everyone else seemed okay with taking the abuse, PezWitch was having none of it and said screw it, I am out of here. So fast forward a few years to today and apparently members of her family back in Bozeman have taken to claiming PezWitch’s mother is not actually her mother. This seems odd since well there has never been an inkling of this in the past. I mean usually when there is a skeleton in the family closet like this there are rumors and innuendo and small clues left around, but up until today there was none of this and I mean none. So my best guess is, they are either trying to hurt PezWitch or they are trying to hurt her mother, or possibly both. This basically re-enforces everything I have ever thought about them and it so very pathetic and so very sad.

Things I think about

I have over the years come in contact with various criminal for various reasons. One thing I have found about criminals is they never have a sense of humor. I mean there is this myth about the happy go lucky con man who refuses to take life seriously and is really just trying to have fun. I can tell you, I have never met a criminal like that. I have noticed that criminal will get mad at you if you don’t let them rip you off. Seriously, if you live your life stealing money from other people, the LEAST you can do is be good natured about it when you get caught. I suppose though, the same broken mental make up that makes them criminals to begin with, probably keeps them from being good natured about anything. If you want to know what I am talking about, mess with one of those Nigerian Princes and see how he reacts once he figures out he is not getting any money from you.

Self hosted internet site

My hosting bill for is coming due and as usual, I am considering whether or not I want to consider letting it go. The cost is not all that much, domain registration and hosting costs me about $60 a year. However, DynDNS only costs $25 per year to redirect traffic to my home internet connection. I have been doing this for a couple years to make it easier to run my OpenRPG server and let me access my home network while I am at work. As a trial, I have exported my blog and the Companions of Xarth Wiki to my Raspberry Pi server. It is noticeably slower than my Godaddy hosted website, but I’d like some others to test it and and see if it is usable. If anyone wants to try it out for me, here is the link.

You can leave feedback on Facebook or Google+.


I took down the blog part of this, the only thing left is the Companions of Xarth Wiki. I am leaving the wiki because for whatever reason Godaddy’s PHP scripting is broken and I can not edit any of the PMWiki pages there. I know its Godaddy because the identical files work fine on my home system.

Friday Night HackMaster

With Friday Night Magic now behind me along with a nice long break from the Friday night RPG group, it is now time to get back into a serious game. I feel much better these days, things have slowed down for me at work and I really did need a break. We discussed moving the game to Sundays, but Sundays are impossible for David due to work, so we are keeping it on Friday nights at 9 PM CST.

My plan is to gather for the first time on August 30th to roll up characters and then play our first game on September 6th.I plan to play HackMaster, again I considered A&D1E, but decided meh!, HM and 1E are more or less the same game and everyone has the books already. My plan at this point is to play the Slavers series. Wizard of the Coast has once again published it as part of the retro reprint effort, included is a whole new adventure in the series and by the time we finish that, I should have something else lined up.

Hopefully everyone will be returning to the game. Three months is a long hiatus from playing. With that kind of gap, it is easy to get to doing other things. I suppose we will see how things go.

Friday Night Magic, No More

Well, I think I am going to give up on Friday Night Magic (FNM). While I did reasonably well tonight, I felt very awkward. When I went to the 2014 Re-release, there were plenty of adults and the last time I went to FNM, there was at least 2 or 3 people in their late 20’s. Tonight, everyone was a teenager and I just felt seriously out of place. I started playing Magic before most of them were born and it was just too weird for words. So I think I am going to call it quits and unless I can find a group of regular players closer to my age, I expect I am done with Magic entirely, which is too bad, because I do like playing.

We wish

Posted for your enjoyment, mostly without comment.



Izzet Blitz

So, I got creamed the last time I played Magic. I plan to go again a couple of times in August and I have been looking for a deck to play that is both reasonably cheap and effective. I noticed last time my biggest problem was speed, so I went looking for something that had a couple of win conditions and at least one of them could be delivered as early as turn 3 or 4 and reliably by turn 5 or 6. What I found was a red and blue deck designed around creatures that do things when instants and sorceries are played. Guttersnipe deal 2 damage to your opponent for each instant or sorcery cast. Nivix Cyclops is a 1/4 defender (can not attack) that whenever a instants and sorceries are played he gets a +3/+0 and can attack. Combo him with Artful Dodge and Armed//Dangerous and he becomes an 11/5 unblockable attacker with double strike on turn 4. There is Faithless Looting, Dream Twist and Thought Scour to dig deeper into your deck. Several of the cards can be recast from the graveyard to help keep the momentum of the deck going.

Creatures 8:

  • 4 Guttersnipe (2R)
  • 4 Nivix Cyclops (1UR)

Spells 32:

  • 3 Armed // Dangerous (1R)
  • 3 Burning Vengeance (2R)
  • 2 Feeling of Dread (1W)
  • 4 Pillar of Flame (R)
  • 4 Artful Dodge (U)
  • 4 Dream Twist (U)
  • 4 Faithless Looting (R)
  • 4 Izzet Charm (UR)
  • 4 Thought Scour (U)

Land 20:

  • 7 Island
  • 5 Mountain
  • 4 Izzet Guildgate
  • 4 Sulfur Falls

I am planning on testing this deck out this weekend in a few test matches with PezWitch to get a feel for how it plays. My instincts are telling me I need more mana. While the deck runs on 3 mana, I think it is better to get to five if necessary, so when the combo goes off there is plenty of mana to cast several spells at once. I am also thinking the Feeling of Dread card is probably too limited, yes it is funny that this deck can not cast it from cards in hand, but can cast it from the graveyard and it is tosser card for Faithless Looting, but really, I think I’d rather draw a card I can cast from my hand. I am also thinking the Burning Vengeance is often a wasted card. To sum it up, I am thinking of dropping Feeling of Dread and Burning Vengeance. This opens up 5 slots, 1 being filled by another Armed // Dangerous. This leaves 4 slots, I want to use at least 2 for more mana and perhaps Harvest Pyre for the last two slots for a final kill card if necessary.

Money Corrupts

I watched a short documentary the other day about a group of social scientist who studied the effects of money on people. To no ones surprise they found the more money a person had the more likely they were to feel entitled. The most interesting of the experiments they constructed was a rigged game of Monopoly. The two players flipped a coin, the one who won the coin toss got to be the rich player, the other was the poor player. The rich player started with $2000 and got to roll 2 dice. The poor player started with $1000 and could only roll one dice, further, when collecting money from any source, he could only collect half the stated amount. As you can imagine, the poor player always lost, but the intriguing thing here was when asked, the rich player universally said they deserved to win. The game was rigged in their favor, their position in the game was dictated by a coin flip and they still believed they won by skill and intelligence and deserved their win. They convinced themselves that their opponent could have won if only they had played better, worked harder or was smarter.

It would be pretty easy to launch into a rich people are evil rant, but sadly, I am not going to do that. What I am going to talk about is my current obsession of Magic: The Gathering, which is actually related to this topic. The MTG World Championship and the World Cup are this week. If you go out and look at the deck lists for who is winning, you will see they are all playing a fairly small set of decks and all of these decks cost a butt ton of money to put together, in some cases a thousand dollars or more. MTG has its own economy, you see as a cards utility becomes known and it becomes popular in tournaments, its price goes up and people horde them. So by the time a new set has been out a month or two and the popular decks to play have been established, those decks get expensive to put together, either because you must buy a lot of booster packs to get everything you want or you have to buy it as a single at the inflated price. Either way, you deck cost you $500 to put together.

How these two subjects intertwine is of course because of money. In Magic, as the rigged game of Monopoly, the player with the most money is going to win. Now, it is true that if two players are playing power and expensive decks, then skill and luck will prevail, but the same can be said for Monopoly. The bottom line is, the ticket to entry for serious tournament Magic is money. Sure you can probably win few local tournaments with a cheap deck, but that will likely not last long, either others will duplicate your deck, driving the prices of the cards up or they will build more expensive and powerful decks to beat you. If I buy one of these $500 Jund decks and take it to Friday Night Magic, I will probably dominate the evening without much effort. I can tell you there are several players there who are better players than I am. The question becomes do I deserve to win?