Tag Archives: Fantasy

RE: Spring Cleaning

Something else I discovered while spring cleaning. More Phil Foglio.

RE: Treasure Con, Billings Montana, 1983 to 1985

After the last post reminded me of TreasureCon again, I decided to do a run on Google, to see is anything new had popped up since the last time. This is apparently pages from The Retort, a newspaper published by what is now Montana State University, but back then it was Eastern Montana College.

Spring Cleaning

I have been on vacation all week and I spent most of that time doing some long needed spring cleaning. While throwing out old furniture and giving away books by the box, I came across these;

These two drawings were done for PezWitch by Phil Foglio at Treasure Con III in Billings Montana in 1985.

More genre conventions in the old home town

So apparently my home town of Billings Montana is not having just ONE!, but TWO! Sci Fi/Fantasy/Comic convention this summer. Alternacon was July 10th to the 12th, now apparently we also have FantasyCon taking place August 21st to the 23rd. I am a bit surprised by this, I mean 30 years and NOTHING, now suddenly two in a single summer. Seems like there was pent up need for this sort of thing.

https://www.facebook.com/TragicCityAlternaCon

https://www.facebook.com/MagicCityFantasyCon

As a side note, GenCon was this weekend and as every year, my Twitter feed fills up with people having way more fun than I am. Sadly, I think I will have to wait until retirement to go, not only does this suck a week of your life away, there is no way to do GenCon on the cheap, it is going to be expensive no matter what you do.

Review: Dungeon World

 

downloadProduct Summery:
Name: Dungeon World
Publisher: Sage Kobolds
Author: Sage Latorra and Adam Koebel
Line: Dungeon World
Cost: $25/$10 for PDF
Pages: 408
Webpage: http://www.dungeon-world.com/

Today  I used the $10 gift certificate I got buying my D&D 5E Dungeon masters Guide to buy a hard copy of Dungeon World.  I have owned the PDF for a while now but I decided it was a good enough game that I should especially since it only cost me $15 instead of its regular $25.

Game mechanic wise, this is a pretty simple system, most resolutions are done by rolling 2d6 and adding any applicable modifiers from attributes, ie, an attack roll is 2d6+Str bonus. Roll a 10 or better is a successful roll, a roll of 7-9 is successful, but with consequences, rolling 6 or less is unsuccessful. Generating a character is straight forward and can be done in under 15 minutes, even by someone who has never played the game. The one thing I did not care for was the “Everyone assigns the same set of numbers to their attributes” rule, while this makes things easy, it is also a one way street to cookie cutter characters. There is an alternative to roll 3d6 for each stat, but I would have preferred a simple point buy and if I ever run this game, I will house rule this.

The layout of the book does leave a bit to be desired, there are a lot of pages that are half blank for no particular reason. The art in the book ranges from mediocre to meh, nothing particularly inspires me to play the game. The paper and the binding feels cheap and I doubt the book would last a year of real use. Having said that, the book is well written and easy to understand with lots of examples. I could probably hand this to a complete novice and have them playing in an hour with very little problem.

Overall, this is a pretty good product, I would love to see a players book printed for like $5, maybe do it in comic book format. I suspect this game would play very fast and smooth, setting up a game would be seriously easy, monster stat blocks are ridiculously simple. I would say, go and grab the PDF, for $10 it is a steal and well worth it. If you want the printed version, I would definitely go to Amazon where you can get it for $18, because $25 is a tab too much.

Summery (Scale of 1-5):
Appearance and Layout: 3
Game Mechanic: 4
Setting: N/A
Overall: 3.5

Treasure Con, Billings Montana, 1983 to 1985

Believe it or not, Billings Montana had its own Science Fiction Convention, Treasure Con, there were three of these conventions before it crashed and burned. Each was nick named after the person organizing it by those who for whatever reason decided there needed to be a nick name. The first was StomperCon, the second was CarolineCon and the third was CowboyCon, the first two I get, the third one I do not, I am sure someone can explain it to me.

tcon_adWhat prompted this is, I was looking through PDF previews of old issues of The Space Gamer and I came across the ad I highlighted to the left. It occurred to me that next year is will be the 30th anniversary of the last Treasure Con. Of course being a middle aged man, this brought with it a wave of nostalgia and fond memories. Treasure Con I is where PezWitch and I reconnected after High School, although that implies we said more than a paragraph of words to each other in High School. By Treasure Con II we were dating pretty heavy, although we were not exclusive at that point. Of course by Treasure Con III we were married and in it for the long haul.

I have to admit, if I (god forbid) still lived in Billings, I would be considering putting on Treasure Con IV on the 30th anniversary week of Treasure Con III. Maybe instead I’ll just start a FaceBook page called “Treasure Con Memories” and see how many people respond and how many people enjoyed it the same way I did. It would be interesting to hear stories, different points of view and reminiscence of a shared experience.

Stories dragging on and on

I don’t really like 800 page books, I especially don’t like 7 book series of 800 page books. Unfortunately, this trend is now affecting Comic Books as well. For some reason the current crop of Comic Book writers have taken to writing stories that develop at glacial speeds. Please, if you can not write a Comic Book story in 3 issues, 4 at the outside, give it up, you are in the wrong business. For example, DC’s current crossover event Forever Evil is by itself a 6 issue mini series, now add in the three other 6 issue mini series that tie into Forever Evil and both Justice League and Justice League of America are tying in as well. That is 36 issues over 6 month period for this story line, we are barely 4 months in and I want it to be over with already, no more navel gazing Lex Luthor.

Forever Evil is not the only story line dragging. Both Earth 2 and Worlds Finest are killing me as well. Earth 2 is currently in a story line about the re-invasion of earth by Darkseid, okay, fine and dandy, this could have been done in 4 issues, The Legion of Superheroes did the Darkness Saga in 6 issues, we are currently on issue 12. Worlds Finest is almost as bad, They are currently telling a story about Power Girls abilities going all wonky on her, 2 issues right? We are on issue 6 of this story line and we are about to cross over to Batman/Superman. Please make it stop.

Game of Thrones

Several months ago I bought the first season DVD set of Game of Thrones. After the first episode, I knew I was going to hate it and I did. I forced myself to watch the whole season, first because I tend to give TV shows 3 episodes before I judge them harshly and second, I spend cash on this shit and by god I am going to watch it to the bloody end. I almost stopped watching after Ned Stark was executed, but I bulldozed through. So here are my thoughts on this show;

1. Apparently George R.R. Martin can not write a normal sex scene to save his life. The closest thing we have is prostitute on dwarf sex, it goes down hill from there, to include rape and incest.

2. Apparently George R.R. Martin is compelled to kill off all his good characters leaving only the complete pricks.

3. Apparently George R.R. Martin can not let anything good happen to any of his characters, again, he seems compelled to torture them with miserable lives and everything they do to make things better, only makes it exponentially worse.

Seriously, by the end of the first season there were zero characters I cared about, all the sex scenes were of the EEWW variety and I felt like cutting my wrists because everything happening in the show made me feel bad. So I am sorry, but all you people who are claiming the is the best TV EVAR!, there is something wrong with you, please, go see a doctor, because this shit is really bad.

Bored of the Rings

I just bought Bored of the Rings on my Kindle. My life is now complete. The humor in this book is a bit dated, but it is still funny as hell. This influenced my early D&D playing, heck, it influences my gaming today. Bored of the Rings is, to me the ultimate novelization of a RatShit D&D game. Bruce and I still quote it to each other.

Amazon – Bored of the Rings (Kindle Edition)

Review: The Crown Conspiracy

If you are looking for a fun lite read this summer I highly recommend The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan. This book breaks the trend in modern writing of building a dark setting and torturing characters until they become nearly as bad as the villains they oppose. Instead follows two happy go lucky thieves, Royce Melborne and Hadrian Blackwater, as they frolic though the adventure. The story is a fast and easy read read full of adventure, heroic deeds, interesting plot twists and good characterization. The story reminds me of the  Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber. My only real criticism of the story is Royce and Hadrian do trend a bit towards Mary Sue characters, they tend to be just a bit too lucky and while everyone else in the book makes mistakes, these two only make one and that mistake gets them involved in the plot. This however does not distract from the over all story and the characters are fun. The best compliment I can pay to this book is, I wish my D&D games were like this

Why SteamPunk Sucks

I have never cared for the SteamPunk sub-genre. I have never read a SteamPunk book or comic that was anything more than mildly amusing and even SteamPunk movies don’t really do much for me. For a long time I couldn’t really figure out why, I am a Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror reader. I enjoy most other sub-genres within those categories, so it felt odd that I didn’t really enjoy SteamPunk, especially since I enjoy SteamPunk’s elder cousin CyberPunk a lot.

Recently it dawned on my why, so far everything I have read has the emphasis  on the “Steam” and not the “Punk”. What I mean is they tend to be gee wiz stories talking mostly about clockwork this and steam powered that, descriptions about an idealized Victorian setting. The problem is the Victorian age was not much fun and an idealized form of it is outright boring. The genre, paints a shallow facade of the 19th century where wars are fought by gentleman and no one of any consequence ever dies (except the peasants) and technology is a great fashion accessory but has not solved any real problems.

To any prospering SteamPunk authors out there I would like to explain to you what “Punk” actually means in the cultural sense. Punk is at its core about rebellion, it is about youth rebelling against the oppressive moral values of the older generation, it is rebellion of the poor and disenfranchised against the wealthy elite of society. Punk stories should be about cynical protagonists fighting and carving out a better life for himself against a society that wants him to grow up, accept his place and go back to the ghetto. Punk is about being beaten down and pushed into the sewer, it is dirty, it is gritty, but it is also about getting back up, crawling out of the sewer, screaming “I am not going to take this any more !” and fighting back. If you don’t understand what I am talking about go sit down and listen to everything done by the Romones, the Clash and the Sex Pistols between 1975 and 1980. If after that you still don’t get it, then might I suggest you move on to writing Romantic Fantasy.

This Week

This week has been a bit light on blogging, however next week I am on vacation and I expect to blog on the heavy side, so things should balance out. In the mean time, io9 has an article covering fantasy stories worse than Twilight. It seems impossible, but the list includes several which are at the very least, just as bad as Twilight.

http://io9.com/5807653/10-fantasy-sagas-that-are-wronger-than-twilight

This is every D&D game I have ever played

I don’t generally go in for this type of movie, but the trailer had me rolling on the floor. Seriously, who when asked, “How do you plan to do that ?”, hasn’t wanted to reply with, “MAGIC……MOTHERFUCKER !”. I may not go to the theatre for it, but it is definitely going into my Netflix queue. If you are at work, make sure you have headphones on, the language is NSFW.

http://media.ign.com/ev/prod/embed.swf

More Your Highness Videos

Harry Potter Episode 7

Tonight we are going to the midnight showing of the new Harry Potter movie. I am not sure exactly why, but apparently if we don’t go tonight, we will not get another opportunity for several weeks. Needless to say, after dinner I am taking a nap, otherwise I will not make it through this two and a half hour monstrosity. Over the last several weeks we have been re-watching the previous movies in preparation for this. Tomorrow I will write a review.

Review: Points of Light

gmg4380coverlargeProduct Summery:
Name: Points of Light
Publisher: Goodman Games
Author: Robert Conley
Line: None (Generic)
Cost: $12.99
Pages: 48
Webpage: http://www.goodman-games.com/4380preview.html

Points of Light is a setting, not tied to any particular game system, although it refers to NPC’s as Class/Level, Fighter/5 for instance and monsters are described by Hit Dice. This product is what is best described as a classic sandbox setting. The idea is instead of a linear plot adventure where the characters have a villain, and a goal to obtain, the sandbox game presents the characters with nothing more than a fist full of rumors and the GM develops the plot on the fly as the players decide which rumors to follow up and which adventure to take on. My friend Bruce is the master of this sort of game, while I tend towards the more linear style.

The layout and appearance of the product are good, but not spectacular. The art is nice, again nothing outstanding, but no really bad pieces either. There is an index, but unfortunately I didn’t find it overly helpful. It would be infinitely better had it listed each location by map and hex number.  The big area maps are good and the author made the extra effort of including little maps of significant towns and even a couple of buildings.

Points of Light gives us four areas to play our game in. Each area description starts with a 100×100 mile map, the maps are divided in 5 mile hexes, each hex is numbered for easy reference. Although not every hex has an entry, the way things are mapped out and described, each and every 5 mile hex has potential for the PC’s to get into all sorts of trouble, to the delight of Roll Players everywhere. This very much reminds me of the old Judges Guild Wilderlands campaigns, if you were a fan back in the day, you will appreciate this all the more. Each area has its own flavor and its own set of challenges, to quote the press release;

Wildland:

The fall of the Bright Empire left warring factions in its wake. As savage barbarians and wicked humanoids roam the land, the last bastions of civilization cower behind their crumbling city walls. A dark age has come, and none may live to tell the tale.

Southland:

On the frontiers of the Great Kingdom, the nations of men, elves and dwarves join together against the wicked elves of Nighportal Keep and the Orcs of the Bloody Fist. A realm is yours for the taking, if you can carve it from the wilderness.

Borderland:

Two factions clash over war-torn fields, battling for dominance in a civil war that that has torn a once-mighty empire in two. When brother strives against brother, and blood runs in the streets, who will emerge to unify the broken land — and at what cost, peace?

The Swamps of Acheron:

In the Outer Planes, amid fetid swamplands and ice-choked mountains, the fell god Sarrath holds court. In a realm where gods stalk the earth, will you dare to take a stand, or will you succumb to evil’s siren song and take up the Serpent Banner?

The only thing that irked me about this, was these areas do not necessarily fit together, which may or may not be a good thing depending on who you are. Someone on another blog, mentioned he thought each map was actually the same area, but at different points in history, with time separating them rather than geography, which I found mildly interesting. I suspect I will be more inclined to use them as different areas in the game world and time period.

The running theme through all the areas is the major political power in the region the Bright Empire has collapsed and two conflicting factions, the followers of Delaquain, the Goddess of Honor and Justice (Chaotic Good) and Sarrath, the God of War and Order (Lawful Evil) are fighting to fill the power vacuum. The other gods mentioned are; Veritas, the God of Truth and Law (Lawful Good), Thoth, the God of Knowledge and Wisdom (Neutral), Azeel, the blood god (Chaotic Evil) and Hathor, Delaquain’s mother (??). However none of the others are as significant as the first two. Plenty enough to keep Role Players interested in the religious and political intrigue of the setting.

Overall, this is an excellent product and in this day and age of $50 books, for $12.99 this is a bargain as well. There are a couple of minor issues, but no show stoppers. If you are looking for a nice setting built specifically for an open ended campaign, this product is for you. If you are the sort of GM who needs a hard bound book and multiple supplements for your campaign setting, you should avoid this product.

Summery (Scale of 1-5):
Appearance and Layout: 3
Game Mechanic: N/A
Setting: 5
Overall: 4

Nobilis RPG, 3rd edition ?

The Nobilis RPG is one of those games everyone talks about but few actually play. I have seen endless threads on RPGnet about games people are thinking about running, but no threads talking about games that have actually been played, that lasted beyond the first session. Apparently, there is going to be a 3rd edition and I have to ask myself why. I suppose it could be because it makes money, but I doubt it, because it has been through three publishers already. No I think it keeps getting extra lives, not because it is a good game with a rabid following, but rather because having a copy on your game shelf is a bit like having a copy of the Complete Shakespeare sitting on your bookshelf or a coffee table book of Ansel Adam’s work.

The basic premise of the game is the characters are beings of godlike power who represent concepts, who move through history delicately manipulating the universe to suit their needs. Since these beings are so powerful to begin with they never directly oppose each other and open warfare would destroy solar systems. Essentially, everyone has the power to snuff the sun, but no one uses the power. Okay, it is a high minded game that rises above the “Kill monsters and take their stuff” paradigm, I can accept this, and I suppose it was a good try.

The problem is, court intrigue games are nice once or twice a year, but every single game ? I think not.  I think this would be way too slow and  think the reason we don’t see threads on RPG forums discussing long term campaign is because there are none. I am serious go to RPGNet or ENWorld and search the threads for long term Nobilis games, you won’t find any posts saying things like “My Nobilis campaign has lasted two years”. My guess is most groups play 1 session and then go back to playing Dungeons and Dragons or Exalted. So here is the dirty little secret, Nobilis is bloody fucking boring.

25 years of The Goonies

Yes, today is the 25th anniversary of the iconic 80’s movie The Goonies. Over at io9 they have a clip of a deleted scene from the movie. Well worth the couple of minutes to watch. This movie has held up extremely well over time and is still very watchable and a lot of fun.

RIP Frank Frazetta February 9, 1928 – May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta died today. He was THE iconic fantasy artist of his generation. In fact his art is adorning the covers of the Gor books I am currently reading. He will be missed.