One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Well Shit....

Getting back into the blogging saddle is a little harder than I would have liked it to be. Still super busy on the home front and it dosent look like it's going to ease up in the near future.I havent had much free time latley and the time I have had has been spent with Mrs. Zombiecowboy and the twerps. Hopefully some dice chucking will happen this Saturday night, but nothing is confirmed yet.

Something I've been thinking about latley is the Savage Worlds RPG and my mega-dungeon idea Castle Wyrmfall. The first is a system that I really want to try out and I have a couple of ideas of how I would like to do that. One idea would be a swords & sorcery type game closer to Moorcock's writings. An apocalyptic science fantasy world. Another idea is a cyberpunkish setting based on some of the stuff I wrote up for a one shot adventure I ran called the Saints of Los Angeles.

As for the mega-dungeon idea, I was thinking of a new approach to how I might tackle this thing. Every time I sit down to work on this thing I get bog down in how much work there is involved. I get caught up in details that arent important, at least right now. I'm not sure what system I want to use to run the thing but I'm leaning strongly towards Pathfinder. The new approach I was thinking of using was tackling one level at a time, and one encounter or room per day. One of the things I read in Paizo's Gamemastery guide was an idea that you take a regualr sheet of paper and draw about 10 circles all over the page. Then you fill those circles in with encounters and you have a really rough sketch of a dungeon complex. I like the idea of doing encounters first and THEN draw a map to fit the encounters. It's worth giving it a shot. Part of me is also leaning towards Rappan Athuk's smaller dungeon level design, rather than trying to make a dungeon level that uses up as much of one sheet of paper as you can fit rooms and halls.

Anyway, just some ideas Im kicking around. I'm still looking forward to running Arkham Heat and the two week break was nice. Lets just hope this week we can play...   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Still Alive, Just Busy....

The title says it all. I've been meaning to get some blogging done but between recovering from the Black Plauge of colds, and from cleaning/gutting out my basement so we can start the mega renovations I just havent had time to write.

On the gaming front no dice were chucked to feed the Dice Gods this weekend and none will be chucked this coming weekend. I do hope to have that Arkham Heat second session up some time this week. I think I'm going to update the blog three times a week from here on out. Maybe more if something worth writing about creeps into my mind.

Lastly, I just wanted to give a salute to those of you folks who are doing the NaNoWroMo thing this year. Write Pen-Monkey's write. If all is going as it should, your at the halfway mark. Keep it up! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Some Arkham Heat Thoughts

I've been down in the Suck for the last few days. Fragging cold has me locked down and out, leaving me feeling like doing zero, zip, and zilch. Some dice chucking was had Saturday night, and I have about a third of Arkham Heat, Session 2 written up for your reading pleasure. I'm not sure how many people enjoy reading those things. Last session was pretty busy and I the Investigators decided to be a pain in the ass and split up into three diffrent groups. The result was a lot of chaos and scene juggling by myself. In the end I thought I handled it well and it was a pretty fun session. Things are shaping up nicely. In fact I'm thinking that after this Call of Cthulhu campaign ends I may run a Savage Worlds powered game. First I may take a break just to recharge the old GM batteries. Anyway here's a few thoughts I've had since I started running this camapign:

1. Pre-Written Scenarios. I've learned that I enjoy running scenarios I write myself much more than canned adventures or secnarios. I like to have pre-written stuff to get my brain working, steal little chunks of them like NPC names and that sort of thing. But over all I enjoy myself much more when I create my own stuff for my players.

2. Scenarios On The Fly. I've discovered that if you have the right material prepped in advance running a scenario on the fly is a breeze and a joy. I have a little notebook that I write all my stuff down in. In it I have a little calender, some basic stat blocks for thugs and monsters, a list of random names, and a list of important NPC,s I also put some notes beside those important NPCs on what their goals and personality are like. My notes are really rough and are probably only understandable by myself.

3. Creating Adventures. I have a basic skeleton written down in my notes of how the scenario might play out. I include shit the players will most likely investigate, a few clues, some NPC,s and a basic outline of how things went down before the PC'S got involved, and how they might procede when the PCs do get involved. I try not to stress to much on this. No plan survives contact with the enemy, and I count on the fact that my players will attack the problem in a way that I wont be able to anticipate.

4. The Battle Mat. I wanted to stay away from the battle mat and tokens for this campaign. Last session we had a number of fights that were pretty simple. I'm not sure if it was a failure on my GM abilities, but it became clear fairly quickly that a lot of headache could have been avoided if we had a battle map and tokens laid out. Next week I plan of brining out the wet erase map. Kinda a shame but I'm not sure how to otherwise solve this problem. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Origin Story

I'm feeling pretty under the weather so this post will be rather breif. With NaNoWriMo starting this month my mind has turned to writing a short novel or story. Personally having done the month long even last year I wont be participating this year, though I did find it fun and learned a few things along the way.

The idea I had for my story was based on a masked vigilante hero. The basic idea stems from the pulp stories of masked heros back in the day, but written for the modern day. I'm thinking Batman or V. Something more akin to the Watchman. My hero dosent have too much in the way of super powers, but like Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark is smart enought to piece the mystery together using his brains.

But all this got me thinking. How important is the origin story? Do I really need to tell it, or can I get away with leaving it something of a mystery? Do we really need to know how Batman became who he is? A large part of me feels you do, but then when I read comics with a character like Mike Mignola's Lobster Johnson I wonder how true that is...

Anyway, I turn to you readers and ask you the question; Is the first time a masked hero makes his appearance do we need to learn his or her origin story? If no, should it ever be told? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

10 Books That Should Be On Your Bookshelf

I wish this was what my Man Cave looked like!
Like many people I'm a book lover. I don't buy a lot of books, and when I do I tend to pick them up second hand from a used book store. If I borrow a book from the library or a friend and read a book or author that I feels really kicks ass I try to pick up a copy for my own personal library in the Man Cave. Yeah, I have a Man Cave, and it is my personal opinion that everyman should have his own personal sanctuary, a home away from home if you will.

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my personal Top 10 novels  from my collection. These are books that I would actively replace if my house ever burnt down (knock on wood), or would re-read if the right mood struck me.

10. The Witching Hour- Anne Rice
This is the first in the Mayfair Witches trilogy. Strangely, I've never read her vampire chronicles.

9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- Douglas Adams
Hilarious, I've re-read this classic a few times now.

8. Clear and Present Danger- Tom Clancy
One of my favorite of Clancy's and his Jack Ryan stories Patriot Games, and The Hunt for Red October (the books, not the movies) also really good.

7. Druss the Legend-David Gemmell
My first introduction to the Drenai stories, Druss, and Gemmell's writing. Gemmell is AMAZING. If your into fantasy you need to read Gemmell's stuff. It's a major bummer he'll never write again.

6. The Dragonbone Chair-Tad Williams
The first in the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series, this is great epic fiction. Totally on par with Tolkien in my opinion.

5. Imajica-Clive Barker
Barker's imagination and ability to create weird magical worlds is amazing. This book so big it's sold in two separate volumes is a great sample of his genius. His more recent and uncompleted Abarat series also stands out.

4. Bag of Bones- Stephen King
King is the master. This compelling modern ghost story was haunting and brilliant and proves that King is a great writer.

3. Altered Carbon- Richard K. Morgan
Modern hard boiled science fiction. Morgan does cyberpunk right in his first of the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy.
while his stand alone novel Market Forces showcases and interesting twist to the corporate side cyberpunk fiction.

2. The Gunslinger-Stephen King
There's a reason King is on this list twice. The first novel in the Dark Towers series is short and sweet, leaving you with a hankering for more. I've re-read this multiple times as well.

1. Hyperion-Dan Simmons
Dan Simmons is my all time favorite writer. It's hard to go wrong with almost any of his novels, but Hyperion is just so original and fresh. It's like a mixed bag of sci-fi and fantasy. In it's composition it's almost like reading a series of connected short stories combined into a larger narrative. I've also re-read this multiple times and loved it every time.

Obviously this list just scratches the surface of my reading and favorite authors. I love a lot of books and authors so this list might fluctuate a little. Consider this list more of a wine sampling than anything else. I also really love discovering new authors as well. So who are your favorite authors and books? What are the gems of your collection? Have problem with my list? Lets here it in the comments section.      

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ultimate Iron Man

Last night I finished reading the first trade paperback of Ultimate Iron Man. I'm not a comic book guy by a long shot, but I sure would love to be. I think one of the reasons I never got too much into comics in the first place was the same reason why a lot of people don't want to get into some RPG campaign settings. Forgotten Realms being a prime example. After years of publishing sometimes theres just too much baggage and history, and for some people that can be down right intimidating. For other's that's just too big a buy in to get into a story in the first place. That's why I think when Universe re-boots like the Marvel Ultimate series of comics happen it opens up the stage to a much wider audience and lets some fresh ideas and stories see print to boot.

So Iron Man. The first time I ever saw this guys costume I had made up my mind that I never wanted to know about this guy. Give me Wolverine, Spider-Man, but lets forget a guy who has a tin can for a face! Even when I found out he was a rich scientist dude, and perhaps was Marvel's version of one of my favorite's Batman, I could care less. Even Later on when the first movie came out I couldn't give a shit. Of course that would change one day when the movie was playing on TV and I had to admit that it actually wasn't that bad. In fact by the end of the movie I had to admit total defeat. This movie kicked ASS.

Of course I went to the theatre to see the 2nd movie, which rocked, and I can't wait to see the Avengers and Iron Man 3. Because Robert Downey Jr. is the man. I in fact have a man crush on him (but just don't tell Christian Bale, he has a temper...) So when my buddy was letting me borrow a stack of his comics, I was totally pumped to read this version of Iron Man and Tony Stark. The fact that this particular story arc was written by Ender's Game author Orson Scott Card was even more exciting.

So not knowing all that much about Iron Man's back story I could see the various core elements crop up here and there. It was a great read, and left me wanting more. I would reccomment it to anyone enjoys comics. For the record I felt like this was a good re-boot, unlike Forgotten Realms 4e, which in my opinion was bad re-boot. This isn't meant to be D&D 4e bashing, it's just that I don't really have anything else to compare it to, and also that sometimes things can and do go wrong in a re-boot. So if like me, you dig Iron Man and/or the movies, you should give this book a shot. Just my 2-cents.