Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Survival of the Fittest

Okay, we're back to our regular fluffy programming with two things about animals!...sort of.

First off, last week saw an interesting twist work its way into the dispute between Queen Coldnose and the Mad Berry King over at ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS.


THEY THINK THEY SHALL CROSS MY LANDS UNIMPEDED? TRUMPETING THEIR DECLARATIONS OF WAR AGAINST ONE ANOTHER WITH NO REGARD FOR THIS KINGDOM AND ITS PEOPLE?
I AM LORD SNOWEARS OF THE DAIRY CAVERNS, DEFENDER OF THE NORTH GATES, AND BY ALL THE CHEESE BENEATH THESE CASTLE FLOORS THOSE GODLESS UPSTARTS SHALL LEARN TO RESPECT THAT TITLE.
FUZZYMUZZLE, SEND WORD TO THE LESSER BARONS. THEY ARE TO MEET ME HERE BY SUNSET WITH EVERY ABLE-BODIED CUB AT THEIR DISPOSAL. QUEEN COLDNOSE AND THE MAD KING OF BERRYLAND ARE ABOUT TO LEARN WHAT I AM CAPABLE OF.

THEY THINK THEY SHALL CROSS MY LANDS UNIMPEDED? TRUMPETING THEIR DECLARATIONS OF WAR AGAINST ONE ANOTHER WITH NO REGARD FOR THIS KINGDOM AND ITS PEOPLE?
I AM LORD SNOWEARS OF THE DAIRY CAVERNS, DEFENDER OF THE NORTH GATES, AND BY ALL THE CHEESE BENEATH THESE CASTLE FLOORS THOSE GODLESS UPSTARTS SHALL LEARN TO RESPECT THAT TITLE.
FUZZYMUZZLE, SEND WORD TO THE LESSER BARONS. THEY ARE TO MEET ME HERE BY SUNSET WITH EVERY ABLE-BODIED CUB AT THEIR DISPOSAL. QUEEN COLDNOSE AND THE MAD KING OF BERRYLAND ARE ABOUT TO LEARN WHAT I AM CAPABLE OF.
(Reposted from ATIAC)
This is getting good!
Next was this lovely little gem, which popped up in my Twitter feed yesterday morning. This short film could easily be transformed into a Gamma World scenario. Be warned, it's... juicy.


MutantLand from Tippett Studio on Vimeo.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nerdpocalypse Now



Here I had planned to post some nice fluffy little thing today, but noooo! Wizards of the Coast just had to go and make "an announcement". In a single, pre-emptive strike, the company brought about the only inevitable conclusion to the edition wars that have been raging between fans of 3rd and 4th edition D&D (with the occasional "back in my day, you were lucky to see second level!" input of OD&D grognards.) Of course, that inevitable conclusion is the mutually assured destruction that is 5th EDITION!

Now, to qualify the above histrionics, I am not making a preemptive judgment on the quality of the edition to be. I am, rather, making a prediction... a prophecy even... that no matter how well thought out and put together the new game ends up being, there are going to be a lot of upset gamers on both sides of the 3e/4e conflict. For there is no font for self-righteous indignation like a gamer with access to the internet. 

Lemme elaborate. WOTC included an announcement within their announcement that is as admirable as it is futile--they are soliciting the feedback of D&D players to help ensure that their next generation game best meets their needs. They clearly view 5th edition like the 5th element. It's love! Don't you get it!? By listening to everyone, they will stop the evil asteroid ball from killing Bruce Willis! er... I mean, move beyond the edition wars. But, there's the rub... because of the diverse and sometimes contradictory preferences of tabletop RPGers, making a product that will satisfy everyone is almost certainly an impossibility.

As someone who solicits input from outside stakeholders writing for public consumption, I deal with this on a regular basis (and I'm sure the folks working on the next D&D do too.) People love it when you solicit their input in good faith. However, often that input is delivered as "you need to include x" rather than, "hey, I would love to see x in your thing." As such, after the project is completed, you wind up fielding and/or fending off accusations of deliberately neglecting or misrepresenting certain vitally important minutiae. It can be bad enough when creating a new product, but is much worse when adapting an existing product, which carries existing expectations. For evidence of that, I give you exhibit Facebook and Minecraft patch day.

Anyway, 5e was bound to show up at some point, and it sounds like the folks at Wizards are really considering the needs of their fans even if I am dubious that those fans will recognize this in the end. So, here are a couple things that I would like to see included in 5e if they fit.

  • Return to spells rather than rituals. It's semantics! Don't change the name just to avoid your Tolkienian roots.
  • Same goes for the core races. Dragonborn and Warforged are cool and all, but your not making Final Fantasy.
  • Recognize that tabletop RPGs are not videogames and do not need to have a videogame feel. 
  • Skill challenges have some merit, though they should not be structured as an excuse for not roleplaying. Otherwise, I liked them.
  • Revise the social interaction skills to nerf diplomancers. Also, skills like intimidate shouldn't be based solely on Charisma. By that metric, halflings tend to be more intimidating than orcs.
  • Keep moving towards simplified stat blocks. The 4e blocks were way easier to read than 3e
  • Differentiate between wizards and sorcerers again. The learned academic v. unpredictable wildling was a font of inspiration.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Splodey


Being my fifth submission to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group


This post was originally supposed to go up on Wednesday, but due to a whole lot of anxiety over posting something anxious as my first post of the year, I bumped it to today. Better late than never, right? Right!?

Anyway, recent events at work, the holidays and a bout with a nasty bug have left my sense of order and creative impulses all caddywampus and/or akimbo.

When my department at work decided to take it easy during the week between Christmas and New Years, I thought "Fantastic! If people are only going to be in for a couple hours during the afternoons, things will be quiet and I can get tons of writing done!" So, I elected to just slightly relax my work regimen in hopes of being productive. Alas, it turned into a situation where I did a lot of work but felt like I got nothing done. The couple hours in the afternoon turned into a string of meetings which required both preparation and post-meeting thought-gathering. As a result, I didn't have time to really sink into a writing Zen. Though my thoughts on the project became clearer in certain areas, very few jams were kicked out.

Towards the end of the week, as we discussed the schedule moving forward, I mentioned to the Boss that writing is a process that works best with big chunks of time unhindered by interruption or distraction. He said he agreed and gave me his blessing to do some work from home if it would help. "Oh, and BTW, next week, we should have a series of meetings each day to discuss this, that and the other. KTHXBAI"



So, that's my story. I'm hoping to finally reach the productivity Nirvana of "not in a noisy office" next week, because my schedule is open... so far.

How do you write best, when it comes to work? Can you do it from home or do the TVs and home projects lure you with their siren song? Coffee shop? Library? I'd love thoughts and recommendations.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012: He's Not Dead Yet!

Happy New Year, dear readers! I apologize for letting things lapse 'round these parts. Between the crazy schedule of the holidays and a rather vicious bout with the plague, I haven't had the time or the energy to post. But, I am here to assure you that I am not dead yet. In fact, I feel happy! I feel happeeeee!


*Ahem*

So, here we are in 2012. I thought I'd kick off the year with a much-belated update on my game-filled (gamey?) 2011 holiday season.


The author and his lovely betrothed (a vision in green)
My betrothed and I are on an unending quest to expand our game cabinet (really more of a shelf), which causes new and exciting games to virtually leap into our arms when shopping for gifts. This year was no exception. I received a copy of Munchkin Axe Cop (which should really be called "Axe Cop Munchkin") from the fiancee, which is a wonderfully odd mix of this amazing web comic and this amusing game.
Axe Cop also holds a special place in this household, because it brings on the lols.

My adopted step-sister's boyfriend got me Lego Creationary, which is a delightful variant of the Pictionary, Cranium game genre.

I also got Fluxx from the Betrothed, which I had heard much about but never played. The funny thing is that because I had heard so much about it... specifically from her... I also got her a copy! What!? Anyway, we decided to keep her copy while I exchanged mine for a Munchkin blender pack from my FLGS.

In addition to actual games, I also received a number of game-related accessories. I got a speedy, shiny new laptop specifically designed for the computer gamings! At 5 years old, it was honestly time for the old lappy to be put out to pasture. It has now been set up in its retirement to operate as a print server. Last, but not least, I got a whole stocking full of little plastic animal figurines. This may sound like an odd gift for someone who is not a four year-old, but for an active GM on a budget, having a selection of random figurines can be an invaluable tool. Especially if your adventuring party decides to raid the lair of the dreaded SLOTH KING!

"Go, my trusty terrapins! Destroy the fastwalkers!"


The point is... I feel very fortunate to have such loving and wonderful people around me who appreciate playing games as much as I do. Hopefully in 2012, I will be able to return the favor by playing many wonderful games with people and writing about those wonderful games I've played.

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