Category Archives: Gaming
I just wanted to boost the signal from my game blog. I was able to finally accomplish the goal of getting my roleplaying game rules finished. The rules are called the Chronicles RPG Core Set. They’re focused on a more narrative style of play with only a moderate crunch in terms of modifiers and numbers. I’ll be putting up all sorts of examples over the weeks to come as well as adventures, etc.
So, if you are into that sort of thing and would like to know more, head on over to Yoteden’s Gametime and grab yourself a copy of the rules. They’re free and remain that way for as long as I have anything to say about it!
Thanks and more to come soon!
What a month it has been! New job position, GenCon, my son off to college and finishing my Couch to Spartan plan. As August comes to a close it feels like I can finally come up for a bit of air. Let me catch up and get things to the present!
GenCon – WOW! What a great weekend! I’ll hopefully put something up on the game blog this weekend. Personally, it was a huge success. Having four days with my son, surrounded by gamers, games and old friends. Well, it was like coming home.
Despite what Life and the REALLY creepy hotel threw at us, our workouts went off without a hitch! The hotel, which was run-down and scary, informed us that the workout room which had been promised was “under construction” and we could have a free pass to Cardinal Fitness just down the road a few miles. I asked calmly if they would be open at 5 AM or at 12 AM for me to do my workout. With a sign, the clerk muttered, “Uhm, no.’
It was road work for us then and definitely a challenge to pack it all in. The typical schedule ended up being all day at the Con where we walked about 3 – 5 miles then back to the hotel by 11PM. Up at 4:30 or 5:00 AM to do a workout (except for Sunday morning. I got in a workout after I got home that evening.) and then breakfast, shower and then back to the Con to find a parking spot by 7:30 A.M. I was very proud of my son who, being new to this exercise stuff, ran it like a champ! His diet was very restrictive and so he took portions of appropriate food with him in his backpack and ate on schedule throughout the time at the Con. It was hardcore but it showed me that you really CAN get through a 4 day convention on $40 of pre-purchased food. (More money for buying games, right?!?!?)
Workouts – Once GenCon was finished I came back to four very intense work weeks and to finish up my Couch to Spartan plan. The workouts ramped up in intensity and the summer heat decided to do the same. I was undaunted and pressed through a couple of 95 degree days. During Week 4 I made a pretty crucial decision. I decided to repeat the week. This decision was different than before which had it’s roots in wanting to take it easy and not pushing. The decision to repeat came from the simple fact my form was off and sloppy when it came to the exercises. I opted to repeat the week, work on the form and then power into the final weeks. It worked like a charm! My form improved and so did my strength and I finished the plan strong and feeling good.
During this time I also decided to research what I needed to do for more bulk and discovered that, for my height and size, I was eating way too little in protein. I changed that up one night by eating three hamburgers (no bun) and a huge portion of vegetables. The next day, I felt amazing. It seemed to activate some long lost, dormant metabolic rate within me and I feel that was when I started to REALLY see improvement. Our grocery budget will, undoubtedly, suffer for it.
The Success – Last weekend my wife and I went zip-lining at a place called Go Ape in Eagle Creek Park as part of a birthday celebration for her sister. Being nervous about heights I was apprehensive but decided I wanted to do it. What I didn’t know was that it was not JUST climbing up and then zip-lining down. No, it was climbing up a rope ladder and then going through an obstacle course hanging in the trees 40 feet off the ground! (You’re attached the whole time.) The zip-lining was the easy part.
The success came from having the strength to do the entire course without any real issue. Though my nerves were a bit shot at the end I was delighted I had been able to do it all and feel strong throughout. My wife felt the same way and we both agreed that 6 weeks ago we would not have been able to do it at all. She would not have had the strength and my weak and injured shoulder would not have allowed it. This was a realization for us. It showed us that there is a world of adventure waiting for us out there to explore as we grow in strength and conditioning!
The Marvel Zone – I finished the Spartan program about ten days ago. My wife had spoken with a few of her weight-loss trainers about my situation and what I was training towards. They had suggested I come in and have a consult with the owner who was an obstacle race veteran and who had regularly worked with people who were trying to gain weight and strength. I thought it was a nice way to transition out of the previous series of workouts and I took them up on the offer. Last Monday, I began my free week with Next Generation Personal Fitness and went to my consultation. After a great meeting where we both admitted to being superhero fans he began calling my plan “The Marvel Zone.” How can I go wrong with a plan name like that? (Though I’m still using the hashtag #bigdamnwookie)
The Plan = Starting on Monday I begin a nutrition plan for muscle and weight gain for 4 weeks. It’s a daily plan with accountability. I know quite a bit about eating healthy and even eating for weight loss. I know very little about the concept of eating for healthy weight gain so I’m looking forward to it. Along with the nutrition, I’ll be working with a personal trainer to help me focus in on crushing any obstacle race that gets in my way next year! In addition to my ongoing road/trail running I’ll also be hitting 2-3 fitness classes a week.
No, it’s not cheap but it’s a commitment. It’s a commitment to myself and to my family. It’s a chance to take it to the next level and really move forward on some goals I’ve had my entire life. More on this later as this post has already grown longish.
I can’t wait. More to come as things begin to settle down and I move forward. Fall is right around the corner which means a lot more trail running and outdoor workouts to come!
Another challenger arises!
Tomorrow morning my son and I head north to GenCon, the largest gaming convention in the country. This is a very good thing and I’ve been looking forward to it all year. (Next year, depending on how this workout thing goes, I might even do some costuming.) I’ve been going to GenCon for mucho years. I’m no stranger to what I like to call “the hallowed halls.” For the event coming up, I’ll be posting pics and commentary over on my game blog. Feel free to wander over there if you want to see more.
However, because I know this arena, I know where the pitfalls lie and what dangers lurk! The challenge comes in the fact that I have three workouts to get done over those four days. My son, who is also in a workout program, has four workouts to get done. “No problem!” you might say, “Get those workouts done at the hotel either before or afterwards.”
This is a true statement and exactly what we are going to do. However, it’s easier said than done. Here are the details.
- Our hotel is not close and we have about a 20 minute drive.
- We need to be downtown by no later than 9 AM to stand any chance at all of decent parking. The real deadline is 8 AM.
- Most nights we will not be returning to the hotel until around Midnight and we will be wiped out from lots of walking and enjoying ourselves.
- We each have 30 to 45 minute workouts. We also need to shower afterwards and clean-up.
- We absolutely have to get a good breakfast before hitting the convention floor.
You should be able to see where this is headed? It would appear that we are looking at around a 5:30 or 6:00 AM wake-up time for us to get those in, get cleaned in the hotel room, get breakfast AND make the downtown parking garages in time.
Tomorrow is somewhat easier. My son has a rest day and I plan on hitting my strength/calisthenics first thing in the morning. It will be tomorrow and the weekend where the real test will happen!
The secondary challenge comes in the fact that it could be a struggle to find healthy food in this haven for dice, food trucks, board games and soda. Oh, it can be done but it will not be easy. We’re packing our own snacks and protein bars for back-up. Though I am not placing myself on any kind of strict diet just yet, I’ve been trying very hard to watch my sugars and any kind of fried foods, etc. My son is on a very regulated diet with his program. We are going to have to dig deep in our creative convention exploring skills to find what he needs. I’ve scouted out at least one vegetarian option for him and I’m sure we will just have to be creative when the time comes. (Or walk a butt load of city blocks to find a good food place.)
Will we have the skill rankings and the fortitude scores to succeed? Will we succumb to the seduction of late night gaming and an inability to hear our alarms in the morning?
There’s only one way to know for sure!
Over the July 4th holiday weekend, my family reserved an afternoon and evening and busted open our copy of Arkham Horror with 2 extra expansions. As an experiment, I started running a live-feed Twitter log of the gaming fun. The game ended up being a total grind and lasting 9 hours. The first tweet occurred at 2:28 PM and the final game win was announced at 11:22 PM. We had two extended breaks in there as we had to break to stretch our legs as well as dealing with our jealous puppy who did not understand why he could not play as well. I’m betting, when you figure in the breaks, it was only 6 hours of game time. Snacks were consumed, walks were taken and, in the end, Yog-Sothoth was held back from coming into our reality.
Below I present, in order from first to last, the twitter log that was generated. I enjoyed seeing it all together more than I thought I would and it really does work as a journal of the experience. I see places where I wish I would have added more and ways I’ll improve it should I do something similar in the future.
Anyway, I present it here for your reading enjoyment including the pics taken and posted as part of the log. I also removed the overly repetitive #SummerArkham hashtag I used to organize it all on Twitter.
Due to the awesome amount of free time my family has due to the holiday, we have reserved this entire afternoon and evening for a game of Arkham Horror. We are starting in just a few moments (my son set up the board while I was working this morning) and in an attempt to out-geek my own self I plan to do a series of live tweets of my character and the gameplay.
My Twitter link is over there on the right and I will be using the hashtag #summerarkham when possible to catalog the tweets. I’ve always wanted to do this and I’m curious what kind of document will be created when it’s all over.
Follow along with the fun if ya want!
What’s a solo RPG game without a character to play? To stick with the idea of everything being random I decided to throw a series of oracle cards that might give me an idea of the character I would play.
I drew five cards with the categories of Body, Mind, Dreams, Inner Character, Outer Character. Here is what I got.
Body – 6 of Pentacles. This card is a tough one as its about generosity, sharing prosperity. If Body is equal to health then you have someone in excellent health. The first thing in my mind was a man, perhaps middle-aged, who is in excellent shape, successful and helping others.
Mind – King of Swords. Nice. A perfect card for this position and one that meshes well with the first card. I immediately thought of a general or a retired veteran with a keen strategic mind. This character should have a very high intelligence with a no-nonsense attitude.
Dreams – 3 of Pentacles. He wants to be known for creating something or building something. I still get a very martial feel. Perhaps he is done with the military life and has stepped out of that role so he can move out into the world and help people? Perhaps he wants to build a business using those skills? Perhaps becoming a consultant or starting a school for military training or tactics?
Inner Character – 6 of Cups. Inside he is a very romantic person. He enjoys beauty and children. He himself can be very childlike. He appreciates and fosters innocence though he himself has lost it.
Outer Character – 9 of Swords. Woah, curveball. Intense anxiety, nightmares. His outer character is very rattled right now and perhaps he does not look as well put together to the public eye. Inside he’s doing alright but he’s let the outside go. Did something happen in his recent past to cause him to fall into anxiety? To quit his job in the military?
With these starting points I think I have a beginning to work from to build a nice character.
I’m seeing a retired Field Marshall, a general or something similar. Someone who has commanded others and had a lot of military experience. He is decorated and well-liked. He has numerous contacts and a decent social network. He frequents museums, gardens and enjoys the beauty of the world. For a long time he worked to protect that beauty feeling that his superior mind and physical strength were best applied with his rank. I’m not sure yet what kind of military. We’ll get there.
Something happened which caused him to intentionally announce his retirement from a life-long military career and to strike out into the world. Whatever it was it rattled him and he frequently has nightmares and carries a “haunted” look about him. He’s decided to set out into the world and away from the rank and file of the military which, based on his cards, were not allowing him to show his full potential.
I want more detail about the 9 of Swords. What caused the 9 of Swords in the character’s life?
When I first mentioned the idea of a solo sandbox game I knew I wanted to run a fantasy themed game. My gameworld idea I wanted to run with was nothing new to me. I created the first town and the first map somewhere in the late 1980’s. It became more solid and an actual creation with the first world map around 1989. It’s my Middle Earth. It’s my Neverland. I’ve run countless games in it, spent hours creating cities, building histories and, in general, breathing life into it. I enjoy sharing it with other people so it seems the perfect setting for this experiment. It seems perfect but it’s not that easy.
There are two complications. One is that part of this experiment / distraction is the setting needs to be built as randomly as possible. I want the joy, surprise and the challenge of building something from scattered random elements. This is hard to do with a setting you already know intimately! The second part is that, no offense, I have much larger plans for the world I spent over 20 years building. Hint – It involves a lot of writing and, more importantly, editing. Because of those larger plans it wouldn’t be a good idea to do large amounts of self-publishing here on this blog.
But I REALLY wanted to use that world setting!
The answer came along while I was going through an old box from my past. While pulling out old keepsakes, papers and items which make you wonder, “What the hell was I thinking?” I came across a cluster of gemstones. That’s right, I found a pile of old character sheets and notes from 8th/9th grade!
I really can’t tell you if it was like finding golden history or comedy gold. Amongst that raggedy pile of penciled happiness were three or four sheets of the FIRST game setting I created. A setting which had become utterly lost in my memory but which, within seconds of viewing it, brought back all the happy memories of working on it.
It wasn’t much more than a fleshed out idea at the time. An idea that I still really enjoy; a large island intended to be a savage environment set away from the mainland and overrun with all sorts of critters. It was my adolescent Mystery Monster Island. A mist enshrouded island of treasure, danger and death. Yay!
Wah-lah! I had my solution. Like a sandbox, I could place the island in the world but keep it separate. It could become this blog’s personal stomping grounds and I would still get to offer some of the great things I liked about the larger game world! To keep things as random as possible I would simply start with the concept of the island and nothing from the original hand drawn maps. (To be honest, considering the adolescent drawing skills involved, it would be for the better.) I had my setting. As an added bonus I hit upon a supplementary idea to the island, a secondary underlying concept which I think will really make it sing.
Allow me to introduce you to the setting.
In the Eastern Ocean, away from the more civilized lands of the Independant Cities there sits a large island. Whispered and rumored in scholarly circles to be the hub of an ancient civilization, it’s now known only as a savage, inhospitable place. A land that sits as a testament not only to the crushing power of Nature but to the twisted power of chaotic magicks set loose. No races call it home except for the numerous monstrous humanoids who live there. The small settlements which dare to carve out a living on it’s shores are home to those individuals whom, for one reason or another, have no where else to be. Some arrive out of prosecution, others out of desperation and a rare few arrive simply for the challenge of delving deeper into the island and possibly extracting treasure or knowledge from the stone ruins that blanket the island.
It is known by many names, “Blood Rock”, “The Anvil”, “Claw Island.” Most, however, continue to use it’s old world name which was found inscribed in different languages on a weathered stone obelisk overlooking the ruins of what could have been an ancient port city. The discovery, made by one of the last of the first exploration parties sent to the island centuries ago, was startling as the elven explorer uncovered an ancient elven word dating back thousand of years carved deep into the stone.
Writing and gaming have always shared a symbiotic relationship in my life. In a way, it’s a chicken and the egg type concept. Back in the days of Billy Jean and zipper jackets, I was playing a lot of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I imagine it took over our lives much to the same extent video games do today amongst the junior high and high schools of the world. It was an escape but it was also an inspiration, a muse. I’ve always been creative in one form or another and with my young brain already filled to the brim with Star Wars, Spiderman and Lord of the Rings, I gladly jumped in when tabletop gaming and miniature wargaming opened the doors of imagination.
I was drawing a lot then and, of course, I began drawing my characters, other characters, monsters, and landscapes. I was frustrated though because I couldn’t express the stories I wanted to express as quickly as I wanted to through art. There was cool stuff happening in some of those games and I wanted to talk about it, wanted to get it all down! Sketching and the comic book style of art I was doing at the time just wasn’t getting the job done. (There was no lack of trying either! I have a box of badly drawn comic pages to prove it.) For some reason, I had not made the jump from drawing about it to WRITING about it.
It started with a wild idea, my creative writing teacher and a journal. The assignment in English class was to keep a journal for a few weeks about ourselves. I was up for it but I realized it would be much more fun to write a journal about my RPG character. Now THAT got my juices flowing! I remember being scared to death to approach my teacher about the idea but I REALLY wanted to do it. By the end of class I had mustered up and made my decision. I would ask her.
Knowing much more now than I did then about education and teaching I think I have the clout to label her “amazing.” When I first tried to explain the idea she was surprised and a little confused (remember, this was when no one knew what a role-playing game was) but something about the way I asked her must have signaled to some inner teacher instinct. She agreed to the project but reinforced I would need to write every day in the journal.
Boy, that was a mistake.
When it came time to turn in the assignment, my folder was the thickest of the bunch. My journal revolved around one of my characters and his life with his traveling companions in a far-away fantasy world. It was nothing fantastic. It was filled with tedium and held no solid plot line what so ever. However, the spark had caught the tinder and I began to see the creative connection between what was happening in my mind’s eye when around a game table and writing it out so others could read it.
What happened next sealed the deal. About a week later (after she had actually READ my entire journal and turned it back to me with an A+) my teacher asked me to meet her during some resource/study hall time. I wondered if I was in trouble for something but she comforted me and said she just wanted to show me a few things about the journal I had written. When I met her she sat me down, took that misshaped lump of clay, and began to talk to me about plot lines, plot twists, themes, character development, and showing me how the journal contained numerous options and ideas to expand on. She encouraged me to keep writing.
And, in fits and starts, I have.
It was an amazing gift and sometimes I’ve wondered if I’ve squandered it, not respected it for how rare and special of an event it was. I’ve written a lot since that meeting with her. Small stories for myself, fictional piece for my classes and I’ve written about my gaming. I’ve written up storylines for games for fellow players to play through. I’ve played in role-playing games and then written stories to fill the gap between adventures or add more detail to a character. I spent numerous years on City of Heroes and I ladled thousands of words into my character’s story and spent hours researching his background so it would fit into the world yet be original. I’m currently doing some of the same for my LOTRO character. Writing and gaming, gaming and writing but through it all I’ve never seen a dime for anything I’ve written. Matter of fact, it’s only just in the past year that I decided to get serious about the idea of publication.
Does that mean it’s been squandered?
I dunno. Maybe? Kinda? Sorta? I guess time will tell.
This time around, in between family, hikes, gardening, mowing, work and play, I plan on doing things a little differently. This time I’m using this blog, some solo game mechanics and the creative whirlygigs in my head to do something I’ve always enjoyed doing, taking a whole handful of completely random results, events and some creativity to lay out not just some gaming report but a story set in a vibrant never-never world. Gaming does this for me. It takes these odd bits of pieces and turns them into a playing field for my muse. The less I know going in, the more I love the challenge. This time around, when I do it, I’ll be showing both sides of the curtain. More on that in an upcoming post!
As for the writing, well, I think I’ll always be invested into it in some way. I’ll always be writing. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to not tell a story. I have far-flung ideas of getting my stories out there, connecting with other folks through my writing, and maybe even making a few coin on them from time to time. As I grow a bit more wise, I’ve come to find out that it’s very important to just create, to do, to forge and present what you like to do. When I was young I was overly concerned with making a buck on what I was creating. I think it’s what was powering my fear which, in turn, actually kept me from doing it! These days, I see that the most important thing you can do is share what you have fun at doing.
The following is a hack I created to help give a FU character some form of advancement from game session to game session. Fair warning, it does contain a small amount of bookkeeping and it just may be too cumbersome for such an elegant game as FU. Just because it works for me doesn’t mean, well, anything! (I actually rewrote this piece to make it a bit more palatable which is the reason for the delay.)
I find that levels of 3 work extremely well in FU so it builds off of the idea of the Three Strikes from other FU hacks (that to attain something you have to build up a number of Conditions to accomplish that goal.) This is simply applied to the idea of skills, knowledge and abilities since, typically, these are not something you acquire overnight but, instead, are something you have to work on over time.
On Learning Things
To kick things off on something that might appear to be confusing and entirely too subjective, I thought I would start with an overview and a quick example.
Overview and Example
A character may learn something new, gain a new skill rank, learn a spell, etc by gaining Knowledge Conditions attached to what they are trying to improve. Based on what you are trying to do you will need to gain 1 – 3 (or more) Knowledge Conditions over time. The number you need will be set by the GM based on the complexity of your goal. You gain a Knowledge Condition by attempting a Beat the Odds roll to attempt to gain said Condition.
Rolls for knowledge conditions typically take place at the end of game sessions or after a significant period of game time involved in study has passed.
Example — Xerses discovers a Sleep spell in an old tome he recovered from a ruined fortress. Xerses would like to learn the spell and the GM tells him he will need to have 2 Knowledge Conditions to be successful. Xerses must spend 3 full days of in-game time for each Condition. This will be reading the tome, making notes, practicing, etc. When the in-game reading and research time has expired for the first Knowledge Condition, Xerses can attempt the first roll to get that first Knowledge Condition.
If successful, he may get a bonus to the second one. The second roll would take place as soon as the next period of in-game time is finished, as set by the GM.