Blog Archives

Finishing a Goal. Or… “I Made A Thing!”

0408161600aI 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!

The Chronicles RPG Core Rules

Thanks and more to come soon!

 

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Working Out GenCon

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.

Inconcievable!!!

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!

Onward!

The Summer Arkham Twitter Log

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.

Enjoy!

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Summer in Arkham

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.

arkhamsummer

The Summer Fields of Terror.

Follow along with the fun if ya want!

GarageCon 2013

Whenever I am at the beginning of something, whether its a birth or a wedding or, in this case, a bunch of gamers having fun, I get all smiley.  Last Saturday I was privileged to be with 90+ other people at the start of something pretty awesome.

I was able to attend Garagecon 2013.  If you’re not from Bloomington I don’t expect you to have heard of it.  Heck, even if you’re from Bloomington you probably didn’t hear of it!  Jordan Acres, responsible for putting it all together, is a friend who I met while working my last job.  He’s a self-professed game fanatic and game designer.  He recognized me from my days running the Game Preserve and we bonded as gamers do when they find one another in a non-gaming setting. (This included a shot at trying to play Lost Worlds and yelling maneuver pages over a crowded Saturday afternoon.)   Running into him a month or so ago, he told me about a project he was working on.  The recipe was simple.  One garage, a wall of games, several plastic folding tables with chairs to match, a nice summer afternoon, scheduled game demos and then, stir in gamers.  Splash with “Free Attendance” and .50 cent soda drinks.  Simmer all afternoon.

When the day of the event rolled around I can’t express how happy I was to be able to fit it into my plans.  The weather looked to hold most of the day and not be too hot and humid for an outdoor event.  A chance of thunderstorms was present but not expected.  The extra bonus for me was a chance to take my son who also loves all things gaming.

DSCN5232

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Pre-game Session 3 – The Character

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

Body

Mind

Mind

Dreams

Dreams

Inner Character

Inner Character

Outer Character

Outer Character

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.

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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?

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Pre-Game Session 2 – The World

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!

Earlymaps

Yes. They packaged the character sheets in pink.

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.

The word?

Ballushium.

It’s meaning?

Blessed place.

Click HERE to go on to the Pre-Game Session #3!

Writing and Gaming

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 Yoteden FU Hack, Part One

FanMadeFuThe FU (Free Universal) RPG encourages tinkering.  If someone wants to modify and adapt things then it’s called a hack.  As anyone who reads this blog should know by now, I love this game system.  Late last year I decided it was THE game system I would move forward with and use.  I knew I wanted to do some serious projects with it including a solo game, a weekly game with my kids and maybe even an internet game with friends.  However, if I was going to use it, I needed to tinker with it.  There were some spots that I wanted to modify a bit not because they were wrong but because they didn’t fit my game style.

I’m happy to now report it’s getting finished up and I’m putting the first post up here as well as the FU RPG Yahoo board for anyone to use or, in turn, hack.  The hack will come out in three sections so as not to overload one single post.  The order of the release is

  1. Character Creation
  2. On Things Mysterious and Powerful
  3. On Learning Things

The first, which you can read below, is simply my way of how I want to build and run a character. The second will be my FU hack for Magic, Psychics, and maybe even superpowers.  The third adds in a bit of character advancement, XP and a little extra bookkeeping.

Once I get this released and ready to use, the next step is to get started with the solo campaign using the rules from the hack and as many random generators as I can find.   I hope to start the solo section later this week with some notes and ramblings about what kind of world I want to use in the first place.  Lots of gaming posts to come!

Enjoy!

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On My Mind – Giving It Back

I work in a job that takes a lot out of me during the week.  Fortunately, I don’t mind because it’s my way of giving back for all the awesome I have in my life right now.  I think it’s important to give back.  Honestly, it’s not just important, it’s crucial.  It completes a powerful circuit, a circuit that once you touch it there’s a realization that it’s as important as water, food and breathing.   A circuit that, in turn, gives back to you.  “Giving back” or “Paying it forward” to me is THE perpetual motion machine that our society has been striving to find.

However, as I instruct the people I work with during my work week, there’s a trick to it.  You can’t give back with the intention of the machine actually working.  You can’t hand someone a ten dollar bill and then think to yourself,  “I can’t wait to see what I get back for doing this!”  It’s not going to happen because, you see, it just doesn’t work that way.  The reasoning is wrong.  The source of the thought comes from a flawed place and it’s simple selfishness.  You have to give that ten dollar bill, that hour, that dinner, that surprise to the person behind you in the drive-thru line with no thought whatever of getting anything from it.  You have to do it because you know it’s a good thing to do.

You have to do it and then forget it ever happened.

Ultimately, it’s not about the material and it’s not about religion.  You can share a laugh, a smile, a hug or a simple hand on someone’s shoulder.  It can be about putting your shit to the side for just a few minutes to let a beleaguered cashier  know you sincerely want them to have a good or, at least, a better day.  THIS is what makes us human.

I was about to craft a post about my FU hacks and my recovery from the flu monsters of woe.  This idea of give back was on my mind and as I started to write it just sort of took over.  It was on my mind because I was thinking about how I wanted to do something through this blog.  I have other plans for my creativity and money making and it doesn’t involve this blog.  I want this blog to be my form of give back.

I’m thinking of gaming but I’m also thinking about nature observation, survival skills, etc.  However, I’m good at gaming and game design and it’s on my mind right now.  I’ve done it for a very long time and it really is a passion of mine.  I want to get my FU hacks done and my solo campaign going because I want to offer it out there for free.   I’d like to show someone how it’s possible to entertain yourself or just come up with a good story that you might want to write later.  If a game world gets built here then it will be free for anyone to use.  How cool would that be to have a living, breathing game world here built from the foundation of giving back?  I, personally,  think it would be pretty cool.

If nothing else the posts here will hopefully be entertaining and that, by itself, is a form of give back.