Thursday, August 22, 2002


Just a few of the signs that today's governments are starting to make up for lost time. George Orwell's prophetic vision of a controlled utopian world in his novel 1984 may yet come to pass, despite being 18 years behind schedule.

I am a Gauntlet Adventurer

What Video Game Character Are You? I am a Gauntlet Adventurer.I strive to improve my living conditions by hoarding gold, food, and sometimes keys and potions. I love adventure, fighting, and particularly winning - especially when there's a prize at stake. I occasionally get lost inside buildings and can't find the exit. I need food badly. What Video Game Character Are You?

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

After An Hour Of Creative Procrastination....

Whew. Changed the look and feel of this blog. Also added my email link over down the right column due to insistent public demand.

I'd say "No spams, please!" if that wasn't an obvious invitation for the same. The only spam I prefer is the deep-fried one.

Time to catch some zzZ's... Game on, guys and gals.

Of Books And Flights Of Fancy

Dug through my files for this great, if verbose, quote. The file was date-stamped June 23, 2001. I have no idea where I found it. I find it a very prophetic vision of that small niche now occupied by role-playing games.

"It has continually struck us that there is no element in modern life that is more lamentable than the fact that the modern man has to seek all artistic existence in a sedentary state. If he wishes to float into fairyland, he reads a book; if he wishes to dash into the thick of battle, he reads a book; if he wishes to soar into heaven, he reads a book; if he wishes to slide down the banisters, he reads a book. We give him these visions, but we give him exercise at the same time, the necessity of leaping from wall to wall, of fighting strange gentlemen, of running down long streets from pursuers -- all healthy and pleasant exercises. We give him a glimpse of that great morning world of Robin Hood or the Knights Errant, when one great game was played under the splendid sky. We give him back his childhood, that godlike time when we can act stories, be our own heroes, and at the same instant dance and dream."
-- G. K. Chesterton, 1905, The Club of Queer Trades

"Honey, come and take a look at this!"

(or, Four Posts And Still Alive!)

Hi, all. I'm back! Hey, this thing's really addictive! That's right, I'm hooked, so all you people out there who're all groaning and stuff right now (yes, I mean you people there at the back!), well... I guess you'll just have to put up with me for quite a while. The random punk is here to stay!

Now, a few notes about the web log's name... it's also about raging against the "system", something I sympathize with. What I really hate is following the standards set by a moral majority. Most of those standards I could care less about, but censureship, while done in the best of interests, limits the freedom of the immoral minority. And that's just plain wrong.

At the risk of belaboring an already aged issue, let's take one case in point: the late Pat Pulling's attacks on the D&D game and other role-playing games. This mother has blamed D&D for her son's suicide, and has even founded an anti-rpg organization, Bothered About Dungeons And Dragons (B.A.D.D.). She said that D&D teaches the players how to cast real spells and make real weapons and even contact the Devil himself. Wow. I must be doing something wrong then; I've been playing for about 13 years now and I still can't cast spells, forge weapons, or even know Mr. Satan's number. As it turned out, however, her son was just another troubled teenager, pressured by family problems and other non-RPG stuff, who just couldn't handle the stress. Mrs. Pulling might have saved her son's life had she only payed attention to him.

At the root of all this is man's need to blame anyone else except himself. Kids need their parents' love and understanding and guidance, especially in the turbulent crosswinds of adolescence.

A more recent issue is the U.S. "Zero Tolerance" policy now implemented in schools to combat the growing cases of kiddie violence. The Zero Tolerance policy means that if you fit the FBI-proscribed profile, you are a murder suspect, even without the occurence of a murder in the first place! And no, they're not using pre-cogs like Tom Cruise did in Minority Report. The profile includes the following characteristics: above-average intelligence, non-conformist, computer wiz, likes to wear black, plays D&D or any other RPG, plays violent video games, listens to heavy metal. Heh, if I were still in school and in the U.S., I'd be Public Enemy No. 1 in no time. Heck, I still fit most of the profile even now. Maybe I better get my priorities straight and start murdering some people. Right.

In the aftermath of the Columbine incident, a teacher asked her class what they felt about it. Most of the kids said they felt sad and scared. Then one boy said that he was also sad and scared, but also that he could understand how the perpetrators felt because it's just so terrible to be ridiculed and picked on. He was immediately suspended!

It's such a shame that the teacher hadn't picked up on the boy's idea. Being different, being on the outside of the majority, being uncool, is such a pressure. It's really sad that people are over-reacting and rushing madly about pin-pointing something to blame when instead they could be trying to understand the minority's feelings and helping them.

Freedom of expression is neither a crime nor a sin, unless said expression infringes upon other's rights of freedom.

"The great thing about the internet is its leveling effect; online all opinions are equally WORTHLESS."
--Grant Morrison

Monday, August 19, 2002

Fate and Fortune Cards

Just introduced these to my D&D 3e group last time we had a session. Actually, I just printed myself a deck using the transcripts for the Whimsy Card deck I found on the 'Net. These cards represent various plot complications the players can put into effect to either make their PC's life easier or harder. I'd much prefer them to make their lives harder, of course. So, I deal them one card each from the deck and told them they can change the way the story is going by playing their card and describing the actual effect. If the change is interesting, they may draw a replacement card or get some XP bonus.

They actually seemed to like the Whimsy deck, and I could almost feel them tensing as they watch out for an appropriate moment to play their card and "ruin" the plot. An amusing thing happened when they had to infiltrate a gnoll encampment. The rogue had to negotiate his way up the gate and try to unbar it from the other side. Unknown to him, the guard on the other side is Mr. Enthusiastic Gnoll. Luckily, one of them managed to play his Whimsy card which read "Sloth", a card that deals with someone's laziness! Well, that let the rogue off the hook. He chooses to investigate the loud sound of snoring though. Soon he has sneaked up to the gnoll and is preparing for a sneak attack when his player suddenly played his card: "Something's Missing". The rogue's rapier is not in its scabbard! Eventually, though, he managed to finish off the sleeping guard and let the rest of the party into the compound.

Everyone agreed to continue using the Whimsy deck in our D&D sessions.

TSR also did something called a Fate & Fortune Deck. It's included with the Mystara Player's Guide. I'd like to get a copy of those cards or if not, only the transcripts. Anyone out there?

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Sunday Afternoon D&D Sessions....

(or, I Can't Get To Sleep Yet, So I'm Posting A Blog, The Addicted Schmuck That I am)

... isn't. It's supposed to be regular and all, but you know how demanding Real Life™ sometimes gets. I know, I know. I shouldn't let RL bully me like that, I should get my priorities straight, tell it who's really in charge. Heh. Anyway, D&D's 3rd Edition is a really great system. I'd say it's the best so far. OD&D was a little bit on the whimsical side, 1st Ed. was too old and mismatched, 2nd Ed. was too bulky and unbalanced. 3e actually managed to strike a balance. Well, sort of. My players still haven't explored the system fully. So far, they're mostly still level 3, and still trying to rid the Moonsea city of Phlan of its little monster-infestation problem.

I sure hope that Forgotten Realms TV series pushes through and soon.

There's been talk about the nature of RPGs in a couple of discussion lists I'm on, mainly what we consider an RPG. For me, an RPG is not improv theatre, and it's not cooperative story-telling either. It must also be a game. Although an RPG is unlike a traditional game where players are playing to win, there has to be some mechanics that govern general action resolution and character trait definition at the very least. Purely freeform RPGs are right on the verge of becoming another game type altogether, if you ask me. And an all-rules, zero-story RPG is more a wargame than anything else. Still, all forms of gaming are valid past-times so long as they fulfill the primary goal for their design: players having fun. Afterall, in the end, we're all gamers.

So if you happen to get to the after-life, give me a call. Maybe we can set a game or two of Wiz-War with a couple of other gamer-guys/grrlz. Until then, game on. Life is the greatest game of them all!

Here Goes Nothing

(Or, My mind finally spills out onto the 'Net)

Well, after putting off a journal of sorts for almost my entire life, I've finally decided to start one (Oooh, and a public one at that). Yay me!

Last night, or very early this morning (night and day gets blurred with my irregular sleep cycle), I was in a mad fit of 'net surfing. This time, I was particularly looking for a new board/card game of the non-abstract sort.

Here's three of the best sites offering various freebie games starting with one site I usually check for updates since new games are added there frequently:

1. Warpspawn Games
Most of the games require some assembly, of course (you've got to print all those cards yourself). Nice thematic card games covering lots of genres from real-world history, to fantasy, and science-fiction. I've only actually played one game: Power Up! which is a two-player game of super-powered martial arts action ala Dragonball Z.

While looking into the links at the Warpspawn site, I've stumbled onto the Dvorak Card Game site. It's actually a rules engine for card game design and the rules can even be summarized in 99 words (!). Technically, it's a nomic game (this means the rules change) meant to be played using blank cards. The site also archives several pre-made decks, most of which can be played as excellent stand-alones. Some noteworthy ones include the NetHack Deck (inspired by the classic, and free, NetHack CRPG), the Paranoia Deck (based on the hilarious RPG of the same name), Roman Politics (where players struggle with each other to become the next Caesar), and Comic Publishing (players are publishers of competing superhero comicbook series). I've already printed those four, and will try them out with the ol' gaming group this afternoon.

"The Last Game On Earth" has website that looks really nice. Ghoulash is basically a two-player "survival horror"-esque game played in a manner similar to Battleships (which is one of my childhood faves, before I got into pen-and-paper RPGs), except that the players are post-apocalyptic survivors in world filled with ghouls. The rules fit onto a single page and various scenarios are available for download, each with their own additional rules. This game is definitely worth a try.

This ends my very first post to my very first blog!

Now, I must get some sleep. It's 7:25 a.m. here, on a Sunday...

Game on, folks!