28 May 2007

World of Warcrack

Meet Corelle.

Corelle is my alter-ego in World of Warcraft. That would be "WoW" for short. I've been playing the game for a couple of weeks now. I even managed to suck Amy into it. I'd originally wanted to name the character "Coral," but that name had been taken. I went through a couple of alternate spellings before I settled on Corelle. It came to mind as she reached 5th level that Corelle is a brand of dinner plates. Egad.

I'm an RPer first, and an engine of monster death second. Still, running around killing stuff has an appeal that can hardly be explained. It's odd, but playing a female character gets you all sorts of attention. Though Amy expresses that she isn't getting hit on in the game, despite the fact that she's playing a female. Personally, I think it's because she's playing a gnome.

Edit: I've put in a new picture of the girl, mostly because the other one was too dark. I end up playing in the evenings, and since the game clock is dynamic, it's almost always dark.

25 May 2007

Waiting Patiently

It’s only natural that waiting for the things that really matter to us is so painfully done. There are plenty of things I don’t care about that I have no trouble waiting for. Dental visits, for one. Increases in the price of gasoline, for two. A most definite three would be waiting for Hastur to use the litterbox (or the carpet, as the case may be; disgusting animal).

I’m generally very patient. I worry, but that’s not the same as being impatient. There are similarities, true, and the two can certainly be joined together. I’d be a complete emotional wreck if I were both worried and impatient all at the same time. My wife would probably take my life in some agonizing, mediaeval manner. Garroting me while I fitfully slept, for instance.

So there’s all this vague talk about me waiting patiently. For what, you ask?

As is often the case, mum is the word on certain things. This is one of them. Were I you, reading this post, I’d likely find myself totally annoyed with it. I don’t feel bad about baring my soul, expressing my pain to the world, but even I have secrets. I am contractually obliged to keep most of them under my hat. The other 10% are more personal than I’d rather reveal. At least they don’t involve major surgery of any kind.

Unrelated: I’ve been reading George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. What a doorstop of a book, but it’s well-written. I’m finally getting the characters straight, more often than not.

Also, I heard from a fellow gamer on one of the local RPG boards that my name is, indeed, gracing the cover of Complete Champion. That’s great, says I. I have yet to see the book, much less hold it in my sweaty hands. Yet another of the many things I’m waiting for. It’s important, yes, but I’m not losing sleep over Complete Champion. As if I have that much sleep to lose these days.

20 May 2007

Twilight 2013

I'm helping with some design on the latest edition of Twilight 2000, and I thought I'd post a few links for anyone who is interested. The work I'm doing is fairly minimal at the moment, but it might expand (depending, in large part, on what happens in the next week or two; more on that particular can of worms when I'm able to say more about it).

On the off chance you've never heard of Twilight, let me tell you a little bit about the premise. The first edition was released by Games Designers Workshop (GDW) back in 1984. The plotline revolved around the collapse of society following a detailed account of World War III involving the US and the Soviet Union. Player characters were (ostensibly) allied soldiers who remained in Europe at the time of the collapse.

Things go so poorly that the war machine on both sides of the lines breaks down completely, and society is so damaged by the ravages of the conflict that you end up with a situation similar to what was seen in the oft-maligned Costner flick The Postman. While there remain some coherent elements of NATO and the Warsaw Pact remaining, they are islands in a sea of chaos that spans the entire European continent.

Enter the players, whose sole goal is to make it home, wherever that might be. Starting near Kalisz, Poland, the players must face their Warsaw Pact enemies, as well as local warlords, roaming marauders, and the threats posed by starvation, disease, and lingering radiation. Given that the PCs come from surviving units, they can be of almost any specialty, rank, or nationality, allowing for a great deal of character diversity in parties.

I bought the first edition to T2k many, many years ago, based solely on the box graphics. At the time, I was pretty young (fourteen?), and the game mechanics that were used eluded me somewhat. I guess they were more advanced than what I was used to. Re-reading them, I'm reminded of the level of detail involved. I'm still not real keen on the way that ammunition was represented, but it was (overall) a solid mechanical basis for a game of that scope. I was more interested in the human and historical information presented, so much so that I wrote a "history" report about the conflict for extra credit in high school.

Later on, in 1990, GDW re-released T2k with different rules (using the GDW house system) and an updated timeline. The line received a lot of support. I bought heavily into the game, picking up whatever I could, but I never did manage to run a campaign for one reason or another. Military-style games aren't for all players, after all. GDW eventually released a supplement for T2k, titled Merc 2000, which traded global warfare for scattered brushfire conflicts. Anyone who wants to play The Wild Geese should probably check out Merc 2000.

93 Games Studio is producing the latest edition of Twilight: 2000. Like the two previous editions of the game, this one will use a completely different set of system mechanics. The timeline is also different, though I can't say much about it.

Lately, 93 Games has been posting teasers and the like in order to generate some buzz about their upcoming release. So far, they've posted a background fiction piece titled Shall Not Perish in PDF format, and you can read and/or download it here. I've also been informated that a podcast has been posted on the 93 Games Developer's Blog, here. If you enjoyed the original T2k, or have an interest in the post-apocalypse genre, you might want to check it out.

14 May 2007

Complete Champion Designer Interview

There's an interview with designer Chris Thomasson up on the Wizard's site, and it concerns Complete Champion. Chris dispels a few of the rumors about the book, and talks about what it is and what it is not.

When asked about the prestige classes offered in the book, specifically as to his favorite, he responds:

"My favorite group is probably Pelor's Shadow Guard, and the shadowspy and shadowstriker prestige classes tied to it. The idea of the god of the sun having, basically, a secret service really makes me happy. This group just really does things to the interaction between the churches of Pelor and Heironeous that makes them more real for me. This group is going in my next campaign."

Thanks for the compliments, Chris! Those PrCs, as well as the organization they serve, were part of my writing assignment on Complete Champion. Granted, I don't know how much revision they saw during the editing and development processes, but I figure I'll know for sure in a very short while (as soon as my comps arrive). I guess I'll also find out if I made the cover of the book or not (see this post for details on that topic).

08 May 2007

More Complete Champion Goodness

Wizards has posted a lot of other previews for Complete Champion, including an art gallery! One of the things that I've always loved about writing is seeing my words transformed into art. I'm one of those guys who has trouble making sure the sticks are straight when I draw stick men, so I've always been awed by artists.

I'm sure I've talked about this before, but let me refresh those of you who might not know about a little thing called an art order. I never knew about art orders, back when I was writing my own game stuff and using it to make my players miserable. Since I've been fortunate enough to delve into the freelancer's lifestyle, I've probably done scores of art order entries. Maybe more.

So what's an art order? Simply put, it's a description for an artist to use a springboard for a piece of art that will appear in a product. It should be relevant, and it needs to be highly detailed without being overdone -- you've got to give the artist some leeway, after all.

Now, having done a lot of art orders, I can say that it's not often that I see a piece of art in a product I've worked on that I can look at and say, "Hey, I wrote that!" With Complete Champion, though, I can honestly look at these pictures and say, "Wow, that's my art order! And that one! And that one, too!" It's awesome to see these pieces of art and know that I contributed to them in my own limited fashion.

As for the previews of the product itself, you can check them out here. The spell lists and new feats are especially interesting to me, as I helped design some of the entries. So go and check them out!

I've got a good feeling about this book. A lot of folks tend to poo poo the Complete line of sourcebooks. To me, each one provides a toolbox for players and DMs. I don't think they can be all things to everyone, nor should they be. I'll always get more use out of some than I will out of others, but that doesn't bother me. Then again, maybe I'm biased.

05 May 2007

Aimless Drifting

I'm up early today. I have no idea why. Everyone else is asleep, including both children. When you have young kids, "Sleep when they sleep," becomes a mantra of sorts. I've been getting up early for work for so long now that sleeping in past seven or eight o'clock is a rare luxury. When it hits, insomnia tends to strike me after 3am.

No gaming scheduled for this weekend. Adam is moving, so we did Ravenloft last weekend, instead. I've had to weigh my options on the workplace D&D game, given that I've got several projects that are either due or coming up within the next few weeks/months. There are other logistics, too, that came into play, and I've ultimately decided to suspend workplace D&D for an indefinite period. It was fun while it lasted.

With the coming release of Star Wars Saga Edition, I'm interested to try the new game mechanics out. I'd like to see what my friends Rodney and Owen have cooked up. I've been role-playing Star Wars since the first edition of WEG's version came out. I stubbornly resisted the d20 edition of the game when it was released, but somehow I was eventually drawn in and converted to the ways of the New Order.

Saga Edition seems solid to me, based on what I've seen. There are changes, some subtle, that I'm not too sure about just yet. Not having played it, I can't say for certain how game play will be affected. I can only look at what has been done and hypothesize about how it might influence the flow of the game. It's supposed to be faster, and I suppose I can't really complain about that. As much as I might like a good fight in any d20 title, they can get bogged down.

Amy, my wonderful wife, has been making not-so-subtle comments as of late. While she is enjoying the Ravenloft game, she has an undeniable preference for Star Wars. "Why aren't we playing Star Wars?" she asked (though I daresay, it might not have been a question on her part).

"Because Saga hasn't been released yet," I said. "Once Saga is out, I'll be happy to run Star Wars again so we can try the new system out."

But what of Ravenloft?

I've got this horrible reputation as a DM/GM who starts games and campaigns, but rarely finishes them. It's a curse of DM ADD, or so I like to think. Though I've felt a pull to run other games in the time since Ravenloft started, I've had little real desire to. It's a lot easier to run a module than it is to create your own adventures, NPCs, encounters, etc., from whole cloth. I spend my off-hours writing freelance game material, so running Ravenloft is almost like taking a vacation from "real" DMing.

So, yeah, I'd like to run Star Wars when it comes out; conversely, I don't want to stop running Ravenloft as a consequence. Running two campaigns concurrently is a possibility that I've entertained, but that opens up a new can of worms regarding scheduling, time, and eventual player and/or DM burn-out. It's tough enough to get five people together every two weeks for a single campaign; trying to coordinate the same five individuals to show up for two games is like herding cats.

The schedule that might work is a two on, one off sort. For instance, Ravenloft one week, Star Wars the next week, and then a weekend of rest the following week. Repeat. This puts three weeks between sessions (which, admittedly, stretches the limits of keeping a game's momentum flowing), but I can't seen any other option being feasible.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: growing up sucks. There's never enough time to do the things you want to do. When I was a kid, running two games (each week, mind you) would have been more that just feasible; it would have been mandatory.

I'm going to lay down on the sofa for a bit and listen to the birds chirping outside, I think. Despite my waking up in the pre-dawn hours, I'm hardly well-rested. I'm still pretty tired, and I know that Stephen will be awake within the next two hours. I'm planning to get some work done this morning, which means I'm going to It's A Grind. But when..?

04 May 2007

Complete Champion Preview

Wizards has posted previews for up-coming products, including Complete Champion. Amusingly enough, a couple of the items I worked on are included in the preview.

You can check it out here.