Saturday, January 24, 2015

First Post of the Year

Just in case you were worried, I am still alive and still posting here.

DunDraCon is just around the corner and I will definitely be there. And so will Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. Not only will I be running AiO on the convention schedule, but I have also arranged for the game to be available in the Dealer's Room. I am very excited.

Getting things organized for the con has been more work than I expected this year. The hotel sold out in a matter of days. It happened before anyone expected, even the convention organizers. While they were trying to get an overflow hotel setup, they put up a room sharing page on their site. This is how I managed to get lodging at the convention hotel this year.

Transportation was the next major step. We've been going with my friend Mike for several years now, but he declared last year to be the last year he would do it. His car was capable of handling 3 people and their convention gear, but when we added his new girlfriend to the mix, there was not enough room. So it's back to Greyhound buses

But I did take advantage of Google Transit to figure out the local bus system in San Ramon and turn a $20 cab ride into a $4 bus fare. Modern technology is wonderful, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Back in the Bundle!

You might or might not have gotten what I was hinting at in my last blog post, but now that it's live, I think it's safe to just tell you.

The Bundle of Holding is doing a revival of the Family Friendly Bundle that I participated in last year about this time. This is the Bundle that was active when Wil Wheaton graced the site with his glorious gaze. (In case you didn't get my hint, this is what I was referring to.) It will be available from now until January 2nd, 2015.

Along with Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, there are several other games that you can play with kids (or just kids at heart.)

Happy Birthday, Robot! is a storytelling game in which players create the story of Robot's birthday. But each player only gets so many words to contribute to the story. Not really an RPG, but a fun party or classroom game. There is even advice for teachers on using the game in their lesson plans.

Hero Kids brings the combat and exploration of D&D to kids as young as 4. Cleanly laid out character cards illustrate heroic roles for boys and girls.

Mermaid Adventures takes players on undersea adventures inspired by The Little Mermaid and other fantastical tales. Several types of merfolk are available for play, and the game includes 5 adventures as well as a coloring book!

The Princes' Kingdom describes itself as a "game about children, adults and ideals."  Players take on the role of princes and princesses who travel their parent's kingdom solving problems. On the one hand, they are royalty and have the authority to implement their solutions. On the other hand, the characters (and maybe even their players) are children and have a hard time getting adults to listen to them.

If you beat the average price (set at 13.95 at release, but creeping up), you'll also get the bonus titles. Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is one of these. The others are:

Camp Myth is based on the YA novels of Chris Lewis Carter and puts players in a summer camp for mythical beings. It uses a system similar to the one in Mermaid Adventure (They're from the same publisher), but also offers the opportunity for characters to earn Badges during play.

Project Ninja Panda Taco is about Masterminds who must work to conquer the world with 3 random objects, as well as their long-suffering minion. The description puts me in mind of a simpler, sillier, more kid-friendly version of Fiasco.

School Daze is a game about the ups and downs of high school.It's a very light and loose system that seems geared more towards one-shot or short term play than extended campaigns.

The Zantabulous Zorcerer of Zo is a game that I've previously reviewed on this blog. By joining this offer, it removes the only thing that kept me from whole-hearted recommendation at that time: price. I complained that the print edition was priced higher than I would like. While the PDF version (all of the games offered at Bundle of Holding are downloadable ebooks) sells for $15, which is somewhat better, this offer give you this game as well as every other title here for download for about that price.

The Family Friendly Bundle will be one of 5 Bundles available via the Bundle of Holding on its release day. Check back often! As Judy Garland once said "My! People come and go so quickly here!"

As of this posting, The Indie Initiative Bundle has one more day to go. It's full of really neat games that were seminal to the Indie movement. The only one in the Bundle I've gotten to try out in my gaming career was The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which is a game of competitive storytelling and oneupsmanship that even imaginative non-gamers can enjoy.

2 more days to go to pick up the Dungeon World Bundle. It applies the Apocalypse World engine to old school dungeon crawling. If you pay enough to get the bonus titles, you can get Adventures on Dungeon Planet, which provides support for sword & planet adventures using Dungeon World.

5 days remain on the King Arthur Pendragon Bundle. Make you own knight or lady (or even lady knight) to adventure in the romantic world of King Arthur and earn your place at the Round Table. Bonus title The Great Pendragon Campaign includes over 100 adventures set before, during and after King Arthur's reign, weaving your characters into the vast tapestry that is Arthurian Legend.

Only 6 more days left on the Mutants & Masterminds 2e Bundle. If you love superheroes, this is a great value. The base collection includes not only the main rulebook and a beginners guide, but also a complete setting, from a complete city to patrol as a street-level hero to cosmic locales if you're a bit more Guardians of the Galaxy.

And of course, a portion of the proceeds for each one of these bundles is donated to two charities chosen by the participating publisher. Check each bundle's page to find out which charities your purchase will be supporting.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday

First of all, an update on something that I mentioned in my last blog post. Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road is now available for sale at Indie Press Revolution. And for those of you who would rather support your Friendly Local Gaming Store this holiday season, IPR also distributes games to stores all across the country and even a little bit beyond.

Also, YourGamesNow ceased operation this month. Both changes have been noted in the ordering links over on the right.

For those shopping via, enter the coupon code WQT32 at checkout and save 35% off your order. Hopefully, your order includes Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road, which makes a great gift for the Oz fan or gamer in your life.

I'm not running any special sales myself this year. But that doesn't mean other people aren't. Although I was a bit distracted by other things the week or so before Thanksgiving (Hope you had a great one!) DriveThruRPG held their annual Teach Your Kids to Game sale, which featured AiO as well as a number of other games.

Watch this space during the month of December for something else exciting that other people are doing. Here's a hint:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Happy Birthday To Me!

Yup. 36 years old as of today.

If it were any other day this month, I'd be trying to save my writing productivity for my NaGaDeMon project. But since it's my birthday, I'll be taking the day off from that. So I've got a few words to spare for the blog. And there are some things to share with you.

First of all, Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road will soon be available from Indie Press Revolution. The main delay at this moment is waiting for them to receive books that I'm having manufactured and shipped to them. If all goes well, everything should be ready to go by Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

Secondly, The Wizard's Magic Bag is almost ready for release. Writing, interior art, and layout are complete. I'm just waiting on cover art right now.

And what is my NaGaDeMon project? Well, it's not Beyond the Deadly Desert, as it's been the last few years. There's only so much I want to say about it right now, because A) It's actually not for me and B) I've made too many overly enthusiastic announcements via this blog and I'd rather wait until it's much closer to completion to make any kind of announcement.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Everyone seems to be talking about John Wick these days. If it's not his big blockbuster movie, it's his latest rant on RPGs.(Not the same guy, but it makes for a good joke) And since it is a rant, it's easy to agree with the broad strokes while still finding the devil in his details.

His core premise seems to be that RPGs are designed to tell stories. And while gamers may use that phrase as an excuse to complain about railroading or excessive focus on drama instead of action, I have little problem with it. Because the "story" in an RPG is about what comes out of play rather than necessarily what the Narrator had in mind when they wrote their notes.

But I do find problems with a number of the things he cites to support his point. His first problematic point is that weapon lists are stupid. Going so far as to include a few film clips, he argues that weapons don't matter if the character is bad-ass enough. Therefore, detailed variations between weapons are stupid because there's no way that your stats for a teacup are going to match what we saw Riddick do with it in the movie.

This argument is flawed for two reasons. Firstly, he's comparing films and games. Since the movie is called Chronicles of Riddick, Vin Diesel's character has an infinite amount of plot protection and access to plot devices. The scene was not intended to challenge the character in any way, but simply to give him a chance to show off.

Secondly, he claims that weapon lists do not help you tell stories. I will admit that there's little dramatic flair to poring over lists of numbers, whether or not those numbers are useful depends on the kind of story you're trying to tell. And if you decide to dismiss weapon lists or other details out of hand, you're actually limiting the kinds of stories you can tell.

Old School D&D, for example, is actually very concerned with logistics. I've once heard it said that if any film genre best approximates the D&D experience, it is the heist film. So knowing precisely what you are carrying and its potential usefulness on your current or next venture is very valuable. You can take a heavier weapon or armor down in to the dungeon with you, but there's the chance that it will slow you down and make it easier for monsters to catch you as well as the possibility that you'll be able to carry less treasure back to the surface with you.

I did not include weapon lists in Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road because weapons were not a big part of the stories I was trying to tell with the game. But to say that such details are not useful in any story is simply false.

Then he trots out the tired old "D&D is not an RPG" argument. Which is both an easy and a hard case to make. It's an easy case because D&D started out as a miniatures wargame and retains many of those features. But it's also a hard case to make since D&D is pretty much the father of the RPG hobby and industry as a whole.

(I'm feeling a desire to go into depth regarding the differences between "dramatic" roleplaying and "practical" roleplaying, but I think I'll save it for another blog post.)

His comments on game balance take a little parsing, but I am largely in agreement. He makes his initial point here clumsily, claiming that balance between players is important in a board game, and then claims that balance between the players is stupid in an RPG. As he goes on, his point does become clearer and this is the part that I agree with.

I'm not as allergic to the term "game balance" as he is, but I think his opinions about spotlight time are spot on. A properly balanced RPG is one that manages spotlight time effectively, giving each character and player time to shine.

I typically don't go as far as John does on removing mechanics that don't appeal to me. When I play a game, I prefer to get the full experience. Only once a rule has proven itself unworkable do I remove it. If the game has a mechanic I don't like, I will typically not run or play that game.

And I do tend to have a problem with people who remove social mechanics in order to "encourage roleplay." Because that sort of thing just creates roadblocks for players who are not smooth talkers, even if they want their character to be one. Social traits also make for an interesting trap for people who think their roleplay skills are all that.

There's a story out there, from John Wick amusingly enough, regarding the playtests for Legend of the Five Rings. One player had such faith in his roleplaying skills that he built his character for combat and got a few extra points for his combat traits by taking social flaws. The opening scene of the adventure required the characters to make a pitch for why they should represent their Clan on this mission of vital importance. Between a lack of investment in social skills and all of his negative social traits, this player failed to roll well enough and his character was not invited along on the adventure.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

RPGaDay #31 Favourite RPG Of All Time

Dammit! You're making me choose! Again! And again, I'm not gonna!

I have a large degree of respect for D&D. Without it, the RPG hobby and industry would not exist. I've played a good amount of it, both 3.x and Old School versions.

I very much like GURPS. As I've mentioned, it's been a big part of my life for a long time. If a campaign presented itself, I would gladly run it again.

I am quite proud of Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. It was my first publication and has been astoundingly well-received by gamers and Oz fans alike. I hope it will not be my last.

I love all the silly little indie games that find one thing to focus on and do that one thing well.

The game I love the most is the one I play with good friends.

That is all.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

RPGaDay #30 Rarest RPG Owned

This would have to be my first printing of the AD&D sourcebook Deities and Demigods. You know, the one with the Cthulhu and Melnibonean pantheons? It turns out that those were still under copyright at the time, so the books had to be recalled and reprinted without the unlicensed material.

You could probably also call Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
pretty rare. Less than 200 copies are currently in print. Less than 500 total sales. Those numbers can certainly grow (and I hope they do), but they're certainly not a sign of taking the RPG industry by storm.
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