Thursday, January 29, 2009


Player characters are funny things. Franz, for example, makes characters that are consistently overpowered and "broken." Yet, somehow, he manages to have his character die about three or four times more than the rest of us. Combined. We've more or less decided that his powergamer tendencies are necessary as a handicap.

Recently some similar shenanigans led to some funny moments in my Pbp game. Ricardo, the unrelenting Don Juan of the group, went and got himself killed. Totally unnecessarily. However, the Mist Demon Lady (it would be nice if someone would figure out her name so I don't have to refer to her by nickname all the time) didn't really want Ricardo dead, so she brought him back. Sadly for Ricardo, she stuck his soul in the body of one of the amazon girls that they knew. That kinda takes his concept and totally turns it on its head.

Lash, another rather notoriously broadly played character ;), decided that he would ignore the warning to get out of the way as she brought his soul back. He got caught in the backlash and his soul ended up in a gorilla's body.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Secrets of Sarlona

One of the oft-misunderstood taglines of the D&D setting Eberron is that everything in D&D has a place there. Of course, that doesn't mean that everything in D&D is in Eberron, like some crazy goulash, but it does mean that if it exists in D&D anywhere, there's a place in Eberron where it can logically fit. A nice concept.

One section of the setting, the continent of Sarlona, is a bit different. For most intents and purposes, you could almost treat Sarlona as a separate setting entirely, one that's at best only tenuously connected to the "main" setting, which is the continent of Khorvaire (with the Xen'drik annex, maybe.) And Sarlona is built on a very different model, and one which I quite like: the idea of picking only a handful of unusual D&D elements to create a setting that utilizes D&D material, but doesn't feel very much like D&D. In large part, this is because of the notable things that it lack, but that's part of what makes it fun.

For instance, the population of Sarlona is mostly human, but when it's not, you don't get your standard elves, dwarves, halflings, orcs, goblinoids, etc. Instead, you get a sizeable number of shifters, some changelings, ogres (and ogre magi), skulks, kalashtar, and a culture of duergar and dwarves that are well integrated with each other.

There are little (if any) of the standard magic-using classes around; instead we have psionics to give us the wahoo factor. A lot of D&D players don't dig psionics; they feel too "science fictiony" to belong in fantasy, but heck; that's a big part of the attraction to them for me. Most of Sarlona is ruled by Imperial Riedra, a giant nation that is highly stratified, populated by religious fanatics, and secretly under the thumb of nightmarish creatures from another dimension. Kind of like Star Wars imperial menace combined with some H. P. Lovecraft. An obvious campaign idea is having the PCs be "part of the rebel alliance" that struggles to overthrow or at least mitigate the spread of this Empire.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dice bag

Ugh. The lighting on these shots isn't very good, and there's a weird colored reflection of some kind. Oh, well.

Quick snapshots.

Prestige classes

I just found an index on the Wizards of the Coast website that has all of the prestige classes along with a quick description, and the product and page number they appear on. There are 782 of them. 700. And 82.

And that's just the official prestige classes. The third party prestige classes multiply that number exponentially. Heck, that doesn't even include classes from Dragon Magazine (unless they were subsequently reprinted in an official book, which did often happen.) It's also a bit overstated, as some classes were updated, appear in two products, and are subsequently listed twice. But still. Holy cow. I had no idea there were so many.

I tried to make a quick list of "base" classes; 1-20 level classes that appeared in official products, and I got 44. I'm not sure that's completely comprehensive, but it's gotta be pretty close. If anything, the number goes up a little, but I'd be surprised if it goes past 50.

Now I should count up playable races. I mean, with Savage Species almost every monster entry can be converted to a race, but I mean ones that have actually been seriously proposed as a playable race. I'm sure it's somewhere between 50-100, if not even more.

That, my friends, is a lot of options.

Birthday update

I never did comment on what I got for my birthday, did I? I got some cash from Julie... not a ton, but in today's environment, more than enough to make me happy. She also finally went ahead and made the dice bag that I had bought fabric for. There's actually enough fabric left over that she may make a second one, if I can talk her into it. I also got a gift card from my in-laws at Barnes & Noble.

That doesn't really answer the question, though: what did I get--cash begs the question; what did I then spend that cash on? Here's the rundown on stuff I either bought outright or ordered and am waiting on it to arrive. I think this is more or less complete:

RPG Books:

Expanded Psionics Handbook
Complete Psion
Weapons of Legacy
Libris Mortis
Guide to Absalom
Osirion: Land of the Pharoahs

Other Books:

Ultimate Dangergirl!
The Scent of Shadows


Mummy 3
Prince Caspian
Incredible Hulk
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem
Clone Wars
The Dark Knight

All clear

Well, we just had the "all clear" meeting saying that all headcount reduction actions were done. For whatever reason, I'd almost convinced myself that I was going to get laid off, and needless to say, I haven't been.

So, that's a relief. Although in some ways, I'd almost have been relieved to have been laid off and forced to go somewhere else too. If nothing else, this whole episode has opened my eyes to how little I've been enjoying this job in a while. So, while my urgency is somewhat removed, my desire to get out of Dodge (and by Dodge, I actually don't mean that literally of course) is still there.

We'll see what happens in the next few months. If nothing else, I'll have to go through some transition, as my boss was moved to a new assignment as part of a consolidation scheme.

Layoff task

Well, the layoffs for my department have been going on around me this morning. It may be a bit early to call it, but it looks like maybe I was worried for nothing. I think that they're done laying people off.

Poor lady across the aisle from me got it.

On a lighter note, I never posted the thread I was talking about last time. In fact, I've posted very little. Even when I've had the time for it, the sites have been moving glacially slow; to the point where it's not even worth it to me to wait for pages to load so I can bother reading them. It's really putting a crimp in my Pbp, though, sadly. Hopefully whatever's causing all this lag gets sorted out quickly.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Update (D&D)

In reading over again from some of the Complete books, I remembered how much fun all the organizations were. I like organizations. They provide interesting hooks to propel the game forward and give the players something cool to do. They can be motivated and ubiquitous recurring antagonists, allies, patrons, or even something that the PCs aspire to join.

I think I'm going to start a thread at CM (or maybe ENWorld. Or maybe both) soliciting the creation of new organizations that I can post in my modular campaign setting wiki. I should get some interesting feedback.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Still not laid off

For whatever that's worth.

I've had trouble concentrating on hobby pursuits lately, and my blog, which I mostly contrain to gaming or dinosaur related topics anyway, is certainly one of those. But the good news is, I'm still hanging on there. By early February, I'll know for sure one way or another how things are going to shake out for the short term, and I'll be able to settle down a bit.

Assuming I'm not laid off, though, I'm still going to be busy. For one thing, I don't think our industry is going to improve much in 2009, and I'm not confident there won't be another lay-off task coming yet. For another, even if there isn't, this whole affair has brought to mind how much I realized that I don't really like my job, don't like my company and am profoundly disinterested in the entire industry in which I work. I need a new job even so.

So, that's one of my New Year's resolutions: one way or another come to terms with my job. Right now, I'm thinking that means I need a new one.

One of my other New Years resolutions is to write this razzin' frazzin' novel that I've been dinking with for the better part of several years. I think that I find myself intimidated by the thought of actually writing it, so I either put it off, or go back and plan some more. Last night, I looked at the rather pathetic 6,000 words I've written so far (which don't even get me quite to the end of the prologue---fantasy novels are long these days. I've gotta plan on getting well over 100,000 words to sell it in today's market) I got a bit excited to move forward again. I think one thing that's really slowed me down last year was the sheer mental exhaustion I felt after a day at a job that had me all wound up all the time. I wasn't realizing how much work was affecting my personal life.

Again; time for a change. One way or another. So, I'll be busy for the time being, even if I'm not forced to be busy by virtue of being laid off. But I'll try to get this blog thing moving a bit more steadily nonetheless.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I like D&D

I've described for a long time my strange love/hate relationship with D&D, but I've come to a realization lately. I actually do like it. When I'm not playing it, I crave it. As much as I'm enjoying playing some Call of Cthulhu right now (and I am very much enjoying it) I've got D&D character concepts going on in my head that I can't get around.

Maybe part of it is that I've buying up a bunch of 3.5 books that I never got before (I just ordered the Expanded Psionics Handbook, Complete Psionic and Weapons of Legacy with a Barnes & Noble gift card I got for my birthday... I'd been using my old Psionics Handbook combined with the online SRD to get psionics up 'til now. I actually didn't have much interest in Weapons of Legacy but it was dirt cheap and it filled out what was left on the gift card much more nicely than anything else that I'd rather have bought... which would have cost a lot more. Now I've got $.91 left on the card.) As I've been reading these books that I've bought, I'm getting more and more excited about using them, of course.

Also, though, I've just come to the conclusion that there's something very satisfying about D&D. I don't know for sure what it is; like I said, I've often been very unhappy with it in the past, but when it works well, it's been some of my best gaming. I really enjoyed playing in the Age of Worms campaign for instance. The Pirates of the Mezzovian Main game I ran was tons of fun until I started running out of steam near the end. The Demons in the Mist game is great.

Granted, except for the Age of Worms, all of those were unusual, to say the least, for D&D games, but still. I've found that D&D, at least of the third edition persuasion, is a better vehicle for delivering great gaming that I had previously given it credit for.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New links

I added a few new links to the side over there. I actually have four wikis for game settings. That's a little out of control. Especially considering the state of unfinishedness (or whatever the appropriate real, actual word should be there) of all four of them.

Anyway, I added them. The Pbp setting wiki (Demons in the Mist) is reasonably useful, but that's partly because I'm not the only one who's working on it. That certainly helps it advance at a more reasonable rate rather than getting mere bare bones and then sitting like that for months at a time.

Happy Birthday to me!

I need to take some pictures, but one thing I got for my birthday was a new dice bag. My wife actually made it. It's really, really sweet. It's black (faux) crocodile skin on the exterior, with a skull and crossbones patch, on the interior it's got a nice lining of soft black cloth with additional little skull and crossbones prints on it.

It's really nice. And just in time; I've got my first Cthulhu session of the year tomorrow night.

I don't know what else (if anything) I'll get for my birthday. My wife was kinda upset at me for not actually telling her what I wanted, but frankly, I'm kinda thinking it's smart to hold off making big purchases until we get through the immediate concern with my job and industry in a couple of weeks. Our head-count reduction task is supposed to be done by the end of the month.

Then, I'll probably get something "useful" rather than something fun. Our vaccuum cleaner needs to be replaced, for example.

I'd love to get a PS2 since they're now so cheap, and a few games for it like Fatal Fury Battle Archives 2, King of Fighters XI and Street Fighter Alpha Anthology but we'll see. I could probably do all that for only $100-120.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I've been familiar (through copies circulating around my gaming group) with pretty much every single book that was released by WotC during the 3e and 3.5 era, but there's still plenty of books that I never actually bought myself.

Over the last few months, I took steps to narrow that gap; picking up no fewer than seven books that were on my RPG "to buy" list, including Complete Warrior, Complete Adventurer, Monster Manual III, Monster Manual V, Drow of the Underdark, and Secrets of Sarlona. I guess The Art of Dragon Magazine wasn't really on my "to buy" list, but I got that anyway. A few more entries on the Complete series, the newer psionics book, a few of the environmental books, and one or two other odd books here and there and I can consider myself done with buying 3.5. I'm not being a real strict collector, trying to get literally everything, but there's only a few 3e and 3.5 era books that I probably won't ever want to own. And the only place where I'm really lagging are in the setting specific books.

And anyway, those are all owned by at least someone in my gaming group anyway, so I can still get most of the benefits of owning them by borrowing and reading them at any time without having to actually buy them.

Quite liking Complete Warrior by the way. I had forgotten that, among other things, it offered a pretty good substitution for the ranger and the paladin to make them spell-less. Whoops. I could have specifically encouraged those options for my Demons in the Mist game. Although a paladin would have been certainly out of character considering what the rest of the group ended up as.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Well, I had a very quiet vacation, in which I was almost completely offline. So, as you can imagine, I've got a lot on my mind, but I can't possibly even attempt to capture it all right here right now.

The first thought I have is related to gaming. My big hobby. There's a pretty nifty Star Wars game that's built on the same basic game engine as Dungeons & Dragons (the d20 game engine). It's got three editions that all came out over the course of about five years. I bought the first two, barely cracked them open after first getting them, and decided to pass on the third edition. Which is too bad, as purportedly it's the best of the bunch.

Still; the idea that I've had kicking around for some time in the back of my head is to use the Star Wars d20 system for a fantasy setting. Let the two Jedi classes and the Force Adept be magic users, convert the lightsaber into some kind of magic blade, sorta like Psylocke's mindblade (from the X-men), tweak a few unnecessary skills out (like the ability pilot starships or repair droids, for example), grab a few races from fantasy sources, replace blasters with flintlocks or something, and run with it.

I think the game would feel more like Flash Gordon on Mongo or John Carter of Mars than it does like D&D, but I'm perfectly OK with that. In fact, that's a strength of the idea for someone like me, who's a bit lukewarm to D&D anyway.

Other than that basic idea, though, I haven't ever done any development. I have no idea where else this would go.