« February 2008 | Main | April 2008 »

March 29, 2008

Midnight Mumblings

It’s quarter past midnight, I’ve got a busy day tomorrow – sorry, today – and I’m suddenly struck by the urge to write a new post. Jesus, there must be an author in here somewhere.

I’d characterise things around here as “chugging along”, but that’d be doing those things a disservice. “Chugging along well,” that’s better. Work is still work. I’ve been asked to start using up some of my accrued annual leave, so I’m taking the three weeks after ANZAC Day so Vickie and I can get stuck into the final round of interior renovations. We’ve given up on waiting for Karlos to do our computer desks – let’s face it, though, the poor bugger’s pretty damned busy at the moment, and on top of all that, he and his wife have a newborn son – so we’re going to get stuck into it ourselves. After that, I’m taking the week after my birthday off. What? Take leave on my birthday? And miss out on work cake?

Things are looking up on the RPG front. I ran a successful third session of Star Wars: Tarmadan Sector last Saturday, and am working on the next one. Also, a month or so ago, the Cairns Roleplayers Meetup Group was resurrected by a fellow from Melbourne named Leon, who’s keen to GM some Feng Shui. We’re meeting up this afternoon to go over campaign concept and characters, and I’ll rock along after my meeting with Josh. I’m definitely kicking myself for auctioning off my Feng Shui gear a couple of years ago. I’m thinking of trying to flog my Heavy Gear stuff again so I can afford both the FS main rulebook and Starships of the Galaxy for Star Wars Saga Edition, plus top the savings account off a bit.

Over-the-Net RPGing hasn’t worked out for me yet, but as I suddenly feel as though I’m grokking Amber Diceless for the first time, I’m tempted to throw my hat back into the ring. Problem is, I need a few people to game with, and stuffed if I’m gonna be the GM. So anyone know anyone? Sallidar, if you’re reading this, I sent you an e-mail about the game we were discussing many moons ago. Are you still keen?

I need to start catching up on my physical fitness, though. After our league win, both of Run, Forrest, Run's star strikers decided to devote their time to other things (in one case, an outdoor soccer league; in the other, SES training). Which means I need to start doing something else to keep myself in shape. Like, say, walking the dogs regularly again; Ziggy is about five kilos overweight at the moment.

Anyway, with that I’m off to bed afore my eyeballs fall out. Night (or morning), all!

March 15, 2008

Order 66

Just thought I'd hip you all to a neat little podcast by a pair of fans (and GMs) of the Star Wars Saga Edition roleplaying game. The hosts talk about general Saga Ed. system matters (the second show has an interesting discussion on why it's better to multiclass into Jedi than take it at level 1), particular issues (is the Ithorian bellow too overpowered? did the Gamorrean get boned in Saga?) and general silliness (including guest spots from good-ole-Stormtrooper TK-421 and postcards from Commander Cody).

The home page is here, and you can subscribe via your favourite podcast manager here.

March 12, 2008

Another Campaign Almost Toast...

You're not going to believe this. If it weren't so utterly in character for me, I wouldn't believe it either.

I'd spent a lot of time last week prepping the next session of my Star Wars Saga game, which was meant to be on Saturday at 1PM. I was pretty happy with what I had; I spent Saturday morning printing out NPC stat blocks, writing a session summary sheet and thinking about fight scenes. I hole-punched everything neatly and put it in a ring-binder, then put binder, rulebook, the notebook I've been using exclusively to make campaign notes in, dice and pencils in the draw-string D&D bag I got at last year's Spring Revel.

Twelve PM rolls around, so I say goodbye to my wife and take everything out to the car - whereupon I realise I've forgotten my car keys. I put the bag on the roof of the car, go back inside, get the keys, start my car's engine, open the gates, drive through them, close them again, then drive down the road to the petrol station, fill the tank, pay, then start the twenty-five-or-so kilometre journey to Simon & Cristel's place.

Four fifths of the way there, I suddenly realise that my bag of stuff isn't on the passenger seat next to me. I take a quick glance over my shoulder at the back passenger seats; also empty. I pull the car over and give its interior a once over. No luck. I think about where I left it last - and realise that the last place I left it was on the roof of my car.

I call home, just in case I left it in the carport and forgot. My wife couldn't find it there, or in the garden. I call Simon and let him know what's happened and that I'm going back to try and find it. I'm nigh certain the bag wasn't on the roof of the car when I pulled in at the petrol station, so it could only have came off along a fairly short stretch of road.

I drive to the petrol station. It's not lying there, nor has it been handed in. I drive back from the petrol station to home; I can't see it lying on the road or on the grass verges. Just in case, I walk from my place to the petrol station and back again, covering each side of the road. Nada.

Of course, by this time, all the rest of my players had turned up at Simon’s place. Tracy offered to GM some Shadowrun, but having already driven most of the way in and back, I didn’t feel like heading out again, plus I wasn’t in the mood to give good game that afternoon. From what I gather, a pretty good time was had.

Thankfully, we got a knock on the door that afternoon, and as I was in the middle of some Grifball (last weekend was a Double EXP Weekend) Vickie wnt to see who it was. It turned out to be Joanne, the lady who sells us tickets for a paralysis charity raffle. She'd picked the bag up, opened the notebook within, saw my name and realised who it was.

I didn't get the Star Wars Saga Edition rulebook back immediately, though; Joanne's daughters, who are apparently steadfast in their refusal to read anything vaguely resembling a book, saw it when she pulled it out of the bag and, intrrigued by the "Star Wars" on the cover, immediately asked if they could have a read! Joanne leapt on the opportunity, and delivered the book back to me on Sunday. She hasn't had a chance to ask them what they reckoned, but I figure if they weren't keen on it (it is an RPG text, after all, so my expectations aren't high there) I might dig up one of the Star Wars novels I have, and if they did, well, I might wind up GMing the game for a new generation of gamers!

In the meantime, I'm still sorting out with my players when the new date for Session 3 will be.

Wet Wet Wet

Yep, it’s been pretty much like a Scottish boy band here over the past pair of weeks. A monsoonal trough moved in and dumped so much rain last week that I wound up getting in late for work on a couple of days. Roads south were cut for a while by floods and we even sandbagged around the back doors just in case the inch-deep water over our back patio started creeping toward the house.

Needless to say, our garden’s gone bonkers. I finally managed to mow our lawns and trim our hedges last weekend, and Vickie did a heap of weeding, including ripping up a barrow-load of pumpkin vine which had overgrown one of our herb beds. The rain has set in again, unfortunately, and I have the feeling I’ll be doing most of it all over again this coming weekend.

It’s a frustrating irony that the air conditioning system at work has been utterly inoperative since Monday, so while it’s been cold and dreary outside I’ve been wearing shorts in order to cope with the hot steaminess inside. The poor buggers in facilities have resorted to bulk purchasing pedestal fans in order to keep the work areas cool. I just feel sorry for the folks on the top floor, who have it even worse…

March 06, 2008

The Geekosphere Says Goodbye

For those of you not really familiar with my little hobby, let me offer you some links to those better able to express the influence that two guys in a garage had on today's world:

Finally, Steve Jackson, head of Steve Jackson Games (probably the second-biggest RPG publisher behind Wizards of the Coast), sums Gygax's influence up best: "If not for Dungeons & Dragons, "adventure game" would still mean "cardboard chits on a hexmap." Which I love dearly, but would it ever have gotten out of the garage? And that's the least of it. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson didn't just remake a hobby. They impacted all of Western culture. Fantasy fiction would still be a backwater had not D&D built an audience and a new generation of writers. Lord of the Rings would be something taught in college English classes, not a blockbuster movie trilogy. And consider: The direct lineal descendant of D&D is World of Warcraft, which is, all by itself, what? A billion-dollar business now?"

RIP Gary Gygax

It’s old news now, I’m sure, but I didn’t want to let it go without a remark. Yesterday, one of the two creators (certainly the better known one) of Dungeons & Dragons, E. Gary Gygax, passed away at his home. He was 69 years old.

If you want to find tributes to Gary, Google will fix you up. Personally, I like this one by Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade – the strip is pretty good, too. While, like nearly every gamer, my first exposure to the hobby was D&D, I’ve never laid eyes on a copy of the original rules and only bought a version of D&D - 3rd - for the first time back in 2001. My first actual game of D&D is a study in irony; EvilHayama DMed his “red box” Basic Rules for the Cazman and I in the first or second year of High School, and of the three of us, only I became a serious hobbyist (and primarily GM). I feel I owe a more direct debt to designers like Wujcik (himself battling life-threatening illness), Costikyan and Pondsmith for hooking me into RPGs than Gygax.

Nonetheless, I have no doubt those luminaries of the gaming field would tip their hats to Gary Gygax and co-creator Dave Arneson without hesitation. So my thanks go to Gygax not just for coming up with the grand-daddy of RPGs but also for the over thirty years’ worth of hobby that he and Dave perhaps inadvertently spawned.

There’s one article written about Gary’s death that I’d like to quote from:

[Gail Gygax] said that while [Gary] used computers to help speed up the designs for his games and the writing of his books, he never really got interested in video games.

"He liked the group environment where you were with people," she said.

Rest in peace, Mr. Gygax. You’ll certainly be missed.