Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Please let me redirect you...

...to something else here in the geek blogosphere.  If you happen to be one of the few people who check out my blog but haven't seen this through other means (like, y'know, reading the blog I'm about to link to), you should head over to Tim Knight's HeroPress blog to check out his Six of the Best interview with Justin Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim.  These are two of my favorite blogs and folks who blog, and you can witness their collision by clicking here.


(And, I'm not just sending you there because I got a shout-out.  Although that was very kind of him.)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Battleyacht - mechanical brainstorming, part 1

Well, it's about time I get some real ideas down in digital ink if I'm going to make any progress on this NaGaDeMon thing...!

As I noted in my last post, I'm taking a crack during National Game Design Month at putting together some rules for naval battles based on the mechanics of the public domain dice game Yacht.

Now, I'm neither a seaman nor an experienced player of naval battle games, but it seems to me that I can probably break down the basic actions of a boat in such a game into very few categories...I'm thinking moving, firing, and (maybe) doing other stuff.

Looking at a score card for the game of Yahtzee that I found online, it's clear that there's a nice breakdown at work there, too:


That upper section is all about getting multiples of specific numbers (and earning a bonus for getting what amounts to three of each).  While the traditional Yacht game doesn't make the division quite so explicit (and doesn't have the bonus), scoring does still come down to getting lots of each number OR putting the numbers together in some sort of poker-style grouping (as we see in the bottom section).

So there's how it's gonna break down...movement will be based on getting multiples of a number in order to move that number of [whatever unit of movement I end up using].

The firing and the doing other stuff...that can be where the bottom section comes in.

At first, I figured a simple need for three matching dice in order to move might be good...and maybe additional dice could increase the movement by a unit.  So a roll of...


...would allow for 8 units of movement (6 plus a bonus of 2).

It's occurred to me, though, that a nice way of differentiating crafts in the game might be to give each of them a sort of Control score which is the minimum number of matching dice needed to make a movement happen.  Those that would take a while to get started might require four of a kind, while something like a jet ski might just be able to take the highest die you roll.  (Plus, the Yacht game itself doesn't make that three-of rule of thumb an integral part of the game, so I wouldn't be unhappy to not adhere to that...)

Additionally, crafts may be differentiated by a max speed and/or a bonus that can be applied to a move result.

More details to come on this as I work it out in my head, but I'm liking the "Upper Section" = movement line of thought.  And next time, I'll try to tackle what it means to fire and do other stuff...


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I think I’m gonna do this NaGaDeMon thing...here comes Battleyacht!

A nice little convergence of events has led me to take on what looks to be a fun challenge this month.  On the Sunday before Halloween, I got to run the Ghostbusters RPG for some folks...my first time getting to actually GM a game in a while, and it reminded me that it's fun to roll a handful of d6s sometimes.

On Halloween night, Laura and I decided to play a quick game...and settled on Yahtzee.  It was a family favorite for me growing up, and I had actually raided our copy of it (heretofore unused) to get enough d6s for my Ghostbusters game.  I started to think that maybe there's something interesting about Yahtzee scoring (and the scoring of some of its public domain relatives) that could be exploited for adventure games.

Then, the next day, I was happy to see +Tim Snider's post over at The Savage AfterWorld on National Game Design Month (or NaGaDeMon, which is just...perfect!).


So, the end result of all of this was quite clear:  I need to spend the month of November designing an RPG- or combat-styled game using the mechanics of Yahtzee for task resolution. :)

Yep.  Definitely.

The question became...what should such a game be about?  Well, I remember coming across Yacht in a book of games long ago and realizing that Yahtzee must have been based on it.  And I guess it was, by some path of game evolution, anyway.  So I can start the game's theme with just that: yachts.

Now, I don't really know how to design a game about anything other than fighting, so I guess I know what the yachts will be doing.  But why are they doing it?  A dangerous sport for the idle rich?  War among CGI anthropomorphic vehicles?  Or...well, I remembered a post over at Halls of the Nephilim where Justin threw out post-apocalyptic pirates as a genre mashup that'd be fun to play.

And so the game takes shape.


Now, I may straight up fail at getting this done.  I have a history of not quite getting there on my gaming projects, my current game creation focus is still on getting my next Light City supplement out, and my life is kinda busy these days.  Heck, it's taken me a week (and like five separate typing sessions) to even throw this up on the blog.  But...it's been stewing in the old cranium, and I think I can knock something out by the time the month closes...

Oh yeah!  The final question to answer in this introductory post...what shall I call the game, at least in its development phase?  In homage to the naval combat game that I've probably played the most in my life, as well as one of the finest post-apocalyptic films of the early '80s, it will be known as Battleyacht.

More to come!

(Oh!  And if you're interested in taking part in the game design fun, the center of activity seems to be the NaGaDeMon Facebook page.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My Halloween gaming - Ghostbusters!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Halloween gaming sure seems to bring a lot of joy within RPG circles.  While I've long enjoyed the idea of it, I've rarely, if ever, been able to take part in a dedicated Halloween game.  And lately, my gaming opportunities are very few and far between.  So...when my buddy Ted asked if I'd be willing to run the old Ghostbusters RPG for some folks this past Sunday, I blocked out the time from my work schedule and made sure I'd be able to get in on the fun...!

From Wikipedia.
If you aren't familiar with this RPG classic, you should go check it out...like pretty much right now.  I'm not convinced that it isn't the greatest RPG ever made.  (How's that for an awkwardly hedged grand statement about the game?)  It's almost certainly one of the best introductory games out there, and it seems to have a lot to engage experienced players, as well (although minmaxing types will be greatly disappointed...).  Over at the Nerdy Show, they're really doing their part to renew interest in this old gem...I'd definitely encourage you to check out what they have to offer if you'd like to get in on the fun.

So, the premise was to be that the players are a local Ghostbusters franchise building off the success the original crew had in the first film...that's what Ted was thinking, and it happens to be the jumping-off point plugged in the game itself.  I decided to set the game in 1987 and started brainstorming what sort of ghoulies they might face...really wanting to play up the retro vibe, I looked around at other '80s icons to see what might fit into a game.  Pac-Man's ghosts seemed like they could be a good fit, but I could never wrap my head around how to fit them into a nice adventure.  So what else could there be...killer Care Bears?  A jaunt into the Mushroom Kingdom?  I even thought about having the crew respond to the events of the greatest SF film of 1987.

However, I thought it'd be best if I could work some local flavor in as well.  And then, while picking up a rental car a few weeks ago, I saw this brochure on the rack displaying all the great stuff Georgia has to offer:


And with that, the decision was made.

(If you'd like more info on this special little house of horrors, you can check out its website or Wikipedia entry, or this nice little summary from Cracked last year.  I remember going multiple times as a kid...in its previous location, I guess it may be worth noting...and yeah, the place is weird.)

There's this demonic entity, you see, commonly referred to as The Nurse, or sometimes The Caretaker, whose existence is tied up in two things: caring for children, and making sure they eat their veggies.  And it's been hanging out in this cabbage patch in Cleveland, GA, pretty much unnoticed until some human flesh was improperly discarded by a lab worker at the nearby BioMedChemTech research facility (I used the intro from one of the adventures in the RPG's Operations Manual...).  And now it's building an army of babies that move at lightning speed and use what few teeth they have to take chunks out of unsuspecting folks in the area.

Or something like that.  But seriously, this is creepy stuff:


The other little retro nod I worked in was to give The Nurse a few guardian demons, for which I used some of my old toys from that set of plastic "dinosaurs" that's so well-known in old school gaming circles:


To head off getting too long-winded here, I'll just say that I. Had. A. Blast!!  (Hopefully the players did too...)  Can't wait to run Ghostbusters again...it'll go somewhere in the bottomless stack of games that I'd love to play but never hardly ever get a chance to (next up, though: +Justin Isaac's Slashers and Victims Light...can't wait to see what sort of killer he cooks up for use in my game...!).

Once again, the Ghostbusters RPG is highly recommended.  If you'd like the flavor of it in a different package, you can also check out the Ghost Hackers game I put together (based, of course, on The Black Hack).  The original can still be downloaded from Google Drive right here, and the "updated" (read: with all legal images) can be found over at RPGNow.

Now, everybody stay safe out there!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

This Day in Anthro History: The debut of Ch'p

On October 22, 1981, issue #148 of the second Green Lantern series hit the stands.  The story "Tales of the GLC" introduced the world to an interesting member of the Corps...

All images taken from the DC Database...

Hailing from the arboreal planet H'lven, Ch'p served the Guardians with great honor, even joining the Earth-based team that kicked off the Corps-based book in the '80s...


 ...before meeting an unfortunate end in the early '90s...



Ch'p would show up in other corners of the DC multiverse (and eventually ditch the bowtie)...


...and would be succeeded in the DCU proper by the equally adorable H'venite B'dg:


Personally, I'm quite a fan of the little guy.  Of course, these days, the status of the H'lvenites as four-color spacefaring critters is probably overshadowed a bit by a fellow from the competition...

...except this one from the Marvel Database.

Friday, October 13, 2017

This Day in Anthro History: Lieutenant M'Ress and the Caitians

Happy Friday the 13th!  Time for another installment of "This Day in Anthro History"...perhaps not completely holiday-appropriate, but at least it involves a cat...!

On October 13, 1973, the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Survivor" aired for the first time, introducing the world to Lieutenant M'ress and the cat-like alien species known as Caitians.  After all, every self-respecting SF or fantasy universe needs at least one group of cat people, am I right?

Pic from her Memory Alpha entry...

Caitians would later be documented in live action Trek (like the admiral below who appeared in The Voyage Home) and, somewhat unfortunately, seem to have been ported into the new movies' timeline as catgirls with a more human appearance.

See Unnamed Caitians at Memory Alpha...

And while they might be the best-known of the bunch (maybe...), Caitians certainly aren't the only cats to have graced the Trek (and associated) universes over the years.  You can read a little more on this here...

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Thanks for stopping by!  Now, everybody head on over to Halls of the Nephilim and check out what +Justin Isaac has cooked up for release on this Friday the 13th...!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

This Day in Anthro History: Song of the South's 1980 re-release

This is the first in what I'd like to become a series of posts touching on some of the landmarks in the history of animals that walk and talk like humans.  We'll see how it goes.

On October 10, 1980, Disney re-released the movie Song of the South to theaters.  This is the film that transformed the anthro legends known as Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Bear, and Br'er Fox from folktale figures of the American South to cartoon characters able to hold their own alongside the likes of Mickey and Donald in kids' stuffed animal collections.

If you want, you can buy this cel over here...!

It was also, as far as I can recall and piece together, the first movie I ever saw in a theater.  As a kid born in the late '70s in a pretty small south Georgia town...well, this makes sense.  And while I first saw it during the fourth of five re-releases, there probably aren't a ton of Americans much younger than me who have ever seen the film in any sort of legitimate capacity, as Disney hasn't shown it in an official manner in the United States in decades...for, while the film is known for its excellent mixing of live action and animated footage and for the iconic song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," it's also pretty well known for being too racist for Disney to embrace.

Well...embrace fully, that is.  Honestly, Song of the South is sort of a case study in how we Americans have no effing clue how we're supposed to approach our complicated racial history.  Which is how we have stuff like this movie serving as the inspiration for a popular attraction at both of Disney's big American parks, yet we can't watch the whole thing outside of bootlegs and pieced-together segments on YouTube.

It's been a while since I've seen the whole thing, so I won't attempt to give my own critique of the film's message other than to say that, yes, it's problematic.  This article from ScreenCrush has a pretty good discussion of it.  A summary:  It could have been worse, considering that it was first released way back in 1946, but if you encounter someone who says there isn't a problem with it, they should probably think a little more.

Those anthropomorphic animals sure are fun, though.

Here's a TV trailer for the 1980 re-release (one that certainly gives an idea of the controversy that could result from a full movie of this stuff):


EDIT:  Oh!  I should note that over at Song of the South.net - a website that certainly seems like its creators would know their stuff when it comes to the film - lists October 8 as the date of the 1980 re-release.  However, Wikipedia (yeah, I know) goes with the 10th, and it WAS a Friday, so I'm gonna call it close enough...