Friday, October 28, 2016

Dream Deceivers

I don't know how far I'll ever go with this blog into full review territory, but I do want to occasionally point out stuff that I think is worth checking out, which is the case with the documentary Dream Deceivers.

DVD cover from Amazon.

I happened upon this movie while looking for something to watch during lunch yesterday.  I ended up watching the whole thing (it's a bit under an hour) and liked it so much that I watched it again with Laura during dinner.  Here's the summary from IMDB:

Two young men shoot themselves in a churchyard. Ray Belknap dies; James Vance - severely disfigured - survives. Their parents take heavy-metal icons Judas Priest to court, claiming the band "mesmerized" their sons. The unprecedented trial is the framework for this one-of-a-kind, Emmy-nominated documentary.

At its most basic, Dream Deceivers is an interesting look at the anti-metal hysteria that gripped an era (and still finds various forms to this day).  At its best, though (which is most of the film), it's a moving story that spreads its sympathies around to all parties involved.  It's also paced extremely well.  There are no terribly shocking scenes (although one could argue that (1) the post-suicide video footage is a bit hard to watch, and (2) the first sight of James Vance's disfigurement may surprise you).  By the end, though, there's an almost palpable sense of the delusion holding back the sadness of the young men's families.

Dream Deceivers is currently on Hulu Plus and free through Amazon Prime (not sure about Netflix).  I'd love to hear your thoughts if you check it out (or have already seen it).

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dungeons And Donalds

I realize I'm not "on Twitter," as they say, but the important stuff seems to find its way to the web.  How have I missed that this is a thing?

You can check out @DungeonsDonald here.  Good stuff.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Yet another magic system...

I've been thinking today about a super-simplified approach to spellcasting in RPGs (especially those of the OSR variety), and the more I play it out in my head, the more I think it just might work.  Heck, maybe it's already out there somewhere in the million and one different mechanics for RPG magic that people use.

The root of the system was my admiration for the simple Hit Die as a general measure for fighting ability.  I learned D&D in the third edition era, so it wasn't until I started exploring older editions and retro-clones that I realized how much value there could be in a single number.  I'd love to be able to work with something similar for magic.  "Magic Dice" of sorts.  I guess.  So here's what I'm working with:

A character with X Magic Dice can cast spells up to level X and begins each day with a pool of X dice to use in casting.  When attempting to cast a spell, roll all of your magic dice; if the result is equal to or greater than the spell's difficulty (5x the spell's level), you succeed in casting the spell.  Whenever a character fails at casting a spell, add one die to their pool; when they succeed, remove one die from their pool (minimum of one).

Aside from my horrible use of pronouns in that paragraph, my biggest concern is probably that such a system could be exploited to cast low-level spells too often...although I guess that possibility is there with high-Intelligence Conjurers in The Black Hack, and it doesn't seem to break anything.

The spell list could be as broad or narrow as desired for the game, and it would be easy to add in "exploding" sixes...and rolls of "one" not counting for ensure that every instance of spellcasting has the chance to succeed or fail...

At any rate, I could imagine a really simple character advancement/construction system in which Hit Dice and Magic Dice are basically equivalent, so with each level, you just choose which one to add to your character.

UPDATE:  Joel Priddy over at An Abominable Fancy has done an excellent breakdown of success rates with this system using a couple of different target number progressions.  Be sure to head over there...not only does Joel use real-life mathematics to analyze this (rather than my typical "yeah, maybe that'll work..."), but his blog is always a great read...!

Margo the Magician.  Because I wanted a picture in this post, and this one kind of fit the theme.

Friday, October 14, 2016

War Games for Boy Scouts (ca. 1910)

Considering the strong connections that remain between the two pastimes to this day, I'm sure I'm not alone among RPGers in enjoying reading about the history of miniature wargames.  I've often looked over the timeline presented by The Courier and thought about how cool it would be to give some of those foundational rules a try.  You can often find digital versions of old rulesets online, but I recently found that I couldn't locate the rules from War Games for Boy Scouts, a book published around 1910 and packaged with a set of toy soldiers, anywhere.

Maybe it was just weak searching skills, but I decided that since I am still a student for a (hopefully) short amount of time, I'd put my school interlibrary loan program to the test and see what I got.  And so, with a BIG tip of the hat to the Georgia State University library (and the University of Oxford, which I'm pretty sure was the source), I'd like to share the book here for anyone else who's interested.  This link will take you to the PDF in Google Drive:

War Games for Boys Scouts by Sgt. A.J. Holladay (PDF)

I don't doubt that I'm violating some form of copyright with this, so...if you care that I've posted it and want me to take it down, please let me know (and let me know why).  For the sake of scholarship and fun, this seemed like the thing to do.

As for the rules, they're pretty darn short and seem to mostly govern the positioning of forces.  There's no randomness in combat; stronger forces always win a battle.  For someone who really wanted to amp up the old school in their OSR, though, these rules would work just fine in a campaign, and the simple presentation of combatant values (standard troops are simply worth two points, for example) would blend nicely with RPGs that use hit dice as a measure of combat strength.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Reboot vs. Remake vs. Requel vs. Revival vs...

You know how sometimes you just feel like making a Venn diagram about something trivial?  I felt that way earlier today.

No real rhyme or reason to the examples I chose.  Maybe someday I'll get really ambitious and try to fill out each section more completely.

I'm not quite sure where Superman Returns should go on here.  I am pretty sure this was just another one of my procrastination tricks.  I'd love any feedback you have, though!

Back to work now...

(Click to embiggen.)

(EDIT:  Oh, I should probably get "Reimagining" on here somewhere, shouldn't I?  I think the whole thing might topple...)