Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Lore of Chess Rush: Flamecaller

So this is something I've been meaning to link to for a while now.  Last year, I really became a fan of the auto battler genre of video games (sometimes called auto chess after its first major representative).  As I've mused previously, it's really hard to pin down exactly what it is about these games that's so addictive...but man do I love them.

Three of the genre's heavy hitters - Teamfight Tactics, Dota Underlords, and Hearthstone Battlegrounds - are built upon established IP with well-developed universes.  However, my two favorite auto battlers - Auto Chess and Chess Rush - have been building their worlds pretty much from scratch.  I say "pretty much" because their characters, at least initially, were largely tweaked and reskinned versions of the heroes from Dota 2, since it was a mod of that popular game (created by Drodo Studio, the current developers of Auto Chess) that set off the auto battler craze.  (Also, I think the Chess Rush characters - or character models, at least - may be from a previous game by Chinese mega-developer Tencent, but I have no idea how much effort may have been put into making the overall worlds similar...)


Screenshot from Chess Rush


The directions that these games have taken their heroes has granted a lot of opportunity to develop interesting worlds for gaming.  I have often thought that a game might be able to help distinguish itself from the others in this fairly crowded niche by tailoring the experience toward immersion in a fantastic universe.  And aside from that, I just like reading game lore.

So, I decided I'd pester these companies a bit, letting them know I'd like to see more lore and offering my own feeble attempts.  Well, the kind crew at Chess Rush was gracious enough to link to a short story I wrote from their official Facebook page once I posted the story on their subreddit.  So...I am happy to share that I have semi-officially added a bit of lore to the Chess Rush universe with a short story about the hero Flamecaller that you can find, if you're so inclined, right HERE! :)


And...since I'm on a bit of a Light City kick lately, here's Flamecaller for Swords & Wizardry Light...

Flamecaller

Level 3 Magic-User
AC 8[11]    9 HP

STR 10    DEX 15(+1)    CON 11    INT 18(+1)    WIS 7    CHA 16(+1)

Attack:  Dagger +0 (1d6-1 damage)
Spells known: (1) Detect Magic, Light I, Magic Missile; (2) Knock

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Turkraken Day!


I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday today (even if it's not actually a holiday for you).

----------

Note 1:  The beast above can be encountered in the holiday adventure In Bleakest Midwinter that I wrote a few years back.  Check it out if you like...it's free!  The Turkraken is also statted out HERE.)

Note 2:  My good friend J.R. Mounts, who generously provided art for that adventure (including the Turkraken itself), recently had a couple pieces of his work featured in the Godzilla fanzine G-FAN.  I think that's pretty freaking awesome.  You can find the latest issue HERE if that sounds like something you'd be into...!  (J.R.'s work is in #129, Fall 2020.)



Monday, November 23, 2020

The Fall of Phoenix Jones

I have long found Phoenix Jones to be an interesting figure in the Real Life Super Heroes (RLSH) effort.  He carved a solid place for himself as founder of the Rain City Superhero Movement and arguably the first RLSH to actively fight crime like the ones in the comics we read.  I had never known many of the details of the path his career took until I watched this documentary the other night.

I obviously recognize why he's a bit of a controversial figure, but it's really hard not to pull for this guy.  According to the YouTube comments (yeah, I know), there may be some critical history missing that relates to his reaction to the MMA fight with his brother, but this is overall very well done.  His story is complex, just like many of the greatest superhero stories.


And...because of what this blog is, here's Phoenix Jones for Light City (taking the liberty of giving him a signature item a little early)...

Phoenix Jones

Pic from his Twitter feed...

Level 5 Brawler
STR 15     DEX 13     CON 12     INT 14     WIS 11     CHA 16
5 HD (18 HP)     Saving Throw 10
AC 7[12] (light body armor)
Attacks:  2x Unarmed Strikes, +6 to hit, 1d6+1 damage; Pepper spray 1x/fight, range 10 ft., +7 to hit, 1 damage, target must save or be incapacitated for 2 rounds whether the attack hits or not; Special Improvisation 1x/day.

Friday, November 6, 2020

It's a weird time to be alive

Mostly because I live in New Jersey now.  Who saw that coming?  It was just a couple of years ago that I moved out of Georgia for the first time, and now I've left the Sun Belt far behind.  Weird, indeed.

I mean, I do like most of what I've experienced in NJ so far (although some of the drivers around here need to chill the eff out).  It's just not a spot I had ever really imagined myself living.  Interestingly, there's been a big split in the reactions of folks who I talked to leading up to the move.  There was a definite "why in the world would you want to go there?" camp, and an equally passionate group that felt the need to immediately defend the state from its stereotypes.

Please be reminded, as I have been, that it is the Garden State for a reason.

While I'm living in the western part of the state, I have come to realize that pretty much all of North Jersey is considered the New York City area.  And though my little borough doesn't feel like NYC at all (I don't think, anyway), the proximity to the big town does have my mind wandering to stuff like...


...and...




...and...


...and...


...and even...


Long drives like the one that took us from North Carolina up here also tend to put me in a post-apocalyptic frame of mind.

I guess I'm just saying I've been in a very comic bookish mood lately.  Hmm.  Maybe it's time to revisit Light City in the near future.

And anyone happening upon this who is familiar with North Jersey -- got any recommendations on good places to go for geeky goodness around here?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Oh yeah! That's happening today...

I shared this video on the eve of Election Day in 2016.  Thought I'd share it again now.

Because it's even more relevant this year?  Eh...maybe.  But mostly just because it's a great song.




Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Just sharing a side project - Not a Love Song

Hello, all who happen upon this corner of the interweb!  I am enjoying some days off of work this week and thought it might be a good idea to pay a tiny bit of attention to this oft-neglected blog.  And...well, there's plenty of stuff I want to write about, from further info on playing Ghostbusters + Urban Arcana, to revisiting Light City, to the next steps in Project 5.5, to the fascination I've developed for Wizard Rock.

But...why jump into stuff that people who read this blog might care about?  Why not give the blog that last little nudge it needs to be nothing more than a vanity outlet?  Sounds good to me!

So, here's a thing that's occupied some of my time lately.  Reconnecting with some members of my old band and remembering the music we made has definitely made me miss the times when I could write a song, bring it to the band, and enjoy a "finished product" in no time.  I've decided to start taking some songs of mine and making demos out of them, employing whatever and whomever seem to fit the tune to make some semblance of a finished product.

Here's the first, with the help of the very talented and criminally underpriced singer rheiviscabv, whom I found on Fiverr and who was a joy to work with.  I think I still have one change to come (to the second chorus), and I'm not completely happy with all of the instrumental sounds (I did it all on Soundtrap), but for what I'll simply call a "demo"...well, Rheivisca's voice made it good enough that I'm glad I spent some time on it.


And now...back to the games...

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Thursday, July 30, 2020

John Robert Lewis, 1940-2020


America buries an undeniable hero today.  It's only relatively recently in my life that I realized what an amazing person we had living and working among us.  I hope that I can continue to learn from Mr. Lewis...and maybe one day achieve some small piece of the courage, peace, and love that he lived by.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tweaking Ghostbusters to play nice with the OSR

I've now run three mini-sessions (plus a Session 0) of the "Ghostbusters meets Urban Arcana" game (which I will attempt from here on to refer to simply as the Department-7 game, since that's the organization that's the focus of it) with my friend Josh, who has been an immeasurably good sport in letting me blindly lead him through a set of mechanics and setting tropes that are being figured out as we go along.

From my seat, it's been a ton of fun.  Agents B.J. Flech and Johnny Fix have done a great job so far taking care of the giant ants invading a giant picnic and managing to also handle the group of kobolds living in the ants' lair.


They're now off to Colorado Springs to investigate some odd visitors that have made swim practice impossible the past couple of days at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (they're prepping for the 1990 Goodwill Games, y'know)...


My goal with this game has been to mash up Ghostbusters and D&D in a couple of different ways.  First, they're scrambled together thematically, as the PCs are just investigating something strange in the neighborhood, it's just that their brand of strange is stuff that's made its way to our world from a fantasy realm.  I also wanted a mechanical mashup, though, taking the basics of the Ghostbusters RPG and working in monsters from fantasy games pretty much as written.  Here's how things are shaping up thus far...

The game is still very much attribute + skill based and built on dice pools, with stats changed from Ghostbusters' Muscles/Moves/Brains/Cool to the very, very similar Might/Dexterity/Intelligence/Presence.  I like that breakdown of abilities, I like that DEX and INT can be preserved from D&D, I like Might (which is used in Mini Six) and Presence as STR-CON and WIS-CHA combos.  I should maybe just use the GB names but figure these alternatives will work fine for now.  Twelve points are divided up among the attributes, with a starting range of 1-5 for each.  We're dealing with whole dice only...no pips to "complicate" things like in later D6 games such as Star Wars.

In Ghostbusters, starting characters get a single talent (or skill) for each of the attributes.  When the talent applies to a roll, the player rolls three additional dice.  We've gone the same route with Department-7 but are only throwing two additional dice in for rolls that include the talent.  This keeps them from being so game-swinging at the start and aligns things more with "standard" D6 System games, where seven skill dice seem to be the norm at character creation.

I've dropped Brownie Points and just given the characters straight-up hit points instead...10 plus a Might roll.  Counting down on these seems like a nice way to keep the spirit of Ghostbusters' Brownie Points (a simple number rather than a wound system), and I think it adds to the D&D feel.

Task resolution, including combat, is where I'm trying the hardest to integrate the systems smoothly.  As I have now rambled on way longer than I thought I would at this point, I think I'll save that for another post to come along soon...

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

2 Tone Tuesday: My favorite video on YouTube


If not my favorite, it's pretty darn close.


Is Buster Bloodvessel the greatest entertainer of the 2 Tone era?  I'm really starting to think so.  Here's Bad Manners performing the song at the height of ska's second wave...


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Geeky SKAturday: Rancid's Skeletim ReAction Figure

I would call myself an "enthusiastic observer" of Super7's ReAction Figures.  The design and character choices are pretty awesome, and I really enjoy seeing new additions to the line, but they aren't something I see myself sinking much (if any) money into anytime soon.  It was pretty intriguing, though, to check out their site recently and stumble upon a new figure based upon legendary punk band Rancid's Tim Armstrong:  Skeletim.


I would rate Armstrong up there as one of my favorite musicians ever.  The 1995 Rancid album ...And Out Come the Wolves had a role in the return to the mainstream of both punk rock and ska in the 90s, and it certainly played a role in the transitioning of my most ardent musical leanings from a general interest in alternative rock to an unshakable love for ska.

While not solely a ska album, ...And Out Come the Wolves features amazing ska numbers like this classic...


...and it was a bit of a return to ska form for frontman Armstrong and bassist Matt Freeman, who were previously in legendary ska-punk band Operation Ivy, purveyors of a whole host of 80s punk anthems...


And if that weren't enough, Armstrong would eventually go on to team up with LA reggae band The Aggrolites to release his debut solo record A Poet's Life (initially as all free downloads), which I would seriously consider a candidate for best album ever.  Check it out if you can.  (Here's a sample...)


Skeletim isn't the first ReAction figure with a musical origin, as the line has featured toys based on the evocative imagery of bands like Iron Maiden and the Misfits.  It's seemingly based upon Armstrong himself by way of artwork used by the band.



Apparently, Skeletim has also previously been featured as a bobble...er, Throbblehead, with is also...well, kinda cool, I guess.  I wasn't aware that these were even a thing; here's a pic of the second version for the bobblehead lovers among you:


Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Adventures of B.J. Flech

This past weekend, former Ghostbuster B.J. Flech finally returned to action protecting our world from extradimensional threats.


In the first session of a new campaign with my friend Josh, B.J. and his partner Johnny Fix headed to 1990 Norfolk, VA, to see what shadowy shenanigans may be in store for the 8th Annual Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks.

It was a giant picnic, so naturally the threat was a colony of giant ants.  Overall, I'd say it was a success.  I mean, it's still up in the air how the ant problem is going to be solved, but when your game session includes things like a character riding on the back of an ant as it carries a huge bag of hot dog buns stolen from a food truck back to its colony, I figure you're doing something at least a little bit right.

As I mentioned last time, the game is a bit of a mashup of Ghostbusters and Urban Arcana.  I'm enjoying playing with some rules here, as the base is mostly a houseruled version of the GB RPG, but I want to pull monsters from D&D and D&D-based RPGs and use their stats meaningfully in this game (I pulled the ants from Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game).

Ultimately, I think I might want the focus of the setting to be on an organization that feels a little more like the Ghostbusters than the X-Files, but for now, Flech and Fix are agents of the D20 Modern staple agency, Department-7, as taken pretty much directly from the Urban Arcana SRD.  There's still a lot to explore here.  More to come as I make my way through it...!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

I'm finally getting someone to play a 30-year-old character that came with a used game...

The last time I got to run a game of the wonderful old Ghostbusters RPG, I made sure to bring a number of character options to the table.  It was just a one-shot, but since character creation is so fast and straightforward, I figured I could make sure a number of options were covered so that the players could get into the game in whatever way seemed most fun to them.  So, players could create a character on the spot, or use one of the pregens I brought to the session, or play one of the movie characters that came with the game, or...and there was no doubt in my mind that this was the coolest option...they could use one of the characters that had been made by previous players of the game, and which were still in the box when I bought it off of Amazon many years ago.


Sadly...and a little surprisingly...no one took this last option.

BUT it looks like the dream is still alive for me! I'm starting a mini-campaign with my buddy Josh to test out a setting that might be best described as Urban Arcana plus Ghostbusters, and the system is just Ghostbusters with some house rules (and probably working in some innovations from Mini Six and other D6 System games).  So...doesn't it make sense for ex-Ghostbuster BJ Flech to make an appearance in the campaign?  (Josh actually made a character of his own, too.  I'm honestly not sure how deadly this game is going to end up being, so having two characters for a single player seems perfect.)


(Yeah, I blacked out the phone number because...whether they were actually their own or not...it looks like the players put real numbers on their cards.  It's oh-so-tempting to dial 'em up and find out more about these characters...!)

I'm wondering how many of you out there have subjected your players to taking on "found" characters, or maybe even played some yourself...?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

2 Tone Tuesday: Too Much Pressure

This obviously isn't a political blog, but the state of America these days makes it difficult to not say something, in acknowledgment at least.  But then it's hard to figure out what to say that isn't just stating the obvious.  We need to start facing these issues head-on before the momentum slips away and I have to live the rest of my lifetime seeing this same horrific story play out.


Since the 2 Tone movement was defined, in part, by attempting to tear down barriers based on race, I thought maybe I could at least find a great, fitting song in my listening time today.  But...no real luck there. (Not a huge fan of the Specials' "Racist Friend," if you thought I was missing the obvious.  It's a good song, but not next-level good.)  So here's one that at least reminds me how unnecessary it is that we've gotten ourselves into this position as a country...


Friday, June 5, 2020

Project 5.5 - System finalists

After going over options in my head for...well, months now...I have finally narrowed the choice for a set of rules to serve as the basis for Project 5.5 (a wargame using bulky MOTU-style action figures) down to two.

The first option builds from my last contender post, which was...wow, way back in 2019...taking the game in an OSR direction using Swords & Six-Siders as a model (although I'll probably end up going with a more freeform "OSR but only using d6s" style).  The lean toward this choice comes from the free and open nature of various OSR products produced under the OGL, the quantity of OSR resources to draw from, and the fact that I can pair this effort with work I have done and will do on Light City, which I really need to spend a little time on at some point.

In addition, as James from James Mishler Games and Adventures in Gaming v2 was kind enough to point out when I asked for info on the origin of 1d6 skill rolls in D&D, d6-only resolution was there from the very start, on page 9 of OD&D's third booklet (The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures).  There's something very clean and simple about taking the approach originally used for dealing with doors and applying it to all rolls in the game.

However, there's another great option that I just can't quite shake.  Starting with the fact that this might be my favorite RPG of all time...


...and that it was used to later create this game, another great one...


...and then the fact that there is already a miniatures system based upon those rules, which I very handily have a copy of...


...AND the fact that even the minis system has been released under the OGL (you can find it HERE)...

...and, well, that's a tempting way to go.  Also, the next RPG I plan to run (hopefully starting next week!) is a semi-homebrew setting using semi-homebrew rules based upon Ghostbusters and its descendant Mini Six...which means that going this route could synthesize a couple of my gaming projects much like Light City and Project 5.5 could mix in an OSR approach.

At the moment, I'm leaning OSR.  But that could change at any time.

I'm thinking.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Geeky SKAturday: Pokémon Liberation Army

I kinda hate that I've gone so long without knowing this band exists.  Described as Poké-conscious skacore/punk rock, the Pokémon Liberation Army is obviously gimmicky, but they're mostly gimmicks I can get behind.  A pop culture-based theme band?  Cool.  Crusading for Pokémon rights?  Awesome.  The quirkiness of third wave ska to accompany the offbeat message?  I can get behind that.

I should also maybe get one of these shirts:


At any rate here's their first EP, TM101:


There's more music at their Bandcamp page.  If you wanna keep breathing, release your Pokémon!

I really dig the melodica, btw.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Scrye Magazine

Here's another post where I talk about other random stuff I've done over the years.  You might not care about it.  That's okay.  There's also the chance you might!  Today's topic...

Scrye magazine


The first game-related writing I ever had published was in the old magazine Scrye, a publication dedicated to collectible card games that would go on to cover other genres of collectible games.  (For those too young to remember, a magazine was kind of like a website, but you kept it in your bathroom and didn't need your phone to read it.)

Anyway, I got a foot in the door there with an article on the ultra-obscure card game Calorie Kids but ended up contributing material for a fairly wide variety of titles, including the ones that dominated my gaming time during that era (Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon).  If memory serves, I also wrote articles for the following games:

Harry Potter
Survivor
Cardcaptors
DragonElves

Um...maybe Gundam M.S.War...?  I know I contributed to a slightly different project for it (see below)...

That might be all...I'll add to this if I think of more.  I was definitely willing to play and analyze whatever CCGs came my way!


Scrye's publisher, Krause Publications, also made at least two versions of the Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide.  While I missed out on contributing to the first edition, for the second, I got to write pieces for SurvivorGundam M.S.War, Cardcaptors, and the long-running Christian CCG Redemption.  I still pull out my copy of this from time to time just to browse through all the interesting games that were made during the first decade of the hobby.  It really is a nice look at the history of the game genre!

While I can't put my hands on most of my Scrye work, I did manage to pick up a back issue (#54, October 2002) for a pretty good price off of eBay a little while back; thanks to the site Scrye Notes, which catalogs covers and tables of contents for the publication, I was pretty sure I had a couple of articles in it.  Turns out there were three of 'em!  For your reading pleasure way to pass the time:

PDF can be found here.


PDF is here.


And...a PDF is here.


I do like that I have a couple of my favorite articles I wrote for the magazine, on the Slowpoke family and Magic's 15-card Highlander format.

Also...a tiny little thing that I find very interesting to look back on...if you do actually read the Slowpoke article, you may notice that I use the word "wrecker" to describe Slowking in Pokémon's Unlimited format.  That is not a word I've always used.  Wanna know where I picked it up?

Well, the 15-card Highlander article was based largely on what I learned about the format from former pro Magic player David Sutcliffe, with whom I interacted some at the Casual Players Alliance.  Here is an archived version of an article he wrote on the format long ago, and more importantly, here is the CPA thread where we discuss it.  In it, David (aka Gizmo) says, "Anything that mills is very strong - Vision Charm is a wrecker" (emphasis mine).

So...thank you, David Sutcliffe, for apparently adding a word to my CCG vocabulary!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

2 Tone Tuesday: A Message to You Rudy


One of the most iconic songs of the 2 Tone era (although a cover of a much older Jamaican song)...


Friday, May 22, 2020

More free stuff for you while you're in your bunker...

I've posted a few times about stuff related to my friend and...seriously, if I haven't stressed it enough...one of the nicest human beings you could ever hope to meet, J.R. Mounts.  I mentioned him when he was nominated for a Dragon Award, when I posted my OSR Card-caster class, when I've shown off some fun beasts that he created for me...


...also when he illustrated my little Christmas adventure...


...and when I posted about the Lego war game I worked on a long time ago that he was also kind enough to do art for...


...and, well, probably a number of other times.  He has a tag here on Monstrous Matters, and when I list things like this, it makes me wonder if I've asked him to do too much free work for me...!

Several years ago, J.R. took the plunge and started working full time as an indie cartoonist, which...while I know it hasn't been easy for him...I would argue has made the world a better place thanks to the rest of us getting to see more of the unique perspectives of J.R.  He has some TMNT-level ideas in his work that we'd all hear about if they were given exposure at the right time and place.  I even got to design a couple of card games for his properties and help him show them at Gen Con, which was a dream come true in itself.  (More on these games to come on here as I continue to talk about all of the half-worthwhile things I've ever managed to accomplish...!)


J.R. has recently put out a couple of highly regarded graphic novels and has a really fun comic strip called Scairy Tales, but I would say that the thing he is probably best known for is being "the pickle guy."  Here's the hard-boiled protagonist of his Fried Pickle Noir series, Q. Cumbersome.


J.R. describes FPN as "Sin City Meets Veggie Tales," and it is not to be ignored.  Especially if you like puns.  And the great thing is, during the COVID-19 quarantine, J.R. has made a bunch of his work free for all in .pdf!

If you're looking for something a bit off the beaten path...whatever your beaten path is, honestly...you can simply find J.R. Mounts (by that full name) on Facebook and shoot him a message for access to a folder filled with wacky stuff he's worked on (full disclosure...and even some stuff that I've worked on).

Also, if you'd just like to see more of what J.R. is all about, you can check out his DeviantArt page here.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Geeky SKAturday: Check out my band, y'all.

Continuing the theme I ventured into earlier this week, in which I make myself feel good by sharing stuff I've done over the years...although this one is a little more timely, because...well, I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on the blog here, but strange things happen during a quarantine.

So around 20 years ago, I played in a ska band in middle Georgia. We were called the Macon Blue Beat Combo, and we were pretty darn low profile, but our shows were somewhat successful in bringing in a fair number of students from a local college (where we met, where pretty much all of our friends were, and where our singer was and is a professor...so, the math added up).  In 1999, we scraped together the money to quickly record what was essentially a demo.  It's always had some big flaws (mostly in my drumming) that have often made it tough for me to listen to.  However, we did make some CDs out of it that we sold at shows and were EXTREMELY lucky for the Toasters' Bucket Hingley to actually put one of the songs on his and DJ Chuck Wren's Still Standing ska compilation in 2003.



Fast forward to the COVID-19 quarantine...a friend of ours who is now a news producer in Chicago is enjoying some comforting tunes from her past and decides to work one onto the air:



A few weeks later, and Liz is nice enough to do it again with another song she felt fit the day...



Somewhat hilariously, the members of the band all realized that, other than maybe the song on the comp, none of us could put our hands on any of the music that we recorded.  Luckily, our other organized friend Amanda came through with 20-year-old MP3s she could still locate.  So, I went ahead and put most of 'em up on YouTube such that they won't be completely lost to history.

If you're so inclined, you can click here to be taken to the band's YouTube page.  And if you're not, here's what I think is the song that probably came out the best in our approach to recording (the second song above):



If you do check 'em out, thank you(!), and please be honest but kind...with time and money, there's a lot we'd do differently...!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

2 Tone Tuesday: Special Brew


I've decided to let Tuesdays be a day to remind myself that as much as I love traditional '60s Jamaican ska and modern music in that style, there are times I could probably convince myself that I love its late-'70s (largely British) descendant even more.  My AM work was accompanied by a pretty killer 2 tone mix.  Here's one of my favorites from this morning...hopefully it'll brighten someone else's day as well...



Monday, May 11, 2020

Doxy, Urgent Care Cleric

I'm planning on making a tab up top for a page where I can put info on nerdy stuff I've done that doesn't show up on DriveThruRPG.  Oh wait...what's that you're saying?  Narcissistic?  Why, yes, thank you.

Anyway, here's one of the first things I want to share...Doxy, Urgent Care Cleric and Fight On!.


When I first discovered the OSR, I thought Fight On! magazine was just about the coolest thing going.  Around that time, I had an idea for an RPG-themed comic strip (Doxy, Urgent Care Cleric) and was lucky enough to find an awesome artist (Kelvin Green) to team up with me for contribution to the fanzine.  I had stuff printed in issues 10-14 (although one of the comics was pretty much all Kelvin...can't say I earned that byline at all)...a comic in each, and a short article in the last issue about a science fantasy RPG campaign premise (working as agents of a modern organization known as the CROwN - this also featured awesome artwork from Kelvin, btw).

If you dig old school roleplaying, there's probably a lot you'll like in Fight On!  Although it seems to have faded away around 2015, the magazine's website can still be found here, and its Lulu store is here.  Also, issue #14 didn't seem to make it to the site, but its RPG.net announcement can be found here.

Kelvin has posted a number of Doxy episodes over on his creative works site.  The art and good jokes are his, the lame jokes are mine.

Also, for whatever it's worth, I had no idea of the meaning of the word doxy when I came up with the name.  I actually just liked it because it often gets used as shorthand for the antibiotic doxycycline, and I thought it sounded like a silly name for a cleric.  I guess I was right.




Saturday, May 9, 2020

Retrocyberdungeonpunk

As I often do a lot more than is beneficial to my life in general, I've been pondering a game setting lately that may or may not ever make it onto a table or screen of mine.  It's based on a sort of nostalgia for a specific era, but mostly influenced by properties that I wasn't actually all that into during that era...it's only later that they've come to be representative of that time for me.  Wow...that was convoluted...

Okay, let's start with TRON.  I was aware of TRON when I was a kid, had an action figure, may have even played the arcade game...but I don't think I actually saw the movie until I was an adult.  I love (or at least very much like) the film now, though, and its aesthetic is as representative of the 80s for me as G.I. Joe, He-Man, or any of a number of other universes that I was deeply immersed in at the time.

Similarly, I didn't play classic roguelikes back when they were first breaking ground in computer gaming (although I did play the also-classic and at least superficially similar Castle Adventure as a kid).  Over my adulthood, however, I've gained a great respect for the genre and the devotion shown by its fans, and the ASCII art (especially representing D&D-esque fantasy) has also taken on a certain nostalgic feel for me.

Screenshot from NetHack, a classic roguelike

I've come to love the idea of combining these two themes...the "Inside a Computer System" trope of TRON with the old school dungeoncrawling of Rogue...into a single retro-tinged game setting.  Now, I'll note that from what I know, Fantasy Flight Games' Virtual setting from their Horizon line of d20 books did this in a way, reskinning a lot of D&D 3.5 elements as being possible due to taking place inside a computer where all sorts of "magic" is available.  So...I should maybe pick that up at some point to make sure I'm not ripping things off too directly.

I really think the aesthetics are a big part of this for me.  I like the idea of maps' being built on the ASCII template of the game, and even as you zoom in to smaller scenes, maintaining the retro character feel.  So, I could take freely available art like this goblin/imp...

Image by Lorc from Game-icons.net, licensed under CC BY 3.0.

...and use an ASCII art generator to generate flavorful art for the game...


I suppose this might get repetitive after a while, but I think it could also do really cool things for immersion.

There are so many directions a story set here could go, as well.  I imagine it being a TRON-style world of apparently sentient programs existing within a computer, and somehow - either through their own natural evolution of sorts, or from influence by roguelike games - the programs are in this retrodigital, pseudomedieval world full of multilevel dungeons.  Maybe that's what "the Grid" gets called here: the Dungeon.  TRON's users - humans who interact with the grid - could be called Rogues in homage...and there are probably some fun options that play with the fact that the @ symbol traditionally represents the protagonist (and other human characters).  Perhaps some are true Rogues...some are actually nonsentient programs that can pass a Turing test...I dunno, seems wide open, honestly!



Friday, May 1, 2020

In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of...


The Sun Belt Conference baseball tourney would be set to begin in Montgomery, AL, on May 19.  I thought my new baseball scorebook was going to be delivered today...which would be a key piece toward getting my own version of it using a simple, homebrewed tabletop baseball simulation underway.  It didn't arrive yet, but the more key piece is actually getting all the teams in the league statted out, anyway, and I'm still dragging on that.  I do think I've nailed down most of the final details to make the game as fully playable as I expect it to be, though.

For documentation's sake, the new rules are below.  As a recap from my last post (sample player stats can be found in that blog entry)...

For each at-bat, just roll a d100.  If the result is 1-50, check the pitcher’s table; if it’s greater than 50, check the batter’s. Finally, if the result is “In Play”, roll another d100, check it on the hitter’s “In Play” table, and resolve the play.

New additions:

1.  Stolen Bases - Every player now gets a Speed rating of A, B, or C.  For now, I'm just using a quick-and-dirty method to determine this based on their number of stolen bases per trip to first.  Ratings A-B-C successfully steal on d% rolls of 75-65-55.

2.  Sacrifice Bunts - If the at-bat's first d100 roll is a HR or "In Play," the sacrifice bunt has successfully moved the runner(s) over.

3.  Sacrifice Flies - Keeping this one really simple.  Runners score from third on any outs to the outfield.

4.  The Big d100 Table of Randomness - This is the one that's going to take me a little more time to work out, as well.  I want a big table to roll on whenever a 100 is rolled in the game, for somewhat rare events like balks, weather delays, and fights.  I'll post it when it's done!

I'm also thinking I need to get something in there to model pitchers' tiring out.  Maybe I should just have a consistent 6-2-1 pattern for innings pitched by the starter and relievers...?  Or even 6-1-1-1...?  One of those could work...

Once again, everybody stay safe out there!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Because I probably haven't left much of a paper trail...

...I figured I should document my piracy and copyright infringement digitally.  I've started a page to collect the things that I'd like to keep available for public consumption but that aren't fully mine to publish for one reason or another.

You can check it out with the "IP infringement" tab above or by clicking HERE.  Right now, it just includes War Games for Boy Scouts, Ghosthackers, and a Steel Monsters minicomic, but there may be more on the way eventually.