rockwood: (Default)
I've recently started reading the webcomic Girl Genius, and have just gotten through part of Book 5, where I come across a cameo by a stagehand named Nod with a familiarly huge nose. Everyone's favorite henchman certainly seems to be getting around these days! At least, with Nodwick's appearance in The Gamers: Dorkness Rising and here too, I seem to be bumping into him everywhere.

Part of the reason that this surprises me is that so many of my gamer friends have never heard of him. Unfortunately, I can't find a really good site to view it on anymore---the old one is gone, and the one I can find doesn't seem to have all the extra stuff, like the character bios and so on---but here's a link to the first comic I can find, which dates back to 2001 and may be the first in the series. It's not the best comic in the world, but it's certainly a classic when it comes to gaming-related ones. I should go back and reread it one of these days...

Maybe I'll do that when I've run through Girl Genius. Which is quite good, I must say; Phil Foglio does an interesting combination of humor and story.

Blessed be,

rockwood: (Default)
This post is only vaguely gaming-related, and strays into general life content very quickly (although that part is, perforce, extremely geeky); fair warning. I'm leaving it unlocked since I welcome any thoughts or commentary, from friends and fellow gamers alike, on my attempt at nerdish wisdom.

"What happens next?" is a line from the movie The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. It's one of my favorite lines (and moments) in the movie because of the circumstances surrounding the quote, but I won't spoil anything here; I can instead say I like that question because it really represents one good attitude towards gaming. Sometimes asking "What happens next?" is a lot more appropriate than asking "Do I win?"

Which, I think, is a generally healthy attitude, even beyond the realm of gaming. Considering that almost no one ever gets what they want, at least immediately or without compromise, it's a lot less stressful to think about life in terms of what I should do next, and what I should be trying to do considering the evolving circumstances of life, rather than to try and twist things around until I get what I wanted initially. There's a whole lot of traditional sayings about this, especially the 'closes a door/opens a window' one, but those don't really work for me. I'm a geek; what can I say? I like "What happens next?"

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, partly because I've seen Dorkness Rising several times recently, but also because I've been trying to come to terms with a lot of stuff I don't like about life in general. The way the world works, in many ways, just doesn't jive with what I want out of life. And I really, really hate just letting go of what I think is important; I don't like ruling out my goals, since it makes me feel like a sell-out, and guilty, and pretty damn stupid.

But I can shift them to a back burner, reevaluate the current situation, and ask myself, "Alright, Nathan, that's how it is. What happens next?"

Blessed be,

rockwood: (Default)
Because this was a long and awesome-filled week, I'm splitting this up into the general report on the con (this post) and a real-life-friends-related post.

GenCon '08 was a blast, as expected. I spent most of my time at the con itself touring the dealer's hall, but that was plenty. There were even a few surprises, both good and bad.

The Good
First and foremost, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising (or The Gamers II) finally made it to DVD release! It was a lot of fun to preview it two years ago at GenCon '06, and I've been waiting impatiently ever since to get my hands on my copy. I got it signed by some of the Dead Gentlemen Productions crew, but was unfortunately unable to collect the whole set. Fortunately, I did manage to talk to most of them individually and catch up on old times and future plans, however briefly; I'm very much hoping to continue working on Demon Hunters RPG projects, since they're just an awesome group of people to work with.

On the text front, the Cortex System RPG (Con Preview Edition) and the Serenity Adventures books both made it to the convention, which I was glad to see. They both look good (barring some internal artwork I'm not too fond of), though I haven't had time to read through either of them yet in order to evaluate production quality.

Oh, and White Wolf's Hunter: The Vigil also premiered recently, though it hit some stores and cons slightly before GenCon itself. I picked up a copy for my brother, but I'm not sure if we'll wind up using it or not.

And one computer game event managed to catch my attention: the demonstration booth of Bioware's upcoming RPG, Dragon Age: Origins, the 'spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate,' as the demo guy called it.

The demo booth itself was eyecatching, being a plaster faux-stone-walled-keep in the middle of the dealer's hall. It had a barred wooden door guarded alternately by guys in armor and bored-looking guys in t-shirts, which let you enter a small theatre area with exposed wooden beams above and wooden benches inside, arranged before a podium and a large flat-screen. I think it's worth noting that they had an extremely comfortable carpet inside, too.

The demo was narrated by a man in armor while one of the t-shirt-dudes, now less bored, played it out. We saw an in-game cutscene (3/5 stars; good looking, not amazing on the voice-acting front, used in-game graphics, but stuttered occaisionally), heard a bit about the world and the character-creation system (basically a standard fantasy world, but with an emphasis on the idea that your character's background story and early life would be very significant to the story and NPC reactions), witnessed a few in-game conversations (4/5 stars; looked a bit like KOTOR, sounded a lot like Planescape: Torment in terms of 'conversation = important', but I wanted more than 3 options more of the time), and then saw a bit of combat.

Battles were conducted in a manner a reminiscent of of BGII and KOTOR. You get a full party (I saw up to 4 characters grouped, but I'm not sure what the max is), and you control them one at a time in a combat that is real-time, but lets you pause between attacks in order to assign moves and actions to each character, unless you feel like letting the AI handle things. However, according to the demo man, Bioware has thrown the recent move to make games easier to play out the window: just like in Baldur's Gate, if you don't prepare for a fight fully, and then fail to use appropriate tactics, you'll "be eliminated." The game is supposed to be tough. I don't know if it'll wind up that way, but the demo man did die and reload at least once, and in a big fight lost all but one character.

I'm not going to rate combat fully here, since it was clearly an in-development feature of the game. Some AI characters bugged out and stuttered, some had horrible pathing errors where they got stuck on each other, and so on. The spells did both look and 'play' amazingly well, though, and we got to see them interacting with each other, when a Grease spell was ignited into a flame patch by a Fireball, which was then doused by a Blizzard.

The Bad
For some reason I haven't yet researched, Blizzard (of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo fame) wasn't at the con. I was really, really looking forward to demoing Starcraft II and Diablo III, since Blizzard had a HUGE presence at the con last year, including playable demos of SCII and the upcoming WoW expansion. I was taken in by WoW-card-game related adverts, which I think must have been a deliberate bait-and-switch, but there's nothing for it. I'll just have to wait for the public releases just like all the other mortals who couldn't make it to BlizzCon.

There was also a corset-shop set up right near the MWP booth, so I had to pass it several times; the creepy-old-man proprietor managed to make a female friend of mine a bit uncomfortable. The people in corsets I could just avoid looking at; that, however, pissed me off.

The Awesome
I did spend some time at the con talking to writers, publishers, and artists, including MWP. The coolest stuff includes (in no particular order): I shouldn't have a problem securing a third-party license to do a Cortex sourcebook, I'll soon be getting some income from my freelancing work, an artist I met two years ago remembered me and said he'd be happy to have me commission some work from him, and a friend and fellow freelancer is putting together a writing commune/consortium of some kind which may provide some additional work.

Blessed be,
rockwood: (Tome)
This series of articles, the first of which can be found here, will cover my own new, unofficial ideas for Cortex RPG games, optional rules, and similar.

This article is a small collection of new Traits for the Demon Hunters Role Playing Game. Two of them, notably Who Gave Him Sugar? and Sniffin' It Out, were first invented by [profile] leeflower, so I can't really claim credit for those ideas; I just wrote them up and balanced their die costs.

Disclaimer and notice: If I ever get around to writing my own Cortex sourcebook, I might include some of the ideas from these articles, but I put them up here for free in the hopes that they'll see use by other folk, too. Please feel free to link to them or use them yourself. If you want to repost them elsewhere, or you draw heavily on them for your own freely available work, I would both love to hear about your project and would also appreciate being given credit for whatever inspiration I provided, but don't worry about it too much. My only restriction is that you do not publish my writing for profit, or put it into something which requires a subscription or purchase to view, such as a commercial e-zine or similar.

Read on for the Traits!

Well, it's only 4 Traits, but I hope they prove useful! They aren't in any way official, but they occured to me as ones that I probably would've put in the DH rulebook if I'd thought of them before... thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Blessed be,
rockwood: (Smile)
By all that is holy (and most other things too)! IT HAS ARRIVED!

I just got an awesome surprise: a copy of the Demon Hunters RPG core book arrived by FedEx not an hour ago. It is oh, so shiny...

First, thanks to the folks at MWP for sending one my way so quickly. Second, thanks to MWP and Dead Gentlemen Productions for making this project so awesome! I have to say, as much as I love Serenity and BSG, Demon Hunters was the most fun to write.

This post isn't meant to be a review---I'm kinda a biased source there---but on a basic level, this book looks, reads, and plays in style. A very particular, half-slapstick, half-serious style, but style nonetheless. The humor is great, and is consistent with the Demon Hunters universe; the rules are presented smoothly and with the benefit of having already worked out the hiccups that occurred in both the Serenity and BSG books (if I do say so myself); the collection of Traits is a thing of beauty; the layout is excellent; and, of course, there's the DVD of the Brotherhood Training Video....

This video was previewed at GenCon '07, but now includes even more goodies on the DVD, ready for printing and use. And, honestly, the video itself is worth the cost of the book.

I really should go about some other business, so I'll wrap up this post with one of my favorite quotes from the DHRPG rulebook. This comes from the section on the Mystic Arts, regarding casting spells faster than normal ('Cheating the Universe,' on page 95):

Instead of casting that spell properly, you can Cheat, with a capital "C." Essentially, by forcing extraneous eldritch power into the arcane matrix of the ritual-construct, you increase the rate at which---aww, hell, think about it this way. There's a baby with some candy inside a locked room with a glass door, right? You want the candy. You can either pick the lock, which is tedious and time consuming (casting the spell as a ritual), or you can wrap your jacket around your hand and punch the glass in (Cheating and speeding things up). Sure, you get cut up a bit, and maybe the baby turns out to be a face-eating demonspawn in disguise (botching), but otherwise you have the candy. Mmm, delicious, analogical candy.
Seriously, check the book out! And if you want to chat with other folk about it, or ask any questions, you can either post here or go to the CortexSystemRPG forums for a different perspective.

Blessed be,


rockwood: (Default)

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