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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Supers! RPG

I picked Supers! up recently (I've been on a supers kick), and it's a fun, lite supers game. It's by Simon Washbourne, who also wrote Barbarians of Lemuria. It reminds me of D6, yet isn't a copy. I'll be giving a full review sometime soon, but I wanted to mention this game. I think I actually prefer it to Icons. It might be too light for some though. I do think it needs another person, not already very familiar with the rules, to go through the book and clarify some stuff.

Supers website

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preserving old gaming stuff

Grognardia's Post on Tekumel got me thinking about this. I think it's really cool that a group of guys are preserving all of MAR Barker's Tekumel stuff. I really do hope they plan on releasing everything to the public. This could easily end up like all the Tolkien stuff, where there are more books of notes and world design than there are novels. I think the globe he was really cool, as well. I'd love for something similar to be marketed for the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk.

One thing I will say is that this kind of reminds me of when we moved my grandmother into a retirement home. She was really old, and didn't completely understand what was going on. She just saw all of her things getting boxed up and taken away. It was really sad. I know Barker is getting pretty old, but I hope he doesn't end up feeling the same way. At least his things are going to be preserved, and hopefully shared with all Tekumel fans. (edit: He's very much involved in the preservation group, apparently, so that's pretty damn awesome!).

It is too bad the Gygax's aren't like-minded. From what I've seen, we might never get anything else from Gary's collection, or if we do, it could be years from now.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Captain America

I saw "Captain America" earlier tonight. Fantastic movie! The vast majority of the movie is set during World War Two. The movie does a great job of showing the transformation of Steve Rogers into Captain America. I won't post any spoilers, but I think most people are going to be very happy with how this movie was done.

Highlight performances were Chris Evans as Cap, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Phillips, Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine, and the whole crew of Cap's Team during WW2. Really, the acting was top-notch throughout.

I liked the plot a lot. It kept a nice pace, unless you are an action junkie who gets upset if something doesn't blow up every minute. Cap was believable. Not overblown, not a tough-guy, just a good man who wants to do right. I LOVED how he was portrayed. Major kudos to the writers and director.

Overall, I think this is my favorite superhero movie to date. It slightly edges out The Dark Knight and Iron Man and Thor.

Another thing, now that I've seen this movie, I really want to play in a supers game again. It's been too long!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Villains and Vigilantes

I picked this up on a lark a few days ago. It's an interesting look back, even though the rules have been updated. I love that the authors tell you that you must make your PC be you. And everyone should try to guess their stats, instead of just random rolling. I think it's pretty funny. I'm also surprised this wasn't changed a year ago when the rules were redone. It just feels quaint nowadays.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review - Plague of Shadows

"Plague of Shadows" by Howard Jones is set in Golarion, the fantasy setting for the Pathfinder roleplaying game. It takes place in Taldor, Galt, and the edge of Kyonin. The story concerns what happens when a group of adventurers that had split up years  before end up fighting with each other over a magical artifact, the Crown of Shadows.

Elyana's old lover, a current noble of Taldor named Stelan, has been cursed by their old adventuring companion, a wizard named Arcil. Arcil wants the Crown for unknown reasons, and is willing to sacrifice Stelan to get it. Elyana is an elven ranger, and she leads a group of younger adventurers, including a half-orc warrior named Drelm, a mage named Kellius,  and Stelan's warrior son, Renar, on the quest.

Elyana and her band meet up with another of her old companions, a bard named Vallyn, and then proceed through Galt towards the Vale of Shadows, which holds the Crown.

I really liked the book, especially as a guide to the region. Galt is a really dangerous nation, very similar to France during the Revolution. Much of the story is centered around it, and I personally think the land is evil to the core, especially after reading this book.

The elves the heroes encounter are interesting, and not just pointy-eared humans. I like that they view Elyana as some kind of damaged orphan, since she was raised by humans and lived among humans most of her life.

There are a lot of combats in the book. They are well-written, and usually fairly short. It does seem that Elyana is almost super-powered at times, even though she doesn't come through the battles unscathed.

One thing I really like about the Pathfinder novels I've read to this point is that there are no world-shaking events. Adventures tend to be important for the small region, but don't affect the setting overall. I really prefer that, especially when compared to the old Forgotten Realms novels that made drastic setting changes every year.

For Pathfinder fans and fantasy fans, I'd rate the book 4 out of 5 stars. It's not perfect, but it is really good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

eBay: Castle Zagyg: The Upper Works

If you want a copy, here's your chance:

Holystone - Thieves


There is only one organized thieves’ guild in the city, the Night Fishers, which controls Lord’s City. Rory Fisher (T10) is the guild master. They are concerned with gambling, prostitutes, and a hidden fighting arena located in the Merchant Quarter. Rory makes sure petty criminals or wannabe muggers disappear. He knows that as long as he keeps crime relatively hidden, no one will bother him. If too many big heists or nobles get hurt, the city would find and eliminate him. Rory maintains a veneer of respectability, and is known to many of the noble families.

Street gangs control the Triangle district. They are mainly interested in protection, drugs, and robbery. They will defend their turf from any freelancers or rival gangs quite violently. The gangs often wear colored scarves or unique symbols to show their allegiance. Gang membership is an ever-changing status, as new gangs appear and old gangs break up for some reason. Several unlucky gangs have even been caught up in the city guard sweeps and summarily executed.

The rest of the city has no controlling authority. Individual thieves or small gangs perform thefts at their discretion. Smart thieves are careful to maintain a low profile, because if they get too famous, the city guard will hunt them down. 

Active Thieves
Jezrael (Cambion T5) – Jezrael is a gifted burglar. She has stolen many an item in the dead of night. She concentrates her work in the North Ward. She has robbed a few places in Lord’s City, but has not been caught. She knows the area is off-limits, but doesn’t know who Rory is. She is very careful to leave no evidence that could incriminate her, and only steals items that would not be easily identified.

Mickey One Eye (T7) – Mickey is a brawler and has ex-street gang members work for him. He smuggles weapons into the city for the ratmen in return for gold.

Rory Fisher (T10) – Leader of the Night Fishers – Rory is the most powerful criminal figure in the city. The uninformed think he is just a wealthy shipping merchant. Several shady nobles are aware of his secret and use his services.

Shilandra (Elf T9) – Shilandra runs a pickpocket ring in the Market. She gets street kids to target unwary shoppers, and she keeps most of what they get. In return, she has a small home where the kids can sleep. Her kids are under strict orders not to steal from the merchants or street performers, to keep the locals happy.

Varis (Nephilim T6) – Varis runs a guild of dockworkers in the Docks district. They make sure that anything loaded or unloaded off a ship on the two southern piers is done by them. Anyone who is not in their group will have an accident if they try to work there. Varis also fences stolen items with some of the visiting ship captains. The dockworkers on the northern piers have made their own group and keep Varis away from those piers. They are honest, and if they found out Varis was fencing items, would happily turn him in to the city guard.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Holystone - Street Performers

Street Performers

Street performers are found throughout the city and in Tent City. They are considered a commoner profession, and are generally treated as good citizens. 

The performers generally pass a hat after each performance, or have it sitting in front of them. Buskers with mandolins play all the popular tunes, with troubadours singing along with them. Acrobats perform stunts and magicians perform tricks to wow the bystanders. Artists draw caricatures of people and sell the pictures. Puppeteers have a small wooden stage, and have little puppets perform stories. Dancers in costume team with musicians.

The Market and its surrounding neighborhoods are considered prime territory by street performers, as rich merchant wives tend to tip well. They set up between merchant stalls, and often make plugs for the merchants during their performances.

Further south, the pickings are much slimmer, so the performers there tend to be established at certain locations. They can get very territorial about newcomers, including getting into brawls to scare them away.

A license is required to perform on the streets of the Lord’s City. The performers are assigned locations, so as not to disturb the nobles. Mimes and skilled musicians are usually the only performers permitted. Street performers are willing to pay the license fees, because if they impress a noble, he may become their patron and give them living quarters at the noble manse. Then the performer would just play for the family and their guests, and not have to wander the streets.

Street performers in Cliffside are dwarves, who recite old dwarven poems or sing songs in dwarven. There are only a few of them, all from the Clan Blackstone.

The performers in Tent City live in the tents and wagons there. They often work with their friends, including the gypsies and some Menagerie folks. 

Prominent Performers
1. Jessica and her Improvateers are a well-established group in Tent City. Jessica asks bystanders for a noun and a verb. She then relates a wild tale using the given words, while her Improvateers perform the story she tells. They wear outlandishly bright garb, and Jessica speaks loudly in a rhyming style. Jessica is a tall, blonde human woman, and her Improvateers include humans, halflings, and elves. They have a small circle of wagons in north Tent City, right next to a gypsy family, who they are great friends with.

2. Elle the Elven Dancer performs at the northern edge of the Market. She is a gorgeous elven woman, and is famed for her dances. Many noble girls watch her, and try to learn from her. More than a few of Elle’s dances have become popular at noble parties. Elle uses a magic stone to silence everything within 15 feet of where she dances. She performs flawlessly to music she hears only in her mind. Most viewers try to get close enough to be inside the silence circle, to enhance the performance for themselves.

3. Miklos the Mime performs in Lord’s City. He is actually mute, and has taken up his profession as a way to deal with his problem. He often mimics the Count and other popular nobles. Sometimes he shows them as wise and powerful, other times as buffoons in a comedy. The Count has seen Miklos perform. He knows it makes people laugh at his expense, but lets them relieve stress, so he approves.

4. Mender Blackstone is the eldest dwarven performer in Cliffside. He is a fount of dwarven history, and is respected throughout their community. He is getting ready to retire, as he is slowly losing his voice. His mind can wander at times, as well. Mender often performs at major dwarven celebrations, with his performances worked in with the priest’s ceremonies.

5. Jerri and Jon, a puppet couple, are located near the center of the Market. They perform on a small stage, and benches are set up in front of it for children. Their adventures include fighting monsters, defeating evil cultists, and trying to bake the perfect pie. All the while they make rude jokes and hit each other with sticks. They are very popular among the fishermen and their families. Each performance advertises a merchant at the beginning and the end. The puppeteers make more money from the ads than they do the children, and are quite happy with their setup.

Jessica and her Improvateers is based upon Rebecca Rebecca and her Improvateers, who are found in the novel "Promises to Keep" by Charles de Lint, which I highly recommend.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Holystone - opinions?

Just curious what people think of my Holystone posts. Is there anything you'd like to see covered? Just don't care about it? Anyone actually using any of it?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When did eBay start ripping off sellers over shipping?

I sold a copy of Pendragon recently. I got a decent price, and was pretty happy. I noted that eBay would only let me charge $4 for shipping FedEx Ground. Their website would NOT let me change the amount, after I tried several times to raise it.

I shipped the book today, and the actual FedEx cost was $11.83.  Needless to say, I am kinda pissed. I called eBay customer service, and they told me it was my mistake and they would not refund the difference. They said they only limited the shipping costs on certain item categories, and my item was not covered by this. I KNOW that's bullshit. I tried multiple times to adjust my costs when I posted the book.

So, needless to say, I don't think I will use them anymore. Is there any other reputable auction site out there? I know I could just use Amazon, but I'm not sure if that works out ok. Anyone tried it?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

UK/US superimposed map

I just thought this was interesting. Think about how much history has happened in the UK. Now see how big it is compared to the US. I bet more than half of the US states are each bigger than all the British Isles combined.

*click for bigger image*

Craig Ferguson's lost Doctor Who dance

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holystone - Haldred's Emporium

Haldred’s Emporium

Haldred’s Emporium is located in the center  of the Market. The two story building is on the west side of the center square. A large sign above the door uses magically glowing letters to advertise its presence. The store is set up as an open room with a balcony for the second floor. Shelves are packed in everywhere, making the bottom floor something of a maze. Many a shopper has wandered the aisles lost in confusion or wonder, before finding their way out.

A stuffed white dragon hangs from the ceiling, suspended by chains. It is the first thing most people see as they walk in, and has caused more than one first-time shopper to fall back in fear before realizing that the creature is not alive. 

Haldred (cambion M9) runs the shop. He looks human, though he has yellow eyes. He always has a smile on his face, and talks in grand phrases and uses sweeping gestures, similar to a travelling mountebank.

The Emporium specializes in magic potions, fancy dresses, herbal remedies, strange and exotic pets, and the occasional magic weapon or suit of armor. Haldred will happily pay adventurers for items they acquire during adventures, as long as the items look impressive. He will attempt to haggle the price down, as he finds haggling to be a fun process. He has even hired adventurers to obtain items that he hears about, if the items seem interesting enough. 

Items in the store are not cheap, and most of the clientele are nobles or merchants who want to show off their wealth. The store is magically protected, and a few thieves have disappeared over the years, after thinking they could steal from the place.

Adventure Hooks
1. A dragon has heard about Haldred’s Emporium. It is quite angry about the stuffed dragon, and will use agents to kill the mage or burn down the shop. 

2. A magical box has been placed on sale. Unknown to Haldred, it is cursed. A spirit comes out of it at night and damages items in the store. Haldred may hire the adventurers to find out what is causing the problem.

3. A mystical orb of unknown magic is rumored to be in a ruin two days journey to the east. Haldred hires the adventurers to retrieve it.

4. A paladin comes to the store, determined to slay Haldred based only upon his demonic heritage. The adventurers arrive as the confrontation begins.

5. A demon has infiltrated the store. It seeks to corrupt any powerful-looking nobles or adventurers it spies wandering the store. 

6. A pair of rare talking parrots has been stolen from the store. Haldred is not sure how the thief got past his wards. He hires the adventurers to find the thief, recover the parrots, and determine the weakness in his defenses.