28 December 2010

Mutant of the Week - Wegg

Here is another mutant for the D&D Gamma World game (game by Wizards of the Coast).

This one is a Wheeled-Magnetic
 
STR: 8 (-1)
DEX: 16 (+3)
CON: 18 (+4)
INT: 9 (-1)
WIS: 10 (0)
CHA: 5 (-3)
 
Fortitude Defense: +15
Reflex Defense: +16
Willpower Defense: +11
Armor Class: 11
Hit Points: 30
 
Skill Bonuses: +8 bonus to Athletics, +4 bonus to Mechanics
 
Mutant Powers
All-Wheel Drive
Magnatized Body
Maximum Overdrive
Lodestone Lure
 
Background
Wegg was a normal humanish kid.  As he approached adulthood he began to manifest magnetic powers.  In one failed experiment with these powers he accidentally fused his body with a nearby shopping cart.
 
To-day he appears to be an obese man with greasy black hair overflowing out of a shopping cart.  No sign of any legs under the mass of flesh.  Despite this appearance, Wegg is incredibly acrobatic since he can magnetically move the shopping cart that makes up his lower body.
 
He usually tries to hid his true mobility and tumbling skills and plays up being a clumbsy oaf.  When it comes time for conflict, however, he is very daring and usually catches his adversary by surprise.

27 December 2010

Vacation Homes in Sims 2

I Played a little more Sims 2 over Christmas. The Fugg family has made its way on another vacation. This time their vacation was to a new vacation home. There are many advantages to owning a vacation home in the Sims 2 for both Legacy Challenges and for the normal game.

The primary advantage is that while staying at a vacation home your Sims can build up their skills as if they were home. Given that the aging clock is on pause while they spend time on vacation, this can give many extra days of skill and badge building in your Sims’ life, It makes it possible to max out all skills before even starting college.

Additionally as you meet new NPCs while on vacation it is easy to spend one or two days of a seven day vacation and throw parties at the vacation home. This helps to build up relationships and gain new friends during the Sims holiday.

Family & Friends fishing on Green Thicket Manor vacation home lot

The most recent Fugg family vacation had a number of highlights. A few new family friends have been added, fishing badges have been advanced for most family members, some slight modifications and additions have been made to the vacation home, and Albert learned to teleport from a ninja.

The teleportation is going to come in handy. It’ll be neat to add some sections to the Legacy Lot that don’t have any doors. Albert will have his own Fortress of Solitude away from other pesky sims.

Over the next few game days I’ll focus on building up the family business. They have purchased a large park lot in the center of town because it had a lot of land and was inexpensive. Now I’ll be developing it and trying to create a level 10 business out of it. It’ll be a shame to wreck the look of the center of town by adding a bunch of buildings but there are luckily no zoning laws for Albert to deal with.

Eventually I’ll have to decide which of the three sons will become the official heir of the family. Once I figure that out that character will move off to college and the others will move out on their own. Looks like I’ll have to keep the offspring down to one or two each generation, at least if I want to continue breeding dogs.

This whole Legacy Challenge thing is taking longer than I thought, but I just don’t want to push it too much and get burnt out.

Another update will come soon.

21 December 2010

Mutant of the Week - Pementa

Here is a random mutant rolled up using the new D&D Gamma World game. I think I'm going to do some more of theses as a weekly series just to show some of the strange things you can get with the new Gamma World. Descriptions of the mutant powers can be found in the rule book.:

Pementa
Plant-Pyrokinetic

STR = 12 (+1)
DEX = 11 (0)
CON = 18 (+4)
INT = 13 (+1)
WIS = 16 (+3)
CHA = 5 (-3)

Hit Points: 30
Speed: 6

Fortitude Defense: 17
Reflex Defense: 12
Will Defense: 14
Armor Class: 12

Abilities
+2 Bio Overcharge
Vulnerable to Fire
Fire Resistance
Fiery Aura
Lashing Creepers
Fiery Flare

Character Background
Pementa is a mutant chili pepper. It was born in southern North America a number of years ago.

Being both vulnerable and resistant to fire means that Pementa is in a state of constant pain. It made its way norht over the years hoping that the cooler climates would reduce its suffering.

Having a fire aura makes it difficult for Pementa to make friends. It now lives in the outskirts of the ruins of ancient Rah-Chez-Tur.

(Gamma World is owned by Wizards of the Coast, go to their website and poke around for more info)

20 December 2010

Review - Futureworld

***WARNING – SPOILERS FOR A THIRTY-FOUR YEAR OLD MOVIE***

Westworld (1973) was an awesome movie.  It had all sorts of cool stuff including a fancy resort where people could live out their fantasies, androids, gunfights, Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin…  well Richard Benjamin in a serious role.

Hey, you've got Futureworld in your eye
 
Three years later the sequel was released, Futureworld!  The Delos resort has opened two years after the disaster at Westworld.  Over 50 guests were killed and 95 staff were inured or killed during that mishap.  Now, in the far future year of 2002, they claim to have worked out the problem and are again open for business.  The Westworld area has been shut down and the new Futureworld has been added as an option for the guests.

A couple of reporters are sent to do preliminary work on a news story about Delos.  They have names, but that isn’t really an important part of the story.  Now a protagonist should basically be a character or characters in the story that the audience is supposed to care about and identify with on some level.  Then when they face the obstacles and challenges of the story we actually give a rat’s buttocks what happens to them.  Our protagonists for Futureworld are lame and annoying.  I was hoping to see Yul blow one of them away at some point.

The Protagonists
 Anyway, these two characters go to Delos for their story.  The male lead, we’ll call him Todd for the sake of argument, had an earlier encounter with a man who supposedly came from Delos and had important information for him.  This man, not Todd, is assassinated and all Todd finds on his body are news clips of various important world leaders who have made recent trips to Delos.  Instead of letting the police handle things I guess Larry decided to just steal the evidence from a murder scene and try to create a great story about it.  Needless to say Todd looses all of his objectivity and is out to ‘get’ Delos…  sorta like a real reporter in 2002.

During the whole trip and arrival at Delos we are continually told how safe everything is and how nothing could possibly go wrong.  After the eighth or ninth time I hear the reassurances I was certain we’d have a repeat of the Westworld disaster.  They weren’t going to use the same story again were they?

Anyway our two protagonists go to Futureworld instead of Medievalworld or Romanworld, it’s the fancy new addition to the resort and it also happens to be the name of the movie.  After a simulated rocket ride they arrive on the ‘spaces station.’  There are cool things to do in Futureworld, including skiing on Mars (where the snow is red and the gravity is one-third of Earth’s), spacewalking around the space station, and other activities.  However there are really two activities that people go to Delos for, I’ll go into those in detail down below.

The Future looks a lot like the '70s
Our Todd and the female reporter don’t get to do much fun stuff before they are pulled away into the bowels of Delos to see how things actually operate.  It is revealed the reason nothing can go wrong this time is that nearly all the staff are now androids so that human errors can’t cause another disaster.  That can’t be good.

We next get a strange scene where a demonstration is made of some sort of dream recorder.  Our female protagonist is strapped in and falls asleep and her dream is shown on a video monitor for all to see.  It involves some strange bad guys harassing her and then she is rescued by The Gunslinger.  After he saves her they begin a strange dance and end up in bed together making out.  It is the most absurd scene in the movie and does not seem to make too much sense since before leaving on the trip she watched the video footage of The Gunslinger going around Westworld murdering people.  Strange what turns some people on.

This scene made me cry because it was so stupid
The real purpose of that scene was to get Yul Brynner’s name on it and make people think something awesome was going to happen.  I guess I can’t blame him for doing it, he may have needed some extra cash and got a chance to make-out with Blythe Danner.  It’s just a shame that was the last performance he made on screen before his death.

The movie continues with our heroes…. I mean the main characters of the movie… stumbling around in some restricted areas of Delos.  They meet an engineer and his out-of-date android, ‘Clark.’  With his help they uncover the real plot of the movie.  Delos is replacing world leaders and generals and such with organic androids which are indistinguishable form the originals and totally loyal to Delos.  Yikes, world conquest from an android brothel!

Clark, the real hero of this movie, and all he did was cheat at cards
As the protagonists attempt to escape (and that engineer guy that helped them gets killed) but are confronted by organic androids of themselves that were going to replace them and write good stories about Delos.  The androids happened to decide to wear the same clothes as the originals so we have no idea who won the life and death struggles until the last minutes of the film.

As might be guessed from a simplistic film from the ‘70s the originals defeated their android duplicates and pretended to be the androids in order to escape Delos.  And as they escape Todd turns to the director of Delos and appears to give him the finger.  In actuality I believe he was giving the audience the finger because we had to sit through all that… the exploitation of Yul, the under-utilization of Clark, and the rather lame story.

Oh well.  At least Westworld is still awesome.

SEX & VIOLENCE
The actual purpose of Delos is for the guests to fulfill their dreams of sex and violence.  The androids do whatever the guests want including being their sex slaves.  Many of the androids are also designed to be murdered.  Charming.

Additionally, back in the movie Westworld, they explained how the resort’s weapons worked.  They had heat sensors that would be able to tell the difference between a living being (it would be warm) and an android (it would be room temperature).  The weapons would work only against the poor room temperature bastard and the guests would be fine.  So the androids are room temperature… that’s kinda creepy considering the other use for androids is sex.  Delos is a necrophliac’s dream come true.  Now they just have to add on Whitechapelworld so the guests can try their hand at stalking and killing prostitutes.

FINAL GRADE
I’d have to give this film a four out of thirteen.  There was a good idea buried in there somewhere, so that’s worth a couple of points.  There was a cool cover of the Famous Monsters of Filmland that featured Clark the andoid, so that’s worth another point or two.  I’m rounding up to four since I’m a generous and awesome person.

This rating makes it worth watching for background noise as you do something else.  It is suggested you watch Westworld first to get the whole backstory.

If you’ve seen Futureworld please let me know what you think.

16 December 2010

Star Frontiers!

As I've been thinking back to the early days of gaming I remembered a great little science-fiction game by TSR back in the early '80s, Star Frontiers.  Dralasites, Vrusk, Yazarians, Sathar and all sorts of cool stuff were included in that role-playing game.  I did some quick web searches looking for memories people may have had of that game and I came across Starfrontiers.com.

This site claims to be the official Star Frontiers site, with permission from Hasbro.  That's cool.  Especially since they happen to have PDF copies of nearly every Star Frontiers supplement and boxed set.  If you remember the good-old-days when Star Frontiers was new or just want to do some research on the early days of gaming a visit to that site would not be wasted.

I'm not sure if I'd use that old system if I ran a Star Frontiers campaign again.  Some d20 variant or GURPS might work better.  But I could be wrong, despite how simple the Star Frontiers system is, it might still be a functional system viewed nearly 30 years later....  30 years?  Dang I'm getting old.  I still remember as a youngling spending hours designing starships for the Knight Hawks supplement.  I might have to design a couple of ships this weekend for old time's sake.

13 December 2010

Happy Wold Newton Day

On 13 December 1795 the first observed meteorite strike in Britain took place near the village of Wold Newton. The meteorite was an L6, ordinary chondrite, with a mass of about 25 kilograms. This event was used as part of a literary concept developed based on some of the works of Philip José Farmer.



In the Wold Newton Universe a couple of carriages were passing by when the meteor struck. The people inside were irradiated by the strange energies of the impact. Their descendants would become some of the greatest literary characters of all time including: Tarzan, Doc Savage, Phileas Fogg, Nero Wolfe, Sherlock Holmes, Allan Quartermain, Sam Spade, and many others.

It started with Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke where Farmer examines Tarzan’s life in detail and gives links to many other fictional characters. It is written as if Tarzan was an actual person and that Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote Lord Greystoke’s highly fictionalized memoirs.

Later came Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life. In this Mr. Farmer gives Doc Savage the same treatment he gave Tarzan and expanded the Wold Newton Universe.

Other people have also added to the WNU as well. Attempts are made to connect other characters to the existing works. It is sort of like genealogical research for fictional characters. More info can be found on Wold Newton Universe website which is maintained by Win Scott Eckert.

The whole Wold Newton concept has gotten me to read a large number of old books that A decade ago I never would have imagined I’d read. I’ve even started searching out interesting but nearly forgotten books form the 19th century and finding Ebook copies on Google Books. This has expanded my horizons and been both entertaining and educational; that’s why I’m wishing everyone a Happy Wold Newton Day. I want to inspire others to have fun reading again.

If I ever make my way to England one of the stops I’d have to make is to visit the site of the meteor crash. However that is still secondary to spending a couple of nights in Portmeirion.

07 December 2010

Wiki on a Stick

I've finished repairing some minor corruption on my Wiki on a Stick. It took a total of about five or six hours, but I got to listen to one of my audio books as I worked.

What is a wiki on a stick? Well it is your own personal wikipedia on a thumb drive. It starts with no entries but can quickly be filled with information useful to the owner. I'm filling up mine with role-playing campaign notes, old blog entries, and other writings of mine. I've even added journal entries and plan to add research notes for my family tree.

Basically it is for personal information management. It is also great for note taking since you can link individual words in your notes to pages given more information and categories to organize various entries.

Sure there are online sites where you can set up your own wikia. However, those have the disadvantage of being online instead of hidden away on a thumb drive. A wiki on a thumb drive can be more secure and can be used on your laptop where no wireless is available.

As with anything else related to computers just be sure to make regular back-ups. that's what saved me countless hours fixing my file the last couple of days.

And which audio books have I been listening to? Harry Turtledove's After the Downfall as well as some episodes of the old radio show Dimension X.

18 November 2010

Famous Monsters of Filmland is back

As a kid I was really into horror movies and monsters and cool stuff like that. I would buy issues of Creepy and Eerie magazines. Eventually I started to collect Famous Monsters of Filmland, but I had to drop collection the other magazines due to the fact that my allowance would only go so far. Famous Monsters had won out.

From the late seventies and into the first few years of the eighties I would pick up the latest issue of the magazine. I remember bugging my father to take us to World Wide News downtown every month so I could pick up my magazine. I ordered a number of back issues and wanted to order half of the stuff advertised in the back pages.

Famous Monsters was a black-n-white magazine printed on newspaper quality paper, but it was always entertaining. I collected it until shortly before it stopped publication. Luckily at that point I was getting pulled into comic books to keep my allowance burning a hole in my pocket.

Today I was at a book store during my lunch break and I saw a copy of the latest issue (#252) on the rack. It's back! And they continued the numbering from where they left off!

My old issues are mostly long gone except for a couple of ragged copies now stashed away in plastic bags but this new one looks great. Full color glossy pages with some great articles. Right out of the gate I get to read about some of the old Hammer horror films (I loved those when I was a kid), an article on the new Walking Dead television series, the remastering of Metropolis (I have to see this at some point), and the creatures form Nightbreed. There is a lot more in there too, I'll have to finish reading it this weekend.

The one drawback was the $12.99 cover price. Dang! Thirty years ago it only set me back $1.75. The price has gone up at the same rate as comic books have the last 30 years.

I'm not sure how long I'll be picking up issues. I'll have to see how the quality is. I've given up on collecting anything so I won't be rushing out to pick up every issue. I'll just have to flip through each issue to see if it is worth the hefty investment. But in either case I'll have to go browse the next issue at World Wide News and see how that place has changed over the last 28 years.

Search Amazon.com for Famous Monsters

17 November 2010

My Kiva Update November 2010

I’ve just made my 11th Kiva loan today. This time I loaned money to someone in Sierra Leone who sells clothing. I have now made loans to people in eleven different countries across the world.

Repayment has been mostly on time as well. Three of my loans have been fully repaid and only one of the people I loaned to is having trouble making payments on time, but they are eventually getting made.

At this point I have now loaned more money than the average Kiva user. I haven’t lost any money yet while the average user has lost $1.52. So far, so good.

I’m now seeing more loans for being offered for people living in the United States. At first I didn’t want to see that on Kiva, but I’ve changed my mind. Any micro-lending should be available on the site, if it happens to be someone from the USA people who are interested have one more option for lending. It’s just when I see someone form America, Canada, or Western Europe needing a loan I just begin wondering why they can’t get a regular loan.

When I’m looking for loans to make I won’t loan to groups. I personally prefer to read about an individual and their plan, not a mass of people. That’s me, but I’m glad they have groups available for those who would like to loan to groups.

So, anyway, 11 loans down and many more to make in the coming months. I still have to do some research on this whole micro-financing thing, but I do know that the individuals who have received these loans are grateful and nearly all of them manage to pay the loan back.

16 November 2010

The Graying of Comic Book Fans

When I go to comic shops these days I’ve rarely seen anyone under the age of about 20 in them. I’m not sure if that is good for the comic industry in the long-run. Sure a thirty-something overweight comic collector may be able to afford stacks of overpriced comics, but who will replace him in twenty years when heart attacks have culled the herds of collectors?

Perhaps in this age of the internet, DVD players, video game systems, and such kids may not be as inclined to read comics like our parents & grandparents were, but the ever increasing cost of comics isn’t helping.

1938: Action Comics #1 – cover price ten cents. The regular price for a comic book would remain at this level until about 1962.

1979: comics were crossing into the 40 cent range from 10 cents over a 17 year period. This is when I got the first comic book I remember having (Action Comics #500, which was a huge issue so it cost $1.00). A dime from 1938 adjusted for inflation is about 52 cents, so comic books are still a great value.

1982: Cover prices increase to the 60 cent mark. This was the time I was getting into the Legion of Super-Heroes. Despite the 50% increase from just a few short years ago, the inflation adjusted dime from 1938 is 69 cents. Comics still cost less than in 1938.

1986: The post-Crisis on Infinite Earths comics start to show cover prices of 75 cents. Our good-old Action Comics #1 cover price adjusted for inflation is 78 cents.

1988: $1.00 for a comic book! Are they nuts?!? They sure were, our inflation adjusted dime is only worth 84 cents. Looks like things are going to get ugly.

1992: Now that the dollar point has been passed the increases continue. $1.25 is the new price of your average comic book – That dime from 1938 is adjusted to $1.00.

1995: $1.50 – a few years have gone by since the last price increase. I’m sure no one will notice if we round up to $1.50. Adjusted for inflation our old dime is worth $1.08.

1997: $1.99 – Just two years after a buck & a half we get another big jump in the cover price of a typical comic book. Our dime is not able to keep up, it’s sitting at $1.13.

2006: $2.99 for a comic book? If you are lucky you can find one that cheap from the two big companies. Small press books go for a lot more. The big publishers are also tempting fate by pushing up towards $3.99 by 2010. Insanity. That inflation adjusted dime is worth $1.42 in 2006. Comic books now cost more than twice they did back in ‘the day.’

The change in the type of paper used in comic books is factor in the price increase. I’m sure the overhead at the largest publishers has gone up considerably over the decades as the business world continues to increase in complexity. That doesn’t change the fact that kids aren’t going to be able to buy as many comics as they did in prior years.

On top of that the stories today are overly complex. Part of this complexity is just an attempt to hook the reader into buying additional books every month as well as special issues that explain the ‘universe-wide’ story arc. So now the reader is buying perhaps three books just to keep up on his hero for $8.97 when his grandfather could just buy one book for the inflation adjusted amount of $1.42.

Oh, and that Action Comics #1 could fetch up to $1,500,000 today. In 2082 issues of a comic bought today won’t appreciate in value by nearly as much. That better paper I mentioned earlier, as well as mylar bags, climate controlled storage, etcetera will keep too many copies of today’s comics in good condition to reduce the supply and drive up prices.

11 November 2010

Sports, Black-Outs, and Tax Money

This Sunday’s Buffalo Bill’s game will not be televised.

Back when I was younger and still had a television I would get ticked off when my usual weekend viewing was interrupted by sports. Nothing is more annoying than looking forward to the latest episode of your favorite show only to have it replaced by a bunch of grown men playing a silly game. At least now that I don’t have a television I watch what I want when I want online or on DVD so there are far fewer disappointments in that regard.

I’m not much of a sports fan. Football…. or I guess it should really be called Tackleball, is certainly not something I would watch. A bunch of overweight men in tight pants bending down around a ball is not my idea of an entertaining time.

However, as a taxpayer I find the Bills being able to black-out the game as highly offensive. While I don’t like football many other people do. Millions of taxpayer dollars went to help pay for a frickin’ playing field for a bunch of millionaires and now that the locals don’t want to buy overpriced tickets to sit in cold weather and watch a terrible team play the high-up muckity-mucks in the Bills organization black-out the game.

Screw them. That stadium is owned by the government not the Bills. When you don’t pay your own way you shouldn’t be able to decide if your game is televised or not. Everyone in western New York is owed a lot by these ungrateful schmucks. If you won’t televise all the games then give us our money back.

Of course the government won’t ever make such an interpretation of things. How many communities have been fleeced by various professional sports teams. Countless times have crybaby millionaires complained that a ten or fifteen year old stadium is no longer suitable for their childish little game and if they are not given tens or hundreds of millions of dollars they will take their toys and go somewhere else. Next comes the stream bureaucrats telling how the community will actually make more money by keeping the team in town and push through the funding.

After the taxpayers get fleeced for the stadium next comes the police overtime. Then if the community is really lucky the team is good and wins a couple championships… and then the related victory riots burning parts of the city that the police don’t dare try to stop without hearing cries of police brutality.

In return we get some low-paying seasonal jobs at the stadium, increased traffic accidents as tens of thousands of people (many of whom are drunk) try to leave the city at the same time, increased sales of multi-colored body paint (and the related sales tax revenue!), and an over-inflated sense of self worth because we have a big sports team.

And another thing; how can anyone have any loyalty to a team? Players are traded and move with more frequency than they did thirty years ago. The team is made up of a bunch of carpet baggers not local talent.

I have no problem with people who play sports for fun. It’s great exercise and competition is a good thing. I just hate having my money stolen for something that doesn’t benefit me or at least the community.

Finally, I’ve heard a number of people say that the Bills have a chance this weekend to defeat the Lions and get their first win. I still have faith in them. They are going to what they are best at… finding a way to fail.

FUN NOT REALLY FACTS
#1 The average football fan that goes to a game weighs 220 pounds. With 70,000 people crammed into the stadium that makes 7.7 kilotons of flesh and bone. With each person consuming an average of 1.7 pounds of food at the game… almost like 541 additional people leaving when the game is over!

#2 Enough urine is excreted at the stadium on game day to fill a 12 by 24 foot in-ground pool 3.5 feet.

#3 For every person that thinks the fan that the camera always zooms in on who is shirtless and covered in paint is cool there are 577,314 people laughing at him. While these 577,314 don’t want that guy in the gene pool, the are more than willing to push him into the pool mentioned in fun not really fact #2.

10 November 2010

Star Wars Campaign Development & Stuff

Campaign Thoughts
I'll be running a few more sessions of my Star Wars role-playing campaign before I have to put it on pause again. It has been overall an odd campaign over the last two or three years. I've pulled from numerous expanded universe sources including the Marvel comics series, the River of Chaos series, and other places.

As I think about what to do next I have to decide if I'm going to go a more normal route with the game or continue to build on what has transpired so far. If I make things more normal there is a chance that things could get bogged down in the mundane and the efforts of the heroes during the Yuuzhan Vong war will be an insignificant ripple in the conflict.

If I ramp up the storyline it will become something it may have been lacking a bit lately. It will become an action-adventure series on a grand scale with the heroes actually having a chance to save the galaxy (or watch it burn when they screw up). I need to through in more exotic locations, bigger explosions, more bizarre aliens, and things for the players to care about. We have relatively short sessions for Star Wars, but as I learned last night it is possible to get a lot done if we get to it and I'm properly prepared... I just have to make sure I don't run out of material and do what I can to keep tangents from happening.

As I've been getting more notes together I've even realized I've made some major oversights on a couple of small scale things. It's probably hurt the characters a bit, but I'll make up for that oversight before things go on pause.

With the mysteries of Splendid Ap and Centerpoint Station mostly solved and other revelations it would be anti-climatic to have the team running a droid factory churning out hundreds of thousands of droids for a war that involves trillions. The players deserve better than that so I think I'll have to put them in the position of being the heroes of the story. Now If I could just get them to act heroic.

I'll give some details of what I have planned at the end of next month after the last session before the break. I don't want to spoil anything for any of the players.

Unrelated Thoughts (Stuff)
Again timing seems to be off for me. A package I've been expecting actually arrived at the main Rochester post office this morning. I was hoping it would get delivered but now I'll have to wait until Friday since to-morrow is a holiday.

I've been reading some of the stories in The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Some are good, some are bad, and some are mediocre. Thinking about putting it aside for now and jumping into L. Neil Smith's Lando Calrissian trilogy.

Finally, I'm behind schedule on my NaNoWriMo again this year. November just doesn't seem to be a good month for me to try to write a novel. June has worked much better for me. I'll keep at it a bit, but it's starting to morph into something I plan to merge with my first novel and some other material. More details next summer as I get things organized.

31 October 2010

Warren Redlich for Governor

"Stop wasting money!"

Tuesday is election day. Here in New York we have numerous choices for Governor, seven of them to be exact. For those who are not happy with either Cuomo or Paladino we have candidates form numerous other parties: the Libertarian party, Anti-Prohibition Party, Rent is 2 Damn High, Green and Freedom party. If you are disillusioned with voting because of the direction New York has been going under the two main parties, please consider voting for one of the 'third' parties.

Warren Redlich and the Libertarian Party of New York will work to bring liberty back to New Yorkers. First by stopping the wasting of money by the State. Warren's website also lists his stand on other issues such as taxes, tort reform, eminent domain, the second amendment, and drug policyreform. His view on the issues is what is in the interest of the citizen not what's in the interest of the politician. If you want government intrusions in our life reduced or just want to scare the major parties into working for us instead of the party bosses, please give Warren your vote.

While I'm not going to tell you that you have an obligation to vote (voting is a right not an obligation) I will ask you to please help shake things up this year. Let's make sure that voter turnout for this race is better than the voter turnout on Dancing With the Stars.

29 October 2010

Week Off

I've finally managed to take a week off from work. Not going out of town; just going to work on a number of projects here at home:
  1. Catch up on my blogging - I've been falling behind in my blogging. I hope to catch up and start working on a back-log of material.
  2. Voting - Tuesday is election day. I'm working to get Warren Redlich votes for Governor of New York. I'll post more about him this weekend.
  3. NaNoWriMo - I'll be starting my next novel during National Novel Writing Month. I tried this last year but failed. I should be able to do it this time, I've written over 40,000 words in 30 days before, how much harder can it be to get to 50,000?
  4. Getting rid of old junk - Time to clean out crap I don't need. Old furniture, DVDs, books, comics, games... reducing the clutter and trying to get a little money. I've given up on collecting anything, it's a waste of space and money... it could be fun at times though...
  5. Fixing up my old computer - no upgrade, just going to clean out ould files and programs off it and do some other back-ups & maintenance.
  6. Lots o' other stuff too - My list of odds'n'ends for this next week or so it pretty long. I'm not going to finish everything, but I will take a dent out of my list.
  7. Rest - I also plan to just sit back and relax a bit. Do some light reading. I won't be able to take another full week off until the summer, so I'll have to make this one count.

25 October 2010

Preparing for 2010 NaNoWriMo

I'm getting ready for this year's National Novel Writing Month. Last year I wasn't successful in my attempt. This year I have some of the same time constraints that I had last year, but I will be trying to take a week of vacation to give me some extra writing time.

Last year I planned to write a retro-science-fiction story set during World War I. This time I'll be writing an adventure story set during the Second Angl0-Afghan War. I did some research last year and I'm currently getting a few characters and scenarios into the back of my mind so I'll be ready to start writing on November 1st.

I'll try to give regular updates of my writing status as the month progresses. The goal for the 30 days is 50,000 words. A sizable amount, but it should be easy to accomplish, even with work and other obligations that need to be met.

This will hopefully be my first successful NaNoWriMo attempt. Last year was my first attempt, and I failed. My other novel in a month attempt was in June 2008 and netted over 40,000 words.

If you've always wanted to write a novel you might want to join me next week in writing. The goal is to get words on a page. Future months can be taken up by the clean-up and re-writes. Once the first 50,000 words are written, everything else is much easier.

Now all I need is a title for my new book...

19 October 2010

15 Games in 15 minutes Meme

Here is something I've seen a few other people post about. You get 15 minutes to list the first 15 games you think of that stuck with you in some way. I'll be listing role-playing games on mine:

1) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
2) Villains & Vigilantes
3) Amber Diceless Role-Playing
4) Star Frontiers
5) Mage: The Ascension
6) GURPS
7) D&D 3.5
8) DC Heroes RPG
9) Star Trek RPG (Fasa's version)
10) Extreme Vengeance
11) 7th Sea
12) Deadlands
13) Marvel Super Heroes
14) Space:1889
15) Doctor Who (the new RPG; haven't played it but it looks like it has some cool systems to it)

Okay, that took only about five minutes. These were the first 15 games I could think of as having had an influence on my gaming style, having been fun to play, or just looking interesting. There are lots more, but these must be the most important ones since I thought of them first.

I'm sure I'll think of a few more that have had more of an influence on me after I hit the 'Publish Post' button.

18 October 2010

Pittsford Library Book Sale

The Pittsford, NY Library is having a book sale at the end of this week. According to their website members of the Friends of the (Pittsford) Library can be admitted to the first day of the sale on Friday the 22nd of October at 5pm. Saturday and Sunday it will be open to everyone.

Between 5pm and 6pm on Sunday after being briefly closed the sale will open back up and people can fill up a bag of books for $3.

I've gone to a number of Friends of the Library sales in Brighton and they are cool. You have to go early to get the best books, but showing up for the $3 per bag of books is well worth it. My bag'0 books usually have some good titles in them, but everything else gets posted onto Bookmooch. Of course I was able to choose what went into the bag, but you're trying to quickly get the better books in your bag before one of the other patrons takes something that might interest you.

Should be fun.

17 October 2010

Sims in Business

Continuing my Legacy Challenge:

Albert Fugg has opened his first business. I only had about §50,000 available so I had to find an inexpensive site. Since this will be the core family business I want it to have room to expand. I picked one of the four park zones in the town; they are large and give me plenty of room to do what I want.

Putting up big stores in one of the central park areas is not the most appealing thing. I believe I'll be selling various outdoors-type statues and plants. Many of them will bring in big bucks and they will add to the look of the park more than setting up a department store.

In an isolated area I might set up a small workshop area for some employees to create additional items to sell at the park or for me to keep until I set up additional business in town. All of this and a nice playground and picnic area for the locals. Nice.

Albert is about 8 days away from becoming an elder. The two youngest kids, Xeno & Cody are going to have a birthday soon leaving toddlerdom to become youngsters and starting school. Hopefully they will become teenagers before Albert dies so they along with Bobert will have a chance to become the 'official' heir of the family line.

However, before those birthdays Albert will be taking Bobert, Venus and a family friend on a third vacation to Three Lakes. It will be a long vacation giving the kids time to work on maxing out more skills and for Albert to generate some more money for the family. All this while making new friends and trying to get the last vacation memories in that destination. I really hope one of our next vacations is to another destination... but we have to save up for a vacation home in the other vacation destinations. Staying at hotels is too expensive and has other drawbacks.

Anyway, I hope to work to develop this first family business to a high level and use the revenue to buy some additional business property. I may focus on this since breeding dogs is becoming a major task.

There will be another update soon.

16 October 2010

4th Edition Problem

I'm working on reviving an old campaign and I'm trying to decide what to do with a problem with being 100% compliant with 4th edition rules. I would stick with the old rule from earlier editions but new sourcebooks are based on the new edition so I may have to change.

I'm not talking about D&D 4th edition; I'm talking about GURPS. The fourth edition of GURPS has messed with the higher tech levels. In old GUPRPS tech level 7 was the modern day and was projected to last until about the turn of the century (2001+ was listed as the time TL 8 would begin). New GURPS has TL 8 starting in 1980..... 1980 to about 2001 or so being TL 7 in old GURPS. Sure we may have some Tech Level 8 technology making its way into our civilization, we may be at the early stage of TL 8; but then again it's 2010 so that's where we should be in the old scale.

Additionally the higher tech levels had gone to 16 in the old Ultra Tech book; the new one has the anti-matter weapons and super tech that was 15-16 at TL 12. So now the tech level starts one higher than it used to and we have lost four levels at the other end of the scale. So from today's digital technology it is now only four steps to near god-like powers.

If I update to the new tech rankings I'll have to bump the campaign base tech level to 9. There will be annoying little bookkeeping things to do like update all the NPC character sheets so their skills reflect the proper new tech level. That way as new GURPS books are released with higher tech gear I wont' have to go back and figure out what tech level it would be in old GURPS. Either case is a pain.

Since I was running an alternate worlds campaign there is also the high technology and special tech from various alternate worlds that have to be adjusted as well. I like having more tech levels because that helps make some of the super tech very difficult for the PCs to use or figure out.

Would it have been too difficult to just leave the tech levels the same? What benefit is there to changing it and reclassifiying a pile of ultra tech gear to lower tech levels?

10 October 2010

Return of Gamma World

This week the latest in a long line of editions of Gamma World has been released. I've lost count of how many editions there have been but this one might just as well be called 4e since it uses the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition rules. In fact it is called D&D Gamma World.

The boxed set stands out in 'radioactive green' similar to the Deadlands Wasted West products. While it is a boxed set it is not in the old style flimsy boxes of the old days its in a nice sturdy box. The contents, however, don't require such a big box.

The rule book is over 150 pages... but its a 8.5" times 5.5" book instead of your standard 8.5" times 11". Of course the dimensions of the box would not allow for an 11 inch book. Next are the battle maps; while useful for the game these is only so many battles that can be fought on them before they get boring. A bunch of cardboard character and monster tokens are included as well (too bad they won't release a non-collectible miniatures set for Gamma World, that would be cool).

Finally we come to the card deck. The new Gamma World uses collectible cards for mutations and 'Omega Tech.' So for those of you not turned off by the 4th Edition rules, the collectible card aspect may have now driven you away. For those who like both collectible cards and 4e this might be the game for you.

From what I've seen online there isn't much of a campaign background in the new game. That's too bad. But at least that keeps them from creating something as horrible as the Alternity version of Gamma World (pure strain humans are actually aliens.... really?). Despite the apparent strikes this new one has against it I really didn't like the background changes they mad in the Alternity version... which is too bad because I liked the Alternity system.

If you are going to buy this one be sure to shop around. There is a wide range of pricing online. Also, you might want to hold off on the booster packs and see if the price on them goes down at all right now I think it is averaging about fifty cents per card.

Now I wonder when they'll get around to re-releasing Star Frontiers.

23 September 2010

Hutts, and then some

Worked a little late tonight. My gym was closed all day. I've got a million things to do but I spent my night preparing for next Tuesday's Star Wars role-playing campaign. I could have done something more constructive, but the game won't write itself and it needs to be done before Tuesday.

A storyline just ended in my game. The PCs are now on their way to Hutt Space (one of the players is playing a Hutt). I've had to determine the current status of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of Hutt territory, create numerous NPCs and work out some new game systems I hope will add something to the campaign. I've even sketched illustrations for three of the Hutt NPCs (perhaps I'll put them in a future post after I scan and color them).

Over the last several hours I've been exploring Wookieepedia and drawing up potential conflicts in the next phase of my Star Wars campaign. This weekend I'll be finishing some new maps and details of new star systems & species to locate into Hutt Space.

The PCs started out as Corporate Sector troubleshooters. They were involved in corporate espionage in the early days of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the galaxy. They even ran a mission into New Republic territory against the New Republic. As things developed they had a growing distaste for their employers and moved out on their own.

On top of that was the Cult of Splendid Ap and the secrets of Centerpoint Station. This kept the team busy on their own. With a Hutt joining the party, and their growing distaste for the New Republic the PCs are now on their way to take the fight to the Vong in Hutt Space. We'll see how long they stay in that neighborhood; hopefully it will be some time as the only things left after would be the Centrality or the Imperial Remnant.

Anyway, I had some fun tonight creating a number of Hutt NPCs and designing some aliens and ships. This weekend I'll finish the designs and come up with the Vong and Hutt orders of battle. Should be more fun.

Now I just have to make sure the players have as much fun playing as I had designing......

16 September 2010

The Last Week on Sims 2

After the September 15 deadlines at work I've had a little bit of extra time. I spent a little bit of that playing Sims 2 and continuing my Legacy Challenge.

First off, little Bobert Fugg has grown into a teenager. We threw a party for him and everything. He's turning out pretty good, a couple of his skills are maxed out and most of the others are more than half-way there. The problem is that I randomly rolled the Pleasure aspiration for him. Luckily his lifetime aspiration is to reach the top of the Slacker career path, not the worst he could have gotten. Still, I'd prefer an heir with the Finance or Knowledge aspirations, even Family wouldn't be too bad. Oh well.

The night after the party Albert spent the night stargazing again. And again he was kidnapped by aliens! Strange thing is this is the fist time I've had a sim kidnapped and haven't heard the little tune warning you that your character has become pregnant. I have slots for two more sims, unless having four dogs in the family is eating into the slots available for human characters. The large family size might make it more difficult to keep my dog legacy going as well. I'll have to look into that.


The final event of note in the recent playing of the game was a penguin invading the house. I hadn't even realized that winter had arrived, no snow on the ground and our family tree hadn't become dormant, I just tended it before nightfall.

Venus took a break from studying and went upstairs to pet the little critter. It seemed to like it, but then pissed on our floor and ran away. Silly bird.
I'll be back with more updates in the future...

06 September 2010

Time Flies

Four days off from work is coming to an end. Where does the time go? At least I got some things accomplished, it's just some of those things I didn't know I'd be working on if I was asked last Thursday.

1) Cleaning up some email boxes, old blog clutter, and taking care of other online issues was one. Backed-up some important computer files as well.

2) Played a couple of role-playing games. One of them did conflict with a playing of the combined new Axis & Allies Europe/Pacific game, but I was committed to the RPG before I got the invite to the A&A game. Still, neither activity was a waste.

3) Watched some old silent films with Lon Chaney, Sr. Good stuff, but unlike some television/movies that can be played in the background while I do other stuff, you kind of have to pay attention to silent films.

4) Put a dent in an audio book I'm listening too while taking care of computer related stuff mentioned in item #1.

5) Spent tons of time going over the new DC Adventures RPG and campaign notes for my old DC Heroes campaign. Started to make a couple of characters with the new system and began updating the history of my campaign setting to cover the last ten years.... Ten years? It can't possibly have been that long since I had run any DC comic related game.

6) Went to the gym.

7) Finished reading another book; Future Wars. Very interesting despite being published back in the mid-nineties.

I also took some time to take care of some other odds'n'ends so I'll be ready for the next time off I can take from work. I still have a lot I want to accomplish before the end of the year; including writing blog posts that are less sucky than this one.

04 September 2010

DC Adventures!

I finally had a little bit of money in the budget to pick up a new RPG book. I had planned to pick up a new Pathfinder players guide, even had it in my hand. Then I looked up on the shelf and saw the new DC Adventures Hero's Handbook! Holy cats! A new DC role-playing game.



I had loved the original DC Heroes RPG by Mayfair games back in the mid-'80s. I tried to like the one West End Games put out in the '90s based off their D6 Legend System. I knew nothing about this new game but knew I must have it.

It was the same price as the Pathfinder book I had planned on buying, but had a much smaller page count and slightly smaller dimensions than a regular RPG book, it was only a little larger in dimensions than a regular comic book.

When I finally got it home I started reading it. It was designed by Green Ronin, they make some good games a number based on the Open Game License. Wait a minute, this new DC Game was powered by the Mutants & Masterminds game engine. Certainly didn't look like M&M character sheets in the back. A little research on the Green Ronin website explained. They wanted to develop their system beyond its SRD (System Reference Document) roots and develop a better game. DC Comics didn't want them to just create a DC sourcebook for an existing game. This modified version of M&M suited both parties well.

Needless to say I didn't finish reading the book and analyzing the system. I started pulling up notes on my old DC Heroes campaigns and all the the countless adventures that were played out over the years. My mind began to wander into the DC Universe like it did in the old days when I was plotting that campaign. I had to remind myself I wasn't running this new game yet. In fact I bought almost no comic books over the last five or so years apart from Marvel Zombies and some Army of Darkness, I don't have any real idea of what the current DC & Marvel Universes are like.

Who knows, I might have to dust off my old DC campaign and get things rolling with a new group of heroes. It's been nearly 24 years since I first played the original DC Heroes, perhaps this new DC Adventures will be just as good.

03 September 2010

Overdue Legacy Challenge Update



I have been ignoring my Sims 2 Legacy Challenge updates in recent weeks. I’ll have to make it a point to update one a week from now on. Needless to say I don’t have all the free time I’d like, so after six months I’m still playing the first generation of the game.

After graduating college Albert Fugg moved to Belladonna Cove into the game’s Legacy Lot. He even adopted his first dog to begin the pet legacy as well. Money is tight this early in the game so nothing too fancy is purchased. He quickly invited Zoe to move in and married her.



After both Albert and Zoe each give birth (to Venus & Bobert) the game begins to pick back up. An old gypsy woman stops by and drops off a genie lamp! Albert is able to use his three wishes to get a ton more money for the family. After fixing up the house he used a portion of the money to buy a vacation home in Three Lakes. Once the kids are old enough, they will have their first family vacation there.

I’m not having any luck in getting Albert into the Criminal career track; he and Zoe are both in the Paranormal track right now. He has an aspiration to become a Criminal Mastermind… I don’t know if that will be really necessary since he earned his permanent platinum in college.

The family vacation is a success. I’ll have to be sure to upgrade the vacation home each time they visit it. During the Legacy Challenge I see frequent vacations being a useful tool.



In the time after the vacation Albert gets abducted by aliens again and gives birth to Xeno and Zoe get pregnant again giving birth to Cody. On top of that the family dog also has it’s first offspring as well.

A lot happened, and I’ve skipped over some details. That’s why I’ll have to give weekly updates on the game. On the weeks I don’t play much I’ll post character profiles or tips on playing a Legacy Challenge. I’ve even set up a page on this blog to organize all the Legacy Challenge posts into one place.

At this point the family has a value of §170,413.

Current Score: 17.25 (11.5%)





























Legacy: 1.0Ghosts: 0Free Time: 1.5
Money: 1Business: 0Collections: 2
Friends: 3.25Family Breed: 0.5Master: 1
Impossible Wants: 1Seasons: 0Handicaps: 0 (3 potential)
Platinum Graves: 0Bon Voyage: 4Overflow: 0
Penalties: 0

01 September 2010

Swap A DVD

A couple of years ago I started renting DVDs instead of buying them. I remembered what a pain it was to deal with VHS rentals years ago so I was always more of the buy the DVD from the bargain bin instead of renting. I felt that by having a DVD to show for the outlay of $4 or $5 was better than renting stuff and having nothing to show for it. If you look at the options out there today, including streaming movies & television shows to your computer, etc. the need to actually own a huge library of DVDs/videos is actually very small.

Then a year and a half ago I looked up from my computer to the shelves containing the vast array of DVDs I had accumulated over the years. Many I watched only once and would never watch again. Others I liked but still hadn't watched in a few years. They were things I could rent if the mood struck me. I could get rid of nearly all my DVDs without any suffering. The question now was what to do with them.

That's where Swap A DVD comes in. Along with its associated book and CD trading sites I could trade my unwanted DVDs for books.

First I would post DVDs onto the site that I was willing to give away. I started with a few, and over the next year dozens and dozens were added. When someone wants one of them they ask you to mail it to them. When they receive the DVD you get a credit. That credit can be used to obtain a DVD from another member, or as in my case, transferred to one of the other sites. A DVD credit was worth 1.5 credits on Paperback Swap, so I transferred my credits there. I'm not sure what the exchange rate on the CD trading site is since I never used it.

Now I had tons of credits on Paperback Swap. While I believe Bookmooch has many advantages as a book trading site, Paperback Swap has its own.

While I found many books I wanted on these sites, I soon hit my saturation point. I had just gotten rid of the clutter of DVDs I didn't want to drown in hundreds of new books. There are other options for credits on Paperback Swap. One is giving them away, either to charities or to other members. The other option is to offer them for sale on the PBS Forums like a number of members do. You may not get much for them, but it beats trying to sell used books to some store.

In any case it has worked out great for me. I've cleared out some clutter, gotten rid of many DVDs, got a number of books, made some charitable contributions, and now sit on a small supply of credits to await the possible availability of books on my trading wishlist.

...and when you're done with a DVD or Book you can post it back up on the site. Of course you can also release a book into the wild through Book Crossing, but I'll discuss that more when I'm done experimenting with that website.

31 August 2010

Piranha 3D!

About a week ago I went and saw Piranha 3D. It was a very entertaining flick. As a kid I loved horror and sci-fi moves. Saturday afternoons and nights were filled with all sorts of great movies. Commander USA was my favorite hero in those days.

Earlier this year I made the mistake of seeing Clash of the Titans in 3D. Not only was the film mediocre but the 3D effects looked like an after thought. Piranha 3D was made for 3D and looked to be a great use of the technology.

As I said the Piranha 3D was very good, bordering on awesome. There are a few things I might have done a bit differently but it is just a creature feature I don't need Oscar winning acting and a preachy storyline. This film delivered. I'd give it an 8 or 9 out of ten.

Not everyone finds this movie appealing. The gore and sexual content is certainly not appealing to everyone, but that's why they make other movies. However there is one critic of the film that requires special mention; James Cameron.

Cameron worked briefly back in the day on Piranha 2: The Spawning. He got screwed over and I can agree with him that his name should not be on that film. Its just he seems to think he owns 3D now because of Avatar.

In an interview for Vanity Fair, or some magazine like that, he said of Piranha 3D he said: "...that is exactly an example of what we should not be doing in 3-D. Because it just cheapens the medium and reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films from the 70s and 80s, like Friday the 13th 3-D."

Cheapens the medium? Reminds you of the bad 3-D horror films of the 70s & 80s? Sorry to break it to him but Avatar's lame storyline also cheapens the medium. A story about a white guy going native and being the only who can save some noble but primitive people... sorry Jimmy that story used to be told in the old days, but it is pretty dated and borderline racist.

3D is made for science fiction and horror and action movies no matter how good or bad their stories are. It boils down to special effects just like Avatar did. I'm pretty sure there will be no huge demand for a Steel Magnolias 3D or Driving Miss Daisy 3D, that's because 3D wouldn't add anything of value to those films.

Finally, 3D is still overrated. While it was interesting to see, I could easily do without 3D effects in film. I certainly would never buy one of those new 3D televisions that are being developed.

Anyway, if you like creature feature type horror films go see Piranha 3D, you might like it. If you don't it's not my fault.

30 August 2010

Kiva Update

About four months ago I wrote a post about the website Kiva. Kiva is a microfinance website. Members can donate money to lower income people across the world in amounts of $25.00 or more. It is an opportunity for people that normally might not be able to, to obtain loans for their businesses or personal expenses.

Since I've joined up I've made eight loans. A couple of my original ones have been fully paid back (allowing me to make additional loans) and one is currently delinquent in making his repayments.

It is a great learning experience. After reading through many profiles looking for the right loan to make you obtain an understanding of the the lives others in the world live. One potential lender I looked at was trying to raise money to rebuild his business after it was destroyed in political unrest.

I finally found a loan that met my current personal preferences; an individual (not a group), 12 month or shorter repayment plan, from most countries. Thus far I've given loans to people in Bolivia, Kenya, Ghana, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine, Tanzania, and Tajikistan.

So far it has been a very interesting experience. I still have to do some more independent research on microfinance, but it seems to be a great way to help. Loaning someone money and expecting it to be repaid helps to teach some responsibility where just giving money does not.

I'll be sure to give more update as things develop. Has anyone else used Kiva? If so do you have any interesting stories?

29 August 2010

D&D Game Today

Played in a D&D game today. It's a smallish group, three players and one DM, so the players are allowed two characters. For months I only had my Warlock, but I've recently added a half-ogre war hulk (from the Miniatures Handbook, a potentially abusive character class).

The game itself is a strange mix of third and fourth edition D&D. The players are all using 3.5 books but the DM is pulling out monsters and treasure from 4th edition sources. It's been bumpy at times, but the campaign has been working.

My half-ogre will become an unstoppable engine of destruction in about three more levels. My Warlock has steadily grown in power and has collected a wide assortment of magic items and scrolls. Even at 13th level I now have access to Shapeshift abilities. I spent a good portion of today as a 26 hit die gold dragon. That really helped to put a hurting on the army of giants attacking a settlement we vowed to defend.

Anyway, it has been an interesting game. I'll be sure to give some updates as things progress.

28 August 2010

Saberfrog Production Blog

A bit over two years ago I did a little work on a film called Saberfrog. It's less than a month until the official release of that film.

The writer/director of the film has created the Saberfrog Production Blog to chronicle his efforts in putting this whole project together.

It's an interesting read for those who participated in the process and for those who are interested in some of the behind the scenes of the making of a low-budget feature length film.

Give it a look.

27 August 2010

Gaming Withdrawal

For years I’ve had a Friday night table-top role-playing game to attend. For the last number of weeks I haven’t. I’m starting to suffer from withdrawal. The last five years of Friday gaming had been pretty cool.

For three of those years I ran a GURPS infinite worlds campaign. That has to be my favorite game to run since my Vampire: The Dark Ages campaign about a dozen years ago. After the GURPS game ran its course I ran Scion for nearly two years. Scion is a game where the players are the offspring of the deities of old in the modern world. The PCs just finished being demigods before becoming low-powered gods, however the game systems for the ultra-powered divine levels left much to be desired so we moved on from that.

We tried a few other games, the next most successful one our recent Marvel Superheroes campaign where I actually got to be a player. Despite my sucky power I managed to become possibly the most important character in the game.

Now I’m just taking some time off. Perhaps I’ll rebuild a group in the coming months. I’ve got a Tuesday game on a regular basis, but it has a short time slot and everyone has to work the next day so we never really bet to push it too much.

Tonight I’m just reading through some GURPS books as I watch some DVDs. I want to be ready for when Friday gaming starts back up for me.

Well, enough rambling about my problems. I’m just want to try to post to this blog everyday and tonight I’ve had old role-playing games on my mind. I now return you to your regularly scheduled internet browsing.

26 August 2010

From the What’s The World Coming To File

Judge Alan Kay has refused to dismiss parts of Craig Smallwood’s lawsuit against NCsoft. It seems that NCsoft’s game Lineage II is allegedly addictive. Smallwood played the game for over 20,000 hours from 2004 to 2009. Judge Kay should have dismissed the entire suit.

For whatever NCsoft may or may not have done, how was Smallwood making a living? Spending 9 hours a day for nearly six years playing a video game leaves little time for a job and earning money to pay the rent and utility bills. Were family members aiding him in his destructive behavior instead of helping him get his life on track? Does he live alone and on welfare? If that is the case the State of Hawaii is as much as fault for his ‘addiction’ as NCsoft would be since they enabled him to play.

Mr. Smallwood didn’t seem to realize he had an addiction until his account was closed on him. He seemed to believe that this was so that he could get hooked on another one of their games, but in their response to the suit NCsoft alleged that Craig was involved in real money transfers that were specifically forbidden in the User Agreement and Code of Conduct for the game. (page 7 of Defendant’s Answer)

If this case goes through and is successful what will we see next? Will there be a class-action lawsuit by the viewers of Lost who claim they became addicted to the show and spent hours every week watching the show and spending time on internet forums discussing it? Will the composers of annoying commercial jingles that get stuck in your head be brought before international war-crimes tribunals on charges of torture?

For a period of five years I’ve played City of Heroes off-and-on. While that game could be fun at times most of the time it could grow very boring as the missions and hunting became a grind and more like work than entertainment. When I finally reached 50th level with one of my characters I checked and discovered that I had spent a little over 250 hours playing that character. That was enough for me to help me stop playing. I can’t imagine playing any game for over 20,000 hours. There isn’t enough content in a typical game to keep me entertained for even 250 hours; how can someone become addicted to a stupid game?

Anyway, good luck to NCsoft on this one. And good luck to Craig, hopefully he can make some changes to improve his life; realizing you have an addiction is the first step to overcoming it. A change in personality and habits is required for that, not a big check.

10 August 2010

Back to Work on My 1st Novel

Thunder rumbled in the distance as rain pattered against my window. It had gotten dark since I first sat down in front of my computer to continue my work. The glow from the monitor was all that was giving illumination to the room.

Two years of work would be coming to an end in just a few short months. I sifted through piles of notes to find useful data to update my manuscript. I had received many helpful suggestions from the members of the Rochester Writers Association on parts of my novel. Now I was taking the best of those suggestions and integrating them into my story.

Over 40,000 words had been written in June 2008. I had fallen short of my goal for those thirty days but I knew that my story would be worth completing. Over the two years following that real life began to interfere; large projects at work, other writing, research for another blog.... weeks turned into months and my draft remained uncompleted.

But on that dark and stormy night not too long ago I gathered my notes, printouts, index cards, and source material to begin working to finish that first draft.

Will my draft be ready for publishing when it is completed by this fall? Certainly not! That's why it is called a first draft and not a completed manuscript.

No, instead the draft will be printed and given to a handful of trusted reviewers for further critique. Then comes the next round of updates and re-writes. Perhaps by May 2011, nearly three years from the first word being written, and over four years since research began, will I finally be ready to begin the quest to find an agent.

I would ask for luck, but hard work and stubbornness have usually served me better.

25 July 2010

Roller Derby

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a roller derby double-header in Rochester. In the first match the home Rottenchesters battled the visiting Blue Collar Betties and defeated them 147 to 37.





Above is a very blurry photo of the excitement!


The second match-up was the local 5-H8-5s against the Ithaca Bluestockings. During the warm up prior to the game I could tell the Bluestockings would be trouble. They way they skated side-to-side and practiced their tactics, it seemed like they had a lot on the ball. Sure enough they beat the 5-H8-5s 134 to 68.





A penalty being called!


All and all a fun evening. The next roller derby in the Rochester area will be at the Dome Arena on 14 August 2010. The Roc Stars against the Queen City Roller Girls' Lake Effect Furies from Buffalo, NY. Check it out at the Roc City Roller Derby website.

Who knows; I might even figure out how to use my camera before the next bout!

03 July 2010

Legacy Challenge: College Years

It took some time but Albert Fugg has now graduated from college. It was a very successful experience for him. Not only did he met his future wife, Zoe, but midway through his junior year he reached his lifetime aspiration of maxing out all of his skills.


(photo of Zoe accepting Albert's engagement proposal)


On top of all of that he managed to keep a 4.0 GPA in all semesters and was brought into a secret society. With all of that, and the freetime he had, going to town and getting a job while trying to set the ground work for the Legacy Lot; life out of college will become very challenging.

Science is the family hobby, and the favored hobby of Albert. He also currently has 8 family friends.

Now that Albert has moved into the Legacy Lot he has gotten a job in the Paranormal career. He has also adopted a dog to create a family breed. The marriage to Zoe was quick and didn’t involve a wedding party or vacation.

Albert is also expecting his first child… just not with Zoe. Albert was abducted by aliens and was impregnated!

Next Goals:
• Develop the family breed
• Establish a family business
• Buy a vacation home
• Give birth to the second generation

Current Score: 6 (4%)





























Legacy: 0.5Ghosts: 0Free Time: 1.5
Money: 1Business: 0Collections: 0
Friends: 2Family Breed: 0Master: 0
Impossible Wants: 1Seasons: 0Handicaps: 0 (3 potential)
Platinum Graves: 0Bon Voyage: 0Overflow: 0
Penalties: 0

09 June 2010

Hawaii Five-O

Bad news.

CBS has gone and re-imagined Hawaii Five-O.

The original series was cool. When it started Hawaii had been a State for less than a decade, not only did Five-O fight crime across the islands but they got involved in international espionage (usually against the Red Chinese and the nefarious Wo Fat), and just the way everything came together gave the show a great feel.

This re-set of the classic show is just going to become CSI: Honolulu. The new actors won't be able to capture the same spirit the original characters developed after over a decade on television.

I wouldn't be complaining as much if they just created a continuation of the original series. While James MacArthur is too old to play a retiring head of Five-O passing the torch to the new guy, he could have been brought in to play the Governor who reactivates Five-O after a decade or so of inactivity. A who new set of characters could have brought in to fill whatever demographic requirements the network had (funny how none of the main characters in the 're-imagined' series will be Hawai'ian...). Since Hawaii actually doesn't have 'State Police' (State of Hawaii Sheriff's Office, which is part of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, serves as law enforcement across the state) they could do what ever they want with Five-O.

Anyway, for future reference, re-imagining an old television show = Bad (ex. Battlestar Galactica), continuing an old television show = Good (ex. Doctor Who). I've head the 2009 version of the Prisoner called a reinterpretation... I'm afraid to find out how horrible that is.

07 June 2010

Library Thing

To-day I've started playing around with Librarything.com. It is a place to list books that are in your library or that you have read. You can write book reviews and expand some of the common knowledge of books you are familiar with. Additionally, there are numerous groups and ways to connect with other book lovers.

It's easy enough to sign up. You don't even need to provide an email address (but you might want to include one in case you ever forget your password). No personal information has to be given. The free version of the site allows the listing of 200 books. the paid versions (either annual or lifetime, lifetime being very reasonably priced) can list an unlimited number of books.

Books can be assigned to different categories: Your Library, Wishlist, Books You've Read, To-Be-Read Pile, etc. You can categorize your books in whatever way is most helpful to you.

There are over a million users of the site and over 40 million books in the database. After you start to enter books you will see listings of other members with similar libraries to yours. There is also a lot of cool stuff over in the Statistics/Memes section of your profile.

There are also local resources available. Local book groups, user submitted listings and reviews of local book stores, and other things to make the site more useful for your real world interactions.

Then, of course, there are all the widgets and ways to connect to other sites such as Facebook, Bookmooch, Paperback Swap, and numerous others. Personally, I'm not liking my Library Thing account with any of my other social media sites; sometimes you don't want your online identities to be too interconnected.

If you are a book lover and want to connect with others Library Thing is a great resource.

The only thing I have to decide now is if I'm going to start listing all of the role-playing game books I've read over the years.

24 May 2010

Sims 2 Legacy Challenge Beginning

Well, since City of Heroes is getting to be too much for my feeble old computer to run I had to find a new game to play. I've decided on Sims 2 for a couple of reasons. The primary one is that I can do other things while it is running, such as catching up on my reading or taking care of other odds-n-ends. Civilization takes all my attention and eats up entire weekends of time since it is so addictive.

So, I'm going to play Sims 2. While it fits my busy schedule it has no real end goal or scoring. A few years ago I ran a breeding experiment in Strangetown, but that's about it. Well, that's where the Legacy Challenge comes in.

For my Legacy Challenge I started with a student aged sim named Albert Fugg. I tried to make him as ugly as possible just to see what the 10th generation would look like. I picked three handicaps: Patriarchy (each generation must have a male heir), One Way Street (can't use elixir of life), and Storyteller (the first nine generations must have a book published). Below is a picture of poor old Albert.



Albert is in college right now. Once he graduates (or gets kicked out) I'll be moving him into his legacy lot.

Playing out nine full generations of Sims and having a baby of the 10th generation born is going to take some time. It might take me a couple years of real life time. I'll post updates when interesting things happen. Chances are I'll get bored of this after a few months.

Now, some of you might be thinking "Hey, isn't Sims 2 just a virtual doll house?" Well I wouldn't know. I played with action figures as a kid.

20 May 2010

Time to Make the Back-Ups

It's that time again. Over the last few days I've been backing up my files onto DVDs. If my hardrive were to get fragged in the near future I'll have back-ups of all my important files. A copy of the back-ups goes into my safe deposit box so something will survive if my entire home were destroyed.

While setting things up for the back-up I spent some time deleting old files and organizing things a bit better. A little extra organization never hurt.

If you haven't backed-up your own important files recently please consider doing so today. You never know when your computer will die on you.

10 May 2010

City of Heroes Sixth Year Anniversary

I've played City of Heroes on-again-off-again for the last six years. That means that right now my computer must be six-years old as well. With the new updates to the game it is becoming almost impossible for me to play.

The last time I played was for 2009's Halloween event. Right now all I can really do is log in, get the 6th anniversary badges for my characters and move them to a new Day Job location. Looks like I'll have to get a new computer by May 2011.

I've created numerous characters for City of Heroes over the last six years. My highest level hero is Underpants Lad (Finally 50th level after too much work). Below is a picture of him when he started his career in 2004 as the sidekick of Capt. Underpants (Underpants Lad is the little one):

There were some good times back in 'the day' with the game. The Thursday Night Avengers being one of them. These days my friends have moved on to other MMORPGS so I have to question if I'll even come back to COH if I do get a new computer next year.

How many people out there are stilling playing City of Heroes?

I guess I shouldn't worry about next year when I now have some time for computer games right now. I'm not a fan of first person shooter games. The few games I have include Civilization III, The Movies, and Sims 2. Perhaps it is time to play Sims 2 again. Maybe this time I'll start a legacy challenge to make the game a little more interesting.

02 May 2010

True Geek Radio

There is a new geek-related blog in town. True Geek Radio is a blog "about all things in the world of geek. Comics, games, movies, role-playing, television, computers and all sorts of fun and interesting stuff."

So far there are entries on MODOK from Marvel comics, Stan Lee's cameo appearances in various Marvel movies, and a review on the Star Wars novel Death Troopers. More is on the way as this new site takes off.

Be sure and visit it and leave some nice comments if you are so inclined.

26 April 2010

Saberfrog

The low-budget film Saberfrog is nearing completion. I helped a little bit with the film a couple of years ago when it was shot. I spent a few weekends and a number of other days helping out, mostly as crew (but I did get a small speaking role as well).

The trailer of the film can be found HERE as well as other Saberfrog related stuff.

It is basically a film about some thirty something friends getting back together for a quest. It involves a road trip, an evil mastermind, science fiction elements and all sorts of fun stuff. "This is a story of a generation of nerds, rebels and dropouts, searching for purpose in a world without rules."

22 April 2010

Kiva

I have recently begun experimenting with microfinancing. Microfinancing is a way for low-income and/or self-emploed people without access to regular banking services to get loans. It is an interesting subject so I decided the best way to learn more about it was to jump in and participate in it.

The site I'm doing this through is Kiva. From what I can tell Kiva is the current leader in microfinancing. There are thousands of members giving money to people across the world who need loans.

Here's how it works:
  • You sign up for Kiva and fund your account with a credit card or PayPal
  • Browse the many available loans that are available. There are filters to narrow your search to certain geogrphic areas, etc
  • Make a loan of $25 or more to the individual of your choice. There will also be a request for a small donation for the operating costs of Kiva itself when you process the loan
  • Months later repayment of the loan will begin (suprisingly it looks like there is a very high repayment percent right now)
  • Take the money that has been repayed and repeat (or pull the money out of your account)

Currently there are three loans that I have helped to fund:
  • A woman in Kenya who needed money to buy a cow
  • A woman in Ukraine who needed funds to stock up on inventory for her seasonal business
  • A man in Tanzania who wanted to make improvements to his pub

It will be a learning experience and will allow me to help entrepreneurs across the world. As my experiences with Kiva continue I'll be sure to post any important updates.

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