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Jan. 1st, 2009 @ 08:34 pm New thoughts for a new year
Current Location: home
Current Mood: calmcalm
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Happy new year everyone. I've been woefully negligent of my LJ. If I'm still in your reading queue (of you happened by anyways) thanks for that.

What's topical? This LJ has been a clearing house of thoughts about the GSL and legalities in its wake. So let's talk about Wizards of the Coast licensing for a second.

As fans of D20 and PDF may know, Scott Rouse said in a forum post at ENWorld that publishers had until the end of the year to stop using the D20 logo. Although the legal lingo over at the wizards site was never updated to reflect this, many publishers took this as correct, and decided to stop selling several currently D20 branded products in their catalogs. This could be due to GSL "poison pill" provisions impact on future plans, not wanting to deal with the hassle of removing/covering the logo in PDF products, and/or simply capatalize on the "going out of business sale" style marketing.

Whatever the case, there are a few products you won't find around anymore:
  1. Goodman Games' D20 branded lines. This includes 3.5 Dungeon Crawl Classics, Wicked Fantasy Factory, Complet Guides, and Broncosaurus Rex. (Etherscope was never D20 branded and still available, but is a nice little D20 modern derived setting if you are looking for such a thing.)
  2. Highmoon Media Productions' Monkey God PDFs are gone, including their widely adored From Stone to Steel and Frost and Fur.
  3. Adamant's D20 Masterkit line is no longer avaiable, such as the popular Hot Pursuit and Hot Pursuit 2 chase rules, Dread Codex vol I & II, and the Corsair nautical rules.
There are probably others, but those are the ones I noticed.

Some retailers have taken actions to ensure that products remain available, however:
  1. Green Ronin has replaced the D20 logo on D20 branded product with their "3rd Era" logo. Very slick, I think.
  2. Crafty Games has uploaded updated version of their classic Spycraft line with the D20 logo removed.
  3. Necromancer Games' wilderlands titles disappeared, but per James Mishler, the intent was to use a feature provided by OneBookShelf to cover up the D20 logo. However, they still aren't available yet.
Again,there are probably more.

So, it looks life as a consumer of 3e-SRD-derived OGL PDF products goes on.

There are some other interesting developments of us 4e-unfans, but that's perhaps a matter for another blog after I have had a chance to inspect it.
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Oct. 17th, 2008 @ 10:12 pm A Quick Spirit of the Century actual play
I was considering shifting to a horror-type D&D adventure for the last few games in October the purposes of Halloween. However, we had a player who couldn't make it, which would have left us with too few players to play D&D. So, I decided to run Spirit of the Century.

Still keeping semi in-theme, I used the idea of the Temple of the Pale White Lady from Hero Games' Pulp Hero supplement Thrilling Places. This is a nice little adventure locale with a suitable Lovecraftian theme reminiscent of Dagon and The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

I've already adapted to using the "Change How Consequences Work" rule in the Faster Conflicts variant, but the rules still don't harsh on the characters enough for horror. I don't like the "Change How Stress Boxes Behave" variant because it could break some endurance stunts in play, but I did make sure the creatures the characters faced had a damage bonus. It's still not nasty enough for horror, but I liked the way it felt for general SotC and will probably use something like the weapon damage mod for future SotC/FATE games.

I also plugged into the social combat system to emulate a sanity system. When players see something mind-shattering, it's resolved as a social combat round against them. Consequences are appropriate fear/horror/madness results. Nobody took a consequence in this game, but the eroding composure stress did give a feel of tension in the face of the alien horrors.

Anyways, it still ended up being a rather pulpy game. The party chased down cultists. There were two very satisfying events in this game. First, when the evil high priest is throwing the cute newfound ingenue over the cliff, the two fisted pilot swings down on a vine and saves her.

Second, the "mountain of a man" character tackled the high priest and goes diving over a cliff, survives, and is getting the upper hand on the priest. He lays a good one on him, good enough to get a hefty consequence. I give him the opportunity to give him not an injury style consequence, but a situational one, "in the path of my own monsters". With the monsters approaching the site of the sacrifice, the priest found himself in the monster's path.

I do regret that the less combative character didn't get to do much. I'll have to think up more maneuvers a character like that can do, but once you are in combat, resources and contacting don't help much. One thing I considered running (and in hindsight, should have) was an adventure in the vein of Fobidden Planet, where force is useless and social combat (convincing the unwitting villain that he is the only one that can stop the beast) is the only choice. That would give her (a character with a strong Rapport skill) a chance to shine.
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Sep. 14th, 2008 @ 05:47 pm Come play with me!
Do you live in Washington DC, North Carolina, or immediate environs (which I guess would be Maryland and Virgina)? Then come play a game or two with me, or one of many other fine folks!

I'll be running Spycraft 2.0 and Spirit of the Century at two upcoming gameday events. On October 4th, Fall North Carolina Gameday will be held at the Talley Student Center in Raleigh, NC. On October 18th, DC Gameday will be held at 2800 Quebec St. NW, Washington, DC (just north of the National Zoo).

Both of these events will tenatively be "V2" versions of the games I ran at GenCon.

The Spycraft 2.0 game is entitled FLASHPOINT. It's a fast paced action/investigation game that's inspired by the 24 Television series, with a little inspiration from the works of Charles Stross (fans of Stross will know what that means...)

The Spirit of the Century game, named Rocket Corp: Lost on Jupiter, is a mash up with the Iron Lords of Jupiter setting that originally appeared in the pages of Dungeon Magazine (back when it was printed with Polyhedron.)

Both were great fun the first time around. If neither of these are to your taste, lots of other great games are being run!

For more information on the NC gameday, go here.

For more information on the DC gameday, go here.

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Aug. 19th, 2008 @ 10:54 pm GenCon Mini-Report
Well, I'm back from GenCon. I went earlier than ever, bought less stuff than ever, and played more games than ever.

I ran the my Spirit of the Century / Iron Lords of Jupiter hack I talked about in an earlier LJ. It worked great. I really fretted the adaptation, but there really wasn't a whole lot too it.

I ran two sessions of it, liberally stealing from "Aspect-off" and "Inspirational Art" threads for SotC on RPGnet. The characters were:
Mike Hunter, a dashing pilot (apex skill: pilot)
Big Tim, a muscular comms officer (apex skill: endurance)
Rebecca Two-Guns, rocket corps intelligence officer (apex skill: Guns)
Zack Zoeller, manly science hero (apex skill: Science)
Road Walker, Groll Shaman (apex skill: Might)
Arlla, Veth Beastmistress (apex skill: Survival)

Arlla didn't get played in either session; I also had an idea for an Iron Lord Merchant (apex skill: Deceit, modelled after Rigel of Farscape).

If you live in the DC or NC area, I may run this game again at the upcoming Gamedays, so stand by!

I also ran my "24 as written by Charles Stross" game and had a lot of fun. Think "CTU-clone investigates terrorists in league with cosmic horrors."

I played a lot of really cool games:
A D20 Future Zombie SF game
A Mutants and Masterminds War of 1812 game
A Star Wars saga game where the PCs were humans from Earth testing the first hyperdrive, which was then hijacked by Darth Lucas and taken to the Star Wars universe.
An official Spycraft fantasy/modern crossover event where the players have to deal with a Kaiju dragon.
A Star Wars SAGA Knights of the Old Republic game.
A D20 Modern hack of the GDW Space 1889 setting
A Mutants & Masterminds "old folks" game. (Oh, good lord that was fun!)

In the dealer hall, I got an excellent deal on Starblazer adventures: for $60, a softcover now, and PDF plus hardcover later. Can't beat that with a stick. (I just hope later comes... soon.)

I said hi to lots of folks. In addition to many friends from Circvs, I chatted with Erik Mona, Alex Flagg, Patrick Kapera, Joseph Goodman, Tony Mosley, "Koltar", and many others. I had hoped to catch up with the Evil Hat gang, but failed (I did think I saw Fred from afar in the Embassy chatting with Mike Mearls, but didn't have the opportunity to chase him down.)

All-in-all, a good year. Not much I would change.
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Jul. 31st, 2008 @ 07:05 pm GSL... Another (BIG) One Bites the Dust
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
Current Music: Mario party 5 music
I swear one day, I'll post something here other than GSL* news. But like a good reporter, I go where there news takes me.

And today's big GSL news is this. Clark Peterson, part owner of Necromancer Games, has announced that his company will not be using the GSL in its current version:

"Now we have the GSL. Right now, in my view, the GSL needs some major reworking or clarification to be usable. The bottom line, in my view, is that the GSL is a total unmitigated failure. And that is a shame. I have been one of the biggest vocal proponents of Wizards and I love Scott and Linae. I still do, big time. I am hopefull that we can find a way to change or clarify some of the issues with the license so that we can use it and create 4E products. You know that philsophically I believe in supporting the current version of D&D.

Trust me that I am working hard to try to resolve the GSL issues so that we can go forward. I'm optimistic that some changes can be made. Will they be enough to make the GSL usable? I sure hope so."
Other salient points from Clark's Announcement: he doesn't think that there is a market for 3e products currently, but hopes to support Pathfinder when it comes out, and that the GSL as written puts up a major obstacle to publishing of Tegal Manor, a property licensed by Judges Guild, who still wishes to continue distributing OGL based products as part of their Wilderlands line. Clark doesn't intend to put out any "unofficial" 4e products, and prefers to wait for an updated GSL.

I'm glad to hear that Clark may support Paizo's Pathfinder RPG, which sweetens the pot for my prospects of adopting Pathfinder instead of just playing D&D 3.5 ad infinitum. I was a little surprised to hear this, considering how committed he seemed, but the impact of this is dulled by my lingering surprise about... how committed he seemed to the GSL.

* The Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Game System License, for those just joining us.
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Jul. 30th, 2008 @ 12:16 pm GSL sign-ons... and the ENnies!
Current Mood: busy
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Continuing with my efforts to keep an eye on companies going with the GSL, I can confirm two more companies that will be using the GSL to create products for D&D 4th edition.

ENnies Time is Here Again...

The voting for this year's ENnies is underway, so drop by the voting booth and vote!

Some may profess a lack of familiarity with many of the books. For this folks, I recommend this:
1) Vote what you know
2) Get familiar with what you don't. The ENnies nominations are vetted by judges who have looked at dozens, hundreds even, of products and picked out some stellar products. If you are wondering what you might have missed out on in the past year, take a look at the products on the nominee list and see if they have anything to offer you!

Vote For Me!

I was part of the ENnies judge team years ago, and part of the board of directors a few years back. Well, things are getting interesting in the market, and I've decided to submit myself for consideration for next year's judges. Voting for judges open next week; I hope that you'll consider dropping by and voting then. Why should you vote for me? Drop by my platform page and take a look at what I have to offer.

(Also consider M Jason Parent, AKA Hellhound, when the time comes around as well!)
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Jul. 15th, 2008 @ 10:13 pm Ryan Dancey on Kenzer's GSL-less Kalamar; Green Ronin still serves no master.
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There seems to be a lot of buzz about Kenzer & Co's decision to make a 4e-compatible product sans license of any sort... hearkening back to the 2e days of companies Mayfair and... well, Kenzer (Kalamar began life as an unofficial 2e setting.) Some publishers are even confused how Kenzer is getting away with it (if they are), being too used to the limits set by the OGL.

Ryan Dancey weighed in on this over at RPGPundit's blog.

In other news, Green Ronin has said they will not be using the GSL at this time. Whether or not that means they will eventually create unofficial 4e products like Kenzer and Adamant remains to be seen. For the time being, it appears they will only be making a 4e character record folio and supporting their own game lines.

Which, considering their history, only makes sense to me.
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Jul. 9th, 2008 @ 08:53 am More GSL and OGL Stuff
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
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Well, it's been a while now, but most of the open ranting about Wizard's Game System License (GSL) has died down. We are now in that time where many publishers have to make that fateful decision whether or not to use the GSL.

The worst people had feared--that a company using the GSL at all can no longer sell OGL-based material at all--turned out to not be true.

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Jun. 25th, 2008 @ 07:42 pm A Rocketship Ride down Memory Lane
Current Mood: nostalgicnostalgic
Current Music: Dramatic background music
As mentioned in an earlier entry, I am planning on running an adaptation of Lizard's Iron Lords of Jupiter setting for Spirit of the Century at GenCon. It's less than 2 months away and I have 2 different adventures to prep, so I decided that it is time to do said prepping.

One of the listed references for Iron Lords, as well as one of my first exposures to the Planetary Romance genre, was the short lived but excellently done Saturday morning cartoon series, The New Adventures of Flash Gordon. As is the fashion these days, many old series are getting re-released on DVD. Of course, I put it at the top of my Blockbuster Online queue.

I was a little concerned that the series would be cheesier than my nostalgic boyhead memories reveal. And it is, a little. But it's still intensely cool. I've more recently been re-reading the John Carter books, and you can see the planetary romance influences that filtered down through the years.

A few interesting side notes. First, my wife was sitting in the room for the first episode, where the lusty princess was asking her father for Flash Gordon as her boy toy. My wife remarked both about her surprise they would have this in a cartoon, and she remarked on how like one of her romance novels this was.

Second, surprisingly, my two youngest girls were transfixed by it. I was rather surprised, considering their normal fare is Disney Princess and Barbie movies.

In just the first episode alone, I saw a flurry of elements ripe for the picking for inclusion in my Rocket Patrol game:
  • Characters gathered together as part of a “capture”

  • (by fishmen)

  • beast-riding amazons “witch-warriors”

  • monorail/rocket rail

  • carnivorous plant beasts

  • many races/factions, all at war

  • uniting to stand against “the emperor”

  • an arena/test with a blast-emitting sphere

  • daughter of the emperor, with a thing for the hero

I think by the end of disk 1, I should have 50 or so plot elements farmed out for inclusion in my game.
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Jun. 20th, 2008 @ 06:45 pm Is the systemless renaissaince upon us?
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Tags: , ,
Whether you like 4e or not (for me: not so much), and whether you like the GSL or not (again, not so much), it certainly is an interesting time for gaming. The gnashing of teeth over the GSL is beginning to wane, but people whose livelihoods are affected by the fourth edition are beginning to make choices.

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