Archive for October, 2008

Michael Goldfarb PWN3D

Posted: October 31, 2008 in news, politics, RPG

Here we go D&D fans. I know you’ve all been waiting to see this guy get completely nailed to the wall. The wait is over…

I think we all know who we’re talking about here.

Oh, shut your trap you fat pussy. I defended the anti-D&D comment from Goldfarb as a silly joke that never went anywhere, but this is just ridiculous. I don’t know why Senator McCain has chosen to surround himself with such mouth-breathing imbeciles, but there you go. That’s one of the many reasons why he’s going to lose this election.

A Plug For the Children…

Posted: October 31, 2008 in indie RPGs, RPG

I’ve been following this since I first heard about it a few weeks ago. Kids, Castles & Caves is the latest effort from Brave Halfling Publishing, a game specifically geared towards youngsters who wish to play as a heroic knight or a cunning wizard in a fantasy world. Honestly, I really shouldn’t have any interest in this product – I don’t have any children myself, at least not of the human variety, but something tells me this is a really great idea. With the tremendous popularity of films like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, et al, young children today have a greater interest in the genre than ever before. And any activity that challenges and engages a child’s creativity must be better than simply sitting them down with a controller in front of a video game.

So if you’re one of those OD&D playing grognards that actually found someone else to mate with (I’m kidding!), and you have youngsters that aren’t quite old enough for an ‘adult’ RPG but just have to play with some dice, Kids Castles & Caves might be worth a look at. The game might also be pretty good for older siblings looking to entertain their kid brother or sister. Check out the game on RPGNow.com for a full-size preview of the PDF version, or you can pick up the print version from Lulu Marketplace.

I always loved the Dragon Mirth section in the old Dragon Magazine. If you never saw one before, it was basically a page or two of mostly single-panel art, completely goofy in style, always poking fun at either the fantasy genre or role-playing gamers. It was more often than not relegated to the last couple pages of the mag, but I usually flipped straight to the section whenever I received a new issue. Here’s a piece from issue #194 (that’s June, 1993 if you’re interested) that always cracked me up.

It’s not just the shifty eyes and the smirk on the dragon that does it for me, it’s the way he’s innocently holding his little hands together like an angelic schoolboy. Bwahaha!

About the artist… I reckon this may very well be the same gentleman. At least the signature on his recent pieces looks quite similar.

Top Ten AC/DC Songs

Posted: October 23, 2008 in lists, music

Some of you old-timers may have noticed that a little band known as AC/DC released a new album called Black Ice earlier this week. This has, naturally, sent me into a binge of Acca Dacca listening for the past few days. With the planet’s greatest hard rock group on the brain, I figured it would be an appropriate time for me to compile a quick list of my ten favorite AC/DC tunes. Most of these won’t be a surprise to anyone if you’ve listened to your classic rock radio stations carefully, but I suppose one or two may come as a curve ball.

Honorable mentions: “Live Wire”, “Shoot to Thrill”, “T.N.T.”

10. “Jailbreak”
- The song comes to life with a positively filthy, crunchy guitar lick coupled with the sleazy vocal delivery of Bon Scott. Lyrics are actually a little bit darker than we’re used to hearing on an AC/DC song, but there’s still hints of a tongue-in-cheek element in there. Sadly, this tune is a bit of a forgotten classic. I don’t think it reached the States until 1984 with the ’74 Jailbreak EP (which… wasn’t the song recorded in ’76? Huh?), and it’s never exactly been a staple of the live shows (although to compensate there is a near fifteen minute version of the song on the collector’s edition of AC/DC LIve).

09. “The Furor”
- Driven by some exceptionally tight bluesy guitar playing from the Young brothers, “The Furor” is one of the standout tracks on the otherwise slightly disappointing Ballbreaker album (although I still think it’s a better record overall than Stiff Upper Lip was). I have no flipping clue what Brian Johnson is singing about here, but he sounds pretty intense doing it, so who really cares what the song is supposed to mean?

08. “Thunderstruck”
- Okay, so you’ve heard this in virtually every sports arena and stadium around the globe almost as much as you’ve heard “We Will Rock You”, but there’s a reason for that. Adrenaline. Few songs can get the blood pumping the way “Thunderstruck” does, which is all the more amazing considering the tune never really breaks out into the fourth gear. Then-drummer Chris Slade pounds on his kit as if he really has captured the sound of thunder somewhere in his tom-toms, and if there was ever any doubt that Angus must’ve sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his guitar playing skill, just listen to the ridiculous main riff to this song – every note carefully picked in such a way that mere mortals would weep at the thought of playing it live in concert.

07. “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”
- Highway to Hell is arguably the best album AC/DC ever did, so I would be remiss without including at least one song from that record on my list. There’s just something about the raucous atmosphere this song generates – the hoarse vocals, the off-the-wall guitar work, all of it comes together to make it seem as if this is the anthem for the last party in the bowels of Hell. It’s about the time when Bon Scott sings “I want you to bleed for me” that, if you have the volume up loud enough, you might think you really are about to start bleeding. From your ears.

06. “The Jack”
- Hard-edged rhythm & blues mixed with a lethal dose of humorous allegory. One may feel slightly guilty about actually enjoying a song which is essentially about the Clap, but that’s AC/DC for you. They could write really good music and then throw a silly set of lyrics at the song simply to make themselves laugh. Brilliant, if you ask me. I especially like all the jeering and booing at the end of this song, which the band may well have expected at the time they recorded the T.N.T. album. Perhaps to the band’s chagrin, their audience was bright enough to get in on the joke too.

05. “Let There Be Rock”
- In the Book of Genesis it is God who says “Let there be light”. Given their deity-like status these days, it feels wholly appropriate for AC/DC to be the ones to say “Let there be rock”. Although the rhythm section are often the unsung, unmentioned heroes of the band, in this song you can hear the presence of drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Mark Evans as more pronounced than usual, especially during the clever vocal couplets. The song is even better when played in concert (such as the Stiff Upper Lip Live DVD), as Angus extends the solo by playing adroit arpeggios, boldly unaccompanied by the rest of the band.

04. “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”
- When you’re young and you’re listening to a song like this, it makes you feel as if you’re doing something you ought not to. Here we have an unnamed, unsavory character willing to do all manner of lewd and illegal acts to help you out for a modest fee. I don’t know who he is, but he’s my hero. The main riff is just teeth-gnashingly good, and even though neither Angus nor Malcolm can really sing, their backing vocals actually do fit in well with the tone of the song. And that scream at the end… good God, it sounds like a real life execution.

03. “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)”
- In stark contrast to something like “The Jack”, AC/DC could also have its more serious moments, songs that could be taken at face value. “It’s a Long Way to the Top” is one of those moments – it’s the anthem for aspiring rock musicians the world over, even more poignant as the brutal cycle of rehearse-record-tour-repeat that Bon Scott is singing about here is something that undoubtedly helped fuel the alcoholism that would kill him only a few years later. The song is anything but stereotypical, despite the stereotypical rock ‘n roll subject matter – instead of a guitar solo we have a bagpipe solo, and then some clever interplay between said bagpipe and lead guitar. Proof that despite forming their band in Australia, the Young brothers and Bon Scott never forgot their Scottish heritage.

02. “Hells Bells”
- Gets me every time, that damn church bell. It makes you sit up and pay attention, because it’s probably the last thing anyone expects to hear on a rock album (and if you’re a baseball player, it’s the last damn thing you want to hear, because it usually means Trevor Hoffman is coming out of the bullpen to K your ass).  “Hells Bells” is easily the most ominous tune AC/DC has ever recorded. Although it’s not a bleak song, it does conjure up some very stormy images with the lyrics, featuring harsh rains, rumbling thunderclaps, and violent hurricanes.

01. “Whole Lotta Rosie”
- There’s always been this argument between fans about whether or not AC/DC is merely a hard rock group or if they actually cross over into heavy metal. There’s plenty of metal fans out there who get offended if a critic describes some of the originators, the proto-metal bands if you like, as traditional heavy metal music (I’m talking Deep Purple, Budgie, Thin Lizzy, et al). To these detractors I say “Get over it”. Maybe they’re not tr00 or kvlt, but AC/DC is metal goddammit, and “Whole Lotta Rosie” is the one song that can be used to put this stupid argument to bed permanently.

“Whole Lotta Rosie” finds Bon Scott telling the tale of his tryst with ‘Rosie’, a woman who “Ain’t exactly pretty/Ain’t exactly small.” yet knows how to compensate by being the best lover he’s ever had. The song extolls the virtues of full bodied women in a way that I can’t help but agree with. Sir Mix-a-Lot would be proud. But it’s not simply the libidinous, amoral vocals that make this song my favorite of Acca Dacca’s discography… the music absolutely slays. You could play this track to a rock fan from another country who doesn’t even speak or understand the English language and you would still find them headbanging, such is the raw power of the song. The driving, frenetic power chords are just out of this world, and the batshit, barmy solo from Angus is undoubtedly the best he’s ever done. Brute force mixed with a liberal dose of insanity. AC/DC at its finest.

Johnathan over at The Core Mechanic has this swell idea to do a printed anthology publication of RPG bloggers, creatively enough entitled the 2008 Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs. He has asked for some assistance in spreading the word… well, ‘asked’ might not be the correct term. It was more like ‘begging’ and ‘pleading’. There was some open weeping involved. It was bad.

Alright, maybe it didn’t happen like that. Regardless, check out Jonathan’s posts regarding the anthology to learn a bit more about the project, or if you already know of some RPG-related posts you’d like to nominate for publication, fill out the form and submit away. Jonathan has about 30-some nominees at the time I write this, but he’s aiming for at least 100 posts, perhaps more. Nominate your friends, your enemies, or if you’re just a vain bugger, nominate yourself.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby challenge you to sit through the entirety of this video without stopping it or violently retching in your own mouth. I give to you… THE WORST EYE OF THE BEHOLDER PLAYER OF ALL-TIME!!!!

“SRSLY! This is like, so flawed.”

“They should just, like, leave D&D to pen and paper.”

“Flawed, flawed, flawed!”

Granted, this kid is playing the SNES version of the game, which was not all that great of a console port. But still… it’s quite obvious this poor soul has the attention span of a gnat, and couldn’t even take half a minute to learn some of the controls beforehand.

Back to the Xbox Live with you, disrespectful teenie bopper!

Am I Evil? YES I AM!

Posted: October 17, 2008 in memes and quizzes, RPG

Thanks to Mr. O’Brien at the Orthodox for pointing out the ‘What D&D Character Am I?‘ quiz to me in this post. Reis lamented the fact that his results turned up as a neutral good human wizard. I think he wanted to be some savage, badass warrior. The test does do a pretty decent job of converting you into a D&D character though, you just have to be brutally honest with your answers. As for my result… well… I’ve thought of myself as some variety of evil for some time now (I might’ve guessed lawful evil beforehand). If I took something like this in high school, I’d probably be chaotic neutral in alignment (I have folks who can testify to that), but in recent years I’ve gone through an alignment shift (at an XP penalty, probably) to become more of a cold, callous, disillusioned bastard. As for being a bard, well, I’m delusional enough to think I could be a writer, and a writer can be a storyteller, so the class probably fits. Not sure where the 17 CON score comes from though… I’m sick with allergies, migraines, asthma attacks and everything in between all the damn time. Maybe it has something to do with my drinking habit. Bwahahaha!

I Am A: Neutral Evil Human Bard (2nd Level)

Ability Scores:

Strength-14

Dexterity-14

Constitution-17

Intelligence-15

Wisdom-15

Charisma-9

Alignment:
Neutral Evil A neutral evil villain does whatever he can get away with. He is out for himself, pure and simple. He sheds no tears for those he kills, whether for profit, sport, or convenience. He has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make him any better or more noble. On the other hand, he doesn’t have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has. Some neutral evil villains hold up evil as an ideal, committing evil for its own sake. Most often, such villains are devoted to evil deities or secret societies. Neutral evil is the best alignment you can be because you can advance yourself without regard for others. However, neutral evil can be a dangerous alignment because it represents pure evil without honor and without variation.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Bards often serve as negotiators, messengers, scouts, and spies. They love to accompany heroes (and villains) to witness heroic (or villainous) deeds firsthand, since a bard who can tell a story from personal experience earns renown among his fellows. A bard casts arcane spells without any advance preparation, much like a sorcerer. Bards also share some specialized skills with rogues, and their knowledge of item lore is nearly unmatched. A high Charisma score allows a bard to cast high-level spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

INCOMING NERD RAGE TRANSMISSION – STANDBY … beep… beep…

From this point on, the two buzz words known as “Fluff” and “Crunch” are being indefinitely suspended from being used on this blog.

“Fluff” and “crunch” really only became en vogue a few years back. The words, in their RPG-related context, did not exist when I was a boy. This may or may not have something to do with the Internet not being very big at all back then, although it’s a tad trite these days to blame the Web for anything we don’t like. Regardless, if “fluff” and “crunch”, as terms, did somehow exist during this time, they certainly never made their way to the role-playing fans in southwestern Ohio, because I never, EVER heard a soul blathering on about such concepts.

Seriously, I can’t begin to tell you how often I see these meaningless words thrown into posts on the game blogs I visit, or scattered all over the RPG Bloggers Network (which is not intended as a knock on them, I am a member myself, after all). It’s incredible. People have defined tags or categories so you can browse their many posts about it: fluff, crunch, fluff vs. crunch, crunch vs. fluff, flunch and cruff, selling fluff to a crunch fanatic, selling crunch to a fluff diehard, fluff and crunch and the positive and negative effects they have on the American family, fluff and crunch in the entertainment industry, fluff and crunch land on the moon, fluff and crunch versus Frankenstein’s monster, and so on and so forth.

Whenever I see a post discussing the merits of a certain set of ‘crunchy’ new rules or how amazing this ‘fluff’ campaign setting supplement is, my eyes instantly glaze over. I can’t read any further. I’m that bored already. As I am (possibly) more closely associated with the ‘old-school’ crowd in this corner of the blogsphere, it pains me even more to see some of the old-timers using these ridiculous buzz words, but there you have it. They’ve somehow passed their Move Silent and Hide in Shadows checks and crept their way into the RPG lexicon during the night. I suppose the biggest problem I have with them is that they’ve become a lazy way of explaining something. Instead of a reviewer telling us that the rules to this new system are very technical and complex, that there are a number of charts to look at during combat, and it takes almost ten rolls before initiative can be decided – the reviewer will just say the word “crunch” and move on.

Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you hopefully get my point.

END NERD RAGE TRANSMISSION…

However, let me just clarify that I’m not preaching for anyone else to stop using the terms, and I’m not intending to insult you if you do use them. I certainly don’t want to tip over into the “Onetruewayism” type psychobabble nonsense, telling you that you’re ‘wrong’ if you do it this way or that way. I’m simply announcing my displeasure on my own soapbox and then quietly scuttling away. I realize that… yeah, pretty much NOBODY will agree with me about fluff and crunch, believing this post to be either silly, facetious, an overreaction, or a combination of all three. And that’s fine. After all, what is this post but a bunch of fluff?*

* – Or inane bullshit. Take your pick.

Chock Full O’ Links

Posted: October 10, 2008 in links, RPG

In the past week or so, I’ve discovered a number of quality sites linking to me. Somehow, I’ve managed to con a great many folks into believing I actually have a worthwhile blog. Suckers.

Anyway, here’s a list of blognards you might want to check out:

Uhluht’c Awakens – Dan Proctor, maestro behind Goblinoid Games, has a blog! This one is just starting out, but Mr. Proctor promises upcoming topics on game design, old-school role-playing games, and oddball rants, so keep your eyes peeled.

SWORD & SHIELD – A well written blog by Fenway5, offering thoughts on taking role-playing games back to the basics to make them better. He has some theories on why people just don’t want to play the games anymore (which I thoroughly agree with), in addition to some valid points about why dungeon ecology doesn’t necessarily have to be logical. The author also likes baseball, which automatically gets brownie points from me.

The Core Mechanic – Doesn’t really need a plug from me at all. This blog is already popular enough on it’s own. Still, I thought it was pretty swell of Jonathan to give me some linkage.

Back in ’81 – A heartfelt nostalgia blog, harking back to a time when magic missiles never missed and “elf” was a class.

The Call of the Dungeon – More old-school and nostalgia, but the author JM also talks about games outside the D&D-verse, such as Traveller or GURPS.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few net-friends who I’ve been reading and/or annoying for awhile now. I believe a good chunk of my readers are comic book nerds like myself, so be sure to check out Andy’s Top 20 Comic Books Movies of All-Time list over at his blog, Critically Speaking. If you’re more into sitting down with a good book that doesn’t have any pretty pictures to distract you, then check out David at Ramblings of Jaded DM, who has been talking Dragonlance novels lately, or Brian at The Silver Key, who has been writing an on-going series of thoughts and reflections on Tolkien whilst re-reading The Lord of the Rings.

R. Lawrence Blake has penned a wonderful new adventure for Labyrinth Lord entitled The Courtyard of Gerald Red. The module, for character levels 1 through 3, is very old-school in flavor, right down to the font used in much of the classic line of BD&D adventures. Like the great module writers of old, Mr. Blake packs the adventure into a short amount of space, leaving room for the referee to add their own embellishments if desired. Here’s the back-cover blurb:

Gerald Red held evil and blasphemous battle games for the public within the confines of his courtyard. When the local officials came to put a stop to the bloodshed, Red vanished, leaving behind a terrible legacy of horror and death that surrounds his courtyard to this very day. Can your characters conquer Red’s construct and put the surrounding communities of Irllendom at ease? The Courtyard of Gerald Red is a perilous adventure for character levels 1-3. For use with the Labyrinth Lord™ rules or other Basic RPG systems.

I don’t want to spoil anything for potential players of this scenario, but there are some incredibly tough encounters for the brave adventurers to contend with. The characters will need to use all their cunning to survive, so inexperienced players be wary!

You can download The Courtyard of Gerald Red for FREE from Lulu.