The Old Dungeon

The past blasted me a couple of times this weekend. The charity site Bundle of Holding offered the old Traveller RPG books from 1981 as PDF for a giveaway price (through July 9th), and I discovered that D&D Classics will sell me the First Edition Dungeons and Dragons books in a similar downloadable form, cheaper than they’ve ever been. With the PDF reader on my iPad, I could browse them easily, even use them to run a game or two were I so inclined; I’ve done this with Shadowrun and Paranoia PDFs.

Both offers are incredibly tempting. I spent uncounted hours of my puberty reading these game books, immersing myself in their world, and running adventures in my head when I couldn’t play with my friends. Did a lot of the latter, to be honest: I went a long stretch without friends who were interested in a regular game, and frankly most of us were abysmal gamesters. We followed rules slavishly or bent them nine ways from Sunday without thinking for a second about game balance, or storytelling. We didn’t spend any time building a game world to inhabit, either. Adventures were disconnected episodes which occurred in a void. Despite all that, I had a lot of fun and kept many golden memories.

So, these old books tempt me to come back and relive those happy novice days. Unfortunately, I’m not 13 any more. I’ve spent a lot of experience points, bought off some disadvantages, and picked up some new ones. The dungeons of my youth are now familiar places, stripped of their wonder and danger in favor of familiarity. I find my modern players less interested in poring over carefully-constructed maps of hyperspace jump routes in favor of simply asking, “According to the ship’s computer, where’s the closest system with a fuel depot we can safely use?” and I can’t blame them. Hell, I don’t even know anyone who cares about D&D these days, with Pathfinder still going strong.

So I’ll be saving money on this nostalgic offer for now. I have to admit, though: “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” would still make a great Deadlands or Shadowrun adventure with some adjustments to fit the new setting.

Installing Skyrim Using Wine on Mac OS X

Computer used: 2009 Mac Pro with 8 GB memory, a 1 GB Apple graphics card, and OS X 10.9 Mavericks

  1. Purchase Skyrim on Steam. (By waiting for the right sale, I got it for $5.)
  2. Download ThePortingTeam’s Wine wrapper for Skyrim.
  3. Follow the installation instructions under “Installation”. Run Skyrim at least once. At this point Skyrim worked excellently except for a horrible display bug. So, after a lot of websites and some guessing…
  4. Right-click on the wrapper (the Skyrim icon), choose “Open Package Contents”, and open wineskin.app just as you did during Step 3.
  5. Click “Set Screen Options”. Uncheck “Use Mac Driver instead of X11”.
  6. Under “Override Wine control of Screen Settings?” click “Override”.
  7. Under “Override Settings” make sure that “Fullscreen” is checked. Under “Installer Options” make sure that “Force Normal Windows” is checked.
  8. Click “Done”. Click “Quit”. Double-click the wrapper icon, and enjoy your game!

I also installed the Unofficial Skyrim Patches, SKSE, and SkyUI, but that’s for another time. Further, I updated the wrapper engine to WS9Wine1.7.21, but I’m not sure I needed to do that. If you do, the instructions are on the Wineskin Winery website.

Have fun hunting dragons!

Instant Death, No Saving Throw

In 1974, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson created Dungeons and Dragons. Sometime around 1978, I acquired a copy, and my leisure time pursuits were changed forever. I owe the both of them a debt of gratitude I can never repay (and a debt of finance as well).

They made one mistake, though, and my gamer friends and I have been dealing with that mistake since then. I don’t know how it got into the game originally; in fact, sometimes I wonder what it was like gaming with them under this philosophy. The attitude is never openly stated in the books, but the early game materials make it clear: the Game Master is the other players’ enemy.

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Why Warhammer 40K Makes Me Unhappy

Today, the social media channels are abuzz with the ongoing story that Games Workshop got the e-book of M.C.A. Hogarth’s “Spots the Space Marine” pulled from Amazon on the dubious grounds that no one else is allowed to use “Space Marine” in an e-book. They may or may not have the law on their side – most folks suspect not – but it remains a dirty, unethical, and ridiculous thing to do either way. It’s costing Hogarth real money, and one notes that they didn’t go after any well-established, well-funded estate or media organization that’s featured space marines in e-books since such were invented. Also, this event exposes flaws in Amazon’s due process which concern many an independent writer.

But that’s my problem with Games Workshop in general. Why am I down on Warhammer 40K specifically? Well, I’m glad you asked that. (Of course you did, don’t you remember?) Let me fire off a few disclaimers right at the beginning: I have never had the chance to actually play the game and would love to give it a try if it could be done without supporting GW. And if you love the game and have been playing for years, this isn’t an attack on you. Having fun? That’s *excellent*.

My tabletop battle experience is primarily through FASA and its descendants. I had seen Battletech materials in my game stores, thought it gauche that they were using Macross and Dougram mech designs, and given it little more thought before getting caught in a blizzard one weekend and giving it a fair try. I fell in love with the game, still play when I can, and even enjoy the click-base version as an entirely different game in the same setting.

But I’d seen lots of 40K stuff in the stores too, all of it illustrated by photos of Games Workshop’s brilliant modelmaking and paintwork. Of course I was curious! And I knew a gamer or two who loved it, though none of them happened to game with me. Finally, I learned enough to discover how many figures a player uses for a basic game, and checked on the price.

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A Slightly Classier Agreement

I have a lot of fun making “DVD covers” in Photoshop for my little video efforts. It’s weird, because they don’t show up in hard-copy very much any more, but it does make the movie files look better when I’m browsing them in a media manager.

To that end, I made this today:

"Gentleman's Agreement" DVD cover

 

If this had been a real DVD cover, I’d have added a lot more info about the actors and crew, and copyright disclaimers and the like. But this will do for now. It looks a whole lot better in iTunes.

Oh, and for the few readers of this blog who don’t know, the two parts of this video are right here:http://youtu.be/3nnLbQ1JvXs and here:http://youtu.be/iS6iGACneEQ Be kind.

Traveller

That’s right, I’m not dead yet. I just haven’t felt like journalling at all in months – my creativity and ability to string words together has been darn near zero.

But sometimes, going through my old work will inspire me a bit. To that end, here’s a video walkthrough of the video game level I designed – an addon for Excalibur: Morgana’s Revenge, a game still available for play on Mac, Windows, and Linux via the Aleph One game engine.

Designing game levels is fun… and doing something I haven’t done in years may be just what I needed to stretch my muscles a bit!

Level 80

Level 80

Mirandala hit the level cap. I barely know what to do with her now, she didn’t manage that at 60 in original WoW or at 70 in Burning Crusade.

Also, she made a pair of X-Ray Specs: a gadget which, from her perspective, strips all the other player characters in the game down to their underwear. But what else would you expect from me?

Arrgh, we are warriors, arrgh, so there, arrgh, I mean it, arrgh

So, here’s a trailer for the Star Trek MMO coming early next year (y’know, if there aren’t any delays, which never happen to MMO releases anyway, right?) Windows-only at this point, so we Mac folks will have to either dual-boot or forget it and just keep giving our money to Blizzard, who’s been happy to take it for years.

I know that lots of the audience for multiplayer online games want to be the badass characters, so we get the Klingon trailer first. But as usual since TNG, the Klingon narrator sounds less like a proud warrior and more like someone compensating for erectile dysfunction. “Hi. My name’s K’Bob, and I’ve had this terrible inferiority complex since the Dominion War…”

Interesting, by the way, that in a setting placed decades after “Voyager”, the Federation’s still using Constitution-class ships (ones that look like Shatner-Kirk’s Enterprise). When your ship design’s still in use 200 years after the first launch, I’d say you’ve earned your contractor fees.

Upcoming events

VTSFFC has announced plans to hold a Technicon in 2010.

I realized this morning that the first part of my last post could be a bit impenetrable if one doesn’t know at least a little gamer slang. Luckily, there’s not many people reading my journal who don’t… and the rest are sharp enough to work it out from contexts.

Thanks to everyone for the support! This is weirding me the hell out, but I have no intention of getting all drama-queeny over it (even if sometimes I want to). Having you folks watching my back helps an enormous amount.

Poorly-copied DNA

GM to me: “Roll your Body dice, target number 5, and we’ll see what the doctor says.”
Me: “Okay, that’s 3d6 – ”
GM: “Inflating your stats a little?”
Me: “Shut up. I rolled a 4, a 3, and a 1.”
GM: “No successes, huh? Checking the chart… okay. You have kidney cancer.”

Unfortunately, the GM isn’t talking about my game character, either; looks like I’ll be going in next month for surgery after all. The surgeon’s very optimistic, and I should still keep the unaffected portion of that kidney. That’s one of a long list of ways I’m fortunate right now, but it’s a little hard to focus on them with that word “cancer” rattling around in my head.

Two ways to tell that I’m really stressed: I start stuttering a bit, and my sense of humor gets really twisted.

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