Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm Back...

Wow, so it's been awhile.

It's cliche' to dribble on about why I haven't done anything with my blog, so I'll just stop there.

But, I do plan to revive this blog, even if I just provide links to other sites/blogs that I find interesting or just have a chance to rant about something.

Here's a great blog entry about 10 Good Reasons to Play D&D.

This list is really not D&D pertains to any RPG. I love the list and it reminds me why I love the RPG hobby.

Friday, May 29, 2009

RPG Tech #1: Online Whiteboard (Update)

Just wanted to provide an update on this fantastic little whiteboard. I provided a review of dabbleboard earlier.

The developer just added a few key enhancements (based on user comments, including mine):
  • The ability to save a canvas size (this is important for those large, outdoor battles). Before, the canvas size would revert back to the default size and you would have to bump it back up. It was a very big pain.
  • The ability to keep the grid on. Before, it would always revert back to no grid.
Obviously, both of these new enhancements just make dabbleboard better for my Evernight PBP maps. Here's the latest one we are using. The PCs are quickly crushing a group of spider-men, but I hope to get my licks in before they are finished.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Back in early 2007, I started a little wiki for the my favorite RPG: Savage Worlds. Two years later, Savagepedia has come a long way. The site currently has 160 registered members, has had almost 40,000 unique visits from all over the world, and has given the awesome SW community a place to share information. It provides community contributed content ranging from house rules to an organized collection of information for all the SW settings.

I just recently launched the third Savagepedia contest to entice users to join and contribute. I usually provide a prize out of my ebay pile, but this time Sean Preston from Reality Blurs contributed a signed copy of his awesome RunePunk setting book. The contest was a success and the wiki just keeps getting stronger every day.

Although I'm in a gaming dryspell right now, its great to have this outlet (like this blog) to help promote the hobby that I love.

If you haven't visited Savagepedia, stop by and take a look. You don't have to be a SW fan to find some good information. The Gaming Aids page is a great resource for any RPG fan. And, if you are a Savage Worlds fan, Savagepedia should definitely be on your list of bookmarks.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I've read a lot of reviews on the RPG blogs about the new show Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire, so I thought I'd throw in my review.

In the immortal words of Jacques the shrimp from Finding Nemo:

"I am ashamed."

I can't help it. I can't stop watching it.

Part of its appeal for me is that it is making fun of the RPG genre, much like The Office makes fun of working in a corporate environment (which also hits too close to home).

The other thing I really like about the show is the villain, Chancellor Dongalor, who is kind of like a poor man's Austin Powers. I don't know why, but he always cracks me up. The banter between the Chancellor and Barnabus, his advisor, are usually the best parts of the show.

I could do without the never ending sexual innuendos (a handful per episode would be plenty), but that is offset by the very sexy Aneka.

Krod Mandoon is one of those shows for me where I don't really laugh out loud when I watch it, but I find myself snickering inside hours afterwards while the show sticks in my head like a bad radio song.

And, now I have a new swear word that I can use around my kids..."Daggers!"

Saturday, April 18, 2009

RPG Tech #1: Online Whiteboard

A few years ago, the History Channel started a series of shows called Wild West Tech hosted by Keith Carradine. The shows focused on the "tools and tricks used by the baddest men in the Old West, and by others who lived by their wits in those days." Topics included train tech, gambling tech, mining tech...well, you get the idea.

At the time, I was currently GMing Deadlands, so I watched every show faithfully. And, since I spent a lot of time watching Gunsmoke with my Dad during my formative years, I've always been fascinated by that time period and genre.

With this same concept in mind, I'd like to start a little series of my own called RPG Tech.

First up in the series is the online whiteboard. In a typical pen-and-paper RPG, there are always times when you need to draw out a map, whether it is for navigating through a complex dungeon or providing details for a specific room where the next hack-n-slash encounter is about to begin. There are a number of things you can use when you're gaming together in your parent's basement: graph paper, battle mat, chalk board, or a white board.

For the past few years, I've been trying to find a way to provide this same experience in the online arena. It's getting to the point where the only way I can game with my old college buddies is over the net, so I've been trying to put together a collection of tools to make that happen.

A few years ago, it was tough to find these types of tools. But, with the rise of social media and the non-stop evolution of interactive tools on the internet, the options are becoming plentiful.

Now, I realize that there are a number of products out there that provide an online RPG experience, whether it be maptool, gametable, or fantasy grounds, just to name a few. But, I had the following requirements in my search for an online whiteboard:
  • Free
  • No installation required (browser based)
  • Run on Mac OS, Windows, or Linux (I'm a Mac guy)
  • Easy to use (a couple of my friends are not computer wizards)
  • Everyone can update the whiteboard
  • Ability to add tokens for PCs/Monsters or graphics
  • A simple grid
  • Free (yea, I want to spend my money on more dice)
With all of these requirements in mind, I finally found what I was looking for. The product is called Dabbleboard. I've used this tool successfully for both my real-time online RPGs games and my play-by-post games, and it's exactly what I've been looking for. I've had email conversations with the designer, and although he never intended it to be used for an RPG, it works really well.

But, don't take my word for it, go and check it out. Here's a screenshot of one of the maps I created for my Evernight campaign. It's crude, it's simple, but Dabbleboard does the job and it doesn't bog down a game. The focus remains on the important goal: good old fashioned "pen and paper" role playing.

Now, I just need to figure out how to get my group together more online so I can keep using this great tool. Unfortunately, I haven't found a technical solution to that problem yet.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Using Strategy Guides for RPGs

Just a quick post to let you all know that I'm still here. I had to go away on business last week, so I didn't have time for the blog...or much of anything else.

But, before I left, I finally finished one of my favorite video games of all time: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune for the PS3. Between the great story line, smooth game play, fun puzzles, and incredible visuals, this game has it all.

Although I've been playing video games since high school, I wouldn't say I'm a true video junky. I mean, I've had all the game systems since the Nintendo 64 (except for the xbox), but I don't actually play games very often (I like to have them around just in case). I usually like playing games with someone else, so you won't find me all alone for hours playing a video game. And, if I get stuck, I give up pretty easily.

But, since Uncharted was such a good game, I actually finished it. I think I can count on my hands how many video games I've actually finished, so this was a pretty big occasion.

I also bought the strategy guide for Uncharted, and now I'm thinking that I could really use some of the maps (and even some of the story line) for one of my future pulp RPG campaigns. The strategy guides these days have beautiful maps in them and interesting information. I could even use some of the cut scenes from the game to set the mood for some parts that I reuse.

Has anyone else used video game strategy guides for an RPG? I'd be interested to hear what worked and what didn't.

Meanwhile, I think I'm going to play Conan next. My nephew was playing it last time he was hear and it looked really fun.

(BTW, I'm going to try to post a new blog entry on every Friday. We'll see if I can stick to that schedule.)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Demon Dogs! A Review of Legends of Steel: Savage Worlds Edition

What other ways do I spend time if I can't game? Simple. I spend money on more RPG books that just end up being added to the stack of my other games that aren't being played.

I know, it doesn't make sense, and it is kind of sadistic. But, that's how I roll.

That said, I'm very happy that I decided to buy the PDF version of the Legends of Steel: Savage Worlds Edition. Legends of Steel is a setting book for the Sword and Sorcery genre, which can include anything from Thundarr the Barbarian (one of my all-time favorites) to Army of Darkness to Elric.

I must admit I hadn't heard anything about this particular setting book, and I'm usually up on all the latest Savage Worlds stuff. But, after stumbling upon Jeff Mejia's blog, The Lair of the Evil DM (his blog is a visual joy ride and now I can't wait for Wednesdays), I didn't hesitate to buy his latest creation. And, I'm very glad I did.

o.k., enough chit-chat. Here's an executive summary for all you low-attention-span readers out there (hey, you in the back, wake up!) or if you are reading this on the clock and need to get back to work (you know who you are).


3 out of a d4

  • Loved the 80's style vibe of the book, especially since I started my RPGing in the 80's. In this era of over-polished RPG books, the simplicity of the book was refreshing. And, it is well-organized.
  • Great job of establishing the genre definitions in the beginning of the book...a very good way to get all users on the same page (no pun intended).
  • Very impressed with the focus on character background. I am definitely going to lift this section for all of my other RPG games, especially one of the background generating techniques provided that is simply brilliant.
  • A lot of new background Edges that could be used in any fantasy or pulp setting. This is one of the reasons to buy various setting books, since Edges really are the core feature of Savage Worlds.
  • Very nice descriptions for each region of the world: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. There is enough information to get you started on creating endless adventures.
  • Nice set of pregenerated characters.
  • No index. I love me an index, but to be fair, it's not a big deal with this book because of its size. The table of contents should help you find what you need.
  • No bestiary. I wasn't expecting a lot, but a few pages with some new monsters would be nice...a minor demon, some new mutant frog-men, etc.
  • Need more illustrations, especially in the player's section. That said, I really liked the illustrations that are included in the book.
  • No stat blocks in the included sample adventure. Of all the cons, this one bothered me the most. A sample adventure should provide the GM with everything he needs, so there is as little prep work as possible.
  • No brief mention about how to create non-human PCs. I mean, what if I want to play Ookla the Mok? This is especially true since the Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition doesn't include non-human races anymore.
Random Thoughts

In a nutshell, I really like this book. I would love to play a short Thundarr the Barbarian type game. And, as I said earlier, there is a lot of information in this setting book to use in my future campaigns.

So, if you want to run a Sword or Sorcery game or just to have more good Savage Worlds material, don't hesitate to get this campaign book for $12. And, don't worry that it isn't available through RPGnow or Drivethrurpg. I got my PDF within 30 minutes--it's just like ordering pizza!

And, if I still haven't convinced you to spend your hard-earned cash, how can you turn down having a book with the following quote in it:

"By Grun's hairy scrotum!"

That's what I thought. Now you have enough information to make an intelligent decision.