Thursday, May 30, 2013

Odds and Ends

A couple of quick notes about things:

Jack Vance (The Dying Earth, etc) passed away recently. Jack was a major influence on D&D and was one of Gary Gygax's favorite writers.

Also, there has been an update from Gygax Magazine about their publishing schedule. Issue #2 is now due for release in July. More details to come in another post.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Hey WotC, why the dick move?

I just found out that Wizards of the Coast has decided to do a GenCon Exclusive for D&D Next. Normally I would say, sure, whatever, you've done exclusive play tests at all the big conventions. It is expected. This time however they decided to sell a preview adventure/rules book for 5e only to GenCon attendees.

So what you say . . . well that is damned annoying to those of us that for whatever reason cannot get to the con, but would like to support such a release in support of 5e. To us this smacks a bit of douchbaggery.

Open the pre-order up to everyone and ship it out on the GenCon release date while allowing attendees to get it there if they choose to pick one up. Don't be dicks to supporters unfortunate enough not to be able to come lick your boots at GenCon.

Here's the official announcement: Asshats of the Coast

Monday, May 20, 2013

As vacations go . . .

. . . this one is teh suk.

Going to be away from the blog for a little bit longer than I hoped.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Taking a short break from posting.

I hope to be back to posting in a day or two. Too many things to do, not enough time in the day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Double or Nothing on the D&D movies

The latest update in Dungeons & Dragons movie news gs us a dispute over the movie rights and what appears to be two scripts being developed.

From EN World:

Warner Bros D&D Movie Not Such A Dead Cert
It turns out that that Warner Bros D&D movie reported on earlier in the week isn't quite as clear-cut as it appeared. According to Deadline, Hasbro says it has the rights, and has a project with Universal. "Not so fast, says Hasbro, which claims that it owns the rights to D&D, and that the toymaker company has set up the project at Universal to be developed as a directing vehicle by Chris Morgan, the scribe behind the last five films in The Fast And The Furious franchise (including the upcoming Fast 6) and 47 Ronin."
So there's one in the works with Warner Bros., and another in the works with Universal. The one with Warner Bros. has Courtney Solomon attached to it, causing concern we'll see more sub-par stuff like what he has produced so far. The one with Universal sounds like it'll potentially involve high speed chariot chases. I'm not sure we the audience stand much chance for a good film with either of these choices.

At least we can enjoy the back and forth legal comedy while these two groups fight it out to see who gets to produce another crappy film.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Silly Saturday - Pathfinder Battles Miniatures

I am a fan of the Whizkids - Paizo Pathfinder Battles Miniatures. Up till now I have bought every set released as a case. That will change with the Skull and Shackles set. Not because of anything bad, just that I don't see the need for much of what has been revealed yet.

I will admit that the weresharks are cool and if I were running a superhero game set in Kurt Busiak's Astro City they would be perfect for scenarios involving the shark cultists.
I do plan to buy some individual figures from the Skull and Shackles set. There are stirges under a different name, in the set, and a few other interesting figures.

Two that were revealed in the most recent Paizo Blog are unique enough to make the list for purchase not only for their unusual appearance, but for the puns and bad jokes they will obviously elicit from players who see them.

The first is a ship's drunken galley cook with a chicken on his shoulder and a hand extended to display what might be mistaken for his version of kung-fu grip - chicken strangling action.

The second is a spell caster with a monkey familiar and he is also casting a spell, though admittedly he looks more like a homeless junky with a monkey on his back, carrying around an over sized knobby pink sex toy.

Of course I'm being silly about the figures and I applaud Paizo and Whizkids for their willingness to add unique figures to the miniatures line. We, the fans/customers have clamored for sculpts we could us to fill NPC roles that weren't strictly combat and the cook does that nicely. Paizo also said they intend to continue adding in figures when they can to meet that demand.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Convention Calendar for Maryland region.

Current known upcoming conventions include:

Collectors Con - Saturday May 11th (one day)
                             Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                             5015 Campbell Boulevard
                             Baltimore, MD 21236

Games And Dice Convention - May 24-26th
                                                    Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                                                    5015 Campbell Boulevard
                                                    Baltimore, MD 21236

Balticon - May 24-27
                 Hunt Valley Inn
                 245 Shawan Road
                 Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031

Shore-Leave - August 2-4
                         Hunt Valley Inn
                       245 Shawan Road
                       Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031

TCEP XX: The Most Interesting Con in the World - August 30 - September 2
                                                                                          Hampton Inn & Suites
                                                                                          Washington-Dulles Airport
                                                                                          22700 Holiday Park Drive
                                                                                          Stirling Virginia 20166

Capclave - October 11 - 13
                   Hilton Washington DC North/Gaithersburg,
                   620 Perry Parkway
                   Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877

Philcon - November 8 - 10
                Crown Plaza
                2349 W Marlton Pike
                Cherry Hill, New Jersey 08002

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Weekly Game - session 8

We had sold what we could of the loot and now looked for ways to quickly spend it. A search about town revealed a couple of alchemical shops with potions and a shop where a few scrolls could be purchased. We spent almost everything we had made.

Of the several potions there were a few expensive healing elixirs, one of levitation, one of giant strength, one of plant control, and others that I do not remember as I am deeply engrossed in copying spells into my book from the scroll I purchased that contained Magic Missile and Web.

During the time spent with my mind so en rapt, and my fingers stained with ink, my companions decided to go hunting for the missing figurine. They had heard rumors of a large predatory creature, either cat or dog-like, prowling not far from the White Rose tavern beneath which we had looted the figurines. Perhaps the figurine transformed and was seeking a way to rejoin its long dead master. They found it and suffered some grievous wounds in the fight with what they described as a great cat golem of amber, the remaining shards of which they hope to sell.
It looked like this, only 10' long when they fought it.
There is certainly more information my companions have to pass on to me, as I know they had initially set out to try and get hired on to locate the missing artifact that the Templar's were missing from the ship wreck.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New D&D Movie in the Works (and Ray Harryhausen passed away)

Here's the latest bit of info (this piece from the news page at EN World):

Warner Bros. to Make a New D&D Movie
Warner Bros has acquired rights to make a Dungeons & Dragons movie. The script, initially called Chainmail (the tabletop wargame upon which D&D was based in the 1970s) was written by David Leslie Johnson (Wrath of the Titans, Red Riding Hood) and is now being rejiggered to take advantage of the newly acquired license. The production team includes Courtney Solomon - who directed the unpopular 2000 D&D movie starring Jeremy Irons.
The good news is that a major studio is going to give this a try. The possibly bad news is that Courtney Solomon, the person responsible for the previous train wrecks, is still somehow involved as a producer.
If he is only involved on raising funding and not involved in script, plot, casting, directing, or anything else, then maybe we stand a chance of getting a passable film from this effort.

That this information comes to light the day after we lost the best stop-motion special effects artist in movie history, Ray Harryhausen*, could be a sign. A sign of what? Who the heck knows.

* Jason and the Argonauts, some Sinbad movies, Mighty Joe Young, and others.

LOL QUEST in the land of TDAAL - #8 Carousing

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Pay To Play

Every now and then the subject of people paying to play gets brought up in conversation. I have yet to see it actually work over more than a brief experiment.

Approximately 25 years ago I was offered a job to DM/GM games professionally for a start-up company just outside of Baltimore. The pay would have been a tiny bit better than minimum wage plus a little extra for having been one of the first game masters to try to help make the owner's dream a reality.

I no longer remember the name of the company or the entrepreneur whose dream it was, and never actually got a chance to participate since a full time job with much better pay and benefits opened up and I took that road instead.

The company did survive for a brief time and I later gained a next-door neighbor who had worked there for a while, but like many speculative business ventures this one could not maintain any momentum.

Whether it is from people having a sense of not wanting to pay for something they can otherwise get for free, or preferring a friend to do the game mastering, this doesn't on the surface appear to be a business model with any endurance. Could it be poor marketing mixed with a lackluster business model?

Thinking about it from another perspective takes away at least some argument against the 'not wanting to pay for it' category. Convention games could easily be categorized as pay-to-play since you pay to enter the convention and at some conventions you have to pay to get a ticket for the session.

Another pay-to-play method I have heard is somewhat successful with some groups is the 'shared expense' model where players pitch in a few dollars each session toward refreshments and food with leftovers going into a prize fund that is used at the end of the year to purchase a gift for one member of the group as determined by a vote of the participants. Of course this doesn't really meet the criteria of a professional GM.

Due to frequent player absences in a couple of campaigns, I have jokingly considered the idea of having players pay $100 at the start of their participation and getting back a pro-rated portion of that based on their attendance. The more sessions they are present, the more of their own money they get back with any left over going to buying more materials for the game (including spare rulebooks, etc). Of course this idea would be unlikely to happen and is only for amusement.

Professional DMing appears for the most part to be a pipe dream. It is difficult enough to get people to pay rent for a dedicated space in which to play, unless it is a rare event like conventions.

If anyone comes up with an idea for ways to make such a think work while providing a comfortable living with health care benefits please let me know. I'd be very interested in knowing the formula behind the magic.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Review - Iron Man 3

I'll try to avoid spoilers in this brief review of the movie Iron Man 3.

The short - I enjoyed it. The movie is entertaining and if you like lots of explosions, this one will not disappoint.

The odd, yet explainable - The Mandarin, a character that had been a major life-long recurring villain and antagonist was changed to being non-Chinese. This was done to avoid angering audiences in China where the movie also opened this week. China is becoming an incredibly large market for American films and the studios smell the money so changes like this can be expected in other films as well. Sadly this may invalidate the whole magic rings storyline for the villain.

The weak sauce - There is this bit about anxiety attacks that didn't play well and is a missed opportunity in character development. It was the one thing I felt was poorly scripted and left little to guide the actor in acting it out.

Overall - 3.75 out of 5 stars. Deductions for the changes that weaken the history of the Mandarin and for the poorly handled anxiety attack elements.

Stay through the long boring credits for a good chuckle, especially if you have seen The Avengers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

So, Where's Gygax Magazine issue #2?

Gygax Magazine launched with a decent amount of fanfare in January of this year. The intent was to release issues on a quarterly basis. April has come and gone, we're into early May and no sign of issue #2.

The website only recently added a means of contacting the publisher, and doesn't really do much if anything, to keep subscribers up to date on expected street dates.

Fortunately a little digging revealed that issue #2 might have a street date of May 13th. Fingers crossed that the magazine gets back on schedule.

I've toyed with the idea of creating a magazine numerous times in the past, and I know it isn't as easy as it sounds. Just look at the number of OSR zines that have come and gone in recent years along with the ones published by larger publication houses that have vanished from print. It is obviously not a simple matter to make a niche magazine successful.

I would like to see the Gygax Magazine put more information on their website about what to expect in upcoming issues and the anticipated street date (of course with notice that dates may change).

Here's hoping these guys can make this thing work.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Free RPG Day - Saturday June 15th 2013

Free RPG Day is another thing that will be getting added to the convention calendar since it is both local and nationwide. Follow the link to get details and use the store locator to find your friendly local game store.

This year, the 7th year, is scheduled for Saturday June 15th.

Sadly there are no participating game stores in or near Frederick, Maryland.

Within 100 miles I notice 5 in Pennsylvania.
1 in Delaware which I suspect is Days of knights, a fantastic store I like to occasionally make a trip to visit.
1 in Cockeysville, Maryland which I believe to be Alternate Worlds, a store I visit a few times a year that is very responsive to customer requests.
Several others are marked on the map in and around Baltimore and D.C.
Others show in Northern Virginia.

There are a number of sponsoring companies offering up free goodies.

Remember, try to look around the stores and find something, even if you can only afford something cheap, to purchase. Do so as a thank you to the stores for participating in this cool event on your behalf.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Convention Calendar

Hopefully more information will come in that will allow me to post periodic updates about conventions local to Maryland, Northern Virginia, Delaware and Pannsylvania, as well as Washington D.C.

If you know of any, please let me know and I will endeavor to post about them.

We also may soon have more details about Balticon.

Current known upcoming conventions include:

Collectors Con - Saturday May 11th (one day)
                           Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                           5015 Campbell Boulevard
                           Baltimore, MD 21236

Games And Dice Convention - May 24-26th
                                                  Hilton Garden Inn White Marsh
                                                  5015 Campbell Boulevard
                                                  Baltimore, MD 21236

Balticon - May 24-27
                 Hunt Valley Inn
                 245 Shawan Road
                 Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weekly Game - session 7

We have been selling the loot we recovered from the ruin and elsewhere along with trying to learn more about various people and organizations.

One of the animal figurines we recovered from the tomb went missing while we slept in the inn. It was of a cat and I suspect it went back to the tomb to convey to its mummified master where we thieves are.

None of the other treasures proved magical with the exception of the obsidian dagger the cult leader used to sacrifice the woman.

The only piece of treasure we have not yet been able to sell is the necklace from the mummy. Potential buyers have proven very concerned with potential repercussions should any Jalahandrans see it in their possession.

We also took our collected evidence to Jacko concerning the culprit in the lighthouse incident. After a bit of talk he felt confident that he at least had a head to put on a pike to make it clear to other district bosses that he is handling his business. We received our promised pay of 500 platinum and got some additional information on people we are interested in talking to for various reasons.

We learned from two sources that the conclave of my countrymen from Craclaw often buy Jalahandran tomb treasures as a means of showing off. I think I might be able to help in selling the piece.