January 31, 2009

Blog Comments - who owns the copyrights to them?

16 comments:

First off, this is not a post about roleplaying games (my usual fare). This is a post about blogging, specifically blog comments and who owns them.

Who owns the copyrights to comments left on blogs?

The comment author?

The blog author or owner?

You see, I'm currently working on publishing an anthology of roleplaying game blog posts from 2008 and before. The project, called Open Game Table, has been a labor of love for me and (much to my surprise) has benefited greatly from an overwhelming number of supporters and volunteers from the RPG blogosphere. The 48 blog posts that have been selected to be included in the anthology were selected from over 130 posts that were nominated by blog authors and readers. I'm now in the process of doing the layout, design, and editing of the anthology's manuscript and recently the subject of blog comments and who owns their copyrights came up. Two of the contributing blog authors expressed concerns over my use of selected comments in the anthology without the expressed consent of the comment authors. To be completely honest, this struck me by surprise as I had assumed that the blog comments were considered part of the blog article itself (much like an addendum) and were therefor the property of the blog owner. Thus, I had assumed that by obtaining permissions to publish the blog articles in the anthology from the blog authors this would in turn include the comments as well.

Not so fast.

It turns out there is very little in the way of legal precident for this. Go ahead and Google it. You see a whole lot of talk talk talk by blogs cut from all different cloths; but very little actual legal precedent. There's one case I know of that involved a MySpace blogger who refused to remove comments from their blog when the comment authors requested it. But that's about it.

Of course, standard US copyright law clearly supports the author in that [paraphrasing here] "as soon as you write it down it is copyrighted". This would lead you to believe that the author of the comments owns the comments, even though they appear on some other medium they do not own. Some would say it is fairly cut and dry. Others say that its not so simple.

But do they own their comments after they are published?

The comment authors have no control over them, since the blog owner can often delete, edit or otherwise suppress any comment left on their blog. Furthermore, things become much more complicated if you consider third-party applications that republish weblog comments, such as Twitter, Friend-Feed, Google Reader iPage, etc. Disqus does a good job of summing up the real issues here.

This becomes even more bizarre when you consider that many bloggers are running advertising on their websites that is context sensitive (such as Google AdSense; which is in place on this blog). If someone else's comments are helping generate the ads that appear on a blog due to their content, but that person is the owner of those comments, not the blogger, then shouldn't they be also entitled to some royalties or payments from the sale of ads? Surely not.

Where then do you draw the line?

What about then the situation with the anthology I am publishing. Each and every one of the blog authors have signed permissions agreements that stipulate that I have the right to republish their blog post in a printed book. Should I also then seek the permissions of each and every blog comment author whose comment (that adds value to the article as a whole) I may also want to include? What if the comment author used a fake email address or was simply anonymous? What if they were under the age of consent (18)?

These are all issues that bloggers should consider. Many bloggers outside our little RPG blogging community have already considered these issues. You will often find, especially on commercial blogs, a Terms of Service agreement that clearly stipulates the status of the comments left on the blog. I have added one to The Core Mechanic as a result of this minor brouhaha and you can find it in the footer below, or on the comment page. Section 5, Information Rights is the part you will want to pay attention to. I've provided here as well:
"5. Information Rights. The Proprietor does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Service. However, with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Service, including without limitation comments you post to the Service, you grant the Proprietor world-wide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty free, non-exclusive, fully sub-licensable license(s) to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other works in any format or medium now known or later developed."
This basically means that the blog owner ("The Proprietor") can do whatever they wish with the comments left on the blog; and the author of the comments can as well. The copyright is, however, still technically owned by author. I've since seen some other blog TOS's where the comments fall under a Creative Commons license; still others I've seen where the comments are released into the public domain.

I would urge anyone who is writing a blog of their own to consider this issue of comment ownership and permissions; if only for a moment. You may never know when, in retrospect, you had wished you had a Comment Policy or some other TOS agreement in place. I'm not a lawyer, and after reading several dozen blogs and other websites about the copyright status of blog comments, one thing is clear to me: this is a very grey area that I have no interest trotting in ... I tend to think that blog comments are functionally the same as addendums to the main blog post and the comment author is giving up their control of the content once they post it on the blog owner's site. But, that's just my opinion - and with regards to Open Game Table - I'm not interested in putting everyone involved in the project at risk of some sort of infringement of copyright permissions simply because I wanted to include a selected number of comments in the Anthology.

In the meantime, I've stripped the manuscript for the blog anthology of all comments for the time being. I'm perfectly happy publishing the book without them included, although I do recognize that blog comments are our currency and often times it is the comments that "make a post", not the post itself. Bahh....

January 30, 2009

REVIEW: Kobold Quarterly #8

2 comments:

I was surprised when I was recently asked to review a portion of the newly released Kobold Quarterly #8, specifically the article titled "Tossing Kegs and Smashing Chairs", by Steven Furlanetto. And, although the article in question is mostly for 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons (and Pathfinder), I just couldn't say No since editions don't really matter to me - and I love tavern brawls.
"...Imagine the party wizard careening across the beer-slicked floor with angry peasants launching mugs at her as she slides by, the fighter wildly waving a broken chair while perched precariously on top of a rickety table about to be smashed by the town brute, or the rogue swinging to their rescue dangling from the chandelier..."

Furlanetto describes in detail some of the problems related to well... bar room fights. Usually in D&D, combat encounters are between the party (a limited number of 'heroes') and the enemy (a limited number of mooks). Of course, a bar fight is a completely different animal. You might be faced with an angry mob of disenfranchised dwarven mine workers who may already be six kegs deep into the latest union meeting. Or, you might be ducking the mugs and knives as the bartender quells a group of unruly thugs out for "a good time". You might even find yourself going to fisticuffs with fellow party members who "mistakenly" thought you were someone else before they crashed the chair over your head. Well, whomever the fight is with - a tavern brawl can work in D&D even though it should be non-lethal and often against many many foes. Fulanetto does a great job of pointing out the pros and cons of barroom brawls, and even provides some crunch for DM's asking questions like "I wonder how damage a small cask of ale would do? What about a large cask of ale?" For PCs who like to imbibe more than others, all this begs the obvious question: Can I get proficiency in Keg Throwing?

Heck, there's even a fair amount of "chandelier" mischief. Want some quick rules on swinging from a chadelier? Check. Want to fight a mob of  drunks? Check. What some ideas on how to incorporate a bar fight into an ongoing adventure? Check.

So if you are looking to add a little spice to your game by introducing your players to the fine art of drunken combat - pick yourself up a copy of Kobold Quarterly #8. Go break some kegs for me!

January 27, 2009

RPG Blog Anthology Weekly Update

No comments:
OK, it's a day late - these updates usually come on Mondays. may have also noticed my blogging frequency has significantly dropped in the last week. Let's just say "I've been swamped!" The Anthology project is now full-steam ahead as I am digging through the final entries, doing all the layout and design, and working with the other volunteer editors and artists. It is a huge amount of work - typical for me to propose a project having no idea how much effort will be required to carry it to the finish line.

OK, enough of my whining - what's been done in the last week? Well...

SAMPLE CHAPTER
A sample, or demo, chapter was put together and used as a working document with the editors to finalize font choices, basic layout designs, artwork placements, etc.. The biggest hurdle for me was to wrap my head around the use of "document styles" to control all the formatting. It makes sense of course, but I'm so thankful to have such an excellent team of professional editors to go to for advice, editing, and proofreading input. The chapter that was on was "Chapter 9 - RPG History & Commentary". It includes blog posts from such RPG luminaries as Ben Robbins, James Maliszewski, Jeff Rients, Berin Kinsman, and James Edward Raggi IV. The chapter weighs in at 16 pages (~11,000 words) and includes original artwork crafted specifically for each blog post by Crystal Frasier, James Keegan, and Jennifer Weigel. You can

I was very satisfied with the final edit of Chapter 9, so dove next into probably the hardest, and longest, chapter next: "Chapter 8 - 4th Edition: Classes, Equipment & Action Points". I've already finished the first draft of this chapter and it is expected to be no less than 30 pages once everything is all said and done. Just waiting on additional artwork and the first round of feedback from the assistant editors. Stargazer has already even blogged about it here, and seems to like what he is seeing. Wohoo! Hopefully next week I'll have some more information for you.

ARTWORK
I'm also very pleased to let you know that I've received a number of additional pieces of original artwork for the Anthology in the last week. Below is a sampling of some the artists provided to me - final inks will be forthcoming. Can you guess what blog posts these might be for?

Hugo Solis

Jennifer Weigel
SPONSORSHIPS
If you are interested in being an Individual Sponsor, please feel free to use the PayPal link below to donate. Your help is deeply appreciated and will go a long long way towards making this project a reality for everyone involved. These funds are going to be used to cover the printing costs for the complementary copies of the book that will be sent to the contributing authors and artists. I am honored and humbled that so many folks have pitched in to help support this project; thus far I've managed to raise about $280, which is more than half-way towards my personal goal of raising $500 to help offset the costs of printing, but unfortunately I haven't received any new sponsors in the last week. Want to help out? Become a Private Sponsor! Even small donations for a few bucks will be appreciated!

For companies or other RPG industry people - several advertising spots are still available! These include the inside first page (b&w) and half of the outside back cover (in full color). Please contact me for more information at jonathan DOT jacobs AT gmail DOT com. Advertising sponsorships will also be used to offset the printing costs for complementary copies being sent to the authors, artists, and volunteers.


January 19, 2009

RPG Blog Anthology Weekly Update

6 comments:
Progress on the Anthology marches on. Since last week, the Assistant Editors and I have begun trimming down the book a bit as well as reorganizing and renaming chapters. Hopefully today I'll have the first fully laid out chapter done for us to wrangle over. One of the things I'm enjoying most about this project is that each week I encounter some new aspect of the publishing process I have had (yet again) no experience with. Thus, the process is constantly a challenge, especially because I want things to look right, I want the content to be just right and with the right artwork, etc. I'm learning as I go, but with everyone's input things are constantly moving forward. Its very satisfying nonetheless.

ARTWORK
Speaking of art, the team of artists who have volunteered their time continue to produce quality work. Below are some additional concepts they contributed in the last week.

monk class concept
cover concept 3

entourage gaming

SPONSORSHIPS
I'm very happy to report that we've received another $50 donation from an Individual Sponsor. In addition, Otherworld Miniatures has come through with the $50 in promised Advertising Sponsorship funds! Wohoo! THANK YOU!!! These funds are going to be used to cover the printing costs for the complementary copies of the book that will be sent to the contributing authors and artists. I am honored and humbled that so many folks have pitched in to help support this project; thus far I've managed to raise about $280, which is more than half-way towards my personal goal of raising $500 to help offset the costs of printing. This is simply amazing, since at the start I didn't think I would be able to raise any funds at all.

If you are interested in being an Individual Sponsor, please feel free to use the PayPal link below to donate. Your help is deeply appreciated and will go a long long way towards making this project a reality for everyone involved.

For companies or other RPG industry people - several advertising spots are still available! Please contact me for more information at jonathan DOT jacobs AT gmail DOT com.




Until next week, GAME ON!

January 17, 2009

Around the blogs...

5 comments:
Saturday is the weekly wrap up! Let's review what I've been reading (and not just scanning) this week.
  1. More Firearms for 4the Edition from Key our Cars. "Warhammer Firearms for DnD". This is a good complement to Stargazer's article on new 4E firearms, as well as my own post sometime ago that brought current some ranged weapons from past editions.
  2. More about Skill Challenges. I seem stuck on this topic lately, can't seem to get enough of it. Gamefiend at At-Will kicked off a new series this week, "How to Design a Skill Challenge, Part 1: Theory of Choice". This seemed very timely, since Donny_the_DM posted a new skill challenge in "I need another opinion, can I get a hand?", and then after some input from his readers (including yours truly), he updated his challenge with "...Adrift in a sea of flesh and steel...a 4E skill challenge of survival.". Josh, over at Pair O'Dice Games, also presents a new skill challenge about removing treasure from a dungeon in "Trapped Under Ground With a Whole Lot of Loot". Excellent stuff.
  3. Gaming and the Economy. Well it's a good thing that GenCon is finally scheduled to emerge from bankruptcy, considering that the crappy economy might be a good thing for the gaming industry. Trask, over at LivingDice.com, had a survey recently about this but the results were mixed. I remain hopeful.
  4. New Feats, Spells, Magic Books - this is just a quick link dump of some interesting posts I bookmarked for possible future use
    1. 4e New Magical Items: Tomes of Wondrous Power - overpowered but very cool, from Dicemonkey.com
    2. New Feats: Meta…power? (Metamagic feats for 4E, also from Dicemonkey)
    3. Conversion: Hold Person - I just love this one. Very nicely done IMHO; from Onebadegg.com.
  5. Otherworld Miniatures - thanks to Mike Mearls for giving the heads up about the owner of Otherworld Miniatures, who recently has fallen ill. This 1-man outfit produces some of the best old-school miniatures I've seen, and he also happens to be an Advertising Sponsor for the RPG Blog Anthology I'm working on. So, if you are in the market for some very cool new mini's - jump over there and put an order in for some right now!
  6. Blogging and Self-Publishing - not really RPG related, but I've been doing a ton of reading lately on self-publishing, blogging, career development, etc. Two posts jumped out at me that gave some very excellent advice on these subjects:
    1. Joanna at Confident Writing posts "What Advice Would You Give to New Bloggers?" While I don't really consider myself "new" - I still found this post helped in reminding myself what some of the basics were.
    2. As for self-publishing, this is a big area of research for me, especially because so much of what is out there is extremely biased. Fortunately, David Carnoy at CNET Reviews posted a bit off topic for his tech blog with the post "Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know". The article, and the comments, were priceless. Super good article on the subject.
Well, that's about it for today. Have a great weekend!

January 16, 2009

DRAGON Magazine In Print

9 comments:
Have you ever wished that you could get the latest copies of DRAGON or DUNGEON in print?

Well, I have. There's just something special about the tactile feel of reading RPG fanzines and not having to stare at our computer screens yet again - don't we all do that enough? This is one of the many reasons I'm drawn to these new indy press fanzines that have cropped up in the vacuum created by Wizards of the Coast's "digital initiative". It's not only that excellent mags like Kobold and Fight On! are well written and engaging, its also that they are delivered to your door - in the flesh. In my opinion, profitable or not, WotC really missed the boat on this one.

Well, it doesn't have to be that way any longer. By following the tutorial I've laid out below, you can have your issues of DRAGON or DUNGEON in print and in full-glossy color for about $20 a copy from Lulu.com. Willing to settle for a B&W interior? Then the price drops to about $6. Of course, physical copies of these magazines are for your own personal collection - not to resold or distributed (that would break about a dozen or more laws), but they look awesome once printed.

MATERIALS
  • Adobe Acrobat (full version). The Mac "Preview" system application will also do, but there are occasional PDF rendering issues with it, especially with embedded fonts. Personally, I'm using Preview and Acrobat 9 together.
  • A subscription to Dungeons & Dragons Insider. Without this you might have a difficult time legally obtaining copies of your favorite fanzine.
  • About an hour of time.
METHOD
    1) Download the latest Complete Issue of Dragon as a PDF and save it on your computer.

    2) Open the document in your PDF viewer and note the document size and make sure it is still 11" x 8.5" and is a high-res document (in this case its ~38MB for 80 pages, so yes).


    3) Next, rotate the entire contents of the PDF file counter - clockwise 90º so that the dimensions of the PDF are now 8.5" x 11".

    4) Save the document. If you cannot save it for some reason (like its protected), then alternatively you can use your PDF printer to print a saved version of your document to a new PDF.


    5) Next, return to the document and rotate the entire document 180º (clockwise twice more) and just print the first page to your PDF printer (as shown above). This file is going to be used as the actual cover file for your homemade print magazine. If you have options for High-Quality Print, or Press Quality Print, then use those options to print this first page. The result should be a very high quality PDF document of just the first page. Notice how the image preview of the document is turned 180º relative to the one before it.


    6) Open the PDF print of the first page. Go to the file menu and save this document as a 300- or 600-dpi PNG file. You are now ready to upload everything to Lulu.com.


    7) Open your browser and head to Lulu.com. Of course, this same process could be done with just about any other POD publisher as well. Once you are at Lulu, create an account with them if you do not already have one, then head over to "My Lulu" and choose "New Project".


    8) On the next page choose Paperback book. Then title your work and leave a pen-name. PLEASE NOTE: You should also make sure that "Keep it private and accessible only to me" is selected. Publishing this magazine into the Lulu Marketplace will get you into trouble. Once done on this page, click "Save & Continue".



    9) On the next page you'll see your publishing options. For the cheapest reprint (about $5.50), also choose Publisher Grade paper, and everything will default to the correct settings (B&W interior, 8.5" x 11", perfect bound). If you go this route, you might as well print it from your printer at home in my opinion. For a nicer, glossier finish in full color choose Lulu paper with full color interior. Of course, this is way more pricey at $21.50. If you are still up for the challenge, click "Save & Continue" and head to the next step.


    10) Next, upload the rotated version of the PDF to Lulu. Note from the screenshot that you must OWN the PDF you are uploading. If Lulu gives you an error about embedded fonts (WotC uses a bunch of custom fonts), then go back to Adobe Acrobat (full version) and resave the PDF with fonts embedding enabled. When are done uploading, click "Make Print Ready File", then click "Save & Continue" on the next page.


    11) Now you come to the cover, which could be whatever you want it to be. Personally, I like my fanzines to look like fanzines, so I would choose the option to upload the hi-res PNG file we created to use as the cover for my mag. Click on "Edit Picture" at the bottom of the cover editor, and then choose "Use a Different File", then "Upload a File" and point to your PNG file. Ignore the pixel size recommendations -- the image comes out just fine in the final product. Maybe not CRYSTAL clear, but looks better than my printer at home. Finally, click "Make Print-Ready Cover".

    12) The final price is about $20. You could save money by bundling multiple issues together into a single publication, but Lulu maxes out full-color printing at 88 pages, so you would have to find another print service. After reviewing, click "Save & Finish".

    You are done! You can immediately order your newly minted DRAGON magazine for personal use, and Lulu will deliver it right to your door!

    Of course... would anyone actually be crazy enough to do this? $20 for one copy of Dragon?

    Well, honestly I will be doing something similar by collecting all the articles from all the past and current issues of Dragon that are of the same topic and binding them together in one convenient book. Having all the new magic item or new monster articles from 30 years of dragon together in one book would just be nice to have.

    Hmmm.. food for thought...

    New Domain Name

    2 comments:
    I have just acquired the domain name thecoremechanic.com for this blog. The new default address will be www.thecoremechanic.com, although anyone using an RSS feedreader should continue to pick up my posts since I use Feedburner for distribution. Also, thecoremechanic.blogspot.com will still work as well.

    In the meantime, it should take a few days for the new domain name to percolate through the DNS. Please expect trouble (it follows me around like a shadow), but feel free to leave a comment here and let me know anyway; or email me directly at my new handy dandy email address - jonathan AT thecoremechanic DOT com.

    Wohoo!

    (chuckles)

    January 15, 2009

    Bullywugs & Battletoads - Reinventing Minutiae

    5 comments:
    When is something truly new and novel going to come along and really blow the socks of the fan base?

    If you follow Turbulent Thoughts at all, you likely read Wyatt Salazar's recent review of Alluria Publishing's Remarkable Races series. In short, he gleefully puts the smack down on the whole product line; and that's being nice about it. I found his post hilarious... in particular this part:
    "Then we have the god damn battletoads, and this is basically where I draw the line ... This is just surreal. Oh god that battletoad has a steel eyepatch. I’m getting the motherfuck out of here."
    This was particularly funny to me because about 20 years ago (or more) I actually played a frog character for a campaign that lasted about a year or so. Yes... a frog. I was a bullywug, actually. A bullywug cleric, if I'm remembering correctly. Alluria Publishing calls them "Mogogols" (probably for copyright reasons), but they are basically bullywugs for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.

    Now, this bullywug character I had was a really fun to play because he was a "good" bullywug pitted against his own people. It was 1st Edition AD&D, and we were playing in the classic adventure module Dwellers of the Forbidden City. The DM had just gotten his hands on a copy of the Fiend Folio in order to properly play the adventure, and while looking it over I was like "that's it! I'm playing a bullywug!" I'm kind of animated and jumpy in real life, so I guess it was a good fit.

    Ok... it was silly. I admit it. Honestly, I played the frog until the end of the adventure, but then the ribbits and constant "I leap to charge!" was found to be short lived humor that grew toad.. i mean.. old after a while. I ended up playing a prisoner we freed. I think we ate the toad.

    OK, minutiae... the offbeat obvious minutiae... you can call them bullywugs, mogogols, or battletoads, or whatever. It's all the same thing. Another example might be the Flump. I don't think WotC is planning on updating the Flumph for 4E, but that doesn't mean I need to release a 4E version of the creature either.

    In fact, much of 4E is all the same thing we've all seen before, only updated for the new rules. This isn't rocket science; its expected in fact. New rules means everything must be brought to the current edition. What is interesting to me is that a portion of the indy press is looking for opportunities to publish material in the gaps of Wizards of the Coast's current or projected production releases. In this example, Alluria has published Remarkable Races and you might think they really were remarkable, save for the fact that all these races have been conceived before in one form or another. The difference now is that WotC has not made (or is expected to make) any official re-release of these creatures for 4th Edition, so the indy PDF publishing market is full of them.

    I'll leave it to you to decide if I'm right, but it all just seems so obviously derivative. So I'll ask again: When is something truly new and novel going to come along and really blow the socks of the fan base?

    January 14, 2009

    The Zen of Gaming

    1 comment:
    STOP. Think for a minute. Relax.

    How often do you do this for your game?

    How often do you do this during game play?

    For both players and dungeon masters of roleplaying games, sometimes the best advice is to simply stop and think about the game, the story, the characters, or whatever else you might be struggling with. We all seek to have fun while gaming, that's (hopefully) everyone's universal goal. But gaming involves group dynamics, and even in the best games can get sour if even one of the players is having a bad time. Everyone can feel it when it happens, but the DM feels it the most. They are the ones who invariably feel that it is up to them to make things better for everyone, but the biggest problem is that they can't share their plot hooks and cool ideas with anyone lest they spoil the story. It's a difficult situation, and often times the only other option is to throw in the towel (the horrors!).

    When I'm frustrated with the game, or I'm having the DM's equivalent of writers block, these are the steps I generally follow. If this doesn't help, then its usually a sign that the campaign may have taken a turn for the worse).
    1. Stow away the distractions. Put down the rules and the the sources of inspiration. Shut down the desktop and close the laptop. Put away the miniatures, the power cards, the stock photos.
    2. Find a good place to think. Get up from your desk; its a place that says "work". Get away from the game table; its a place that says "go, now, play". Take a break and take a walk. Find a place to sit down. Take a notebook and pencil with you.
    3. Shut out what is in front of you and focus. The world is a hectic place, and focusing on what's in front of you can prevent you from thinking about what is bothering you. Close your eyes if you have to, but the goal here is to relax while staying focused on the thing at hand: the game.
    4. Relax and think for a minute. OK, maybe a few minutes, but I'm a person who believes in gut instincts and the first ideas jump into your head for first few minutes are often the best ones.
    5. Jot it down. Put it to paper. Write down the first couple of things that come to mind, and then close the notebook and put the pencil away.
    6. Walk back and get blind feedback. Take the long way around if need be, but try to clear your head along the way and focus on having an open mind. When you get back to the group, get some feedback. Blind feedback. Ask for honesty and blunt opinions. Questions like "if you were the DM, how would handle this current situation?" You might be surprised by what you hear.
    7. Review your notes. After talking "blindly" with your players, look back at what you wrote down. How do your ideas now look in this new light? Have your players had any impact on how you see your ideas taking shape?
    8. Wash, repeat as necessary. Hopefully this little exercise has helped. If not, try going back to Step 4 and start over with your newly minted - yet still half-baked - ideas. If you still can't get past whatever problems are ailing your campaign, then get out of the DM's seat for a while and let someone else play that role.
    Sometimes problems come up that are in-game and storyline related. I'm talking plot, hook, background, and setting. Other times problems can crop up of the more mundane variety, like scheduling conflicts, interpersonal conflicts, group size, play styles, or player expectations (to name a few). Roleplaying gaming groups are sometimes like little families, sometimes like clubs, and other times are more like chess-in-the-park meet ups (RPGA, I'm looking at you). In all of these situations, the DM is burdened with an extra degree of responsibility, whether real or perceived, in resolving problems that crop up. After all, we all just want to have fun.

    How do you find think through difficult game-related issues? What is your method to the madness?

    January 13, 2009

    The Skill Challenges of War - Part 14, Summary

    3 comments:
    "The Skill Challenges of War" was quite easily the longest running series here at The Core Mechanic, the second longest was my 5-part series "The New Cleric is the Old Cleric". I couldn't have done it without the help of my two comrades in blogging: Gamefiend from At-Will, and Madbrew from Mad Brew Labs. 14 Parts altogether! Also, there should be a 15th post soon that will present the whole series together as a single PDF for you to download and print out without all the adverts, etc.

    Here I provide you with all the links to each of the other posts in the series.
    1. Introduction
    2. The Complexities of War
    3. Diplomatic Mission Reconnaissance
    4. Rally the Troops!
    5. ... And the Body Will Die
    6. Flush Out a Spy
    7. Break the Siege
    8. Holding the Line
    9. A Forceful Seizure
    10. Quick, Before They Report to the Enemy!
    11. Find and Ambush the Supply Train
    12. Forcing a Surrender
    13. Routing the Enemy
    14. Summary
    All together its a solid series, and I can't thank Gamefiend and Madbrew for their efforts enough. Wohoo! Collaborations FTW!

    January 12, 2009

    Weekly Anthology Progress Update - Editors, Sponsors, Artists!

    2 comments:
    The last week has been a busy one for the RPG Blog Anthology project. Last week's update was "major", but this week seems no less important. It seems like every time I check my inbox there's an email from someone working on some aspect of the book. Just yesterday the final / official permissions contracts have been sent out by DocuSign.com and most of them have already been returned completed by the Contributing Authors. Things just keep falling into place smoothly... Wohoo! It's good to be busy!

    Assistant Editors
    After I put out an announcement on the RPG Blogger's Google Group for Assistant Editors I got tons of replies - which was a pleasant surprise. So, four additional people will be helping me with the copy editing, chapter organization, layout, etc. Please welcome these four great individuals to the OPEN GAME TABLE team:
    1. Ben McFarland from Open Design and Kobold Quarterly
    2. Dave "The Game" Chalker, from Critical-Hits
    3. Jeffrey Uurtamo from The Bone Scroll
    4. Tasha Dalcher from Stupid-Ranger
    Thank you for the help!

    Sponsors
    I'm very, super awesomely pleased that two additional Sponsors and another game company have stepped up to the plate and pitched in to financially support this project. Please join me in thanking our latest Individual Sponsors Beau Case and Donovan Vig for donating their hard earned cash to help the cost of printing! Also, I'm extremely pleased the ROGUE GAMES has joined us in being an Advertising Sponsor. They will be featuring a half-page ad on the last page of the book along with Otherworld Miniatures.


    If you would like to also support the project with a donation, please feel free to use the PayPal link below. The funds donated will be used to alleviate the printing costs of the complimentary books that will be provided to the artists, authors, and volunteers who are working so hard to help make this project a reality. Companies interested in advertising space within the book (or on the exterior back cover) should contact me directly by email, jonathan DOT jacobs AT gmail DOT com.




    ARTISTS
    The artists who have volunteered for the project have been hard at work sending in more concept sketches for all the various blog posts that are being included in the Anthology.

    Can you guess what blog posts these concept sketches are for?

    January 10, 2009

    Around the blogs...

    2 comments:
    Ah the Saturday weekly reading list. Lost has happened this week; I feel busy than ever with the RPG Blog Anthology project. Nonetheless, I'm still lurking around a few blogs and even managed to leave some comments here and there. Here's my weekly RPG blog reading list:
    1. SKILL CHALLENGES: Of course, with the Skill Challenges of War series we are writing here at The Core Mechanic, this topic has been big on our minds - and apparently at a few other blogs as well. Actually, its more like exploded into the hive of the blogosphere, so much so that Critical-Hits.com has made a dedicated (and awesome!) list of posts about skill challenges from the RPG blogosphere. You must check it out. My own personal fav posts this week came from A Butterfly Dreaming - two posts titled "What Skill Challenges Aren't" and "Hacking Skill Challenges" really add some depth to my understand of how I might use them in my own games. Also, I came across a very in depth (and older post) over at Tales of the Rambling Bumblers about skill challenges, "Skill Challenges: Threat or Menace?", that has a great back and forth commentary on the topic. Finally, the blog At-Will came about with two more skill challenges for use in your game: "The Noble Assassin" and "Prison Break - Caged". Someone is even porting the skill challenge idea to Shadowrun, "Skill Challenges of War: Shadowrun Style", which is awesome!
    2. The Rule of Cool, Goofy, and SMITE: Lots of echo chamber noise about Phil's post "The Rule of Cool". Some people love it ("Too Cool For School? When did awesome become lame?"), some hate it ("I'm in a Different Hobby than All These Other Folks..."), some wish people would just STFU and stop trolling for traffic ("The Rule of SMITE!"). Others just think its funny ("The Rule of Goofy"). There's even more links I think in the RPG blogosphere buzz about this, but I didn't bookmark all of them...
    3. Battletoads: Yes, you read that right... BATTLETOADS. This post ("This Post Does Not Contain Wolfgang Baur") had me laughing all week, even if Wyatt was up in his treehouse throwing rocks as usual. I haven't seen a review trash an indy product this badly in a long time. BATTLETOADS!!! They're my new flumph.

    January 9, 2009

    The Skill Challenges of War - Part 13: Routing the Enemy

    1 comment:
    The Skill Challenges of War is an ongoing series here at The Core Mechanic written by me, and two excellent guest bloggers: MadBrew and Gamefiend. Please check out the previous posts in the series and let us know what you think or if you are planning on using any of these skill challenges in your game. Previous articles in the Skill Challenges of War series are under the label WAR.

    ROUTING THE ENEMY
    Your forces match those of the enemy. The two forces stand ready, facing the other and waiting for their commanders to give the order. The cost of lives must come, but only by standing together and scattering the enemy forces will you be victorious.
    The PCs and their company face an enemy force of equal size and an immediate battle is unavoidable. The costs of a prolonged battle will be very high to both sides, thus hampering future war efforts win or lose. Thus, the strategy that must be undertaken is one where the PCs lead their company into the fray and strike at the hearts of the enemy. Only a killing blow to their morale will deliver the fear they need to drive them away in fear. Failure to do so results in a stalemate, with heavy losses on both sides of the conflict.

    Powers of War
    Players can expend powers to get bonuses to a skill check. When expending powers, have the players describe how the power is being used. For each type of power used, the following bonuses are gained:
    • At-Will: +0 to skill check
    • Encounter: +1 to skill check.
    • Daily: +3 to skill check.

    Blood from Stone
    Facing overwhelming odds, the players gamble with their lives hold back the tide of enemy forces. The party can elect for a member of the group to take damage equal to their healing surge value in exchange for a +2 bonus on an individual skill check by any other member of the group. This action can be taken more than once for the same skill check, and can occur after the die is cast but before the skill check is resolved.

    SETUP: You must force an equally match enemy force to flee before you suffer too many loses to your own company.

    LEVEL: The PCs’ level +1.

    COMPLEXITY: 3 (8 successes before 3 failures).

    PRIMARY SKILLS: Athletics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Endurance, Insight, Intimidate, Perception.

    Athletics (Hard DC): You and your company surge forward and meet the enemy before they have time to fully prepare for your charge. As your troops clash with the enemy, you order a quick withdraw, only to repeat the charge a moment later. This harrying by your forces confuses and weakens the enemy ranks, while suffer only minor loses. Using Athletics in this way cannot be attempted until it is opened up through the use of Diplomacy or Intimidate to motivate your troops. A success indicates the enemy is one step closer to fleeing the battlefield, as they cannot keep up with your rapidly changing tactics. A failure indicates the enemy has matched your badgering by consolidating their forces and digging to defend themselves.

    Bluff (Hard DC):
    Just before surging into combat, you company splits up and baits the enemy into thinking you are fleeing the battlefield. Once baited to follow, you turn back on your heels and charge straight into their charge. A success indicates the enemy believes you are fleeing the battlefield, follows and falls right into your trap. A failure indicates that either your soldiers were not able to fool the other side or they caught you before you were able to organize a counterstrike.

    Diplomacy (Moderate DC): You trumpet the virtue of your cause and invigorate your forces to mount a blow that strikes at the heart of the enemy. Success does not count towards the overall success of the challenge, but does open up the use of Athletics and Endurance as well as provide a +2 bonus to the next skill check for this challenge. The use of Diplomacy can only be used once in this way during the skill challenge.

    Endurance (Hard DC):
    You lead your company forward like an iron juggernaut able to handle whatever the enemy throws at you. Your company forms a pointed phalanx, with the PCs at the lead as you trample down the front lines of the enemy forces. A success indicates that the PCs and their company have broken and scattered the first lines of enemy forces, opening up their second string warriors and ranged combatants for battle. A failure indicates the enemy has stopped your phalanx in it tracks and forces you into a grisly clash of sword and shield that leaves many wounded or dead.

    Insight (Moderate DC):
    Your keen senses reveal that the enemy is readying for a quick assault on your position, hoping to strike before you have time to fully ready yourselves. A success proves to drive back the enemy into the open, and weakens their spirits. A failure forces you to abandon your position temporarily while you regroup and find a new angle of attack.

    Intimidate (Hard DC): You command your entire company to lay down their lives in the name of your cause, and remind them that to die by the sword is better than to die by the arrow. You lead the charge into battle, and your soldiers follow suite. This does not count towards the overall success or failure of the challenge, but a success serves to open up the use of Athletics or Endurance for a daring attack on the enemy.

    Perception (Hard DC): You notice the enemy command unit has positioned themselves in a weakly defended position. You command your forces to assault this location immediately. A success drives the enemy commanders further back from the front lines, weakening their influence over their troops. A failure indicates that the opposing force stops you short from your strike, and the enemy commanders move to a better defended location on the battlefield.

    SUCCESS: After driving the enemy back several times, weakening their forces, and possibly their commanders, they eventually leave their positions and flee the battlefield. You suffer minor loses, but you forces benefit from a large boost in their morale.

    FAILURE: After several attempts to drive the enemy out; you ultimately fail and both sides suffer heavy loses in the process. Another approach is going to have to be taken for success.

    Got something else to add to this skill challenge? Let me know by leaving a comment!

    January 8, 2009

    Existere - A Map of RPG Blogs & Gaming Cons

    5 comments:
    The RPG blogging community continues to grow, evolve, and refine itself. Last year we saw the RPG Bloggers Network go live and millions of bloggers stampeded to get in on the action (ok... maybe not millions). Then, the RPG Blog Carnival was started, and we all began to work together by blogging together about shared topics. And of course, we all know about my other project... OPEN GAME TABLE, and Anthology that hopes to highlight the best in the RPG blogging community.

    But, where are all these bloggers? Ed Healy suggested we all let each other know our real-world locations so that we could cover conventions, have meet ups, plan bigger projects, and just generally take over the whole gaming industry (OK... what was in my last cup of coffee). So, I now present you a growing map to the world with the location of where we EXIST.


    View Larger Map


    As you can see, we are spread out all over the place, but we band together daily nonetheless. Are you an RPG blogger? Then add your thumbnail to the map! Is there a convention missing that should be added to the map? Then add one to the map!


    What new, great, aweshum, schoewKewl project will the RPG blogging community come up with next? What does 2009 have in store for us? Please DO TELL!!!

    January 7, 2009

    OPEN CALL FROM GOODMAN GAMES!

    3 comments:
    Well, what are you going to submit?

    It seems the indy game industry is slowly ramping up to embrace 4E Dungeons & Dragons, with or without signing the GSL. The latest addition to the fray is an announcement today from Goodman Games that

    "This is an open call for 4E game designers who want to contribute to Book of Rituals, a hardback compilation that will see print in the fall."
    It's a paid gig, and they are looking for both amateurs as well as professionals. So, if your looking for a way to test the RPG publishing waters, this might be just the ticket. I know I'll be submitting a few. I mean... why not!?


    ... Wow it's been a busy week

    The Skill Challenges of War - Part 12: Forcing a Surrender

    No comments:
    The Skill Challenges of War is an ongoing series here at The Core Mechanic written by me, and two excellent guest bloggers: MadBrew and Gamefiend. Please check out the previous posts in the series and let us know what you think or if you are planning on using any of these skill challenges in your game. Previous articles in the Skill Challenges of War series are under the label WAR.

    FORCING A SURRENDER
    You vastly outnumber the enemy, but they have managed to build an effective defensive perimeter and are not going to surrender easily. Your choices are to completely annihilate them at a potential great cost to your own soldiers lives, or force them to a surrender through by other means.
    The PCs and their company have managed to corner the enemy, although the final stretch of victory escapes their grasp. The enemy has holed up in defensive location that has proved nearly impossible to force them out of. The PCs must decide to either make one last and bloody push towards victory, or suddenly change tactics and possibly get the enemy to lay down their arms.

    SETUP: You must get the enemy to abdicate their position either by destroying them or forcing a surrender.

    LEVEL: The PCs’ level +1.

    COMPLEXITY: 2 (6 successes before 3 failures).

    PRIMARY SKILLS: Bluff, Diplomacy, Insight, Intimidate, Stealth.

    Bluff (Hard DC): The PCs and their forces feign a withdraw from the area in the hopes of drawing the enemy out into the open. A success indicates the enemy sends a scouting party out to assess the situation. If the PCs choose to continue baiting them, then this opens up a Stealth check to remain undetected and possibly bring forth the entire enemy force from their positions. Alternatively, if the scouting party is attacked and destroyed, this counts as a second automatic success for the challenge and provides a +2 bonus to the next next skill check. A failed Bluff check indicates the enemy senses your ruse and continues to defend their position. A failure also places a -2 penalty on any future attempts at using Bluff in this way.

    Diplomacy (Moderate DC): After heavy losses on both sides, the PCs decide to parlay with the enemy to attempt a reasonable discourse. A failure using this method indicates the enemy is either willing to fight to the death, or that they do not trust the PCs enough to lay down their arms. A success not only counts towards the challenge, but also opens up Insight to be used for additional successes.

    Insight (Moderate DC): The PCs skill with negotiations proves an advantage and they manage to gain some key insight into the enemies motivations or goals. A success does not count towards the challenge, but allows the next use of Diplomacy to count as either two successes or no failures (on a failed Diplomacy check).

    Intimidate (Hard DC): The PCs and their company make a terrifying show of force just beyond the reaches of the enemies most skilled archers. Knowing the end is coming, his weakens the hearts of the enemy and forces some to desert their positions. A success indicates that some of the enemy soldiers desert their positions and flee the area (to be later captured by the allied forces). A failed attempt only hardens their hearts pushes them to fight to the death.

    Stealth (Hard DC): The PCs send in an assassin to kill the commanders of the enemy troops. A success indicates the mission was a success and one of the mid-level commanders has been killed. A failure indicates that the assassin was found and captured, placing a -2 penalty on further attempts to use Stealth and prevents any further effective use of intimidation to get them to surrender.

    SUCCESS: The PCs are victorious and either force or negotiate a surrender of the enemy forces, which are all taken into custody.

    FAILURE: The PCs fail to get the enemy to lay down their arms and must destroy them through attrition. Their overwhelming forces guarantee a victory, but at great cost. Each PC will use all their daily powers and encounter powers during the battle, and the next Skill Challenge of War will suffer from a -2 penalty on any skill check that relies on force strength for successes.

    Got something else to add to this skill challenge? Let me know by leaving a comment!

    January 6, 2009

    REVIEW: The Kobold Guide to Game Design, Vol. II - How to Pitch, Playtest & Publish

    2 comments:
    Chapter 6: Promises, Promises: The Art of the Pitch
    Open Design recently asked that I review Chapter 6: Promises, Promises: The Art of the Pitch for their recently released second volume of The Kobold Guide to Game Design by Wolfgang Baur. Honestly, I loved the first edition on Adventures. Owning the hard-copy allowed me to sit on my back-deck and soak it up leisurely over a period of a week or so. I had few complaints, and have recommended it to many DMs since as a 'must-read'. As far as the second volume of the book is concerned, I can't comment on the entire contents of the book (my printed copy has yet to arrive), so this review will be limited just to the chapter I was provided by Open Design. In short, Chapter 6 maintains the same high standards of insight as the previous edition of the book would lead me to expect, but I'm afraid that its appeal overall is limited to a more narrow audience.
    "The number one rule is simple: Don’t be boring."
    This chapter opens with an emphasis on the setting the two fundamental rules of pitching an adventure, story, campaign setting, or whatever you might be interested in: don't be a bore; and know thy audience. These two bits of advice may seem obvious, but the Baur writes with enough wit that it remained an entertaining read nonetheless. He goes into some detail about having a thick skin as a writer, be prepared for rejection, and most of all write what you love. There are a few bulleted points throughout the chapter, but for the most part it reads like you are having a conversation with your writing mentor. He is telling you like it is, and you had better be listening. What I liked was that Baur interjects anecdotal references and commentary throughout the chapter. Its definitely not an academic primer on the subject of how to pitch; but it does serve up some honest advice from someone who has built their own publishing company from the ground up (something I may hope to emulate, who knows?).

    One of the more interesting points made in the chapter is that of trust. As in, trust between an editor and a writer. If you are pitching your first story to a magazine or publisher and you have no proven track record; expect to be put under the magnifying glass and even then (especially if your work is out of bounds, or risky) you might get rejected. Established writers can produce material that is more off the wall, but newb writers should stay a bit more to middle path. Establish themselves as credible, well studied authors and then pitch the wacky ideas later on.

    While overall I enjoyed the read, I did have a two complaints. First off, as I mentioned before, this book is not for the average gamer. This is not even for game masters who are addicted to home brew campaigns (whereas Vol 1 definitely is for them). This chapter, and from the titles of the other chapters, seems to indicate a narrowing of the audience. While some of you may not consider this a real complaint, per se, it is something that should be known before making a purchase. If you do not think you are the type who will take the time to design, play test, pitch, and write up your own material for publication - then this book may not be fore you. Again, this is based on reading one chapter - and the titles of the others - but it is something to consider nonetheless. My second complaint, also minor, would be that the chapter lacked examples of pitches that worked, and ones that failed horribly. There's tons of advice on all the different facets of what makes a pitch successful in this chapter, but sometimes its good to see the finished product. Like they say - a picture is worth a thousand words; and in this case a couple of working and failing examples would have been extremely helpful.

    All in all, I give this chapter four out of five stars - it would have been five if examples had been included. Nonetheless, it still worth it and I'm looking forward to receiving my copy of Volume II in the mail. In the meantime I'll have to just wait and read the reviews of the other chapters to see what the rest of the blogosphere thought.

    You can pick up your own copy of this as a PDF or in PRINT from the Open Design online store.

    Chapter Titles...
    1. Fortunate Accidents
    2. Lessons from Playtest
    3. Talent Won’t Save You...
    4. Design Guidelines: Playtesting
    5. The Infinite Onion: Creating Play Depth
    6. Promises, Promises: The Art of the Pitch
    7. Challenge and Response
    8. The Mystery of Mysteries
    9. The Magic Bullet for Publication
    10. Maps, Monsters, and Bottom-Up Design
    11. How NOT to Design a Magic Item
    12. Design that Matter
    PS - wow.. this is my first review on The Core Mechanic. Wohoo!

    Want to read more about The Kobold Guide to Game Design, Volume II? Read on...

    January 5, 2009

    RPG Blog Anthology - MAJOR UPDATE

    6 comments:
    In October, I announced the start of a new ambitious project: OPEN GAME TABLE, The 2008 Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs. Inspired by another successful blog anthology project, Open Laboratory, I was struck by the spark of initiative and decided to commit myself to publishing this book. Even though I knew, at the time, absolutely nothing about what it would take to succeed.

    In November, I collected 135 nominations from blog readers, authors, and general RPG enthusiasts. The doors blew open, and dozens of blogs never before known to me were suddenly being offered up as the best in RPG blogging. The comments of support were inspiring and, honestly, many of those blogs are now my favorite daily reads.

    THE REVIEWS ARE IN
    In December, I released this private list to an independent group of completely volunteer Anthology Reviewers who I tasked with reading, scoring, and reviewing all 135 nominated blog posts. All month long, as the New Year approach, I watched an increasing volume of reviews pile into my Wufoo.com account. Then, my account reached its maximum record number, so I upgraded it. Then, on New Years Eve, it hit another cieling. By New Years day, I had received 761 reviews from a dedicated team of reviewers. The individuals no doubt share the same vision I have for this book, and spent hours upon hours reviewing the best, and the worst, RPG blogs in our community. They all worked hard, some more than others, and it is now my pleasure to reveal them to you.
    Please accept my greatest thanks and appreciation for your dedication to this project. Your reviews are the bedrock that this Anthology will be judged by, as only the best blog posts will make the Short List. Thank you Tommi Brander, Michael Brewer, David Chalker, Erika Hoagland, Jeffery Horn, Zachary Houghton, James Iben, Kristi Jacobs, Tony Law, Stephanie Weigel, and Chuck Wilbur. Without your help, this project would have been impossible. You have my deepest thanks. -- Jonathan Jacobs.
    Many of the above names you may recognize as RPG bloggers, a few others as readers RPG blogs. Whatever the case, if you see any of them, please THANK THEM! Or leave a comment here thanking them.

    ARTWORK
    December was also the month in which I made a call for Anthology Artists. Four volunteer artists were selected to share their talent with the community and help make this Anthology a visual success as well. Their work is not yet done, but I have received many excellent examples of their art, and concept sketches for internal illustrations and for the cover. I am pleased to have been given permission to provide you with a few of these examples below.



    Finally, with all the reviews in, I've had several days to tally the results and decide on a short list of blogs that may be included. I still have yet to receive print permissions from the many of the authors of these blogs, but I am exceedingly hopeful that I will soon. Once I have all the permissions in line and the blog posts finalized to be included, I'll definitely be posting here about it to keep everyone updated.

    FUNDING - SPONSORSHIPS & ADVERTISING
    Thus far, four people people have stepped forward to support the project's funding. I've announced their kind generosity before here. The latest sponsor is Jeffrey Horn who recently donated $40. THANK YOU JEFF!!!

    This brings the total funds donated to the project to $140, plus an additional $50 (expected) from Otherworld Miniatures for an advertising spot (see pic at left). The main expense I'm expecting is that, once the Anthology is published, I want to provide at least two free copies of the printed book to every author, artist, and volunteer who helped make this project a reality. This will take several hundred dollars to do; even though I'll be purchasing the books at-cost I'll still need to pay for shipping and packaging, etc.

    So, that being said - if you might be interested in being a sponsor for the Anthology, please donate to the project using the PayPal link below.
    Several advertising spots still remain within the Anthology, so if you represent a RPG game company, developer, or merchant and would like to sponsor the Anthology via advertising - please contact me by email at jonathan DOT jacobs AT gmail DOT com.

    Thus far, Otherworld Miniatures has already joined forces with the Anthology to help support us - and if you don't know who these guys are you must check them out. They have simply the coolest miniatures I've seen in recent memory.







    DIRECT SPONSORSHIPS WELCOME!

    January 4, 2009

    NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

    2 comments:
    Well, yesterday I posted links to a few New Year's resolutions made by other RPG bloggers - and now its time for me to fess up! Especially now that Berin has asked us all to lay down our resolutions for the upcoming year. So here we go... my to-do list with all things RPG...

    FIVE THINGS FOR RPG BLOGGING
    1. Finish and Publish the 2008 Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs. Top of the list, of course! I'll skip the status report for now (that'll be tomorrow), but just know that the project is cruising for the finish line. I'm stoked! It's going to be awesome!
    2. Get the Anthology in the hands of at least 5 people who own and operate friendly local gaming stores. The whole point of the Anthology was to bridge the gap between the RPG blogging community and the rest of the gaming community that, if online, usually hangs out in forums. Putting out best work on the shelves of game stores is the best way to do this.
    3. Collaborate with RPG bloggers on a published game product. With the Anthology not even finished, this may be wishful thinking, but I would love to actually produce new content as part of a collaborative project and publish it online as a PDF or via Lulu. I've already collaborated with three bloggers, Madbrew, Gamefiend, and Jason, and it worked out very well. I hope to continue this trend.
    4. Pitch and get published at least one article for an RPG fanzine such as Dragon, Kobold Quarterly or Paladin. If I manage to do this, it will be my first "official" publication in RPG industry - barring the Anthology of course.
    5. Hit 500 Feedburner subscribers by the end of the year. This is probably the least likely to happen; but I'm working on it. Posting daily has been difficult, and I don't want the quality of my content to suffer because of it. But, I still firmly believe that this is the best way for me to continue expanding my readership. My goal for 2008 was to hit 100 subscribers before the years end, and I just narrowly made. Maybe I'll be lucky and manage the same this year.
    My Own Personal Gaming
    1. Game as a player in at least one table-top RPG campaign. Honestly, I don't talk about this much - probably should - but I'm nearly always the gamemaster for whatever RPG I'm currently engaged in. I'm lucky that my wife also games, and now she has offered to take up the helm for our next campaign as the DM. wohoo!
    2. Try at least two new table-top RPGs. This one I'm really hoping for. I probably won't have time to play in more than one campaign or game group; so to do this I'll have to hold off on 4E gaming to do this. Nonetheless, Star Wars SAGA and 4th edition Shadowrun have really peaked my interests lately and I would love to try them out if only for a one-shot.
    3. Start a Diablo III game, and game with people from the RPG blogging community. Once this game is released, I know I'm not going to be able to say No. It just looks too arcade-like awesome fireball explosion cool. I'm waiting patiently for now, but that old online gaming bug is creeping up on me...
    4. But some new Dice. I really want those game science dice. I'll probably just order them today.
    5. Try 4E D&D without miniatures. My group thinks its not possible to do because the game is so grounded in having to purchase miniatures for combat resolution. I think it is possible, albeit with a few - ok a dozen or so - house rules. If I manage to do this, you'll be sure to hear about it
    Thanks!

    January 3, 2009

    Around the Blogs... New Years Resolutions...

    No comments:
    Maybe I'll come around to making my own New Year's Resolutions, but for now I'll link to all the RPG bloggers who have already made theirs. This way... we can all hold their feet to the fire come next New Years! Hahaha! What's even better is this month Berin Kinsmen of UncleBear.com is hosting the RPG Blog Carnival - and the topic is "New Year's Gaming Goals & Resolutions", so I expect many many more blogs making resolutions as the month passes on by.
    • ChattyDM's New Year's goals.
    • Oddysey's made her 8 resolutions at How to Start a Revolution in 21 Days or Less.
    • Nuketown's got a great list of resolutions, including "Write for three other gaming web sites/magazines" - something I hope to also accomplish.
    • Of course, MadBrewLabs and At-will both have their own resolution lists; and I'm happy that they have both added "more collaboration with other RPG bloggers" to their lists. We've already worked together on the Skill Challenges of War series (still ongoing), and I look forward to future projects as well.
    • While not really a resolution list - Greywulf has put together a 2009 Dragon Calendar as a free-downloadable PDF. Very cool - go grab it here. Thank you GW!
    • James Maliszewski, author of Grognardia, presents his prophecies of 2009 in "What the Future Holds". As to the need for a big name publisher to pick up old school RPG games, JM says "the reality is that such products aren't going to reach gamers who aren't plugged in to the back alleys of the gaming world". Probably spot on correct.
    • And finally, my favorite New Year's resolution list - GEEKDAD at Wired.com presents his list of 10 cool things all geeked out. My favorite? "Will not feel bereft when Battlestar Galactica finally ends, by remembering that Caprica is coming in 2010". You sir, may have another beer on me.
    That's about it for this morning. Have a great weekend!