Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Santa . . . Satan? Coincidence? I Think NOT!

This morning marks the third Christmas eve my son has experience in his short 2 1/2 years of life and the first one where he has heard of Santa. You see we hadn't decided whether or not we were going to teach him about Santa and the subsequent gift giving palooza that comes along with the fat man. Unfortunately my nieces took that decision out of our hands when they began teaching him that a fat man in red watches you throughout the year like some jackassed big brother.

C'est la vie.

Now we were already going to do presents - we're not Jehovah Witnesses in this house - but the whole Santa thing was something that we were having to debate. My wife grew up with parents who tended to not really care about the difference between truth and fiction so she has been pretty adamant that we weren't going to be lying to our son (except for those occasions when lies are unavoidable). So the jolly old elf was something that we hadn't really worried with yet. 

Anyway, here's a metal Santa and a hope that you all have a merry Christmas!


Monday, December 22, 2014

Mythoard is Here, and It Rocks!

This month marks the inaugural release of the new Mythoard service created by +Jarrod Shaw. Mythoard is a monthly subscription service similar to Loot Crate only it focuses its bundles on tabletop role-playing games.


The packaging that Mythoard used for this initial run was perfect for the volume of products that came along; however, you can expect the packaging to change with future runs. This change will be coming about as the fine folks at NAPCO finish a company specific boxing that will help provide a distinctive flare for the company's shipments.

So What's Inside?


When I opened up my package the first thing that came out was the Mythoard newsletter with the fantastic Dyson Logos map on the back. The newsletter was just the right size and seemed to waste no space as even the margin was filled with a clever little text box where each of this month's suppliers were introduced.




+Tim Shorts provided a Mythoard exclusive adventure: Stone Fields of Azoroth. This was the first published adventure of Tim's that I've had the pleasure of owning and after reading through this one I'll certainly be purchasing more in the future. The adventure is a fun one that gives just enough information to the Dungeon Master to make the most of the situation and while the game information is designed for older Dungeons and Dragons styled games changing them over to different systems wasn't a problem.

 

10+ Treasures by +David Guyll and Melissa Fisher is designed for the Dungeon World system and shows many of the hallmarks that have made David's blog, Points of Light, one of my favorite reads. The book not only features some fun magical items to bring into your home games but brilliantly illustrates how you can take any item and give it a unique personality that will keep your players engaged with them for years to come.


+Kevin Chenevert provided a sample of his Blue Dungeon Tiles. These tiles have a decent heft to them and a firm backing that gives the impression that they will hold up through heavy use. The tiles can be drawn on, and reused, repeatedly if you elect to use either a wet erase or dry erase marker. The set included in this initial package contained three tiles and a legend board that provides a slew of useful icons to help make the most out of the tiles. My only complaint is that three tiles - even if they're reversible as these are - are simply not enough!

My package also had three Chessix dice, a d20 and 2d6. Like most of Chessix's dice they have a good, solid weight to them that speaks to their durability. The dice are attractive and the black d6 I got has a nice red dragon in place of the one. My only complaint with them is that they have rounded edges rather than the crisp, straight lines that I prefer.

I also received a Lost Monster Manual Page Postcard by +Jim Magnusson which had a fantastic illustration but that my camera kept blurring out. This was the first time that I had come across Magnusson's project and it is just really a terrific idea. I have to imagine that collecting a complete set of these would be a hell of a lot of fun and I can't wait to drop this bad boy on my players!


The last thing I had in my package was this fantastic mini-poster from Baby Bestiary. The poster reminds me of the ones that used to come with Wizard magazine back in the day and sends a tremendous amount of nostalgic good will coursing through my black heart. That said my son has already informed me that these birds are his. 

Guess I'll just have to order another Mythoard!

Contents: 7.5 out of 10
Value: 8 out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.75 out of 10

Thursday, December 18, 2014

[Mildly NSFW] I Like It More When You Tell Me Lies

I was watching my son playing with his toys when he began to sing to them as he danced about the room telling the world a nonsense song that seemed to hold the secret of life when I realized that sometimes the most important thing about being alive isn't that you've found the thing that gives your entire life meaning but that you've found the thing that gives you purpose for the time you're doing it. Then I began to write in this little black book that I like to pretend is a secret tomb of wisdom that future generations will one day come across and use as the key to solving all their meaningless problems - but then I'm a blogger and that means that I'm often given to delusions of grandeur. 

Anyway I'm sitting there writing in my book about where I see my life going while my son screams at Mickey Mouse when it occurs to me that I've been writing more in that book lately than posting on the the blog. The book is really nice, if I must be honest with you. Its cover is made of leather bound over a thick cardboard and the pages smell like incense because I have no shame and don't mind being reminded that life is fleeting. But the ink inside, where I've scribbled away my days, shifts from a deep India ink black to a burnt umber. My words are going from left to right, in straight lines, because in spite of the fact that I like to pretend that I'm an iconoclast I actually want to read the fucking thing one day and know that I wasn't just masturbating on the page.


There it is though, the possibility that what I've been working on is nothing more than me deluding myself into believing that I've come up with something brilliant. So I sat there wondering if that's what I had done when my son climbed up into my lap and asked me to open my mouth so he could check to see if I was sick. 

Life's really great right now. I just got to stop worrying with all the bullshit. 


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Gaming Deck: Mountain for PC



Mountain is not your typical game and for many it has become a sore spot in the conversation over what constitutes a game. The problem arises around the limited options a player has in interacting with the game. As a player you don't have direct control over the Mountain and your ability to impact what happens in the game is minimal at the best of times and nonexistent the rest.  You can spin the Mountain with your mouse in any direction you choose, but when the momentum of your swing ends the Mountain will always return to a clockwise rotation. Zooming in and out on the Mountain with the roller on the mouse will show you either the wider cosmos or bring you closer to the lonely Mountain - but not too close. And then there are the keys asdfghjkl;'zxcvbn,. which produce musical notes to pass the time when it's foggy or raining. With such a limited range of interactions available to the player Mountain has been called a glorified screen saver by those who do not acknowledge that it is a game. Yet in doing so they miss the point of Mountain.

The Mountain floating endlessly throughout space has moments where these lines of inner thought cross the screen. They're often simple exchanges such as, "I wonder if no one visits because my trees aren't pretty," "Sometimes I feel kind of ugly. I should stop thinking about that kind of stuff," or "I don't know where the wind starts, it just keeps going." These innocuous phrases slowly build on one and another creating a contemplative entity that is deeply troubled by the way that its life is, and the lack of real understanding of what's going on beyond its limited understanding. The longer you play the more cosmic trash that begins to land on your Mountain and occasionally the Mountain will react to the impacts helplessly asking you, "What was that?" 

As a player you can't answer the Mountain when some new impact strikes it nor can you comfort it when it asks for some other voice to let it know everything is going to be okay. Instead you find yourself having to grapple with the very questions that the Mountain asks and soon you find yourself looking out the window contemplating the world looking back at you. And that's the point of the game: to get you to stop filling your world with meaningless distractions and to actually contemplate what's really going on in your life. It's an existential game that hits just the right spot for me as even the moments where it causes me to look closer at the discomforts of life are well worth the dollar price tag. You can pick up Mountain on Steam for $0.99.

Graphics: 5
Gameplay: 2
Enjoyment: 9

Overall Score: 5.4  out of 10

Sunday, December 7, 2014

It Doesn't Have to Be Fun but it Certainly Helps

Over the last few months I've been noticing an incredibly stupid trend developing where people are actively arguing that having fun isn't all that important in playing a game. Call me old if you want but I was under the impression that the whole reason why any of us have been expending our time on this hobby was because we were having fun. After all, I could spend the afternoon playing with my son instead of dragging my ass half way across the county to listen to your bullshit version of a 'game' where I'm supposed to play a role within the grand drama of your story. 

Look I'm not arguing that if you want to involve unpleasant things in your scenarios that you aren't running a fun game - far from it - but to act as though forcing me to live out your version of being a slave is a good time is bullshit. I play role-playing games to do the things that reality won't let me but my imagination will.

More later.

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