Monday, December 26, 2011

I have been delightfully "naughty" this season (the less said, the better), so I was deserving of this great gift for Christmas:
People wonder how I sleep at night. Well, quit warmly actually. >=D~ Muhahahahahaha!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is Fantasy Heartbreakers a Form of Art?

I have given much thought about the the old-school movement and all the retro-clones, and near-retros, and such out there. Not just D&D-clones, but also games like Mazes & Minotaurs and Encounter Critical. M&M and EC are both examples of making a modern game that feels vintage and even makes-up a tongue-in-cheek backstory about their creation. The stories are fictional, but in the case of M&M, it was a good parody of real life events.

I see the necessity of games like Labyrinth Lord (Basic and Expert D&D) and OSRIC (1st ed AD&D) to keep the older, unsupported rules in-print. They are doing well because there is a demand for them, as a lot of older gamers are coming back to the hobby (or they what to introduce them to their kids), but they need replacement books, and there is an interest with younger players who have become disenfranchised with the newer D&D or just what to discover the game's roots. On the other hand, a game like Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Role-playing Game: The Grindhouse Edition (damn that is a long-ass title) is basically the older D&D rules - a mix of original, with basic & expert - with a good amount of useful house rules, and artwork tailored to the creator's personal aesthetics. This was not made to appeal to the general gaming market, or to tell people what D&D *should* be, but it was the expression of one man who made a rulebook uniquely his. Folks might write it off as a typical "fantasy heartbreaker" (a published indi-RPG that is based off D&D, that tries to compete with it), but to me it is a work of art.

The D&D rules are universally understood by most gamers, and with the malleable nature of RPG rules, plus the unusual legality that liberates them from copyright regulations (with the OGL as a great redundancy), it is only natural that fantasy heartbreakers become an art medium into itself. I already see RPGs in general as an art medium. Its like poetry, in which you have metrical composition (the rules), themes (the setting or genre), meaning (the scenario), euphemism (mata-stuff), and expression (the adventure). In this case, a fantasy heartbreaker expresses itself through house rules, supplemental material (new classes, spells, monsters, etc.) and artwork. To me, what makes a fantasy heartbreaker work is not just throwing is some house rules and ripped art into a carbon copy of the core rules, but to craft something that is meaningful and feels unique.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Gaming Swag Has Arrived!

Awhile ago, I won a Mutant Future character design contest. Do to delays IRL (mostly from my end -- long story), I did not get it since yesterday. When the package arrived it was surprisingly heavy, and when I opened it, it was full of books and printouts. Blood Axe did say there was a surprise with the package, but it was more then I was expecting. What I got was:
  • Metamorphosis Alpha Universe (MA 3rd edition)
  • Fight On! Issue 12
  • The Slayer's Guide to Kobolds
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics #12 The Blackguard's Revenge
  • Rotworld (printout)
  • Labyrinth Lord Module: Idol of the Orcs (printout)
  • Labyrinth Lord Module: Shadowbrook Manor (printout)
  • Excavator Monthly Issue 3 (printout)
Before getting this book, I never opened a MA book. I have the 1st edition rules, but its a shabby print-out booklet I put together from a text-only document I found years ago (without page numbers or art, its hard to navigate). The 3rd edition book has added rules that really compliment the classic rules, like how you can boost your Weapon Class with a particular type of weapon after 10 kills using them. I'm still not keen on the alien invasion twist - mostly as an unnecessary element - but it still a great game.

The biggest surprise was Fight On! Issue 12. For a game 'zine, it is THICK! This issue is dedicated to James M. Ward, and has an article about Ward's involvement in the early years at TSR. It is full of fantastic articles, but one of the featured rules I like the most is Treasure Types, by Simon Bull. I seen the original post mouths ago, but I lost the link. I find this method much better then the dry old Treasure Type table.

Rotworld was a neat surprise, as I did not know (or just forgot) that Dan Proctor made a zombie apocalypses/survival horror RPG. It seems to be based on a game Dan required called Timemaster (I never seen this game, but I did know about it). I'm not a fan of table-based systems or attributes that double as a percentile number, but I find a lot of useful stuff in this game.

I already have the Dungeon Crawl Classic module from a box set I found at a book store, and the Kobold book was one of the Slayer's books I do not already have.

I have yet to read the last three books, as I'm pouring through the aforementioned books. I also have to get more plastic sheet sleeves and binders, as the printouts are loose one-sided sheets. This is not a problem, as I already go through a lot of plastic sleeves & binders, do to my artwork and game stuff.

Its going to be a busy week or two for me, as I enjoy reading game books as much an regular literature, so I am happy! =D