Nameless One

Fictional Positioning


The last few days, I've been involved in some Internet arguments about roleplaying games. This is not a thing to be happy about, overall. I get some exercise of my logic and argumentation skills, sure, and the occasional self-congratulatory frisson at a moment of cleverness or insight, but mostly I leave these things feeling frustrated, small, and bitter: diminished. No one was saved.

One conversation tangential to the whole thing gave me a minor eureka moment, though. Mark Delsing commented on Fourth Edition D&D in such a way that the concept of "fictional positioning" finally clicked for me. Collapse )

Rule Zero


Mike Mearls has been writing a series of articles on the design of D&D, from as baseline of core principles as he can puzzle out. They're quite fun, and have generated a lot of forum buzz, which is no doubt their intent.

His most recent, "The Rules", mentions "Rule 0." I have an intense dislike of Rule 0, to the point where just seeing it mentioned here makes me feel like ranting about it. So I will. As a rant, it's probably irrational, and may or may not speak to the actual points in Mearls's article in any meaningful way. That disclaimer done, here I go.

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In Celebration of Third Party Products


While I'm a huge fan of the current edition of Dungeons & Dragons, one thing I'm unfond of is Wizards' stance toward intellectual property this time around. Not only have they entirely shut down their sales of PDF format game books because, oh no, people could copy and share them (a clear case of "if PDFs are outlawed, only outlaws will have PDFs"), but their business practices are engineered to keep third-party publishers under their heel. The license available to such publishers is much more restrictive than the one available under the previous edition, and the ubiquitously used Character Builder tool makes it next to impossible to build characters using custom classes or races. These sorts of things not only hurt third parties, but ordinary gamers who just want to hack a few things for their campaign world.

Suffice to say, with my current attitudes toward "Intellectual Property" (scare quotes intentional), fan fiction, remixing, and the like--i.e., the free exercise of creativity and the efforts of media producers and lawmakers to quash it--this situation rankles me deeply.

So here's a fun little thing, a positive-spin protest against the situation. I built a character using three substantial pieces of third party D&D4 content:

Here she is: Babaylan, 13th level Tikbalang Witch Doctor (Fang of the Wild). The name came from here... hopefully it's a female name, otherwise switch the gender I guess ;P

I think this character would be great fun to play--sort of like a Druid, dashing in and out of melee to deliver a mix of close-combat and ranged attacks with debilitating effects, but with an Orb Wizard's ability to juggle those status effects around and keep them running. With Tikbalang speed and tricks, she's as mobile as a Rogue while she goes about her shtick. Plus her defenses are uncommonly balanced, with no defense hit on less than an 8 on average. Etc. If any table I played at allowed this kind of content, I'd play her in a heartbeat!

Is it all as balanced as Wizards' first-party content? I'd say so. Sure, at-will phasing from a Tikbalang racial feat may be a bit much, and the number of save-ends effects the Witch Doctor spreads around is pretty insane. But it's no Twin Strike or Orb of Imposition, you know? I'd allow her in my game, level pending!
Blazing Rose

Blazing Rose on Sale


A year and a half of creative effort has come to fruition! I now have a Lulu storefront where you can purchase the affordable pre-Gen Con edition of my game, Blazing Rose.

Like tabletop RPGs or collaborative storytelling? Tales of romance, jealousy, and social competition? Dating sims or harem anime? If any of those things perk up your ears, check this game out! I've put a lot of heart into this design, and would love to hear what people think of it. In fact, send some feedback my way, and you'll get your name in the credits for the next edition due to come out this summer!

Watchmen Need More Cowbell


The creators of the Watchmen movie didn't go far enough.

They made their intentions obvious with their soundtrack choices: this was supposed to be a parody, satirizing the original comics' political commentary by making crucial scenes feel ridiculous and hamfisted via jarring musical selections. Problem is, for long stretches of the movie they forgot to carry through with this, so the audience almost has time to feel engaged! We the fans need to do our part to correct this error of sound direction. Let's come up with a list of the songs that should have been in the movie, match them to scenes, and request their inclusion in the director's cut DVD!

I'm not knowledgeable enough in either music or the Watchmen source material to tackle this monumental task alone, but I can maybe get us started. I'll add to this list as I think of things and as people give me their suggestions.

Come, my musically inclined friends! Don't be commies!
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RP Character Meme


From zombie_dog and li_zhen. Looked like too much fun to pass up!

Step 1: List 10 of your characters.
Step 2: Answer these questions!

These are all characters played in some sort of realtime RP, be it tabletop, VT, LARP, or freeform, not characters from stories or novels. I randomized the list before answering the questions.

1. Caitlin "Seesy" Callahan a.k.a. Moira - Childer Sluagh dancer (Changeling: The Dreaming)
2. Elias Gray - Catholic werewolf (Blazing Rose)
3. Riya Deliani - enslaved race car driver (Burning Empires)
4. Dr. Ethan Barrister - evil, psychic history professor (Heroes Unlimited/Surlyverse)
5. Kathrri - Togorian slicer (Star Wars D6)
6. Christine Thakarr - studious Quarter-Dragon rune mage (BESM/The Age of Corporations)
7. Julius "Crusher" Bonchev - Longtooth Shifter Warlord, recent convert to Pelor (D&D 4e)*
8. Kali-ra - virtuous Feline swordswoman (Furcadia)
9. Adulath Caracai II - suave womanizing Scout (Amtgard)
10. Lyn Hawthorn - Human Rogue and freedom fighter (D&D 4e)

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This is an extraordinarily fun meme, and I highly recommend it to anyone who's RPed enough to have a bank of ten or more characters!

*To cornerrider et al. familiar with the online Allandria D&D game, this is a different incarnation of the character. He's one of my reusable archetypes, but don't expect his personality as described here to line up with the NPC in that game. ;)

[Late to the Party] Mass Effect


When I used to daydream about getting an Xbox 360, prior to those daydreams becoming reality, two games provided the reason for the fantasy: Mirror's Edge, and Mass Effect. The latter, at least, proved deserving of the anticipation!

Premise: Humanity is a recent arrival to the galactic stage, where "element zero" and a phenomenon called the "mass effect" allow all manner of cinematic science-fiction awesomeness, like instantaneous interstellar travel and the power to throw people around with your mind. As the highly player-malleable protagonist Commander Shepard, you'll embark on a meandering quest to save the galaxy and cement Humanity's place in it. The plot unfolds via myriad branching dialogues with a colorful cast of characters, and action takes place in an over-the-shoulder run-and-gun battle system overlaid with RPG character-building elements. Sounds pretty standard, no?

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The Verdict: Mass Effect lived up to my high expectations. It delivered a compelling story in a well fleshed-out universe, with rock-solid writing and engaging gameplay. It's a 3.5/4, rounded up to a Backloggery "Excellent" for me. If in Mass Effect 2 Bioware manages to swallow its collective "40+ gameplay hours, lolol" pride and cut out the filler, while tweaking some of the first game's engine and artistic decisions, I think this franchise truly will go to the stars.


[Late to the Party] Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil


These reviews' tag line is doubly appropriate here, as not only is this a PS2 game from 2001, but I finished playing it in early November. It's a testament to the game's strengths that I still feel it's fresh enough in my mind to write about it!

Premise: Floppy-eared anthrocat Klonoa is the Dream Traveler, a hero who visits and aids troubled worlds in his dreams. This night's travels take him to Lunatea, a land whose several emotion-themed kingdoms are threatened by the rise of a monstrous Kingdom of Sorrow in the east. Klonoa works his way through a series of platforming and racing levels in "2.5D," i.e., two-dimensional motion through a 3D-rendered environment with puzzles that involve interaction with foreground and background elements. Along the way he teams up with a washed-up priestess in training, battles sky pirates, and more.

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The Verdict: While a few problems with uneven difficulty shouldn't be overlooked, I cannot do otherwise than to give Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil a 4/4 score, "Excellent" on the Backloggery. Anything inspiring enough to make me write fan fiction in the midst of the National Novel Writing Month deserves top billing in my ranks of great games, ha. It's imaginative, feel-good, smooth-playing fun I'd recommend to anyone who's ever hopped and bopped!