Thursday, January 14, 2010

Stuff I Thought About Before Breakfast

Good morning, Mr. Sun.
Brush my teeth.
Marmalade, I like marmalade.
So, let's see what we've got today...

Grognardia posting about Tolkien and Gygax again--I don't know why anyone argues with you about this, James, you are right and they are wrong. There are a lot of creatures and people from Tolkien in D&D because Tolkien wrote about creatures and games need creatures. Duh. Just because a painter uses perspective in a painting doesn't mean Giotto is her most important influence.

Grognardia posting about Dante's Inferno being sold as "The literary classic that inspired the epic video game". That's so fucked. Between this and Haiti I'm really not sure I like this 2010 guy very much.

Jeff's Gameblog posting about Mutant Future
--Wherein Jeff mentions that he has players roll on a random chart to see which game they will get a random mutation from. This is wise, noble, and good. Privately, I think of Jeff as "the God of Fun". At least, y'know, Safe For Work fun.

Mighty Thews And Non-Euclidean Geometry
--Kicks off with a completely excellent metaphor for how D&D works and then goes on to a play report from Castle of the Archmage. The game style described in the report is kind of Gonzo Naturalism. Like--y'know how in D&D there are these ways to tactically exploit the rules which make perfect sense in the ruleset but are weird and goofy? And y'know how clever players can do these things so often and so regularly that they go far beyond anything in D&D's literary models and just become a genre of their own--kick a chicken down the stairs to check for traps, control the skeletons and use them as "disposable front-liners" etc.? And you know how that is awesome, right?

At The RPG Corner Shiro is talking about GMing a day in the City State of the Invincible Overlord that bears a striking resemblance, adventure-design-principle-wise to my own players' very recent hell-raising, sweeping-reflection-inspiring trip to Vornheim. (A city which I was inspired to write up in detail by his own post about the last time his PCs went to the City State. So it's a serpent eating its own tail and all that.)

Thanks to Christian at Destination Unknown I now know that the Los Angeles Role-Playing Game Network has about 24 more members than I thought it did and I decided to look up A-plot/B-plot structure and it occurred to me how much of the screenwriting-talk I absorbed as a kid may contribute to the art of GMing. And made me think: in this town where there are (literally) more screenplays than business cards, there must be an awful lot of GMs tucked away.

Monsters and Manuals
--Noisms is talking about Avatar. My thesis: it used to be that because believable sci-fi was so hard to do, all sci-fi was either the amazing and wonderful product of amazing dedication or hilarious in its awkward badness. (Or both, like The Black Hole.) Now that we have cheap CG, bad sci-fi (and fantasy) movies are just going to be bad the way regular bad movies are bad. A terrible cultural loss.

Elves Ate My Homework--Is arguing against the "all-weapons-should-do-d6-damage" thesis. I have to say I'm with him, at least for my PCs. With my PCs, I like to make weapons as different as possible, and remind them of stuff like how a hammer is going to do more damage to a living statue than a sword. Why? Because my players were not born with the boyish obsession with comparative tactical combat effectiveness and so anything that reminds them that tactics matter and that there's more than one way to skin a cat is a good thing and they seem to appreciate it. It's a little thing with weapon damage, but it does, perhaps, make them think about bigger things, like whether to set something on fire or drop a shelf on it or just run away.

Old Guard Gaming
has an interesting solution to the Raise Dead problem. I like it. My own solution is less about rules and more about player mentality. If your PC dies, you have a choice of rolling up a new one or not doing anything for a few hours or days or weeks while waiting for your loser friends to have their PCs recover the body and drag it to civilization and then maybe, possibly finding a cleric willing to resurrect you. If you can just make a new PC at the same level, most people would rather just play.

Ok, I have to eat something now.


  1. regarding AVATAR

    my advice to friends

    bring your ipod
    smuggle in some brewskis
    sit on the isle
    (you are going to need to pee in a 3 hr movie)

    put on the 3D glasses
    relax and enjoy the pretty pictures

  2. I found Sherlock Holmes ten times better than Avatar. Except that Sherlock Holmes (the character) would never fall in love. The inability to care about most people or conform to society is what makes Holmes endearing.

  3. I see your point about Holmes, but I feel like one of the only ways to make a mainstream hollywood Sherlock Holmes movie work would be to cast him violently against what we expect, so I feel Robert Downey Jr. and the attendant alcoholism, boxing, and romance was an understnadable choice.

  4. "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" reference detected. :)

  5. The thing I liked the most about Ritchie's version of Holmes is that it actually covers a lot of the stuff that's in Doyle's stories that is usually ignored. Holmes was a coked up paranoid with destructive tendencies when he didn't have a case, and casting Robert Downey Jr. was perfect, in my opinion.

    As for Holmes and falling in love, read A Scandal in Bohemia, Irene Adler's debut in the stories. There is precedent.