Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cover Mockup

Instead of doing the work I needed to do on my grad school final project (procrastination - I can do it tomorrow...), I was messing around with OpenOffice's version of PowerPoint, with some touchups in GIMP, and mocked up a cover for Flying Swordsmen.

Still needs some work, and I need a version of the picture without the DeviantArt watermark.  Waiting to hear from Daxiong about that.

Anyway, opinions wanted.  And don't hold back if you don't like it.  I can take criticism and it could save me from releasing a game with a crappy cover.  :D

Edit: Lee reminded me that I had meant to use the Chinese characters in the cover somewhere.  I posted them in the comments, but they're small.  Here they are bigger:


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pathfinder game begins

Just got back from the first session of our new Pathfinder campaign, run by Brian.  It went well, although the venue was a bit noisy, especially toward the end of the evening.

When we first started up, things were sounding familiar to me, and by the time we got to the dungeon and Brian mentioned the name, I realized that yes, this was indeed the adventure I'd partially played way back with the Ebisu Group in maybe 2006.  It didn't play out the same way as before, of course, and while I did remember some things, I didn't remember enough to avoid a trap or two. 

And in fact, we covered more territory tonight than we did before with the Ebisu group, at least as far as exploring the tomb dungeon.  With the Ebisu Group, we spent a lot of time in town, fixing up the shack we were using as a home base, and committing and hiding the murder of the town's sheriff (who was Evil and had it coming).  Today we spent only a modest amount of time in town, and then hit the dungeon and explored quite a bit of it.

There wasn't much combat, but what combat there was went fairly fast and easy.  We sprang some traps, gathered evidence, and solved a few puzzles.  Gained some loot along the way, too.  Next session, we'll try to get the magic items identified, fence the loot...I mean pass the historical objects on to the sage who hired us, and get a bit better equipment, then head back to explore the rest of the ruin.

No deaths, although I was down to 1 hit point due to a Use Magic Device malfunction, and Jeremy's Warforged Fighter got taken down to negatives by a water elemental who was luckily evil so I was able to smite it to its watery grave.  A heroic untrained Craft skill check by Greg's juvenile delinquent Half-Elf Rogue, aided by my Paladin and Robbie's Sorcerer, brought the Warforged back into commission, and some magical beds healed up the rest of us, more or less.

Definitely looking forward to the next session, probably in three weeks.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stop the Presses!!!

Just checked DeviantArt.  I'd sent messages a while back begging a few artists there for cover-worthy material for Flying Swordsman.

And I just got a "Yes" from Daxiong Guo.

Who is he?  Well, read about him here, and take a look at his work here.  In addition to a ton of books and comics when he was in China, he's been working for Dark Horse and DC Comics since coming to the U.S., among other things.  Top notch artwork here.

I am really happy right now.  But the little guy's asleep (so is the wife) so no jumping and yelling with joy. 

How to play my Paladin

No, this is not about how YOU should play YOUR Paladin.  This is just some thoughts about how I'm gonna play my Paladin in Brian's PF game starting this Sunday.

When I rolled him up, I was thinking (as I mentioned before) I'd play him mostly like Elwood Blues.  Pretty much unfazed by things blowing up around him and whatnot, but dedicated to his "mission from God."  And his moral view would be sort of a Johnny Cash apocalyptic.  He's had a vision of the End Times coming, and that's what made him choose the path of a Paladin.

And last night, I was looking through the Greyhawk deities, since the game will be set there.  And among the Lawful Good ones was Murlynd, Don Kaye's old character turned into a hero-deity by Gygax after Kaye died. 

I'll be imagining the Murlynd that gives visions to my Paladin something like this.
This dude is a frickin' fantasy COWBOY.  With six-shooters and chaps and a Stetson hat and all.

Perfect deity for my Paladin to follow. 

Even if he has been ret-conned as the 'god of magical technology.'

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sketch 2, Thanksgiving, and some progress!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers.  We had a small but nice Thanksgiving dinner here with my family and my sister-in-law's family.  Big old smoked turkey drumstick sliced into bite-sized pieces for the kids, mashed potatoes, and some salad.  Simple, but delicious.

And thanks to everyone that reads this blog.  Even Woodstock.  Without you guys reading and enjoying (or trashing) what I write here, I wouldn't still be doing it.

This is the sketch I did last night, the second element for the cover of Flying Swordsmen.

I also checked a print shop near one of the universities right near where I work tonight, and they have a scanner that can scan A3 size paper.  My Zhongyang Dalu map is smaller than that, so it looks like I'll be taking my hand-drawn map there to get it scanned.  Then I just need to get the cover done, get a few more pictures from Dylan and some last minute edits.  Once all that's done, I think Flying Swordsmen will be ready for release.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flying Swordsmen Character Sheet

Well, I think I'm happy with this version of the character sheet for Flying Swordsmen.  I may make a few minor edits before release (maybe give a bit more definition to the "Water" save title, or some adjusting of frame sizes), but this will probably be good enough for general use.

Flying Swordsmen Character Sheet

Of course it will likely be a couple more months before the game is ready for release, but I might as well put this up here now since it's pretty much done.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pencil Sketch

Drew this sketch this morning.  I've got an idea of what I'd like the cover of Flying Swordsmen to look like, and this, cleaned up a little, inked and colored, will likely be one element of the cover.  I'll be combining all of my hand-drawn elements on the computer.  It's been a long while since I've done much drawing, other than cartoons on the white board to help teach my students. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Saw Deathly Hallows Part 2 on VOD last night.  I'd been waiting for this to show up on our VOD, since I saw Part 1 a while back.  [And I thought I'd written a review of Part 1, but I just spent about half an hour reading through old blog posts because I didn't find it under my 'movie' tag.  Still can't find it.  And I've got other stuff to do today.]

Anyway, since I can't link to my thoughts on Part 1, I'll just say I think they did a good job in Part 1 of editing out the long boring parts of the book to keep the action moving more.  But the ending, while a logical place to cut off the story, really felt underwhelming to me.

So, Part 2.  The big finale.  The Battle of Hogwarts.  Lots of dramatic character deaths.  Harry and Voldemort finally face off.  How did it turn out on film?

Well, for one, watching it on my TV in a well lit room, it was often too dark to actually see anything.  Especially during the Battle of Hogwarts scenes.  Maybe we should have gone to see it in the theater after all, because what I was hoping to see was lots of the big magical battle.  But what I got were brief glimpses of cool magical battles between shots of black screen with a few shadowy movements or a bit of indistinct CGI glow.

And all the dramatic deaths didn't feel so dramatic.  I guess it might have been for ratings purposes, but there weren't that many deaths shown, and when they did show for example Fred Weasley, Lupin and Tonks, and a few others' corpses laid out, it was so brief that it wasn't really moving.

Maybe I should have watched the movie before reading the book.  I found the second half of the book to be really well done, and wrapped things up nicely.  I found myself caring for the various minor characters who died when I read the book.  In the movie, not so much.

So a bit disappointing end to a nice movie series, in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My first Paladin

Brian, who found out about our Busan gaming group by discovering this here blog, is gonna start up a Pathfinder game two Sundays from now.  I never got a chance to play a Paladin before, and I've had a few ideas about what could make for an interesting (and hopefully not cliche) one.

So I've rolled up a Human Paladin.  I almost went with a Half-Orc, as I've got a soft spot for the ugly ones.  But I thought about the character I really wanted to play, and decided he should be a human.  Named Elwood.  On a mission from God.  Probably with a healthy helping of Johnny Cash wisdom thrown in. 

And I'm now encountering one of the things that made me want to drop 3E in any form as a DM and return to Classic D&D.

I may well be not only the only human character in the group, but the only character with a race from the standard Tolkienesque racial lineup! 

Jeremy wants to play a warforged fighter.  Robbie wants to play a kobold sorcerer (although he did consider a halfling ninja).  Greg wants to play something called a 'stonegrunt' and while I have no idea what they are exactly, I can guess.

Now, I'm not passing any value judgements.  One of the big selling points of 3E-based games is the whole openness of any race+any class, no level limits, blah blah blah.  And veteran players like to try out things they've never done before (like myself, who's never played a paladin before, although Gwydion my old Fighter considered the option before becoming a land-holder and moving up the ranks of the nobility).

I guess it's just a different perspective.  I take a stock character type and try to breathe a unique and hopefully fun personality into that archetype.  Everyone else is trying to be unique through their 'build.' 

As a DM, it used to drive me nuts.  Players always asking to be the weirdest things they could imagine, just because they could.  As a player, I'm more mellow about it.  Sure, you're some freaky Rock-beast Fighter.  Just be sure to do something with the character to make it an interesting rock-beast Fighter, rather than just the same as if he were a Dwarf, only with different numbers on the sheet.  :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

OA, OA, everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Um, OK, the literary allusion in the title is misleading.  Because it seems there are posts about Oriental Adventures related stuff all over the place lately.

Not only am I knee deep in Flying Swordsmen RPG (wuxia kung fu fantasy), but Fabian at Blade Sharp is working on a conversion of the original OA to Labyrinth Lord.

In addition, Dangerous Brian is converting horror modules to OA.

BrunoMac has some OA musings and inspiration, and a recommended movie I need to watch.

Even James of the Underdark Gazette is working on a monk! 

Seems like there were a few other OA related posts over the weekend, but I'm having trouble tracking them down now.  Anyway, looks like more people than me have OA on the mind.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's that dreaded time...

...when grad school rears its ugly head.

Just got hit with a 'final paper' that is basically doing the prof's personal research for her.  To be expected in grad school, but damn, it's gonna be a time sink I don't need right now.

So I'm officially giving up on my goal of getting Flying Swordsmen out there by the end of the year. 

Likely not a whole lot will go up here on the blog in the next couple weeks, either.  If it's quiet around here through the Christmas season, check back in January.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Need some inspiration for a game?

Found this on Facebook this morning.  Figured it would be worth a chuckle to repost it here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Return to Yeffal's Castle

Yesterday, I got together with Jeremy and Brian again, and they ran their characters through my Megadungeon one more time.  [Read about their first delve here!]

This time out, they had a bit more of a plan.  They heard a few new rumors in town, but were still thinking they'd like to get the Eye of the Frost Troll because it's just a cool name.  The rumors said it, as well as the Wand of Skelmis, were in the Keep.  But after buying a wagon and horses to haul loot, and hiring a teamster to drive it, as well as a pair of crossbowmen to help guard the pansy Elf, they decided to return to the former bandit stronghold (a structure in the first court yard called the Lesser Donjon on my map) and investigate the stairs leading down from it.

That took them to Level 1 of the dungeon proper, and they spent some time exploring it and fighting some monsters.  They found a not so well hidden stairway that led down to not only Level 2, but deeper.  They explored some of the second level as well.  They had two near deaths, both Brian's Thief and his Dwarf were bitten by giant spiders.  The Thief happened to have a potion of antidote, and so was fine after drinking it.  The Dwarf almost missed his saving throw the third time he was bitten, but we remembered the +2 bonus to save vs. Crab Spider venom, which just put him over.  So no PC deaths again, but some close scrapes.

Both Jeremy and Brian are building up personalities for their characters through play, which is something I enjoy watching.  It's hard that each of them is running 3 PCs, though.  So far, the Dwarf and Barbarian each are getting the most 'screen time' because they're the most heavy hitters and the group has not shied away from any combats yet.  But the Thief and Elf who cower in the back most times are developing as well, and to a lesser extent so are the Cleric and Fighter.  They didn't find a whole lot of treasure (they found too much last time anyway), but they covered a lot of ground, and have some new mysteries about the dungeon to investigate.

Hopefully next time I run the Megadungeon we'll have a few more players and that should help things out.

We're gonna try to get a rotating DM schedule of some sort going.  In two weeks, Brian is offering to run a Pathfinder game (and we should be able to pull in a couple of the guys who don't want to play OSR stuff for that), and Jeremy is trying to make a Microlite/True20 cludge game that he can run as well.  So, hopefully there will be more gaming in the near future.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Decisions, decisions

Jeremy sent me a link to one of the Microlite 20 games.  It's called the Golden Edition.  And at 142 pages, it's not so micro.  Haven't looked through it enough to see if it's "lite" or not.

Anyway, it reminded me that I've had the Labyrinth Lord Advanced Edition Characters pdf sitting on the hard drive unread.

I gave it a look yesterday.  I was impressed.  It doesn't remove all of the unnecessary cruft from AD&D (IMO, of course), but a lot that's left behind is optional.  I'd play AD&D more often if it weren't for my (possibly irrational?) despising certain wonky mechanics (percentile strength, different weapon damage vs. large creatures, 1-minute combat rounds with segments, lots of fiddly little things that don't add to the fun but add to the book-keeping).

I'm pretty seriously considering switching from my homebrewed version of Mentzer to LL+AEC.  Of course, there are some things from Classic and my own houserules I'd likely keep, but I may be switching.

The big decider was the notes on using AD&D style race+class along with Classic's race-as-class.  Well, that and the no percentile strength/damage vs. large creatures/1 minute rounds things.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Party

Here are me as a werewolf (for kindergarteners, so not too scary...) with my son, Superman!

Hope everyone had a fun Halloween!