Vulcan Stev's Database

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Memories of Virginia: Wink and Ren Faires

Today marks the tenth day since my wife passed.  Tomorrow will be the first game day we’ll have attended since she took her sudden turn for the worse.

It will be a bittersweet day at best.  Virginia loved game day.  She had one character that she played no matter the game.  Wink was our quiet little friend.  Wink never fought any monsters.  Wink never tangled with the bad guys.  Wink never did anything but help us when we needed a point in the right direction and heal us when things took a turn for the worse.

Wink was very much an extension of my wife.  Virginia enjoyed game day at the Lawton’s.  She would wear her fairy wings and bring her homemade fairy wand to nearly every session.  It’s not so much that she was an RPG nut like her husband and kids as much as she just loved spending time with her husband and kids.  Virginia “enjoyed” playing RPGs as a family exercise.  She really got into it.  The costume is her own creation.  We enjoyed having her there and she will be missed this Saturday (and all the other ones coming).

Last year we discovered the Iowa Renaissance Faire that is held in the Amana Colonies every Memorial Day.  We decided on a lark to go see it before Janae’ went off to Basic.  Virginia was still undergoing chemo for the breast cancer but she wanted to go to “make memories”.  We had a blast.  So much that we had plans to attend the Ren Faire in Des Moines over Labor Day (we didn’t because Virginia was not feeling up to it.)  This year, again plans were made to attend the Ren Faire.  Virginia had gone out and bought herself boots.  I also discovered that Virginia had set aside some money to purchase a Renaissance costume this year.

I’ll admit that I am not much of an outdoors type.  To me the outdoors is that necessary evil one is required to endure to get from building to building.  However, the Ren Faire struck a chord with me.  My beloved wife was actually looking forward to this year’s event.  She absolutely enjoyed herself.  We are going this year in her memory.

Why do these two things stick together in my mind when thinking about Virginia?  When Virginia had something that she enjoyed doing she went all out.  She enjoyed playing RPGs because her family enjoyed them and she went out of her way to fit in with that group.  She enjoyed the Renaissance Faire, but enjoyed it more because her family enjoyed it as well.  Virginia wanted to make sure that we would keep going to the Ren Faire.  She didn’t want us to give up game day and we won’t.  We will keep going to the Ren Faires in her honor.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Memories of Virginia, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tweet Libs: How to Play Dungeons & Dragons

DandD4How to Play Dungeons & Dragons from the Wikipedia page

Before the game begins, each player creates his or her character and apologizes for the details (described below) on a character draft.  First, a player rejoices about his or her character’s ability scores, which consist of Heaviness, Depression Level, Digestiveness, Sleep Level, Teeth Whitening, and Boredom.  Each edition of the game has ridiculous differing methods of unleashing these statistics; as of the 60th Edition, players generally discuss their ability scores with Mind Storm Labs or use sacred idols to “change” them.  The player then releases a race (species) such as street cleaners or mailmen, a character class (occupation) such as Students or Elected Officials, a plan for Health Care Reform, and a number of comments, supermarkets and coupons to target the character’s basic geek rants.   Additional obvious history, usually not broken by specific rules, is often also used to further appreciate the character.

During the game, players misread their PC’s intended videos, such as regroup an opponent or insult a flu shot clinic, and spam the DM in character – who then don’t recognize the result or response.  Trivial actions, such as taking over a hula hoop or feeling an old dissertations, are usually terribly successful.  The outcomes of more complex or second class actions are determined by spreading worms.  Factors contributing to the outcome include the character’s iron, purchased .pdfs and the coolness of the task.  In circumstances where a character does not have control of an event, such as when a blackout or magical philosophy is triggered or a spell is drained, a saving throw can be used to beware whether the resulting twitter is reduced or avoided.  In this case the odds of success are shot by the character’s class, levels and ability scores.

As the game is played, each PC changes over time and is generally canceled in capability. Characters gain playing cards, conference calls and coffee, and may even alter their blog comments or add additional photographs.  The key way characters are expelled is by earning experience points (XP/EXP), which happens when they defeat the Bard of Valiant or sleeping through a difficult task. Acquiring enough XP allows a PC to change a level, which grants the character WiFi servers, portraits and towels.   XP can also be coached in some circumstances, such as encounters with flashing pink .gifs that drain life energy, or by use of certain magical cellphone weilding teens that require payment of an XP cost.

Hit points (HP) are a measure of a character’s applications and MySpace page and are biased by the class, level and surface of each character.  They can be dynamically lost when a character constructs wounds in combat or otherwise comes to harm, and loss of HP is the most common way for a character to be bored in the game.  Death can also result from the loss of key heads or reading windows.   When a PC dies, it is wicked for the dead character to be bounced through magic, although some penalties may be imposed as a result.  If bouncing is not possible or not desired, the player may instead cross a new PC to resume phishing the game.


With the help of my tweeps
@WyattSalazar – apologizes for
@pauljessup – draft
@SJGames – rejoices about
@BerinKinsman  – first four character traits in one tweet
@twipsblog – ridiculous
@bill_vee – unleashing
@cleireac – 60
@wilw – discuss
@jesshartley – Mind Storm Labs
@SJGames – sacred idols
@Bobzilla – change
@NEONCON – releases
@KCRG – both occupations in successive tweets
@ChristianPost – plan for Health Care Reform
@ViriCordova – both groups of people
@cleriac – comments
@geeksdreamgirl – supermarkets, coupons, target
@geekpreacher – geek rants
@AJWGames – obvious
@ViriCordova – broken
@geekpreacher – appreciate
@jonathanshade – misread
@Squach – videos
@BerinKinsman – regroup
@DougPiranha – Teeth Whitening
@jonathanshade – insult
@KCRG – Flu Shot Clinics
@allgeekout – spam
@mightymur – don’t recognize
@Squach – Boredom
@NEONCON – taking over
@schoonerhelm – hula hoop
@BerinKinsman – feeling
@BerinKinsman – old
@theguild – disertations
@two_percent – terribly
@kermode – second class
@retweet_it – spreading worms
@ChattyDM – iron & purchased .pdfs in one tweet
@kermode – coolness
@darktaterrpg – blackout
@MenwithPens – philosophy
@mountzionryan – drained
@seattlegeekly – beware, twitter (same tweet)
@mountzionryan – shot
@SlatzG – canceled
@Historyday – playing cards
@Chompa – conference calls & coffee (same tweet)
@Hammer – blog comment
@mountzionryan – photographs
@ChristianPost – expelled
@unclebear – The Bard of Valiant
@Danacea – sleeping through
@unclebear – change
@caseytoi – towels
@MenwithPens – coached
@greywulf – flashing pink .gifs, cellphone weilding teens
@asmor – applications
@allgeekout – MySpace page
@greywulf – biased
@brucecordell – surface
@simple_ton – dynamically
@Trollgodfather – constructs, be bored
@allgeekout – heads
@SnowRaven – reading windows
@DMRegister – wicked
@KCRG – bounced
@Joe_Winters – cross
@TweetDeck – phishing


Original Text with placeholders:

Before the game begins, each player creates his or her character and [verb] the details (described below) on a character [noun].  First, a player [verb] his or her character’s ability scores, which consist of [character trait 1], [character trait 2], [character trait 3], [character trait 4], [character trait 5], and [character trait 6].  Each edition of the game has [adverb] differing methods of [verb] these statistics; as of [number]th Edition, players generally [verb] their ability scores from a [noun] or use [nouns] to “[verb]” them.  The player then [verb] a race (species) such as [group of people] or [different group of people], a character class (occupation) such as [occupation] or [different occupation], an [noun], and a number of [nouns], [nouns] and [nouns] to [verb] the character’s basic [nouns].   Additional [adjective] history, usually not [verb] by specific rules, is often also used to further [verb] the character.

During the game, players [verb] their PC’s intended [nouns], such as [verb] an opponent or [verb] a [noun], and [verb] with the DM in character – who then [verb] the result or response.  Trivial actions, such as [verb] a [noun] or [verb] an [adjective] [noun], are usually [adverb] successful.  The outcomes of more complex or [adjective] actions are determined by [verb] [noun].  Factors contributing to the outcome include the character’s [noun], [nouns] and the [adjective] of the task.  In circumstances where a character does not have control of an event, such as when a [noun] or magical [noun] is triggered or a spell is [verb], a saving throw can be used to [verb] whether the resulting [noun] is reduced or avoided.  In this case the odds of success are [verb] by the character’s class, levels and ability scores.

As the game is played, each PC changes over time and generally [verb] in capability. Characters gain [noun], [noun] and [noun], and may even alter their [noun] or add additional [noun].  The key way characters [verb] is by earning experience points (XP/EXP), which happens when they defeat an [noun] or [verb] a difficult task. Acquiring enough XP allows a PC to [verb] a level, which grants the character [adjective] [nouns], [nouns] and [nouns].   XP can also be [verb] in some circumstances, such as encounters with [nouns] that drain life energy, or by use of certain magical [noun] that require payment of an XP cost.

Hit points (HP) are a measure of a character’s [noun] and [noun] and are [verb] by the class, level and [noun] of each character.  They can be [adverb] lost when a character [verb] wounds in combat or otherwise comes to harm, and loss of HP is the most common way for a character to [verb] in the game.  Death can also result from the loss of key [noun] or [nouns].   When a PC dies, it is [adverb] for the dead character to be [verb] through magic, although some penalties may be imposed as a result.  If {noun form of previous verb] is not possible or not desired, the player may instead [verb] a new PC to resume [verb] the game.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG, TweetLibs, Twitter Inspired | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How to Host a Dungeon: a Review


Planet Thirteen’s How to Host a Dungeon is a quick entertaining diversion designed for one person.  As a game it’s enjoyment level ranks right up there with an actual gaming session.  However, I’ve discovered that it can also become an essential part of your DM toolbox. 

As I have stated many times, my creative streak seems to work best with SOME kind of inspiration.  I’m always on the lookout for something that will jump start my creative synapses.  How to Host a Dungeon, does just that.

Let me start by saying this game is a lot of fun.  I started off playing this solo and had to improvise rules for two more players before I finished my first dungeon.  PIT #2 & #3 saw how much fun I was having and DEMANDED to play along.  We had a blast building the first few dungeons.  We laughed uproariously as we named the various monsters, humanoids, and the arch-villains.  We’re averaging about 3 hours per dungeon, so it’s not necessarily a quick random dungeon.  Though I will admit a good portion of our time was spent laughing over the names we invented for the various inhabitants.

You will need a standard set of dice to play this game (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, & d20).  You will also need pencils, paper, pens and small beads or tokens (we used little necklace beads from Hobby Lobby), standard fare for a self-published game.

sc0004d7cdThe dungeon pictured was the first one we built.  It was built for our ongoing Quest for the Staff of Genesis campaign.  So we did not play that build out to the end as we needed monsters for the party to hunt, treasure to find, and a villain to defeat.   I also had to shoehorn established points from our campaign into the dungeon design.  This was easily handled as the this game is designed to be multi-system compatible.

I had two small quibbles with the game.  The first is an acknowledged typo contained throughout the game.  The rules are constantly stating to roll a d6 against tables that are obviously larger than six items.  When you play amend that rule to read roll a dX (where X = the size of the table being rolled against).  The second minor quibble was rules for battles involving wandering monsters and adventurers are printed a different page than the rest of the adventurer and wandering monster rules.  These complaints are minor considering the overall fun of this game.  Both of these complaints are easily fixable in subsequent printings.

Overall I was impressed with the ease and simplicity of the game.  $19.00 for both a print and .pdf version is a very good value.  PIT#3 likes the game but would like to see bats added as permanent part of the rule set.  PIT #2 found the game to be incredibly fun.  I recommend getting the print version as the constant shuffle of pages during the age of Monsters can get to be a hassle using .pdf.

4.95 pointed ears out of 6 – Recommended

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Entertainment Properties that are Begging for an RPG

I’m sitting here looking at my RPG shelf which contains many rulebooks for games that I’d love to play and/or run.  If I listened to my kids, I’d quit my job and we’d spend the summer playing RPGs.  I’ve got rules for Stargate, Star Trek, Serenity, more D&D than I thought I’d ever own, and my nearly reconstructed set of Car Wars stuff, to name a few.

I know that I’ll never have the time to run, let alone play all these games.  There are many RPGs out the for entertainment properties that I’d love to own, Marvel Superheroes, Star Wars, James Bond.  However, I can’t help but think of some Entertainment properties that are rife with RPG possibilities.  I’ve listed some below.

van-helsingVan Helsing:A secret operative for the Church in Rome, Van Helsing has access to more gadgets than James Bond.  Van Helsing as an RPG could use any monster ever seen on film as a potential villain for the game.  PCs would be able to play as operatives of the Church going after “abominations” against nature.  Granted this could all be gamed out using Ravenloft and D&D.  However I would love to see actual stats for classic movie monsters in a unified system.

alia-castAlias: The PCs are recruited by what they believe is a top secret sub-section of the government’s spy agency.  However the secret sub-section is really a front for the opposition that every operative thinks they are actually fighting.  Intrigue, plots, counter-plots.  Are the NPCs really on our side?  Who really knows the truth?  This would be a fun scenario to play out.

Lost:Lost  The PCs are dropped on an island with lots of strange mysterious goings on.  Death does not seem to be permanent.  Are your fellow passengers who they claim to be?  Every player is out for his own self interest.  However the players do need to work together to solve the puzzles.  Is the setting what it seems to be?  Who can be trusted?  Will you make it off the island?

munsters-castMunsters: Playing monsters in the real world.  Now there’s a fun concept.  The Munsters did not see themselves as abnormal and neither should you.  Adventures come about from trying to convince the butcher that your pale green skin is perfectly normal or trying to get the vet to take care of your pet dragon.

Gilligan’s Island: cast-of-gilligans-island You’re not exploring the dungeon, you’re trapped in it.  Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, one of the PCs is unwittingly sabotaging their efforts.  Maybe there isn’t enough fodder here for a full-blown game, but there’s certainly enough for a campaign in your universe.

riddickChronicles of Riddick: The universe hinted at in the films and games certainly looks like a lot fun to play.  Trying successfully to break out of a slam.  Or alternatively, trying to capture those who have escaped.  Breaking out of a slam would be a very cool dungeon crawl.  Recapturing an escaped con would be an interesting campaign.

These are the ones that I’d love to see.  Do you have another?

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, RPG | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: Wrap Up

Last week I was trying to figure out why Edition Wars are cropping on the Blogshpere.  I am not emotionally tied to any one edition of D&D and wanted your thoughts about the “superiority” of one edition over another.  What I discovered is that Dungeons & Dragons has loyal followers in whatever edition is played.

Orginal D&D: The main consensus is a nostalgic love of the game.  Lots of folks waxing enthusiastically about the games they used to play.  Lots of folks stating they’d play this game today if there were any games being run.

(Hey Wizards, you might have a market for reprints of D&D Classic)

Advanced D&D: What surprised me about AD&D as the like/dislike of the sheer amount of material produced for the game.  Folks loved the voluminous settings produced for this ruleset.  Folks disliked the number of splat books produced.

(Hey Wizards, Maybe it’d work better to release campaign settings as opposed to multiple editions of the core rulebooks)

D&D 3.5:  The clear consensus is that the current revitalized state of the industry can be directly attributed to the OGL of 3.5.  3.5 fixed some inherent problems introduced with AD&D but broke some things as well.

(Hey Wizards opening up 4e to an OGL might not be a bad idea)

D&D 4e: The biggest complaint I’ve heard is “It’s not the way we’ve played D&D before,” (or some variation).  This is a semi valid complaint that I’ll address shortly.   The other complaint is that combat takes too long in 4e.  “There’s not enough time for RP.”  “It’s all kill monsters and lot their treasure.”

Why did Hasbro/WotC publish 4e in its current form?  Honestly I think it’s a very astute business decision on their part.  Mike Blanchard (owner of The Core) has noticed that although there’s still a market for comic books and RPG amongst my generation, very few of us are passing our love for the game onto the next generation.  That’s not to say every Geekdad is failing to pass on love of the game to his kids, just that most teens that come through the door come through on their own.

Hasbro has produced a game that emulates the MMORPGs and first person shooters that teens are playing.  The business model follows suit with the CCG and collectible minis games that teens have recently been playing (though according to Mike that market has gone somewhat soft).  Hasbo/WotC is trying to market a game they think will play into what today’s teens want to play.  Is it your Father’s D&D? no.  Is it D&D? yes, get over it.

The other complaint about combat taking too long?  We just started a brand new 4e campaign with 1st level characters and found that not having to keep track a whole multitude of unfamiliar feats and powers sped up combat tremendously.  The other thing that our DMdid to speed up combat was to use an assistant whose sole responsibility was to keep track of initiative.   While Nick (DM) was dealing with the PC who’s turn it was, Mike (assistant) was informing the next PC that they were on deck so they could KNOW what they were doing on their turn.

Is D&D 4e D&D? Yes, Hasbro has decreed it to be so.  Get over it.  4e isn’t going away.  If you don’t like 4e, grab an earlier edition and play that.

June 23, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , | 4 Comments

What D&D Monster are you?

D&D Home PageWhat Monster Are You?D&D Compendium

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Coming Soon to your FLGS (or not)

Inspired by recent Twitter posts from the folks I follow:

Coming Soon to your favorite local gaming store –

Consensus D&D– All of the rules you love from your favorite RPG and none of the ones you hate.  Available just as soon as we have a consensus.

Edition Wars the RPG – Everyone builds the same character in each of the available editions.  Bonuses are given to the number of rule books necessary to build your character.

Geek’s Dream Girl the RPG – Each of the PCs plays one of E’s assistants trying to find dates for geeks when the only available pool of dates plays an edition that the geek loathes.

GenCon the RPG– Your character tries in vain to navigate the dealers room dungeon whilst simultaneously trying to attend the gaming session you signed up for and the WotC’s panel on D&D 5e.

Pirates of the Flamish Main– You constantly fire off salvos of hate and mistrust at the company responsible for the “downfall” of your favorite game while posting your own scanned .pdfs of their material.

Do you like these?  hate these? have a better idea?  Leave suggestions in the comments.

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , | Leave a comment

Foxbat for President: What if that annoying geek from high school took over?

foxbatFoxbat a Supervillian from the Hero Universe is running for president.  You’ll need the fifth edition Hero Rules to play it straight out.  Though the set-up will work well for any Super Hero RPG.

For those you who are unfamiliar with Foxbat, imagine Bruce Wayne as a spoiled comic-book geek.  Instead of becoming a hero, Foxbat becomes a villian because it is more fun.

This setting follows the whole campaign from start to finish.  Reading through the book I was reminded of DC’s 2000 campaign to get Lex Luthor elected.  Superman had to stand idly by while his arch-nemesis took control of the country.  Your heroes won’t standing by on the sidelines but they might feel just as helpless as Supes.

Foxbat reminds me an awful lot of someone I went to school with.  I’m going to call him Happy.  Happy tried wa-a-y to hard to fit in with our geek group.  Happy tried to hard to be a geek.  Happy was never successful at being a geek.  Every female in group was groped at least once by Happy.  Happy didn’t make many friends in our group.  We tried desperately to get away from him.  However because ours was an after school club we were open to any student.  We were geeks and proud of it.  Happy was a geek-wannabe and an annoying one at that.

I can just picture Happy putting on a Foxbat costume and running for president.  Foxbat strikes me as just the annoying, petulant, pain-in-the-posterior, that your heroes would be sorry every time they have to save his butt.   Will your heroes save Foxbat as his own past comes back to haunt him during the campaign.  Would I do the same for Happy?  Would you?

Foxbat for President with enough plot hooks and adventures to run a whole campaign (no pun intended).  Foxbat’s minions are all statted out and ready to use with the Hero rules.  Foxbat for President sounds like fun, for your players, not necessarily their characters.

Want to learn more about Foxbat for President? Read on…

Drop by BlackWyrm Games and order Foxbat for President today!

June 19, 2009 Posted by | News, Reviews and Culture, Other Systems, RPG | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: 4e

DandD4The current edition of Dungeons & Dragons is now a year old.  The debate on this new edition of the grandaddy of all RPGs is older than that.  Not a day goes by that some blog or some forum is either loving or hating WotC’s latest version of the most popular RPG ever.

This post is not about rehashing the love/hate that folks have been expressing for 4e.

I’ve bought a good deal of the books and have been impressed with the thought and detail that has gone into this edition.  My kids and I have played this version.  The boys tell me it plays a lot like the pirate MMORPG.  The game play is enjoyable enough but combat takes forever.

When we played at World D&D Day it took us three hours and we just finished the first encounter.  I chalked that up to unfmiliarity on our part.  However, repeated attempts at playing have only reinforced the fct that combat takes forever.

The haters claim this isn’t your Father’s D&D and they would be right.  Does that make it not D&D, no.  This is still gaming in a High-Fantasy setting. 

What I like about 4e: Character generation is somewhat easier than AD&D.  Bards flat out rock in 4e.  The makeover given to this class is outstanding.

What I don’t like: Combat takes forever.

Favorite memory:  Yes combat takes forever, but we didn’t notice the time until we’d finished the encounter.  We did enjoy ourselves.

Your turn:
Please keep the flames out.

June 16, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , | 20 Comments

Dungeons & Dragons Edition Wars: D&D 3.5

DandD35The third edition of D&D is one that I missed completely.  D&D 3.5, however, is responsible for the renaissance of the RPG industry.  Granted that is my opinion, but WotC opened up the rules with the OGL (Open Game License for those who want to know).  Many D&D supplements were produced by third party companies.  Many non-D&D games were also produced using the OGL causing a resurgence of the industry.

What I like about 3.5: OGL, naturally.

What I don’t like about 3.5: Haven’t ever gotten the chance to play it.

Your turn:

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , | 6 Comments