Friday, March 30, 2012

'Thoughts on Roleplaying and how GMs encourage and discourage it

In the past I have said you can do good role playing in any system.  We did plenty of great character interactions in AD&D back in the day.  Sorry I am not cool enough to talk like that, back in my day which is more specifically the eighties.  Really that statement needs to be qualified, I believe.  Let us please add though system and Game Master may also encourage or discourage role playing through mechanics.

What I am getting at here is the Role of the Game Master and the Role of the system in encouraging or discouraging the players investment in characters.  While I feel any system can provide great roleplaying experiences that will largely be up to the players at the table.  The Game Master being primary of those.

Lets talk about system and how it can derail and drive players.  The depth of a system needs to be global or players will often feel discouraged or even cheated.  I have seen a Deadlands player utterly pissed that his gambling rogue creation was so limited compared to a Huckster.  One was basically a skill based character and the other had skills and a complete magical advancement system as possibilities.  Similarly when I have played Talislanta I have felt if you don't have access to magic the game is not worth playing.  That would be fourth edition of Tal with all the modes of magic and whatnot. A system that rewards and denies like that can quickly change how players approach the game.

Flowing form this is reward.  I think this falls on the Game Master pretty squarely.  If you are not giving some experience reward for Roleplaying and character interaction, players will eventually navigate tackling the challenges that you do reward.  This can also drive what players set as character goals.  If you don't allow them to seek out and create the in world benefits they desire you are buffaloing them into some other game aspect.

Really the game should be a collaboration that is going to take some work off of the Game Master.  If you are going to avoid player driven game plots you are taking a perhaps more well know approach but one that may be harder.  I am really not judging here, I usually take the understood manual approach through the bushes in my life. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A tale of the Vrehalija part 2

The Operculum undulated close by; coming to wakefulness in the dusk light.  It's shell was only lightly loaded with packs and bundled nets, travel would be easy.  The snails foot moved near constantly, rippling a thousand tiny steps over the cooling sand.  Ooshinahope hand named the Operculum his ship but it was in truth a living beast with it's own will.  From the netting Ooshinahope drew a vial of persimmon wine and poured into a fine leaded flute glass.  He sat long moments knees bent blow his body waiting for an approaching moment of perfection.  A second before glass was cool with night air and a second after it was too warm.  A simple ritual to welcome the evening the lone man kept when there was a chill at night.

Day silks traded for leathers gentile implements traded for a wild bladed lance.  Ooshinahope loosed the lighted bugs which guided burning bright.  They picked up on the parasites of the Operculum for supper and swarmed above as it went.  This was the Vrehalija's path through the sandsea, ever traveling to the east.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A tale of the Vreehalija part 1

The suns made a final attempt, blazing for a just a moment before sinking way to the west.  With daylight the day had been humid and oppressive, but with darkness it was quickly cold.  These were the middle days where winter fights against the coming warmth of the year.  It always seemed the victory came with dark.  Ooshinahope places a hand upon the mound structure of the aqueduct that had been shading.  These structures crossed the desert bringing water to the dry lands.  In some huge ventricular ley lines coursed with water coursing a vast flush of water with several hearts pumping in unison.  Here an infinite line of insects carried droplets from one basin to another.  All one must do is bore through the mount wall to gain the life saving water.  It was a system the desert men such as Ooshinahope relied.

Ooshinahope was of the high desert people who called themselves the Vreehalija.  A high born people who even in servitude held themselves aloof and proper.  The call of the horseman was in the blood but, Ooshinahope answered in his own way.  For all the cavalrymen, He was a nomad, for all the merchants he was captain.  He was his own, few could say that, but he was his own.  Fate hand granted Ooshinahope a ship and the sea of sand.  He could ask for no greater gifts. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thoughts on derailing a role playing game

Something I find missing as a gaming adult is the pain in the ass of it all.  My game nights have becomes some sort of well timed machine of Swiss design.  All the parties involved arrive and disappear to their component lives.  This is all great and terrible, with odd effects on the playing of the game.

As a youth nothing happened without great trial and effort.  Someone always needed a ride or someone needed to be tracked down.  Some poor soul living in a tent in a back yard had to make his way to a mall to find Brian who would charge him gas money for the drive. One of them had to finish talking up a girl at the local taco bell.  Then there was food or some sort of food run to interrupt the session.

But for all that the games went off pretty well.  Two things were at work here.  Everyone was putting in some effort to make this thing happen, so it was a focus once there. Also the pain in the butt of it added to the length of play.  We were holding six or seven hour games rather than four hours on a work night.  To be fair the computer wasn't linked up and micronized back then so there were no hand held interruptions.  There were no pdf's just books.  Very little distracted from the table except perhaps the music and most metal served as a soundtrack.

These days we arrive from work and fit it in with families.  There is no time for the long game.  There is no time to even be of the game we are always of many minds around a table that is held quiet.  Don't get me wrong this is the gaming I can get so I take it.  But we often joke around the table or burst with information that could be of use to each other in our normal lives.  This results in an experience not as strong days of old.  Even the relations around the table differ.  My fellow adventures seldom change my life anymore.  This wasn't so many years ago. There was a secret language of music and film spoken around the table.  It took much effort to learn and was slowly rationed.  Back in the days of VHS watching a movie wasn't a download it was a cross town search.  Now I find myself watching a few minutes of a suggested movie and then clicking Netflix over to something good.  These interactions that start and stop with the game table seem to want to be more but every joke or story cheats an already short game night.

The theory I am suggesting in this piece is that gaming is like sleep.  There is a certain duration of tossing and turning before you hit REM.  This is very much analogous to gaming chatter and goofing off before one hits the meat of playing.  As a solution to this problem I posit we start with dinner.  Something simple at a pizza parlor or taco bell but some place to get out the talking that seems to derail every game I play in.  If you don't have time make it as paramount importance.  Find time to forget the day and say the stupid things at one table then get down to playing at the game table.

Monday, March 26, 2012

My thoughts on 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons

This concept of 5th edition working with all variations of Dungeons and Dragons is weird.  I am trying to wrap my head around what underpins all of the existing systems and is in common.  I keep coming back to the need for more generic system the works almost like a function that the GM must apply to a bunch of characters all speaking in separate languages.

If you really take a hard look at first and second editions they are close enough to be the same game.  I Know it hurts me to say that, as 2nd edition is an abomination that should be burned, but its true.  Third and Three point five, even pathfinder could be one system.  Fourth edition is its own ballpark.  The only things that are common amongst all systems are attributes and hit points.  And in truth the scale of those varies.

With players that are devoted to a particular system they are going to want to play entirely in that system.  I have been at enough combined first and second edition tables to know the players want to handle themselves entirely within that particular rule set.  The game will need to treat each player as a black box. Input going in and out will need to be in some edition specific language or a language that player can be convert them self.  Everyone at the table will need to convert fifth edition to their own edition language which gets complicated.

Your first and second editions players are going to give answers like yes and no to saving throw roles.  The rest will be giving the DM saving throw values.  This could be handled simply enough by just accepting the yes and no as the saves are more granular in lower editions.  I mean they have five or six saves for rods and poison all sorts of stuff in the early editions of the game.  Perhaps this allows for automatic saves that are now allowed in other versions of the game but so what.  To hit roles will be a little more complicated with third and fourth edition players saying they rolled a 35 while the fist and second edition players say they hit a thaco of -10 or -15.  You will probably need some sort of damage increase between game versions as well.

One of the biggest problems I see are skills. They don't exist in first edition.  Skills come in as either having a skill or not in second edition.  In third and three point five skills are core to the game.  In Fourth skills are there but with very limited control over where points are placed.  This creates a problems where first edition folks are just going to need to role play out ideas with other edition players making dice rolls.  A strong DM will allow this to flow the same with the third edition folks influencing their skill roles with role playing ideas and what not.  The problem would be DM's that encourage your ideas but having the rules coming down to a dice roll.  These guys will derail the train.

One of the problems here is giving a first edition player skills means they are not playing first edition.  Any modification to fit a common system is going to effectively break their edition specific gaming experience.  Items may need to be multi stated in this light. Will player be able to over rule special abilities that are not present in their version of the Dungeons and Dragons system?  Early editions don't allow for much increase of attributes but this becomes common in later editions, even statistically required.

I am having difficulty finding much more information other than the fifth edition is being worked on.  If you have a site that has some better details please let me know.

The Amazing Pudding

Tears of the dead arise from the grave and wash the scales from my eyes.  Living land breathe once again give my voice unto the sky.  Dream small birds safe airs for wandering wing.  Call out warning when the dark wakes once more.  There shall be no more terror falling upon us, its already drown out the shore and washed back to sea.  Burn the bridges lets not be back again. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Richards Scarry's Puzzletown Part 3

 Hi folks.  I am doing another post on the Richard Scarry puzzletown toys by PaySkool.  There were sub lines released in 1977.   One that included a figure, small building and car and a second sub set of Cars and figures.  In this post I am focusing on the "Puzzletown People, Cars and Places" assortment.  The buildings in this set are small roadside stands.  Rather than use the standard green plastic building square it uses a half sized square that is only found in this set.  It is half the size of the standard green base and a quarter the size of the large base.  A cool feature is the underside included locking elements for vertical building.  These work great in combination with some of the more square buildings, especially the sesame street set that does work 100% with the Richard Scarry sets.
 The first set is "Lowly's Fruit Stand"   It creates a little fruit stand with various produce and such.  If you notice the roof is not a full sized piece.  These roof piece only cover two inches rather than three.  This stand came with Lowly which is the same as in the railroad set so you get a duplicate.  The apple car which is shown below came with this set.
Be careful buying this one on eBay as people seem to go nuts for it.   I have seen the apple car alone go for fifty dollars American. 

Next is the Produce stand.  I think I am missing an egg or two, i sort of remember a cracked one.  This set came with Farmer alfalfa's wife from the farm set.  The Egg car shown below also came with this set.

 The next set is Huck's doughnut shop.  It comes with several doughnuts and the stand.  Huck from the cottage set came with this set so again nothing new as for the figure.  The doughnut card came along with this set.

My daughter wanted in on the pictures so you can see her there in the back ground.  She is who i recollected the sets for so I thought it was sort of fitting having her somewhere in all these posts.
A little note on collecting these sets.  You should look for the sets being included in bundles.  Sometimes people don't realize these are their own sets and include them in with the standard sets from 1976.  The cars sort of give them away but I have scored piece for these off a lot purchase I made.  The prices for these sets are often ridiculous.  I say that as a parent buying toys for his kid, not as a collector.
Here are a couple of shots of the cars I have mentioned above.  They are a touch more complex than the cars from the other sets.  They get into some of the more fantastic vehicles Scarry drew, in his books.

Go see my other Puzzletown posts Here and Here

There is also a brand new post here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Go the fuck to Sleep

Lift your defiant flag
Shout down the gale
Cry against us, unjust
Hammer down the nail

Beg for moments more
worm and weasel child
Never without a fight
your never meek or mild

Shrill and shriek
when all calm and dark
Arise sleeping lane
Tyranny felt your mark

All crashing to your will
In the manor on this night
Nothing is soft or still
Lanterns burn ever bright

Warnings you don't hear
Carry On without fear
Elders broken cry
Don't you wonder why?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Silent Missings

Breathe in the room, no don't think of something pretentious and see.  Only see things as themselves for a second.  Then speak to me of they're connections.  The little lands of past that well up inside of you.  Give it memory and memory breath and voice.  Love the little pains inward and set them free to be told.

Of the broken finger tips that brush about mourn.  Give your mourning word.  Any Silent missing that wells when birds sing is a joy and terror that binds us all together.  To simply wish away?  No you know better.  Bare that and be of it.  Don't only hold them like a stone.  Live their lives down to your bones.

In your Grand's words find what you understand.  Let it take you by the hand all days ahead.  Take a token touch it when you feel forgot.  Return to true when other try to move you.  Everyone who have loved, made me ; same as you.  No one has left if they live along in you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fucked up fucker moves in the Gaming Industry

As I prowl through various game related sites every so often I get a feeling like some just don't give a shit.  They leave sparse information sitting around while other just sort of exist in status.  I am going to call out the guilty by their actions but exclude their names. I will give a few shout outs for people who get it right thought, so don't this this is a bitch session.  This is really just my viewpoint on what is good and bad in gaming; with a focus on the Internet.

Fucked up move #1: Leaving a site devoid of updates for fucking years.  What the fuck man what is the point.  You have cancelled all development in your product lines and just hope to offer existing product is what I guess is happening here.  Perhaps you could move to PDF sales with everything handled by a third party.  Or maybe you can move to blog style updates of your site letting us know what is going on in your own gaming.  It give the feel that there is someone behind the storefront.

Dick Move #2: Blogging "news" and only news.  You are a retailer of sorts even if you are not doing ecommerce on site.  You should give me detailed product pages for all your product lines.  I should never need to work out what products you are currently supporting.  I understand TSR covering everything they ever printed would be crazy to ask for, but a list of current products is not.  I should clearly understand your game when i leave your site, if not you have not done a good job selling it to me.

Fucking fucker move #3: Not answering email and to a lesser extend not monitoring your forum.  I expect you to answer otherwise its just bad service.  If I post a product related question on your forum I am also hoping for information.  No response destroys trust and confidence.

To give credit where it is due. Here are a couple of examples of things I love in the gaming industry.

Palladium books does a weekly update of their site with news on all the products they are working on.  They even include information on sales.  You almost feel like you have two much information after reading a few weeks of updates.  It is also very informative of the game development process, approvals, waiting and editing I never knew.

Iron Crown does a great job on their forum.  I once asked a question on how to implement something for my own game world.  The games creators responded back with their thoughts and some sample rules custom created for me.  That is service.  But just responding to an email is also huge.

Fantasy Flight Games has a great website that lists all the products for each of their lines.  They also have pdf's of rules ready for download and extra special web material.  It's a single point of information for everything about the current edition of their games.

Say what you will

Choking down the days that come too fast We need nothing no rush not crush but just quiet A soft chair and time to be weary silence or a soft glowing room where people serve our needs Nothing so grand as kings but instead the dead Nothing more than a comfortable seat and content child and an oft refilled drink My lord hear my prayer let her sleep early tonight and my dogs curl up next to me on the couch Let there be something good on where spouses can agree let the music I drive to fill the mood Please no more silly things filled with panic no more big ends sunk down into every day Help and hope if only for today

Dr. Pepper and Cream the offical beverage of Crescentstar

 So everyone is aware of the horrible truth I am a fat person.  Sure I can blame it on the Prednisone that I take as part of my anti rejection medication suite, but I don't.  I am Fat because I eat like a pig and my favorite drink would kill Jack Lalanne.

This was one of my many drink abominations that I created at my time in the Olive Garden.  Others were The Snow Ball , (a combination of coconut turani sauce along with red grenadine and cream) Raspberry Lemonade fizzer ( 7up and minute maid concentrate ) and a few other nightmares.

 But my most inspired drink was always the Dr. Pepper and Cream.  Truly the nectar of the gods.  Some of the brave few who have tried it have said, and i quote "That's not so bad as it sounds."  In your face Laverne Defazio.

I hope to have you interested.  You can see the process in the slides to the left.  Doctor Pepper in glass is step 1.  Float cream over pepper is step 2.  Never cream first, Never Cream first.

The mix is four parts Pepper to one part creams.  The glass you see in the picture is 20.oz full of creamy joy.  The cream has a tendency to over power the Dr. Pepper so the throwback and Dublin Dr. Pepper varieties do not provide much improvement to the experience.

This is also a great breakfast soda.  There are some great sodas out there that you just don't want to start your day with.  Dr. Pepper and cream goes down smooth in the morning. 

If you are familiar with the Italian cream soda, that is really the seed from which I created this ambrosia.  Here you can see my fat ass ready with a nice big glass.  I am toasting your cholesterol.  I am a genetic freak and can do this a couple of times a season without fear of heart disease.  You should probably consult a physician.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thoughts on roleplaying games BRP , Legend and Runequest 6

My interest in gaming comes in fits and furies.  Not that I am ever really out, but sometimes I am two fisted buries into mechanics, collecting and history.  A system that has captured my interest of late is Basic Role Playing.  This is Chaosium's In house game system that under pins Call of Chuthulu, Elric and everything else.  Because of the Chaosium association it is also attached to RuneQuest.  This is where things really get interesting. 

RuneQuest in its most recent incarnations has been published by Mongoose and now The Design Mechanism.  What this has led to is three publishers coming out for material all with a closely related source.  What this tends to do is product a lot of material that can be easily folded into you existing/new campaign.  This reminds me of AD&D in the early and mid 80's where you had Arduin, Mayfair and several others producing material.  You end up with small run products that can give your game a distinct feel, think All the worlds monsters. 

I am currently working through the new version of Mongooses runequest, which they have re branded as the game LegendBRP from Chaosium is in the mail and I am waiting for new on The Design Mechanism's RuneQuest 6.  I plan on working up some of the differences and flavors of each system. 

I can already tell you runequest and Legend have the cult based magic system that comes from Runequest.  There was something I read about a spell less magic system that allowed for something like Shadowrun's physical adepts in the RuneQuest 6.  This is nice as I have felt the game does much with magic but the combat systems was a little bland for warrior.  This could be because of the gritty nature of combat.

The system or systems are pretty exciting to me as they seem to allow for many different characters, and allow for you to explore facets of your character without leaving a class.  In pathfinder I feel like my cleric must level to gain more healing power or the party will suffer.  I am playing a cleric because the party would suffer without one.  I might prefer something else but I am trying to be supporting of the game rather than disruptive.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dark Conspiracy the Role Playing Game

Thanks to
Back in the olden days, we did our gaming around a table and we liked it.  It was face to face, much like a couple of silver spoons, and it was fun.  Gaming was imaginative and was story driven.  While where were always munchkins it wasn't all about items or character power.  It wasn't even about guild power.  It was about some story that was fun and hanging out with your friends; or at least people you tolerated. 

Back in that time the Role play industry was very dynamic and exciting.  There were titles coming out every year and they were well supported with product lines that allowed for year of play.  Even smaller genres like horror had many products line on the market. It was a time when every taste of playing could be satisfied.  The legacy of this time can be recaptured through eBay and pdf should one know where to look.  I am sure whole product lines can be torrented if you are willing. I prefer books myself and have the overflowing bookshelf to prove it.

Speaking of horror role playing games  one of the most fun was Dark Conspiracy.  While many games focused on a run or go insane style of play Dark Conspiracy was very two fisted 80's violence.  It was designed to dovetail with Twilight 2000 and allowed you all sorts of guns, bomb and missiles to blow up Frankenstein's monster with.  The conspiracy was not the modern "9/11 was an inside job" sort of thing but rather the goofier "Boys from Brazil" type.  The intention was a fun game that solved problems with a hail of bullets.

If you are interested in playing RPG Historian and trying out an archaic system, I want to be your helper.  Wikipedia has a nice list of the products that are currently out there and some nice links to online magazine sites for Dark conspiracy.  What they don't do too well is explain what all these titles are.

Dark Conspiracy Core Rulebook:  This is the big book with all the core rules.  It has guns and monsters and everything.  You definitely need this if you are going to play. 

Empathic Source book:  I would call this book number two. Empathic stuff in the main book is pretty sparse so allowing for characters to go farther than the basics is not possible without this book.

Dark Races 1:  This is the games monster manual and I think allows players to play a humanoid NPC this is very important if you are doing your own adventures, less so if now.

DarkTek: This ends up being the treasure book for the players but what it is meant to be is tool box the GM can throw at them.  Its important if you are making your own adventures.

ProtoDimensions Source book 1: When your party gets high level they are assumed to star dimension traveling.  When your party reaches that level, which is pretty log into character development  this becomes an important book.

PC Booster Kit: This thing is weird, it changes the game mechanics to d20 based instead of d10 for more depth of play.  I think it also give you rules for playing the dark elves.  It is in the old module format and the cardboard serves as a gm screen.  For some folks this is going to be something you need from day one, for others it can wait.

The rest of the products are modules.  These would be Among the Dead, Heart of Darkness, Hellsgate, Ice Daemon, New Orleans and Night Sider.  Some function almost as area source books (New Orleans) others are large world hoping modules.  Hellsgate even allows for dimension hoping.

Some other products you may want to know about are Minion Hunter and Minion Nation.  One is a big boxed board game in the Dark Conspiracy World.  The other is an expansion for the game, many people confuse this as a product for the Dark Conspiracy Role playing game.  The twilight 2000 2nd edition Heavy weapons handbook, guns handbook and Nautical Aviation handbook could be of use for this game.  Also the Cadillac's and Dinosaurs game is also a compatible product.  Basically all of the 2nd edition twilight products are compatible.  First edition twilight 2000 products are not compatible.  If you can find Challenge magazines from the time these provided a large amount of information with articles on creatures, guns, modules and equipment.  Don't forget to check out Demonground and Protodimension magazines.

Another attempt at writing a song

I was thinking of Sun Kil Moon's "Lily and Parrots" for the rhythm but I was trying to work in the song format.  I don't know if its anything but I work in poetry and prose so much, these felt a little different.

Rage sunk down to my bones
I'll forget it when i'm alone
It's all cold til the highway
Get in the car think ill stay

The house with torn screen door
been calling me forever more
The one we once lived in
from humble starts we begin

Couple years with no problems
Then one more nothing but them
Couple times you broke windows
how many smash tv's i don't know

it's crazy we're still together
maybe we're afraid to be alone
give me back my records!!
No I'm scared to be alone

Sweet love don't ever leave me
Don't hit your ass on the door
give me back my records!!
No I'm scared to be alone

The police don't need to be called
Your crazy bitch glad I called
give me back my records!!
No I'm scared to be alone

it's crazy we're still together
maybe we're afraid to be alone
give me back my records!!
No I'm scared to be alone

Friday, March 16, 2012

Final thoughts on Star Wars and MMO that feels completed

Well my adventures in Star Wars: the old Republic are complete.  That is a strange statement for an MMO but it feels true.  The game gave me a nice little completion cut scene when I finished my Jedi class quest and it felt completed. 

When playing the game I set a few goals of completing my class quest, Maxing out my Qyzen Fess affection and getting to level 5 in dark side.  I hit two out of three, the dark side just didn't feel very compelling after completing the other two.  I would have grabbed a title that I didn't care about, so what.  I didn't have much cash so buying up my speeder skill and getting the Xenos didn't feel like a real goal.  In a weird way the completion of Qyzen, Corellia and the Class quest worked too well.

In going back to my old favorite, D&D online, I really felt wow why would I go back to star wars.  D&D online is sort of like listening to Dio, it's awesome and great and sort of comforting like home.  I just had to do a few quests to get the feel of a night of SWTOR.  It just felt rewarding and challenging.  Not that I was even doing quests at my own level, i was getting favor for a few low level quests.  But I had to do more than kill five of these guys and lot ten of an item.  I had to click on things, I had to open a secret door or two.  I had to click on an npc to follow me while I managed his health.

When I play Star Wars there was always some five minute quest I could run just around the corner.  There was always something little I could do.  I found myself up until 1.30 with all these little things all the time.  With Dungeon and Dragons I can run a few big quests and feel like damn, I did something.  Star War felt like Chinese food to me, you can always take a little bite but you are never really full.  The class quest felt like they gave me the fortune cookie at the end so I knew I was done.  DDo is a steak!

More prose from my dreamquest story Of the unknown Aloysius

The road coughed up around us as we left, roiling up dust in some attempt to swallow the car.  This would give way to rain in a hundred miles but for a time it was dust and dark.  Neither were talk, me nor him.  Vengeance was solemn and in this cases needed no voice. 

In other eyes we may have been riders, set out against the world.  But this wasn't mythic; just two needing to unset a wrong.

It wasn't Anglac Axebearer by my side or even Mousk, rather it was Lucerne.  This shieldman untested I, Aloysius, grumbled doubt.  Fail or Fight either was fine, uncertainty was a worry. Lucerne's cause was another, we sought Haddibaugh that was simple.  Often I found myself in his schemes but Lucerne; why?

Time proved me both wrong and right on Lucerne.  He would work himself up a hero to some other lost soul; and finally be bound to play the role.  He would be wild and lash out mad not measured.  It would go unwell but perhaps we would win.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway

Lets start this off by saying I am not OK, and I am going through and emotional battle daily.  My recent posts probably make this apparent but if someone reads this without that context they need to know.  Sun Kil Moon's Ghosts of the great highway is how I feel.  Its subtle tones open up wounds and sweet pains with each listening.  Some of the depths I don't want to explore as they resonate in uncomfortable ways.  This is a great record.

It is a record of the road the title promises, dust choked and somber at times.  Often as if riding into a storm while on the plains.  For me it conjures images of old Fords on elementary roads traveling from a farm that is being boarded up. There are deep roots that tap into something past and somehow deeply American.

The is a whimsy in tracks like Glenn Tipton that is also twinned with something black humored.  This song debates the two Judas Priest guitarists while telling of a murder spree, which may have lasted two generations.  Things become dark and weird from there.

Carry Me Ohio i guess you could call the single from the album though it is long and almost indecipherable without lyrics.  Its certainly beautiful.  You can feel anguish and loss burrowed down in every note of the song.  Love and Regret is definitely a theme.

Salvador Sanchez is one of the more straight ahead rockers of the record.  It almost has a Screaming Trees feel to it, I could imagine Mark Lanegan singing.  This song is also repeated as Pancho Villa at the end of the record.  I am OK with songs slowed now and reworked but it seemed odd for both to be on the main record.  Steam and Quiet Steam by Peter Gabriel are two totally different songs but they also appear in different locations.

The other rocker Lily and Parrots reminds me a bit of Smog's cold blooded old times.  It has that set repeating riff that sets the beat for the song.

The rest of the songs are generally folksy and guitar based as you would probably expect.  They are solid and with depth, there is plenty to sink your teeth into here.  There is even some almost genesis proggy bits in the outro of Duk Koo Kim.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Roleplaying industry doesnt seem to be on solid footing

I am a little unsatisfied with pathfinder at the moment.  Sure there is plenty you can do with a character, but it lacks the delving depth of something classless.  Which is sort of goofy to even think about because our current game is not allowing for much other than stumbling advancement; two years in and we are not all 5th.  I have been poking around and its odd to find how hard the industry has been hit lately.

Many companies are saying they have been lashed by hard years and are reworking their product lines.  Or pausing and taking stock.  Palladium seems to have been hit early and is already coming to strength.  Other companies like Red Brick and Iron Crown are in the woods it seems.  I guess Red brick isn't with Mongoose anymore and is working at reprinting its books.  Iron Crown are working to get new stuff pushed out with their Sci Fi Harp and get the old harp stuff back in print.  I guess they are having trouble with some of it luckily i have all the printed books.  Talislanta well who knows.  I am sad to see as many of these companies are trying to maintain classic titles or are buy outs of classic publishers. 

I wouldn't mind something like Harp or Rolemaster really.  I like the depth you can take in those games.  Maybe even something like the old warHammer after a few classes.  My cleric in pathfinder just feels like he will be a cleric forever more.  The party needs him to be that and until I have significant levels I will be gimping him by taking an alternate class.  I wish I could have a character that felt a little more full featured. 

It's funny as D&D 5th edition is talking more about being old school, I want something a little newer than that.  That allows me to cover more bases.  Maybe Runequest, or hero quest or is it called legends now.  All I know is with the time I have to read and money available it probably isn't going to happen any time soon.

A storm called sickness

Seems like a storm swallowed up the world and we are just doing our best to baton down the doors.  It's everywhere eating us up in gulps or gnawing like were bone.  Inside trying to keep it out, but the gale beats on.  Out and your in it just trying to keep your head up.  Clouds that sit idle above us grey and soaking.  Find some clearer skies and you know they are back home when you return.  Even the house is wet to the bone and we don't feel like its home.  Your sick and tired but this doesn't let up; so it begins taking out on each other.  You peer out the window and shudder a little that its still the same, wince at the weatherman saying more is coming your way.  Even when he jokes your so tired that you scream at the screen what now, how is there more.  I can't help who helps me.  Then you realize the storm is a tornado for someone else and your ashamed you complained.  You get back to it, work hard again, silent stoic building up the sandbags for someone else.  But your still dead on your feet.  You still exhausted.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Awhile by the water

Going with my statements I am trying to write to keep in the writing state of being.  Which i guess for me could be something like a manic state or personality facet.  I am feeling the meter from a song called Glenn Tipton by Sun Kil Moon.  I think some of the words are coming from Rush's Bacchus Plateau. 

Its unedited and less word pruned than I usually like to be.  I am trying to be more folk spun simple and use words like I might speak.  I am not this overly dramatic person that may come through in my writing, which is almost angular.  I am much more Kerouac than I am Ginsberg in person.  I don't know about big displays, they seem suspect to me.  I am the quiet person in the corner that leaves early and writes even in a party of writers. 

I am working on my ten thousand reps here.  Small movements to see what works but still make it feel like me.

I'll pull down the clouds
and head for the sea,
but only if you go with me
awhile by the water

It wont be dark til later
Go whenever you need
"stay" I wont even plead
give me a change of seasons

I'll take the mountains
For my own reasons
Give me hope out loud
chilly morning longing fountain

Play in guises upon the land
Foolish children hand in hand

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thoughts on my writing process

My process for writing is pretty non existent. If there is a start it is with a couple of words that link together in my mind or I hear a song that has a gives me a meter. From there it's as thought something turns on and takes over and I have written. It feels like I a conduit for something else, I can sort of steer it or edit what was created after the fact but it goes madly and out of control.

You can feel it coming from time to time and I just do my best to get in a place to accept it. I am not saying writing is supernatural or that you must be born to it. The more I write the more I stay in the receptive place. The more I force myself through inactive periods the more active periods I have. In short the more I ask of myself the more I can give.

I am a different writer than I was in the past. I don't think that means better. I have read old stuff I have written and said wow I did that, it's almost like I have no recollection. But I understand now I have a better picture of what I want to do be doing. Not in terms of focus for individual pieces but rather style.

For me its about alliteration, my desire is to be seen as a modern skald writing prose Edda. My rhyming is week almost comical which is fine, I want that alliteration as my forte and the rest can be foible. Though lets be honest my true foil is meter I am weak there. That is why I use music when writing I am trying to feel a song and use that beat for my words.

Time neutral is a phrase I think of for my writing. I long ago decided I am trying for some nebulous time affectation in my writing. I want to use words that could be of today or a hundred years ago. I don't want to be pinned down, even if I have a specific date in mind I don't to be held fast by the reader.

My imagery is Eliot, Burnt Norton is almost what I would call my perfect bundle of pictures. But for my eyes its more American more Western, black and white. Maybe with a broken down Ford. I try to be expressionistic but fail to impressions.

I'm sure you can see music also makes it's way into titles and even the body of my works. I don't know about that at times, its goofy and amateurish. But that's a pretty good description of this whole site.

Review for John Carter of Mars

As fortune would have it, I was able to get out to the show Friday.  Yes for the first time in a year I actually got out to the movies.  I have been wanting to see John Carter or Mars for some time so this was my chance.  As a disclaimer I have not read Princess of Mars or any of the source material.

I am going to start off by saying this movie isn't for everyone.  The original story was written around 1913 and it focuses on some pretty outdated views of mars.  The story addresses these in some cases an ignores them in others.  They have a walking city being responsible for some of the banding that was seen on mars with early telescopes.  This is not mentioned and is left for only those with knowledge of astronomical history or those who have read the actual books.  They why and how John Carter can do his physical feats is left for late in the film.  Though there is an early scene of him getting used to Martian gravity.  This is done pretty comically bordering on hokey.

The action of the film also walks a line of fun and hokey, sometime diving into the later.  The look is sort of hyperactive and unrefined.  It reminded me a bit of the Yoda versus Count Dooku fight in Star Wars.  I personally would have preferred a bit more detailed swordplay. If they ever do an Elric Of Melnibone movie I really hope they go with gritty clashing sword action rather than this style.  This sort of one touch one kill action is actually more in line with stormbringer but it just seems goofy to me.

The story was OK, thought pretty convoluted.  For some reason The plot reminded me Beast Master with Mark Singer.  It just had a sort of plodding going places sort of vibe to it.  I know that criticism can be applied to Lord of the Rings but it felt like there was a reason and everything was driving forward.  This one seemed to have the back and forth of a legend of Zelda game.

The imagery was great though it really felt fantastic, almost Rodger Dean inspired at times.  But without being a lame copy like Avatar, what a piece of shit that was. The airships were interesting if a little like eldar wave serpents.  It was inspiring for me as this is pretty close to the look of my ongoing role playing game project.

All and all I am going to say you probably already know if you are going to like this movie.  If you like scifi and fantasy you will enjoy it.  If you don't care for this sort of stuff then just stay away.  If you are on the fence you will be on the fence about it afterward.  Probably best at a lower price.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Update on my mom's illness

Well my mom's cancer treatments are going along.  She has been doing radiation, chemo and Avastin.  Really things are going surprisingly well.  There was a day after she took Ambien that she was very out of it.  I think we all mistook this as the cancer making very marked progress but it appears to be the medicine.  I know I was terrified as my grandma, her mom, died of a similar tumor in the brain.  My mom seemed to be matching pace with the progress that occurred in my Grandma's case.  My Grandma only lived six weeks after the cancer was found and she was not herself.  My Grandma was exceedingly sharp almost cuttingly so in observation.  My mom is sharp but not so cerebral minded.  Seeing her struggle to get out words when she knows exactly what she means is hard.

I have been really relieved to see her acting pretty much as herself.  I know my daughter misses being watched by her Grammy but I think the rest time she is getting after here treatments is key in this. 

I understand this is going to be a long haul disease.  Pointedly I understand this is a fight we will lose, even is she beats the cancer there is still death for all of us to face.  I am just happy to have my mom with us now and not gone already.  I want as much time for her and Keri, the kid, as possible. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Deeper Dirt

trudging through the deeper dirt
hidden groves of ash and hurt
Never lit trestles form the way
writing out the course Ill stay

Green and grief a narrow path
I consent and let go my wrath
Free to live in beauty lost
and blind myself to the cost

Give yourself another grace
I'm resigned to this place
Take holy relics of your stride
picnic trash by the roadside

Monday, March 05, 2012

Seldom souls

Sound of seldom souls flew up like a wall against our silence and ourselves.  I was only Aloysius watching whatever we were dissolve in Nicene's eyes.  Bound we walked She was delicate as every, I stumbled trying to weave our ribbons back together.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sweet Came the Sun

 This is sort of the work that came out of listening to the song Carry Me Ohio by Sun Kil Moon.  I have sort of a memory synesthesia when I hear certain songs.  This took me to the hills behind my house at sun down.  I tried to get it but I started drifting more to the song.  I don't know if this is the song or what.

Sweet came the sun
down lit the hills golden
just before day slipped away
one last kiss for stones to know

then Night things awoke
and there was no cold
eyes looked on eager and still
Higher hope fold in will

clouds turning from pink to grey
just before the light gave way.
All faces on the missed stayed
breaking in sorrow or hate

Lights of our little city arose
promising dreams be true
For some who it was but let
to all the wonder that it was

Split the company awhile
Too much and I get confused
everything swallows me up
if I can't run again away

clouds turning from pink to grey
just before the light gave way.
clouds turning from pink to grey
just before the light gave way.

Highway and far away
regret sets seeping in
familiar like a friend
Looking back on other ends

clouds turning from pink to grey
just before the light gave way.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Midnight City

Aloysius awoke as though surfacing wrecked at sea.  Alone and panic in quiet moments burst with light and breath with sound, no not breath but gasp desperate.  Self is apparent but other or anyone else obscured until you know you're OK. This our hero took as true but wondered of where he was at.

Again crept something Nicene, not concrete, but this world lightened in her touch.  Aloysius wandered awash with stores and stalls many abandoned in the last days of the faire.  He found in measures, himself bound but not with Nicene who he greeted bewildered though she simply smiled.

They stepped the high promenade speaking truths this world interred; more read histories than selfsame memories.  Nothing in them seemed live and lived but strange posited actions who's reaction arrived them here.  Nicene too took another, and was mother to his child.  But none of this seemed lived in nor worn.  And they walk together in outsideness until reaching well worn streets.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Little pictures of confession

Am I trying too hard, When
I should just be plain Nothing
hidden and nothing deep, us
little pictures of confession

moments others would leave
locked up and untold, rather
to tell them and hold red
hands up for the crime

The long straggling line errant, breaking, time

Words on kids robbed
of innocence or youth
Come against adult failing left,
Out when thought tucked away

More couplets of outcomes mirroring guilt
In their own grown ways

Out of curiosity I read some of Nick Flynn's poetry.  This arose