Saturday, December 31, 2016

Like Some Acknowledgement?

I look at other games, often catch something I don't like and wail, "oh my god why did you do that!!!" Sometimes I even go so far as to write the author about it (which they absolutely loooooove, not) but of course - duh - it's hard to change a game system after it has been dressed up and shipped out the door.

Well, here is your chance to wail at me for making the stupid mistakes I make - before - the game has passed the point of no return. I need some feedback. The link below leads to a zip file containing the white pages of the system books as well as a few scans of some sample characters. Take a look. Tell me what you think, and I will put your name in the acknowledgments section once it is published.

Red EFT RPG White Pages

And if you don't want to be acknowledged but still want to tell me what you think. That's fine too. My email address can be found at the top of each PDF. Just be sure to include the phrase Red EFT in the message title so I can keep track of it.

So, what is the Red EFT RPG?
This is the latest and hopefully - last - incarnation of a game I have been designing, destroying and rebuilding since the early 90's. I would call it a medium-weight universal rpg. Something a bit more involved than Risus or the Black Hack but not nearly as big and cumbersome as Pathfinder or D&D. As a kid I got my start with Moldvay's B/X D&D and that has always struck me as the perfect amount of heft a game should have. Although the Red EFT is using something called "Fantasy Sandbox" as its starter kit and is very D&D inspired, it is not strictly a fantasy game. I chose that direction simply because it seemed easy and familiar. My actual goal is a bit more ambitious.

Your Actual Goal?
Yes. Total Global World Domination.
Just kidding.
Global World Domination would be redundant.
Since the late 90's I have been working on a way to create a computer program which would allow people to build and share their work online. The game would be developed over the internet but played in the traditional table top fashion. It started off as a windows app that used FTP with angelfire accounts and has since grown over a number of iterations to become a PHP/JQuery driven web-app.

The problem I've been running into all these years (and have been too deep into to realize) is that I have been spending far too much time developing the site and not enough fine-tuning the game. Every time I would make a change to the system it would take about four times as much time to update the site to match it. This created a Sisyphus style situation where whenever I would get near completion I would look at the system, discover a bunch of core changes which needed to be made and that rock would roll me back to zero.

About two years ago this happened again, but this time PHP was to blame. PHP 7 changed the way it accesses databases. It was a small change but one that would mean rewriting hundreds if not thousands of pages of code. I almost canned it right there, but I decided I would rebuild the site and system one last time. This time, however, I would make a critical change. I decided to push the site aside and work at hammering down the game in its entirety before redesigning the site.

Now? Maybe the game is not completely hammered down but it is pretty damn close, about as close as I have the time to make it. I have a different website which I have been reprogramming and will be ready to fly in February. After that release I am hoping to gut it down to a platform that I can use to build the new Red EFT site on top of, as well as that site redesign. Which means I also need those rules ready to go.

So this is it. I am getting too old to spend so much time designing tabletop RPG systems. There will not be another one, so tell me what you think about it or forever hold your peace.

And Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On Escapism

I was a problem daydreamer as a child. Teachers would tell my parents, “he’s a smart boy but his mind is always off elsewhere. He doesn’t pay attention in class.” I have no idea what my parents would say. They were probably off drifting themselves, looking out the window of the classroom, thinking about sailing on the Hudson. You might even be able to snap your fingers before their face to elicit a, “huh? What? Where were we?”

The nuts rarely fall far from the trees.

One thing nobody ever did was stop and bother to ask me what I was daydreaming about or - more importantly - why I was daydreaming.

What I daydreamed about was myriad. I dreamt about the typical things: flying through the asteroid belt blasting space aliens, skiing away from James Bond villians, but I also spent time quietly pondering bigger subjects. Where were we before we were born? What happens after we die? Where did the old gods go? How long can my toenails grow if I stop cutting them? And what kind of a jerk was Einstein for positing the idea that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Didn’t he realize just how hard that was going to make it for me to travel to alien worlds? I so wanted to give that old guy a wedgie.

I also daydreamed about more mundane things. We moved around a lot when I was young. Back in the 70’s & 80’s you might write a letter or two to your old pals in another town but gone was gone. Phone calls were expensive and awkward. It was far easier to conjure them up in your imagination and somehow know how they would act and react to all that was going on. I may not be a great fiction writer, but I am sure that key to understanding how the fiction I have written actually manages to work is this. I know how to daydream. Early on I learned how to conjure up old friends and see the world through eyes which were not my own.

Time Optimized

Why I was daydreaming is a different matter. From an adult’s perspective I was wasting time. Once you are out of school it is easy to look back on that time - which seemed unfathomably long when you were in it but ridiculously short once out - and see it as a time that should be spent learning and preparing for life. Obedience equals success. A child who does not learn to jump through all the hoops that society places before them will eventually end up a circus carney with three wives in four states and a rotten case of meth mouth.

Well. Speaking on behalf of the fourth grader I once was - don’t be a doodie head - I was not wasting time. I was optimizing it. When you daydream you are awake, alive, thinking about the things that concern you most. Especially as a child, you are doing what you can to milk the most out of every waking moment. Remember how hard it was to stop thinking when you were that age? My mind was a top that spun non-stop. I know this because once - around 4th or 5th grade - I sat in my bedroom and performed an experiment. I wanted to see just how long I could go without thinking anything.

“Okay, don’t think of anything.”

“Alright, I’m not thinking anything.”

“Nosiree bob. Nothinng at all is going through my minnnnnnnnndddddd.”

“Okay. I’m thinking of something. I’m thinking about how I don’t want to think of anything. So shut up and stop thinking. Do it! Total shut down of all cognitive functions in 5. 4. 3. 2. 1…”

“Do rockets launch at 1 or at zero?”

“Stop it, already! Damn it! Your thinking again!”

“Okay, no thoughts whatsoever, starting NOW!”


“No that doesn’t count. You can’t make humming noises either.”

“I want nothing. Total silence, right now-”


“Owe! Fuck! That hurt!”

Yes. I am totally serious. I remember trying not to think of anything and having something like an electric whip crack shoot through my brain from ear to ear. It physically hurt. And of course it released the backup of babbling thoughts that normally coursed through my mind. I also used the f-word even though I was supposed to be too young to know it. What can I say, I was a quick learner.

Now? At forty five? I wish my brain operated that way. Nowadays it goes blank on the drop of a hat. Somehow, back as a child, I knew that the excitement and energy of the moment was not to be wasted, that someday I would grow up to become an adult, one of those ricketty wrinkly creatures whose lives did not look like much fun at all. From this point of view, my time was being wasted when it was spent learning how to do square roots by hand. And honestly, when was the last time you used a sine or a cosine in daily life? Once and only once, outside of high school, I found myself using a cube root. Ironically enough, it was for a role playing game which used a computer program to help calculate creature height from an approximation of mass. Even then, I didn’t perform the calculations behind the cube root. I just figured out that one was needed and the computer did the rest.

Necessary Escapes

Which brings me to the matter of Escapism. It’s a tricky subject because the sad truth is that my teachers were right. With the exception of the guys in suits standing at the very top of the social ladder, people are rewarded for their obedience. Success in the adult world depends on the ability to go day after day to some mind-grinding job and do anything which is asked of them whether they like it or not. Those who do not conform to this reality usually end up pan-handling highway interstate exits (sorry kids, not everyone can grow up to be a circus carney). Of course, conforming to society’s desires doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t end up panhandling interstate exits either, but that is another topic for another time.

People need to escape. They need to spend their time in a way that makes sense to their inner selves. We call it wasting time but only as an appeal to social norms. In its own way, admitting that wasted time is actually being wasted is a groveling show of conformity to the grand design of social subjugation. It says, “yes I agree. I need to make some money to stay afloat and that is all that really matters, but the truth is my job sucks just as much as your job sucks and I need to have some fun or I am not sure if I will be able to continue performing my sucky job.”

So in its own way, escapism is a good thing. It helps society by empowering our own necessary conformity. Yet too much of it can be destructive and the world is filled with companies of people whose mind-grinding job is to provide it, often feeding like parasites off of the unhappiness of others. Actually, many of them are even worse than parasites since they don’t care if they kill their hosts or not. For the makers of malt liquor and mmorpgs it’s all the same game. Get as much money as you can out of as many people as you can and if you happen to destroy someone’s life along the way there will always be some other sucker coming down the pike to take that sucker’s place.

And that is why I support table top role playing games. Granted they are not completely off the hook. I think they often cost too much, move too slowly, can be cloyingly uncreative and make too many demands on the people who play them, but - solo modules be damned - you cannot play a tabletop RPG on your own. You cannot play them at work. You cannot play them on your cellphone. You have to actually gather with your friends and be social to make one work. You can, however, dream about them in the meantime. Which is as good a way as any to weather yet another boring board meeting that will ultimately add up to nothing.

Time should never be wasted. It should be spent wisely to get the most enjoyment out of life that one can possibly get, and if this means doing a little daydreaming while the man has you stuck doing something dull, boring or mind-numbingly mundane - then so much the better.

BTW, this post was inspired by two other talented daydreamers Jens D and VB Wyrde. Check them out sometime.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


I've been having a lot of fun writing up monster descriptions. Here's what I did for the hobgoblin, modelled after a gym teacher I used to have....


Size Large 1.5.
Action 2d6. Body 1d8. AC 12/9. HP 21. Stun 14. PP 8.
Speed: Walk 3.
Attacks 2d8, MP +1, Snap -1:
     Battle Axe, Reach 2, Sharp 1d8+1, Parry -1, Snap -1.
     Morning Star, Reach 2, Sharp 1d8, Snap -1, Parry -1.
     Bullwhip, Reach 6, Impact 1d6, Flexible, Snap -2, Grab.
     Halberd, Reach 4, Sharp 1d12, Snap -3, 2hds.
     Punch, Reach 1, Blunt 1d4+1, 2nd. 
Advantages: Infravision +1d. Hard As Nails +3d.
Inclination: Violent Evil.
Traits: Angry. Brutal. Callous. Optimistic. Thick.
Environment: Plains. Hills. Underground. Mountains. Forest. Urban.
No. Appearing: 1d6.

Rare Subhumanoid. Hobgoblins are of absolutely no relation to goblins. Or at least that is what most goblins would like to have the world to believe, despite the fact that the average hobgoblin markedly resembles a giant somewhat obese goblin with pebbly green skin and more chin than forehead.

Hobgoblins do not share in the goblin's tendency towards sour detachment and snide pessimism. Strangely enough, hobgoblins tend to rank high among the world's natural optimists. Hobgoblin philosophy believes that there is no one who cannot be positively motivated by the crack of a bullwhip across their shoulders. There is no problem which cannot be solved by hacking away at it with a nasty looking chunk of metal. Many would consider this to be a brutally simplistic outlook on life. Hobgoblins often answer such criticism by mounting their critics severed heads on their halberds.

Hobgoblins are also notable for having an incredibly dull sense of touch, which may be key to understanding the inherit brutality of the species. The slice of a knife or the touch of a hot coal merely stings them, so they lack the general sympathy which might otherwise lead them to understand why non-hobgoblins do not enjoy regular beatings. This especially extends to elves who they despise for their extreme delicateness and sensitivity to all things.

The Hobgoblin view on life is quite simple. The world has grown soft and weak and hobgoblins exist to toughen it up, largely by beating it to a pulp, and there is nothing they enjoy more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

On Hiatus....

Well, I have some pretty big things to attend to. I'm putting all things blog and gaming related on hold, probably until sometime in october.

See you then!

Monday, August 1, 2016

RPGaDay2016 - 3 - Character Moment You Are Most Proud Of?

I've done a bunch of neat things. I helped overthrow a dictator. I once talked an AI program into stopping a nuclear meltdown in Gamma World. I once rolled three twenties on a d20 in a row. I once filled a cannon full of chain on an abandoned pirate ship and by all means should have blown away the head bad guy just as he appeared in the story. That was actually pretty funny.

Nahhh. I don't like this question. Pride has never sat well with me.

RPGaDay2016 - 2 - Best Game Session since August 2015

Believe it or not but I have only had the chance to play one game in the last year and it was Tim Harper's Bunnies & Burrows game from Brigadecon, October 2015. This sets the bar a bit low as far as "Best Game Sessions" are concerned but it was a riot. All of us had far more fun than should ever be had playing bunny rabbits terrorizing a local farmer and his family. I think we somehow knocked down their house with a bulldozer. After going through a dozen or so lesser rabbits I settled (aka survived for more than five minutes as) a fat white rabbit called King Cup who I was playing with an Elvis Presley sneer.

Or so I think.

In truth, it's all a bit fuzzy now. Soft and fuzzy as a bunny should be. I guess I could go back and watch the video but I'm afraid to.

One thing which was interesting about this game was that before it happened I went and purchased a pdf of the original rules and was astounded by how complex and needlessly overwrought they were. Thankfully we just tossed all of that out the window and resorted to playing with roll under percentile dice rolls. There were a few times when I felt that something more needed to be there to give the rolls more weight, but on the whole - for a bunch of people playing through their webcams - a lack of rules and a simple die mechanic worked wonderfully.

Slimfast Games

It seems as if everyone in the Tabletop RPG community has decided to go on a diet this summer, not for themselves but for the systems they play, condensing them down to Light Games, Pocket Games, One-Hour Games, One-Page Games. I'm waiting for someone to announce that they're going to try to shrink Pathfinder onto a single Bazooka Joe comic strip (ask your parents, kids). Slimfast Games.

But doesn't bikini season normally start in the spring?

I'm thinking this has something to do with the success of mini-systems such as the Black Hack and Sellsword. Two OSR games you can pick up, read on the ride over and probably have more fun playing than you would with the big games that inspired them. I wouldn't know, because I haven't had the chance to play either. Which may be yet another reason for the sudden surge in small games. If you don't have the time to play the small ones, how will you ever find the time to play the big ones? And why bother with a big game if you know that you and your friends will probably be ignoring most of it anyway, essentially playing it in a small way?

Of course, there is also the inevitable backlash. Grumbling from grognards who love big gnarly crunchy games where taking care of a room full of orcs can easily wipe out a few hours at the game table. Those who think that this is nothing more than a dumbing down of their cherished pastime. That it is a threat to an industry which survives by selling people encyclopedia-sized rule systems. That it could very well mean the end of civilization as we know it. Cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria, an all-female Ghostbusters movie....

Personally, I'm not getting too worked up about it. But if forced to choose a side. I would have to stand with the dummies. Not just because I am a perfect fit for their dodgeball team, but because of games like Kurt Patz's Unchained Heroes. There is a beautiful game hiding inside Unchained Heroes but few people will ever see it because it has no easy point of entry. Its core rule book is a ponderous tome written to cover every possible situation and is explained in a way which kind of requires that you have already experienced an RPG and are gravitating to UH after some long term exposure to D&D or Pathfinder.

I wouldn't recommend dumbing down Unchained Heroes because that would ultimately necessitate chunking out much of what makes the game great. Instead I think it needs to be spread out. It needs to be something people can comfortably wade into and add on advanced rules as needed. It needs a quickstarter at the very least.

Granted, most quickstarters are useless. The quickstarter is the first thing you lose after opening the box. Star Frontiers had an excellent quickstarter, one which I remember my friends and I having so much fun with that we were disappointed by the full game (keep in mind we were 7th graders at the time). However, most quickstarters were stepping stones, something we leapt over as we dove right in. They did serve a purpose, though. They existed as a promise that the game could be set up and run with little to no effort in a matter of minutes. Even if it was never used, this was a promise that needed to be there to get people into their seats and ready to play.

And sometimes just getting people to the table is half the battle.

But what about games such as the Black Hack which seem content to never become anything more than what it is? Well, is that so wrong? If you want to make a more complex and involved adventure out of the Black Hack you simply move on to playing D&D or Pathfinder.

But! But! But! ( I can hear at least one of my three regular readers out there thinking, yeah, it's the guy in the back with the beard and the Snits Revenge T-shirt) - what if they never want to move onwards? What if they get mired in the Black Hack and find themselves never wanting to do anything more than continue playing a pencil/paper/dice version of the video game Gauntlet.

They won't.

Because, and this is straight out of the Red Eft section on homebrewing....
Interest breeds a need for complexity. 
If you have ever wondered how other game systems have blossomed from a thin little set of pamphlets to a ponderous set of encyclopedias. 
This is it. 
It is not about being bored with the game and needing something new to do. If anything it is the exact opposite. Once a game has grabbed our interest we want more from it. We want to see just how far it can go in replicating reality in a fantastic way. A glut doesn't seem like a glut when you have slowly followed the game from the basic rules to the expert rules to the advanced, the companion, and all that will eventually lead up to that big lovable glut of rules which you will love and everyone else who didn't make that journey will hate.
Okay, for the most part. I did change a little bit at the end. But the idea is pretty sound. If it weren't we would all be playing Risus and nothing else.  This actually lends an advantage to larger games who do have an expansive sense of completeness about them.

Car Wars was originally a mini-game. In fact, I think that everything Steve Jackson games did when just starting out could be purchased in a small black plastic box designed to fit in someone's back pocket (or so it was marketed). Its manual was just a few pages long and contained a fairly tight little game, but Car Wars wasn't prepared for its own success. It grew at a ridiculously rapid pace which ultimately ended up putting weapons and armor on anything that moved. By the late 80's it had created a big rules heavy bolus of a system that barely creeped along at a few miles per hour. Eventually, somewhere in the early 90's the system just groaned to a halt, its engine failing to turn over until that 20-year nostalgia machine brought it back with fond memories of black box games and cardboard collisions.

Steve Jackson games would capitalize on this with 5th edition Car Wars, re-releasing the system and taking a new rules-light approach which focused on small cheap manuals centered around quick battles with pre-made vehicles and no vehicle creation rules.

So how did that turn out Mr. Jackson?

It was flash in the pan. Sales were made for nostalgia's sake but very few people play Car Wars these days. This could be because video games can do this sort of game far better than the table top, but it could also be because 5th edition Car Wars is so limited in scope that there is nothing more you can do with it aside from waging the same old battle over and over until you are wallowing in monotony.

And that is why simple systems with no plans to expand, ultimately have nowhere to go.

Nobody wants to hear the thud of a ton of work hitting ones desk. Here, read this before the game, sucker! But everybody wants to go have fun with their friends and when it is over look back on all that has been done and be astounded by just how much they have effortlessly ripped through.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

RPGaDay2016 - 1 - Real dice, dice app or diceless? How do you prefer to roll?

Real dice.
Because the bones tell everything....

There is just something visceral, primal, down-right bone through the nose beautiful about rolling dice for a game. Your hands are the last thing to touch the dice before they hit the table so the number that comes up is a test of your soul. It is not the dice but your god-given luck which rolls out before you.

And if that strikes you like a load of hogwash there is still something to be said for the tangibility of the act, the sound dice make on the table. Even those dice roller apps which show the dice in motion and provide a clatter to their landing tend to leave me cold. I could see their value for generating random numbers of odd values, or picking between one of seven glyphs. It might even be nice to create an app which just skips the numbers altogether and goes straight to the result, like a Magic-8-Ball in digital form.

But it's hard to get past the distance which any computer interface puts between you and the game at hand. Maybe if I ever get around to buying a tablet computer I will begin to see things differently.

Diceless gaming? Like Amber? Maybe I could get used to it, but the idea doesn't thrill me. It feels as if it would lend itself to far too much strategizing, far too much time spent guessing what your opponents are capable and how that matches up to what you are capable of - something that dice based RPGs are bad enough about. You would probably need a minute timer to force people to make their move without wasting the whole night on it.

On an interesting side note, as far as I know a computer cannot generate a random number. Instead the machine plucks a number from the time on its internal clock in milliseconds when the request for a random number is made. This means that - you - are the rand seed in the sequence of commands which ultimately generates a random number. When you click your mouse on that random number roller app, you still might as well be Queequeg casting bones on the deck of the Pequod.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fight! Fight! Fight!

I finally sat down and tapped out the sample combat section for the Red EFT Player's Handbook. Basically what is written is what is being said. What is in the parentheses is what is happening with the rules to make it happen. Of course, this is the sample encounter from a book which explains what things like Acts mean so for most of this you're just going to have to guess.

A few hints....

Characters have hit points and pow points. Most of the time they take temporary/heroic damage, other times they take more permanent wound damage. When the dice are rolled and 3d6 is followed by 4 6 5 - each number is a separate die roll. With actions the best number rolled determines the strength of the action (4 6 5 = strength of 6 ) which in turn determines its success. In combat success controls the number of damage dice rolled. If the weapon has a damage die of d8 then:

9 - 10 = Incredible: 4d8
7 - 8 = Great: 3d8
5 - 6 = Normal: 2d8
4 = Little: 1d8
3 = Fail: no damage
2 = Terrible Fail: minor screw up.
1 = Critical Fail: major screw up.

Two things the Red EFT has which you won't find in many games is a lack of an initiative system (whoever steps up to the plate and rolls first goes first) and the option to dodge, parry, or counter a blow after being hit but before recording the damage. It does contain miniatures rules but these can be ignored and in this example are being ignored. Ignoring rules you don't want to use is an established feature of the game.

The main characters are:

Ralph Cabbagehammer - Dwarven Rogue.

Grudge Orcslayer - Dwarven Warrior.

Jouicelle Junirsdottir - Half-Giant Ranger.

Zitto - York Illusionist.

A York is a small halfling-sized piglet-like creature. If the Orc embodies everything which is mean and ugly and nasty about a hog (and in this world they all have pig snouts), the York is everything about a pig which is noble, intelligent and beautiful. Unfortunately, York are also quite tasty which makes them more than a little bit paranoid.

Big Gnarly Sample Battle

Our intrepid adventurers continue their run through the warlock's castle and bust open a door on a room full of orcs. Eight to be exact. For this example there are three players. Jackie is the GM. Eric and Steve are the game's two players. Eric is running Jouicelle and Zitto. Steve is running Ralph Cabbagehammer and Grudge Orcslayer.

GM: Ralph busts down the door to stumble in on a small feasting room. Inside are eight orcs gobbling down some greasy mutton. Their green fringed hog snouts wiggle at a smell, something they don't like and that something is you.

Eric: Orcs! Gaaaaah! Zitto hides behind Jouicelle, clinging to one of her legs. Jouicelle draws back her bow.

Steve: Grudge really hates orcs. It's in his name, so Ralph jumps on him and tries to hold him back. He shouts out, “We don't want any trouble. We're just passing through.”

GM: The orcs don't answer you, but you do hear the shiiiing! of numerous jagged edged broad swords being drawn from their scabbards.

Steve: Then let slip the dogs of war. Ralph shakes his head and lets go of Grudge who runs up and plants his axe in the head of the first orc he can find (while saying this Steve adds 3 acts to Grudge's act bar for his axe attack).

GM: He's running?

Steve: (Steve remembers that running doubles movement speed but costs 1 act) Does he need to?

GM: No, not necessarily.

Steve: Okay, he strides up to the nearest orc and plants his axe in his skull.

GM: Alright, give me a hit roll.

Steve: (Grudge's Great Axe attack has a hit roll of 3d10. He rolls 9 8 5). Strength of 9! That's 4d10 for damage (Steve picks up a ten-sider, rolls a 7 and multiplies it by 4) 28 points of sharp damage.

GM: Jeeze-louise! (The orcs have 10 hp each. The orc's full AC of 8 reduces the damage to 20 and the rest obliterates the orc. Jackie doesn't bother with a Save Vs Death check, not for monsters). With one foul swoop you just hacked that orc in half, slicing it right down the middle. The two orcs standing to either side of him are aghast, but not so much that it keeps them from swinging their swords at you.

Steve: Bring it on!!!!

Eric: Before they can do that, Jouicelle shoots an arrow at one of them. (Eric adds 3 acts to Jouicelle's act bar).

GM: What's your range?

Eric: r20.

GM: Oh yeah, no problem. It's not a big room.

Eric: (Jouicelle's bow has a hit roll of 1d10 and rolls an 8). A great shot! Doing 3d6 for damage (Eric picks up three d6's and rolls 5 5 2). That's 12 points sharp. Oh and wait! Jouicelle's a large half-giant so multiply by 1.5? That's 18 sharp.

GM: (The orc's Full AC of 8 reduces the damage to 10 points which is just enough to take the orc out) A javelin sized arrow goes thunk into the orc's chest flipping him backwards over the table behind him. He won't be giving you any trouble.

The other orc swings at Grudge (Jackie marks an attack on the orc's mini-sheet, picks up 2d6 and rolls 1 1). Critical Fail! Let's see um (Jackie tries to think of some interesting disaster). He swings and his sword. It whizzes way over Grudge's head as he steps in a spilled puddle of gravy and slips off his feet. The sword shoots straight up and sticks in the ceiling. Thwang-wang-wang-wang! A ceiling which is made of wood, by the way.

Steve: So how many orcs are left?

GM: Four. One of them is on the ground and without his sword. And another is way off to the side. This one has just picked up a cleaver and flung it at Jouicelle. And since you are a Large target he is going to gain a die on that strike. (Jackie picks up 3d6 and rolls 1 6 6) Yes! Top-Roll! Strength of 7. That's a great attack doing (Jackie takes a 1d6, rolls a 6 and multiplies it by 3) 18 points of sharp damage!

Eric: *!#%@&*@! (Eric looks at Jouicelle's sheet. She has a Full AC of 9 so that attack will hit and do some damage, sharp damage no less. She has 1 act left on her act bar). Jouicelle is going to dodge that attack. She is also going to try hard to make it work (On the act bar Eric marks 3 acts for the dodge. He also scores 1 hit point of damage for the try. This will increase Jouicelle's Agility roll from 2d8 to 3d8. Eric rolls 5 8 5). Yes! Strength of 8! In your face orc! (Jouicelle's strength of 8 is better than the orc's strength of 7 so she dodges the attack).

GM: Okay, Jouicelle ducks to the side just as this giant cleaver goes tumbling end over end, whistling as it slips past her ear and off into the hallway beyond.

There are two orcs left that haven't done anything. One of them takes a swing at Ralph and he – sensing that you guys are no ordinary opponents – is also going to try hard (Jackie marks a hit point of damage on the orc and rolls 3d6 to get 4 5 3). Meh. A normal attack (she rolls 1d6 for damage, rolls a 6 and doubles it) but it does do 12 sharp.

Steve: Crap! Ralph parries with his broad sword. (Steve marks 2 acts on Ralph's sheet and rolls 2d8 to make the parry. It turns up 3 4) Double crap, a little success (the broad sword's parry die is a d6. Steve rolls 1d6 and turns up a 5. The parry reduces the hit to 7 sharp and Ralph's Full AC of 10 soaks up the rest). Good enough.

GM: And the last orc, with a slavering gleam in his eye, lunges in from the side to skewer little Zitto with his sword.

Eric: Zitto counters it with a spell cast.

GM: Using what?

Eric: Levitation. (Eric marks 3 acts for the spell on Zitto's sheet)

GM: Doesn't that have a time requirement?

Eric: Nope.

GM: Alright, make your roll. This orc also tries harder and rolls (Jackie rolls 3d6 to turn up 4 5 2) a strength of 5. A normal hit doing (she rolls 2d6 for damage) 9 points of sharp damage.

Eric: Yikes! Zitto tries hard and rolls (Eric marks 1 pow point of damage since spell casting is a mental action and rolls 3d8 turning up 3 7 7) strength of 7! (Zitto's 7 is greater than the Orc's 5 so by way of countering he gets to go first). And for the toll (Eric rolls 1d6 as asked for by the spell) 3 pow (which he marks on Zitto's sheet).

GM: Okay. (There is more than meets the eye to the spell Levitation. The Orc should be given a weight defense roll. He will rise at a certain speed and float for a certain length of time but Jackie is having too much fun to bother with all of those fiddly bits. She decides to just roll with it.)
The orc slices in with his sword and would have done some serious damage if only his legs didn't suddenly float out from under him, spinning him upside down and sending him floating up to the ceiling like a big green putrescent balloon, bouncing helplessly against the rafters. He encounters the other orc's sword and clings to it for dear life.
Anyone else?

Steve: (Steve looks at his sheets and notices that Ralph has 2 acts left before he is out of action) That orc Ralph just parried? Ralph hacks at him with his broad sword (Steve rolls 2d8, turns up 3 3). Misses. Man, Ralph is just sucking out tonight.

GM: Well, that's the end of round 1. Everybody recoil.

Steve: (Niether Ralph nor Grudge have left the springs so Steve simply erases their act slashes).

Eric: (Zitto hasn't left the springs either so his act slash is erased. Jouicelle has left the springs. She recoils 4 points. This leaves her with just 2 acts open for the next round).

GM: Round two begins with one orc still bouncing against the ceiling, another on the ground and one without his sword. The two who are unscratched are now having some definite second thoughts about continuing this fight. What do you do?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fear of a Dice Rolling Planet

Summer always brings out the worst in me. Maybe it's the heat, sweating my brain with sweltering paranoia. Or maybe it's just the passing of another birthday, another year down the hatch, another mile closer to that ultimate end. There is something about July which turns me into a creature of the night. No month has more daylight in it and yet no month ever seems as dark as July.

Tonight - 1:32 AM to be exact - I am going to go out on a limb and say something which is crazy-ass insane. Yeah, I know, new territory. And it is this: big media is secretly afraid of board games and role playing games in particular. Yes, this is terrifying to them.

Have you ever wondered why we never seem to get a decent portrayal outside of the realm of low budget indie films? Seriously, there seems to be a connection where the lower the budget goes the better our portrayal is but as that budget climbs and the more widespread the audience becomes the more we end up being portrayed as clowns. Well, here is my pseudo-conspiracy theory.

Our free time is a precious commodity. When we spend it playing board games we are not spending it watching tv or movies or even playing video games - three financial juggernauts which make up the bulk of mass media. They spend millions to create an hour of entertainment. We spend a few bucks on pizza and gas to get across town and gather with our friends. Tabletop RPG's in particular are notorious for gobbling up hours and then days and possibly even years of free time. That is taking money out of the mouths of gluttonous media moguls. It could very well be that we are perceived as a threat and don't even know it.

My sister is a very corporate person. In so far as I know she doesn't read the stories I write or visit the websites I create. There could be an element of sibling rivalry. It could be that she is afraid she will find something she doesn't like. But I think the reason she avoids my work (as well as many many other people) is because it doesn't do her any good at the office. She needs to spend her free time consuming the media which will help her maintain a social edge in the workplace. Today she may be a valuable member of her company, yet no one is irreplaceable so the ability to be someone that other people like to have around is a valuable asset. And so she spends her free time watching Survivor or Modern Family or whatever happens to be popular at any given time.

Yes. My sister was one of the popular girls back in high school, a member of the upper crust among high school cliques.

My point is that she doesn't spend her free time actually entertaining herself. She spends her free time arming herself, stocking up on things she can use to talk to people about, people she knows by name but barely actually knows. This is what most of America uses big media for. It is what solidifies their audience, guarantees that they will continue to draw a crowd, and ultimately causes them to create entertainment which is about as engaging as cold oatmeal.

My sister never has and never will play an RPG. It is not who she is, and I'm okay with that. I think that just as people should be allowed to play whatever elf games they want that others should be allowed to have nothing to do with them. That's their prerogative.

But what if she did? 

What if the people in suits started getting together on weeknights to play medieval adventure games rather than watching it unfold on Game of Thrones?  What if that sliver of the populace which plays RPGs on a regular basis grew into a wedge? It would be a terrible blow to big media.

Obviously, such a thing will never happen. I mean, that would be as bat-shit-crazy as people wandering around the city trying to catch pokemon on their smart phones. But just in case, can it hurt to make the portrayal of anyone doing anything which does not involve the consumption of media seem weird, geeky, awkward or antisocial? And I'm not just talking about RPGs. Go eat your media and notice how often the negative side is shown of anyone entertaining themselves without big media's help. Musicians are glorified but anyone trying to learn to play an instrument is show to suck and ultimately gives up. Unless an artist is an established master, anyone who makes their own art is resoundingly bad at what they do. Actual athletes are applauded by the in-studio audience for making cameo appearances, but anyone trying to hold onto the sports of their youth are depicted as sad, pathetic and hopeless. Do you spend your free time collecting anything (coins, stamps, dolls, trains, games, shrunken heads, dice)? You might as well be a circus freak.

Is it the truth?

Or is it just what they want us to believe.
And for who's benefit?

Yes, there is a reason why it's called programming.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

7/11 - Happy Crimson Dragon Slayer Day!!!

As well as the release of a brand new CDS adventure module from @tarihard, It's Z2.) Danger Zone An adventure with tanks and babes and evil dead from beyond the grave. There may even be a laser-guided shark thrown in there too.

This is a continuation of the adventure started in Z1.) Monkey Mountain. I didn't get the chance to outfit it with any internal artwork (aside from maps and the mandatory cover girl), but it is a complete full length adventure.

Because this is Crimson Dragon Slayer day, today - and today only! - for the true believers out there I am cutting the price of both modules in half. Yes, that means you can get both Z1.) Monkey Mountain and Z2.) Danger Zone for less than the price of a slurpee. A sweeter dumpster dive has never been had.

So do this miserable summer a favor and turn your staycation into something awesome. Take that trip! After all there's nothing wrong with this brain....

And yes I know I probably should have gone with Kenny Login's Danger Zone, or possibly even the Ramones' Danger Zone. But somehow Trip at the Brain seemed more fitting. Besides, haven't you heard enough Kenny Loggins already? You know you have.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Best Game of Top Secret ever turned into a Music Video

Transmissions is an excellent album. Unfortunately, I can't find it anywhere. The band may have gone defunct, or possibly just deep undercover. Here is what they have on Amazon

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Tim's 13

Tim contacted me about this. We were going to do a video thing and I admit I bailed on him. I was too busy and cranky and tired and - unlike him - I simply suck on camera. Instead I did a typed entry. Boring, I know....

But Tim did have his vengeance! He released his query on an unsuspecting public and the public has responded in droves. So here I am a bit late to the party bringing bean dip that was whipped up a couple of days ago (lemme scrape the mold off the top). And, oh well, here you go.  My answers to Tim's 13 questions, admittedly slightly cleaned up and trimmed down from what I actually sent him.

I also almost totally rewrote the last answer.
Just now.

And yes, it's not actually a full 13. A few of my answers addressed a few of the other questions without realizing it so I skipped them as redundant. And yes, I'm sorry my mood is not better. Summer always brings out the worst in me.

Oh, and btw, the J in JD stands for Jeremiah although everyone calls me Jerry.

1.) Can you please describe in detail the praying that you will never play D&D story? I'm really curious about that?

That was my introduction to D&D. I think it was always there looming in the background. I must have seen the ads in Boys Life but I never gave it any thought until this moment.

It was 1981. I was ten years old and living in Liberty, NY. I was over at a friend's house and we were playing with some action figures while his mom sat in the kitchen, drinking coffee and watching the news. A TV report came on about some crazy new game centered around kids worshiping Satan. I remember seeing footage of some religious group gathered around a bonfire and throwing copies of B/X D&D into the blazes while singing songs and such.

The idea of a children's game encouraging Satanism greatly disturbed his mother to the point where she gathered us together in the living room to pray about it. We all held hands and I don't remember what exactly she said, but I do remember her looking up at the ceiling and saying “Lord Jesus Christ” and “evil evil game” and I doubt she was asking Jesus to come be our DM.

BTW. Never play with Jesus as your DM.
The guy rolls nothing but natural 20's.

"Oh look? I rolled another 20. Truly, I must be the Son of God."
"Rub it in Jesus! Rub it in!!!"

In her defense, my friend and I then went out to play in the yard and he admitted that his parents had been acting weird lately and later I would find out that her husband had been cheating on her and they would soon file for divorce, so there was probably a lot of pressure under that roof. Many reasons to find Satan hiding behind every corner.

I wouldn't be there for the fireworks. In the summer of '82 my family moved to Red Hook, NY. A quaint little town on the Hudson River. On the very first day of school in what I am thinking was also the first period of day. I took my assigned seat and ended up sitting across the aisle from a kid named Jerry (actually Jerome) who basically introduced himself by saying, “My name is also Jerry, we should be friends.” And I was like...
“Ahh. Okay!”

And so it came to be.

During lunch I sat with Jerry and his friends – all of whom were soon to be my friends (another of whom was also a Jerry although actually a Gerald) – and they were all psyched about some game they were getting together to play in the Social Studies room after school. I asked them what it was. They said Dungeons & Dragons and I blurted out, “isn't that that Satan worshiping game?”

They cringed and dismissed it. They promised me that it wasn't anything like that and that I could even be the party cleric if I wanted to.
“What's a cleric?”
“It's like a priest but with a war hammer, and you get to cast spells and heal people and turn the undead.”

And I was hooked from that very first adventure. Sorry Jesus, but at least I still have not worshiped Satan. Yet. Muwhahahahahhahha! Many of the friendships I made during that first game are still with me and probably will be until the end.

2.) What skills do you think you have personally improved upon by playing RPGs?
Around 85/86 the golden age of TRPGs collapsed. No one wanted to play them or even admit that they ever had. All my friends wanted to do was sit around watching video rentals.

Yes, that kinda pissed me off.

I never realized it but it wasn't until the collapse forced me to stop gaming that I became serious about writing fiction. I think it surprised my teachers that someone who was so often on the verge of failing English and had as much control over grammar as a hamster on acid could write long involved stories with developed characters and realistic dialog. All of which came from TRPGs.

Granted, deciding to become a novelist proved to be an astoundingly bad idea which I wouldn't recommend to anyone. But it could have been worse. I could have become a kangaroo rancher. Have you ever tried to milk a kangaroo? They don't appreciate cold hands reaching into their pouches.

3.) What was your first experience like running a game?
I was a little bit nervous but it wasn't that bad. I ran the module C2 Ghost Tower of Inverness which is probably one of the dorkiest D&D modules ever written, but it was also a riot to play. We had an amazing amount of fun, and on top of it all it actually felt as if we had accomplished something, conquered something. I was probably beaming all week.

4.) What was it like designing your own system?
Not as bad as trying to milk a kangaroo, but not by much.

Designing the Red EFT kicks my ass on a regular basis. This past weekend I went on a rules bender and totally redesigned the hit point system. And here is the diabolical nature of designing your own TRPG. You can very easily come up with multiple ways of handling the same thing and have each way be just as good as and yet totally different from all the others. In truth, I loved the old hp system and yet I knew that it was a little too byzantine for its own good. The new system doesn't have as much character but it is quicker, more realistic and more easily understood.

I have done this sort of thing so many times over the last few years, that I am probably the last person you would want to try to play it. I am just as likely to recall some rules alternative that I whipped up and tossed out years ago as I am to recall what is actually there.

5.) Why do you think tabletop RPGs are not known about by a good many people in the public?
It's because we all live in a whirlwind of big media, fraught with advertisers desperate to grab our attention and sell us not necessarily what we need but whatever stands to produce the biggest profit for whoever is producing it. Joe and Jane Average are so caught up in this whirlwind that they often are incapable of seeing anything which isn't a part of it.

TRPGs caught on because they were fun, not because fortunes could be made from them (with the exception of that one time in the early 80's). This is why everyone seems to know about Geiko car insurance and so few of us know about Gamma World or Numenera. This could change, but someone would have to figure out some way of making a ton of money off of it, something that would probably do nothing but corrupt the matter of TRPGs and shorten its lifespan. Perhaps the financial ineptitude of the TRPGs is a blessing in disguise.

6.) What is an RPG and why are these types of games fun?
It is the chance to go on a bold amazing adventure with your friends without ever going anywhere or actually risking anything aside from a couple of hours on a weeknight.

7.) If you were going to teach a new player how to play RPGs how would you go about doing that?
Start simple and stay there for as long as possible - because that is where the fun is. I would concentrate on getting players to imagine their characters as actual people before seeing them as a constructs of measurements and resources.

On the whole I like the idea of the GM as game console and a character sheet as game controller. In the game I am designing the Players Handbook is very thin and centered around a basic understanding of your character sheet. Rules for things like Body Slams, Grappling, Surprise Attacks, and Persuasion are all in the Game Master's Guide and for the GM's eyes only. I want players to feel like their characters can do anything they can imagine within reason and leave it up to the GM to handle the nitty gritty of making the action fit into the framework of the system.

On the whole I'm not a fan of systems which say, “here are the core rules go figure it out.” I think different books should be written with the players or the GM specifically in mind, and that they should be written to entice players into the system before dumping on them a truck-load of tables and caveats.

8.) What age group do you think plays these games more than other age groups?
At this point I have no idea. It's good to see players of all ages and sexes and ethnicities. The more diverse the audience the better TRPG's chances are of surviving into the future.

9.) What overall benefits do you think a person that plays RPGs has that perhaps a non-gamer wouldn't have, or would have less of.
Empathy. The ability to step outside of the narrow cocoon of oneself and understand how different people may see the world.

10.) Have you ever seen a RPG session break out in any violence, or have you ever seen with your own eyes people becoming more violent after playing RPGs?
Depends on what you mean by violent. I've been to parties where couches have been thrown through windows, but that was done by drunken teenagers and had no RPG's involved.

With RPGs I have seen popcorn fights, dice throwing, people getting pissed and swearing they will never play again, shouting matches, parents threatening to call the police because of the shouting matches. I have never seen anyone actually throw a fist at another player, but I have seen games come close. Of course it needs to be said that all of this happened in the early 80's and 90's when we were quite young, self-absorbed and hard to control.

Later on in the 00's there was none of that. We were all in our late 20's and early 30's and in those rare cases when someone got mad they simply stopped showing up.

I've never seen anyone become more violent after playing an RPG, but I do think that people use these games as a sort of cathartic release which may make them less violent outside of the game.

11.) Do you think RPGs are still seen as much of a negative thing as they once were?
Well, with movies like Zero Charisma what could possibly go wrong?

Damn right I'm still pissed about that.

TRPGs are unique in that their greatest asset is also their achilles heel. They rely on their players to provide a satisfying experience. Write whatever you want into the rule books, but it is the people who play the game who will make or break the game.

Computer operating systems, range ovens, refrigerators, smart phones, video games and more - a quintessential part of design lies in figuring out ways to protect the product from the people who use it. Even automobiles. We are now designing cars that will brake for us just in case we happen to be texting behind the wheel. TRPGs cannot be idiot-proofed. Attempting to do so creates a board game, something like Sorry with swords.

I honestly think that TSR tried this using text boxes to control what the DM says, or AD&D having rules for everything under the sun. If they could I suspect they would have put a miniature Gary Gygax in ever D&D boxed set just so the game wouldn't have to rely on some mere mortal taking up the reigns of DM and accidentally crashing their product. Ultimately, this is what the video game would accomplish.

I take it back. The CRPG is an idiot proof TRPG.

And yet, it's not just nostalgia which keeps me gravitating back to the tabletop. I, like many people, would much rather play against another person than a computer's AI. TRPGs are the most fun when they have been messed with, when it feels as if you are adventuring inside a world created by you and your friends and not tailored for mass consumption by Corporation XYZ. But to get to that place you need to create a game that allows for it. You have to risk creating a system that people like Scott from Zero Charisma can use to leave a bad taste in everybody's mouth.

So it does pain me to see - over and over and over and fucking over again - what I have developed my own bad habit of calling a minstrel show done in geek face. Sure it's funny when it shows up on Community, but it also leaves a bad impression on those who have never played such a game and now probably never will because they don't identify with the people depicted as playing TRPGs.

And this is why I think one of the best things to happen to the hobby is the online youTube game. Granted they are the pinnacle of boring things to watch, but they show us the true faces of the people who play these games. They look a lot like you and they look a lot like me, and - yes - a few of them even look like Scott from Zero Charisma, but they are the exception and not the norm.

So there is hope.

In the past gaming was frowned on because it wasn't understood, it consumed too much time, and it mattered way too much to people who liked to shout about rules. Now, it is easily understood. It doesn't consume nearly as much time as computer games, and its audience - of all ages - has matured. If we can just get past this reputation of being the sole domain of basement dwelling anti-social miscreants table-top gaming's best days may actually lie in the future rather than the past.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

In The Heat of the Moment

I got rid of the Moment.

I  just spent the last hour or so going through all the books and doing a find/replace to turn Moment into Round. I am not doing this for the blog. If in the past I have talked of moments and now seem to be babbling like a idiot (any more than usual) talking about rounds, understand that Round = Moment and vice versa. Both are two units of time three seconds in length.

It is actually a bit of a bittersweet moment because I came up with the term Moment way back in the early 90's as an alternative to words like Round and Turn hoping to provide the game with a more natural sounding word that could be used both inside and outside of a combat encounter, something to provide a more seamless transition between the two.

It has always half-worked.

Inside a combat encounter it just sounds weird to say, "okay, that moment is over and a new moment begins." What is this, International Coffee Time with General Foods? Round sounds like something filched from a boxing match, but at least it does have that connection to combat.

Outside of combat it also backfires a bit by forcing you to think around the term. When you tell the table, "hold on a moment," are you actually telling them to wait a bit or to wait three seconds? The same goes for "you pause for a moment" and "momentarily." What exactly is meant by these utterances?

In most cases it doesn't matter whether a moment means three seconds or not. The problem is that it becomes one more thing to think about, and it also serves to remind you of the artificial nature of the game. It probably would be best to not think of it whatsoever.


I called a round a round.
And the moment has been retired.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Zero Charisma

Alright, I finally broke down and watched it.

I'm not happy about that.

Scott is a jerk. His friends are losers. His family is reprehensible. Milo has it right but he and his fellow hipsters are shallow-minded self-absorbed scum. The whole film is just so resoundingly pathetic, humiliating, and my worst fear is that it might be spot on. No, not with everyone but with enough people to make me think that gaming as an adult is simply a bad idea. That maybe life would be better for all of us if we just stayed at home and watched TV or updated our facebook status for every spare night for the rest of our lives. That maybe, just like drinking or doing drugs, gaming is something you should fool around with in your early 20's and then leave behind before it screws up your life.

It's not just this film. This film is just the tip of the iceberg floating towards the Titanic. It is all those times I have run across truly desperate and lost people like Scott and his friends inside our hobby. People who seriously need to get their shit together before they should bother with entertaining themselves. The last convention I went to was Altcon here in Tallahassee. For some stupid reason it was held in the basement of a convention center where nothing was happening on the main floor. It was crowded with people like Scott and his friends. I wandered around for about half an hour before having to leave because the stench of body odor was so noxious.

I once had a girlfriend who didn't know I ever had anything to do with TRPGs. Once at work it came up in conversation and I distinctly remember her saying, "Please don't tell me you're one of those people. God, I hate those people." She meant it, and quite seriously. I loved her and so I didn't tell her. I wanted to. I wanted to tell her about all the good times I have had gaming, about all the friendship and camaraderie, about all the good people I have gamed with, about how much promise there is in the simple matter of hanging out with your friends, rolling dice and playing elf games.

Instead there is just this hopelessness. It feels like I'm trying to pump the water out of a sinking ship which is taking on far too much far too quickly. Between this and gaming's white male whatever problem and the gentrification of hipster story games and the relentless sameness of it all. I'm thinking of calling it quits. I am going to finish up what I have been doing, release it, hang up my dice bag and go back to writing fiction which is probably what I should have been doing these last few years.

Humanity let me down today.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Lost Interview: Venger Satanis on SGC2C

I'm known as a deaddrop by the SETI people. They often send me their findings for safe-keeping. For the most part I am pretty dependable and will simply not give up my secrets. At least not until Hillary Clinton is elected president and forces me to at gun point.

This one, however, was too good to keep under wraps...


Greetings Citizens, I'm Space Ghost and tonight we are celebrating Intergalactic Tabletop Role Playing Game Day. Moltar, who is our first guest? Gary Gygax?
Nope. He's dead.
Dave Arneson?
Tom Moldvay?
Um.... Sandy Peterson?
Tickled to death by nightgaunts.
Well, is there anybody who does this tabletop role playing thing who is still alive?
We've got this guy [throws lever, kerchunk!] Venger Satanis.
Good gravy, he's gone green! Is he getting enough oxygen?
Yup. That's just the way he looks.
He's not one of them is he....
Hey! What are you looking at paste-eater?
No, he's human. I'm sending him in. [kerchunk! the interview screen cranks down from the ceiling].
Oh well, when life gives you lemons, interview the guy with a big lime for a head.
He's right there dumb-ass.
Greetings! Venger Satanis! Tell me, are you getting enough oxygen?
Okayeee.... Moltar? He is getting oxygen isn't he?
Hold on. Let me go check. [sound of footstep on the stairs]
Alright. I can wait....
yinggg-zing. yinggg-zing.
Are we back yet?
Yeah, he's got oxygen.
Alrightee then! So, Venger Satanis, I am told you create table top role playing games. Tell me, what is a table top role playing game. Is it like Twister? Is it like Twister you play on top of a table?
Yes, exactly like that. Except instead of right foot on blue, you pretend to be someone else doing something cool, interesting, or funny - like having sex on your motorcycle while driving it through an art museum that's under attack by a thousand pirate platypi.
That sounds like how I met Moltar.
I thought you said we weren't going to talk about that.
Oh, I did? Ah, no, I meant your Mother. I mean Moltar's Mother! How I met Moltar's Mother. I think. Anyway, can you tell us anything about the games themselves?
Some are fantasy, others sci-fi, and the rest horror. My approach is both old school and trying to get at something new. There's a darkness to my work, but also a sense of humor. Lovecraftian gonzo... but sexy.
Hey! Don't you run Alpha Blue?
Running Alpha Blue makes you question your sexuality.
Not me, I'm a platinum member baby! No questions asked!
You are not! Zorak, you've never even been to Alpha Blue!
I'm there all the time, gettin' me my nookie fix.
Zorak. When your species procreates, the female bites the head off the male and shoots eggs down his throat.
And then I regenerate.
Eggs that hatch and cannibalize the corpse from the inside out.
And then I regenerate.
yinggg-zing. yinggg-zing.
I get my corpse eaten every weekend, rain or shine.
LIAR! Regenerate THIS!
Pay no mind to Zorak, Venger. He's evil.
And then I regenerate. Muwhahahahahahaha!
Sooooooo. Venger. You wouldn't happen to have any free drink coupons for this 'game' of yours? Because up until now I've just been you know, hovering the phantom cruiser above it in inviso-mode, peeking down through the windows and -
Hey Space Ghost. Time to wrap it up. The power & light people are here. It's been three months since you last paid the bill. They say they're gonna pull the plug.
Gee-willikers. Venger Satanis, is there anything else you'd like to say to the good people at home before we go off the air??
There's a lost niche in sci-fi, one that flourished in the 70's and 80's... the raunchy comedy (although, I'd classify Flash Gordon as sci-fi exploitation, which Alpha Blue also does well). Alpha Blue revitalizes that sub-genre. So, if you've ever wanted to roleplay in a sleazy rip-off of Star Wars that also parodies Star Trek, Blake's 7, Battlestar Galactica, and a dozen other franchises, this is the game for you.

Oh yeah, I'm also trying to fund a new Alpha Blue sourcebook via Kickstarter. Here's the link.
Hey! When ya gonna talk about Crimson Dragon Slayer? I wanna play me some Crimson Drag--