Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012, If Not the End of Time.

Over the past week, I keep hearing about how bad 2011 was.
And all I am hearing is slaves singing songs over Saturnalia about the worldview of someone else. Granted I _LIKE_ rough straits, but 2011 was a good year for me. People were flexing their shoulders. I want to see where things are going.

And if the Mayans have it right, I am so beating up more than few illegal immigrants, I suppose that includes my mother and me-- they could have told us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crafting a Good Yarn, Am I?

I ask myself that question often. Well, I probably already know Bennet's answer to this question, but excuse me while I indulge myself by thinking about it for myself.

Game-wise is one thing.

One of the things I've tried to avoid since becoming one of the hardest working GMs in the world (does anyone else you know run six to twelve events each year for non-regular groups, as well as about a eight to twenty games for his regulars?), is the urge to "go improv." You know, where you walk into a scheduled session and just wing it. Not sure why I don't, because the times that I have, it has gone well-- I swear that I've sold more than a dozen copies of T&T for Flying Buffalo the times I have. But I think it has something to do with the cathartic qualities of writing things out, versus the thrill of being spontaneous, as well as something of a showboat, as a GM.

On the other side of gaming sessions, I have to watch out to not overly push my story on the players. They often do indeed like to improv. Over the last two years, I have been experimenting with forcing the players to improvise just to see the dynamics in a more clear fashion. Alas I have found it, the GM's seeds make a good or bad session for everyone, and not just the biggest ham bone in group.

But at the table, it's still bits and pieces that come out during the course of play, despite pages upon pages of written text. So I've started putting in the image, sometimes image, that I want to describe and then start crafting the tale around that. From emails that I have received for my Elder Tunnel scenarios, this method has seemed to be somewhat successful. I often hear my script is well paced, which is a surprise to me, because I am not paying attention to that as I write these pieces. Mostly I am trying to fill out the world that feel makes my images, and sometimes spiffy game mechanics, coherent. That and fill up a couple pages for the print product. I suppose though the theatrical format facilitates a sense of stage management that isn't actually the intent. Glad I get something right.

Fiction-wise is another.

In the age of the internet and limited social network interfaces, many fiction writers that I know have started to think that anything over two paragraphs is boring and repetitive. I read a friend's "novel in progress" end up yes with 50,ooo words, but at the same time it had 92 chapters. While Kurt Vonnegut or Kathy Acker might think that is good thing, I as a reader could barely get into the ever-shifting pace. In the end, narrative needs a bit more than Point-To-Point mechanics. Still my own 14,ooo worded chapters, often come off as rote to me.

This year I am going to try something new, my Dreaming. Not as plot guides, dreams don't do that well. And the age of mass media imagery TV turning the human subconscious into a flat planet, my dreams just aren't the guide to amazing visions or deep inspiration towards things unknown that they once were. No I am going to use my dreams for guide to finding the emotionality of my characters. This just may be the key towards having characters that surprise me. I hear every fiction writer claim that their plots just fell together and they had no idea what was going to happen next because of those zanny, wild and whacky Out-of-Control characters on the page in front of them. Considering how formula most those authors tend to be, I think they are bullshitting. But I'd like to get more depth into characters, despite the lack of spontaneity in my daily emotions, so perhaps my dreams can help here.

And now to start piecing together "Bigger Than A Breadbox" for A Dark Gathering horror role-playing event, coming up this May in Syracuse, New York.

Monday, December 12, 2011

TAG 2.0?

I have been doing a lot of "rules design" in my head over the last week. Not sure why, just doing it. Making rules systems to me is kind of like spending time with the lawn or making cookies instead of buying them. Pleasurable work and good for practicing needed "gamer skills."

I have been playing D&D, err D20, err 3.75 err a game sessions over the past year. That is as well as run various T&T sessions to people that only ever played one of the variations of D&D. I have also been reading through Roy Cram's, Yorda's, vast and varied submitted works, I think they're supposed to be for PeryPub, over the last few weeks. One of his four and half projects that he is working is something called Mad Roy's Super Simple System (MRSSS for short), as opposed to re-learning MSPE for this Summer's issue of Elder Tunnels (the theme is modern T&T-based items).

It occurs to me that keeping it simple isn't always fun for audience when trying a new game.
I have never had a harder time explaining to people that rolling high on two six-sided dice is a good thing than after I explained the T&T Saving Roll to both hardcore veterans and casual players of D&D alike. From complaints that are blatantly wrong like, "there is no randomness;" to the intellectually honest, "I hate doing addition." So this system isn't the "simple system to end all simple systems. "

Instead I am taking experiences from playing D&D, err 3.75, err D20, err some games with an icosahedron and differential tables with Pery, Rook and JerryTel, and working on making the combat more step driven and defined. I have to admit even my T&T combat sessions are enhanced by adding details during the fray rather than coloring the results. And I am working in a couple "but ifs" so the players can feel that they're playing a trump card every now and then.

Who knows I may take my "Tom's Rip-Off of Tunnels and Trolls," fondly referred to as TROTT in Pery's and my household, and turn it on its head. More like a "Rolled Over Tunnels and Trolls, Expanded and Nuanced," hmmmm a ROTTEN core set of rules or something. Am I going to use this new system for my re-working of Spacers(TM) or the release of the "Powder Punk" setting this upcoming year? I dunno. But more than likely there will be a very quirky setting where I try out this new games matrix.

As of yet, there is no d20 in these blueprints though.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Bogey Men, the Mothman and 665 Hits in a Single Day

This one goes to Bennet, who I'll still just keep continuing to delete his comments. Freedom of Speech means you get make an ass of yourself elsewhere or just do the "I HATE KOPFY" forum, please provide all my links for all your fans. I seem to have had a bad egg magumuffin this morning, so maybe your voodoo doll is working. Oops sorry a bit of salt and broccoli seems to have helped. Stay strong and remember to lock the door so your mother can't walk in during the ritual. I am your biggest fan, but sadly you're still just getting tossed off.

While that above is fascinating to me, I actually wanted to talk about the paranormal. Or should I say, "The Paranormal." Which happens to the title to a spin-off project of the horror role-playing rules I wrote called CrawlSpace for Monk and TAG in that order. Paranormal doesn't get worked on too often, but for the bad conspiracy/ superhero setting Nixon World I've been reviewing the cases of Big Foot and the Mothman. Anybody else notice that these occurrences tend to pop in places where everyone is "honest" and "knows each other?"

Then with just a little, very little actually, research a co
uple of things come to light. Someone that describes red-filtered flashlights on a National Guardsman's steel pot, with him flapping his poncho to scare away a car full of teenagers, as "red eyes that peered into my soul..." . Three years later, that person admitted to being stoned out of her gourd and "telling fibs." A decade earlier, half a continent away a restaurant owner makes casts of some large imaginary creature and runs around for about three miles away from the spot, and then makes a film of a friend in a gorilla suit; then years later gets outed by his son when he is dead and buried, as having conducted a hoax. Both of these people get described,... no.... keep getting described as "hardworking," "salt of the earth," and "honest" "folk." And then those other "good" folk around that keep collaborating the tales, even after the showings, fall into either the roles of superstitious or culpable with the hoax to begin with. Not even a one can crack a smile while maintaining the fireside tale.

And I'd like to thank everyone who helped Kopfy's Kreche, ""We're All Mad Here." Carnage 2011: part 2" get 665 posts in one day. That like put the month of November 2011 to the most audience that I have ever seen.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Fantasy Movies Are Supposed To Be Bad, continued.

Last night we watched Conan, the Barbarian the 2011 release of the tale. This was definitely a King Kong of a fantasy flik for me. It worked for me as a mixture as a rambling sword and sorcery tale coupled with the latest Hollywood motifs and hooks. Worked into the motion picture was a smattering of allusions from the Robert E. Howard fiction. It was kind of weird to hear "Venarium" coming from the latest sword-wielding Hawaiian to make the silver screen in a groin cloth, as well as be treated to Harry Potter childhood scenes with gratuitous decapitations.

The decapitations were right up there with the obligatory Ron Perlman appearance in any fantasy film with a budget larger than a lunch at Hardees. And I can't say that he did all that bad, considering his role as a Barbarian chieftain was probably written by a guy who just scripted a 3-D Lassie remake due out next Arbor Day or some such. The villains were kewl. Stephen Lang and Rose McGowan were great as the cruel necromancer, Khalar Zym, and his witch daughter, Marique.

The rest of the movie had the look of what one comes to expect from Hyboria these days, ever since that music video in the big, bad 1980s. Ruins and statues every ten steps. People dragging stuff over harsh terrain and being whipped for unexplained reasons. What was new was the film-makers' take on getting some explosions into the "epic." Not a lot of money on special effects for sorcery, but cabbage and orange-filled wagons waiting for boulders to be rolled into them. Heck, we all know Robert E. Howard's works are "low fantasy" anyway.

Not a bad fantasy flik at all.