Monday, September 8, 2014

Destiny trailer looks pretty darn good

My video game portfolio, of late, has been quite thin to say the least. Right now most (if any) video games I play are on my Android phone or (gulp!) our plucky first-gen Wii. That said, this new game by Destiny looks really amazing to me--at least visually.
There's a live-action trailer out now, which looks like Elysium (nee: HALO) meets Appleseed in a Star Wars universe--set to a Guardians of the Galaxy-like soundtrack. And for good measure, it was directed by Neill Blomkamp (the same dude who did Elysium). Design-wise, it's very modern, but for all it's scifi trappings, (as I understand it) the game features some sharp looking space magic! I'm really interested to learn the narrative behind how magic works in the game.

Anyway, let's have a look at that trailer, shall we?

And here's the official game trailer with plenty of actual gameplay:

I'm pretty sure I heard Tyrion himself, Peter Dinklage as the "Bit" hoverdroid in the first video. Sounds like Kevin Spacey is in the actual game.

Here's a few more visuals* to feast upon:


I've not read any reviews, but based on the visuals alone I can definitely see enough inspiration for a tabletop campaign. Thoughts?

*Images:Bungie Studios

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Con of the North event submitted!

Well I'm all paid up for my third visit to Con of the North, come February. I decided this time around I'd like to focus on playing games rather than running a bunch. I got sick of missing out on so many awesome games. In light of that I did submit one event for X-plorers. Here's the description:
RAD ASTRA: Gonzo, Space Adventure!
Pack your ray blaster, charge your laser sword and take off on a far-out, interstellar adventure! Get set for a rules-light, mash-up of sci-fi B-movies, 70s space opera TV, and Bronze Age comics. You're the galaxy's last hope on a do-or-die mission against a horde of savage space vikings, alien astrosassins, and sinister space wizards! Your swashbuckling, Saturday night space opera is here baby!   
I left the plot details out but sprinkled in some of the elements that will hopefully attract sci-fi fans. Maybe I should have put the words "space," "opera," and "adventure" in there a few more times? Aw well. In any case,  I have just over five months to procrastinate until I get my shit together the week before--so exciting! 

Con of the North 2015 is February 13-15 at the Crowne Plaza Minneapolis West.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Starblazer Adventures uses the FATE rules system. 

I was able to grab a copy of the enormous Starblazer Adventures RPG manual off eBay recently. It's actually something of a small miracle, since it's been out of print for a few years now and it was already pretty expensive to begin with.

Looking forward to diving in to this 630 page mammoth "Rock and Roll Space Opera!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How are you using (or not using) art in your games?

Here's a question for your veteran GMs out there: how much or how little do you rely on game (or other) art during game play?

Do you show your players art to set the mood or give them an idea of their environment or adversaries?

How much of your art at the table is non-game art?

Do you let them bring in art?

While I've used art in games, I've encountered players who admit that the art doesn't do much for them. Others love it because (they say) they're "not great with visuals". (Not sure if I should find that worrisome or not!)

I've considered describing images that the players cannot see (hidden behind a screen), and let their imaginations do the rest. In the past, I've wimped out and shown it to them because, I deemed it just too cool not to show. But I think for some people it detracted from their experience.

Again, I think it's important to make a distinction here: I'm not talking about how you use art in crafting settings, creatures, or NPCs--but how important that art is during game play.

Feel free to be as detailed as you like in the comments.

And thank you!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rad Astra, where are you?

It's been a while since I've done a proper Rad Astra update. And for good reason--I've stalled. I've made good headway on what started as a setting book for X-plorers--but that really can be easily adapted to any scifi game. Here's what's completed (though not all of these are published on the site):
  • Five classes, plus a "bonus" multi-class option
  • Alternate rules for earning XP, building skills, and a few other options for PCs
  • About 30 or so creatures (monsters and aliens)
  • Four playable alien classes
  • Equipment and gear options
  • Rules for space magic
  • Optional rules for building robots
  • Three adventure modules
  • About a dozen artifacts/treasures
  • Various adventure hooks and "news from around the galaxy" bits
  • Plus a few other surprises
But, I've run into several barriers this year, including:

100% increase in babies

We had a kid! She's awesome. Like the best, most awesomest thing ever. She's my new hobby. I don't really talk about her on the blog, but I expect as I work to introduce her to the geek lifestyle, that will change. The outcome? My time/energy was diverted. A recent conversation with my wife was very encouraging in respect to reclaiming those resources so I could "work on nerd things" like Rad Astra.

At least I've got my health

Or not. This one nearly leveled me, and I never, ever mention it because I'm a fairly private individual. Also, who gives a shit? Really, everyone has their day-to-day struggles. On this blog, it would get old fast. The details aren't important, but after 5 months and a lot of visits to the doc, things are finally back on track. But it sucked up a lot of previously mentioned time/energy.


Interest in space opera, thanks to juggernauts like Guardians of the Galaxy, has surged. We're living in a new golden age of wahoo, gonzo scifi. There's been an uptick in homebrewed scfi settings and games. I've agonized for 6 months on this: do we need another one?

This all seemed like a good idea back in the fall of 2012. I proposed this idea of doing a pastiche setting that ripped off the best and worst of comics, movies, and TV. It's by no means an original idea--and one that can be done many different ways. Currently there are several projects that are creatively knocking it out of the cosmos. Let's say that I'm able to get Rad Astra out a year from now--it would be pretty late to the party. Plus, I'd like to think that I could measure up to those, but the next barrier has a lot to do with quality...

Insufficient funds 

Money.Yep, it makes the world go round. At one point, I had a small sum saved for paying artists for much needed game art and maps. That's long gone. I'd switched to thinking I would do a gazetter (essentially a zine) and compile it into an almanac at the end of the year. But still, these things aren't cheap. Incidentally, I've considered doing Rad Astra sans art, but really, the theme demands it. And so do I.

I've got no game

In January of this year I attended Con of the North, our local game con here in the Twin Cities. I only had time to show up and run a single game of X-plorers (in the Rad Astra setting). I was woefully under-prepared. It was a complete disaster. I was overtired and the experience (from my perspective) was so bad that I didn't even want to blog about it. The adventure itself was pretty cool, but I just couldn't pull it off. The players said they had fun, but the end result was me going home and feeling like I'd let them down.

The longer-term result was a real lull in my RPGing. I'd even lost interest in it for a while. When I'd finally stopped feeling sorry for myself and my interest was renewed, I found it really tough to get a group together to play. Not to mention, I had all these things I'd written for Rad Astra that I'd been desperate to run--and no one to try them out on. The drought continues to this day.

So what now?

I don't know. I'm all over the map on this. I've thought of doing one of the following:
  1. Kill this little darling. It's dead weight. Cut the cord and be done with it. Short term pain for long term gain.
  2. Kickstarter! Beg strangers on the interwebs for money. I hate this option.
  3. Partner with a publisher. I really only know of one who might take it. I'd have less control but it has a better chance of seeing publication. 
  4. Take a million years to finish it and publish it anyway. (Not really an option, because I'll resort to #1 if I can't get it done without a clear finish date, e.g., end of the year.)

"What now?" indeed--besides the catharsis of writing this post. Do I double down? Are there more options I'm not seeing? The pity party is over, it's time to decide. Feel free to offer sideline analysis in the comments.