Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Clandestinauts comic is coming to a close

Minneapolis-based comic artist and dungeoneering raconteur Tim Sievert announced earlier this week that his beloved Clandestinauts web comic would be wrapping up this week. If you've not read it, or it's predecessor The Intrepideers mini comic (which I believe was only in print) you're in for a treat. Update: I was able to track down Intrepideers online, thanks mwschmeer!

Clandestinauts is about as wild, wooly, weird, and bawdy as it gets when it comes to killing monsters and taking their stuff. It began as a tale of made-up adventures using the PCs from his circle of friends' D&D group.

I've crossed paths with Tim over the last several years and picked up the print copies when available. Tim's truly a great guy and one of the most original young illustrators working in indie comics today. I'm excited for him to be finishing an epic adventure that's run since 2010.

I'm also looking forward to his upcoming project (which I can't recall if he's made widely public yet, but you likely could figure it out if you visit his website). It's been another labor of love, years in the making and all I can say is bring it on Tim!

Stop by his site and get caught up for the big finale which is coming this Thursday!

Post also posted to Spellcard.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Star Wars: game and filmmaking take a giant leap with renderless live-capture technology

Okay, I have no clue how recent this is--the description on YouTube yields no info beyond the following:
Lucasfilm shows off the future of filmmaking? Scenes get rendered out in real time, removing the need for post-production

My sources tell me this was part of a demo for the now cancelled Star Wars 1313 video game, which looks (looked?) incredible.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Getting ready to raise a geek girl

Back in July my wife and I welcomed our first, completely new person--a baby girl. Those of you with kids already know what I'm learning--what an incredible experience it is to be a first-time parent--and that the human body begins to fall apart without sufficient sleep! (Actually, she's let us sleep a lot more than we expected.)

Anyway, in the last several months--including many leading up to her arrival--I've spent a lot of time thinking about what kind of media (okay, geek stuff!) we'll expose her to and, of course, when and how much. We've made a conscous descision to try to stem the pink princess tide as much as possible. If it happens it happens, but we're not inviting it (try having that conversation with an overly-exhuberant grandma!).

Truth is, geek girls have it a bit rougher since a lot of this stuff has historically been geared towards males. It's worth noting that there's a lot I thought would be "fine" for a boy, but the second I found out we're having a girl, I seemingly became very sensitive to what's "appropriate." My own definition of that is still evolving. Thankfully, websites like A Mighty Girl and Star Wars Parenting have certainly helped to give me ideas for content and activities. That said though, we hope to get her interested in "the basics" as it were.

A Classical Geek Education
Star Wars is a given. Original Trilogy all the way! And we'll only bring up the prequels if we have to, like when
One of a select few approved princesses....
some kid talks it about it at school and then we'll talk about in hushed tones with heavy guilt and embarassment. And then, when she's a bit more savvy: Star Trek (maybe closer to 9 or 10 years old?).

Of course we'll introduce comic books, but with a heavy dose of regular books as well. Wonder Woman can sometimes be complicated, but ultimately she's the most reconizable heroine.

My personal favorite: Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld. Yeah, I know, trading purple for pink, isn't much of a stretch! But Amethyst can hold her own and she's a truely original warrior princess--2 years before She-ra arrived(who was based off a boys' toyline) and long before Xena.

And I'll introduce her to my passion for Ray Harryhausen films. Too bad there's no girl-centric films in that vein. But I also want to be able to experience games and fun projects where she (and I) might actually learn something!

I know there will be some beloved games I'll teach her my favorite, Dungeon!* when she's old enough to grasp dice without swallowing. But it had me thinking, what about other family-oriented games, like the Munchkin series from Steve Jackson? (Frankly, I'm not too familiar with those games.)

Eventually we'll try some RPGs, X-plorers for sure, but also Marvel Superheroes (FASERIP Forever!) and yes, even D&D. Probablly one of the Mentzer or Holmes box sets to start.

This is where you come in...
I know there's also plenty of homebrew or retroclone games specifically for kids--what I don't know is how many of you have played or with what level of success.

I've got my list of nerd stuff, but I'd like to open it up to readers. And not just game stuff--if you're a parent (or an aunt or an uncle) and are charged with nerding up your ward--what's been the most fun/rewarding stuff?

List your favorite geek activities and recommendations in the comments!

*Of which I currently possess 3 different versions! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Space pirate videos for "Talk Like a Pirate Day!"

In honor of this, our most cherished pirate holiday, here's a few space pirate clips to keep your starship timbers shivering. Or something.

Space Pirate Captain Harlock!

Ice Pirates!

Treasure Planet!

AVAST! A rules-light pirate RPG!

Ahoy landlubbers! Fellow X-plorer and friend Bill DeFranza has written a rules-light pirates RPG called YARR! over at For a mere five doubloons you can set sail for a life of plunder and piracy on the digital seas with a handy PDF.

A softcover print-on-demand book is in the works too--and your electronic purchase earns you a coupon towards the POD version. The game promises swordplay, Atlantean magic, and  pirate ship combat.

Here's the word from the cap'n himself:
YARR! is a fun, easy to learn game for kids, beginners or veteran players who emphasize story and role play over rules. Based on Brave Halfling Publishing's Dagger RPG for kids, YARR! is intuitive for anyone who has played any OGL / d20 game. It is streamlined so that kids can grasp it easily but robust enough (and including advanced rules for skills) so that veteran player won't find it overly simplified.

Yarr! includes rules for ship to ship combat, a bestiary of human and monstrous adversaries, booty (treasure) appropriate for historical fantasy of the Golden Age of Piracy, Mermaid magic, even a Pirate Talk glossary!

Just looking at the table of contents has me yearning to run a Sinbad-style campaign, ala Ray
Harryhausen. YARR sounds like the perfect game to play today--Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What are Hit Points?

In video games, Hit Points (HP) are a pretty static concept. They equal "health" and are an indicator of biological vitality. It's well-accepted that when a character's HP drop to zero, that persona is dead (or possibly comatose until revived via extra lives or a "continue"). But for sake of argument, that character is gone. Game Over.

 It could also mean "energy" though. Whether that's a metabolic quantifier or some other esoteric measure. When the character runs out, HP needs a recharge! Then it's back into the fray. So does that mean HP should be decreasing over time in traditional RPG--like when we need sleep?

 In pen and pencil games, HP can get--let's just say--squishy. It can represent a few things or a combination of things. Some games go for the straight-up health stat, while others make it a loose representation of "life" and uh--how do I put this--resistance to being hit. Yeah, like "something" gets in the way of that well-aimed laser and our hero is hit, but for some reason a blast only does 2d6 damage and our guy has a crazy amount of hit points. How did did get those points anyway? Did he have armor? Of course!

But that was taken into account with armor class (AC). Was it his dexterity/agility that allowed him to dodge? Well if it was--then he'd have escaped being hit--and at least in this example, he took the hit. His constitution/physique? Again, those scores are already taken into account.

Wouldn't make sense to have both HP and constitution (even though in many games HP is determined by constitution or some similar stat)? What's the point of representing a stat made up of other stats? (Don't answer that one--not yet!) In some games (and sometimes its just the GM's preference) rely on XP to be the "x" factor.

The more experience under your belt, the greater your HP to protect yourself. Makes sense in a way, right? Your character has managed to live this long--a little extra "fortitude" (whatever that means) is a reward to help protect yourself as you advance onto tougher challenges and meaner foes. Except that's the exact opposite of how real life--and combat--works. If anything, more injuries will add up over time. And the aging process guarantees greater frailty.

  So what are Hit Points? How are you using them? As proclaimed in "the rules"? Do you let players trade them in order to accomplish difficult or impossible tasks, otherwise beyond their reach? To the comments!

Friday, September 13, 2013

VIDEO: Clips of people blasting stuff!

Taking a page from yesterday's space video dujour, I've "curated" some more galactic goodness. Let's see how many Friday's we can get out of this, shall we? First up: People blastin' stuff!


...and one more--"blasting" out of the hangar! ;)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Battlestar Galactica + Space: 1999 = YES!

Somewhere there is a fanboy walking on water because he's done the Lord's work and weaved two classic space opera TV shows together into a miracle of awesome! Turns out the Galactica, wandering the cosmos for Earth has stumbled upon Moonbase Alpha adrift in the black. Far-out, sci-fi hijinks ensue!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

MAP: Our Moon as a Wilderness - your next campaign?

The geniuses at University College London have made available--for free--a glorious map of the moon, as illustrated by astronomer Walter Goodacre in 1920. Words cannot describe how incredible this map is, so I'll just show you (click to embiggen):

That's a resized version (by me, so I could fit it here, but also messed up the clarity) of one page of his original publication. Go now to the UCL site and feast your eyes on full-size scans of the pages! You can also peek at these on Flickr in a slightly more approachable format.

And that's not all! They've digitally stiched the entire map back together into a clean, line drawn version that you can download--in either 130mb and 300mb versions.

The thought of printing this out and spreading it onto a table to use as a wilderness adventure or a lunar wargaming map is almost geographically obscene. My GM-brain is salivating at the mere notion of a Victorian-age steampunk/dieselpunk campaign, tromping through the wilds of the moon!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Heading to Con of the North 2014!

Busting out of my self-imposed, baby daddy exile to bring you the news that--YES--there will be an X-plorers game at Con of the North! It will be a Rad Astra setting of my own making. Here's the quick/dirty submission I sent for the con listing:
RAD ASTRA: Far-Out Space Opera! Pack your ray pistol and laser sword for a rules-light, mash-up of B-grade, sci-fi exploitation movies, 70s space opera TV, and Bronze Age comics! You're part of a group of interstellar swashbucklers pursued by agents of the Drukar Empire on a quest for intergalactic infamy and fortune! Choose your class: Space Ranger, Astrosassin, Starlocke or Starbarian!
Game details: 4-6 players, pre-gens will be available with some tweakability by the players. Game is scheduled for 4 hours (which is 2 hours longer than the previous session).

If I can get my act together (that's sort of a big "if") I may run a second game. As it is, I'm still working on the class descriptions for Astrosassin and Starlocke, so I don't want to bite off more than I can chew!

Finally, I'm looking for some input on what type of adventure sounds most fun over on my Google Plus page, so check that out and let me know what you think!