About Me

My photo
Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Imagination vs Perception

When lurking around on various blogs and forums, I see some degree of argument at times between those that like strong tactical maps (a la 4e D&D), versus those who prefer little or no tactical map usage (a la... not 4e D&D).

I'm not picking on 4e here, but it has certainly become the poster child for tactical-first gameplay.

As a game designer I was interested in some of the psychological background behind these different styles of play - and so I turned to some trusted sources.  Like Cognitive Psychology, 7th edition.

It knows what you are thinking.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weights and Measures

In the initial design phase for Phoenix, I made the decision to use the metric system for play.  This is partly because I have some international players, and partly because I think the customary system is kind of annoying in day-to-day activities.  Why should anyone have to remember numbers like 1760, 5280, 16, 12, and 3 when they can just remember 10, 100, 1000?

A meterstick?

Still, I have years of training against me.  It's a lot more natural to say, "You enter a 10 foot by 10 foot room," rather than, "You enter a 3 meter by 3 meter room."  And while it is easy to make a meter the same as a yard, it is a bit harder for some players to convert kilograms to pounds in their head.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Adventure Coaching

Punch your DM in the Face!

Backstory is for LARPers and LARPers. 

Hey, he said it, not me.

I think we've all known someone who could use a little bit of coaching.  But if you could give one coaching tip, what would it be?

Mine would be:  "Relax".  Nothing happening in the game is the end of the world.

Except, of course, when the end of the world happens in the game.
...then you're screwed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Today is ANZAC Day.

It's worth remembering every so often that the only reason we get to sit around and talk about games all day is because of real heroes who gave their lives in real adventures.

Never Forget.

American-Australian Camaraderie

Monday, April 23, 2012

Virtual Playtest

Yesterday was the first virtual playtest of Phoenix, using MapTool as the virtual software.  I had players from three continents - Asia, Australia, and North America.

I can honestly say that's a new experience for me.  I've never had to calculate so many time zones to schedule a game session.


Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'm not entirely sure why we, as roleplayers, believe there is a substantial difference between 254,452 XP and 254,453 XP.  I think it's because a lot of gamers are math nerds and like to show off how great they can add.

Unfortunately, most gamers can't add as well as they think they can (or should be able to).

I'd buy that for a dollar

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Please don't eat these...

... before coming to a gaming session.

I can't believe how many gamers apparently break this rule

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I'm the one that's Cool

The latest video from Felicia Day and the Guild crew. As gamers, I think most of us that went to high school in the US can probably relate.

I recently saw 21 Jumpstreet - a hilarious movie - and they made fun of how different high school is now than it used to be. I'm wondering if that is true?  Do kids in high school these days not experience the thrill of playing hide and seek with jocks, where the penalty for not hiding well enough is horrific teenage embarrassment?  Or worse?

And what is it like in other countries?  Is this a US phenomenon, or can gamers from other countries relate?

I never understood why this doesn't get treated like a big deal at most schools in the US, or at least didn't back in my day.  I'm a member of the Expel Bullies on First Offense;  Jail Bullies on Second Offense society.  Or would be, if such a thing existed.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leadership in RPGs

I don't subscribe to some of the hippie approaches to GMing that I read about these days.  Like business, like war, like everything else, strong leadership skills and strong management skills are applicable to successful RPGs.

Ask one of these -
they can fill in the blanks for you.
Today I'll talk about Leadership.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

A fantastic game of magic and sorcery!
The fastest growing game in the Western World!

(from 30 years ago)
Let's have a look inside...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weekend Playtest Results

Saturday was the first three-player playtest for Phoenix, testing the "Mortal-1" classes of Conquestor, Elementalist, and Alchemist.  And oh yea, the Alchemist was really a Ninja in disguise.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Crime Scene

Baby Bat killed the Easter Bunny!

With his own carrot, nonetheless.

Wonder if the egg has candy in it?

Baby Bat makes the best stuffed animals.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Weekend Playtest

This weekend is my first three-player playtest.  Of course I'm a little anxious about it (what if everything goes horribly?!) - but I'm also excited (what if it is awesome!?).  This session will focus on testing basic dungeon crawling mechanics, including fundamental combat and exploration.

A caravan crossing the desert? What could possibly go wrong?

The Adventure
I'm using a converted early-edition D&D module for this playtest.  I wanted to focus on mechanics, without having to worry about designing a good adventure at the same time.  Of course, I have a few Phoenix surprises thrown in...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Awesome Tool: Book of Names

There are few books that I have used consistently since they were released. The is one of those rare few: Gary Gygax's Extraordinary Book of Names, by Malcolm Bowers.

I can't find "Gygax" in here, so I'm not
sure where that weird name comes from.

This book truly lives up to its name - extraordinary.  I know the current fad is to use all sorts of online random name generators, but I'm old school, and I prefer a nice hefty book in my hands.  I have two full-height bookcases filled with gaming books (not including magazines), and this is one of the few that has a location of honor on the top shelf.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ninja Habitats

Your view from the afterlife.
  • Behind you
  • In front of you
  • Near you
  • Around you
  • Under you
  • Inside you
  • On top of you
  • In the shadows of you and your loved ones
  • The tree in your backyard
  • In your refrigerator
  • Adjacent to your car keys
  • Wherever Pirates happen to be
  • In the underwear you are currently wearing
  • As a character class in Phoenix RPG

(Much of this list courtesy Uncyclopedia)
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