Thursday, October 30, 2008

PC/NPC Portraits

Image From Fantasy Clip Inks Warriors Set 2

This weeks image courtesy of William McAusland and the gang over at Outland Arts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

GM Block

Like most gamers I got my start playing D&D. As a matter of fact I was the DM/GM for the first game in which I ever played and have been doing so in almost every game I have played since. As fantasy gaming was my intro to RPGs I admit to having a fondness, even a preference for that genre. While I enjoy playing/running sci-fi, superhero, horror, modern and my personal favorite pulp era games, I have found I have a hard time running a good long term campaign, unless it is fantasy.

Granted I have run some memorable games in non-fantasy settings, but they seem to fizzle out once the initial adventure is over. I don't know exactly why this is, but I seem to run out of steam and develop GM block. I simply can't come up with enough interesting adventures. You would think some one who loves movies, comics, and books and owns as many of them as I do would have an endless stream of ideas for campaigns, but when it comes time to create the next adventure they end up being crap.

Maybe I just set my standards too high, or maybe I can't see the forest for the trees, but either way I never end up happy with the follow up adventures I come up with. The hardest genre for me to GM is superheroes. I don't know why, but I have an extremely difficult time with this one. There is just no genre that I am as adept at as fantasy. I know that fantasy isn't any easier to GM than any other type of game, but it sure feels like it when I try to come up with something interesting for my players.

The components for any campaign/adventure are fairly simple; heroes, villian/conflict, quest, resolution. How come I can't apply these to a sci-fi game as easily as I can a fantasy one? While I do think the answer lies in part with the players and the fact they feel secure in playing a setting they know like the back of their hand, the responsibility falls mostly on my shoulders.

So to solve my little dilemma I have decided to put D&D on hold for a while. The next time we game it will be in another system/genre, it will be a one shot game. The follow up games will also use the new system and consist of one shot adventures as well, which I will hopefully be able to tie together into a larger campaign without it being obvious, just like in the old days. I will also spend much more time developing the adventure than normal. With D&D I can pretty much adlib the entire game with an idea summed up by a few sentences that I jot down, but with the new campaign I will actually plan things out.

I think that part of the problem is that I have become a lazy DM/GM. Setting up fantasy adventures has become so easy that I no longer have to think about it. Instead I will do it like I did when I was a kid and first started gaming. I will prepare the adventure's framework at least one week in advance. Pick out all my villians/enemies and have their stats ready and copied on note cards with any important information. I also use to keep a list of alternatives just in case my group decided to severely alter my planned adventure by killing an important NPC or missing an important clue. Hopefully this will allow me to quit running on auto pilot and get the creative juices flowing once again. It may take me a while to get in the swing of running something other than fantasy, but I think I can do it.

Does anyone else have this problem or have any suggestions?

Top 10 Books to Read for Halloween 2009

I am an avid reader and naturally gravitate towards horror books at this time of year. What follows are some of my all time favorite books that get me in the Halloween spirit. Most of which are great for coming up with ideas for your Halloween RPG session. Especially the H.P. Lovecraft stuff if you are a Call of Cthulhu player.

  1. Don't Open This Book
  2. Everything's Eventual
  3. Nightmares and Dreamscapes
  4. Black Seas of Infinity
  5. The Bad Place
  6. Skeleton Crew
  7. World War Z
  8. Waking Up Screaming
  9. Book of the Dead
  10. Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark(I read this every year when I was a kid)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Diary of John Day

October 10
The damn rabbits are staring at me again. As I sit here at my desk, trying in vain to complete my latest story, they sit mockingly in my backyard. They appear so innocent and sweet frolicking among my few remaining garden plants. I am no longer fooled by their cute floppy ears and their fuzziness. They are not the cuddly creatures they appear to be. They are vile, evil little beast that wish to subjugate us and torment me because I know the truth. They speak in their vanilla voices of things no human ear should ever be subject to and the things they ask of me are beyond the means of a sane man. Yet they continue trying to drive me mad with their infernal plans and poisonous ideas. I fear they are beginning to turn others against me as well. Grover, my beloved St. Bernard, has begun to withdraw his affections and stare at me with cruel intentions thus causing me to lock my bedroom door each night. My wife thinks this odd but says little. He sniffs under the door and scratches lightly trying to gain access where he was once welcome. My fear keeps me from sleeping well, for who knows what lurks there in the darkness while I slumber. No if they take me I shall be facing their assault.

October 12
The birds and the cats, for which I have never had a fondness, have joined the rabbits in their plotting. Why just the other day Samson, Mrs. Crandle’s vile little tabby, came up to me and began rubbing against my leg. I did nothing to dissuade it, for if I had it could report to the others that I was wise to their plans, thus giving them reason to retaliate. It is best that I stay my hand for now, besides I am far too smart for such trickery. I hear them plotting in the garden, in the spaces between the walls and even from up the chimney where the birds try to recruit the squirrels. Of course the squirrels will not turn on me for they are noble and loyal creatures. They know I was the one that planted the trees that produce the nuts they store for the winter and provides them with a homes. They know this and they try to protect me. I see them jumping from limb to limb. I hear them running about on the roof scaring the birds away. If only they could keep the moles from my cellar. Moles, in case you did not know, are the rabbits spies and can gain access where others cannot. What about the mice and rats you my ask yourself, but you have nothing to fear from them. They care nothing of the coming conflict, while vile in their own right they are much too concerned with their own short lives to bother with the rabbits' evil plans. Besides they live well off of mankind. If we did not continue to prosper, and the rabbits ruled the world, who would produce the garbage that feeds their offspring and build the sewers where they thrive? Not the selfish rabbits of that you can be certain.

October 13
I am not sure of the intentions of the rest of the world’s animals, perhaps this is isolated to our country or maybe not. I tried to ask the penguins, at the zoo, but they had been bred and raised in captivity and had no clue what their free brethren thought or they simply refused to share this information. Penguins are cunning, and can be vicious creatures when the mood strikes them, they are birds after all. Yet, this was true of nearly all of the zoo’s inhabitants, except for the lion who tried to convince me the world would be better without us weak minded humans. Although he did take a liking to me and offered to let me live if I would join their rebellion and set him free. Of course I did nothing of the sort, only a madman would trust a lion. So I kindly thanked him and said that I would take my chances. He simply smiled at me with his toothy grin and politely bid me farewell. For a cat he was quite a nice fellow.

October 14
I fear that I am alone in the defense of mankind. Everyone I have ever told of the rabbit’s plans either looked at me with pity or laughed in my face. Even my wife and child do not believe me. Several months ago Susan, my wife, took me to see a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Morgan. He tried to convince me that it was all in my mind and that I suffered from an illness, but I am no fool. He gave himself away when he mentioned that he had bought a rabbit as a pet for his children. It was all very clear at that point, he was a traitor. They had somehow done to him as the lion had recently tried to do with me; promising to spare him if he became the servant of their evil. Of course I should not judge him so harshly, he did have children and a parent will do the unspeakable to protect a child. Never the less after numerous visits I began to simply smile, thanking him for his help and promising to take the medication he prescribed. So like the poor Dr. I tried to give in for the sake of my family. At first I thought the medicine was a miracle. I could no longer hear the animals and their devious plans. I was writing with a conviction and clarity that I had not known in some time. Needless to say my family and friends were much happier. I even destroyed my journals detailing the schemes of the rabbits, which is why there are so few entries in this, my new journal. I can see, now, why others felt my behavior was odd, the entries were a little strange. I had become so distraught and confused I made assumptions about the rabbits and their plans; which I now see are more sinister and wide spread than I had originally thought. Luckily the medicine has cured me and I no longer need to take it for my mind is as clear as a summer sky. It is most fortunate that my mind has returned to me or else Grover’s evil plan may have succeeded. I was at my desk this morning, working on the story that I am currently trying to finish, when Grover entered the room and laid beneath my chair. After some time he began to whisper. I listened closely as he spoke of killing me in my sleep. He detailed when and how he was going to do it and how funny it was that I could not hear him as he planned my death right under my nose. I rose and went to the kitchen, completely ignored by my treacherous pet. When he drifted off, to dream of my demise no doubt, I sprang into action. Drawing the knife I had procured from the kitchen I ended the miserable creature’s life. I had tried to play the game their way, to turn a deaf ear to their plans and they still plotted against me. Once they had eliminated me what was to stop them from harming my family? So I did what any man in my position would do and eliminated the most direct threat.
I drug Grover's body into the back yard displaying it for the vile rabbits and their allies to see. Then I buried him in the garden where the rabbits were fond of hiding. He would be a warning to them all that I was not going to be intimidated, that I did not fear them. Of course I will have to explain Grover’s absence to my family when they get home tonight and why the rug beneath my writing chair is missing. I will simply say that Grover chased a rabbit and I was unable to catch him. Ha!! In some ways that is more truthful than they will ever know. As for the now blood stained rug I will simply say that I dropped one of my cigarettes, burned a hole through it, and set it out for the garbage. They cannot outsmart me!!!

October 15
I am such an idiot. I spent so much time tidying up the house after disposing of Grover that I did not realize I was covered in blood. Susan confronted me when she and Aly arrived home last night. I could never lie to them so I told them exactly what happened. Boy was she mad! Of course Aly cried and I tried to comfort her but Susan snatched her up and they both left. I have no idea where, probably to her sister’s up in Columbus. It is probably for the best as things may not be safe here for much longer. So it is good that they are not here, but somewhere safe from the rabbits. I have been pacing the floor for most of the night trying to conceive a plan that would convince the rabbits and their allies to leave my family and me alone. I have no desire to be without my wife and child, but I cannot abide any harm coming to them. Until such a time as it is safe for them to return this is how it must be; I will miss them dearly, and think of them constantly.

October 16
It’s fairly cold today and most of my garden is dead but the rabbits still come. They try to play innocent but I know why there are here! To taunt me and nothing more. They keep asking me to come out and talk to them, they want to be friends. HA! I know better than that. Rabbits may be evil but they are apparently not very bright. Although Bob, he is the leader of the rabbits, is fairly convincing and almost lured me out into what would surely have been an ambush, before I came to my senses. I know that Bob is a strange name for a rabbit but their true names do not translate to human speak very well. I asked Bob once, when we were still friends, how he learned to speak human and you know what he told me? Reruns of Miami Vice! Apparently he would sit outside the Rourke’s house at night and listen to their television. You see Mr. Rourke is quite deaf and I believe that his wife is hard of hearing as well so they keep the volume fairly loud. I myself have heard their television blaring on numerous occasions as I took Grover for his nightly walk. So I know that Bob spoke truthfully, at least in that instance. That is almost funny… a rabbit speaking truthfully! Such a rare event that was; surely it is worthy of the record books. Anyway, he would sit there at night listening to Crocket and Tubbs, until one day he began to understand. Then he taught the other rabbits, and they in turn taught their allies and so on and so on. As you know rabbits breed quite rapidly so it was in no time that several generations of rabbits could now torment me. This is why I no longer watch TV. If that wretched device can drive a rabbit to such madness, imagine what it does to people. No wonder our kids are illiterate and people kill each other over trivial matters.

October 17
Oh today is a bad day!! The trees are burning and the damnable rabbits are dancing under my window. They laugh and sing their infernal songs of sex and blood. They make merry, mocking my humanity with their vile revelry. In their frenzied demonic celebration one of the birds attempted to attack me through the window next to my desk. It smashed its head and made a mess of broccoli colored blood and brains. I am sure the rabbits devoured their fallen comrade when he hit the ground, because when I looked it was gone. They are fast but I am smart. I believe they are preparing their attack. They grow bolder by the day. The end may be coming but I will face it head on. I am not afraid of them.

October 18
It has been crazy around here. They have burrowed into the cellar and are trying to work their way into the house. I have not slept in days. The rabbits continue to laugh at me and the birds are trying to get in thru the attic. I can hear them trying to peck their way in all day and night. I have locked all the doors and windows. I have barricaded the cellar and attic doors. I am afraid I am not going to be among the living much longer. The war will be fought here and I will be the first human casualty. Damn rabbits.

Oct. 23
I still have not been sleeping. Sounds enter my ears and pound on my brain like hammers. I will not let them get me first. They have put gas in my house which has begun to cloud my mind. The walls move and the floors breathe as they try to break through. I beg them to stop... I will keep their secrets…I will serve them if only they spare me this madness, but they just laugh. I don’t want them to kill me. I miss Susan and Aly. Bob said that Grover was innocent and simply trying to protect me, but the moles in the cellar tricked me into killing him. I killed the only one that believed in me. Poor Grover, I would cry but it hurts my eyes. It has to be the gas. They are trying to confuse me. The sky keeps changing color and I feel as if I am the last person on earth. Is this how the world will end? I am hungry.

Oct 30
Hey Rocky watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat…nothing up my sleeve except this shotgun. Blam take that you wascally wabbit. Sillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kidsSillyrabbitstricksare4kids

I think the time has come to die I have no choice in this matter. The moles made their way into the furniture so I was forced to set it all on fire and escaped to the upstairs bedroom. I have my dad’s old rifle, and I have barricaded the door with the dresser. The rabbits are knocking on the door. Pounding and laughing, pounding and laughing. Trick or treat…. They keep yelling at me. It is enough to drive you mad. One of them tried to sneak in disguised as Susan, but I took care of them. Let the fire and the moles deal with them now. It is no longer my problem. They can’t get me, I won’t let them. Mankind will have to fend for itself, I can’t handle it anymore. I’m too weak. I have decided to do it myself, before they break down the door. It is almost midnight and I will do it as the clock strikes twelve. The Rifle will make a mess, but the knocking and pounding in my head will stop. I am sorry Susan. I am so sorry Aly. Grover keeps trying to comfort me and ease my mind over killing him, but it still makes me sad. I keep telling him I am sorry. He just looks at me with those loving eyes; eyes I had once thought full of treachery, and wags his tail. He understands that it wasn’t my fault. It was their fault. It’s all because of the damn rabbits. If I go with him he will take me to a safe place and protect me. He is such a good dog.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kinda busy lately

For regular readers of the Gazette I must apologize for not posting a great deal of material lately. It has been a busy few weeks and there really wasn't much time. As a matter of fact I'm doing this post in between classes so that I can get it done. Going back to college, working full time and taking care of the family is a daunting task, as many of you know.
So while the past few weeks may be a bit thin on content, I hope to rectify that soon. I have some new reviews (although some of the products I'll be reviewing are not that new), a few ideas I would like to share on horror gaming (it is October after all), some music reviews, the annual Geek Gazette Christmas list, some comic book reviews and a couple of short stories. Keep in mind the stories are first drafts so don't expect brilliance, but I wanted to churn them out and get them up before Halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Top 10 Halloween Songs

Keeping with this months theme, here is my top 10 list of songs to listen on Halloween.
  1. Hey There Little Red Riding Hood
  2. Thriller
  3. re: Your Brains
  4. Ghostbusters
  5. Red Right Hand
  6. Werewolves of London
  7. Bad Moon
  8. Wicked Old Witch
  9. Creepy Doll
  10. Living Dead Girl