Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bender's Game: Better Than That Piece of Krod


Last night, I managed to catch Futurama: Bender's Game. The whole show was centered around Dungeons & Dragons. They even paid homage to Dungeon Master Zero himself. Frye & company have to destroy a dodecahedron by tossing it into the fiery plastic from which it was molded ... at the Geysers of Gygax.

Orson Scott Cardassians be forewarned. The show has nothing to do with Card's novel.

I found it far more entertaining the Krod Mandoon and most of the other t.v. fantasy genre fare out there these days.

In other gaming related matters, Matt Staggs has an interview with Erol Otus at Tor.com.

In political news, Arlen Specter (RD-PA) announces that he is not a Republican. Most of us have known that for at least a decade or so. I'm glad he finally figured it out.

Ever since I read Michael Crichton's speech about the Green Religion, I've just considered Earth Day just another whackaloon made-up holiday like Kwanzaa; however, Michael Tresca of used his Earth Day constructively: he wrote about Jack Vance's Dying Eath and the contributions Vance made to the genre. See it here, if for no other reason, the illustration.

In movie news, I saw Monsters vs. Aliens. I highly recommend it to those with offspring. I got to see the trailer for Land of the Lost. I'm not a fan of Will Ferrell, but I'll be there for the sleestaks.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Landscaping by Acererak

Anyone who grew up watching Ripley's knows of Florida's Coral Castle, but not so well known is the Bosco dei Mostri. In Bomarzo, Italy, there is a garden that looks like it was designed by the same guy who designed the tomb in the Advanced D&D module Tomb of Horrors. Compare Erol Otus's green-faced devil with the Orc of Bomarzo's Monster's Grove.
gaming
gaming

Built by 16th century condotierro and patron of the arts Pier Francesco Orsini in memory of his deceased wife, the park also features statues of Ceres, Cerebus, and one of Hannibal's elephants trampling a Roman soldier. Architectural wonders include a temple and a stilted house which is reminscent of Pisa's Leaning Tower.

Looks like a great place to LARP (not that I've ever done that, mind you) and a great source of dungeon-design inspiration.

h/t to Secret Saturdays creator Jay Stephens for this one.


Random NPC

Thirsiz the Augur

From my Timurid clone culture, this young man is autistic except when mounted on horseback. Once on horseback, he is wise, possibly lucid, and can give prophecies.

The idea for this fellow came from a CNN story about a family that travelled to Mongolia in hopes of battling their son's autism. Having witnessed progress after stateside therapeutic riding and visits from Botswanan bush healers, the Austin, Texas family felt what better place to go than the oldest horse culture on the planet and the place where the word "shaman" was coined. John Bonifield, CNN Medical Producer, reports that even though parents Rupert Issacson and Kristin Neff "never abandoned more orthodox treatments," the double dose of hippotherapy and shamanism seem to have improved both Rowan's linguistic skills and his temper.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Yo Jay!

h/t Mild Colonial Boy.

The Free RPG Blog reports that Jay Libby, an indie game designer and R. Talosorian Games illustrator, has released a tabletop roleplaying game based upon G.I. Joe of the eighties.

Based upon the Fuzion rule system, it allows players to role up their own Joes and take them on adventures against COBRA.

Download here: http://libbyracing.net/GIJoe/GIJoeRPG1.pdf

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Celebrity Zombie Killing Dream Team

There's a thing going around the internet in which you're supposed to name your Celebrity Zombie-Killing Dream Team. At first, I thought it was a trick question, since I find most zombies vastly more likable than most celebrities. I'm not sure whether fictional characters count, so I made two lists. One fictional. One nonfictional.

Fictional Dream Team
  • James Bond - Master of armed and unarmed combat. A natural survivor.
  • John Locke - Lost's survivalist-by-birth.
  • O-ren Ishii - Lucy Liu's character in Kill Bill.
  • The Comedian from Watchmen - If he can take out a certain former-PT Boat commander with a Mannlicher Carcano from a grassy knoll, I'm sure he can take out a few zeds with no problem.
  • Lewis from Deliverance - A good archer. Another survivor.

    Nonfictional Dream Team
  • Ted Nugent - He knows guns, knives, and bows, and he plays a mean guitar.
  • Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden - In addition to being able to lay down vocal tracks for the Nuge, Dickinson is a skilled swordsman and pilot.
  • Bear Gryllis - The survivalist guy from Man vs. Wild. He could show us how to toast fly larvae using piano wire and a match once the canned food ran out.
  • John Milius - Director. Producer. Writer. NRA Member. John Goodman's character in The Big Lebowski (Walter Sobchak) was based on Milius.
  • Giada de Laurentis - We'd need a cook, and she looks a lot better than Anthony Bourdain.
  • Friday, April 17, 2009

    Catcher, Lawyer, Soldier, Spy

    h/t robotnik

    In addition playing major league ball for the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Senators, and the Sox (both Red and White), Berg graduated from Columbia Law School, studied Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, and Sanskrit, served as an OSS agent during WW2 where he had a major role in the U.S.'s decision to back Tito over other resistance leaders and the opportunity to terminate physicist Werner Heisenberg. "Terminate ... with extreme prejudice." All of Berg's adventures can be read about at J*Grit: The Internet Index of Tough Jews.



    Casey Stengall called Morris "Moe" Berg "the strangest man in baseball." But, what if he had been even Stranger?

    The good folks over at Mighty God King Dot Com have an interesting take on Berg, locking him in battle with J. Edgar Hoover Himself for American occult supremacy.

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    The Eyes of Boston Harbor Are Upon You

    One of my favorite TV people, Stephen Colbert, on the decision of one of my favorite radio people, Glenn Beck, to hold his Tea Party at the Alamo:

    The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
    Tax Atax
    colbertnation.com
    Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest


    Art of The Living Dead
    h/t to about half a dozen of the blogs I regularly read for pointing me in the direction of Travis Pitts (a.k.a. Dr. Monster), my new favorite Flickrborne artist. He has a grand collection of Cold War Z propaganda posters and other art at his Flickr site.

    zom-bot.comt

    Like that? Then check out even more stuff at his main website: Zom-bot.com

    Now, if I could only get me a t-shirt with his Hoth 45 piece on it, I would be in hipster-geek heaven.

    Hybrid Toys
    Cross a donkey with a horse; you get a mule. Cross a toy soldier with a paper doll, you get Walkerloo.

    Tuesday, April 14, 2009

    BLITEOTW Meets Youtube

    h/t Hero Press

    My earliest memory of my love of zombie movies is sitting enthralled as I listened to my sister recount a movie she had just seen called Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things. I didn't see it myself until much later, mind you, but the memory of her narrative has stuck with me all these years. It was one of the first movies I tracked down when my family got its first VCR. That was, of course, after I'd seen the first two Romero Dead films. From there, it was on to every thing from Return of The Living Dead to Shaun of The Dead. I spent an unhealthy number of hours playing Urban Dead and participated in Blog-Like-It's-The-End-Of-The-World. Now, there's Lost Zombies, a "community generated zombie documentary."

    Not quite as elaborate, but filled to the brim with ghoulish glee is Sword +1's The End: a modern-day post-apocalyptic zombie survivor roleplaying romp with mechanics that seem very old-school.

    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Two Pirate Yarns


    Our first tale of piracy comes to us from the Exurban League. These Arizona bloggers have posted the transcript of President Obama's response to the Maersk Alabama incident. File under "Political 'Teh Funny.'"

    Good evening. As you know, early yesterday, Somali-based pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama, a freighter carrying relief supplies to Kenya. While we do not yet know all the details, the Alabama's crew re-took control of the vessel and forced the pirates off the ship.

    Since the pirates are still holding the captain, I have sent FBI negotiators to facilitate his safe and speedy release. I assure his friends and family that I will not stop until this man-made disaster is resolved in a peaceful, tolerant and ecologically-sound manner.

    Obviously, this incident has raised many concerns among Americans. There have been calls for justice and even violence against the misguided perpetrators. But such an emotional reaction has led to the disparagement of entire groups with which we are unfamiliar. We have seen this throughout history.

    For too long, America has been too dismissive of the proud culture and invaluable contributions of the Pirate Community. Whether it is their pioneering work with prosthetics, husbandry of tropical birds or fanciful fashion sense, America owes a deep debt to Pirates.

    ( Read more ... )


    Where's Woodes Rogers when ya need 'im?

    Our second tale of piracy involves the digital kind. Namely, an attempt to eliminate illegal dissemination of D&D PDFs. In an exclusive interview with ENWorld, Wizards Brethren of The Coast President Greg Leeds addressed the company's recent decision to yank their PDF products from the shelves of Paizo and RPGNow. This removal of products comes a mere month after the company made the following statement in a 3/6/2009 press release:

    In conjunction with the Retailer Rewards program, Wizards of the Coast will also release a new Internet Sales Policy on April 6. The new policy will have clear guidelines for online sales of Wizards’ product, and requires that retailers register with Wizards by signing an Authorized Internet Dealer Agreement.

    But according to the Leeds interview, it's more like a No Internet Sales Policy.

    We do not have any plans to resume the sale of PDFs, but are actively exploring other options for the digital distribution of our content – including older editions. We understand that digital content is important to our customers.


    Barring access to those who sell and buy the stuff legally is like sending in a SEAL Team to take out Captain Richard Phillips instead of the Somali corsairs.

    In response (or lack thereof) to concerns that WoTC is "punishing the customers who choose to legally acquire electronic Wizards products while not significantly affecting online book piracy," Leeds said:

    While we understand that our actions will not eliminate piracy all together, we don’t want to make it easy to acquire illegally, either. We need to have a strong retail base in order to support (and grow) the hobby industry. We hope to deter future offenders – or at least slow down their path to obtaining illegal products.

    I think The Eiglophian Press hit the nail on the head:

    Basically this Leeds person failed to respond to the first part of the question altogether, which is tantamount to saying "We don't really give a shit if you bought our products electronically." I mean, am I wrong? 'Cus from where I'm sitting I don't see any sort of acknowledgment for the money I legally threw to WotC for PDF copies of OOP books. I guess my support doesn't matter and WotC doesn't value my business.

    Fortunately, I don't rely on Leeds and his ilk to supply my gaming needs. I'd be willing to bet that while the rest of us were huddled around a table coated in graph paper, lead miniatures, pizza boxes, Doritos bags, and Mountain Dew cans, Leeds was attending frat parties and filling out his apps for MBA school. Sure, I forked out a few bones to WoTC to pay for my Gamma World PDF and the issue of The Dragon that had the China Mieville stuff in it. But, my gaming dollar has primarily gone to and will continue to go to the crew at Fight On! magazine. The heirs to the legacy of Arneson and Gygax aren't suits like Greg Leeds. They are people like Jeff Rients and James Maliszewski.

    Thursday, April 9, 2009

    Dave Arneson

    For the past several days, there have been numerous reports on the grogosphere of Dave Arneson's passing. They were premature, but unfortunately, not by much. Today, I read Arneson's obituary on Lord of The Green Dragon, Sir Robilar's blog. He posted the following poem which I too though appropriate.

    The Land of Counterpane
    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    When I was sick and lay a-bed,
    I had two pillows at my head,
    And all my toys beside me lay,
    To keep me happy all the day.

    And sometimes for an hour or so
    I watched my leaden soldiers go,
    With different uniforms and drills,
    Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

    And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
    All up and down among the sheets;
    Or brought my trees and houses out,
    And planted cities all about.

    I was the giant great and still
    That sits upon the pillow-hill,
    And sees before him, dale and plain,
    The pleasant land of counterpane.


    The posting of this poem is also appropriate in that my son and I have been spending his spring break waging that age-old war between the Greens and the Tans on the living room floor.

    Crazyred has posted a collection of gaming pictures he has done, some depicting NPCs in the world of Yoon-suin. His blog: D&D Doodles.

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    St. Cuthbert, RN

    As I have noted before, I've been fascinated by St. Cuthbert ever since I saw Jeff Easley's portrait in The Dragon #62. The tam o' shanter, the shillelagh, the drooping moustache, the plate mail. Everything about him smacked of cool. Having grown up on a steady diet of Mark VII Limited productions, the notion of a patron saint who guides the faithless and the errant faithful alike with a clout to the head with a firm-but-fair length of prunus spinosa pretty appealing.

    Therefore, it was interesting last week to read ”Religion and Gaming”, a piece by Greyhawk Grognard that addressed his take on the churches of St. Cuthbert and Pholtus, the Lawful Hatfields and McCoys of the Greyhawk pantheon.
    My Pagan faith also informs my interpretation of those Gods who are depicted as less than tolerant of other faiths in the Flanaess; Pholtus, St. Cuthbert, Wastri, etc. More often than not, I indulge my sense of humor (which is appreciated by my current playing group, most of whom are pagan themselves, and two of whom are actually playing clerics) in describing those faiths and the actions of their heirarchies and believers as a parody of the worst practices of the Christian church, both in medieval times and today. It should be noted that Gary Gygax himself was a very dedicated Christian for his entire life (which is in and of itself an ironic piece of information), and was the creator of the notion that followers of St. Cuthbert beat nonbelievers over the noggin, and that Pholtus was the embodiment of "the blinding light". I just flesh it out a bit.


    As a Christian of the “shouting Methodist” variety, I’m certain my religious views differ vastly from those of Greyhawk Grognard, but I think his portrait of the doctrinal squabbles would make for some damme fine gaming.

    All this talk of St. Cuthbert reminds me that while I was watching The Longest Day recently it hit me just how much Royal Navy Beachmaster Colin Maud (played by Kenneth More) reminds me of St. Cuthbert. There’s the crumpled RN black beret. There’s the blackthorn stick. There’s the facial hair. And there’s the unyielding authority. If they would have made Greyhawk: The Movie back in the early sixties, Kenneth More would have been a shoe-in.

    cuth3

    cuth2

    cuth1

    Links
  • Irish Stick Fighting
  • Sunday, April 5, 2009

    REM's Peter Buck: Men's Adventure Pulp Novelist

    While online book shopping, I ran across this:

    merc

    Yeah, I know it's not the same guy, but it'd be really funny if it were.

    peter buck

    Saturday, April 4, 2009

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    Slumber in The Belly of The Best

    In the sub-zero wasteland of the planet Hoth, only the strong survive... and of course those lucky Jedi protected by the thick skin of a Tauntaun. Now after exhaustive movie viewing research and analysis ThinkGeek Labs has isolated the exact synthetic compounds needed to re-create Tauntaun fur. What have we done with this supreme knowledge? Created a Tauntaun sleeping bag of course.

    This high-quality sleeping bag looks just like a Tauntaun, complete with saddle, internal intestines and glowing lightsaber zipper pull. Now when your kids tell you their favorite Star Wars movie is "Attack of the Clones" you can nestle the wee-ones snug in simulated Tauntaun fur while regaling them with the amazing tale of "Empire Strikes Back".

    Use the glowing lightsaber zipper pull on the Tauntaun sleeping bag to illustrate how Han Solo saved Luke Skywalker from certain death in the freezing climate of Hoth by slitting open the belly of a dead Tauntaun and placing Luke inside the stinking (but warm) carcass. If your kids don't change their tune on which Star Wars film is the greatest ever, you can do your best Jar Jar impression until they repent.



    Product Features
  • Classic Star Wars sleeping bag simulates the warmth of a Tauntaun carcass
  • Built-in embroidered Tauntaun head pillow
  • Glowing Lightsaber zipper pull
  • Great for playing pretend "Save Luke from the Wampa" games
  • Teach your children about the best Star Wars movie ever
  • Fully Licensed Lucasfilm™ Collectable
  • Fits children (and small adults)
  • 100% Polyester construction, Machine washable
  • Exterior Dimensions - 32" x 60"

    h/t Geek Orthodox

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