Monday, February 29, 2016
You either love or hate Traveller's character generation system - me, I love it. MegaTraveller I'm not as familiar with (I used some equipment, careers and library data from it, but use Classic rules). At any rate, here's a nifty MegaTraveller character generator that works just as well for Classic Traveller. This is a great time-saver, especially for NPCs. I expect to use it. Nice work!
Thursday, February 25, 2016
"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." - So said Doc Brown in Back to the Future. This popped up in the Traveller RPG group on facebook. The caption in the photo says it all, but here's the official page. I've been fascinated with blimps and "airships" for years. These things have to be better than 18-wheelers for moving things around. By the time my son is my age we may have skies full of aero-truckers and drones. Fun!
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
George Takei is one of the only people in my facebook news-stream (because I don't like seeing which of my friends grew up to be Trump supporters - a scary number of 'em). Anyway, George always has something interesting to say. Today he posted a link to a list of offensive board games - some sexist, some racist, some not really all that offensive, such as the picture from the one I posted above, where you play a drug dealer trying to smuggle narcotics into the US. At any rate, some of these are noteworthy, and some are more offensive than others, such as "Darkies in the Melon Patch." Enjoy being offended!
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
I like Tesla (the guy, not the band). I also like Big Trouble in Little China. So when I saw this picture today it tickled my funny bone. Of course, Tesla would make a great supervillain/hero. For all I know Alan Moore's already done it. In the meantime, if anyone invents a lethal, ranged version of the Tesla Coil, let me know.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Who is this fresh-faced young aeronaut? He's Owen J. Baggett. In World War II, he was obliged to jump out of his plane. While descending in his parachute, he took a shot at a Japanese fighter plane with his .45 pistol - and shot it down. Apparently it's the only confirmed case of such a thing. That's what we tabletop gamers call a "critical hit!" Read all about it right here.
Friday, February 19, 2016
This online encyclopedia of mythology covers all the bases. There's hours - days, even - of entertainment and inspiration here. Having just plowed through Ovid, Hesiod, and the Homeric Hymns (still haven't tackled the Big Two - that is, the Iliad and the Odyssey) it's nice to have this site to jog my memory.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
...this is just one of several, all free to the public, all high-resolution, all perfect for printing and framing. You can download all of them right here. Of course, these are a lot like these Mars travel posters and these extremely cool posters from Steve Thomas, too. Thank you NASA!!!
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Here's something really neat. The bit at the lower left looks perfect for a seat of civilization, if only this place was a little wetter. Someone ought to lay a hex grid over that and write up some Burroughs/Brackett-style hex descriptions and encounters.
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Here's a thought-provoking article about Henry VIII from Alison Weir, who wrote my favorite biography of Elizabeth I. It's not exactly a revisionist view, but shines a light on a lot of good qualities the guy had - when he wasn't lopping off heads. Weir's thoughts on "what if" scenarios are interesting.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Of course, she's not here to hear me say that - not in this plane of existence anyway. I like to think she's enjoying a cup of tea in a garden on Mars, with Eric John Stark, her greatest creation (a brown-skinned man who Eisenhower-era publishers insisted on portraying as white on book covers). Brackett brought the freewheeling romps of Edgar Rice Burroughs to a new level of sophistication, re-invigorating, refining, and polishing the "sword and planet" genre. Her deceptively gentle novel The Long Tomorrow proved she could get "literary" with her science fiction when she felt like it. She was also a master screenwriter, adapting Raymond Chandler to the big screen. Brackett took the hard-boiled vibe of Philip Marlowe and combined it with the good-natured goofiness of John Carter to create more-or-less believable space opera. She's one of my favorite writers and an oft-forgotten giant of the genre. You rock, Leigh Brackett. Here's an informative article for those of you who don't know her.
Monday, February 8, 2016
I've seen some version of this article various times over the last 10 years. They've found these in Rome, in Greece, and in Egypt. The witty fellow who wrote this article likes to think they were for determining hit dice for sphinxes. Who knows? This could have been a gaming device or it could have had mystical functions, such as an aid in prophecy. In an upcoming superhero tabletop rpg our group is running soon, one of the characters has obtained an ancient die, and can use it to summon creatures.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
I've been following the posts of Creighton Broadhurst at Raging Swan Press. He's always got something useful for me as a game master. This post about "megadungeon" design is one of them. I don't normally care for megadungeons. Too often they devolve into an endless progression of "turn left or right?" choices. I'm a big believer in the "five-room dungeon" concept - get in, have an adventure, get out. It seems to me that the best - or only - way to do a megadungeon "right" is to have it be the centerpiece for an entire campaign, the like the Temple of Elemental Evil. But if I ever DID do a megadungeon, I'd take the Swan's advice.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
One of the most endearing parts of Classic Traveller, for me, is the "archaic" computer technology. I saw this photo today on the Internet and was reminded of players loading a model/2 computer onto a Far Trader. This 5 megabyte hard drive seems funny today - what's astounding, really, is that I can put 64 GIGABYTES on something the size of my thumbnail. I don't think those of us living in these times quite appreciate the rapidity of the advances we're making.
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
This is a cool article about a stretch of sea east of New Zealand, where, apparently, all the spaceships fall to earth. Well, about 160, anyway. It's near Point Nemo, named for Jules Verne's misanthropic eco-supervillain. It's the one spot on the Earth farthest from any land. The spaceships are all in pieces, of course, littering the ocean floor about 2.5 miles below the surface. The article contains a video of the ESA ship Jules Verne re-entering Earth's atmosphere and falling apart like an overcooked pot roast. Cool stuff!
Monday, February 1, 2016
I have all six issues of the short-lived Gygax Magazine, which has stopped production due to legal issues. Those, I won't get into. You can do a quick Google search to find all kinds of nerd-rage about it. What I will do is commend the all-volunteer staff of the magazine for actually making it through six issues. A new print magazine about anything is likely to result in failure these days. With even huge companies like Wizards of the Coast and Paizo unable to keep a viable print magazine running, the fact that Gygax made it for six issues is impressive.
The magazine contained something useful (for me) in every single issue. It covered a variety of games. Unlike many unkind reviewers, who acidly suggested that every single article should cover only old-school versions of D&D, I appreciated getting glimpses into games I don't and might not ever play. It's true that there were some unfortunate production snafus from time to time - typos, missing pages - but these were usually caught and corrected, and I chalk this up not to incompetence, but to the fact that the staff were volunteers who had to spend most of their time paying bills in other ways.
The company will continue on with releases of various gaming modules, and I'll check those out if interest permits. In the meantime, I'll continue to use some of the great material in the magazine, and each of these six issues will retain a place in my collection. I'm glad I subscribed. Thanks Jason, Tim, and the rest of you for your hard work. It did not go unappreciated.