Thematic Music, Lux Æterna

Tuesday, 29. June 2010

 

Lux Æterna (The Eternal Light)
Music from Requiem for a dream
By Clint Mansell

A very powerful piece, probably recognized by more people now from lord of the rings than the original requiem for a dream.

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Tomato and Basil Flatbread Pizza

Sunday, 27. June 2010

There is a number of things that I look for if I’m cooking something to entertain. I want something that’s has quick prep time, cooks quickly and is delicious. For role playing, it’s also a bonus if it doesn’t make a huge mess: Enter the flat bread pizza.

For this, you will need
2 Tomatoes (I chose vine ripened, in this case.)
1 6oz can of Tomato paste
1 Clove Garlic (Good at warding anything, vampires included for you forward thinkers.)
1 Package Pita bread
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Fresh Basil
Oregano
Salt
Pepper

I am a fan of garden grown produce, or organics failing that. Fresher ingredients make a better meal that’s friendlier to you.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Sauce
1 6oz can of Tomato paste
1 Clove Chopped Garlic
1/2 Tsp oregano
1/2 Tsp black pepper
Pinch of Salt

The tomato paste is a bit thick for the sauce. Thin it out until it just beings to run off the spoon. In this case, it took me about 1/3 cup of water, although I suppose you could thin with tomato sauce just as easily. Add 1/2tsp Oregano, 1/2tsp black pepper, 1 clove chopped or pressed garlic. Combine and mix liberally. Add salt as needed, being careful as tomato paste is pre salted. This should make nearly a half cup of sauce, which is enough for quite few pizzas.

Pizza
Pizza Sauce from Above
Thinly sliced Tomatoes
Mozzarella Cheese
Pita Bread
Fresh snipped Basil

Spread a thin later of pizza sauce on top of on the pitas you are cooking, cover lightly with mozzarella cheese, and place  your thinly sliced tomatoes as desired.  I did one per piece.

Place pitas in the oven for 5-7 minutes. If you want a softer crust, put them on a baking sheet of some sort. For a crispy crust, place them directly on the rack.

After the cheese is melted and slightly brown, remove and apply your sliced basil.  Cut the pizza in whatever fashion you prefer, and enjoy!

Completed Pizza

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Building a good gaming environment

Friday, 25. June 2010

Almost anyone that’s gamed before has done it in some less than ideal conditions. Cramped rooms, poor (or no) environmental control, bad seating, no table space, inability to see the storyteller, constant distractions, no drinks or food, the list goes on.  While some of these are unable to be dealt with, the majority of them can with a little bit of ingenuity on the hosts part. Granted, they’re not “all” the hosts duty, and one might recommend they enlist their players to assist.  After all everyone is in this together to have a good time correct?

These first 3 are something everyone should be able to deal with in some fashion or another. They also have some of the largest contributions, so I would recommend prioritizing them if possible.

Interruptions / Distractions: A major concern in my humble opinion. Find a place with some privacy. Breaking up the game flow kills any established feeling or tension that might be developing. This is especially important with new gamers who might feel silly or out of place acting without outside influences watching. If Fido or Kittens can’t stay off the table or be silent, they need to go somewhere as well. As with theater or cinema cell phones need to be put on silent or vibrate.

Food and Refreshments: As the entire purpose of gaming is to stay entertained and have some fun, this takes a 2nd. Mountain Dew and Cheetos come to mind for a lot of people, but one might recommend going beyond that. Some selection of beverages and food helps out a lot. Preparation ahead of time is useful, as is delivery in the case one is unable to do such. As these 2 are typically portable, this is definitely not entirely the hosts job. Good players will coordinate and chip in here.

Storyteller and Player Visibility: As the vast majority of communication happens non verbally, don’t count this out. It’s important to be able to see the storyteller, as well as seeing the other players. This definitely enhances the drama and mood within the game, it allows good acting of nonverbal queues, such as as lying or nervousness. With good role players, it’s also a good method of communicating in a sneaky fashion.

Read more

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No More Kings, Critical Hit

Wednesday, 23. June 2010

Normally I try and keep music listings to something good for setting moods or ambience. While this is neither, it has a rocking baseline and is some fun for gamers.

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Smooth Game Flow

Monday, 21. June 2010

One of the more important tasks in keeping running a role playing game is keeping it flowing smoothly.  Any entertainment or fun that might have been had can be quickly quashed through a long delay looking for information or just as bad: looking for a rule for a given situation.  Therefore it is crucial that a storyteller stay organized, knowledgeable of the rules and lastly; flexible enough with them to improvise as needed.

Organization is something that was previously mentioned, but takes on a new life again when keeping a game flowing smoothly.  No one wants to wait around while a storyteller looks for maps, characters or other game information.  It is therefore quite helpful to keep information segregated into some sort of 3 ring binder, or file folder or some sort of digital storage.  I prefer the former, as when properly setup it’s easier to locate and remove items as needed.  Folders tend not to have the necessary organization unless they are huge.  Digital storage is also somewhat of an issue as it can take time to locate the necessary information while looking at a computer.

Knowledge of the standard rules of game play is also quite important for a storyteller.  With most games, there is a standard way of doing “normal” game actions such as combat, movement, skill tests and the like.  Normal is quoted because game actions are rarely normal in a real life sense.  In any case, knowing how these actions are run is essentially standard operating procedure with how a game functions.  Beginning storytellers are cut a lot of slack here, because nobody wants to chase them off.   However, by the same token not knowing them after a certain time period is like going to a cashier that doesn’t know how to do their job. Infuriating!

Lastly, it is quite important to still be flexible with the rules in terms of game play.  Some rule sets are cumbersome, and make governmental bureaucracy look efficient.  Spending too much time looking for an obscure rule or clause for something that should be an easy call kills the inertia of play.  There is a certain level of gut check that is involved.  If the rules are ambiguous, simplify in a fair fashion and resolve them quickly.  Playing too fast and loose with the rules however, is not advised unless players are obviously forewarned ahead of time.  Players can spend a good amount of time looking at rules and expect their characters to perform to a certain standard.  Brutally quashing this, while necessary from time to time is very disheartening and bad for morale when done on a regular basis.

By keeping organized, knowing ones rule set, and being flexible enough not to be chained to the rules a storyteller can greatly improve game play and flow.  Moments of inertia and excitement can be preserved going into the next scene or fight.  The overall results can be a much more dramatic game, not to mention less stressful in the long run for a good storyteller.

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Heavy Gear Overview

Friday, 18. June 2010

I’ll give you something of  an overview here of some of the systems I’ve played with before.  In this case, the game is produced by Dream Pod 9, Heavy Gear is primarily setup as a tactical combat game between giant robots, or “Gears” in this case.  Fortunately however, it’s very well scaling and transitions excellently between the tactical game and role playing it one so desires.

The setting is a planet called Terra Nova, abandoned by an earth expeditionary force and left to fend for themselves.  When the earth forces return many years later seeking to reclaim their “lost” territory, the forces of Terra Nova have other ideas, and eventually beat them back after a bloody war.  Terra Nova has its temperate and even icecap areas, but the general climate is desert and wind blown badlands.  The Northern and Southern factions (roughly representing the US’s union and confederate forces.) are in a cold war with the badlands representing buffer and somewhat of a free fire zone between them.  As one might imagine, this leaves considerable room for skirmishes and dust ups even though there is no official open warfare declared.

The game uses a brilliant dice system thats quite simple to learn.  Each point in a skill reduces the chance of a fumble exponentially, versus the crummy flat 5% chance you get in most d20 systems.  Damage or injuries are quite simpley handled, they’re either light, heavy or dead.  Each level of injury results in a -1 or -2 from your skills, which can be potentially devastating when you’re looking a 6 being your normal high.  The results are that in combat, equally matched contestants tend to grind each other down before getting a kill shot in, rather than one just overpowering the other in most cases.  Granted, we all know how fickle dice can be.

The system also scales very nicely, typically in factors of 10 depending on if you’re going upscale to very large vehicles, or downscale to people on foot.  This means there is no relearning of rules to work with the rpg. Instead of damage, you simply have light and heavy wounds, with each character being able to take only so much before the give out. How much that is depends on a bit of luck.

All in all;  Heavy Gear is quite a unique setting, with a well thought out system to match.  The game is well supported with supplements for nearly everything.  We can only hope DP9 continues to put out such well refined products into the future.

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Thematic Music – Tribute to Evil, David Arkenstone

Thursday, 17. June 2010

Emperor: Battle for Dune
Tribute to Evil, David Arkenstone

Some old school RTS music from dune 2 here, very well done.

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Intro to Miniatures

Wednesday, 16. June 2010

As modern gaming progresses more and more visually, it would follow suit that props would take a greater and greater role.  In this particular case, the miniature takes the cake as the main tool.  Used to denote character locations, as well as being an art object, mini’s of good quality have become more and move available as the market demands them.  As with any such item, quality can vary vastly.  Here are a few things to look for when choosing one as well as the inevitable painting that will follow.

For starters, all of these models are either poured or injection molded.  The quality of the mould that’s used can vary wildly, but there are a few things to look for in quality.  When the molds are misaligned, it produces excess material called flashing that needs to be removed.  In a worse case in my opinion, it can also produce a ridge line that needs to either be filled or filed down for a clean appearance.  Most of the models will also have sprues, tabs used to inject the material into the mold.  These will need to be removed before painting.

Model quality is another consideration to look at.  In addition to the points in the molding that was just mentioned, the models sharpness is of prime consideration.  The edges that separate the details on the model should be clean and crisp whenever possible.  This carries into painting later, as it makes dry brushing and washes on the model considerably easier.

There are a number of different materials that are commonly used in cast models.  The ones typically used are plastic, resin and a lead free pewter.  The price on the models tends to escalate as you move from left to right.  Plastic is common in the more mass produced models, and tends to have the most flashing and sprues to clean up.   Resin is used in higher priced models and tends to be well crafted without too much work needed to be paint-able condition.  Pewter is the heaviest as well as the softest of the material.   It is probably the most common as well, which means the quality of it can vary wildly.

Without getting too deep into the process; when the model is picked and finally cleaned up, it needs to be washed in a little soap and water to remove any stray oils that would affect paint adhesion.  After which, the model is usually primed before painting.    Typically a water based paint is the best to work with, as it’s easiest to clean up without much in the way of fumes.  The better quality brushes that are used also make painting easier.  They retain their shape better, as well as loading with paint more effectively.

As mentioned earlier, there is a very wide variety of models now available.  The following information will hopefully lead to picking a better class of miniature, making painting and preparing it that much simpler.  I’ll follow later with a series on model painting.

Good luck, and good hunting!

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Old school scout books

Friday, 11. June 2010

Project Gutenburg has some copies of 1st and early edition scout books.  It’s interesting to see what was lost or now not included.

Boy Scouts 1st Edition, 1911

Girl Scouts Official Handbook

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Thematic Music – Kaze, The Voice

Wednesday, 9. June 2010

Speaks for itself.

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