Venting a bit about gaming…

Well… I’m a little put out again about my old friend, the hobby of role-playing games, and the absolute inability to get involved in the hobby regularly no matter how much I try.

I’m trying to figure out if it’s just me or not. I mean, is it too much to ask for everyone to make a little bit of commitment to things?

Case in point, After leaving a pretty regular game because of disinterest with several games (I despise “rail-road” campaigns, and not to much of the “silly” game fan either). in a row and a small conflict of character with two “try-out-players-who-became-integral-when-I-blinked…” I decided to make new attempt at a regular game, with a lot of the long-time players of our original core group that have been left out things for far too long.

Now, I’m trying to be flexible with it. While initially building a campaign of a sorts, I decided to try a rules-lite, casual game first. One time a week or so, everyone playing compare schedule with mine and pick a day we can do it each week. too easy, right? Now, admitting that I *am* the GM, so if I’m not available that kinda of makes getting together for MY game a bit impossible. I find it staggeringly hard to believe that a group of five people can’t manage to get together for five hours once a week?

I see people do it all the time…. for gaming, for socializing, for sports… different ages, different careers paths, jobs, kids, parents. People seem to do it all them time.  My mate says that “Its a different environment these days.” Well, I’ll call “bullshit.” People are still getting together all the time. I’m on a dozen blogs that friends are on and they all manage to get together once a week or so for Gaming Night. Sure they have to cancel it every now and again, sure, sometimes someone can’t make it because of LIFE, but for the most part, it’s pretty regular. And I’m not talking a bunch of school kids… there are people in their 30s and 40s, adults with mortgages and rent and bills and kids… and they still manage to do it?

We (meaning most of my long-time friends) did it not long ago… everyone managed to commit. But now, no one seems to try too hard.

So my question is why the fuck can’t we? Is it a lack of interest… a lack of commitment. Are we so job scared these days we’re afraid to ask for a night off, or shuffle around a schedule with someone we work with? That we can’t make a decision to so “Grans, these are my kids… if you want them when YOU want them, you’ll need to also help out when I need some time.” Did we just lose our backbones about saying “I’m going to do this this night!” Did we just stop caring.

Now I’ll begrudgingly admit to being a bit more commited to the idea of a “Gaming Night” than a lot of people. It’s pretty much what I do….  I live in a city where the main pastimes are:

1) Drinking (Expensive, and I can’t do it anymore)
2) Music/Dancing (not a big dancing guy, and most of the bands are… well… crap, bluegrass, or crappy bluegrass)
3) Sports/Sports Bars (Can’t stand organized sports, or loud obnoxious man-boys)
4) Hiking/Outdoorsmanship (Ooo… there’s a tree, there’s another tree, oh look… another tree, oooo look Bambi’s mom… BANG!)
5) Getting-Out-Of-Town (Not a lot of cash to do it regularly).

So for me, Gaming and TV are pretty much it. I used to have smoking as well, but I quit so I wouldn’t have health problems… then I had health problems.

And I admit to handicapping myself a bit as far as groups go. I’m not big on suffering through something I’m not liking so I tend to drop out, usually with the caveat of “I still want to be part of the group, let me know when the next game starts… which never happens due to the “out of sight, out of mind” factor. (I usually hear about things third person at that point. “Hey, they stopped gaming on Wednesday nights about three months ago.” or ‘Oh that, no we finished that up, we’re halfway through this now, why?”). And out of the three gaming stores in the area, I will never darken the door of one (long, long, long fucking story), the second it pretty much war-game-centric, and the third no one usually likes to play out due to the level of card games held there. (How I miss TS&TG where there were people I actually liked to be around.) And I admit to being a bit funny about going over to a strangers house the first few times.

So… Do I just need to walk away from the hobby, or just stop trying to work with this specific group of people? Do I need to start skyping with groups far-and-away just to do something I love regularly, or just find a bunch of collage and high-school kids to game with? Do I need to just suck it up when personal conflicts come into play or just plod through lack-luster gaming just for the hopes that eventually we’ll get around to something that’ll hold my interest?

Lets go to our phone poll and see how the folks in radioland come down on this one…

Published in: on 27/09/2010 at 20:29  Leave a Comment  

Zombies and High Fantasy?!?

Not only are they doing it, but they’re giving away free Pathfinder stuff just to get you interested!

Published in: on 22/07/2010 at 16:10  Leave a Comment  

2010-0404 Freewriting

“I can’t get to sleep… I think about the implications…”

It’s the smell that hits me first, it always does in my dreams. It usually signals the hemorrhaging migraine of remembrance.

The smell of char, dust and age… aged wood and rusted metal, battered plastic and old blood. I remember when these smells were new, vivid… now just faded in my nose, like the aftermarket perfume of a way-too-old-for-her-skin whore on the higher end of the Pike. It something I still think about, even though she’s long gone. I like to think I’m the only one that made her laugh those days… after all, I never paid for it, the room, and the burgers… and the nights of safe sleep she gave me. The only thing there wasn’t was sex…. not that it mattered. It was never about it anyway.

Just a match and a flare and her troubles burned away like the bridges I left in my damned bloody wake.

My tools are scattered about right where I left them. The hammers are heavy and short gripped and the chisels still hold a bit of an edge, even after all the neglect. The leather knives and punches, the rolls of dimes, and a forest of broken bats and shattered bones. Things from blacksmith days and warehouse nights, hidden under the comic books and toys, behind the costumes and the lies and the smile of a grandmother that probably knew way more than she ever let on… the boxes with the money and ace bandages and bullets and the incense that covered the iodine, the cigarettes, the scotch and the occasional joint. The tools of the trades, right out in the open obscured by a bit of porn or a questionable hobby.

Creativity knew no bounds back then. The forge burned bright and the metal ran hot. The first few minutes the object already had a form, and as the minutes and hours passed, it became reality, hissing and sparking as it’s dropped into the cold water and held up to the light without a single imperfection. It was a talent… this gift of creation, of design, of construction… sculpting realities to make them different then they were. Like a magician, the coin never actually left my hand. it just danced and spun and glittered for whoever was in the audience. All the time, the rabbit was already in the hat.

Or was it the cat in the box with the cyanide, ticking atoms calling the coin toss… I could never remember.

But with every bruised knuckle came the firing of a neuron, the rewire of synapses. And one day I shoved my hands into the fire-box and proved I was “human.” and not and animal. Gods, what creations I forged then… worlds of fire and blood and hope and song, the atom and the rune. Stories of the lowest levels of Night City’s streets and the highest thrones of Olympus Mons. We were titans then, the Horsemen… lords of this realm and beyond. We took what we wanted and damned what we couldn’t… we spit on the sand, shook fist to the wind and pried torcs from neck and arm. and laughed and drank and danced through the night, daring the demons and angels from within and without ls to interrupt our mad tea party. And I was mother fucking Hephaestus, I stole the damn fire from the forges on the heavens, I hammered with it and melted and built and carved and… and we burned in that titan’s flame so very very brightly.

But as Roy Batty’s synthetic candle, we burned out one by one, “… moments in time, like tears in the rain.” And I wonder now, am I Roy… or am I Deckard? Do electric sheep really dream of androids?

The tales grew long and more complex and the home-shore drifted from view and I realized, there’s no need for a horseman in the mountains. So I drop the gasoline and watched the bridges burn again, the axe went to the hanger above the hearth and the forge closed. I didn’t even see the first knife come, or the second, or the tenth. Al at once I was Caesar on the floor, Brutus on the steps and Polonius behind an arras, waiting for the sword. In my rush to be human I had forgotten that with mortality comes fragility. It’s amazing how clear that becomes when your chest is open, and the obsidian scalpel of a modern-day Tenochca priest makes the decision if it’s your time to honor Huitzilopotchli or not.

And through all this, I watched as the fires of the forge slowly dimmed. The tales became more shallow, the listeners less interested in tales of star-fire and salvation and more of bawdy-girls and one-a-penny jokes. The Globe became Vaudeville, then HBO, then Basic Cable, till all that was left was network infomercials. The audience often drifting around with no drive, no expectancy. Just sad little Carrolian mirror caricatures of what they used to be… no fire or passion… just shades dancing in a dusty ballroom to any old thing being played.

And the worst of it, I shuffle around the cold dead ashes in the forge, trying desperately to find a last little ember I can hold and coddle and bring back to life. I crawl my way back to the tools and dust them off, sharped the best that I can with cracked whetstone and spoiled water. Just one good item, one for the auction block and I can fix everything. And when all that finally comes and I put hammer to metal… the audience get’s stolen by some jackass with bells on a stick and a painted pig. And the shame of it, the very joke of it all…the fuckers can’t even tell the difference. The fires gone so low that this little fallow candle seems like a goddam torch.

And they can’t figure out why I don’t try any-fucking-more… I hate them, and their stale blood and false faces and pantomimes. Digital deadwood, lobotomized dolls with syphilitic sawdust for brains, sheep shit for stomachs, and piss water for backbones. And I know that. without them… I can’t do a goddam thing. What fucking use is it to paint the chapel if no one prays,,, play the 5th when know one hears it.

And in all, it’s all my fucking fault. All I have to to is pick up and move,… pack the tools, strike the forge, find a new audience and leave this leper-riven town behind for bright eyes and open minds. Take the few shining gems and leave the dross for the crows.

All I have to do is drop the match again.

“But now the days are short… I’m in the Autumn of the year…”

And my goddam hand shakes…

And I can smell flesh burning…

And I’m still holding the match…

Somewhere in the distance, I know Jerry Cornelius is laughing his stone-cold cool multiversal ass off at me saying “I gave you the needle-gun, the grass, and the best scotch I had… not my fault if you wont smoke up, drink up, grow a set and pull the bloody trigger on the poor bastard.”

I really hate that smug bastard sometimes.

Published in: on 04/04/2010 at 07:42  Comments (1)  

eBooks, and what it’ll take to get me to buy one.

First, I’d like to say I have never purchased an eBook or .PDF and swore never to purchase “air.” As a long time gamer, I find the practice of Major Companies selling gaming PDFs distasteful at best and deplorable at worse, charging exorbitant money for what is essentially air. However, for smaller writers, I have no issue with self-publishing or PDFs, and although few have ever caught my eye, I’m sure that there will be one eventually that I will purchase.

So… let me amend by saying I will never purchase a .PDF from a major gaming company for the sole reason that you’re charging way too much, you greedy fucks.

Now… that said, on to eBooks.

This weekend Amazon and Macmillian had a “tiff.” In short… Macmillian wanted to put price “a” on their eBooks, Amazon said they wanted to put price “b” on them. That’s fine… Amazon is a retailler they have a right to sell under or over the MSRP (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) as they see fit. However, where the issue seemed to arise – and keep in mind I’m not in the industry, although I read many of the trades – is that Amazon apparently wanted Macmillian to accommodate their by selling to Amazon at a lower price, better to fit their profit scheme on their pricing of Macmillian’s eBooks. Tiffing ensued and Amazon, for a short time stopped selling Macmillian’s title… for all of about a day or so.

In short, Amazon was in the wrong. They forgot where the Retailer is in the chain and they simply because they chose to discount… doesn’t mean their publishers have to discount to them. They sell at a discount at their risk/loss, in the hopes that they will sell more that retailer “B” by doing so. That’s what retailers do. They apparently figured it out and all is back to normal.

But that got me thinking about it. Macmillan wants to sell new “Hardback” release eBooks for 12 bucks.

Who the fuck are they kidding? 12 bucks… for the privilege of not having to print, store or ship real dead tree books to stores, and on to the consumer?

Ok… here we go. Lets put this in the proper perspective.

I walk up to you and tell you I have a fabulous new toy car… it’s the best in the world, it’s shiny, well-made, fun and really really good looking. You can buy it for 24.99. But… have I got a deal for you! You can buy the right to take a picture of it – with your very own camera – for just 12 Bucks. Oh… and it get’s better. although you use you’re own camera, you get to display the picture in this great new frame that I can sell you for only $500!!!

Now think for a sec… what would you tell me to do with that picture? Be honest.

Right. I’d need to hire a proctological extraction team!

With said, think about eBooks. Here they… a digital copy of a pBook (Thatls right, you heard it here first… a “pBook” or Physical Book). No muss, no fuss… doesn’t rot or mold…doesn’t take up any space on your shelf, and it’s convenient. In fact… it’s just a stream of electrons. But wait: You see, there is muss and fuss. You have to buy it, download it, and you need an eReader of some kind to even look at it. Oh, and it does degrade the more time you access the file… and in some cases there’s even planned obsolescence. And, did I mention it does take up space, and materials? You have to buy that eReader and maintain it after all, and depending on the book or items, you may even need more than one for your collection.

But its convenient, right?

Well, it is… as long as you have batteries, and room, and light (most readers apparently don’t even have a back light) and you’re in a place where they allow electronics to be operated. if note than, although you can carry around 90 eBooks… they’ll be locked up tighter than a Jonas Brother in a strip club.

And all for the low low cost of six to fifteen bucks, not counting your $300 to $500 electronic “bookshelf.”

So in a nut shell, there are my reason for not wanted to ever ever purchase an eBook. They’re too expensive, too costly to maintain, require special equipment, and god help us if the power/batteries fail or the reader thrashes itself. A paperback pBook is small so I can carry several. They don’t need anything more than sunlight or a candle to use them. I trade them in at a used pBook store and get some credit for another. I can share them with friends, family or club. I can even give them as a gift to someone I don’t know sitting at a bus stop and just looking bored… without second thought.

Oh, and if I drop it in a puddle, a hairdryer will usually fix a pBook back to a readable condition in just a short while… go ahead, dunk that Nook or Kindle… I dare ya.

So… I’m dead set against them, so why do I want to clue these publishers on how to sell one to me?

Because I’m also a stupid fucked up “Child of the 80s” and we’re ALL about the tech as we desperately hold on to our Armageddon-driven, corporate-manufactured, Marxist Cyber-futures like the ones mentioned in the Gospels according to Saint.Gibson and Saint.Sterling.

So… here’s how to do it:

1) Price: The price needs to come down… waaaaay down. They need to cost less that it costs me to step into a used pBook store and pick up a pulp copy. Why… because if it costs more, that’s where I’m gonna get it, Mister Publisher… and you won’t see a frigging dime of my cash. In these times and costs, I consider that with every purchase of pBooks I make. How bad do I want it and am I willing to wait for it to inevitably show up at my LUpBS (Local Used pBook Store). You want me to buy it now… there’s my price. Cheap, Cheap , Cheap. 3 bucks would be a great price point. That’s about what I can get it for used. That’s for either hard-or paperback release… there’s absolutely no difference till you print it and all I’m interested in is the words… if I want the hardback, I’ll by the hardback.

And before you spin me a said song about how the writers make next to nothing on a pBook , I know that… but lets look at it for real. An average writer makes about 16% on a pBook , and I doubt that’s gross. either. But, for an average paperback pBook which go around eight bucks right now, that means about $1.25. So… If you sell me an eBook for 3 bucks, you can give that writer the same $1.25 and you get to keep $1.75 for you. That for a single purchase of an item that needed nothing more than editing and a bit of lay out… no printing, no storage, no shipping, no losses (unless the book is crappy, of course).

But think of the alternative… if I buy it at my LUpBS, the writer make nothing on the sale, and neither do you.

Of course, the writer could sell it to me direct for say… $2.00 and pocket most of it less editing and layout, and probably do better than publishing with you, mister Big Publishing House… but the advertising and nominal marketing you do might be worth it to him to take the loss.

2) Propriaty: Ok… I’m NOT buying a special reader for your crap, Mister Publisher. No way. Period. It ain’t gonna happen. And I’m not jumping through the thirty hoops of your DRM to work. I’m not even going to download a special reader free… absolutely not. I have a lovely 5-year old Desktop and and nice year old Net-book and a lovely one-month old Smart-phone. If I can’t read it on all of them…. then it’s not even worth the three bucks. After all, I’m already providing the space, power, electronics and time… all I need from you is the frisking media file. .PDF is a fin format, and you can watermark it so if a copy leaks, you know where it came from… hell with a bit of ingenuity and more than likely a lot less money that you’re spending on proprietary formatting and DRMs that some 12-year old is gonna crack in ten minutes anyway… I’ll bet you can come up with a system to track it right to my copy.

And, I’ll bet you can even come up with a way for me to loan the eBook to someone else… but if you’ve paid attention to Number 1 above, than it’s cheap enough that if I wanna give it to a friend, I’ll just give him the 3 bucks (or maybe you can allow me to purchase a gift coupon code that allows him to go download it.)

But I digress…

Back to Propriety. Just Say No; and keep firmly in mind that unlike most eBooks right now; pBook is multi-platform… it can be read with any “Light” reader… be it Sun-Light, Day-Light, Candle-Light, Iridescent-Light, Florescent-Light… even Night-Light, Flash-Light and Fire-Light platforms.

3) Free Stuff: This one is simple. If I care enough about Book “X” to buy a pBook give me the eBook for free! That’s right, free. Remember when places used to give you free stuff to get you to try it? Show me the convenience of your new eBook, show me how cool it is to have one… like all the rest of the cool kids. Face it… it costs you nothing to make an eBook… it’s simple the file you’re using for printing anyway, just reformatted a bit (maybe some layout tweaking). Just give it to me.

And what a promotion tool. “Wanna try Bob Jones new book, “Wankeropolis”… be the first 100 to log in and agree to review it and get a free copy!” How bout this “Bob Jones will be handing out free eCopies of his book on flash drive at Wankercon! Read it and post your review on-line” Or even “Follow the clues on the flash-drive and figure out the mystery and you could win a copy of Bob Jones new book “Wankeropolis” How cool would *that* be.

4) Not so Free Stuff: Here’s a good one to. Buy the eBook and get a three bucks off the pBook version. What a good way for me to try out an author? I spend very little and buy an eBook, read it and if I want I can buy a pBook copy of it for my shelf without worrying about “doubling up”. And since I’ve seen his stuff, I might be interested enough in it to buy other eBooks as well. It’s the same as Number 3, but it utilizes the eBook as a lest costly way for you to get sales of both… even from people that may not have considered buying pBook.

So… there you have it. eBooks, and what it’ll take to get me to buy one.

Just something to think about…

Now… go out and read a pBook!

Published in: on 02/02/2010 at 07:59  Leave a Comment  

Bring back the Lottery!

The only way to fix the system is to take the “career” out of “career politicians.” When a term is over, then the next official should be choose from the prior years tax returns:

“Hi there… Joe Smith. Starting Jan 3rd, 20xx you’ll be the Representative/Congressman of your area in the US Government. Your term will be for one year with a possibility of extension for a second term, should your Constituency Rating be above 95%.”

During your term:

a) You will receive a salary of $52,000. This will be tax-free and will be paid weekly.

b) All of your current household bills will be paid by your state, during the term of your service.

c) You will be welcome to relocate into the Representative/Congressional house reserved for you. Meals and Services will be provided for you and your family during your stay.

d) You will receive off all federal and (your) state holidays. and will have 4 weeks paid vacation time.

e) During your term, your medical insurance will be compliments of the US Government.

f) Your current job will be held for you per your return post-term.

During your term you will be expected to:

a) Work an 10 hour day, with a 1 hour lunch.

b) Work a 5-day week, extended to 5.5 if needed to complete the weeks projects and proposals.

c) Work 48 weeks of your year’s term. This will include travel time.

d) Attend 12 monthly “Ethics” seminars

e) Attend weekly “Constituency” On-Line town hall meetings, to be followed by review and rating.

f) Be expected to utilize the “Advisory Board” for questions concerning decisions during your term. You will be give full access to any experts and regional polls you require to make well-thought out decisions that represent the wishes of your Constituency.

At the successful completion of your term of service:

a) You will exempt from future “service” requirements, with the exception of Presidential Appointment. You will become eligible for Presidential Appointment providing you maintained an average Constituency Rating of 90% or above.

b) You will receive a completion bonus of $52,000, provided your Constituency Rating remained at an average of 80% or better.

c) You will continue to receive complimentary Federal Medical Insurance for you and your immediate family for life.

d) You may attended any collage at no charge as long as you maintain a 3.0 average with a registered Major. Masters and PH’D programs are included.

Please report to your state capital on November 1st, 20xx, for a two weeks competency evaluation and familiarization seminar. This will be time paid at your Terms rate.

Congratulations on your impending Federal Service.


The People of the United States of America”

Published in: on 21/09/2009 at 03:20  Leave a Comment