Random News, MYFAROG, and New Drasmyr!

Between the nightmarish last week and a half I’ve had, I haven’t got nearly as much reading done as I would’ve liked.  Nor have I had much new gaming insights, because I’ve mostly been vegging out on Morrowind and Age of Empires 2.  But that’s not to say that there isn’t some cool news.

First of all, we’re getting some more details on the new Basic edition of MYFAROG:

Yeah, the new edition looks nice, and hopefully will cost less to ship overseas.  I’m also glad to know that I’m not alone in some of the issues I experienced with 1e and those look like they’ve been addressed.  The real question is if once I get a copy of Basic if I’ll be able to use it to run this.  If that doesn’t work, a new sample adventure has been made available here for free download.

Matthew D. Ryan is looking for reviewers for the next book in his Drasmyr series.  Which means that pretty soon there’ll be new Drasmyr!  As tempting as it is, I’m just so bad about reading long-form anything in ebook format that I don’t think I’d be the best person to volunteer my services for this.  I’m content to actually shell out for the hardback for this. But maybe when it’s closer to release, I can get Ryan back to talk more about his series or do a guest post.

Cirsova got a nod from Dyvers’ Best Reads of the Week, which is always an awesome honor.

Mike Monaco has some awesome cave pictures.

At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen is finally almost done; thanks to all of my beta readers, all of whom have been a tremendous help.  I’ve made a list of a few likely candidates for submission.  Plans for launching my own zine will be on hold until I can resolve three particular issues in my life, at least one of them involving a car payment/accident settlement, but that won’t stop me from writing.  I’m working on another piece as decompression more than anything, which may or may not get a short epub treatment if I finish it.  Once I get a few more Planet Stories under my belt, I’ll consider writing more Abraham Strongjohn stuff.

Battlefields and Broadswords?  It’s still sitting about 1/3 of the way done.  Did rules for cannon fire really stump me so bad that it derailed the entire project?  No, but I did get distracted by a million things.  I keep telling myself that I’m going to crack open BattleSystem and see if it has something I can use in place of painted dowel rods, but I guess I just haven’t been in game designer mode lately.  I feel like maybe it’s one or the other, fiction or game design.

MYFAROG Review Vid & Brief #Gamergate Thought

I feel like a cad for not having followed through with some of my plans for creating playing materials for MYFAROG.  Sure, I’ve been sick a lot lately and depressed, but I can really only blame my laziness.  I WILL make them eventually, but I can’t really say for sure when I’ll get around to it.  I’ve been suffering DMs fatigue and prepping sessions and creating materials (especially those I may not be using in my game in the near future) just hasn’t been high on my list of things to do.

But, as I mentioned awhile back, other folks are starting to take up the torch for MYFAROG, and as the community grows, there’ll be more material out there for folks to game with for this system.

In other news, I was going to write up something about that trainwreck of a stream* that Liana K was in last week, but can’t really think of anything to say but “Wow, that was a trainwreck!”  I still stand by the movement and its goals, but goddamn there are some dumb folks on both sides*.  If you’re going to interview someone, interview them, don’t get half a dozen other people on your stream into the discussion, because at best, it’ll be a mess, at worst, it’ll be an inquisition.  I like Liana and value her voice way more than anybody else on that stream.   Also, wow, a lot of fundamental misunderstanding of US politics and politics in general out there; while overall the movement is anti-progressive, there’s a ton of left-wing GG folks who feel the need to prove their liberal bona fides by shitting on conservatives at any chance.  Oh, well.

I’m probably going to have to cave eventually and put my stuff up on OBS, because there really isn’t anywhere else I’ll get the same visibility.  It’s a damn shame and I’ll hate myself for it.

And yes, Ralph Retort is basically the Gamergate version of Wonkette (which is about the worst thing I think I could say about anyone).

*:I don’t tend to listen to many GG streams, but was curious when I saw Liana’s angry rant response.

**: Best idiot quote from this stream: “Have a nice day not being relevant, Liana K. That’s my only response. And that’s without even knowing completely what happened. I don’t honestly need to know.”  Reminds me of the Tommy Smothers, “I’m an American, I don’t have to see something to know it’s stupid,” bit.

A Brief MYFAROG Update

I’ve been jotting down some notes for MYFAROG Character Role cards, though admittedly doing prep work for my own B/X game has taken up more of my time than I’d anticipated.

Still, I’ve been able to read some of the clarifications on combat, and I’m really liking the stamina system for quick adjudication of combat. The mechanical benefits that turtling grants significantly outweigh those in other systems I’ve played; by devoting your stamina to consistently blocking then waiting for an opportunity to strike an exhausted opponent is a viable strategy. Not just trade blows until one person falls over due to getting crappier rolls.

I don’t really think that there are specific rules for use with miniatures, but the combat system in MYFAROG definitely deserves a second look as a tactical micro board game.

I’m happy to see that there are some players out there taking up MYFAROG’s banner, especially since I don’t have the time to devote to being the sole source of gaming and mechanical analysis of the game. If any of you MYFAROG players out there are blogging about your experiences, let me know; I’ll follow and I’ll share them here.

I mostly wanted to note that (especially compared with AD&D’s obnoxious HP specific algebra) I love the new simplified XP calculation that MYFAROG uses: every time you do something and don’t fuck it up, you get 50XP.

New Year’s News: Alfheim Hiatus, Revolutionary Reading and MYFAROG

Today may be the last day for the next few months to snag a free ebook of City at the Top of the World.

I spent too much of a busy weekend finishing up collecting Riddler trophies in Arkham City. Considering that he feels like the big bad of the game, I really wish there was more that happens once you get all his stupid trophies and kick his ass. I feel like you almost deserve a second special credits roll or something. I screwed around a bit with some of the challenges, but, like with Asylum, I think I’m not going to bother with doing them with any level of thoroughness. Probably after I finish Harley’s Revenge, I’ll be taking a break for a bit. I need to get more reading done and (maybe) work on Alfheim, which will be on hold until after a few sessions of Pockets (unless people revolt and demand we finish my game, which I hope doesn’t happen, as it could split up our group).

I’m a little over halfway through the bio of Talleyrand I’ve been reading; it’s interesting given how little attention was paid to Talleyrand’s role in the Revolution in the history by Abbott (presumably because of his Napoleonophilic tendencies) to now read a very detailed account of his involvement with both the Revolution and the Empire, in which he is portrayed, while incredibly corrupt and inscrupulous, as the only sane man in Napoleon’s otherwise useless political machine. All in all, it’s made me really want to revisit my childhood and play L’Empereur. Maybe I can find an emulated dosbox version somewhere.

Reading about the Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary period shoots some holes in the meme of women’s role in history or their absence from it. While the role they played was certainly different, it was incredibly significant nonetheless. It was through the various influential society ladies that the key players networked and it was in their parlors that they planned and schemed, and when caught by the opposition, women joined their husbands and lovers on the gallows of the Revolution. Much of what we know about the Revolutionary period and the political intrigue at home during the Napoleonic Wars comes from the writings and correspondence of these great ladies who put pen to paper their thoughts on the events of the day and the men who played their parts as the ladies played theirs. It’s made me consider coming up with some sort of variant on Coup or Resistance in which all of the players represent aristocratic women in Paris in whose salons the the acts of treason for and against the Bourbons are planned and betrayed.

While I’ve been slower than I’d like in reading MYFAROG, I’ve been coming up with a few ideas which will hopefully be useful to players. When I get around to it, I plan on making print & play Role cards for the various roles in MYFAROG for use with MYFAROG as quick reference or for adapting MYFAROG roles into a role-based pocket system such as Altars & Archetypes. I’ve run this idea by one of the players in my group and they sound interested.

MYFAROG 1st Run Already Sold Out.

Looks like it may be a bit before I can get my hands on the final version of MYFAROG.

As someone who’s an unsuccessful survivor of the music business with several boxes of unsold cds and records in my spare bedroom, I understand the value of short runs.* Unfortunately for me, MYFAROG’s initial short run was REALLY short. Only 100 units of the first pressing that were sold out in less than 48 hours! I didn’t even have a chance to throw up a “buy here link” for Varg, much less buy my own.

But, Varg says he’s going to keep it in print, doing short runs for whenever he gets low on his on-hand supply. While the 50 Euro price may be a showstopper for casuals, I am obviously, by my posting history, no casual. The fact that it sold out immediately is an indicator that it’s not overpriced for its target audience, though I hope that a cheaper edition will eventually be offered to expand MYFAROG’s player-base to other gamers who might have a casual interest but not be prepared to drop $60-75 on a system which they are unfamiliar with.

So when it IS ready and IF my timing is not off, I’ll be getting my copy.

In the meantime, here is an extended intro/tutorial.

*:My own foray into self publishing has been far more successful; dumping ebook onto amazon has netted several dozen copies given away (an astounding savings when compared to all the free cds I’ve given people) and sold maybe 3 copies.  Thanks, whomever you were!

After Almost Two Years, MYFAROG Will Finally Be Out!

I’m pretty stoked about finally getting to read the full version and checking out that map.  My only concern will be getting people to run it with.  Once my B/X game is over, I’ll see if I can wrangle some people to try it out.  I’ll probably run a stripped down version of it, since most of my players have enthusiastically embraced the simplicity of B/X (the older member of my who had played it before has mentioned that B/X is about the crunchiest system he’ll still play these days).

Most of what I want to do is experiment with the setting and the roles.  I could see something like Altars & Archetypes being welded to the class system in MYFAROG; instead of allowing players to just make up whatever Archetype they want, they’d use some of the many roles available  in MYFAROG.  I’m probably going to do some tinkering with it; even if the degree of crunch involved in the system isn’t to everyone’s tastes, I don’t see why the setting can’t be adapted in such a way that it’s a useful sourcebook no matter what your preferred system is.

While MYFAROG’s system is inextricable from its setting, I really think that it’s a setting that could be extracted and used with any system.  Well, that may not be entirely true.  The superheroism of most non-basic editions of D&D wouldn’t really jibe with the gritty hard-fantasy feel where any brave soul can be mercilessly torn apart by an ettin at any moment, should he be caught unprepared in the wild.  For instance, if I were to translate the introductory module to something like Holmes, I’d probably fudge all monster hit dice and make them unkillable outside of some really clever strategy and roleplaying.  I don’t know.  I’ll be sure to report back on what I come up with once I get the full version.

Edit note: The buy link isn’t up on the site yet; when it is, I’ll throw it up here.

MYFAROG RPG Delay: Varg Vikernes Arrested! (Anniversary Edition)

Okay, Varg’s been arrested. The French think that he’s planning a massacre. Now, I don’t follow all of what Varg’s up to, but I’m pretty sure he’s been too busy building his house, blogging, working on music and writing an RPG to be planning a massacre. Varg strikes me as being too busy with various personal projects to jeopardize it by planning a massacre.

I guess I should’ve ordered a copy of Forebears sooner than later. And I figured out why all of a sudden I’m getting all of these hits on my old MYFAROG post.

Apparently his wife bought a few guns (legally, I might add; she’s a member of a rifle club), and that was enough to bring the heat down on the couple, and both of them were arrested. The articles are quick to point out that he’s a “convicted murderer”, but don’t forget that, while Varg didn’t do himself any favors in trying to cover it up initially, it was a case of self-defense. Also, the articles have pointed out that “there is no evidence that Kristian Vikernes was formulating any kind of plan.”

Anyway, the whole thing got kicked off apparently because Behring Brevik sent Varg a copy of his manifesto in hopes of finding an ally. Varg basically called Brevik an idiot, but receiving and commenting on it was enough to make French officials worry.

I hope things get straightened out soon. Varg has always been very personable and a generally nice guy to me, and while I heartily disagree with many of his ideas and points of view, I don’t believe that he is personally a threat to anyone.

Update: They don’t have anything on them, but are holding them anyway (probably for political reasons)http://www.euronews.com/2013/07/17/no-target-no-identified-project-as-vikernes-and-his-wife-s-custody-extended/

Also, it should be noted that in the posts in question, Varg specifically said not to do anything illegal in ‘revolt’ against the European status quo.

Update 2: Marie Cachet has been released from custody.

Update 3: Varg has been released, but may be prosecuted for hate speech. http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2013/07/18/la-garde-a-vue-de-l-extremiste-norvegien-kristian-vikernes-levee_3449857_3224.html

Update 4: Varg has an account of the incident, which may be found here.

Update 5: A candid interview with Marie Cachet & Varg Vikernes.

Update 6:  The verdict of Guilty for charges of hate-speech quietly came and went, followed by a few news articles reminding us of Varg’s past, calling him a neo-Nazi (he’s not) and making spurious allegations in an attempt to link him with Breivik.  I’m guessing that since Varg’s most recent update, post verdict, is explaining mechanical changes to his RPG that he’s taking things in stride.

Radical New Changes Pre-Publication to MYFAROG Skill System

So, the news is that MYFAROG is doing away with its skill system in favor of XP based point-buy. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the overall system.

Originally, rather than using XP, MYFAROG used a system not too dissimilar from the old FF2/Daggerfall skill-grind. The idea was that improving skill is something of an upward curve; while it wasn’t hard to learn a basic skill and improve it somewhat, the higher your mastery, the longer it took to improve. It was an interesting idea, and not something you saw in tabletop games too often. But as Varg himself pointed out, you don’t want the tabletop version of taping down the run button in Morrowind and leaving your character to run against a wall to grind athletics.

So, now he’s implementing an XP based system which we have yet to see. As clunky as the old skill system might have been (I don’t really like skill systems in general for tabletop games), I can’t say I’m a huge fan of point-buy systems either. Well, okay, the old white-wolf point-buy system held up alright for what was essentially a rules lite game focused on story, but I’ve seen 3.5e Eclipse stuff that boggles the mind.  If he has gone the XP route, I’m hoping Varg took my suggestion to better flesh out the Power Levels to something equivalent to the 3e CR rating system.

When I do get the final version of MYFAROG, if I end up running it, it will undoubtedly be with some of my own tweaks and adjustments (c’mon, who doesn’t houserule things a bit?). Luckily, this time I’ll be approaching it with some more experience with both GMing and game design under my belt, so I might make some changes of my own to keep the old skill rules, or a variant of it. Recently a friend introduced me to Altars and Archetypes, which is a ruleslite system that allows for pretty infinite flexibility in character creation; you choose your character’s archetypes/roles (so you can have a Pirate/Wizard/Baker) and you roll dice of varying sides based on your character’s experience in that role to perform tasks. You’ve been a pirate for a long time, so you’d roll 1d12 for pirating tasks; you’ve been studying magic for the last year, so you’d roll 1d8 for casting spells; you’ve recently taken up baking, though you’re not very good at it yet, so you’d roll 1d6 when you’d try to bake something. That’s a silly example, but you get the idea.

Since MYFAROG is essentially a “Job” based game, I think that a similar system could be swapped out if you didn’t want to use point-buy or the crunchier Skill system. You’d simply have to take into account what each job/role is and the skills/abilities they grant you in MYFAROG and translate that to the flexible skill system.  I don’t know.  It’s something I might look at.

Most of all, I’m itching to read the portions of the worldbuilding and background info that was dummied out of the playtest version. Once it’s out or once I know more about the changes Varg has made, I’ll start fleshing out ideas, maybe even write up a module or something.