Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Three Musketeers by A. Dumas

I pulled a copy of The Three Musketeers off Gutenberg and tossed it on my e-reader. I read it once when I was nine or ten years old. Unlike many kids, I enjoyed reading "classics" when I was young (though I later learned that reading them as class assignments often sucked the fun out of them!)

Well, I'm enjoying it all over again. It's fun, lively, and a joy to read. In fact, it got me to thinking...about possibly giving it a try in French.

Now, I don't really have any skill with French. I never took any classes, and haven't had occasion to speak the language. I have read one book in French, however, Au Fond des Mers en Bathyscaphe, by Auguste Piccard. I had the advantage there of being very familiar with the subject, and the fact that most writing, if sufficiently technical, becomes a sort of Engineer's Esperanto. Even Russian if you can sound out the Cyrillic text.

So I'm considering taking a crack at reading a second book in French this summer. Since there is so much in the way of interpersonal relationships and emotion, I'll probably get lost in the grammar. When Piccard writes, even when describing the feelings he experienced on a voyage kilometers deep in the ocean, his writing style is direct enough that his meaning is clear. Even to a non-French speaker like me.

I think I'm going to put a reminder in on my calendar for myself and give Les Trois Mousquetaires en Fran├žais a try later this year. It'll be an adventure.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I'm in for Hardbacks on the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls Kickstarter

I backed the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls Kickstarter at the hardback level shortly after it got started. Not because I really need another RPG book set roaming around. Though the idea of a hardcover of good ol' T&T just seemed like a cool idea, and backing this project, which brings the original crew back together, also just seemed like a lot of fun.

T&T was something that I didn't take to originally. When I first came across it, it was being played by a group of Loonies who played up the silliness element of the game, and troweled on plenty of their own zany as well. I was a bit of a "serious" roleplayer at the time. Later, however, I came across it again and got to see the system work. It was very elegant, and seemed to be a working version of a very minimalist system I'd been trying to build myself. My system had two stats, Strength and Agility, the idea being build a system that was intentionally too minimal, then expand it by degrees until it worked. It had no hit points, no mana, everything came out of the two stats.

T&T was a more fleshed out version. At the time I came across it the second time, Strength determined spellcasting ability. Hit points and spellcasting power both came from stats. In-game skill checks were done against the statistics.

Of course, I was better prepared by other RPGs, too. Between my first and second exposures I'd played Traveller and Runequest, and the first version of Basic Roleplaying as well. But even though I saw more of the beauty of T&T, and picked up a copy of the rules current at that time (4e, I think), I was a bit of a Runequest chauvinist at the time since I was learning to whack people with sticks in the Society for Creative Anachronism by the authors of Runequest and their immediate gaming circle.

But the ideas stuck. I picked up another rulebook a few years later (5e at this point), and played some solo games during a dry spell. I even discovered that I had a T&T module among a group of Runequest modules a friend gave me when they shut down their gaming shop (I was the only person they knew who played RQ!) Dargon's Dungeon. So I ran myself through that.

Both T&T and Traveller are great solo games, they got me through some dry spells of no local gaming group.

Back to the Point
So, now we're looking at a new version of T&T. I'm excited. I'm hoping to talk my current local face to face gaming group into giving T&T a go later on this year (we're playing my Traveller campaign right now and a Pathfinder campaign.) One thing about T&T is that it's simple enough we might be able to get someone else to be the GM (outside our usual small, small circle of GMs). The GM overhead of T&T is the lowest of any game I've ever seen. Unless you count the Microgames of Melee and Wizard as RPGs. ;)

And, of course, the RPG written by my friend Barry Langdon-Lassagne and myself, RoonVenture, where we suggest taking a road map and relabelling the cities with a theme-appropriate name (just one, repeated over and over to save trouble.) But practically nobody plays that.

Go Ahead, Throw Your Bit In
So get in on the fun, and make a pledge on Kickstarter. Has your gaming group gotten bogged down by complex mechanics? Nobody has time to level a character between games? Nobody will run a game after being slammed by the Book of Nine Swords? Give T&T a spin.

It's simple, fast, and is built for running classic dungeon crawls. You can even have no designated GM, just play modules as a group solo adventure. Or generate adventures randomly. But better is to go back to the old days of adventure creation, just slamming together a Monster Apartment Complex and having at it. Heck, you might even slip in a plot by accident.

I'm in for hardbacks, just because I like hardback game books. They hold up well, are handy at games (you can use them as writing-boards, frex), and make a better threat than a rolled-up softback when someone's dinking with your character. ;)

And they don't get lost in a box as easily.

Already Funded
The project has already reached its basic funding goal and is into stretch goals now. So you know you're not going to get the "project not funded" disappointment. At this time, they're close to getting the second stretch goal (at $60K).

Kicktraq is interesting to watch for the project, too. They show it coming in at some ridiculous figure (today) that's coming more in line with reality each day (in accordance with how the projections/trending are calculated, I don't want to imply there's any unrealism or error on the part of Kicktraq here--they do a great job, but people really go overboard about the numbers that come out of the formulas sometimes.)

Now, I can't wait to see if we get either a stretch goal or new project sometime in the future for Monsters! Monsters!.

Update 17 Jan 2013:
They've made the $60K goal! That means I'll get a print version of Castle Buffalo! At $75K there's another module and more art. Woot!

Also: They've had their mid-stretch dip, and numbers of backers and dollars per day has come back up again. No ideal if it will last, but I have to think that having the hardback deal sweetened (and the deal overall) is helping some people decide to back the project or increase their pledge.

One thing that helped me is the fact that I'll have at least one more check in the bank before the money gets drawn. ;)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Traveller: Accountancy in Spaaace!

I've been running a Traveller game for our local role-playing group since last September. We started out with the characters as children using the latest iteration of my rules for children characters for Traveller. The old rules were published in Freelance Traveller. The updates I added bring the child character development more in line with other Mongoose Traveller classes. It includes Events, Mishaps, and Benefits for youngsters. Background skills are acquired as characters age.

I started or current game with a children's adventure, which went very well. It was a sort of "Three Investigators" or "Nancy Drew" style mystery. The party barely managed to find and solve the mystery behind the mystery.

All Grown Up

Once that was complete, we brought the characters up to 18. Then, depending on their relative ages, the characters got either 3 or 4 terms in standard Traveller careers.

Now we're well into the adventure. The group has a working starship and they just made their first interstellar flight as adventurers. They own one corporation, inherited from the eccentric old man of their childhood adventure, and they bought a second one on their first trip out of their home system. The second one was up for sale on account of 99% of its executive staff being suddenly dead. Probably just some paperwork error.

The party just sold 50 dTons of foodstuffs on an industrial world, and are backhauling lots of valuable food processing machinery. They'll be able to sell it for plenty, assuming the customer that the customer they have lined up isn't a smoking hole in the ground when they get back to their homeworld.

However, the party has started to engage in commerce in Traveller.

One of my players, new to Traveller, looked at me after the game and said, "So, basically, money is XP for Traveller. Right?"

I admitted that both money and equipment serve that role. After all, some things have a more than monetary value.