Thursday, March 17, 2011

Poor neglected blog...

Poor poor neglected blog. I had such high hopes for you in 2011, but I've been wasting my time with the dreaded television too much.

Lots of stuff going on in the Gutter Cult game world. I gotta get back in the swing of things with this here blog, I suppose. More soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hollow Earth Update

Have I been lazy about updating or what?

The new found interest in 40k has been a bit of a nerd-time suck. I've got my second game this weekend and I've been modeling like mad. Fortunately, the guys I'm playing with are okay with me showing up with unpainted models, so I've actually had time to eat, sleep, go to work, etc.

My tuesday night my regular group (Dave, Allen, Hickey, Paul and Brad) finished up our Hollow Earth Expedition adventure. Brad was absent and Paul, being back from tour, got his first chance at play in the Hollow Earth.

The adventurers had succeeded in thwarting Dr. Von Wartenberg's plan to steal the Atlantean crystal in the previous adventure, but discovered their way out of the Hollow Earth had abandoned them. They decided to follow the Nazi's tracks through the jungle. They heard some tribal drumming and what sounded like a woman shouting insults. The heroes quickly (and quietly moved towards the sounds) and stumbled across what appeared to be humanoid lizards in the midst of a ritual sacrifice of a beautiful woman (played by Paul -- hah). Some chaos and combat ensued and woman is released and joins the fight against her reptilian captors. When the group realizes that more lizardmen are being alerted to the disturbance, the party high-tails it towards a raft on the river bed.

They proceed down the river, with much chaos (including a fight on the raft with 2 lizardmen and a velociraptor and almost going over a giant waterfall), and eventually find a ruined temple in the valley beneath the waterfall. Inside the temple, they are able to solve a puzzle that opens the waterfall. There are a bunch of traps which are navigated on the way to a large room with some sort of glowing crystal. The players grab the crystal, shit goes haywire, the caverns start to flood. The snooty professors falls in the drink, and Dr Dan the field biologist gets crushed in a trap.

They stumble out of the ruins and notice the prof crawling out of the lake looking like a drowned rat, but otherwise okay. As the waterfall begins to close, they realize they are surrounded by Nazis, let by Von Wartenberg. As he delivers a soliloquy on what happens to those who defy the Reich, the adventurers spot a pack of lizardmen making their way towards the group. From the other direction a horde of Raptors and finally, from the surface of the lake, a giant octopus surfaces. As the 5 way fight breaks out, the players high-tail it into the jungle as the screen fades to black.

Good game. I think everyone enjoyed it and we'll likely run more HEX adventures in the future. Definitely recommended for folks looking for some pulpy action and adventure.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Status Update

Wow! It looks like I let over a week creep by with out a post. I not doing a good job of keeping up with my self-appointed posting numbers. I should be doing some studying for some up coming games, really, but I'll sneak a post in before that, and hopefully get some feedback.

Speaking of upcoming games, I'll be running my second session of Swords & Wizardry White Box this weekend. All seven players from the first session were so enamored with the play style (particularly the speed and lethality of the combat), that they demanded a deeper delve into the dungeon. When we last left them, they were down a man or two after a scuffle with some goblins in a hallway. Fortunately, they left some potential adventurers up with the horses and supplies on the surface level. Those unnamed mooks will be getting tossed into the scrum.

Tuesday, I'll be running another session of Hollow Earth Expedition for my regular crew. As I mentioned in a recent post, it went over big, so we're going to keep rolling with it for a few more sessions. I decided to drop some cash over at FRP Games to pick up the GM Screen, Secrets of the Surface World and Mysteries of Hollow Earth source books. Eventually, I foresee a longer, campaign style game, with the players actually generating characters instead of using the pre-gens from the book. Well, at least I hope that happens, since I put another $70 into the system.

Expect some brief play reports from the sessions in the next few days. After HEX wraps up, we have to decide what is next. Allen, who runs my regular Call of Cthulhu game has offered to do CoC adventure for this group, which could be a good experience for everyone. After that, it may be time to revisit the ongoing 4e campaign for a few sessions.

Up next will be a post on "Appendix N" and my exposure thus far.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More thoughts on HEX

I had a question about the Hollow Earth Expedition System after my previous post. I was typing a response in the comments and realized I was going a bit long, so instead I decided to expand it into a more complete post. If anyone has any additional questions, let me know and I'll try to answer, based on my experiences playing / game mastering.

Ubiquity Dice
Hollow Earth Expedition uses a dice pool system, known as Ubiquity Roleplaying System. With Ubiquity, you can roll any dice you own, as long as they have an even number of sides (so keep those Gamescience d3s, d5s, and d7s in your dice bag). Instead of looking for 4 or better, like your might in a table-top war game like Warhammer, you're just looking for the even numbers. Count them up and that gives you the number of "successes". Alternatively, Exile Games sells a set of "Ubiquity Dice" to use with the game. It's kind of an innovative system to cut down on the number of you roll each turn. I picked up a set at Origins last year after checking out a game demo. Essentially, the white die is the equivalent of rolling "one die", the red die is the equivalent of rolling "two dice", and the blue die is the equivalent of rolling "three dice". All the probabilities are worked out with the numbers on the faces. So, to represent a dice pool of 6, you can either roll 6 white dice, 3 red dice, 2 blue dice, or 1 white, 1 red, and 1 blue, or 2 red and 1 blue, and so forth. I was the only one using the Ubiquity Dice last night. As a bit of a dice nerd, it was fun to use something off the wall, but by no means necessary. Then again, our Big Game Hunter was dumping 14 dice on the table every time he fired his rifle. He could have done that with 3 blues, 2 reds and a white from my pool (the Ubiquity Dice set comes with 3 of each color).

The GM determines how challenging the task should be, allowing for adjustment for creative ideas or tactical advantages. The system also supports the use of the average successes for scenarios where time is not a factor and nothing critical is happening. For example, in last night's game one of the players has a high Linguistics skill. We decided that he understands the basics of most European languages to avoid having to roll every time one of the NPCs spoke Norwegian. When that same NPC spoke Atlantean, he had to make a roll, because it was unlike any language he had experienced. Even with a success, he was only able to understand the very basics of what was said. It allowed the game to move quickly, but we could leave it to chance when that had the opportunity to make the game more interesting.

Combat is handled with opposed rolls. The attacker rolls a number of dice based on his or her weapon skill and the quality of the weapon. In the case of our Big Game Hunter, that number turned out to be 14. Here's how it breaks down: Firearms are based on your dexterity (4 for BGH). During character creation, he spends build points on three levels and buys a Talent, boosting his Firearms rating another 2. Additionally he buys a specialization in rifles, adding another point, bring him to a total of 10 dice. The .405 Winchester Rifle has a rating a 4L (the L stands for lethal damage). There it is 14 dice. When using his .455 Webley revolver with a 3L, his attack drops to 12 dice, because he can't count the rifle specialization. The defender rolls his defense rating. I don't have my books in front of me, but I think the defense rating is a combination of your Intelligence and Dexterity scores (plus any armor you might be wearing). Subtract the defense success from the attack successes to determine the damage you take. There are some rules for cover and special attacks, but those are the basics. It sounds a bit complicated, guess, but in practice it went pretty fast. People seemed to enjoy having the "active" defense, because I think everyone likes rolling dice. Their dice rolling prowess (aka LUCK) had something to do with how well they shrugged off a potential hit.

Hollow Earth Expedition
I've never played any other dice pool system, and I don't think any of my players have much, if any, experience with them either. The rules were light enough that everyone picked up on it pretty quickly. Since I was the only one who owns/read the book, we skipped over some of the fiddly options for combat (like the continuous initiative option and some more advanced combat actions).

Having a more limited/generalized skill set, than say, BRP or Call of Cthulhu, allowed the players to be a bit more free-form/creative with their actions, and the skills and skill specializations made sense to everyone. I think the players were pretty innovative in combining their player smarts and character skills.  The Style points were also popular. As I said in the previous post, the players did a pretty good job getting into character and seemed legitimately excited to gain a Style Point. I need to refresh myself on the rules and suggestions for distributing the points throughout the game. I'm not sure if they were going out too easily or I was being stingy, but it felt right for a first try at the system.

I found it a bit funny that my players were kind of in Call of Cthulhu mode, rather than high adventure mode, but that might have been related to their selection of characters.

"Hey Guys! We're going on a big adventure, filled with all kinds of crazy traps and dinosaurs and evil Nazis!!"
"I wanna be a snooty college professor!"
"I call the Field Biologist!!!"

My one concern, so far, with HEX is handling future adventures. Part of the fun of the game was the players not knowing what was going to happen. I pretty much told them that we'd be playing a pulp adventure game. I made some references to some books and movies for framework, and they new the game was Called Hollow Earth Expedition, but they didn't know much else about the setting. How do you keep the concept of a foreign world interesting to the players if they've delved into the world in the past. You loose the freak-out my players experience when their characters watches and compasses malfunctioned and the sun never set. You can roleplay that feeling for a new set of characters, but not for the players behind those characters.

I think the Ubiquity system could easily be used for other gaming styles, but there doesn't seem to be much else out there right now. There's no reason that I noticed that you couldn't reskin the skills, talents, and flaws, for fantasy, sci-fi, horror, etc. I see that an upcoming supplement for the game is called Revelations of Mars, which I have to assume will allow for some Sci-Fi gaming. There is also a fairly active section of the Exile Games Forum, where folks discuss alternate uses for the Ubiquity system. I could see this eventually competing alongside Savage Worlds as a nice, compact, generic system for running a variety of games. The folks at Exile would probably need to do some significant work to strip off the pulp adventure layer, though.

The world is big enough, and with the two supplementary products currently in print (Secrets of the Surface World and Mysteries of Hollow Earth) there is more than enough for players to do and see. I'm curious to see how this demo game develops and if my players request a longer campaign in the future. After finally getting to play a game, I do plan on grabbing those books, plus the GM screen at some point. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like any of my FLGS currently carry this game. I'm going to talk to Jeff down at Phantom of the Attic to see if they can get it from their distributors, though, as I'd rather pass the cash through them than Amazon or something.

Entering the Hollow Earth

My regular Tuesday night group had their first adventure in the Hollow Earth last night. I made some slight modifications to the adventure featured in the back of the Hollow Earth Expedition core rule book...

The Cast of Characters -
Allen - Dr. Whipple Van Phillips - Snooty Professor
Brad - Crosby ?? - Big Game Hunter
Dave - Dr. Daniel ?? - Field Biologist
Hickey - Dr. Albert Franklin - Mad Scientist

I laid out a few sample pre-generated characters that were available on the Exile Games website (the same that are included in the book). The players veered towards the more scholarly types, with the lone exception of the rifle-toting Big Game Hunter. Other options were Fortune Hunter, Rugged Explorer, Occult Investigator, and Intrepid Reporter. 

I won't bore you with a full recap of the adventure, as it is mostly retelling of the sample adventure, with a few minor additions. Since two of the four players have a fair amount of experience playing Call of Cthulhu, they had a basic understanding of what it means to play and investigative game and jumped right in, looking for clues and leaving no stone unturned. The other two players caught on quickly. I feel like I gave up some information a bit too easily,  but they were really drilling me with questions and observations, so any game master is bound to slip up occasionally.

I will say that my players did come up with some fairly interesting methods for resolving the problems and did a great job playing in character. I wasn't sure how many Style Points I should have distributed throughout the evening, but Allen, particularly, was cracking me up with his snooty behavior. He insulted everyone at the table at least twice, prodded a velociraptor with his umbrella, and scooted up a tree at the first sign of trouble (including making sure to climb just a bit higher than his compatriot in the same tree, assuming the raptor might be full after the meal of Field Biologist). Everyone had their moments to shine, though. Dave befriending a triceratops and arguing the scientific method, Hickey blowing up a dino with a makeshift bomb and attempting to sell mining equipment to Norwegians. Brad regularly threatening folks with his boom stick and putting his neck on the line to protect the others.

Overall impressions? First, all the players seemed to be enjoying the session. They were coming up with creative solutions to the problems. The one bit of combat went pretty quickly (though I missed an opportunity to introduce some NPCs in the manner I planned, because I was so wrapped up in all of it.) It was fast and fun, but I think I'm going to need some work. I might have another player joining, and where I left it, it might be a challenge to introduce him. Additionally, the story as written in the book is about to wrap. I have some ideas on where to go next, but it's going to depend on the direction the players take it. I've dropped plenty of hooks for future adventures, but I have no inkling which direction they'll go with it, which is good. I need more practice at not "over-planning" and railroading, for sure. I'd like to run at least two or three more sessions of the game, to get a  good feel for it before moving on to something else.

Up next? Returning to re-read some of the fluff sections of the HEX book and see where we might take this. I'm going to need to so some sort of planning to at least have a basic story arc to work from. I think the game can be used for sandbox storytelling, but the way I've started the adventure, it's looking like it would be best to have some sort of resolution at the end. Since this is a distinct short adventure, I really feel the need to have a beginning, middle and end to a story-line, even if it gets pretty free-fore there in the middle. I'll also need to review some of the mechanics. I'm thinking that some of the parts I'm confused about may make a bit more sense, now that we've successfully completed a game session.

If we end up playing again in the future (and I hope we do), I'd certainly like to allow the players to create their own characters. I skipped it this time, because we're all still learning the rules and I didn't want to blow the whole first session on character development. It was nice, because the sample characters came complete with notes regarding

Monday, January 17, 2011

Still "In Battle". Still "No Law".

I assembled 5 more Space Marines this afternoon while watching the playoff games.

I now have two tactical units of 10 marines. I still need to hit the bits box at Phantom to see if I can find a chainsword or powerfist or something for my Sergeant. I should probably try to find another flamer and/or rocket launcher, too.

Up next is a ton of painting. I have a all but 5 of my minis based and primed, and got a base-coat on probably 10 or so. Lots of work there, but since I'm going with a single color scheme, it seems like it goes a bit faster than I'm used to. All of my other painting experience has been for individual minis for D&D games. After that, is assembling and painting the devastator squad. Fortunately, I have no immediate plans for public play, so I can get away with partial paint jobs amongst friends.

I have make some decisions on which direction to go with the army after that. I need some sort of dedicated transport to help get the marines around the battle field a bit more quickly, and some sort of fast attack option. Finally, I really want to buy this, because it looks so damn cool:
A Techmarine and his Thunderfire Cannon 

I've got a bit of a crush on Tech Priests after playing one in my first Dark Heresy campaign, so I want some in my army. This looks like a pretty badass choice. The model is awfully expensive, but it looks wicked, so I may make the investment.

More RPG stuff soon, I promise. I'm playing in the 3.5 D&D Forgotten Realms campaign tomorrow evening and I'll be running my first session of Hollow Earth Expedition the following day. I'll definitely have a report for the HEX game sometime later this week, at the very least.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In Battle There is No Law

I am not doing that great of a job keeping my post count up this month. That trip to San Diego really got me out of sync and I finally feel like everything is getting back into place. I probably could  have done some posting while I was out there, but it was a bit of a hassle. My hotel did not feature free wi-fi, which kind of surprised me. It seems like most places I stay these days have it. They still had the goofy little router box on the desk and wanted something like $10 a day. thanks. 

Anyway, to get to something game related, I finally played Warhammer 40,000 yesterday. I tag-teamed with my buddy Dave against Rob, who writes The Little Wars Blog. It was all space marines on the table and we were playing a game where we were trying to capture specific points on the table. Each side put out about 1500 points. The game ended in a draw, but only by about an inch. Had one of our units not had to move into base to base contact after an assault phase, we would have won.

This game was a long time coming, I suppose. Growing up in Butler, I don't remember having a FLGS. We either bought our gaming supplies at Walden Books at the Clearview Mall or from the comic book shop downtown. I can't remember what the comic shop even had, but I'm pretty sure they had some gaming stuff. I don't remember seeing any GW stuff, there, but who knows at this point. By the time 1990 or 1991 rolled around, we were somewhat familiar with the game because of Bolt Thrower's classic 2nd album, Realm of Chaos. One of my friends picked up the cassette, which features Warhammer 40,000 artwork throughout.

Once I moved to Pittsburgh in 1993, I somewhat regularly visited two gaming stores that were in Oakland at the time, Phantom of the Attic (still my go-to FLGS) and another that was down on Atwood Street. I think both stores had GW stuff, but the price, combined with not actually knowing anyone who played, kept me out of the market. I was also a bit intimidated, because I had never done any painting or anything. For years I'd consider picking up one of those starter sets and figuring it all out, but it never happened.

Fast-forward to 2008. I had both feet back into the RPG Hobby. I had a 40% off coupon for Borders and was browsing the Sci-fi/Fantasy shelves for something blow some cash on when I noticed the Dark Heresy RPG. This I could figure out (and maybe convince some friends to play). I grabbed it and was almost immediately hooked by the fluff (and a lot of the crunch) of the system. I ended up playing a short campaign then later running another. I'd like to play more in the future (and actually play Rogue Trader and Death Watch, since I've been buying all the product). I read the Eisenhorn novel and I'm currently reading through Ravenor. I figured that it was finally time for me to step up and buy some minis. Dave, who plays in just about all the games I play, had been egging me on for a couple years at this point. Ben and Eric from Brass Chariot play, too, and were trying to get me into it.

On Free RPG Day, back in June, I was looking around in Phantom of the Attic for something to buy. I really feel the need to make a big purchase on promo days like that. A lot of people don't realize it, but your local store has to pay to participate in that that program. They have to buy that "free" product. I had my eye on a couple board games, but in the end, I picked up a copy of Assault on Black reach. Neither Orks nor Space Marines would be at the top of my pile for armies, but I couldn't really resist that box. Lots of minis. Not a lot of dollars. Simple assembly while I'm getting used to modeling. Good combination. I figured, if I liked it, I'd have the base minis for two armies, allowing me different playing styles at some point.

I'm really in love with the lore of the Inquisition, but the armies related to it aren't really being heavily supported right now. I've talked to some folks at Phantom and there are rumors brewing of a complete reboot, possibly combing the Witch Hunters, Sisters of Battle and some sort of Space Marine chapter. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for that, because it's right up my alley. In the mean time, I'm going to try to get my Space Marine army up to around 1500-2000 points, so I can participate in a variety of games. If the bug is still biting, I'll probably try to boost the Orks up to at least 1000 points.

Not sure what the point of all this is, but it was good to finally play something you've been thinking about, even just occasionally for almost 20 years. Now that I've been at the table, I think the rules will start to make a lot more sense.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Airport + Free Wifi = Post

I'm officially on my way to San Diego for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. It's my first time flying in over a year, but everything is about the same around here. Well, except for that backscatter scanner thing. It's a bit insidious. They don't tell you what it does. They don't offer you a pat-down. They just tell you to stand between these walls, then they blast you with radiation, and voila. Someone in some unseen room sees your junk and you're free to fly the "friendly" skies. Do I feel any "safer"? Not really. Do I think my rights have been violated? Maybe a little. If I knew this was the only way to stop attacks on commercial flights, I wouldn't mind a bit, but I know that this procedure is likely only in place due to some savvy lobbying by the company that builds those scanners. There are certainly some less intrusive measures that would work just as well. Anyway, enough with that noise...on to gaming thoughts of the day.

Today, I'm just going to post about some projects I've seen around the web. I'm guessing most of my readers have seen these, because they are from some of the bigger blogs, but just in case, here you go.

Up first is the announcement about the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG by Goodman Games. You can read more about it here, here, and here. It looks like the pre-order for the print edition is now available. The question is, do I really need this? The game is designed to run old school style D&D, using the OGL content and D20 rules. Sounds like a great meeting point for the Pathfinder/3.5 folks and the Old School folks. Then again, I'm already playing Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry to get my Old School fix. All that said, the game rules use all the crazy Lou Zocchi dice, which is pretty neat (since I already own a set -- still need a d7, though, I guess.) Over all, it looks like a pretty cool game, and the playtest report from the Mule Abides (linked above) sounds promising.

The second thing I wanted to mention was the Gygaxian Democracy Series Zak has been releasing on Playing D&D with Porn Stars. Any regular readers of this blog know that I'm absolutely in love with Zak's creativity and these posts don't disappoint. Essentially, he posits a situation in a game and gives some possible scenarios for what might happen, then he opens it up to the greater community. He has a great group posting on there, so there are some really creative ideas. Check it out and join in the fun.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Recording, travel, and the Hollow Earth

It's really too late for me to be writing this post. I should be sleeping by since, since I'm due into the office in about 8 hours. My reason for being awake at 1:00 AM on a "school night"? My band, Abysme, was in the studio for our third day of tracking for our debut LP, Strange Rites. My bass parts were all done, but I wanted to be there with the guitarist while he did his overdubs, so I could verify all my parts were okay. We still need to do the vocals and mixing. No set day for release yet, either, but it is getting closer, hopefully by the Summer of 2011? Hopefully...

Thursday, I'll be heading to San Diego for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. If any of my readers know of any awesome gaming stores or used book stores in the downtown area, please let me know. I'll be there until Tuesday and I'll have some down time. Right now, I'm mostly in the market for old stuff, but if I found a store with a good selection of Savage Worlds or Hollow Earth Expedition books, I'd likely pick up a few things. If the store is only likely to carry newer stuff (d20, Pathfinder, 4e), I'm probably not that interested, right now.

To make sure there is at least something gaming related on here, I've been studying the rules section of the Hollow Earth Expedition rule book for an adventure that will start on January 18th, hopefully. Everything "makes sense", but I'm a little nervous, as I haven't actually played the game, outside of a 10 minute demo at Origins this past Summer. I usually like to get some time as a player before I sit down and try to run something, but I don't know anyone who runs HEX. We'll see how it goes. The players are all friends, and are all pretty forgiving of foibles, so it should be fine. It will be a new experience for a few of them, though, because they are more familiar with more "tactics-heavy" rules, like D&D 3 & 4. I'm hoping they can all get into the "mind" of the pre-generated characters I'm providing, because if they spend too much time worrying about what's on the character sheet, this might be a flop. The group isn't that heavily geared towards the actual role-playing aspects of the games we play, it seems. They do great with the exploration, puzzle solving, and combat, though. Role playing is definitely one of my limitations as a Game Master, too. I really need to get more practice at portraying the NPCs in a realistic manner. They aren't (all) just cannon fodder or hint/rumor delivery units. I'm hoping this game experience will bring all of us out of their shells, at least a little bit.

I'm going to use a published adventure for the seed. Since the game is so different from what I'm used to running, I'm having a hard time gauging how long it will take the players to complete the adventure. One thing that is great about the adventure is that it leaves a lot of threads open. When the players complete the primary task, there are still plenty of options. I'm trying not to over-plan, so I don't end up railroading them. I think the system is light enough that I can come up with something on the fly, if we need more content. I hope to keep it running for at least three or four sessions, assuming everyone is having fun and I can come up with enough threads to keep them busy.

Finally, I'm working on scheduling the next session for the Swords & Wizardry White Box game. All seven players seem pretty excited about it, so hopefully we'll be able to continue the game for a while. One nice thing about dealing with that many folks: if someone misses a session or drops out of the game, we still have more than enough people at the table to play. Dealing with that many personalities (and schedules) can be a real challenge, but I think it will work out in the end.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Projections and Reflections

Seems like the blog-0-sphere is rife with posts giving the "2010 in Review" and "What's on the Plate for 2011" type posts. I figure it's as good a time as any for reflection and prediction. The slate is clean, in a sense. I was hoping to get a few more posts made before the end of 2010, but averaging over a post a week isn't so bad, all in all. I got a little distracted by the holidays, shopping, a new Wii and episodes of Angel on Netflix. Granted the blog was buried from March until October. If it weren't for successfully completing the Daily Blog Challenge in November, I wouldn't be anywhere near that number.

I started this blog about a year ago...I made few posts and it stalled. I recognized the problem almost immediately. There was no direction. I wanted to leave it as open as possible, allowing me to write about all sorts of topics of interest. The problem? It didn't really keep my interest. You see, I don't think of myself as a natural writer or anything. I don't dislike the writing process, but the words don't just "flow" for me, either. Combine that with a long standing desire to procrastinate and0 any lack of focus is probably a bad thing. If you go back to those earliest posts you'll see a bunch of brief movie reviews, some commentary on Food Network programming, a couple posts on RPGs.

Back in October, I decided to resurrect the blog and give it a bit of focus. Gaming, and RPGs specifically have been taking up a lot of my free time these days (although I still do watch a fair amount of trashy movies, listen to heavy metal records, and watch Food Network programming -- though I do wish we had access to their newish Cooking Channel with our current cable service. The programming over there appears to me much more my "style"...I can't believe I just admitted to that...anyway)...

So what is in store for 2011? More gaming, for sure, and hopefully more posting. Right now, I'm considering setting a schedule for myself. I'd love to average 12-16 posts a month, which is quite a high number, considering my posting history. For that to happen, I'm going to need some inspiration, so in the coming days, expect to see some posts that are more brainstorming than content or review. We'll see what happens. I'm going to apply for the Role Playing Game Bloggers Network at the end of January, because I'm hoping that having potentially more readers will be an enticement to post more content.

Well, what about 2010? It was a big gaming year for me, for sure. I've met a bunch of cool new people, I went to a couple gaming cons, I've found some great blogs, I've bought some box sets, and I've played a bunch of games.

October was my first visit to GASP Games day, and honestly, I'm kicking myself for not checking out this group sooner. Great people. Great games. I highly recommend it to anyone in the Pittsburgh area interested in trying out new games. At that first event, I didn't know anyone there. I started making some contacts on the forum, but just showed up ready to play. I got to check out a bunch of board games and I was finally able to check out Labyrinth Lord. I also went to my first "big" gaming convention, Origins, where I got to play Aces & Eights and Hackmaster Basic, sat through some RPG demos, checked out a bunch of board and card games. 2010 was my inaugural attendance at GASPCon, too. Again, I wish I had checked the event earlier. I met even more rad people and played way too many hours of RPGs. Right now, I'm planning on signing up to GM at least on session at the next con.

That Labyrinth Lord game at GASP Games day really set me off on a huge OSR / OD&D / retro-clone kick. I had been following some of the games for a few months, but hadn't played that style of D&D since the late 80s. Since then, I've played 4 additional sessions of LL, a session of Spellcraft & Swordplay, a session of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and a session of Hackmaster Basic. I refereed a session of Swords & Wizardry which appears to have the potential to turn into a campaign. In addition to all that, my "every other Tuesday" group is still going strong. We started out as a 4e group, but due to a little 4e burnout on my part we've been exploring other games. We just wrapped a 3 session Gamma World (new edition) adventure. In a couple weeks, I'll be running a Hollow Earth Expedition adventure. We're not sure where were going after that; maybe back to the 4e campaign for a while, maybe some Savage Worlds, maybe something else. More details as they become available. The 3.5 Ravenloft Campaign I play in sputtered for a while, but seems to be back in the swing. The same could be said for the 3.5 Forgotten Realms campaign. The Call of Cthulhu game is still going strong, although I believe we're approaching the end of the story arc.

Since deciding to focus this blog on gaming, I haven't posted much on other topics. I quit my regular DJing gig down at the Smiling Moose. We were doing a weekly "Metal Night". All vinyl. Old school. Anyway, the crowds morphed into packs, and the packs morphed into stragglers. I was burned out of playing records for the same 15 dudes every week, so we called it off. No regrets, but my heart really wasn't in it any more. My heavy metal record collecting has definitely slowed this year, too. I already own more records than I know what to do with, but the lure of vinyl is strong. I have all the old records I want that are easy to find. I got lucky and started collecting Heavy Metal records before the collector mentality took over the scene, so I was able to grab a lot of the cool 80s stuff before it got out of hand expensive. There are still some gaps I'd love to fill in, but I have no love for eBay (or paying $50 for 30 year old record). Because of eBay, and n00bs willing to drop that kind of cash, I'm kind of out of luck. The cool records just aren't showing up in the shops like they used to...they're all in collectors hands or sitting on eBay at ridiculous prices. Oh well, like I said, I already have more than I know what to do with.

My band, Abysme, is set to begin recording our debut LP, Strange Rites, tomorrow. It's death metal, taking influences from Entombed, Nihilist, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Repulsion. If that sounds like it's up your alley, check us out. We'll be playing the Smiling Moose on January 15 with Nunslaughter and Derketa.

Well, that's enough for now.