Saturday, September 11, 2021

Kickstarter Korner

I don't back too many projects on Kickstarter, but I thought that it may be time enough to express my experiences with those that I have supported over the years.

I've supported projects for both comics and RPG's, so I will also start this series on my comic blog; Zanziber's Point of View.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Project Multiverse RPG


I have been role playing for 36 years now, and I have played a wide variety of systems. From basic D&D to World of Darkness and so much in between. And I have enjoyed most of the systems I have had the pleasure of gaming with.

Around middle school, I started playing in the Palladium RPG system with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness. From there, we also played Heroes Unlimited, Beyond the Supernatural and Robotech. In 1990, Palladium released the game-changer; Rifts. This finally connected all the different game setting that Palladium had published and allowed the possibility of them to interact with one another. I loved this idea!

In D&D, yes there were other realms and planes of existence, but this seemed so much more. You could take your super-powered heroes into the Robotech universe to take on the likes of the Zentradi or Invid. Or how about taking your paranormal investigator and dropping them into the magic-meet-machine world of Rifts? The possibilities were endless, and my role playing group took liberty with those ideas. They were probably some of the most fun games I had played in my youth.

Bring the clock forward to modern time. When I tried to look for a new game to play, as I have been playing in the World of Darkness for over 20 years, I was having a difficult time recapturing that sense of fun with the Palladium system. It has not aged well over the past 3+ decades, and I could feel the flaws in the system that I had overlooked way back when. I couldn't find a single system that had the feel of what I was looking for, nor the multiple setting that I was craving.

In my dilemma, I created an opportunity. Since I couldn't find what I was looking for, why don't I try to design it? People seem to be doing it all over, and getting their dreams realized through things like Kickstarter.

I also know that I can't do this by myself, so I'm working to put together a team of fellow gamers so we can collectively pull together our experience to create a great new TT RPG system. Once the team has been established and we have forward progression, I hope to post monthly updates here.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Pet Peeves In Gaming Groups

Everyone has them and many people don't take the time to let their fellow players know about them and this inhibits your enjoyment of game. I thought I'd go over a few of mine. Please feel free to include yours in the comments below.

Players not paying attention during game-

In the past, I never had any issues getting players to maintain focus while gaming. Nowadays, there are so many things that draw players focus away from the game, and I've found too many players that actively do things on computers or other items that keep them focused on something other than the game at hand.

Case in point, in the gaming session I'm currently in (yes, I understand the irony) there are 4 players painting, one who is working on her computer, and earlier a player was playing on her Nintedo DS. None of them have been able to successfully multitask. In our combat, each one of them had to be diverted from their chosen task to be reminded of the current situation.

Don't get me wrong... I know that I have been distracted during game from time to time, but I try to make sure I pay attention as much as possible. And every gaming group will go off topic about various subjects. I often joke about talking about The Walking Dead at my weekly Pathfinder game because it's a common topic before we begin. It occasionally has the effect of bringing everyone back to focus on the game with a good laugh.

Players not prepared for game-

When you have a regularly scheduled game, you should know that you need to bring everything you need to it before you leave for the game. Also, I game with players that have been doing this for several years. You shouldn't have forgotten key materials like your dice or your character sheet. I can understand forgetting to bring your characters mini from time to time, and that's why I now always have mine in my backpack all the time.

You don't have to be a boy scout to be ready for game.

Food for players-

In many of the gaming groups I have been apart of, we have usually made plans ahead of time for meals or snacking during the game. Occasionally... when the location of the game happens to be at someones house... there has been the expectation of the host providing said food.

A past Pathfinder game I was part of had a tradition of doing a potluck every 2nd Sunday of the month. I really like this idea as it doesn't put a heavy weight load on anyone. It's worked very well. My issue is when offering food for the game... such as when it is held at your house/apartment... become an expectation from the visiting players.

It's one thing to offer a meal on occasion while game it at your place, but it's another when the players expect there to be food for their consumption when they visit. This has been a problem in the past when I have helped to host games at my home and this has been the downfall of a couple of gaming groups I have been in.

Kids at game-

I understand that some parents are not able to get childcare all the time, but there have been so many times where the game has been hampered by children who have been brought to game.

Your scheduled game time is not a time where you should bring your kids all the time. In many of the games I have participated in, the themes run from casually adult related (i.e. The occasional "foul" word) to downright R-rated (i.e. Foul language and dramatic scenes of violence and death).

While some parents don't care if their children are bombarded by such things, that isn't the full extent of my issue with kids at game. I started gaming at age 10, and was well versed in the 4-lettered words as well as graphic violence. My biggest issue is the fact that your scheduled gaming session is not daycare.

Children get bored and will accost either the parents or other adults in the gaming group to either get some kind of attention or try to find something to do that will occupy their attention for a while longer. This becomes a larger issue when the parents of these children do nothing to control them.

In addition to those parents that bring their children to game and leave them to their own devices without actually working to parent them because game time is their time, I'm upset at those parents who think that they can just sit their children in front of a TV (with either video games, movies or shows) and think that everything's going to be fine... especially with multiple children that may have attention disorders. Kids get bored of watching the same show, and multiple kids won't often agree with playing the same video game for an extended period or watching the same movie. This has been a contributing factor to the downfall of gaming groups that I have been a part of.


Life happens. We all know this. There are problems that you should concern yourself with, and there are those that you really shouldn't. Don't bring your dirty laundry to your game and realize the difference between a real problem and what is generally called a "First World Problem".

If you have real problems that others in your gaming group may be able to help you with, then sure, bring them up for discussion to help you better resolve whatever situation is going on in your life. traditionally, gaming groups are formed from people who are friends, and as a friend they should have a vested interest in helping you when they can. However, you shouldn't make the entire gaming session about resolving your issues. You're there to game and have some fun. A time to step away from the vicissitudes of the real world to partake in some fantasy time.

If you're overly concerned because another game you attend didn't go well for you (or your character), and you allow this to affect your mood that disrupts the current game session, don't bring it to your game session.

As my regular readers and friends know, I was a part of The Camarilla and Mind's Eye Society for many years. One of the reasons I'm no longer with the current organization is the fact that there was too much drama being brought to games as well as through the various out-of-game sources of communication. Because these groups were large organizations, there was a great deal of political drama in and out-of-game.

If you let what happens to you character in-game affect your mood out-of-game, you should really take a look at your priorities, IMHO.

I understand getting attached to your characters over time, but they are only characters on a piece of paper. They do not really bleed. They do not suffer from being unemployed for a long time. They live and die during your game sessions. It is said that there are 2 things you can never avoid: death and taxes. Most games don't deal with taxes but just about every game deals with death.

Getting "cock-blocked" by the DM/GM/ST you're trying to role play-

Part of an RPG is Role Playing. It's not all combat. There are things that players try to do in order to progress the background and storyline of their character. This seems to happen more often with ST's/DM's/GM's that are easily distracted by every other player and you're the single player that doesn't want to be rude and interrupt the others.

I come to game because I want to role play to get away from the vicissitudes of real life. I do this by interacting with other PC's and NPC's in the games environment. My character has a rich and developed background that I worked on before the game began. It was submitted for your review so you could come-up with ways to use it within your game. Why don't you allow me to complete certain tasks setup within my background when it doesn't interfere with the game?

Players using out-of-character information in game-

Sometimes a DM/GM/ST doesn't have the opportunity to take time out of game to convey information that only certain PC's should/would know. Because of this, that information is conveyed to the player during game in front of all the players.

Though this info was directed at a specific PC or group of PC's and not the entire group, some people treat this information as common information and act upon it. This makes having secrets in your characters background and keeping secrets from other PC's very difficult.

During my time in The Camarilla and Mind's Eye Society, this was a large issue the ST's faced because there was little they could do about the fact that they needed to provide information to a small group or individual when they are running a game for a very large group. Thankfully there were only a handful of people who would occasionally use this kind of information improperly.

What really bugged me about my time with The Camarilla and using out of game information in game was when it was utilized by storytellers at a higher level. For instance, there was a PC who had committed diablerie in our vampire game. No PC's were aware, but this detail needed to be on an official ST report to the regional storyteller. Shortly after this information was reported, a group of players (a couple assistant regional storytellers included) came to our game, found the "offending" PC and worked to deal with it in game without any provocation or way they could have known about the diablerie.

Before the inclusion of technology in games, we normally passed written notes for these types of secretive communique's. In the past, I have personally utilized instant messengers that they players have had access to. I know that many places you would normally play have some kind of WiFi access, I also know from personal experience that they are not always very reliable. This is why I would prefer to keep my tabetop games at someones house where the WiFi isn't being used by everyone outside of the game.

My thought is if this upsets you, perhaps you should take it as constructive criticism rather than an insult.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Over my years of roleplaying experience, I have heard of several times where a certain character, or characters, have reached a deity-like status, or simply Godhood. I've never actually run a game where this happened, or have I been a part of a game where this has happened... but the thought has recently drawn my interest as I read the comic book series, The Wicked + The Divine.

The premise of the series is that deities are created every 90 years, but the Gods of "The Pantheon" only live for 2 years.

My first thought was to run a campaign... probably in a fantasy setting like D&D or pathfinder... where the ultimate end goal for all characters was to achieve Godhood status. Then I thought that this wouldn't really work for characters playing a Cleric, Paladin or some otherwise religiously devout class or character type.

At the very next moment, I realized that what I would need to do in order to accomplish this is to chose 1 player of the group to advanced on this end goal. But if the entire party knew that a character was wantingly striving for Godhood, they might behave differently than if they were unaware. Some players may take offense to the idea and actively work against that achievement. Though the more experienced players that I have had the pleasure of gaming with over the years would not take out-of-character knowledge and use it in-character, there are some that are inclined to do so.

My first attempt at a solution to this problem would be to survey the group before the campaign begins. I am working to develop a set of questions to provide me with a better understanding of which players/characters would be more pliable towards the idea of reaching Godhood. Once I have a candidate in mind, I will try to work the idea into the game, subtly and directly with the specific character.

So here's the questions I have about what parameters I should use to set the Godhood goal at:
  • In a level-based system like D&D or Pathfinder, should I set a specific level where Godhood would be attained, or should there be another level of measure?
  • Instead of a predetermined level, should I use a found magic item to bestow the Godhood mantle to the character? In this option, there is also a chance of a different character receiving said item and using it for themselves.
  • If the other characters in the party catch wind of the Godhood goal, should I actively use the deities for the Cleric/Paladin/Etc to work against the goal? (I guess that would all depend on the specific deity in question, huh?)
Ultimately, Godhood would come around the time of the close of the game/campaign. This would be the ultimate MacGuffin, and I while I want to eventually use it, I want to be as careful as I can. I know that players get very attached to certain characters over time, and this will create a strong bond for the player to their character and give them tales to tell over the years. I want to be able to make sure that these tales they pass on to other players help to promote similar ideas and great campaigns for future players and DM/GM/ST's.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

New Project: Salem By Night

I've been roleplaying for over 30 years now, I've been a fan of White Wolf's World of Darkness settings since Vampire: The Masquerade came out, and off-and-on from 1996 - 2011 I was a member of The Camarilla / Minds Eye Society. I have been a DM, GM and ST for so many years, and many of my non-fantasy or sci-fi based stories have been developed using my home town of Salem, Oregon.

While I was in The Camarilla / Minds Eye Society, all our games were based in Salem since we were a LARP group. I word several ST hats during those years, and I look upon them rather fondly. That's why I want to do this project.

Salem By Night is going to be the title of my next netbook. Several years ago, before Onyx Path started publishing new material for Vampire: The Masquerade, I put together a netbook called The Guide to the Bloodlines. This was my first attempt at compiling the efforts of people online to make a single resource for the various bloodlines at the time. It was very rough, but when I originally posted it, people enjoyed it.

Salem By Night will not be just about the Vampire's of Salem and the surrounding area. It will also include information about Werewolves, Changelings, Mages and Wraiths (primarily) because those are the stories that I remember from my time as an ST. There are so many great elements that I feel would make for wonderful stories, and characters that would add a variety of experiences to any game.

I know that Salem, Oregon is not a metropolitan area like Portland, Seattle of Los Angeles, but there are stories to tell and I would to bring them to you. My hope is to also help inspire other fans of the World of Darkness to make similar netbooks about their local area so we can put together a more robust world to ST in that includes the less affluent areas that are typically used as background settings.

I already put the all-call out to my friends and fellow games in Oregon, and will try and keep you posted on the progress of this project. If you're a gamer from Oregon, I would invite you to add yourself to our group on Facebook: Oregon Roleplayers.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A funny thing happened to me on the way to breakfast...

As I was driving to breakfast this morning, I passed by a large empty lot where there once stood a mushroom factory in my youth. Then I thought to myself:

Self - "You know what would be cool there?"
Me - "What?"
Self - "A place where roleplayers could go to game."
Me - "YO!"
Self - "And not just tabletop. I'm thinking a place large enough to have its own LARP areas; indoor and outdoor."
Me - "Damn! That would be awesome!"

I remember when I was heavy into LARP that we always had a difficult time finding indoor facilities during the colder months. Right now I'm trying to figure out the best location to be able to run my Pathfinder game without having to beg one of the local shops for space that they would rather give to people who play Magic or Warhammer.

I've always had a dream of someday owning a RPG/comic shop that would have space enough for gamers of all types. Now I'm thinking of a space that would cater specifically to gamers who need a place they can go without the hassles of being pressured into buying things when they game, and comfortable enough to be able to relax when they do so.

I know this sounds like a huge pipe dream, and it may very well be. Let me address some concerns right off the bat: (From this point forward, I'm going to refer to this idea as the "facility".)
  • What I am proposing would, in no way, directly compete with any of the local stores because the focus wouldn't be on selling products.
  • As far as actual sales go, there would be food and beverages as well as incidentals items that gamers may need from time-to-time such as pens, paper, dice, other items to be determined.
  • There would be dedicated rooms for tabletop RPG's and areas designed primarily with LARPing in mind. Landscaping around the building would also be used as LARP environment.
  • There would be no direct involvement with hosting tournaments/events around games that are already locally supported by various stores. (i.e. no pre-release Magic: The Gathering stuff, no qualifying tournament stuff for any other CCG's.) If there is a need for space to host tournaments of this nature, it would be arranged with the facility and the supporting store.
  • There would be a membership fee of some kind to help differ the costs that will be associated with the facility. The actual cost and privileges of membership are yet to be determined.
My thought was to initially set this up as a crowd sourced project. While I am good at coming-up with ideas, implementation and design are qualities I lack. Here's what I'm thinking I would need help with to get this off the ground... if enough people think this would be a worthwhile project:
  • Project Designer - Someone who can see past the idea and help to figure-out what the path to success will take.
  • Facility Designer - Someone who has the ability to take the ideas and put them down in an illustrated format. Some CAD, some illustration based on CAD designs.
  • Crowd Sourcing Engineer - Someone who can help us get initial funding for the project.
  • Financial Adviser - The realist who has a firm grip on the concepts of money in, money out. Also someone who can assist the Crowd Sourcing Engineer find alternative methods of funding. (i.e. grants.)
I know there's probably more that needs to be considered, but that's where my idea begins to get blurry. I'd love to hear your ideas on this concept.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Expedition to Undermountain

Title: Expedition to Undermountain

ISBN: 9780789641575
Price: $34.95
Publisher/Year: Wizards of the Coast 2007
System: Dungeons & Dragons 3.5
Out-of-print: Yes
Available on DriveThruRPG: Yes

Overall rating (1-10): 7

The cover is the same material and finish as Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, but is a good deal more red than the greyish brown of that book. Still, the book feels like it's not going to be sliding around on the table when you use it, and that's really the important part.

The general format is unchanged, though there's one major difference in the table of contents. Instead of laying everything out twice, which there apparently wasn't room for, the single-encounter expansions are relegated to being referenced from the appropriate encounter entry. They do still manage to put each of them on its own page, though, and none of them starts the first of two pages on an odd page, which is still damn handy.

They haven't actually cut out any of the Forgotten Realms flavor text, except for the name of the city, Waterdeep. Waterdeep is referenced and described somewhat in a 1/3 page sidebar, but they excised pretty much every world-specific thing they can, presumably to get more people to buy it. Regardless, it's not as though Undermountain is exactly dripping with Forgotten Realms flavor in the first place. It's pretty much now the classic "There's an insane wizard, and he's got a gigantic dungeon under a huge mountain, let's go raid it!" adventure of D&D.

There's a quick, two page or so rundown of services available in the city, from who, though no major NPC write-ups are given, just names, and sometimes not even full names. Khelben Arunsun, for example, isn't mentioned at all, though Blackstaff Tower is, as THE place to go for effective, but extremely expensive arcane aid.

The opening premise of the adventure is pretty simple. One day during midday or so, gigantic screaming Halaster faces appear in the city, screaming in despair, along with visions of ruin and destruction and a distinct feeling that the shit is about to hit the fan. That night, a whole bunch of adventurers, of all levels, are hit with visions summoning them to Undermountain to fix something that's gone very, VERY wrong.

Chapter one opens with some important advice and tips for the DM, including a third of a page or so on creating the illusion of more detail than you have, something that more DMs could stand to read, and how to railroad PCs temporarily until you flesh out certain areas, which ideally shouldn't be done at all. Also given page time is random encounters, which Undermountain doesn't exactly use extensively anymore, but ARE present, because it makes sense. Undermountain has always been largely random, and while this one's less so than the rest, if you remove the randomness entirely, it's really not Undermountain anymore.

A couple pages are devoted to factions in Undermountain and Skullport, though there aren't many, and they're mostly in Skullport. There's nothing really remarkable, here, and for those familiar with Undermountain, it'll all be pretty old news.

The overall map of Undermountain makes it look less impressive than it is. It almost resembles a map for a Metroid area, though there are fewer vertical areas than there really should be, and no major slopes.

If there's one major complaint I have about this book, it's that the maps, being confined to the 8.5x11 splat size, cannot possibly do justice to the size of Undermountain. The first level map was, in the original box set, a full poster, eight times the size of the one we get here, and it shows. The map is very twisty, very turny, and it is, as far as I can tell, totally intact, including the homage to adventure module B1, In Search of the Unknown. Yes, faithful readers, the entire first level of the keep, in most of its screwed up geometric glory, is present on the first real dungeon level of Undermountain. To check for yourself, you can open the module itself, and go to page 19 of Expedition to Undermountain, look halfway up the right side of the page, and look for the cross-shaped room and the < corridor right below it.

Even the Lost Levels from the Undermountain II box set are reproduced here, including the Wyllowwood, in all its underground forest with fake sky glory.

Honestly, the maps are so absurdly small in places that WotC should consider selling D&D branded magnifying glasses to go with this thing, or at least giving a disc of printable large scale maps.

The random encounters section is actually depressingly small, leaving it to the DM to add more variety if he wants it, though I approve of random wandering Crawling Claw Swarms. Splinterwaifs are pretty pathetic, honestly, but if the DM overuses their "special" hook, the game's going to get "special" real quick.

Unfortunately, the adventure conclusion is a whole lot of a letdown. I'm not going to spoil it, but it's definitely not really a conclusion in any sense except that it marks the end of the module.

The "new" mechanics section is really, REALLY short, as almost everything used in the mod is prefab. There's a new legacy item valid only for dwarves, and for dwarven wizards, it's absolutely amazing. Too bad the Least Legacy is absurdly difficult for a PC to complete. Two Augment Crystals (from MIC) are included, but they're not new. For some ungodly reason, they saw fit to grant an eighth of a page or so to a named greatsword that has nothing unusual about it other than having a name related to its function, another entry for an alternate-form headband of intellect +2, and a new variety of potions that aren't liquid, use Craft Wondrous Item, and are limited to a really tiny spell list, most of which sucks. On the up side, apparently WotC has determined that the Brew Potion feat is worth less than 5000 GP, since there's an item that grants a better form of it for 5 grand. Not only do you get brew potion, if you already have it, you can brew in half the time, you can convert scrolls directly to potions for the upgrade cost, and you can buy a half-cost potion of cure light wounds once per day from it, for no XP cost. Sounds good to me, potions are terrible.

Five spells are detailed in the back, only two of which are new, and have been a LONG time in coming. Specifically, Halaster's Scrying Cage and Halaster's Teleport Cage are both printed, on page 219. For a not so very expensive cost, you too can teleport-proof AND scry-proof your entire stronghold. This is something villains have needed for a long time, so you can expect these spells to show up in the hands of a conscientious DM near you.

New monsters, there are only two. The second is a Myconid, which nobody actually likes. The other, though, is a swarm of Eyeball Beholderkin, which are just the cutest li'l abberations ever. The thought of hundreds of the cute little buggers working in perfect hive-mind concert makes me giddy like a schoolgirl. It's pretty obvious why these things are rated at CR 4. They can easily slaughter a party of level 1 or 2 characters, but as soon as you're level 5, you're practically immune to everything but their crappy damage, and one good ireball really ruins their day.