Monday, October 24, 2011

Audio Book Review: The Elfish Gene

As I have little time to actually sit and read books anymore, I am "forced" into the world of audio books.

I say forced because I lack the time it takes to just sit and enjoy reading, but I really do enjoy audio books. I do a lot of driving and therefore have a lot of time to sit and listen to things, so why not a good book?

I recently found a book called The Elfish Gene by Mark Barrowcliff (an outstanding D&D surname btw). It's a recollection of the authors youth spent playing Dungeons & Dragons, from his discovery of the game through his teenage years and his eventual turning away from the game.

First, let me start by saying Mr. Barrowcliff is English and grew up in England so he uses local slang as you might guess, but for some inexplicable reason they got an American to read his book for the recording. This was a little unusual hearing him explain "football" to Americans spoken by an American. Also, the person reading kept mispronouncing words. He kept pronouncing breeches like "breeks". 

Anyways, small annoyances. 

The book overall was very interesting to a point. It was a very detailed recollection of his life growing up with little direction and the social awkwardness that being a young boy brings. He talks about his growing D&D obsession as if it was his best friend and it slowly begins to consume his entire life. I could relate to a lot of what he was saying as I can remember when I was 9 and first discovered the game that would be a major part of my life to this day.

Of course, he took it to further extremes than I ever did (LARPing and dabbling in the occult), but I could still relate to how he felt and thought about the game and how it can infiltrate your mind and you can spend hours every day thinking about it and reading about it and playing it. It almost scared me at points making me wonder if I was TOO obsessed, and maybe back then I was, but I always refer back to the old adage "everything in moderation". So long as you don't take any one thing to extremes, you should be ok. I don't think he ever realized that and sank deeper and deeper into the game. 

I really enjoyed listening to the book. It brought back a lot of nostalgia and some good feelings about gaming that I long forgotten, but then he draws near the end and his attitude about gaming in general turns. He begins turning on games as a whole as if they were the cause of his problem. It almost started to sound like the old D&D protesters back in the 80's, implying that it is the cause of his obsession and lead him into other things like drugs and the occult. In fact, late in the book he even says "If you're older than 20 and still playing, you're an addict"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Three Hour...Life Span?

I don't often play single player video games, I enjoy the group atmosphere a lot more, but I just had to get Dead Island. Since the dead are stubbornly refusing to rise and consume the world I have to content myself with pretty pictures on a tv screen.

Anyways, I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying this game. If you like zombies and the apocalypse as much as I do (and honestly, who doesn't enjoy a good, wholesome apocalypse now and then?), then I think you'll definitely like this game. It has just the right amount of atmosphere and foreboding to scare the hell out of you if you're playing alone in a quiet room and it has enough zombie head smashing to entertain the action junkie in all of us. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Classic Dungeon Trivia 10: The Return

I'm back and so are the obscure D&D module references. You know the rules, first one to guess which module I pulled the following excerpt from gets...well, nothing really...except for the honor of telling their family and friends that they knew an obscure D&D fact faster than anyone else!

Good luck...yer gonna need it

12c. Human Female (11th level thief: HP61; Strength 15; Intelligence 15; Wisdom 8; Dexterity 18; Constitution 16; Charisma 17) chained to the wall. She will gladly admit to being a thief caught trying to find the King's treasure room, and volunteer to aid the party faithfully for a chance to escape. If opportunity presents itself, she will heist as much in gems and magic as she can and then slip away, but until then she will actually help the party. Of course, during this time she will be casing each character to learn what he or she carries.

BTW, the winner of the last Classic Dungeon Trivia was Zandari in 8hrs 59 minutes

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halflings of Golarion

Does this guy look familiar to anyone else?

Products for a New Generation

Continuing on our Halloween inspired posts this month, there is a new product out by Hornady, an ammunition manufacturer: ZombieMax ammo!

Now I'm not an avid shooter, nor an active zombie hunter (although, I would like to try my hand at both someday) so I'm not sure what makes ZombieMax ammo more efficient at killing the living dead than other ammo, but I sure as hell want to find out!

Now if they'll just come out with a line of incendiary "cherry pie" ammo to really light up the night!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I said War, huh, good God ya'll

yeah, sorta like that...

Does it seem odd to anyone else to have someone standing off to the side during a battle and singing while everyone fights? Do they orcs and trolls just stare at the completely bizarre hummie ritual of strumming a lute while there's killing to be done?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Artwork Appreciation

One of my favorite pieces of work...
Who's side is that dwarf on? He looks like he's being shielded by the dragon and is wearing armor just like the dragon's scales, but it seems like he should be an adventurer helping to defeat the beast.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Zombie Preparedness

If you've read World War Z, you know about the Lobo. 

If you haven't, why are you here? Go read the book and then come back!

ok, now that we're all on the same page, the Lobo is a melee weapon developed by marines during the zombie wars out of old car parts. Its part shovel and part battle axe with a steel haft. Looks like someone might have been inspired by the concept. As soon as I order one, the apocalypse can begin.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So this seems interesting...

I've been an on-again, off-again comic book fan since I was a little kid. I've always been a fan of the team comic books because I could see lots of super heroes doing super-hero-y things all at once. So when I first heard they were thinking of doing an Avengers movie I figured "There's no way they can make that happen!" well it is and the first teaser looks pretty awesome.

Still not a fan of the new Captain America costume, but it is what it is...

Backstreet's Back...Alright!

Another long hiatus and this time a lot of life changing events to go with it.

So what's new? Well...

Back in March I lost my job after 12 years. A co-worker (someone I thought was a "friend") took a picture of me resting on my lunch hour and sent it directly to HR who promptly, and without inquiry, terminated me without asking questions which was perfectly alright because California is an "at will" state. Meaning they can fire you at anytime for any reason and get away with it. This forced my wife and I to have to move out of our home because the mortgage payment was way too high for one salary and unemployment (which I had to fight with HR and a judge to get because I was fired). 

However, we have definitely made the best of a very bad situation and are getting back on track again. We were able to cash out most of my 401k and put a substantial down payment down on another house that is 1000x better than the one we were in and it's in a fantastic neighborhood. This brought our mortgage payment down to a more than reasonable amount that allows us to survive on just one salary if need be. And now I have a new job that I am starting on Monday that has a lot of good potential for growth and advancement which I am VERY excited about. So now that that stress is behind us, I feel like I can get back to normal and do something fun other than search for jobs and worry about the bills. And here I am...

So lets get right to something interesting. Is Wizards of the Coast working on 5th Edition already?

I stumbled on an article that may imply that something "big" is going on over at WOTC and with such mixed reviews from 4th edition, could it be the latest iteration? Will they continue with the current rule set or go back to a more traditional RPG format? If they do go back to traditional style rules, would they feel it was an admission of a failed experiment or just an attempt to recapture the share of the marketplace they are losing to other companies such as Paizo?

I haven't look at any sales number so I don't know if you can call 4th Edition a success or not compared to earlier editions, all I can say is that personally I didn't care for what they did and I stopped purchasing their products. Now Paizo gets my money and I'm sure a large number of others as well. I can't tell if the 4th Edition detractors are the majority of gamers or just a vocal minority. I would hate to see any company change just to please a small, yet very vocal, group of people at the expense of a solid business plan but at the same time, I feel weird talking about being a "D&D" player when I don't like their current product. 

To me "D&D" has become synonymous with RPGing. Sorta like how cotton swabs are usually called Q-Tips because that's what most everyone is most familiar with and everyone knows what you're talking about when you tell them you have a Q-Tip stuck in your ear. It's generally easier and quicker to refer to yourself as a D&Der or D&D player than an RPGer. If you tell someone you play D&D they automatically know what you're talking about, just before they laugh at you and try to stick your head in a toilet. If you say you play RPGs, it takes a lot more explanation and eventually you just say something like "You know, D&D" to explain it. And then they laugh at you and try to stick your head in a toilet.

So while I would like to go back to Dungeons & Dragons as a product line because I miss what it used to be, I don't like what it turned in to with 4th Edition so I am torn on what I hope a possible 5th Edition might be.

Of course, I might actually play this version...

Any thoughts?