Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Been a long time and decided to update...


its been some 3 months since I last posted. Things with my family have somewhat stabilized since then, so no need to go into that particular area. However, in the last few months, I have restarted my project to create and publish my own role-playing game. It was shelved earlier due to time constraints from my family moving back to Atlanta earlier last year. I simply didn't have the time to be over at my parents place, helping them during the week, and working all weekend to pay my bills. Thankfully, after they moved back, I was able to spend time getting my head clear. Of course, it helped that I spent 4 days at DragonCon playing D&D 3.5: Living Blackmoor.

Yes, gentle readers, I am a self-avowed gamer nerd. I started playing RPGs in 1982 when I recieved The D&D Basic Set (red box, w/B2: Keep on the Borderlands) and its been a love affair ever since. I have never regretted my hobby, eventhough I had to put up with haranguing from my parents for years. They simply could not understand that it was the way I unwound at the end of the day.

As the years have progressed, I've noticed that my tastes in gaming have changed, sometimes immensely. This probably has to do with my love of military history and the fact that Im anal retentive about certain things. My friends cannot take me to certain movies because I will pick them apart. This was especially so when we went to see The Lord of the Rings, a novel that I so dearly love. I was more than a little disheartened at the changes that Peter Jackson made to the story. Some of them were so egregious that I simply refuse to watch those scenes. The same holds true with movies like Boorman's horrid Excalibur.

I've definitely become more finicky as the years have progressed in terms of gaming. I've come to basically despise the Romantic versions of most Fantasy RPGs, as I like to call them. They have much in common with Mallory's Le Morte D'Arthur or the Romantic (vs. historical) version of The Song of Roland, two particularly egregious retellings of classic stories. It usually comes down to everyone and their brother wielding two swords at once, wearing plate or plate-ove- mail armour and lugging around buggling coin purses full of nothing but gold. The economics in most of these games is basic to say the least and not even remotely realistic. The way combat is resolved and damage is tallied is so out there its not funny.

My particular beef with most of these RPGs is well known to my circle of friends and acquaintances. The Godfather of Roleplaying, E. Gary Gygax (co-creator of the phenomenon that is Dungeons & Dragons) once remarked, after a particular rant of mine on historically accurate medieval economics, that he would rather have his character be able to swim in piles of gold as opposed to being a starving mercenary somewhere having to shave a silver coin to eat his next meal. I chuckled (he really is a neat guy, btw, and very nice) and replied it would be more fun to be the starving merc shaving that silver coin.

Another item that has bugged me for a long time is the way in which damage is calculated in most games. I readily admit that I totally suck at physics and need to be shown actual figures that state exactly what kind of trauma would result from being hit with a sword. However, the fact that you can roll the best possible 'to hit' and still barely damage your target (let alone kill them outright) just doesn't cut for me anymore. I've come to dislike the whole Level/Hit Points system (mostly from playing MMORPGs like EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, World of Warcraft, City of Heroes/Villains and Star Wars Galaxies). Its been doubly reinforced that I don't like it from having arguments with the jackass developers, and attendant lemming-like forumites, of what was Middle-Earth Online (now being called Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar). Radical expansion of health and levels is just way too simplistic and way too unrealistic for me. I still play D&D, and will so until I finally shuffle off the mortal coil, but its not the kind of thing I would use in my own game.

Then, of course, there is what I like to call the Drizzt Do'Urden Factor. Every game out there now has people wielding two weapons at once in the midst of a battle. Never mind the fact that this particular style of fighting was developed for street combat in the Italian city-state of Florence during the Rennaisance. Never mind the fact that doing this in the midst of a battle where your opponent has a reach weapon (like, I dunno a SPEAR!) and a large shield, while arrows are flying all around, would result in your becoming a pincushion. You wanna wield two weapons at once, ok, they have to be light (like a cudgel and longknife) and you better hope to Hell you achieve surprise. In short, only thugs would use this kind of tactic, and only then likely in a confined/restricted environment.

This all brings me around to my own gaming design. I've done this once before when I submitted a 30-page treatment to Palladium Books, Inc. for a Robotech RPG supplement. In retrospect, eventhough it was rejected outright, Maryann Siembieda (who wrote my rejection letter IIRC) gave me some good advice: Improve your writing. Whats funnier is that Maryann remembered my treatment when she asked a group of us at DragonCon in '01 if we'd tried to submit and what our treatment was called.

I decided, about 1 year ago, to finally get off my ass and start writing my own RPG. I decided that I wasn't going to go with your typical Fantasy RPG. I also decided that I was going to at least strive to put some realism in the game. That lead me to decide upon what I've heard called (usually in reference to Professor JRR Tolkien's Middle-Earth works) mytho-historical settings. That, according to Tolkien would be something like what he wrote in one of his letters:

'Middle-earth is our world. I have (of course) placed the action in a purely imaginary (though not wholly impossible) period of antiquity.'
Of course, I'm not going to be writing about Middle-Earth in my RPG (except to give credit where credit is due in certain instances), but I am very aware of the fact that most Fantasy RPGs are wholly impossible. There is also the fact that the Good Professor was the candle that lit the way for me to pick my RPG's subject: the post-Roman (or maybe Late Roman) Migration Period (aka The Dark Ages). The last two weeks have seen me spend close to $150 dollars just on source material books such as In Search of the Dark Ages, Osprey's Publishing's Rome at War AD 293-696 and Byzantium at War AD 600-1453, Holy Blood/Holy Grail (great for conspiracy stuff concerning the Roman church) and Tacitus: Annals of Imperial Rome among others. These join my other books I have had for a while such as The Time-Life Enchanted World Series (a very handy and useful set of references for mythical magic and such).

I'm trying hard to be as true to history as possible, though I readily admit to mixing things up purposefully when it suits my design. I've tried to avoid out and out anachronisms such as Chivalry or (God forbid) plate armour. I intend on having references throughout the book denoting something that is historical and where I've changed it. I kinda put the myth I wanted into a blender and hit 'Puree' and poured it over the historical background. I'm embellishing what I want, and then baking.

Once I'm done writing, then the real bad stuff starts. I have already inquired about the cost of artwork and decided, before even eliciting, that it would have to be all black & white on parchment-like paper (such as Troll Lord Games, Inc. did with their wonderful Castles & Crusades RPG and Zeitgeist Games, Inc. did with The Blackmoor MMRPG). Then there is actually publishing, which I've decided to go with Print-on-Demand and .pdf through outlets like DriveThru. That saves me money and time, plus it keeps me from having to burn copies of my RPG to keep warm if I end up flubbing it.

Assuming all this passes, then I have the wonderful responsibility to spend more money to get my RPG out into the public eye: advertising. Thankfully, Paizo Publishing (Dragon and Dungeon Magazines) says they have a cheaper rate for adverts for smaller/new companies. That will help immensely, cause it will just be me in my company, which will be about the cheapest thing: incorporating and copyrighting.

So, I have a busy few months ahead of me. Donations gladly accepted. ~_^

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Well....gotta start somwhere


still kinda new to the whole Blogging thing. Should have started one years ago.

Anyway, this month has officially moved into the Sucking Muchly category. I used to be such a lover of this time of year.

My dad passed away yesterday. He was 80 yrs old. He had suffered a stroke back in August, but was never able to recover. You have to recieve intense therapy really soon after something like that or you wont make it. Given the poor care he recieved in the two nursing homes he was in (one of which is a top rated physical therapy center in the Tampa area), I now think that my dad was simply written off when he was in the hospital. Given that doctor's reccomendations are followed, I think the various places were told that he was simply not worth the effort.

Of course, because my family now resides in Atlanta, having moved from the Tampa area in September, I've had to coordinate everything down here. I don't mind doing it, I suppose, since I'm now the Mr. Farris of the family. My father would have expected it of me.