Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What do you want in a PDF gaming product?

If you needed some sort of evidence that PDF product for role-playing games are a force in the industry, consider this: there are currently nearly 18,000 products available on the web's largest friendly local gaming shop, DriveThruRPG.com. Over 1,000 of them are absolutely free to download. Characters, adventures, maps, out of print items, errata... the list goes on and on. Their catalog grows every day, and last time I checked, my neighborhood wasn't booming with gaming shops, friendly or otherwise. Then again, I live in Dallas, which is a gaming wasteland, so maybe my perspective is skewed.

The conversation over the benefits and pitfalls is a long and tedious one. How many gamers really roll dice with a computer in front of them? Will people buy something that they can download illegally for free? Are gaming companies better off going high end with glossy pages and hard covers? I have my own opinions on where digital downloads play in all of this, as I'm sure you do as well.

Let's discuss some of the high and low points.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Quick Hit: Rifter #50 Ships April 18

It was my dad's birthday yesterday, and while we were strolling as a family through the lovely Dallas Arboretum, he turned and said to me, "Son, the world needs more world and character information pertaining to the playing of psychics in Palladium's Chaos Earth RPG. When are you going to make this a reality?"

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Complete Characters #11: Helot, Cape-Killing Human Vigilante

Personally, I have nothing against capes.

Here at Jason Richards cannot be trusted, we're all about tearing down stereotypes. I don't know about you, but it bothers me when nobody can recognize that Superman is Clark Kent without his glasses on. I have trouble getting over why caped superheroes and villains in silver jumpsuits fall for the same lame traps and tricks over and over again. What if there were someone in that world of Supers that broke those conventions? Have you met Helot? Because he's all about breaking those conventions. More below.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Complete Character... sort of

So, I'm not going to completely fall short on my promise to deliver a Complete Character tonight as a part of our ongoing March Madness here at Jason Richards cannot be trusted. However, due to a bit of a headache today, I didn't finish my new character. Instead, I went ahead and updated a couple of existing characters to the most recent format.

Please check out the latest and greatest Charles Temple as he continues to lead humanity in an apocalyptic world, now with fancy columns and headers and other bells and whistles. Also, I've updated the goblin prince of a human house, Livingston of Birkenshor. The new files are good at the old links, to the right of the page under "Downloads."

UPDATE: This character has been pulled for the time being, but will soon return as part of the new series of Complete Characters now available at DriveThruRPG. Give them a look.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Complete Characters #10: Hlifsteinn, Barbarian Witch-Hunter

This is Complete Characters #10. Who loves ya? Huh? Free stuff galore, here on Jason Richards cannot be trusted.

We celebrate an additional digit in our numbering of characters by exploring a character that probably can't count that high. It's not his fault. He's a barbarian, so he didn't make it to math class much as a kid.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Complete Characters #9: Buddy the Snake, Conspiracy Theory Talk Show Host

Are there other worlds out there, speaking to us? Does the government contaminate Capri Sun with crazyjuice? Is it weird that Barbaro's ghost tells me to burn things? I can't answer these questions, but Buddy the Snake can. He's the host of the after-midnight conspiracy show of record. Tune in for more as Complete Characters #9 continues.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top 5 Gaming Experiences I Want For My Kids

My good friend over at Motor City Gamewerks, Jason Marker, welcomed his first child into the world a couple of days ago. I have yet to enjoy the wonders of fatherhood, but Jason has promised to explain to me the exact process by which one obtains a miniature version of one's self, as I have so far only been confused and amazed based on my Google searches. Certainly what I am reading can't be correct.

In any case, it has made me think a bit about what sort of gaming will be around when my theoretical children come around and develop the necessary motor skills to throw dice and execute multi-button combos on a controller. Gaming will clearly be a different animal, but I'd like to think that some of the joys and frustrations that I have felt over the years will endure.

So, I present my scientifically determined and ESRB-approved list of the Top 5 Gaming Experiences I Want For My Kids.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Cure For The Mondays: Weekend Recap

A lot went on this weekend, and I'd hate for you to miss the very latest on Jason Richards cannot be trusted. Let's review what has come up the last few days in the realm of Complete Characters. All are available in the Downloads section to the right of the screen, for now. Pretty soon I might have to give Complete Characters a separate page.

Full recap below the fold.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Complete Characters #8: Noriax, Ancient Robotic Terror

Roomba, Destroyer of Worlds

I think that our robots have become too cuddly. What the universe needs is more giant, genocidal robots to remind us that these mechanical companions that we have are one mere short circuit away from attacking us in our sleep. So, that's what I'm providing with today's Complete Character.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Complete Characters #7: Brandy, Earthbound Sea Nymph

UPDATE: Brandy is now Complete Characters #3 in the newly relaunched series hosted on DriveThruRPG.com, so follow the link to the right to check it out, or click here for more.

Few things evoke as much mystery and allure as the sea. Particularly, I enjoy songs about the sea, and I'm not even really a boat or beach person. One of my favorite such songs has always been the admittedly unhip "Brandy" by the 70s one-hit wonders, Looking Glass. Songs like this serve to convince me that surely, surely I could make it as a musician if I gave it half a shot, and so could anyone reading this. If you're not familiar with the song, I've attached it at the end of the post for your edification.

So, what does a 70s chart-topper have to do with a non-player character for a role-playing game? Simple. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Quick Hit: Contract Arrived Today

I really enjoy it when a contract shows up in the mail. It makes me fell all professional and legitimate.

I've been expecting it, but I got the package today from Palladium Books for my contribution to The Rifter #50. The article deals with psychic characters for Rifts Chaos Earth, and is basically a warm up for my next full sourcebook, Chaos Earth: Psychic Storm. The new Rifter material is official, and should be out in the next month or so. Also included in the issue will be official work from a number of Palladium's leading freelancers.

Now I'm off to eBay to prematurely spend my fee.

UPDATE: Actually, I just learned via the latest Palladium Press Release that The Rifter #50 is at the printer. That means it should be in our grubby little hands in just a couple of weeks if all goes well. Look forward to that!

Complete Characters #6: "Action" Jack Allen, Pulp Supersoldier

A couple of worthy influences for this character

I wish I knew how to write in the voice of a 1930s newsreel, because that's how I would like to present this character. Sadly, I can't and won't. That's probably best for everyone.

My good friend Zachary Houghton over at RPG Blog II once referred to the pulp action genre as "punching Nazis on top of zeppelins." That just about captures the feel. I went about writing this character with that sort of image in mind, but didn't quite stop there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Complete Characters #5: Roger Borleng, Constable of Bromholm

It's Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament, and I've filled up my bracket with enough new Complete Characters to fill March with Madness. First up to the line is an NPC fit for your fantasy or medieval setting. Take your best shot.

Have your player characters ever run afoul of the law? Surely not! Well, maybe once, but that was a total misunderstanding. When your Rogue got caught in mid-pickpocket or the party Barbarian got a bit too drunk at the pub and went berserk on the Paladin, who stepped in to clean up the mess? Was there a trial? Judge? Soldiers? Hangings? Guillotine?

The answer to this undoubtedly depends on exactly the makeup of your particular game, but chances are that any Game Master out there has been forced to pull a local jailer or judicious knight out of the Bottomless Bag of Tricks in response to some player shenanigans. Next time, introduce them to today's totally free Complete Character: Roger Borleng, Constable of Bromholm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Complete Character Madness Download Time

It's that time! It's Madness! To celebrate two weeks of brackets and pretending to work at the office while streaming live stats and highlights, I have decided to throw something else into the mix to distract you even more. Every day of the tourney I'll be throwing out a Complete Character that's so new, so free, so downloadable, and so complete that you might actually lose it and go Mad, for real.

All that I ask in return is that you download these fine specimens and enjoy them. And, if you happen to want to use the various "Spread The Word" tools to Stumble, Reddit, Facebook, Tweet, or whatever else to tell others about how they can get these great free resources, I'd appreciate it. It would be even greater if you would consider making your Amazon and DriveThruRPG purchases via the links in my Publication List. But hey, that's all optional.

Start out your celebration by checking out the first four Complete Characters, available in the Downloads section on the right side of the page.

Just a few hours until tip-off! Game on, and Gig'em Aggies.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You Are What You Eat: Reading For Writers

In order to be a writer, or at least a good writer, you must read. It's a simple fact. Obsession with the written word cannot be limited simply to production, but must also include digestion. Just as with the rest of our body, we must be selective in what we feed our brain, because our book diet influences its performance. Quantity, quality, and balance, all of these things must be attended or we're really cheating ourselves and starving that wrinkly melon rattling around between the ears.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Finding Good Help

My work will be slightly less involved than this

It's tough finding good help, as they say. Luckily, I am surrounded by people far more talented than myself. Even more luckily, many of them don't realize exactly how talented they are, so they are easily exploited for their labor.

Just kidding. It's not that easy to exploit them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yet Another Free Download: Complete Character #4

I figure that I shouldn't mess with a good thing. People seem to be really enjoying my Complete Characters series of NPC downloads, so allow me to introduce you to Shelly Jackson, the Psychic Cat-Lady. That's the crazy old lady with all the cats, by the way, and not a young woman that inexplicably has cat ears like something out of an anime stereotype catalog.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Complete Character #3: Sam "Perseus" Hamlin and the Gorgon Mecha

Everyone seemed to love the last Complete Characters so much, that I've gone ahead and drawn up the third installment. Meet Sam "Perseus" Hamlin, legendary mecha pilot, and his sweet, sweet 26-ton ride, The Gorgon.

In case this is your first encounter with Complete Characters, they are systemless NPCs for a variety of genres. Each character is fleshed out with a personality, strengths, flaws, skills, and enough additional character information to provide an extra dimension to the character. Further, each includes "Tweaks," which are slight modifications or optional additional information to provide some range to the character, and "Twists," which are optional adventure hooks involving the character.

So, how do these apply to a veteran soldier and his giant prototype mecha? Keep reading to find out.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Peek At Chaos Earth: First Responders

Obscurest. Reverence. Ever.

I still can't help but fiddle with First Responders, even though it is completed and submitted. I have you a first sneak preview a little over a week ago. Here's another one. I have three words for you:

Vehicle Deck Plans.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Existence of Awesomeness, For Free!

Ladies and gents, I'd like to take this Sunday evening to refer you to a dose of greatness that I didn't get a chance to blog about last week. Stop whatever you're doing, right now, and go read The Uniques Tales #1. This is a backstory to the world of The Uniques as established by Comfort Love and Adam Withers, written and drawn by talented guests. It oozes awesome. There will be another issue each month, each taking place in different decade until we get up to the comic's present day. I penned the story for the 1960s issue, entitled Around the World, which we'll see in July.

I'm not done, and share with you even more awesomeness below the fold, so keep reading.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

More On Complete Characters

A brief word of forewarning: As I have no legit artists attached to this project, all you get right now are crummy placeholders by yours truly.

Today I just bring you a short update, as I fiddle with formatting. I've added placeholder images and arranged things in a somewhat logical way. The character descriptions, with image, are on the first page, with information more intended for the Game Master on the second page. I really don't think that any of these should be more than just two pages. The links to the new formats are below; I'm just going to leave the old formats up in the Downloads section until I settle on a new, permanent format.

Hopefully you continue to enjoy these. The response yesterday was excellent, so please continue to tell your friends, retweet, reddit, and spread the word however you can.

Happy gaming.

Charles Temple, formatted
Livingston of Birkenshor, formatted

UPDATE: These characters have been pulled for the time being, but will soon return as part of the new series of Complete Characters now available at DriveThruRPG. Give them a look.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Complete Characters #2: Livingston of Birkenshor, Goblin Prince of a Human House

In most ways, young Livingston is like any other son of a noble family of the realm. He spent his earliest days in the care of nurses along with other children of the household, then graduated to instruction in fencing, heraldry, riding, hunting, and all of the pursuits suitable to a gentleman of the court. The main difference between Livingston and other gentlemen of his stature is that he’s not a man at all, but a Goblin.

Livingston was born in the midst of a huge ruckus of wails and squawking as his mother birthed him in a chicken coop on the Birkenshor estate. A tenant found the Goblin woman, dead from the strain of childbirth, clutching a wailing Goblin child. Unsure what should be done, the man informed his master, who informed the Birkenshor household and sought leave to destroy the child along with the body of the mother. Lady Birkenshor was moved and took pity on the baby, while her husband saw the opportunity to seek some common ground with the Goblin natives with whom he was constantly at odds as mankind continued its western expansion. Taking a decided risk to their position amongst the nobility of the realm, it was decided that the Goblin child should be adopted into the Birkenshor household.

Download the character for free, complete with stats, world information, and adventure hooks using the navigation bar on the right side of the screen under "Downloads."

UPDATE: This character has been pulled for the time being, but will soon return as part of the new series of Complete Characters now available at DriveThruRPG. Give them a look.

Complete Characters #1: Charles Temple, Human Survivor

It is often said that adversity doesn’t build character, but reveals it. In the case of the mild mannered and unassuming person of William Charles Temple, this cliché rings true. Today in the midst of the Plagues, Charles is a steadfast leader of survivors and warriors. He was once something much less, or at least something much different.

In his past life Charles was a staple of the Littleton, Texas education community. For 23 years he taught high school science classes at Forrest S. Campbell High School. He annually instructed students in Chemistry and Physics, plus occasionally Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus. He tutored students after school and during the summers. Teaching was his whole life and all that he knew, right up until the Plagues came and civilization as he knew it fell to pieces.

Download the character for free, complete with stats, world information, and adventure hooks using the navigation bar on the right side of the screen under "Downloads."

UPDATE: This character has been pulled for the time being, but will soon return as part of the new series of Complete Characters now available at DriveThruRPG. Give them a look.

Free Download Friday: Complete Characters

Even the best Game Masters appreciate a little bit of help every now and then, if only for some inspiration. I'm pleased to provide that in a number of ways, today's being the introduction of the free-to-download gaming source: Complete Characters. Get your own copies of the two examples available in the Downloads section, then read on to see how it all works; it's free, after all:

Charles Temple, humble leader of survivors
Livingston of Birkenshor, Goblin prince of a Human house

UPDATE: These characters have been pulled for the time being, but will soon return as part of the new series of Complete Characters now available at DriveThruRPG. Give them a look.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Dungeon Master

Today we remember the Godfather of role-playing, the great Gary Gygax. Hug a gaming nerd today. Ignore the smell.

Image by Penny Arcade.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Seeking the Medal Stand

So, as I was authoring Tuesday's post about what writing gig I would next pursue, I was actually working on a fourth project that I failed to mention. Seeing as this was a "quickie," as far as writing goes, I thought it better to just plow through with it rather than lump in together with larger projects. This mini-job, which I have now completed, is as speculative as it gets: a writing contest.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Fork in the Freelancing Road

There are many different types of freelancers, and I'm one of them. I toil at the day job, fighting with clients and bosses and underlings and administrators, pushing out deadline after grueling deadline, all so I can go home, sit in front of another computer, and fight deadlines of a more welcomed nature. Sadly, sometimes things come into conflict between the two and the day job must take precedence, because my wife says so. I generally just do what she tells me.

In any case, my career situation is such that I have made a choice on the writing end of things, to only take on one contract or project at a time. It's hard enough for me to keep the day job at bay when I have only one iron in the writing fire that trying to juggle freelancing projects is a recipe for disaster and disappointment all around. I have just finished and submitted Chaos Earth: First Responders for Palladium Books, completing that agreement, and await the fulfillment of my contract for my Chaos Earth Psychics article, which will be some time after The Rifter #50 is published in April. So, what to do next? Let's look at the three forks in the road. Three tines in the fork? How does that expression work with three choices? Anyway...