Friday, July 23, 2010

Discussion: Gaming With Family

It's been a while since we had an old-fashioned discussion here on Jason Richards cannot be trusted, so I thought that today would be as good a day as any to take a stab at another one. I was a little curious as to exactly how many readers here regularly game with family. Do you game with a spouse? Kids? Siblings? Parents? I know that a lot of us get introduced to games through family, and I figure that most of us have good family gaming stories.

I'll give a couple of my family gaming tales below the fold, but in the meantime, feel free to drop a comment and share your stories and experiences with the class.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Qucik Hit: My Fantasy Writing Retreat

Ah, to be alone with my pen

As my writing "to do" list picks up and the day job continues to pile on its burdens, I find myself fantasizing about getting away from it all. I've often wanted to just take a week off, get out of the house with nothing but a stack of notebooks and a box of pencils, and just write until my fingers bleed.

What little free time I have to write is taken up by little things, here and there, that while they are related to writing, lack the full creative release. This blog is one of those things that I love to do, but it doesn't produce material that can be packaged and sold. Other things include handling the financial side of publishing, or getting contracts written and distributed. Artists need to be contacted and their work reviewed. That's in addition to responsibilities at work, with the family, and at church. It all adds up to a hectic life, at times.

I wonder how much work I could get done if I had nothing to do except write. No Internet. No television. No video games. Just a good, long week alone at the family ranch where I can sit on the back porch and watch the cattle graze, or make a couple of sandwiches and find some shade by one of our stock tanks. I keep telling myself that getting away for a week of relative solitude would be good for me, and that everyone should do it, but I haven't been able to pull the trigger.

I've also often talked with colleagues about getting together in a group to pound out some manuscript or other in a week-long writing and gaming marathon. That would be a real blast, and I'm working on some way to make that happen. I get to see them far too infrequently as it is, so some quality buddy time would be very welcome, and isolated from the world I feel like we could produce some sort of quality supplement in the course of a week.

Alas, vacation time is in short supply and the rest of life presses on. I'll do it someday, soon. Hopefully.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Ensemble Cast Of Characters In RPGs

What if you're not just a one-character kind of guy (or girl, if any of you mythical female gamers are reading)? The role-playing hobby teaches us that we should create a character and hold on to it, pouring ourselves into that stat sheet and working hard toward achieving that character's hopes, dreams, and goals. We become incredibly attached to these fictional people because, most of the time, they are reflections on ourselves.

However, in my greater effort to personally examine individual trends, mechanics, and stations in hobby gaming that we all take for granted, I have begun to ask myself whether or not it's best that we all play only a single player in a game from session to session. That's how it has "always been," but that's never a good reason to keep on doing something if it's the only reason. What if it were more important to the game that you challenged yourself to play new types of characters, take up different roles within the group, or simply to pick up a stat sheet for a session that is better suited to that particular adventure or mission than your standard character?

Let's talk about it. Read on for more.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Read My New Comic Book Online, TODAY!

What an amazing day!

I'm very pleased to announce the online release of my new comic book, The Uniques Tales #5: Around the World. I'm grinning from ear to ear as I read the final product, and I can't be more thrilled.

I was approached some time ago, probably six months or more, about writing an installment of an ongoing project for the dynamic team of Adam Withers and Comfort Love. These amazing artists and writers are the creative force behind The Uniques, a terrific supers-genre indy comic. If you're not reading it, you should.

Read on for the tale of how I managed to swing this incredible opportunity.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Train-Wreck: Some Of My RPG Writing Failures

Some things go horribly, horribly wrong. Actually, make that most things. Despite my best efforts, I have often fallen short of the mark on a number of my RPG-writing endeavors. Let's turn the spotlight on some of my blunders and broken promises, shall we?

Read on for more.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hypothetical: Buying A Custom Campaign

This came up in the discussion from earlier this week about how much players should know about a given game session, be it the adventure, the stats for monsters, the layout of the dungeon, etc. With how accessible game information is to players, be it online or in soucebooks that a given player is likely to own, the theoretical was raised about having a professional game designer write a custom game module, exclusively for a Game Master.

How much would such a service cost? Let's assume it includes the following:
  • At least one annotated map of a dungeon, town, castle, etc.
  • A key villain, with full background and stats
  • Several quick-stat NPCs important to the game
  • At least one monster, creature, unique item, or other special one-of-a-kind point of interest
  • An outlined setup of the adventure, including a hook, descriptions of half a dozen possible/optional encounters, and written storyline as you might expect from a canned adventure found in a sourcebook
  • All in all, roughly 12-14 pages in a printable PDF or hard copy
So, how much for a truly special and unique adventure that would get your players through two or three gaming sessions? $100? $150? $214? I really have no idea. While it's certainly a luxury that most GMs would never utilize, it's not so terribly different than having a professional artist render a group's portrait, right?

Just a funny musing for a Saturday morning. Sound off, below.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Trion Adding Insult to Injury?

Trion is now just trying to mess with Palladium's collective head. I just read over at about the new character class for Rift: Planes of Telera, the upcoming MMO game that has resulted in legal battles with Palladium Books. What's this new class?

The Rift Walker.

Of course, to fans of Palladium's Rifts RPG, this invokes the imagery of the iconic Ley Line Walker. Maybe it's a coincidence, but I have a hard time believing that.

A Palladium Fan Boycott Of Trion? Not So Fast

For weeks now, we've been following the legal struggle between traditional RPG publisher, Palladium Books, and the up-and-coming MMO developer, Trion Worlds. The issue at hand? The rights to the title, "Rift" for a video game. I won't relive the whole saga here and now, but if you want to catch up, you can view all of the relevant posts about it here.

Today, we don't have a new development in the case, which is churning behind the scenes as we lead up to the September 10 court date. Instead, I wanted to talk a little bit about fan sentiment, and where we lovers of Palladium could potentially veer off into the realm of doing more harm than good. Recently I've seen it suggested around the Internet, in all its collective wisdom, that Palladium fans should boycott any and all products of Trion Worlds.

Not so fast, my friends. In my opinion, this is not the right course of action. Let's talk about it below the fold. Read on for more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Update On "The Uniques Tales" Comic

Just a quick hit here. The comic book that I penned in the amazing series, The Uniques Tales, is going to be released online on Wednesday, July 14th, instead of today. Nothing big or tragic or anything, but the holiday weekend got in the way of some contributors wrapping things up. The header image is the first page of the comic, without lettering. Jeremy Dale did an amazing job on the art.

In the meantime, head over and read the first four editions of The Uniques Tales at to prepare for my chapter. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How Much Should Players Know?

I was musing to myself while mowing the yard yesterday, in addition to how much of a pain home ownership can be, about how role-playing sourcebooks are put together, to whom they are targeted, and how I, as a game designer, can create the most utility in my products for the widest possible scope of gamers. So, here I am bringing these thoughts to you, instead of speaking aloud to my yard equipment. Let's start with how we can make game supplements useful to Game Masters, without spoiling the good stuff for the players. Read on for more.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Complete Characters #19: Jake Avery, Haunted Police Officer

We're starting off July with some strong and scary Complete Characters action! Not only is this exciting because I like the character, but because it was made with new and fancy software, which I would like to go on about for a while, singing praises and raising cheers.

Before that, let me tell you a little bit about the character. I started out writing a "cop who has seen it all," but I settled into a groove of a character that has had one truly horrifying, life-changing experience. I think it came out very well, and in fact as I write this post, it's nearly midnight and I've sorta scared myself a little bit. I'll be checking the closets before I hit the hay.

I have a lot more to say, so please read on. If you just can't wait to get to the good stuff, you'll find the link to the right of your screen.