Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Worth Reading

for better or worse, I guess I'm going political in my silly little blog.

My goal in posting this, is to highlight some non-mainstream media coverage of the Occupy movement. I'm not taking sides publically, but pointing out that the mainstream media really have brushed this aside and misrepresented the entire thing. This movement really is a big deal, as far as I can tell, a real unifying force for millions of Americans, and perhaps the start of something huge in the history of our young nation (the brewery that makes Guiness is older than the USA, let's keep some perspective).

Occupying Democracy

Everything The Media Told You About Occupy Wall Street Is Wrong





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

APPLE SEASON!

(wabbit season!)
((ahem))

What better way to celebrate the Apple Harvest in full swing now, than to bake apple cake?

AUNT VICTORIA’S APPLE CAKE

4 cups sliced, peeled apples (4 or 5 baking apples)
1 ½ to 2 cups sugar (can substitute up to ¾ cup light brown sugar)
2 ½ tablespoons cinnamon, ground
½ to 1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 cup raisins (optional)

Mix the above in a non-reactive bowl to evenly coat apples. Macerate one hour, stirring bottom-to-top every 15 minutes. This gets syrupy as the sugar draws out the apple juice.

Prepare two 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 pans by greasing bottoms and sides and dusting lightly with flour. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Dry ingredients
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Sift or whisk together the dry ingredients. Mix very well.

Whisk together the wet ingredients.

After the apples macerate one hour, mix the wet ingredients with the apples, mix evenly.

Fold in the dry ingredients and mix just until there are no dry spots. Don’t forget the bottom of the bowl.

Divide the batter into the pans and bake for 40 – 50 minutes. Rotate pans after 15 minutes so they bake evenly.

Experts say to use a glass pan, reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees F.

I haven’t tried this, but I think one 13 x 9 pan should work also. Check out this informative web page for pan size conversion help
http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/bakingdish.htm

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Avengers Trailer totally ROCKS!

So I finally watched the Avengers Trailer this morning, about a dozen times, and I’m totally frickin’ pumped for this movie now! I haven’t been this excited for a movie in a long time; I feel like a kid again. And just a little childish talking about how psyched I am at the office.

But whatever. Isn’t this what (summer/popcorn) movies and comics are all about? Losing yourself in some fun and feeling like a kid again?

This trailer is sweet! I hope the movie is as good. When I first heard of the Avengers movie, I figured it would be awful or totally awesome. This trailer makes it look awesome. The other Marvel movies have a good track record so far, so I’m optimistic.

Loki seems to have arrived on earth in a SHIELD made space bridge thingy (Another Transformers reference!) . My thinking is that the little scene at the end of Thor, shows some kind of diminished, invisible Loki either literally whispering to scientist guy or maybe possessing him. So Loki tricks the guy into building the space conduit so Loki can fully materialize on Earth and live out his daddy issues.

I’m totally psyched about the Nine Inch Nails music, and hope they use more NIN or original Trent Reznor compositions for the entire soundtrack. NIN is one of my favorite bands ever and Reznor never ceases to grow and amaze as a musician. If you haven’t seen The Social Network, it’s worth it for the soundtrack alone (the movie is outstanding, actually).

Which brings me to the most exciting music news I’ve heard in a while: NIN is covering U2’s Zoo Station for a tribute album in honor of the 20th anniversary of Achtung Baby. U2 is also one of my favorite bands, so this is like music geekgasm for me. Also on the tribute album are Depeche Mode (another favorite), Garbage (who doesn’t love Garbage?), Jack White and others are each covering tracks for this.

HOW COOL IS THAT?! Check it out HERE


The downside is that it’s only available as a freebie with English magazine Q. So far, it seems it’s only available in the UK, so that’s quite disappointing. I’m sure it will turn up though, as someone stands to make money selling it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The first manuscript is away!

I’m happy to announce I’ve submitted the first of three manuscripts for X-plorers missions to John at Brave Halfling Publishing, complete with my crude hand drawn maps and sketches that talented illustrators such as Steve Zieser will translate into usable and handsome line and cover art!

I am chuffed to bits, and can’t wait to see John and the others hammer this into a real RPG product, which will literally be the culmination of a year’s old dream come true (what gamer doesn't dream of publishing an adventure they wrote?).

Also, the module will be digest-sized so it will fit into your X-p limited edition Boxed set. Sweet!

It is called The Deadly Dawn and while it's basically a rescue mission, there's a lot of wiggle room for subplots and it is Sandboxy enough for an Old Skool player to run it as they please and damn the plot if they choose. The villain has the potential (I hope) to be a recurring doozy of a nemesis too, which excites me (everyone loves a good villain). I think it should play nicely in isolation from the other two modules we're publishing, but the three should work as a series also. I'm thrilled and terrified all at once. We will keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Get 'em while you can!

Less than 25 left!

ORDER HERE


All X-plorers Boxed Sets Shipping this Friday, 9/19/11!

Friday, September 2, 2011

X-plorers now on sale!!!

You may already know, but the new printing of Dave Bezio's X-plorers is now available!

Brave Halfling Video about new X-plorers book!

Pick it up HERE while low sale prices remain!

Psst: You'll need X-ploers to play the adventures I've written that BHP is publishing this year. :D

Why play X-plorers?

Character generation is quick and easy so you can get to gallivanting around the galaxy.

I challenge you NOT to LOVE the innovative, simple yet robust and FUN "Ship and Strip" space combat system!

Shoutout to BlUsKrEEm for coining the term "Ship and Strip"
(aside: I find you can use it for air and land vehicles also)

Choose from four character types with a simplified four-attribute skill system. Then outfit your team and prepare to make planetfall!

Game Masters: Create a cosmic sandbox using basic rules.

PDF included with purchase of hard copy book, which inlcudes bookmarks to all major sections.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

When geeks attack!




Not satisfied to simply help my daughter build a sand castle with a little beach bucket, I had to add a mott and bailey system of walls, LOL....





Thursday, August 18, 2011

FOOD GEEK!

Been a while since I blogged about food or cooking, so I thought I’d do so.

Summer is a great time for fresh foods and grilling, and I’ve been enjoying both. I grew a small garden of herbs and tomatoes this year, and am overjoyed to report the tomatoes are delicious. It’s almost an accident as I usually have a “black thumb” but this garden did well. Only recently, we’ve learned that rodents like tomatoes. I can’t tell if it’s the chipmunks or maybe rabbits, but I’ve lost three good red tomatoes this week. It seemed to happen all at once and I am not a happy camper. Believing it to be the chipmunks, I moved the tomato plant (it’s in a pot, not the ground) to be further from the stoop so the little effers have nothing to leap off of to reach the tomatoes. If it’s rabbits, it will be harder to stop them. I guess I could but the pot on a lawn chair high above the ground. Whatever.

Been brewing sun tea, which is a real treat when it’s hot out. It’s as simple as it sounds:

Sun Tea
4-8 tea bags, or 4-8 teaspoons of loose tea
2-3 quarts of water
Sweetener
ice

Put the tea in the water in a clean glass jar or somesuch. Cover it, and leave it outside in direct sunlight for about 4 hours. It is that simple.

I like to use a wide flat casserole so more water surface area is heated by the sun, and to amp up the heat by placing the dark lid of the casserole under it all, covering the thing with plastic wrap. I think experts recommend you only try this if it’s 90 degree F or hotter. Because no boiling water is used, bacterial contamination is a concern, so sun tea should be enjoyed within 48 hours after brewing (some say as soon as 24 hours) but don’t worry, it’s so tasty it won’t last that long. If you find stringy goopy stuff, that’s bacteria poop, and you should throw out the tea and run the container through your dishwasher.

So why bother? It really is much tastier. The slow, low temp brewing teases out more subtle flavors from the tea, and if you use good tea leaves, it really is great. Add some sugar and pour it over ice and boom! Done.

What else?
Oh, I made some Spiced Pork Nuggets that I liked a lot, but my wife found to be “too Mediterranean” for her taste. These end up tasting like a meat falafel, and can be served the same way. They also make a convenient snack.

Spiced Pork Nuggets
1 lb Ground Pork
½ of a finely chopped onion (a sweet one like a Vidalia or red onion works well)
1-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground black pepper
½ t. ground nutmeg
Ground Cayenne pepper or chili powder to taste, about ½ t to 2 t
1 egg, beaten
½ to 1 t salt (no you can’t leave it out!)

Mix it all together and make meatballs. You can mix the spices into the egg first to ensure everything is evenly distributed, but I didn’t bother and it was fine. To be extra precise, you can divide the pile of raw meat into equal pieces before you begin. Flatten into football shapes or nuggets and grill over medium heat, turning once. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Test one with a meat thermometer to make sure they’re at 165 degrees F inside. Any hotter and they may be dry.

Consider adding ¼ lb ground bacon or finely chopped, lightly cooked bacon to the mix for added porky goodness. This is tweaked from a recipe my wife found in Better Homes and Gardens.

But back to the tomatoes, here's a Before and After show-off of my homemade gravy... the only things that didn't come from my garden were the olive oil and half an onion.



So that's three tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, a handfull of chopped onion, basil, thyme and oregano, all sauteed in a nice generous dash of good extra virgin olive oil. Toss in cooked, sliced sausage and pasta and ba-da-bing... a nice summery plate of de-frickin-licious if I do say so myself.



Monday, July 25, 2011

X-plorers Quick Start in the works!

I’m happy to say we’re hip-deep in making an X-plorers Quick Start document to distribute for Free RPG Day in 2012! As the deadline for publishers is in February 2012, I’d say we have a good head start.

I’m lucky enough to be spear heading this effort and writing a short adventure for it, so while that’s exciting, it’s also my ass if it flounders, LOL. But with several rounds of proofreading and editing to rely on, I’m sure we can make it a strong offering.

The goal is to make it as simple to pick up and play for total newbs as possible, so that the X-plorers brand can grow by attracting new people (which is always the goal, really).

So I turn to you, good reader and X-P fan! What would you like to see in a Quick Start for X-P? The game is already lean (in a good way, I mean) so there’s not any fat to trim, so to speak. What do you think would be ONE THING that it HAS TO HAVE to get new players hooked?

Thanks for your help!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

X-Plorers Boxed Set, limited Edition, for sale!

Order now while you still can!

Sorry I'm a few days behind on this "announcement" I put that in quotes because it's not really news anymore, but hey. I also phoned it in by basically copying Jay's announcement from his BLOG. LOL


http://bravehalfling.com/?p=676

Just look at that beautiful black and white box set cover!

X-plorers, the retro, science-fiction RPG crafted by Dave Bezio has been given the royal treatment--a box set! I believe that this is the first sci-fi game in the OSR family to have that distinction. John Adams at Brave Halfling has put together a really beautiful package. You can order now, but there's a limited number.

Here's the box contents from the head space cadet himself:

6″ x 9″ Game Box (This is an actual game box manufactured for just this purpose and both the top and the bottom are tight-wrapped) hand numbered from 1-200 by the head halfling himself!
2 Rule Booklets (Player’s Guide and Referee’s Guide)
Cleopatra Station Free Adventure
3 six-sided and 1 twenty-sided dice
2 Ship Deck plans of the Serrona Class Scout and the Mastodon Class Freighter

ONLY 200 WILL BE MADE! HAND NUMBERED BY HEAD HALFLING JOHN ADAMS!

ORDER NOW

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I have seen the Future…

…and it looks GREAT.

By “the Future” I’m referring of course, to the cover for the forthcoming X-Plorers limited edition Boxes set.* My friends, this cover is gorgeous. It’s a stellar (pun intended) drawing by Steve Z that really captures the feeling of adventure, mystery and fun that is X-P.

Look forward to the official announcement by John at www.bravehalfling.com in the upcoming days!

* Yes, true believers, only 200 boxed sets will be made, each hand numbered by the Brave Halfling himself, John Adams! A collector’s item if ever there was one!

John may be announcing the official release schedule for the rest of 2011 in the near future as well. Suffice it to say, I am quite excited and I hope you are too.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

4th post of 2011, in which I reveal my bromance with The Destroyer


So with this, the forth 'real' post of 2011, I have exceeded my post count for 2010, and met that goal. Ah, better living through lower standards…. LOL. (the previous post giving a shout out to my new followers, while a crucial and heartfelt gesture of gratitude, is pretty short, so I feel cheap counting it).

So anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a total man-crush on The Destroyer. I’ve made it my desktop wallpaper so I can gaze upon it all day (I’m even starting to scare myself).

I know in the comic it’s a suit of armor and not an automaton, but I think the movie version is totally perfect. I love the look of it; I’d love to have traps, delts and pecs like that (have you ever tried to work out enough to look like that? I admire the dedication it takes for anyone to pull it off). The dark, harsh-looking iron bands that make up its body, the way the whole thing swells with barely contained flames as it powers up its breath weapon and that its entire [i]face[/i] opens up to let loose the blast. How... eldritch is that? The wonky Jack Kirby flat head thingy and spikes – I’m so glad they kept those details.

A photo was leaked on the internet, that had what looked like pallets and cinder blocks holding its feet in place, so I think there was a real statue built, and I’m not sure how much was practical photography and how much CGI, but it all looks very real to me, and that is really cool too. Compare and contrast with the finale of the Spawn movie where the SFX went all crappy all at once, a sad mess. (in all fairness, that was like, 15 years ago).

At least in the theater where I saw Thor, the sound of the Destroyer’s breath weapon was just a little too loud and had a sort of harsh ugly sound to it, which is perfect for a nigh-indestructible, ultimate weapon, armor-robot, monster thing.

Yes, yes, I know, in the comic, it’s “totally indestructible” but I figure if anything can smash an invincible object (like the Destroyer or the Bifrost) it’s Mjolnir, right? So that works for me too. I take comfort remembering that these movies are reinterpretations of the comix stories, not direct translations. Besides, in a sequel, Odin can just repair the Destroyer or remake a stronger one; he’s [i]Odin[/i], dammit!

BTW: They make a point of showing that Sif is a total badass warrior, as she’s the only one (besides the restored Thor) who can even wound it. GRRRRL POWER!

So in conclusion, I officially declare the Destroyer to be Totally Frickin’ Sweet.

‘nuff said.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More X-Plorers blogging from yours truly

I immediately fell in love with X-P on my first reading, so I feel quite lucky to be involved in its future and responsible to help create something that is a strong product – both well liked, and FUN. Here are some of my thoughts for the 2nd edition, and your chance to help save it from me with your comments. 

What I loved about X-P right away was that the elegant simplicity lends itself to easy house-ruling. It is a toolbox that says, ‘make it your own’ instead of ‘this is the only way’. Any number of skill rules, like the suggestions on the Exonauts blog, will work well, but by default, there are simple rules for newbs or those who favor it fast and loose.

At this point in my life, I favor the simple approach, though back in high school I was running a couple 2nd edition AD&D campaigns with scads of rules from about a dozen optional books. I appreciate that a ‘crunchy’ approach is fun for many and a lighter approach is fun for others. I say there is no wrong way to have fun, so I’d love to accommodate both in the newer version if it all fits.

So what does that mean for X-P? I favor interpreting the skills as broadly as possible, like in Star Trek or Star Wars. “Scientist” knows chemistry, nuclear physics, and can even breed mutants. “Pilot” can fly a car, operate a crane or an alien warship. Realistic? Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think everyone has more fun when the default answer is “yes” instead of “you don’t have that skill/feat/power/or whatever. YMMV. I drive well, but I wouldn’t want to race in the Indy 500 anytime soon, or haul cargo down the ice road. But Luke Skywalker can hop into any flying vehicle and off he goes like he was born in that cockpit. The suspension of disbelief makes it more fun, IMO.

Therefore, while I favor keeping the skills broad and the skill rules simple, I like it to be clear that anyone can do whatever they want also. Maybe some space in the rulebooks can list two or three examples of optional skill systems. I hesitate to codify one system, because the reader, especially a new gamer, may think they cannot do it differently at all.

While it’s always true that the GM can rework any rules in any game to their whim, doing so makes it more difficult to run the game “out of the box” which I think is how we want X-P to be: grab the box, roll up characters, (which should take 10 minutes tops IMO), and GO. Hopefully we can put dice in the box too.

There’s the simple, but here’s an idea I had for character creation and skills that I think is strong: each class would still have 4 skills by default, but a list of 6 to 8 skills from which to choose. This way, they are still archetypical, but not cookie-cutter identical. What do you all think of this?

I think a new Mystic/Psionicist/Jedi-type class is (pretty much) required, even if optional, but are there other classes you’d like to see? Jay and I have had some preliminary discussions about a post on Grognardia about Scifi archetypes, but I’d appreciate more opinions. Jay’s Space Pioneer is more of a profession than a class, so that’s another way to go; sort of layering these benes and drawbacks over the existing classes, similar to Savage Worlds.

(BTW: I haven’t played it, but Savage Worlds looks pretty cool, check it out.)

Does anyone like a class-less character creation system? Maybe a list of 20ish skills and you pick 4 or 5 to create a character? 4-skill characters would need fewer Experience Points to advance in level than the 5 skill characters.

Do you think any skills are “missing” from the rules now? “Tinker” comes to mind, the ability to build gizmos that do wondrous things. But going broad as I mentioned above, this might fit under the Technician’s mechanic skill, and arguably under the Scientist’s science skill (we’ve seen Spock modify photon torpedoes and stuff like that, though he’s usually helping Scotty do it). I’d say no to the science one, though because it’s already too broad.

So there is this balance to maintain… what’s needed, and realistic enough to allow suspension of disbelief without limiting the other characters? Where do we draw the lines? Why is Robotics separate from Mechanics? Is there an artistic alchemy of computers and mechanics that makes Robotics a separate skill? Or simply game balance? At some point, it get to, OK there’s ONE SKILL! You can do ANYTHING! Yeah, no.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

To Build a better geek....

Since people are supposed to blog about the professional or private projects they’re working on, I’m going to make an effort to do this in my silly little blog here. I’m going to make it link-tastic as well to help pimp everything to my one reader (thanks dude!).

{re: last post… look how much progress already! Yippee!}

Aside: Goal two: get to 5 followers by year’s end…. That way I’m not like THIS. Not 100% like it, at least.

So here we go:
I’m involved in the re-launch of Dave Bezio’s X-Plorers, a sweet little SciFi RPG that has been re-formatted and made glorious by Brave Halfling Publishing. The re-launched version will be published soon. If you like RPGs, sci-fi, and/or fun, you should totally get X-Plorers. Here’s a review from Grognardia.

For the Brave Halfling re-launch of the original X-P, I helped proof read, is about all. But what really has me jazzed is that I’ve written two adventure modules for the game, which could see the light of day by year’s end (guessing), maybe sooner. When these are published, it will be literally a dream come true! I’ve dreamed of publishing RPG stuff since my high school days of running and playing in multiple AD&D games (the nightmare begins afterwards with the flaming reviews, LOL).

What also has me pumped is that I’m involved with shaping the 2nd edition of X-Plorers, a next generation, if you will. We’re not sure what we’re calling it yet. “X-P 2.0” seems to be a popular working title. By “popular” I mean, none of the other Halflings have yelled at me for calling it that yet (there’s no guarantee they won’t in the near future). Jay of Exonauts is taking the lead on the editing and steering the 2nd edition of X-P, while John at Brave Halfling does the layout. There is awesome art for the BHP Version of X-P that really knocks it out of the park. HERE is a good update from Jay’s Blog about the progress on X-P.

I’m also psyched about this: Arcana Creations, a subsidiary or subdivision of Brave Halfling Publishing, has accepted the manuscript of an adventure module I’ve written for the Castles and Crusades Fantasy RPG, which will make it to publication in some form. I’ve already written a sequel, and have an outline for several more. My ultimate delusion of grandeur goal is to have a usable campaign or adventure path from these adventures. Something like A Hero’s Tale for 2nd edition AD&D. (A Hero’s Tale was totally sweet, grab a copy if you can).

Our robust economy (irony) has put the kybosh on the print publication of my module, Hide in Plain Sight (the original idea was to get Hide in Plain Sight in stores and ready for direct sales like The Secret of Ronan Skerry and A Trick on the Tain). Pat is good people and the goodies I’ve created will be used at some point, perhaps in Arcana Creations’ publication, Ballista.

There’s also an Accessory for C&C about which I’m very excited. It should be easy to port to other games (or we might re-design it slightly with this in mind) to broaden its appeal. I feel comfortable saying it’s a solid product, biased as I am, because it’s been enhanced by the great brainstorming and brilliant ideas and suggestions of Pat and Keith and others at BHP and AC, and not just my own mess of a mind. This one, I am proud of and eager to have it hit the public.

So we’ll see (isn’t that always true?). These things for C&C may end up in print on their own or in the newsletter Ballista, but in any event, I’m psyched to have these opportunities. Between the X-P material I’m working on, and the C&C material we’ll be revisiting soon, I’m very excited to be involved with Arcana Creations and Brave Halfling, and I hope everything is well received. Nothing would be more gratifying than to hear that people have enjoyed one or more of my products and that I’ve had some part in enhancing their RPG fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

> 3

It may be already halfway thru May, but by gosh, I'm going to beat last year's post count... a whopping 3 in 2010.

I think I can do it.
I'm 25% of the way there already!