Fun and Useful Google+ Groups

Most people think of Google+ as a failed social network. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: The RPG Community loves it, warts and all. It is great for running games online: I can have a community for my game, where I post summaries, art, handouts, character sheets, etc. Then I schedule the game in the community, and it has an add-to calendar button right there, and when the game starts it automatically creates a hangout which ties in to the excellent Roll20.

However, that isn’t what I’m here to tell you about today. I’m going to tell you about my two favourite Google+ communities.


Why I donated to Desert Bus For Hope and Child’s Play

This entry is a bit different from my usual blog entry. For one thing, I’m not usually fighting back tears. My brother has cancer. He is 21. At the end of his first year of university he started to get really sick; losing a lot of weight, and some psychiatric problems that he’d never had before. It turned out he had what they thought was a non-cancerous brain tumour. After half a year of radiation therapy it had shrunk enough to be operable, and they removed the parts pressing on his brain, and we thought it was over.

When I found that out it was the best day of my life.

This fall he started having those problems again, and they found the tumour is back, and cancerous. He is now undergoing chemotherapy. The outlook is, he tells us, really positive, and hopefully he will only have to do 3-4 months of twice a week chemo. I’m still more scared then I’ve ever been in my life. Last time I was optimistic, everything seemed good, he could beat this. This time…I’m terrified out of my mind. I can’t do much to help him, aside from chat with him about movies and such, stay up with him when he comes home on the weekends as he is a night owl.

One thing I can do is give a bit of my money to charity, to hopefully help others.

I just finished giving some money to Child’s Play, via Desert Bus For Hope.

Desert Bus is the creating of a Canadian comedy group called Loading Ready Run. They play the worlds worst game for about 5 days, the exact amount of time determined by how much money for Child’s Play they raise. Child’s Play is a charity started by the webcomic Penny Arcade (Often NSFW) that gets video games for kids in hospital.

I am not sure exactly when I started watching Desert Bus; I *think* it was Desert Bus 1, as I remember it being a new thing, it was in a basement of some sort, and recall something about the camera and an elastic band. I didn’t watch much, as I had exams, so I can’t be sure. Anyway, I enjoyed watching, but never donated money as I preferred to give to places that funded research, like the Canadian Cancer Society. This made sense to my scientific Asperger’s brain; you could save more people that way. That has changed now, as I’ve seen what a comfort having a game can be.

Last year my brother was sick enough that he had to drop out of classes on medical leave. He tried to develop some hobbies to fill his time, but he didn’t have much energy, and as the radiation sickness got work, enough focus. He started out reading a lot of books, but rapidly found he couldn’t concentrate enough to read for long periods. He became a movie buff, something he has kept up; He made a list of every movie he wanted to see, and as of early last summer he’d watched something like 130 of them. However, you can only watch so many movies, or so he tells me. He spent a lot of time playing games. During the summer while I was in BC he became a huge fan of Mass Effect and beat the first two several times, to get all the options; he was really looking forward to the ending, and once told me that he really wanted to finish the radiation by the time it came out, so he’d be healthy enough to play it. (He did, beat it 3 times, and was pissed at the ending). The first game I remember talking to him a lot about was Skyrim. He was playing that about the time he moved back home, playing a Wood Elf sniper. I made a Breton mage and we spent a fair bit of time talking about the game, but he got sicker, and didn’t have the energy to focus on it. Then he moved to other games, I don’t remember them as well, as I didn’t play them. Racing games I think? Some sports games? I recall some XBLA arcade football game that he played a lot of back on the N64, and a golf game. A lot of League of Legends (he plays support).

Anyway, games were one of the things he could do a lot, except when he was at his most sick. He could lie on the couch and play on the xbox, even when he couldn’t walk very well, though his left hand shaking restricted the type of games as I recall. It was one of the few things I could talk to him about, since I understand games, even if we don’t normally like the same genres. I…I want to give other kids some of that comfort, now that I’ve seen how much that helped him. That is why I gave to Child’s Play. I’m not saying you should, but you know, if you have some extra money, instead of buying a game for yourself why not send the Desert Bus guys some cash? If you want to give to some place to help treat other people with cancer, that is also cool.

Thank you to anyone who does give money.

Sorry this was so long, I’m not thinking very clearly, and don’t have the strength to reread and edit it.

Oh, I also wanted to say thank you to the Loading Ready Run people. There have been some really dark days recently, and on some of them your videos helped me smile again, thank you.


My Summer Game: Details Finally Decided

So here are the minutes from the character creation and setting discussion. There is still room for new players, and I will be updating this as we go.


  • We are going to start with the modern dungeoncrawling idea, Rune-X, and after the first adventure possibly move on to the dimension hopping game
  • Mullem is in favour of adapting a classic adventure.
  • Guns will be allowed in the crawl, but be reduced in power to avoid risk to the audiance. Therefore they will ‘count as’ bows

The character concepts:

[13:25:09] <Mark> I’d like to keep it simple. A fighter-type. Maybe with a little bit of military experience. A smattering of skills and maybe a bit of battle-magic. Someone fairly resourceful, with a focus on fighting.
Going to it for the fame and glory

[13:25:59] <Ada> So maybe I should be a combat medic.
Is having trouble adapting to civilian life, and the money makes it more lucrative then mercenary work

Quirkygirl will be making a sorcery users. She likes danger, exitement and killing things.

Some imporant exerpts:
[13:22:14] <~Canageek> As I don’t have much of a defined world, I’m going to set the game in something vaugly related to our world, but with magic and whatnot
[13:23:31] <~Canageek> It just came out of a large war, and the Emporor wants something to keep the people happy in the post-war depression as the industries retool
[13:24:05] <~Canageek> So he brought in a new form of gladiator games, which have been hugely popular
[13:24:43] <~Canageek> I’m thinking a late-60s level of technology, with some specific advances in the areas of television as the Emporor views that as an easy tool to control the masses
[13:25:27] <~Canageek> Wait, make that modern, but computers are heavily maingframe based and state owned

Update on my online summer game

So as you may have guessed from my review of Dungeonslayers, I will not be running a game of it this summer. I’ve gotten into a GURPS game on Wednesdays, but well, I have weekends free. However, I forgot how much 1.5 hours in transit and 8 hours of work a day took out of you, even if you have free time, so I’m going to have to limit what and when I’m capable of running.

1) I have been looking at what system to use. So far I’ve looked at FUDGE, ‘Warrior, Rogue & Mage’ and both Red Box Hack and Old School Hack. None of them have seemed to be quite what I am looking for, though I would like to place some FATE & FUDGE. The current front runner for my summer game is GORE. GORE was designed to be an eldrich horror game, in the sprite of another game I play a lot. However, it uses a more D&D like magic system and is freely available, so I think with some house rules it could make a good, if high danger, dungeon crawling game. Additionally, it is simple enough that I think I could convert old D&D monsters to it- Since it is % based I could just make a D&D character of the appropriate level and see what that monsters chance to hit would be, then use that.

2) I’m still interested in the following ideas from my planning post– I’m having less energy after work then I thought, so some of them are not as feasible. Basically I don’t know if I have the energy to run the Dimensional Hopper game and Tangents is definitely out- I don’t have the energy for the planning either of these would take. I’m also less sure of the Megandungeon based ones until I get my feet under me- I’m thinking I could start a standard game with smaller dungeons, and if it goes well move it into a megadungeon. On the plus side, if we use GORE then we could include guns in the X-Crawl based settings if we wanted.

I know what times I can do this at now: Friday night post 7pm, any time Saturday, or Sunday night, ending no later then 9pm, all Pacific Time. I don’t get hope from work until 6 most days, later on many, and that leaves me just enough time to shop, eat and relax a bit before I have to go to bed.  This allows me to move things along a bit, as I have narrowed down the times to the point I feel fine taking applications to join in and suggestions on what to run.

3) I think Google Wave, Maptools, IRC or similar is more my speed right now. I don’t have a webcam or a decent mic, so yeah, voice seems like a bad choice.

So yeah, there are my current plans for an online game. I’m willing to look at other free gaming systems, and if I do use GORE it will be with some houserules (Probably more skills, might use pointbuy. It has rules for gaining HP already, but I will have to look at the system more. I also might tack on a simple XP system, as ‘when you finish the adventure’ doesn’t work in megadungeons.

So, is anyone interested in playing? Leave a comment! Ask questions! Please!


Ideas for my online game

As you all probably know, I am planning on running an online game this summer. I am not officially recruiting yet, as I am unsure of my schedule once I start my job, and that seems like an important thing to know. However, I love writing out game ideas, so I thought I would set some down here.

Idea #1: “XSlayers” (Ie Dungeonslayers meets X-Crawl) I’ve blogged about this one a lot before, specifically when I first mentioned my summer game. To recap: The players are sports starts who descend into short, premade dungeons before a live and televised audience. A Master of Ceremonies runs the show,  providing live commentary, flavour and possibly altering the dungeon as the players move through it.

Idea #2: “Megaslayers” This is very similar to idea #1, except that the players move through a large megadungeon. A megadungeon is one of those giant, many levelled complexes with perhaps hundreds of rooms in it, where the players will never truly “clear” it: New monsters will move in, old ones will leave, and monsters may well migrate as the players kill others and create vacuums within the dungeon. This is set in the same world as number 1, but instead of being a short sports event this is a weekly show. Players still are in a modern setting, but instead of being in a small dungeon 1-page dungeon style affair they are in a long megadungeon, and thus can play monsters off against one another, retreat to the surface, will have to rest in the dungeon and conserve resources.

Idea #3: “XSlayers Classic”  This would be like idea #1 except that instead of going through an adaptation of a one-page dungeon or something short that I cook up the part will go through an adaption of a classic adventure. Probably an old TSR adventure, but I can take suggestions provided players promise not to use out of game knowledge to their advantage. This could very well branch into “Megaslayers Classic” if a longer adventure like the Temple of Elemental Evil is chosen to.

Idea #4: Straight up Dungeonslayers: If the modern-reality TV dungeon idea is not popular then I could go with running a traditonal fantasy version of Dungeonslayers.

Idea #5: “Dungeonslayers Classic”: If people like the idea of mixing Dungeonslayers and classic D&D adventures, but do not like the idea of the modern-dungeon crawling then I could do that to.

Idea #6: “Megadungeonslayers” Again, Megadungeon+Dungeonslayers but no modern.

Idea #7: Dimensional Hoppers: Another idea that I have blogged about before, this game would involve the players travelling across dimensions in search of a way home. Each dimension will be part of a slightly different genre and tech level for a highly episodic feel, but with (hopefully) continuing characters. I would be using a variant BRP system.

Idea #8: Dungeonworld/The Sargasso of Dungeons: Really I can’t think of much to add to this, except that I’d probably use Dungeonslayers, or if I can’t get support for that something like Warrior, Rouge & Mage or a retroclone. This one could be modern, fantasy or some combination of the above.

Idea #9: Tangents. I recently found the Tangents book for Alternity and discovered that it has a really cool adventure series in it. I would be willing to run this with the caveat that players either have to make their own characters or use a premade one from the adventure, as I don’t have enough experience to help them with it as I do the other systems.

I think I’m the most interested in running #1,#3 and #7, followed by #4, #5, #8 and #9, but if I get a bunch of enthusiastic players for any of them I think I’d catch the enthusiasm myself pretty quickly. Also it should be noted that while I listed a bunch of megadungeon ideas they all rated pretty low on my list: This is likely because I’ve not run enough dungeons yet to create a good atmosphere in most of them, and have them react organically to events in the dungeon. The Sargasso would be an inherently random place, so I think it might work more easily… That isn’t to say I wouldn’t try, which is why I listed them. Ideas which I really like, but am unsure I could run, like this idea I have for a game set on a Spacehulk/Sargasso of Death setting I haven’t listed, as I am sure I could run it, but can’t think of a system I am comfortable enough with and that has enough creatures for me to stock it with.

So, does anyone have any feedback on these ideas? Would anyone be interested in playing in one of them? Questions on bits of the setting that seem unclear? Just want more details on one or more of them? Please leave a comment!

Until then, or next time, Stay Geeky!


Blog Recommendation: From the Sorcerer’s Skull

I planned to write this post months and months ago, however universities came along and tackled me, held me down and beat me with knowledge and group projects. On the plus side I now have a totally awesome summer job (nuclear chemistry, including monitoring radiation levels reaching the west coast from Japan), an undergraduate thesis position for next year (NMR studies on protein-small molecule interactions), a working knowledge of polymer chemistry, some useful tidbits about analytical chemistry and some interesting tidbits about physical chemistry and some really useful lab experience.

However, I did not set pen to paper (or bits to memory) to bore you about my academic studies! I came to recommend unto you a most awesome blog: From The Sorcerer’s Skull.

The single best thing about this blog is the amazing setting known as The City and its Strange New
. It is really hard to describe what the city is, and no one post really describes it very well as it has mutated and evolved since the first post on it. I think I shall describe it as thus: Take a large amount of well aged noir, the good stuff with lots of hard shadows and harder men and blend that into a homogeneous mixture with a slight excess of pulp action. Add just a touch of steampunk, the origional politically motivated stuff, not the off-brand ‘aesthetics only’  lite dreck. Now mix this all heavily with traditional D&D tropes as a binder to give it structure, and ice with mythology and nonfiction as desired. Add nuggets of horror and sprinkle liberally with weird fiction. Enjoy. Here are some early example posts: Weird Weapons, Weird War; This post shows the much more modern technological level of The City and a lot of the weird adventure. Dungeon, American Style: City Lost, Canyon Grand has an interesting take on the Grand Canyon, which in the world of the City is filled with monsters. Oh, did I forget to mention that The City’s geography mirrors our own in many ways? Except sprinkled with the fantastic, and often is closer to how people several hundred years ago thought the world was like, not how it actually is. For this reason I strongly suspect that the world of The City is hollow, though I don’t think this has been stated yet.

There are also other sections of the blog: An old setting from before The City, Warlord Wednesdays which talk about an old comic (I will admit to skipping those ones), and a number of other posts on various and interesting topics. Which brings us to the next most impressive part after Trey’s creativity: The sheer number of posts he churns out. I mean, often over 25 posts per month! Almost one a day! It is nuts. I can sometimes manage one a week, but Trey? Trey is a machine! A creative, good post writing machine!

My final point is less tangible: Trey seems like a nice guy. When I posted about my friend who was having some trouble, he and a couple of other readers went and offered her best wishes, and I know he posted at least once after that. From what I can tell she is doing a fair bit better now, though things are still very rocky, and I really appreciate him doing that. Anyway, why are you still here? From The Sorcerer’s Skull is about a thosand times better then my blog! Go read that!

And until next time, Stay Geeky!