Thursday, August 31, 2023

A Short Ponderable

(Short Update: My oldest's surgery was a success, and she's recovering.)

Anyway, before I return to my regular blogging, something I've noticed about language the past couple of years is the prevalence of the word "super" in descriptions. 

Such as this: "I'm super excited to be here talking to you all today..."

Now, I remember when "like" was the trendy word, as in "Should I do the thing? Well, like, I guess so," so I suppose that "super" has replaced "like" among people in general. And I do mean everyone, because I've heard people my age or older use it when speaking in meetings.

It's one of those things where once I realized just how often it was said did I start noticing it everywhere.

Back when I first began writing in high school and at university, I was told to avoid colloquialisms such as "like" or "gag me with a spoon"* when writing, unless you're writing fiction and that's what the narrative voice or the person in question would say. But "like" and now "super" seem to have become so prevalent that I feel that I'm the anachronism.

Between the usage of "super" and "do the needful", I've become the Old Man Yells at Cloud person...

From Know Your Meme.
And The Simpsons.


*Valley Girl stuff, you know.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Where's Red, The "I'm Not in Trouble This Time" Edition

By the time this post drops, I'll be at one of the local hospitals.

Oh, not for me --I'm fine at the moment, thanks for asking-- but for the oldest mini-Red. She's getting her tonsils out today. 

I'm not saying that aliens make 'em
big, but.... aliens.

Yes, she's almost 25. 

And yes, from all I've heard, getting your tonsils out as an adult absolutely sucks. The poor kid already had her wisdom teeth out earlier a couple of months ago, so this makes a nice bookend to her Summer. /sarcasm

I'm the driver and head clown of this circus*, so I'll be making sure she gets there on time and can make sure she doesn't throw up all over the car on the way back. And then, once I get her back home, I have to get back to work because I have some paperwork due today that won't wait. (I'm not kidding, either.)

*My wife occasionally lets me be in charge; to give me a feeling of empowerment, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Just Who ARE You, Really? Part 3 of... Okay, 4 (but that's it!)

I suppose I've put off my WoW toons long enough. Now, a few ground rules: I'm only going to talk about a few of them, since not that many have much in the way of background or narrative. After all, that Warlock I leveled using battlegrounds is just a WoW toon, nothing more and nothing less. 

Now, I did debate over what to cover here, given that two of my toons date back to 2009, but I decided that WoW Classic through Wrath Classic would make for a good range. Besides, I've given the most thought to my WoW toons in a Classic world, so I figure that I might as well stick with what I know best.

I decided to break this final post into two, because I could easily see how long this post could get, even if I severely edited these bios.


Azshandra, the PC that started it all in Classic, starts it off here.

She gets around.

Azshandra has a family name, yet she never shares it. She doesn't speak much of her youth, as it was spent in Zin-Azshari, the capital of the Kaldorei Empire. She was the child of Highborne parents, and she was "all arms and legs" as she describes it. Fellow Highborne children teased her about her looks, yet she took solace in the pride of station, as she was named in honor of Queen Azshara.

Then the demons came.

Most of the Highborne followed the lead of their queen, yet Azshandra's parents saw the darkness growing at the heart of the Kaldorei Empire and joined the Resistance. The were eventually captured and executed by order of one of Azshara's handmaidens. Az witnessed her parents' deaths and fled, the laughter of Azshara's handmaiden ringing in her ears.

Azshandra escaped Zin-Azshari and eventually found her way to what became Northwestern Kalimdor, which ultimately saved her life when the Great Sundering came. She learned to live off the land, hunting from the shadows, grieving for both her parents and all that she knew. She avoided other Kaldorei for a long time, fearing capture and being turned over to Azshara's handmaidens.

She may have become expert at hiding, but it was inevitable that she eventually was caught. She was captured stealing some food from a baker not too far from the ruins of Bashal'Aran and sent before Tyrande Whisperwind for judgement. It was then that she learned of the fate of Azshara and the rest of the Highborne, and of the sundering of the Kaldorei and Queldorei. Azshandra further learned to her amazement that she lived much longer than even she guessed, due to the gift of immortality granted to her race by the Dragon Aspects. Tyrande took pity on Azshandra and spared her life, allowing her to integrate into Kaldorei society once more under guidance of a detachment of Sentinels.

While that was the plan, Az and Kaldorei society don't quite see eye to eye. The Sentinels allow Azshandra to go her own way so long as she doesn't cause trouble, and Azshandra for her part lent her skills to the Sentinel force on an occasional basis. Following his mate's lead, Malfurion Stormrage has accepted Az into Kaldorei society, but Fandral Staghelm has not. He argued vociferously for Az's imprisonment, and Azshandra has neither forgotten nor forgiven him. Druid society has largely remained neutral concerning Az, as the Druids do not want to be seen taking sides between the two Archdruids. Az, for her part, is more comfortable among the Tauren followers of the Cenarion Circle than those of her kin.

Azshandra encountered the Naga in her travels, and from the moment she saw them slithering among the Kaldorei ruins she began to have awful suspicions about these sea creatures. Her suspicions were confirmed when a sea witch discovered her spying on them on the shores west of Ashenvale and called to her by name. Enraged that some of the Highborne who murdered her parents still lived, she slew the Naga she found and swore vengeance against the Handmaiden of Azhsara who ordered her parents' execution.

When the Dark Portal opened, those who crossed over returned with tales of one of those Handmaidens in league with Malfurion's exiled brother. Azshandra took an immediate interest in these stories and resolved to pursue them herself. She crossed over into Outland and promptly vanished from sight.

Despite vigorous searches by her friends and compatriots, Azshandra remains stubbornly hidden. Once in a while, the bodies of several Naga are discovered with her distinctive mark carved on their foreheads, which leads Azshandra's friends to believe that she is still out there, hunting. 


Cardwyn Songshine is up next, the mouthy WoW PC herself.

She calls it like she sees it.

Cardwyn is the youngest of the four Songshine children. The oldest, Kira, fell in love with baking and joined the Goldshire Bakers Guild, of which she is a Journeywoman. The second oldest, Jas (short for Jasper), is married to Karyn with two daughters (Carys and Starlys) and a son (Lewys). The third sibling, Linnawyn, took the Oaths and became a Knight of the Silver Hand.

Card's parents, Daryn and Mona, are veterans of the Second War and own one of the easternmost farms in Elwynn Forest. Mona suffers from severe PTSD as a result of her activity during the war, yet the details of what happened to her have never been shared with Card or her siblings. All they are aware of is that Mona was part of SI:7's predecessor organization, and that something happened to her on her last mission, which broke her.

Card and her siblings were taught by Evelyn Aldcock, a family friend and travelling teacher who traversed the length of Elwynn and as far away as Lakeshire. Early on, Evelyn identified Card as having a talent for the Arcane, and unbeknownst to Car began laying the groundwork for a lifetime of magical study.

Despite all this, Cardwyn (and Linnawyn) would have likely remained on the family farm until one day the Defias Brotherhood came, demanding all of the family's metal. Rather than giving it to them, the Songshines and their farmhands decided to fight when the Defias returned the next day. In a stroke of luck, Evelyn happened to be visiting at precisely that moment, and she took Cardwyn under her wing to travel to Stormwind and find some help. Evelyn was revealed to be not merely a family friend but also a fellow veteran of the Second War and a (retired) Mage from Dalaran.

The fight with the Defias ended in triumph, and as a result Cardwyn embraced tutelage in the Arcane, so she could protect those who couldn't protect themselves. Card also harbored a significant amount of rage at the Defias for attempting to destroy her family, so she set forth on a path that eventually took her to Westfall and the Deadmines. 

The Westfall Affair, as it became known, resulted in the toppling of the Defias leadership and the freeing of Westfall from domination by the Brotherhood. For Cardwyn, however, there would be no peace, as she blamed herself for the loss of friends in that final assault. She learned a bit about what it must have been like for her mom, going undercover, and having to make terrible choices to finish the job.

Still, Cardwyn pressed on, accepting an apprenticeship under Elsharin Dawnweaver, a Queldorei in exile in Stormwind. In Elsharin, she found a kindred spirit: Elsharin thirsted for revenge against the Scourge for the destruction of her homeland and slaughter of her house. Over the years, Card and Elsharin grew close, and Elsharin made her an honorary Dawnweaver by tattooing the family crest on Card's shoulder. 

Cardwyn became a weapon under the Elf's tutelage, and when the time came and Kel'Thuzad returned to Stratholme with the dread citadel Naxxramas, she was ready. 

That time she spent as part of the brigade that assaulted Naxxramas still haunts Card to this day. Some days when they returned to Light's Hope Chapel to rest, Card would drink herself into oblivion, as her sister Linna watched with concern. Other times she would take out her frustration by picking up her Mageblade and hacking a practice dummy to pieces. As she explained to Linna, they spent hours trying to fight their way through the rooms and corridors, only to have the slain rise once more. Even Kel'Thuzad's lieutenants simply would not remain dead; the only endgame was to kill the lich himself to put an end to his reign of terror. 

On a Spring evening the strike team finally brought Kel'Thuzad down, but only after a gruesome fight in which Card lost some of her longest and closest friends. That fight became Card's breaking point as well, as she returned to the farm and buried herself in mundane work, hoping her nightmares and visions would go away.

When the Dark Portal opened, Cardwyn stayed behind at the farm. "There is no reason for me to go; my part is over," she told Linna before her sister rode off to join the rest of the Argent Dawn in securing the Portal from the demons. 

And that was that.

The nightmares slowly faded and Cardwyn got on with life. She recognized the same Arcane talent she had in her nephew, Lewys, and she resolved to do for him what her old teacher, Evelyn, had done for her: gently guide his interests, not forcing him to a specific path. 

That was how things would have remained had she not received a missive from an old friend informing her that somehow Kel'Thuzad was back, floating above Northrend in his rebuilt fortress of Naxxramas. Cardwyn resolved to go north to find out what happened and put an end to Arthas' most loyal servant once more.


Monday, August 28, 2023

Meme Monday: Tiefling Memes

In honor of both Baldur's Gate 3 and this particular YouTube video 

He did kind of dance around the obvious reason:
because Tieflings push that "edgy and sexy" button
that vampires and Drow also push.

that I found perusing the internet for RPG material --yes, I went down the rabbit hole for an hour or two-- so I now give you some memes concerning everybody's favorite angsty character race, Tieflings.


Oh, I'd love a mug like that, but
I'm at the point where we have don't have
space for more mugs. From Pinterest.

Well, that explains a lot.

Yeah, that'll do.
From the Facebook dmdmemes group.


Sunday, August 27, 2023

No King Leaves Forever

I mean, even Arthas keeps coming back into the WoWverse for some strange ungodly reason.

But in this case, I mean everybody's favorite monotonal YouTuber, Madseasonshow.

Welcome back, Mad. Return of the Hardcore... 

(And no, I don't mean that other definition of hardcore.)

(No, not THAT definition either. Sheesh.)


How Do We Understand the Past?

This is more of a "placeholder" post than anything else, because I want to follow up on this but don't want this to necessarily linger too long. Basically, my thought process went to time travelling --courtesy of Star Trek, pick an episode, any episode-- and just how far back a time traveler could go before they could no longer understand what is being said to them.

As this Reddit thread indicates, this is not a new question. However, listening to people and understanding the words as well as the slang are one thing, but understanding the culture enough to fit in is quite another. 

After all, just look at the generation gap we see between parents and their children, much less great grandparents and their descendants. 

Yes, I'm quite aware that the pace of change has accelerated quite a bit since the industrial revolution, but that doesn't make my question less valid. I'm not going to post the invented quote attributed to Socrates about the decay of youth so as to prevent the spread of misinformation, but given that parents and grandparents of my generation --and yes, the Boomers before us-- thought the same thing, it wouldn't surprise me if this attitude about how the youth are different from their elders stretches back to antiquity.

Why is this relevant to gaming, you may ask?

Because we, as people living in the 21st century, will put anachronisms into our various forms of fiction to make it easier for us to relate to. 

Just look at the humble tavern.

The often mocked "you all meet at an inn" starting point for many an RPG campaign arose because people could relate to meeting at a pub or a bar or an inn. Yes, I'm aware that Chaucer started his Canterbury Tales that way, but that doesn't mean that taverns operated in a way that we 21st century inhabitants of the world can understand. We just assume it does so we have a common point of reference.

So.... What about it?

As I've said more than once, I believe this will involve some research on my part to get to a better understanding. And no, it doesn't mean I'm going to be visiting a lot of taverns and drinking the beer/ale/mead --my health issues would kick my ass if I tried with abandonment-- but I should investigate this further. I'm aware of the book The Past is a Foreign Country, so maybe I should start there.

We'll see.


Friday, August 25, 2023

An Unexpected Set of Feels

NOTE: This post has absolutely nothing to do with gaming. Sorry about that.

The other day I came across a book of school and sport photos that my mom had given me over the winter, and since I'd not seen any of these photos in what has been well over a decade or two, I sat down and perused them.

That was probably not the smartest decision I've ever made. Why, you may ask? 

I wasn't prepared for the emotions that they stirred within me.

It's not as if I've never seen pictures of myself as a kid before. On the contrary, my mom has plenty of them around and every so often she likes to pull them out to show "younger me" off to the mini-Reds.  When they were younger, that was cute, but now that they're grown, it's kind of awkward.

But still, those photos are of us on vacation, at home, things like that.

These were the formal class photos and sports team photos that I had as part of the baseball and basketball teams I played on. All my elementary school photos were there, up through middle school. No high school pics here at all.

The guilty party.

When I sat down to peruse the photos, I was struck by the changes from black and white to color photos. My Kindergarten and First Grade photos were in color, but when I changed schools to my Catholic grade school for Second Grade up through Eighth Grade, we reverted to black and white. It was only in Fourth Grade that the class photo returned to color, as if the school couldn't afford color until then.*

The second thing were the outfits.

Oh Lord, the outfits.

My elementary school years stretched from the Fall of 1974 to Spring of 1983, and that wide swath of the 70s was reflected in the loud outfits of the day, such as corduroy jackets and pants.

Yikes. And they come in "Husky Sizes" too!
From the 1975 Sears Fall/Winter
Catalogue, page 418.

My first two years of school were at the local public school, because the Catholic school only went from 2nd through 8th Grade, but despite the latter's uniform requirements our formal photos looked a lot like those found in the public school. So... the same loud clothing.

Despite the loud clothing, I had a hard time wrapping my head around these photos. My own kids are all adults now, so this feels like multiple lifetimes ago. Still, as I perused them, I remembered aspects of my life that I'd buried under decades of daily work.

Such as how I looked when I got glasses in Sixth Grade. My glasses came after our school photos, so I was glasses-free for my class photo, but in Seventh Grade... Between the bad plastic frames and the awkward horizontally striped shirt, I don't know how that photo could look worse. I also began having dandruff issues (thanks for the genetics, Dad), so if you want to talk middle-school awkward, that Seventh Grade photo was it. 

In Eighth Grade, I got a new prescription which included new glasses with metal frames, and they looked a lot better. I may have looked more confident in the school photo, but I certainly was that awkward kid with the hormones who couldn't dance to save their life. (That was on display at the Eighth Grade Graduation Dance, although the most memorable part of that dance was the one kid who thought it would be funny to walk around with his pants down. The chaperones escorted him out.)


My classmates generated a large share of the memories of my youth, both good and bad.

Like the kid who became good friends with me in Kindergarten, to the point where we exchanged telephone numbers to try to get together during the Summer. But when I called him up, the woman on the other end of the line said "nobody of with that name lives here". And that Fall, he wasn't at school. It was as if he'd up and vanished.

There was the girl in Third Grade who loved to read as much as I did, and we had a semester's long competition as to who could read the most books. I kept pace with her for a while, but she ended up beating the pants off me in both quantity and quality of books**. I found her interesting and funny and vexing all at once, but at the end of the school year she told me that her family was moving, and I never saw her again after that Spring.

Oh man, I'd almost forgotten about the kid in Third Grade who never did his homework. And I do mean never. He'd get in trouble for that, but then one day when he came to Math class he told the teacher he'd done his homework, she was happy... until we were supposed to open our math workbooks to show we did our homework. Oh, those blank pages he presented did not go over well. "DON'T YOU LIE TO ME!!!" the teacher yelled and grabbed the kid by the arm, yanking him out into the hallway. There was an impromptu meeting among all of the other Third Grade teachers and the Principal, with the kid in tow, which dragged on for over 20 minutes. (I know, because I was watching the clock in total silence, along with the rest of my class.) I don't know the end result of all this, but the kid was never in class again.

In Fourth Grade, I absolutely loved my homeroom teacher; she was patient yet demanding, encouraging and calm, and she pushed my academic interests far more than the nuns ever did. But more than anything else she was tall. She was easily the tallest woman I'd ever known at that point --I want to say she was at least 5' 10"-- and I found out later that she was the daughter of a local doctor who played basketball back in the day. In what I now identify as a trend, she left the school at the end of the school year because she could make more money being a secretary for her dad's office than she could as a teacher.***

I discovered girls in the Fifth Grade, but looking at these photos now I'm having a hard time viewing the girls and trying to remember what I found attractive in them. I mean, they look so young, and my vantage point is a mid-50s man who looks at women in their early 20s and think that they look far too youthful for my taste.

There was the "love triangle" in the Sixth Grade between one boy and two girls that everybody seemed to think was absolutely cute, including the two girls involved, but the boy seemed very embarrassed by the whole thing. I was simply baffled, because I thought that if I were caught that way between two girls, it would make my head hurt.

A boy who was only there for Sixth Grade --his family moved to West Germany after the school year, so it's likely his was a military family-- taught everybody the "Diarrhea" song. He was constantly in trouble, and it was widely rumored he was in and out of juvenile detention. 

In Eighth Grade, I had to deal with constant bullying from a girl who would get into my face and yell "WE HATE YOU!!" I've been bullied before and since, but that was probably the worst. I hated her with a passion, but the teachers did nothing and I decided I wasn't going to respond to her directly. But oh, I dreamed about hauling off and slugging her for that.


All that was well and good, until I reflected on what happened to some of the kids when they grew up.

There was one girl I crushed on --not my original crush, but one that people knew about in grade school-- who was very smart and attractive, but she got pregnant and she ended up marrying her boyfriend and dropping out of college. I think she may have eventually gotten her college degree, but I have no idea if she remained married. 

A similar fate befell the kid who dropped his pants at the Eighth Grade Dance; he finished within a hair of being Salutatorian at high school and had a sports scholarship to a Division I university lined up, but his girlfriend got pregnant and... that was that.

The girl who bullied me in Eighth Grade? She developed an eating disorder in high school. I have no idea what became of her after that.

One classmate spent time in prison for embezzling funds, but I believe he's out now. 

In a "no surprise" event, one of my classmates died when a drug deal went bad. He was a constant thorn in my side, and despite his small stature he was a bully. When I was in high school he was caught by the police slashing tires in the parking lot of our elementary school, which I was no real surprise.

Another classmate committed suicide by jumping off of the tallest building in town. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that one, 30 years after I first heard it. He was the class clown type, and from what I've read about comics and depression I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it still hurt.

Not all was doom and gloom, however. A few people married their high school sweethearts and remain married today (or at least as far as a couple of years ago). Others survived the bullying gauntlet and became successful in life. And still others are, well, doing their thing, I guess. If they're like me, they don't respond to correspondence about school reunions or things like that, because they prefer to forget their experiences in grade/middle school. 


Admittedly, this reflection wasn't what I expected it would be, as when I began perusing the photos I didn't expect to be reminded of all of these events. I could have just shoved it aside and buried it deep in my psyche, but I felt it was important to let this stuff come out. There's a lot more stories I could tell from my grade school years, but I'm not exactly sure how to tell them. 

My grade school was, well, kind of fucked up in its focus. I don't know if it's the case in other parts of the country, but here in Ohio the Catholic grade schools emphasize athletics to an inordinate degree. As in "far beyond the healthy levels" of emphasis. For example, my school's priorities were in full display on our annual "yearbook" that we were given out for free at the end of the year. My kids' yearbooks growing up included a lot of photos of the various classes and the kids doing all sorts of activities; my own only included the formal pictures of the sports teams that the school sponsored, as if sports were all that mattered at the school. (In some ways, it kind of did.)

However, there were at least a few pages for autographs and other comments, so there was that at least. And like a lot of kids, I got some signatures from people I knew.

This was in my Seventh Grade yearbook.
Names have been removed for privacy's sake.
And before you ask, no, we never dated.

Again, this is from Seventh Grade. The guy
who wrote this is, well, respectable these days.
I think that blows my mind more than anything else.

In perusing the autographs, I don't think I had an "bad" autographs, but that kind of went without saying. After all, you're not likely to ask someone you didn't like to sign your yearbook. Still, I can tell the years I felt more isolated than others by the (lack of) autographs in my yearbook.

But I do wonder about how much the petty drama drove so much shit at school. Probably 95% of it, if I'm being honest with myself.


Okay, I have to put all of this aside for now. I'm glad I got to put some of this down on pixels, because it feels rather cathartic to bring all of this out every so often. Maybe it's just me that I'm surprised that as many kids in my class of 90-100 eventually turned out to be as well adjusted adults as there were, but then again maybe the churn of shit below the surface is quite normal for any school. Who knows?


*That wasn't the case; it was more the fault of the Pastor being a cheapskate. That particular priest was a stereotypical cigar smoking, hard drinking asshole in his mid-50s who always found something to dislike in whatever you were doing. His fingerprints were all over what high schools were welcome to recruit at the school as well; he went to the high school I eventually attended, and because of that he refused to let the local Jesuit high school recruit students. The same thing went for the girls' high school: the girls' school right next to my high school was welcome, the other, more prestigious ones were not.

**She was reading middle school level books by the end of the school year, and just cruising through them.

***I saw her years later when I broke my collarbone in Eighth Grade; she certainly remembered me, which was both gratifying and embarrassing to a 13 year old kid that his Fourth Grade teacher remembered him. Of course, I now know that isn't so unusual, but back then I certainly thought it was.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Just Who ARE You, Really? Part 2 of... uh... 3, actually...

I figured I'd start an exploration of some of my PCs and toons with my AD&D 1e character, Alarius. You know, stick to the classics at first.

I'd originally joked that I should name him
"Joe the Cleric", hence the "Joe" there.
And yes, when someone says something funny
at the table, it goes on my character sheet somewhere.

Alarius is, in some ways, an unfunny me. He takes himself far too seriously, doesn't really like "the Hilarious" moniker he was given*, and doesn't talk much about his gods. There's an out of game reason for that last part, as one of our game group is a Methodist Minister, and therefore I'm not inclined to be obnoxious as far as in-game religion is concerned.

Alarius began the adventuring life following up on rumors of slavers operating in the area, and joined up with a group to pursue those rumors. Along the way, the slaver conspiracy kept growing in scope and size, and as the group gained in knowledge and strength they began to find themselves a target of the slavers themselves. When they finally reached the heart of the slaving operation, they were instead captured and thrown into the dungeon, presumably to await execution. Only a fortuitous volcanic eruption --"A gift from the gods!" Alarius said at the time-- allowed them to escape, find their gear, and overwhelm the guards at the docks.

(Yes, that was the content of the old AD&D Slave Lords modules, A0 through A4.)

While perusing the slavers' documents, Alarius discovered that a shipment of slaves had been sent out to a remote area, which stood out from other possible locales. The party reassembled and headed out to investigate, only to discover that the surrounding countryside was under assault from a clan of Hill Giants. 

(Oh yes, it's THAT module.)

Alarius and Company defeated the Hill Giants and followed the trail to a stronghold of Frost Giants, and subsequently to a fortress of Fire Giants. It was only then that they discovered the long rumored but never seen "dark elves" or Drow not only existed but were directing the Fire Giants in their acquisition of slaves. 

At the moment, Alarius is somewhere underground, following a path marked on an incomplete map to what appears to be a Drow city. The party already had to fight off some Drow slavers, who took off with some of their number, and followed them to an underground supply post. The abductees were subsequently rescued and everybody escaped an underground supply post by the skin of their teeth.

(Yes, we're finished with module D1 - Descent into the Depths of the Earth, and are about to start D2 - Shrine of the Kuo-Toa. For those who don't know who Kuo-Toa are, think giant murlocs. EVIL giant murlocs.)


Aranandor is up next, an Elven Champion in LOTRO:

There are stories about that already?

LOTRO is an ideal game if you want a story, because the original Shadows of Angmar story is absolutely fantastic. You can get bogged down a bit while you level and the UI is really bad for the Red/Green colorblind, but if you're a fan of Middle-earth, it's always worth a trip.

So... Aranandor. 

I made a point of making a character with an "accurate" Quenya name, although after the royal "Aran" I think it means royal/noble of Andor. Or maybe not.

Aranandor spent some time earlier in the Third Age at Rivendell but eventually grew restless and made the trip to Ered Luin, where the Grey Havens lay. As the Shadow of the east grew larger, he considered following the call of the sea and going to the Undying Lands, but instead he chose to stay and fight the Shadow as best he could. The Witch King wove many intricate plots around Eriador, from Ered Luin to Bree and even as far east and south as Eregion, and no matter how hard Aranandor tried, he always felt that the minions of the Witch King were a step ahead of him. 

As Angmar looked unstoppable, The Witch King's chief minion decided to dole out his own twisted form of justice on a minion he perceived to be insufficiently loyal. That turning on a loyal minion, causing the minion to in turn betray the Shadow, was the break Aranandor and the Free Peoples needed. 

"Strange how such a thing as petty jealousy can cause the downfall of the great," Aranandor once mused while resting at Imladris.

After the Angmar affair, Aranandor spent time with the Dwarves in Khazad-Dum, a relentlessly grim place that he shudders to remember. The boughs of Lothlorien were more to his liking, his kin from afar dwelt there, after all, but even there the Shadow stretched its arms toward the Golden Lady. He would die for Galadriel and Celeborn, but rather than asking that sort of sacrifice they instead chose another: to draw the attention of Mordor away from the Fellowship, Aranandor was tasked with assisting an assault into Mirkwood. The darkness that dwelt there reminded the Elf far too much of the darkness in Moria, and as companions died his spirits flagged.

A change was needed.

When he returned to Imladris for healing and rest, Elrond summoned him to his side. "Word has reached us that Aragorn has need of his Kinsmen," he told the elf. "Assemble the Rangers of the North so that they may head south and rendezvous with him in Rohan."

Ever the dutiful Wood Elf, Aranandor rode throughout the north, bringing word to the Rangers and then riding south with them to the country of the Dunlendings. There he found loyalty and betrayal among the people so thoroughly dominated by Saruman, yet he also found courage and heart in those few Dunlendings who rejected the Shadow. 

It is there that Aranandor's story ends, for much lies before him and is yet to be told.

As you can guess, Aranandor's primary motivation is his desire to see the Shadow defeated, but the long and often lonely paths he has trod has worn on him. He smiles less now, and he has seen far too many of those he calls friends fall in battle or to the plots of the Enemy. Yet he has not totally forsaken the Grey Havens, as he knows that when this age is over he may yet cross over the sea to the West.


*I suggested it, and it stuck.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Just Who ARE You, Really? Part 1 of 2

I recently volunteered to do a one shot RPG with a friend of mine, and I was allowed to use any existing PC I've created and are currently using in an RPG.

"Do mouthy WoW toons count?" I asked.

Oh, shush. That was a term of endearment.

Although this wasn't exactly what my friend had in mind, it was a player character for an RPG (of a sort), and as I am currently playing an iteration of this particular PC, my friend decided to allow it.

I will be the first to admit that I have had my share of RPG campaigns over the years, and plenty of PCs to choose from, but as far as personalities go, that's a big conundrum. Until my MMOs came along, my experiences in creating PCs with a somewhat divergent series of personalities was pretty limited.

Hence the reason for this post.*


When I first began playing RPGs, I was in 7th Grade and the concept of 'roleplaying' itself was reduced to "you enter a room with 5 Kobolds and 4 Orcs." Not exactly stuff that will engage with my inner Master Thespian, I can assure you. That didn't mean that I didn't dream of being the Knight (or Paladin, in this case) fighting evil wherever I found it.** That dream of inhabiting a character was there, it's that my "characters" were, well, me. The were simply extensions of me and my personality, no more and no less.

It was only when I was forced to go "underground" on my RPG playing and in turn embraced reading a lot of SF&F that I began to understand a bit more about how roleplaying could work. The PCs didn't have to be me with just different names, but they could be created and/or voiced by me. They could have different personalities, just like that found in the various novels I read.

So... A lot of my characters began to act similarly to those that I read out of Lord of the Rings, The Belgariad, or The Elric Saga. (Among others.) Not that much of a reach in terms of personal motivation, but when the alternative was "acting like me", it was a decent enough stretch for someone taking their first steps into a fictional world of their own making.

The summer of my Senior year in high school, I had a discussion with a couple of my co-workers about how an RPG campaign works. While they were proponents of the "you meet at a tavern and then go out and kill monsters", I went in a different direction. 

"Sure, you could initially meet in a tavern," I admitted, "but say you take a contract to do something small. You do it well, then that leads to another job, a bigger one. This continues until you begin to acquire a reputation, and you attract the attention of someone in power. They decide to take a chance on you, and whether you perform well or not means that they become either your enemy or your patron. Or, you could become the King's personal problem solver, a 'Mission: Impossible Team'***, ready for when he needs you to take on a big job."

Nothing much came out of that discussion, but looking back on it now it seems that was a sort of turning point. Between then and me heading off to college a short time later, I turned a corner in terms of what I wanted out of an RPG.

Well, kind of.

My first big RPG experience in college gave me an example of how a DM was restrictive because he wanted us to play things his way. He had designed this entire elaborate campaign and recruited about 14 people to play --at once-- but the campaign and his DM style left his players no room for role playing. It was "play the campaign the way I want you to or else". Well, without giving the players any real freedom to do much more than react to what he was telling your character was they were doing, it became all about him and his story. The fact that he had far far too many people playing in a single campaign at once became a recipe for disaster. 

The campaign lasted a grand total of one night, and somewhere about an hour into the game he came to the realization that he couldn't control the situation and left in an offended huff.

There were 5 of us who kind of hung around after, critiquing what the DM tried (and failed) to do, and we all wanted to still play. One of us piped up that he'd DMed back in high school, and he had some campaigns he could run. 

And our primary D&D campaign in college was born. 

This second RPG experience lasted much longer --it eventually evolved into the 20+ year campaign a decade later with a subset of players from that group-- but I reverted to form and basically played, well, a version of me. 

(Gotta go with the classics, I guess.)

Even its descendent campaign, the 20 year one, I ended up playing a version of me, personality-wise. Oh, he started out as an inquisitive type who was so wrapped up in their own studies that he only broke out of it when presented with a carrot on a stick in the form of a mystery to be solved, but ol' Lucius Raecius devolved into a version of me who would charge into battle, spear at the ready, because that was naturally what a Cleric of Zeus would do.****

I only began to break out of that when I was given a Wizard character to play in addition to Lucius: the original Nevelanthana. 

Yes, Neve started life as a D&D PC of mine, an L4 Wizard in D&D 3.0. I'd advocated for a magic wielder of some sort, because we didn't have any in our game group, and I could see the need for magic in a future campaign. 

The D&D version of Neve was snooty, somewhat arrogant, brilliant --and boy did she know it-- and really wanted to be the game world equivalent of an Elven Ranger like her father, but she wasn't good enough to join the corps. So, she became a Wizard instead, like her mother,, but she still kept practicing archery to prove that she was better than everybody thought. (Rejection can be a helluva motivating tool. Believe me, I know from personal experience.)

Oh, and one more thing: she spent several years of the campaign as a ghost.

Yes, she died not too long after she joined the campaign. It was a classic case of one of the party members being mind controlled by a harpy and turning and attacking the closest player: Neve. He rolled --in succession-- 20.... 20.... 20!!!

The DM decreed it resulted in an instant decapitation.*****

Rather than having Neve simply shuffle off the mortal coil, the DM kept Neve around as a ghost until we were able to figure out how to bring her back.

During that long period of "Ghost Neve", I learned how to work with a player with a distinctively different set of motivations than mine were. Ghost Neve couldn't fight, and she couldn't be heard by almost everyone, but she could still affect the game in some ways. Because of that, I couldn't fall back on playing Neve like an extension of myself. I was still me, and Lucius was still me, but Neve was definitely her own person. Her personality was such that I turned to my experiences writing fiction to try to keep her narrative fresh and interesting, and both my role playing and my fiction improved as a result. 

The irony is that were it not for a dead PC I wouldn't have learned how to play living ones better. 


And a further irony is that I needed to play single player story driven games to give my MMO players their own motivations and personality.

My original MMO, World of Warcraft, doesn't have a lot of story driven content from the standpoint that you get to choose how a player reacts. You roll on up, you get the quest, and you complete it. The original SWTOR had modifications to that formula as you could select various options, some of the Light Side and some of them Dark, but the net effect is that you don't affect the story nearly as much as you might think given some of the weight you may place on certain decisions. The Elder Scrolls Online is a similar MMO where the overall story moves in one direction, and while there are small decisions you can make the overall thrust of the story is predetermined. 

I suppose that's also the case with single player RPGs, the effects of various decisions in them can be larger, much larger, than that of MMOs.

Take The Witcher, for example. I've only played about half of the first game in the series, but that first game showed me what the consequences of my actions are. "Because I chose X, X enabled me to get to Y, and then I could reach Z," were the obvious connections the in-game narration provides. It might be beating you on the head with a stick, but those actions and the follow-up from the same provide the basis for a character's decision making. 

And from there, a personality can emerge that drives that decision making.

Of course, this can go awry, as "it's what my character would do" can be driven to extremes and ruin everybody's fun. Obviously being a Grade A asshole doesn't help anybody, and if you're going to have a character of yours do that, you'd better be
  1. In a single player video game
  2. Writing a story
because if you play a character that actively sabotage's the group, people won't want to play with you. As one of the replies in that Reddit thread I linked to pointed out, D&D is as close to a coop game as you can get. When you play as an asshole without regard for the group, then expect the group to rebel against you. 

Okay, I digress.

Due to those single player games and the sometimes uncomfortable situations a player may find themselves in, I learned how to evolve a personality which simply isn't an extension of my own. 

Does that mean my method of playing is superior to these others? No, it's just different. It's kind of hard to explain, but my understanding and satisfaction of roleplaying has changed over time, and each type of roleplaying from "extension of me" to " a fully fleshed out three dimensional character" give me a lot of satisfaction in their own way.

If you've got the time, Matt Colville has a great lecture about this actual topic:

So we have come full circle. As I began playing WoW Classic back in 2019 I began to have thoughts about why the toons I was playing were out adventuring. Vanilla Classic has some really good initial questlines for low level players, and the Defias -> Deadmines story is the best of the lot, but it was a new toon's initial arrival at the starting zone was what puzzled me. Those ponderings eventually lead to two offspring: this post about player motivation in general, and the creation of One Final Lesson.

In it's own bizarre way, were it not for Neve, I'd not have had Card to play with.

What sort of person is Cardwyn, anyway? Or the WoW version of Nevelanthana? Or Linnawyn? Or Quintalan? Well, that's where Part 2 comes into play.


*And yes, my friend is going to see this post, because why not? It's not as if I want to hide any of this from her.

**Or a Jedi. Or a Cowboy, or a Naval Officer. Okay, that last one might seem like a stretch, but we had an old set of 1954-ish era World Book Encyclopedias at home, and I stumbled across what US military dress uniforms looked like. Lo and behold, the Naval blue dress uniform looked a lot like the sport coat in my closet, so... I'd dress up in my sport coat, attach paper "rank sleeve stripes" via scotch tape, and voila! Instant military uniform to play... uh.... Army with? Oh well, it wasn't perfect.

***Our boss was really into Mission: Impossible, so whenever we had team get-togethers, video recordings of M:I episodes found their way onto the television.

****Narrator: For a smart person, Lucius wasn't as wise as his Wisdom score would indicate.

*****I'm still pissed about that turn of events. Not the actual 20 - 20 - 20 combination, as that was just unlucky rolls distilled into their purest form, but that the player who did the rolling thought it was the coolest thing ever. The rest of us were horrified --or maybe said a few choice four letter words-- but he and the DM thought it was awesome stuff. And that sincere lack of sympathy even out of game pissed me off.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

What My Brain Thinks About when I'm Stressed

While I was buried under work today, a sudden thought struck me:

What if World of Warcraft's Arenas were decoupled from the rest of the game?

Now, I don't mean that it's a separate program from WoW itself --although that could be an intriguing possibility-- but what if in the interest of getting new players into Arenas Blizzard essentially removes some of the roadblocks from getting people into Arenas? 

In this case, I'm envisioning the following:

  • A player must have a subscription to WoW to participate in Arenas.
  • When you enter into an Arena fight, every player is set to a standard set of gear and their max level. It doesn't matter what your current level or gear is, everybody gets the current Season's PvP gear and is set to max level. Once the match is over, you return to your regular level and gear.
  • Customization (transmog) of your appearance is allowed, but offers no bonuses. They're just skins for the standard gear underneath.
  • Your class buffs are allowed, and every player is given access to a standard number of potions/scrolls/etc. based on their class, plus the PvP Trinket that breaks incapacitation. That's it.
  • All of your class abilities are still present for a max level toon.
  • All addons are disabled for an Arena match.
  • Arena victories yield rewards as standard, but since Arenas are temporary events, you can use your rewards to buy gear used in other PvP activities (such as Battlegrounds and World PvP).
  • If you want to play Arenas as they are now, you can under a separate naming convention. Call it 'Old School Arenas', maybe? Some people would hate to give up their addons to play, but others won't mind if it means they can play as soon as they subscribe to the game.
What this standardization process does is that it eliminates the grind and the gearing process from getting a player into Arenas. A player can create a toon and go straight into Arenas if they wish, or they can level and run dungeons, raid, or play in Battlegrounds. If you want to customize your PvP experience in the standard fashion --complete with addons and the grinding for gear process-- there's Old School Arenas to go play with.

Anyway, it's something to consider.


Monday, August 21, 2023

Meme Monday: Stress Memes

I'll be honest: work is stressful right now.

I'm taking over a new position (it's a lateral move, don't worry) and after a month to a month and a half of "not much" going on, suddenly everything is happening at once. And my co-worker has taken a leave of absence for an unknown period of time, so it's all gotten dumped on me.

Oh yay.

Throw in the usual hits and misses as to whether certain parts of the job were missed or not, and.... Yeah.

Or as Nixxiom would put it in his Fun/Not Fun series of YouTube videos: NOT FUN.

Enough of my pity party; here's some memes about stress related to gaming and other stuff...

Yeah, I've been there.
From SammichesPsychMeds.

Such is the nature of addiction.
From OverMemes, a Facebook group.

Or worse, a floppy disk.
I mean, remember when a clueless
computer user would think those were coasters?
From imgflip.

I have actually been in this situation,
but then I die.
From Instagram.


Sunday, August 20, 2023

A New Reality

Friday night my Questing Buddy and I and another friend were attempting to complete Mara with 3 people (L60 Frost Mage, L60 Hunter, and L49 Holy Paladin) when the whisper came in.

"Hey, are you running boosts? I'll pay to join your group."

I didn't hesitate.

"Sorry, but we're running to get some quests done out of our log."


When I mentioned it to the group, my Questing Buddy pointed out that:
  • I am a Mage
  • I'm L60
  • I am in Maraudon
So, it made sense for people to think I was running boosts.

Which does make sense, but it kind of sucks. As I pointed out tonight when we ran Zul'Farrak with another friend, they had no idea I was a fresh L60 with absolutely no gear for running Frost Mage style boosts.

Or is it?

"I wonder if there's a Tacotip for Era. brb"

Sure enough, the dreaded GearScore app was available for Classic Era, and I quickly installed and restarted WoW. 

"Yep, it's there. So there is a GearScore for Era."

"Oh great," my Questing Buddy grumbled. I could see why she'd be annoyed, as she had to deal with that enough in Wrath Classic.

"Well," I replied, "Era is a different beast. People here don't seem to care nearly as much about GS." 

Which is a good thing, because unless you have a regular group to hang with, Wrath Classic pugging can be not a lot of fun. Another friend was complaining last night about a pugger being a real asshole in their Wrath Classic raid; he was complaining about the lack of DPS from people, and my friend was pointing out that she was taking care of the adds like she was supposed to, and here this pugger was shooting his mouth off implying they were all shit.

I could feel the heat from her words all the way up here in Cincy.


All this got me to thinking.

In my YouTube Recommended section, this particular video popped up:

I'm not a big Taliesin and Evitel fan, so I think he's kind of dancing around the problem that WoW has: it's player model of quickly leveling and then dungeon + raid (or as players in the Comments section pointed out that it's "Mythic+ and Raid") appeals to a small segment of the potential player base. I said 'potential' because I believe more people would play Retail WoW if the current model weren't so restrictive.*

A common theme in the Comments section was that WoW's Mythic+ pug scene is a toxic cesspool, and that perception --fair or not-- is going to drive people away from WoW if the alternative is to grind renown. And I can see that, because that was what happened to me in Wrath Classic. What I liked doing best in original Wrath, running heroic dungeons, was "enhanced" by Wrath's version of Mythic+ with the Heroic Plus (and Heroic Plus Plus) dungeons, which were all what people wanted to do once they came out.

But Taliesin saying that the Shadowlands 9.1 patch may go down as being the patch that eventually broke WoW is likely correct. It was bad enough that it broke the hold that the game had on enough people for the subs to likely plummet.**

And that leads right into another video, this time from Venruki:

Now, Venruki is a PvP player who plays Arenas, so he's got a different vantage point than I do. But the overall thrust of the video is that it takes far too much time and effort to get into playing Arenas if you're a new player, and all of the external systems --addons and whatnot-- are a major problem that keeps people from playing the game. 

To illustrate his belief, he also points out at roughly 9:28 that damage rotations are far too complicated in Retail WoW, and uses the Arcane Mage raid rotation as an example. 

Having played a Mage from late Wrath up through early Mists (and back again in Classic), I was floored by the complexity, which starts upwards of 10 seconds before the boss pull. Which to my mind, which sits in "I have to manage my mana" mode, is kind of nuts. When on top of it you have to also have situational awareness to move around and handle various aspects and mechanics of a boss fight, you're just asking for trouble.

Before anybody gets on a comment here saying "oh, it's not that bad, you only have to do that if you want to raid at a high level," let me tell you that perception is indeed reality. These videos are out there, and potential WoW players will see them. So commenters telling me "it's not that bad" are warring against that, not me, because those videos will tell people otherwise. 

I can see why people aged 20-25 make up 37% of WoW players, and apparently people age 50+ make up only 0.5% of the WoW playerbase.*** It can feel that due to the complexity and requirements and whatnot that the game has passed me by.

NOTE: After this post, Shintar was able to determine that the data listed above came from a survey dating from 2013. (See the comments.) Whether or not the data is accurate is irrelevant, as the date of the survey is 10 years old. Therefore I'm striking the data and leaving the strikethrough visible. Still, I do feel that WoW is far to complex for its own good: it's difficult to get started, the systems you learn while leveling don't apply once you reach the current expansion, and the sheer grind and complexity once you reach max level becomes an albatross when newer gamers want to load up a game and just, well, play. And if you step away for a period of time, the game makes it paradoxically easy and hard to return: easy to level up, but hard to freaking pick up on all of the details you need if you want to truly embrace Endgame content again. And the community does itself no favors.


*I get that my main complaint, that the story and focus has gone off the rails compared to Vanilla (and to a lesser extent TBC) days, is something that only a small portion of the potential player base is concerned with. To the majority of people playing Retail WoW, story only becomes a concern when it is gated behind a certain amount of activity (or in-game timers); whether the story makes sense or whether it appears to be created by conspiracy theorists in the midst of an LSD-induced fever dream isn't high on people's agenda. I'd probably be less harsh about the story if I felt like I had a stake in it, but really, I don't. Blizzard's story team made that plain when it is obvious that we're basically the meat shields for whatever the faction leads (or whoever else is in charge) decide. 

**No, I have no idea if it is the case, just all I've heard. Even if it wasn't as bad as people say, the perception was bad enough that it takes on a life of its own.

***That chart that Nixxiom has on the video also shows people aged 30-40 make up 9% and 40-50 make up 1% of the player base, respectively. So... All us old farts who blog a lot are definitely in the minority.

EtA: Corrected some word flow.

EtA: Corrected some grammar.

EtA: It was Zul'Farrak, not Zul'Aman. Wrong Troll instance, and wrong expac.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

When You Just Can't Relax

This past week has been unseasonably cool for mid-August in the Ohio Valley, so my first inclination after work is to actually go outside for a bit and enjoy the outdoors. But me being me, I can't simply enjoy the outside without looking at the yard and thinking that "I need to work on that". 

Like, oh, the deck.

Or my daughter's car.*

Or that garden plot we keep talking about putting in the backyard.

I tend to drive my kids bananas with plotting out how I'm going to get stuff done and when, because efficiency is a big deal when you've limited time to get something done.

And right now, you're probably snickering because I rail about the min/maxing that goes on in MMOs, when I do it myself in real life.

That's the difference, really: when I'm in an MMO I'm there to not do what I do irl; I want to relax. It takes some doing, but I do force myself to not min/max my way in MMOs. Sometimes it just leaks out, like knowing what crafted gear gets me good boosts while leveling, but in general I keep it under control.

While I rail against min/maxing in general, I'm fine with individuals doing it if that's what they want to do in game. Just don't expect me to do it. And the quickest way to make me dig in my heels and become as stubborn as a mule is to try to force me into doing it. After all, that's not the way to change someone's mind.


*My youngest drove up to visit for the weekend, and when I happened to lean against her car it felt... chalky. "When did you last wash the car?" I asked. 


"Uh oh." Her car needed a good polish or she was in danger of losing her paint job. Maybe if the car was only 5 years old she could have gotten away with it, but it's 14 years old (she bought it from my sister-in-law). "Let me work on that."

So I spent several hours over the weekend washing and then polishing her car to remove all the built up residue on the paint job. I hadn't used the car polish in ages, but I finished the bottle on Saturday and had to run to the auto store early on Sunday morning.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Journey's End, Journey's Beginning

Well, I wasn't expecting this to happen that quickly, but...

Kind of fitting that it happens on the
Onyxia quest line, which no longer
exists in a post TBC world.

I honestly thought it'd happen after September 1st, but stuff happened and I got through the last couple of levels pretty quickly. (I remember it taking Azshandra, my first WoW Classic toon, upwards of 5 months to make it to max level in 2019-2020.)

I suppose I ought to work on another toon as well, but the Plaguelands are calling.


Thursday, August 17, 2023

Keeping the Fire Going

Sometimes the inspiration for a post comes from out of left field*, and this certainly fits.

Zinn over in Jinxed Thoughts --yes, Zinn's back!-- had a post this evening about a Choose Your Own Adventure book series, called Dice Man:

From Jinxed Thoughts.

Zinn is a fan of Judge Dredd, and so that cover caught her eye. Only one of the stories covers ol' Dredd, but that's fine. That post she wrote jogged my memories about the Choose Your Own... style books that I'd bought back in the 80s while I was forbidden from playing RPGs, and I have no idea where they are now: Tolkien Quest/Middle Earth Quest series and the Lone Wolf series.


I had the top three books, but this is
a sampling of what was put out.
From u/aelphia on this Reddit thread.

Let's talk Tolkien first, shall we?

This was my gateway drug into the Middle-earth Roleplaying System by Iron Crown Enterprises, but I'd almost completely forgot that little factoid. Back in the 80s when I was banned from RPGs, the first book appeared at one of our local bookstores,** so I naturally snapped it up. 

Inside the book looked a lot like the traditional Choose Your Own Adventure books, only there were fights and skill checks involved, and for those checks you could either close your eyes and point a pencil at a page in the back with random numbers on it or you could get out some dice and know... roll for it. There was even a miniature character sheet in the back, as I recall, and the story itself was well done.

I know now that the book, being produced by Iron Crown Enterprises, meant that the quality was bound to be high, but I had no idea what to expect. I mean, the old Choose Your Own Adventure books themselves suffered from uneven quality from book to book, so I had kind of steeled myself for a potential let-down.

But the best part? It looked like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, so it passed whatever invisible inspection my parents' had, and besides it was the size of a paperback***, so I could easily toss it in a book bag or in the middle of some other books and nobody was the wiser.  After the third book I didn't see any more being published, but that was okay by me; by then I'd moved on to hiding the MERP RPG books themselves in my room.

Having done some short research, it appears that the series was restarted when I was away at college, which is why the actual number of Middle-earth Quest books is much larger than the three I remember.


There was also another reason why I was okay with the Middle-earth Quest series ending, and it was this series that I stumbled upon at that same bookstore:

From the Lone Wolf Fandom Wiki.

I knew from the moment I saw it that I was too old for the target audience, but I quickly snapped it up and skimmed the inside anyway. There was a similar system in place to that of the Middle-earth Quest books, so I acknowledged that it was more for elementary and middle-school kids and swallowed my pride and bought it. 

Looking back on those Lone Wolf books now, I can see the obvious kid-oriented plots, but I was still happy to feed my RPG habit with these supercharged Choose Your Own Adventure style books. The funny thing is, I tired of these more quickly than the Middle-earth Quest books, mainly because after the first story arc finished, the author Joe Dever went back and started another story arc with your character essentially starting all over again. In an echo of complaints about every MMO expac ever, I wasn't so thrilled to essentially toss out all of my old abilities and weapons just because. Still, I have some very fond memories of these books that kept the RPG flame alive for me in the 80s when things looked bleak for me.


*A slang term referencing baseball. The outfield in baseball is the farthest away from home plate, so "out of left field" is slang for "from out of nowhere".

**It feels so weird saying 'bookstores' these days, but when I look back on it, the 70s and 80s were 38-48 years ago. We even had a bookstore at the local strip mall a short bike ride away from my home, and that's something my own kids would never ever comprehend. To them, going to a bookstore is a "pile into the car and drive for 20 minutes" event, especially since the Borders 10 minutes away closed back in 2011. And that was the summer before our oldest mini-Red began Seventh Grade; she'll be 25 this Fall. (!)

***And cost as little as one, too!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

It Is a Puzzlement

I've mentioned before about how Modiphius Entertainment came out with a pencil and paper Dune RPG, and I am puzzled.

Yes, they did win an Ennie award for it, but...
From the Modiphius website.

I mean, it not only exists --and Modiphius won awards for it-- but I just can't wrap my head around the concept of an RPG based on the Dune universe. 

While I can understand the concept of a strategic game, such as the legendary Avalon Hill board game Dune,

It had been out of print for so long
--and the Herbert estate had sat on it--
that I figured it wasn't ever going to see
the light of day again. Still not sure how
Gale Force Nine pulled this one off.
From Boardgamegeek.

an RPG based on the intellectual property is an entirely different matter.

RPGs are meant to be personal, so even when you have a troupe or stable of players, such as in Ars Magica or Vampire: the Masquerade, you can identify or understand the motivations of the player you're inhabiting at the moment. That intimacy doesn't necessarily translate into a universe where factions war with each other and unless you're at the heart of the malestrom you end up being chewed up and spit out. The novels themselves are focused among the people at the very center of everything, and Paul's family in particular, so a game like that necessitates you have to be attached to a noble house and perform deeds for that house. That sounds a bit closer in tone to, well, this particular game from Wizards of the Coast:

At the intersection of Eurogames
and RPGs, likes this one.
From Boardgamegeek.

People I know who have played Lords of Waterdeep like it, but then again those folks tend to love Eurogames in general, and the crunchier the better.

I guess I'd have to see Dune in action to really make a better judgement, but for me it certainly seems like this has to be a hybrid type of RPG at best.