Pokemon Go: Hunters in Harmony

Since Thursday, I’ve been playing Pokemon Go to the point where very little writing is getting done. It’s a ridiculous amount of fun, and great exercise. But more than that, it’s bringing people together.

Everytime I go out hunting, I see tons of other people doing the same, people that I’d never interact with in my life. Now we’re chatting, giving each other advice, and just chatting. Again, PEOPLE I’D NEVER INTERACT WITH. I suddenly know the people in my neighborhood and in the parks I go to. It’s amazing. Pokemon Go is bringing people together. No arguments about religion or politics. If anything, a little mild trash talk about taking over gyms.

I think that Pokemon Go might be the secret to harmony and good will. All ages, all races, all religions: we all play.

It makes me happy.

Don’t forget to pick up my 2nd novel, The Watchmage of Old New York. If you like history, fantasy, mystery, or weirdness, it’s the book for you. No pokemon in it, but lots of magic and faerie races.

The Watchmage Is Coming

cosmic-cat tripping balls redux

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Surprise Wisdom From D&D

Every other Saturday is D&D day. I love the campaign I’m in. We’ve been playing together for 20 years, in several different campaigns. The DM is a great storyteller. The PCs are interesting and complex. The plot is phenomenal to the point where I’m jealous.

Something interesting came up in out-of-character conversation:

Continue reading

Settlers of Catan to be a Movie or TV Show?

Looks like Settlers of Catan is trading Sheep for Celluloid…Yes, that’s the best joke I have…Yes, I know that no one uses Celluloid anymore…Yes, I know I suck, work with me here.

Anyway, according to Io9.com, “producer Gail Katz (Air Force One, The Perfect Storm) announced via press release that she has obtained film and television rights to Settlers of Catan.” Since Io9 is usually on the ball with this kind of thing, I’m inclined to believe them.

Can a Ticket to Ride movie be far behind?

For those that don’t know, SoC is the big board game of these times, the new Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit. You work on building a better civilization than your using specific resources. You get these resources through trade or strategic luck (I love that turn). It’s a turn-based game with a fairly short time frame, but addicting. It’s hard to play just one game of Settlers of Catan.”

The question is: what are they going to do with it? It’s a pretty straight forward game, but there’s a back story there that can (if they’re smart) be used in a bunch of different directions. Will they make an action-adventure involving pioneers trying to start a new life? They can take on a narrative similar to Lord of the Flies, where one group goes civilized while the other descends into barbarism. They can start mid-game with the wealthy forcing their will on the poorer groups, like every other Western made (think Road Barons instead of rail). Maybe a Game of Thrones style fantasy-political thriller? They could go serious or goofy, complex or simple. There’s a lot to work with here.

Board games turned into visual media does not have a good track record. Battleship stands out as the biggest bomb, or last year’s Ouija. Clue is one of my favorite movies, but that’s primary because of the great acting and clever dialogue. The plot itself is very predictable…but fun.


I’m looking forward to what becomes of one of my favorite games. I think it could be great…or it could be Battleshit.

doge in space card redux

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. There’s also my new novel, The Watchmage of Old New York. It’s based on my old serial at JukePop Serials, where it was one of the most popular stories OF ALL TIME!

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My Geekiness Runneth Over

Woot! D&D AND WWE’s TLC (and S) today and tonight!

Also, if you didn’t see NXT’s [R]Evolution last week, you missed the best ppv of the year. I don’t want to give anything away, but it started with Kevin Owens (Steen), climaxed with Neville and Sami Zayn, and ended with the best heel turn since Shawn Michaels kicked Marty Jannetty through a plate glass window.

I’ll leave you with this ear worm. OLE!

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

Gamergate and the New (Old) Rules

I realize that I’m a little late to the game with Gamergate. Because I was traveling, I had to read from my phone as the Internet exploded. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have something to say. I know that it’s a little odd for me to write a serious post. I hope you bear with me.

While this is a post that appears to be about Gamergate, it’s about something much bigger than that. Read on to see.

I’m a gamer. At this point, I’m a pretty old gamer. I started with an Atari 2600. I plunked quarters into Pac Man and Pole Position. I remember the robot that came with the original NES. And yet, I still prefer card and tabletop games to video games, especially DnD. You can say that I’m a well-rounded nerd. That’s why Gamergate hurts so much. It’s a failure of the community that I’ve belonged to all of my life. You might even say that my generation was the founder of the gamer community. So what have we become?

Why?

The Evolution of Gamergate

I think by now most of us understand what Gamergate is, was, and has become. Although the background around it comes from the portrayal of women in games, it sparked with a rumor about an affair between a female game designer and a video game journalist (I’m not going to use names, because they’ve had their names dragged through the Net enough, and it’s not important to my argument).

Let’s just say that it’s true. This could have been a great chance to discuss ethics in journalism within the gamer industry. I’m a former music journalist, and I know that the relationship between artist and reporter can be muddled. Free tickets, free albums, and free swag. You sometimes become friends with the artists. It’s hard to stay unbiased. It’s a big part of the reason I left. I refer you to the movie Almost Famous for a more visual example.

It could have been that, but it morphed into something very ugly. Death threats, rape(!) threats, accounts hacked and personal information spread across the Net like trash on an interstate. There was even a terrorist threat of a school massacre if a certain female journalist (again, no names), spoke. Yes, threatening violence to stop someone from speaking is terrorism. It might be a perfect example of terrorism.

A great, misogynistic beast broke loose from its chains like Donkey Kong and laid waste to the Internet. It may only be a small group, but that group has become representative of the entire community. And there I was, watching without voice as the gamer community decomposes.

What really gets me are the rape threats tossed around like they mean nothing. There is nothing more disgusting than threatening someone with rape, especially when they’ve been doxxed. Rape is the lowest common denominator; apparently death and torture aren’t intense enough threats. Worse, it’s the kind of threat made specifically toward women. It’s the trump card of misogyny, the “I’m going to hurt you and demean you in a way that shows the dominance of my gender.”

The Symptom, not the Cause

As bad as Gamergate is, it’s a symptom of a larger problem. There’s a lack of empathy within the Internet. People attack each other as if they’re only blips on a screen, Koopas to be squashed or Space Invaders to be shot down. I read one tweet that said (and I’m paraphrasing here) the way people respond to the other side of Gamergate is like in Double Dragon, where the entire town wants to fight you.

People say things on the Internet that no decent person would ever say, and certainly wouldn’t say face to face. It’s the distance between. It creates the illusion of anonymity, and that unleashes the beast.

I know all about this. As a teen, I went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Saturday night. If you’ve never been, you won’t understand. The audience–all in the dark–shout some of the foulest things you’ll ever hear at the screen. The darkness and anonymity equals freedom. I shouted things I’d never say in the light of day. But we never tried to hurt anyone, and that’s the difference.

This doesn’t even include my love for Cards Against Humanity, which should never be played in public.

Meet the New Rules…Same as the Old Rules

I think we need, as a community, review the rules of discourse. The Internet is still a brave new world, and without reeling in the vitriol, we’ll poison ourselves.

If you only remember one thing from this blog, it’s this.

1) Don’t post anything on the Internet that you wouldn’t say in person: This includes certain jokes, naked pics, and sharing too much information.

2) Don’t say anything on the Internet that would get you punched in the face at a bar: This includes insults, Net Muscles, and threats of violence.

3) Before you say something on the Internet, ask yourself “what if someone said this to one of my loved ones?” If the answer is “smash their balls with a hammer,” don’t say it.

4) Don’t hack or doxx anyone, no matter how much they deserve it: That’s not going to get your point across. What it will do is bring governments down on the Net. Is that what you want?

5) Don’t feed the trolls: If someone trolls, don’t take the bait. No one wins an argument on the Net, and it makes everyone looks bad. If it gets threatening, report it, but don’t feed the troll. Remember, what you say on the Internet stays there FOREVER.

FOR-FREAKIN-EVER

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

5 Low Level D&D Monsters Made Deadly

I love Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve been playing since I was 10 years old (I’m 39 right now), and hopefully I’ll play until I die (or drop to negs). D&D has been a major influence on my writing. Not that I rip them off, but the skills I learned helped with world building, narrative flow, and especially character development.

I enjoy being a PC more than a DM, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some excellent DMs over the years. That said, I love coming up with great scenarios for combat. As one of my DMs said,”it is all about the setting and the dynamic of the landscape.” I agree, but it’s also about customizing monsters (in logical ways) to make them unique and deadly.

In this post, I took some low level monsters–the kind a party would face at 1st to 3rd level–and souped them up. With these changes, they can be deadly to any size party of much higher level. Enjoy.

(some contributions are borrowed from gamer friends John B and Osvaldo O.)

RUN AWAY!!!

1) Kobolds. Bah, Kobolds are basically xp machines for low level parties. 4 HP, a mediocre AC, reduced damage, there’s not much to intimidate the PCs here. Just kill the rat-dogs and loot the bodies.

Answer: Rogue Levels. Kobolds have two distinct advantages: numbers and dexterity. If you put them to use, they become very deadly. Have them surround the PCs, two kobolds can fit in one 5ft box, so you can get up to 16 (!) in there. Give a few of them a rogue level or even two. They now have Sneak Attack, and since a surrounded PC would be flanked, they always get that damage bonus. Their numbers will make casting difficult (taking out area-affect spells), and 2nd level rogues get Evasion. Imagine the look on players faces when they’re facing down a pack of Kobolds that can cause 11 points of damage with one hit. Smile and laugh.

For an added laugh, have the encounter in the dark, where the Kobold’s Darkvision gives them a big advantage. When PCs fight, they almost always set down the lantern. Have a Kobold kick it over. PCs also drop their packs in a fight. Have a few Kobolds steal the packs and retreat for even more hilarity. Even if they kill all the Kobolds, they still have to find the thieves that took their stuff.

gif dnd cat paladin

2) Wild Dogs or Wolves: Dogs and Wolves aren’t monsters, but they’re a fairly common encounter at low level. They don’t have many HP, and they don’t do extraordinary amounts of damage. Wolves are more difficult, but nothing a low level party can’t handle.

Answer: Group Tactics and Trip. Both species are pack animals, and this is how they fight in the wild. Wolves already get Trip, but give it to the dogs too. Add Group Tactics (BAB +1 for everyone with GT fighting the same enemy, up to +3) to Trip and they will pull your PCs to the ground and have their way with them (not like that). Wolf pack tactics are a beautiful thing.

Note: Some party members might have qualms about killing animals. Attack them last, eat them first.

Gives Me XP

3) Goblins: Goblins are the whipping boy of the D&D world. They pick fights with every race, and almost always lose. Only their prolific breeding keeps them around. Despite this, Goblins have a wicked, crafty intelligence and love traps and ambushes. A good DM uses all of this.

Answer: A Bard. Bards are so versatile, they’re perfect for any trap. Besides a variety of spells that can confuse or disable PCs (Daze, Flare, Sleep, Cause Fear, Simple Illusions, etc) they have the excellent Inspire Courage song. There’s no set amount of creatures this can affect. It doesn’t matter if they are 5 or 50, as long as they can hear the singer, they get a +1 to saves, attacks, and damage. This counts for missile weapons too. As with the Kobolds, you can have them fight in the dark, though I prefer missile attacks from concealment like trees or bushes. Add some wolf riders to keep the PCs off the missilers, and you have a killer encounter.

One tip, have all the goblins sing, and dress the Bard the same as the others. This way, the PCs can’t target the Bard specifically.


Apparently Jareth the Goblin King has some Bard levels.

4) Zombies. Everyone loves fighting Zombies. They have a good amount of hit points and damage resistance, but they’re slow and have a poor BAB. Zombies can be trouble for a party without a Cleric, but a Turn Undead ability usually takes care of them.

Answer: Water. I never understood the Slam or Weapon attacks for a zombie. I’ve seen a lot of zombie movies and the attack is always the same: grab and bite. A variation of this would be “grab and drown.”

The undead don’t need to breathe, but PCs do. Have the zombies pull them to a watery doom. Use enough water to drown a person, but not so much that the zombies can’t reach the PCs from the water’s bottom. A shallow pond or swamp works well.

From a cinematic POV, imagine swimming across a darkened lake, only to have corpse-like hands grab you from beneath and pull you under. Scary stuff, right?

As for using Turn Undead, it’s up to the DM. Do you have to see the creatures to turn them, and can you do so without being able to speak? A good grapple might keep a PC from reaching their holy symbol too. We may be 70% water, but it’s better on the inside than out.

I like playing a cleric sometimes.

5) Lizardfolk. I am partial to lizardfolk, probably because I’ve been playing one as a PC for the past 3 years (maybe 4). Lizzies are tough, but their lack of tactics in the wild limit the challenge toward PCs. From the D&D wiki: Lizardfolk fight as unorganized individuals. They prefer frontal assaults and massed rushes, sometimes trying to force foes into the water, where the lizardfolk have an advantage.

The obvious answer would be to give more sophisticated tactics (like the zombie drowning scenario from above), but I drew from real-world culture for a different solution.

Answer: Poisoned Weapons. Lizardfolk are swamp dwellers and there are plenty of poisonous animals/plants in the swamp. There’s no reason why they can’t harvest and use poisons. Human cultures have been doing it for thousands of years.

Lizardfolk could put the poison on javelins or darts, or even (and this would be pretty awesome) their claws. Lizardfolk get the very awesome claw, claw, bite multi-attack. If it’s a poison they have natural immunity too (and I imagine there to be several poisons like this) they can dip their claws in the swampy goodness. Given the many different types of poisons, the possibilities are endless. Personally, I would use paralyzing or strength-sapping poison and then have the lizardfolk drown them in the swamp or eat them alive. I’m a twisted bastard.

So there you go, five scrub monsters turned into PC killers. Use with caution, challenging a party is fun, causing a Total Party Kill is not.

Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. I also suggest picking up my latest novel The Watchmage of Old New York. Set in 1855 Manhattan, it’s a blend of vivid history, in-depth magic, gumshoe mystery and fairy-tale fantasy. It’s based on the original serial at Jukepop Serials, where it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!

the-watchmage-is-coming1

You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.8/5.0 rating on Amazon, so people seem to like it. 

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