Category Archives: Guest Post

WHITEHACK

It feels like every time I turn a corner, I am bearing witness to yet another Old School Renaissance (OSR) role playing game being released into the world. A world that already has several great OSR games to choose from. Does our world really need another one? The answer to that question is, yes. I have yet to hold a game in my hands and exclaim, ‘THIS IS PERFECT!!!’ I think that until that perfect game is released, game designers will continue working tirelessly to sculpt and mold games until that perfect game is created.

Youseph-Whitehack

The most recent attempt by Christian Mehrstam, was recently released and is called WHITEHACK. A game with which its rules are written in a shockingly small 32 page rulebook  More impressively, within this rulebook containing all the information you need officiate a game, start an adventure, implement monsters, build characters, equip those character, and level that character up through level 10. You can literally start your first WHITEHACK adventure within minutes of getting your hands on this pint-sized book. Dice not included. Continue reading

The 5th Edition

The latest version of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), currently known has D&D Next, is Wizards of the Coast’s (WotC) latest attempt to reboot the worlds most popular tabletop role playing game. The game is currently in beta stages and WotC is receiving feedback from fans who have been testing out the new rules. WotC is trying to bat a home run with this game by trying to win back fans after the D&D 4th edition failure, while at the same time converting older fans who have been perfectly content playing older editions of the game.

D&D

While I was at PAX this year, I had a chance to play a demo of Dungeons & Dragons Next with an official representative of Wizards of the Coast. You can see a video of the game I was playing here. I really had an enjoyable time playing the game and after it was over, I was able to talk to our Dungeon Master and ask several questions about the new edition and how it was progressing. Unfortunately, I left the gaming table somewhat disappointed with the state of Dungeons & Dragons Next and I don’t expect the things I would need to buy the game to be addressed by it’s release sometime in 2014.

In a nutshell D&D Next is still too complex for my tastes. Please don’t get me wrong, I do think that the 5th edition of this game is a lot better than 4th edition. I figured that out just by looking at my character sheet. Gone are skill checks from your character sheet. Now if you want to do something outside the box that would be considered a skill you just use your Ability Score Modifiers and add them to your D20 roll to see if you accomplish your goal. This is a nice example of how the game has been cleaned up and streamlined. But the sad fact is that you are still doing a ton of math, adding all your extra points of damage from weapons or abilities, rolling extra dice for advantage and so on. I found this to not only be confusing, but also detracting and slowing down the story being played out in front of me.

I do understand and respect that there are gamers out in the world that enjoy the mathematical crunch of a good game mechanic. I am just not one one of those gamers. When I first looked at my printed off character sheet for a level one Cleric for 5th edition, I let out a sigh of disappointment. Already I knew that if I had to write out this character by hand that there was no way I could fit all the information I needed on the front and back of one character sheet. Which to me is very disappointing. To me when I think of a tabletop role playing game, I think pencil and paper. I feel like I should be able to write down everything I need with a pencil and one sheet of paper. I shouldn’t need to print off the character sheet from my computer or need several index cards to write down all the extra information my character has. That’s just not fun for me.

When D&D Next was first announced, I was feeling very optimistic about it. I recall early talks of this 5th edition by WotC being modular. Think three ring binder of sorts that would contain the rules for how to play D&D in its most basic form. Rules light if you will. Then, as you wanted to add eliminates from 2nd, 3rd, or 4th editions of the game, along with extra character options you could just by adding on packs or sheets and inserting them into your binder. D&D Next. The edition for everyone. I thought this was was a great idea and something I could see myself buying. But shortly after the first beta of the game was released for public testing, I knew that this great idea was no longer going to be an option for fans.

The truth of the matter is, I cut my teeth on D&D. I love the name of the game and I want to support it. But the reality is I have found that I enjoy gaming with a modern clone of the original D&D game called Swords & Wizardry. I would rather play a game called Dungeons & Dragons. I want to come back home to my roots and play and support the game that has been around since before I was born. I just don’t see that happening with D&D Next. But like any fan of the hobby, I will continue to hold out hope until the official rule books are released and and I can see for myself what WotC is asking me to buy.

Four Years of Stargazing

Michael at GenCon 2010 Today, we’re not going to talk about games. Well, not directly. Michael offered me the coveted opportunity to invade his space, and post whatever I wanted to to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Stargazer’s World. Y’know? The site you’re on right now? This really great website where he shares his ideas and hopes and commentary about the world of gaming and, more specifically, the world of roleplaying games which continues to grow in strange and wonderful directions every day.

Naturally, I told him I was honored, and asked when he needed this. Y’know, since words are largely my stock and trade, they are something I need to write, regularly, to keep the lights on around Reality Blurs. He asked if I could get draft this up today, so, basically, right away. (Or, in this case, write away!) Normally, I would need more notice than none, but I’ve been put in more compact time frames, and am able to crank words out as the situation demands. Or, in many cases, I would gracefully decline. The requests to post on other people’s websites increases inversely with your necessity to do them. Life is full of perversions like this. If you’re young, get used to it. If you’re not, then you know I’m telling the truth.

As the guest, I asked what he wanted me to write about. I can write about most anything (between outright fictions and fabrications to real world stuff), and make it at least a tad bit entertaining if not somehow enlightening for you, the gentle reader. He half-jokingly suggested I write about him. I thought that was a grand idea. It is the anniversary of his website after all. He graciously said I could talk about other matters as well, such as my processes and promote products, but I don’t feel this is the place for that. I will suggest you check out the Reality Blurs website if you want to read about the trials, tribulations, setbacks, and successes of my company.

Four years. Wow. Michael’s been at this for four years. Which, if you think about it, is like a million internet years at least. Right? I remember having only vaguely been familiar with the site he started on August 4th of 2008 when I met him at GenCon. He was a pleasant fellow with a thick German accent whom I met after one of the Savage Worlds panels. I was tired from a late night and, as I recall, Shane Hensley asked the audience to provide us with genres and we’d come up with a setting idea. I was given the stumper of Regency Romance, a Mi-Go artifact, and the Mariana Trench, so I mind was a bit exhausted. He asked about setting up an interview with me during the show. I said absolutely. And it did happen, but I’ll get back to that…

And that’s where I’m going with this. Michael is tenacious, friendly, and charming. He’s put together something really special here. You can tell he and his crack crew (real live people rather than just him and his drive) care about gaming on a fundamental level. They aren’t here to rake in millions of dollars (that I’m aware of), but provide the community a great service by sharing their love and insight of the hobby. The words you read on this website are valued for their insight and integrity and, most of all, as honest opinions and assessments. Stargazer’s World is one of the first places I turn to find out about a game I’ve not yet played. Why? Because it’s likely that Michael may have already played it or, at least, read it and provided a critical analysis. This website is rich in trust currency, and you can trust the crew here to be largely spot on about their insights. (Caveat: I can’t say completely spot on, can I? What if they don’t like something I do down the road? Remember: always have an exit strategy.)

I’ll end with a more personal anecdote, a light touch upon the shoulder of the man who started up this site, Michael Wolf. I mentioned where we only got to speak briefly that first chance meeting? We did eventually get to talk later on, and it was a delightful conversation. Subsequent to that, he and I chat quite regularly from across the pond via instant messaging, and I’d have to say we’ve forged a friendship beyond just gaming. That being said, I trust his ethics and, if we grow derelict in our duty as designers, he shall point them out in the most gracious way possible.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

P.S. If I misremember any facts, it’s because I am largely a purveyor of fiction and reality blurs, after all.