Well I'm back.
Look at the place. It's a mess. Between work work and game work I won't be sleeping until the end of the year. I've got a Pathfinder thing, a big Gen Con 2011 spectacle, a dungeon crawl thing, and more other things than I know what to do with. It's fun being back but all I'm going to have are online friends when I'm done.
Oh and I'm in the finals for King of Monsters over at Kobold Quarterly.com.
When I was in middle-school big hair bands with all their bright plumage and where mercifully becoming extinct. Accordingly smarter more adaptable opposable-thumbed alternative rock rose to fill the void at the top of the food chain for the next dozen or so years. And while some of those acts where mere opportunistic cuckoos hatching inside a tide of wildly popular introverted music from the likes of Nirvana, Tori Amos, REM, Alanis Morissett from styles as differing as Grunge, Post-Punk, Indie, and New Wave. Finding enough space to accommodate bands as diverse as The Cure, Pearl Jam, Wheezer and the Bare Naked Ladies all of them showing their we can do whatever we want to punkish roots.
Recently I was flipping through my rather smallish music collection and stumbled upon Garbage again. I'm not sure why (Shirley Manson's striking good looks and strong sexy voice aside) I love this band so much. Maybe it's their ability to mix fun and darkness in their songs and videos that sets them apart for me from other bands that seem so doom and gloom sometimes. It's that ability to make fun of ourselves I think that keeps a significant portion of the human population sane.
Or at least "sane-y".
This one should be included in my owner's manual.
I have the feeling I'll be singing this when I'm seventy.
Detroit Pistons' Basketball! I love a team that accurately reflects the sentiment of the home city (or in the case of the Pistons the home metropolitan area). You're struggling for a new identity, to find yourself and your style of play. You've lost your last two games against teams that you would ordinarily beat. You're down two key players and facing one of the elite teams of the NBA - and what do you do you? You take the pieces you have (because you have so many good pieces) and you do something unexpected. That's what I like about most good Pistons teams - there's very rarely any one guy you can point to and say that the guy it all hangs on that's our Kobe, our LeBron, our Shaq. We don't ever expect one guy to be the guy. We expect them to contribute to the team and play unselfishly (unlike Iverson - that's another post).
Right now the team's about as deep as it has ever been. You have quality starters and solid second line (many of whom could be or were starters on another team). The next step is gelling all that talent into something special a complete team. Because no lone superstar can stand against a good team.
Where does the time go? I need a twin just to organize all the things I need to get done in a week. I should be chatting up my WereCabbage buds at WereCabbages.com, helping Russ Brown and David Swartz with their new Ancient Sumeria project for Reality Deviants Publishing. I so want to do a game set amid the myths and world of Sumer, Akkadia and Babylon and one featuring the Mythos would is like a dream come true.
I should be submitting things to WotC, Kobold Quarterly
and Paizo, or taking a firmer hand coordinating and advertising Interface-Zero. Heck, I would love to spend a week doing nothing but posting here... Maybe next week, I finally took some time off (a whole three days) during which I'm probably going to have to do the end of season lawn work on my house and my father's, figure out how I'm going to arrange getting downtown for jury duty, do winter clothes shopping, restart that novel, install the storm windows, etc.... Life the Universe and Everything.
Ah well, one foot in front of the other Matt. One foot in front of the other.
So, I've had Sunday's off pretty consistently and finally decided to start up a new game and Interface-Zero game at that. So if you are out there and interested in hanging out Sunday afternoons at RIW Hobbies in Livonia Michigan tag me at white<period>noise<period>junkie at gmail<period> com. and maybe you can help make some Interface-Zero history too.
PS About a week ago Pat and I got to record a Podcast for the Atomic Array
as soon as it is up I'll post the link. Thanks to Rone and Ed (at AA) and Dave (at Reality Deviants Publications
) for affording us the opportunity to gush about the game.
So, here I sit in the comfort of my mother's basement whining about the economy
and the price of gas and the fact that my home isn't worth half what it once was on a blog. While it is true that I perhaps have not been "tested in ways few people can imagine,"
Forged into an effective leader by five years (and a half!) years in a place I don't like to talk about, but mention anytime someone brings up a really tough question I don't have a good answer for, I feel the need to now whine about the McCain Campaign's latest controversy. They make fun of Gamers!!!
In response to a question about the veracity of a recently revealed POW experience (that the candidate probably didn't want to share - you know how those modest introspective war hero political mavericks are) one of his staffers blogged the following:
“It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others,” he wrote.
“John McCain has often said he witnessed a thousand acts of bravery while he was imprisoned, and though not every one has been submitted into the public record, they are remembered by the men who were there (one such only recently reported by Karl Rove though it escaped mention in any of Senator McCain's books). But as Swindle said, this is a ‘desperate group of people trying to make something out of nothing.’”
(attached to johnmccain.com), which a person with good taste would probably have taken down by now (the site tag claims it has been up since August 18th), was as of this post still active.
In response Wizards of the Coast offered an open letter
to the offending staffer on their own site, mentioning that a large portion of D&D's fan base is made up of military and former military personnel. Having now been slapped down by howling geeks I wonder who the McCain Campaign will now go after, a marginal ethnic minority? Gay Jewish sumo wrestlers? Native American skydiving Elvis impersonators? MST3k fans? Real Republicans who really haven't been seen in over a decade? Surely he wouldn't dare take a go at such mainstream groups as American Idol enthusiasts, or Jennifer Aniston fans - those people would really kick his ass.
I guess the irony of it all is that a number of D&Ders would vote for him. There's a very conservative leaning side to the D&D market that now might think twice about casting a ballot for a guy who hires a spokesman who's an obvious hater of the hobby they like. For the record I could live if I so choose in my own basement thank you, and I don't whine about gas because I am currently car-less. I am allowed to whine about the economy not by dint of having been a guest of the Hanoi Hilton or even Gitmo, but by the fact I live in Michigan were the economy has been gray off and on for nearly four decades. D&D is not my first game and so I don't have the same reverence for it that others do. I see its mechanical flaws, occasionally convoluted rules-systems and mention them in public when appropriate, even still I respect its heritage and the joy some versions of it have brought to my free time and the new friends it has brought to my table. It's a game and only as good you allow it to be. I can respect Mr. McCain as well, but I can see his flaws too. Being a POW is not a free pass for being a hot head, or a bully, or guy who could embarrass the nation by inadvertently alienating or enraging an ally with a stupid or insensitive remark and then saying "It's okay I was a POW once." Being a POW forty years ago has very little to do with the reality of today and certainly isn't a free ride to the White House.
I should be President. Why?
Because I was a POW over half a life time ago. Sorry but what exactly have you done for me lately?
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So here we are in the never ending home stretch that is Interface-Zero. And while we wait for IZ's main book to finish layout I am working on its first three following releases. Go me. However I keep getting pulled back into the big Kahuna main book which continues to offer up little niches that need a second going over for like the third time because I am such a perfectionist and yet somehow not very good at it. It all sort of weighs on me like this enormous piano I have been carrying around with me for like 7 months now. I think perhaps after I finish these smaller IZ projects (oh and that website thingy that I bought and have yet to set up because well I've never done anything like it before - but that's another post) that I just might retire from writing anymore about the setting until I have that New York Times Best Seller under my belt - which judging by some of the stuff I have read (or rather tried to) is just a matter writing 100,000-200,000 and being grammatically correct. I'm sad to say I have yet to find an author who is not already dead who can capture my imagination long enough to finish their book with the only exceptions being Gaiman and Rowling. That leaves me about a dozen books I can read and reread, cover to cover over and over again until they write more. I could revisit, Lovecraft, and some of his circle, or Tolkien and Asimov (Asimov I believe holds some sort of record for shear volume of work) so perhaps all is not lost but even still most prose today leaves me a bit queasy with its redundancy and need to say things over and over and well you get the point. It's like the author is being paid by the word. Me I like a little drama. I like having to remember the previous book rather than having the narrator intrude and tell me what happened last time like I had the attention span of a gnat in a sugar bowl. Show me by the character's actions don't just jam it down my throat again and again like I was some sort of mental invalid unable to recall one moment to the next.
End Exhausted Rant,
Originally the dream world game was going to be a kid RPG - i.e. one where people regardless of age make up child characters, but not just any child characters but more like epic heroes of their own worlds. Innocent, by White Wolf, for example uses children with no particularly special powers and is in most cases a horror game. Likewise Grimm, by Fantasy Flight is close but takes place in a fairy tale land the kids are trying to escape from. This game would cast kids in the role more akin to heroes who as they age loose their ability to interact or even remember their childhood adventures amid the wonders of the world wonders adults almost never see anymore. The more I think about this game the more I want to take it back to its roots, and make the dream world one facet of the whole thing.
Bits of inspiration: Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Little Nemo, Changeling: the Dreaming, Exhalted, Spiderwick Chronicles, Peter Pan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, It, The Never Ending Story, The Goblin Market, Folklore, Fantasy, Anime, Legends.
Anyhow, back to work.
I'm often inspired by art work and throw away lines for instance in the various incarnations of Magic the Gathering youu get little snippets of of cool looking art most with out an actual context followed by the card's title of some mostly made up verbiage like Umborg Panther, Pherexian Monitor, or pygmy troll. What does an Umborg Panther look like? What does a Pherexian Monitor monitor? And while one can probably magine what a pygmy troll looks like there's probably some disagreement on how aboriginal it might seem. Now over time one can infer what the game is going for and what roles some of these fantastic creatures might play (and I suppose if you where really into it you might even read the novels "based on the popular card game") but somehow that always leaves me a bit flat because invariably my imagination usually strikes upon something cooler (or at least seems cooler to me). So I prefer taking just the words, the picture and my own imagination and letting them wonder a bit and seeing where it goes.
In the course of coming up with the World of Dreams I want to try and strike a balance between useful focused gaming environment and open-ended dream world with an actual sense of wonder. D&D I think has jaded me quite a bit and robbed me of much of the imagination that I once had - correction: the mechanics of the game and banality of the way it is most often written have blinded me to the possibilities inherent in the system like the trees have hidden the forest from my field of view. Where is the wonder in meeting a new tribe of orcs? The more I read of Paizo's Golarion the more I am reminded of Greyhawk with a few odds and ends tacked on. There's nothing wrong with that but its just so... average. Here you have your Egyptians and their space connection there you have Baba Yaga, here we find the Shield Lands err.... River Kingdoms. I guess I want something a bit more fantastical cities of jade, yak folk, perilous goblin merchants who sell the last breaths of dead infants, cloud-top castles, desert elves, sky dwarves, and doppelgangers. I want flavor damn it! The stuff that dreams are made of! So let me open a discussion what would you humble reader like to see in a world where dreams are real? Where are you taking your inspiration from?
I'll be looking to my collectible trading cards, fantastical coffee table books Like the Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were, RPGs like Everway, and my own ideas (I'll be frank I like the idea of desert-dwelling, Bushido-code-using, swarthy desert elves and Elf Quest-esque wolf-riding barbaric brush elves because you almost never see them portrayed like that.
I'll be looking at creating factions within the world or at least races, and I'm seriously thinking about using doppelgangers in some capacity - I'm still thinking of the way they were portrayed in The Vision of Escaflowne, an old 90's fantasy anime with giant mecha. It gets strangely Evangelion near the end but it opens like gangbusters. I would recommend the first half at least.
Anyhow feel free to chime in. Right now I need to catch some Zs so I can finish proofing my Paizo project tomorrow and get back to IZ. Deadlines gotta love 'em.