Monday, October 28, 2013

Hardware Collecting, Part 2

So... yeah, I might be a little obsessed with this little hobby of mine.  But before I launch into an update on the status of my collection, I'm going to revise my classification scheme here.  It strikes me as a little odd that both the Atari 2600 and the Atari 5200 are considered "2nd generation" game consoles.  It's the sort of thing that makes you go, "wuh?" because of how counter-intuitive it is.  Besides, properly speaking, Pong consoles (like Atari Pong, Coleco Telstar, and Magnavox Odyssey) aren't true home computer games, so calling them "1st console generation" doesn't make any kind of sense to me.  These are proto video game consoles, a primitive ancestor of the real thing.  I would rather exclude these consoles from the classification system altogether, and split what's currently called the 2nd generation into 1st generation (1977-1979) home computer games and 2nd generation home computers games (1980-1983).  It makes more sense: this way, the 1st generation of game consoles includes the Atari 2600 and its similar contemporaries, the Fairchild Channel F, Bally Astrocade, and Maganvox Odyssey 2.  The 2nd generation includes all of those systems with improved graphics and keypad controllers (or some other gimmick) meant to compete with the Atari 2600: the Intellivision, Colecovision, Emerson Arcadia, Atari's own 5200, and the MB Vectrex.  (The RCA Studio II is so shitty that it probably belongs in the 0th generation category along with Pong and Telstar machines.)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Retro Gaming and Hardware Collecting

I don't expect that I'll be blogging any more frequently in coming months than I had been this summer.  Homework and exams will likely occupy all my thought and energy that isn't devoted to either work or my ongoing JRPG-style Barbarians of Lemuria campaign.  Hell, I've already got upcoming physics and calculus exams in the next week.  Bloody vector calculus.  So hateful, and yet so necessary...

Anyway, for once, I'm not going to talk about tabletop RPGs.  I'm still carrying on that JRPG campaign (you can see the delightful setting map in my previous post), and I'll try to sustain it for as long as schoolwork isn't too overwhelming.  But these days, I'm more enamored with another kind of gaming: retro console and computer games.  After a few fortunate finds in game shops, thrift stores, and flea markets, I'm finally starting to realize a longtime dream of mine: to collect most every major gaming platform and get them working, so that I can use genuine hardware for video games rather than mere emulators.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hey, look, a setting map

So that JRPG-style setting that I've been wanting to create has finally come together. Take a look:

An entire world-map, done up on a hexagonal grid, at a scale of 60 leagues (180  mi / 290 km) to the hex.  That's a LOT of map.  But, in keeping with JRPG tradition, there are only a handful of cities marked on the map, a scant few points of light; and everything else is monstrous wilderness.  Naturally, if one assumes that mountains are a barrier only surmountable with an airship, it becomes easy to structure the whole world as a kind of "expanding  sandbox" that the PCs get more and more access to as they visit new towns, clear dungeons, and acquire better vehicles.

Now, ordinarily this kind of world would be perfect for a game of Retro Phaze.  And, heck, someday I might just publish this setting as a supplement for Retro Phaze.  But in the meanwhile, I intend to run this setting using my Barbarians of Lemuria high fantasy house rules (which have lately become something of a d20/BoL/Savage Worlds mashup; I'll have to post about that next).  It's quite exciting: now that I have a new campaign planned out, I'm of course going to start suffering from "gamer ADD" with respect to my current game... who knows how much longer the Shide Isle campaign can last, now that they PCs really just have a few dungeon levels left?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Edit... Edit... Revision!

Well, here's hoping this is the last time I feel the need to bother to do this... but after more than two years, I've finally found the time to go through E&E and Retro Phaze again and revise them for typos, writing, content, and balance.  So now Retro Phaze gets its fourth edition (not counting editions from when it was called Elegia) and the E&E Campaign Compendium gets is fourth revised edition.  Here's a run-down of what was done to each.

The greatest change to Retro Phaze is renaming the "Hobbish" race to "Gnomes".  So now the four core playable races are Man, Elf, Dwarf, and Gnome.  It just has more folkloric resonance that way (and I can't, for the life of me, understand why I didn't just do this this way from the outset... unless I was trying to make an oblique reference to the "Bobbit" race from the Ultima games).  But that means, of course, that the entry for "Gnomes" in the monster section (where they were included as an earth-elemental sub-race of Sprites) had to be renamed, so now the three breeds of Sprites are Pixies, Nixies, and Kobolds.  Thankfully, RPz never included Kobolds as a distinct variety of monster, so the shuffle was able to end there.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Eerie silence.  I guess that's what you get when you work, go to school, and run a sandbox campaign all at the same time: no spare moments leftover for blogging.  But, hey, finals are next week!  I'm almost done with this semester!  SUMMER IS NIGH UPON US, MWUHAHAHAHAHA!!!--


Sorry, got carried away for a moment there.  Anyhoo, I've got so many projects on the back-burner that have been awaiting a shred of free time, it's not even funny.  I need to make some typographical revisions to Engines & Empires & Retro Phaze, I still need to put out that E&E Supplement to fill in some of the missing details, and I want to write up and publish the mega-dungeon that I've used for my current campaign.  I also want to do something with my little high-fantasy hack of the BoL system (but we'll see how that goes after I run a full campaign with it, which is next on deck).

Now, as for my current game, "the Shade Isle Campaign", that's moved into a new stage after last night's session.  Half the party just reached the 9th experience level.  Most of the "overworld" quests (including the big one, the slaying of the black dragon Anarxsis who drove the dwarves out of the north) are now complete.  Two major plot threads remain, should the player characters choose to accept them: they still haven't delved any deeper down into the Shade Abbey Dungeons than the 4th or 5th level, barely scratching the surface of the latter; and, of course, there's always escaping from the island and taking revenge on the evil king who exiled them there in the first place.  So that'll be fun.


Man, y'know I'm just kind of depressed at how quiet everything is.  The OSR blogging scene is all but dead (probably thanks to the Grognardia kerfuffle).  My own interest in OSR gaming has waned considerable, as it's starting to feel like, with this last campaign, I've pretty much exhausted the possibilities of the sandbox/mega-dungeon campaign model.  (It's been downright thorough, let me tell you.  I've hit all the tropes and cliches with a hammer.  Twice.)  And, crap, hasn't been updated in three years -- where the crap did all that time go?  Life is a-flyin' by.

And summer can't get here soon enough.  Because, damn, Nebraska can be cold in the wintertime.  Enough is enough of that.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lords of Midgard (part 1)

Okay, so there's the first bit: a character sheet and a brief outline of how to use Barbarians of Lemuria for high fantasy (whether of the jRPG steampunky flavor or otherwise).

Character Sheet
Lords of Midgard

Now I just have to hash out a setting. :-)

Droppin' In

Wow, okay, it's been a very long time since I've bothered to post anything here.  But then, life is busy.  Too much work, too much school, and barely enough time to keep on top of my current D&D campaign.

Oh, yes, another campaign, one that I'm running more or less by-the-book from the (Mentzer) Basic and Expert sets, with the same group of players as the last two campaigns (plus a couple of newbies).  This time, I've gone for a proper sandbox and mega-dungeon, with the player characters somewhat stranded on an island about a hundred miles across, with one very deep dungeon in the middle of it.

I'd post more about it, but there's a good chance that my players could stumble across this blog, so I'm not going to start publishing details until this campaign is all done.