Humpday Links for January 2

One thing that won’t be going away in 2013 is Humpday Links, because, a) I’m always finding cool/disturbing/cool stuff on the internets I want to share, and b) I’m lazy.  So love ’em or hate ’em, here are your first Humpday Links of the year!

– I need a pair of these (keep it clean, you!) to light up my gaming room.

– Contrary to the stereotypes this video asks the important question, can D&D make you more confident and successful.  I think yes, but you decide.

– Apparently Sony and Universal reaaaally wanted to up their view counts on YouTube, and YouTube had to take away 2 billion fake ones.  Want view counts?  Here’s an idea: post things people want to see.

– Ocean Liner crashed on your beach?  Here’s some ideas on what to do with it.

– For my fellow Whovians: Once again, somebody made something that has me shouting, “Shut up and take my money!” I give you, a model TARDIS that is bigger on the inside.

– Also for the Whovians: If you were smacking a Dalek pinata, what else would you use as a blindfold?  Also, I don’t want to brag (okay, just a little), but I’m the proud owner of that scarf

– It is once again time for Paizo’s RPG Superstar.  This time, the first round is voted on by the public.  See how it’s going and cast your vote!

– Jenny Breedin over at The Devil’s Panties pretty much sums up my attitude to New Year’s Eve.  No I just need the footy pajamas…

– Get ready Tolkien fans, we’re gonna bust this joint up!

– For my Shadowrun gaming chummers, 2013 is officially The Year of Shadowrun!

xkcd demonstrates why I never really make New Year’s resolutions.

– For any of my readers with babies, or who know people that have freshly spawned, Seams Geeky has you covered in the nerdy environmentally-friendly diaper department.

– And finally, ever had a great idea for a nerdy shirt you know would sell? Can’t be arsed to produce it yourself? Teespring has you covered.

That’s it, that’s all!  As usual, feel free to share a link in the comments.  Until next time, happy internetting!

NOT New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  Mostly because I don’t believe in them; they’re too much like a yearly deathbed conversion that never takes for most.  But I’m also selfish enough that MY new year starts on my birthday, and that is the day I choose to reflect, assess and make decisions about future changes.

However I recognize that New Year’s Day is a useful milestone, so here are a few things I’ll be trying out in the New Year:

1)  The Fifty Book Challenge – With my trusty Kobo in hand, I’m going to make a run at this.  I suspect I’ll clear this hurdle with room to spare; even discounting game books I read a lot.  No, seriously, more than that.  If you want we can start a pool as to when in the year I actually hit fifty books.  I’ll start a separate page on here to list the books I read.  Note that only books I have never read before will count toward this list, not re-reads.  Those will be on my own time…

2)  The Stollery Hair Massacure – I took last year off from this, but it is time to get back in the pink!  So I will be dying my hair on New Year’s Day and taking donations right up to the Shave Day, February 15.  I’ll provide I have provided a link in the sidebar if you want to donate, and in the meantime here’s what the Hair Massacure is all about.

3)  Posting Gaming Material – This year I’m looking seriously at getting back to writing game material.  So to start, and to shake the rust out, I’m going to post some freebie stuff here on the site.  Nothing too big, mostly just encounters I’ve made or little bits and pieces of campaign schmutz I’ve put together over the years.  If you like them, please download and give feedback.  If you don’t like them, please give feedback.

I think that is enough to get going on.  There are few other projects that I put in motion back at my Bday, and they’ll keep chugging along as well.  Expect posts about these, and more, once I reach significant milestones.

I hope your New Year is an amazing one, filled with wonder and joy.  Thanks for reading, eh?

Friday Guest Post: Bookmonkey

A while back I asked for guest post submissions, and from now on I’ll be throwing them up on Fridays as they come in.  I still have room for plenty more, so if you have something you want to talk about and need a place to do that, drop me a line.

Our first Guest Post comes from Kirk MacLoed, of the Clan MacLoed.  Enjoy!

XPerience and the recommended reading list

Years ago, after I had left gaming in the world of Dragonlance and was seeing the end of my brief affair with Battletech on the horizon, I came across the first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade.

Now hold on a second – I’m not going to spend this post lecturing on about how fantasy gaming is merely a stepping stone to the more advanced Storytelling system of the world of White Wolf (besides, I’m currently enjoying an exploration of P’Tolus, so there you go), but am instead going to give you one of my favourite tips as a GM.  But first back to Vampire.

The book introduced me to a new modern world, in which you took the character of the monster and got to stand on the tops of buildings, watching your humanity ebb away, and also girls seemed to be interested in the game (Including a young lady who would end up marrying me).  But from a GM perspective, the thing that stood out for me was the recommended reading list.

You see, the book gives a list of movies and books (and in later supplements other games, both RPG and video) as well as music that could be used to show readers what this strange new World of Darkness was supposed to feel like; including movies like The Crow, and books like Interview with the Vampire (remember, this was the ’90s).

Immediately I showed this list to my Battletech friends and found that on average they had seen about half of the movies and read about a third of the books.  Suggesting we check out some of the other films before playing the game I got a modest turn out and overall we had a pretty good time, but no matter how many times I said a movie or a book was great, I couldn’t get some of my players to check it out.

Until I realized I could bribe my players.

Here’s the thing, players will do almost anything for extra XP – and being a decent guy who tries not to take advantage, I chat with my players ahead of time and figure out what they have and haven’t seen (or read, or played) and then tell them I will give them extra XP for every additional book, movie or game they read.

From the player’s point of view, this is some easy XP.  Instead of waiting all week for me to get around to our next session they can simply pick up XP by reading Game of Thrones or watching the new Conan film (HEY! If I had to sit through it so do my players).

From the GM’s point of view, you get a group of players who now have all sorts of common points of reference to your game world, allowing you to crib descriptions, costume and weapon ideas, heck even plot points (if the players are interested) and greatly increase the quality of your game.

In the end, the experience of the game is what counts, and giving the players homework that they want to do benefits everyone.  Also, sometimes they recommend stuff to you that you might never even have heard of before.

Kirk (Bookmonkey) MacLeod has been inflicting his views about various TV shows, Movies and Books to all who are interested for the last two years at his own blog,

Con Game Update

I posted a little while back about 2012 being my Year of the Con; attending cons is my priority for 2012.  Well I recently hit my first snag in my Year of the Con, and I won’t be attending Futurecon as originally planned.  It makes me very sad, because Liana K. and her gang have put together a really rocking event in support of a great cause.  But things just weren’t lining up, and then a few things popped up that made the timing impossible.  Fret not, I’m still attending a Futurecon, but it has moved from the con that kicks off my Year of the Con to the event that will cap my con-filled year.  So Futurecon, look for my coming on the morning of the fifth day…in 2012.

So that bumps Emerald City Comicon to the front of the list, and I’m pretty excited about it!  Not only will I get my first taste of Seattle, but I’ll be travelling with friends, which for me makes the trip that much better.  Trust me, if you get a chance to share you nerdery with friends at a con, I highly recommend it, it is so choice!

Even with Futurecon still there at the end, my con schedule looks a little light.  I may have to consider adding Prairiecon in there, just to beef it up a bit.  We’ll see…

*     *     *

It’s that holiday time of year, and you may be wondering what sort of dorky things I’m up to over the holidays.  No?  Well, tough crap, I’m going to tell you anyway.

I’m actually working on some holiday themed writing, one short-fiction and one RPG.  The short fiction piece is for a call for submissions from Carina Press, looking for novella-length holiday-themed SF stories.  I’m having a lot of fun with my tale of being forced to celebrate the Solstice on a planet with an eccentric orbit; I hope the selection committee has as much fun with it.  And the RPG piece is for RPG Geek’s Holiday Adventure Contest, where I am charged to write a winter holiday-themed role-playing adventure.  I don’t want to tip my hand too much for this one, because I may inflict it on unsuspecting players at a future date.  But the naughty should definitely beware!

Other than that, my holiday season is going to be pretty sedate.  I’m cooking a turkey for a Solstice party, and I’ll get down to see my folks and family for a few days.  I’m also putting up a tree for the first time in years, and of course there will be some geekiness in its decoration.  And yes, there will be pictures.  And we’ll cap off the year and start the next with the traditional New Year’s Day brunch here at the house.  Because really, what better way to start the year than with good friends, good food and assorted games and nerdery?  None better, the answer is none better.

So what about you folks?  Any holiday plans, geeky or otherwise?  Drop me a little present in the comments section and let me know what you’re up to.

Gaming on a Budget

It can be rough if you are a gamer on a budget.  To get the shiny source-books for your favourite RPG or the latest cool euro-boardgame, stores would prefer you traded them currency for their product.  And if you lack the required currency (say, because you were laid off seven months ago) you are not going to acquire all the gaming pretties you need/want.

But does living on a budget mean you have to stop enjoying RPGs and board games?  Heck no!  I would even go as far as saying hell no!  There are plenty of resources for the gamer on a budget, that range from cheap to free.  Most require only an internet connection, a printer and some imagination.  That last is probably the most important; a gamer on a budget has to get cunning, because throwing money at the problem isn’t an option.

So here are some ideas and resources for all you gamers that want to live large when the budget is small:

Find the SRD – Many role-playing games, such as Pathfinder and Spirit of the Century, have an SRD, or system resource document, available on-line.  These are essentially everything you would find in the RPG’s rulebooks, without all the pretty formatting, design and art.  They exist primarily as a reference document for anyone writing for the game, as they are a much cleaner and easily searchable version of the rules.  But in many cases anyone can access the website, which makes them a great resource for the gamer on a budget.  They are not as nice as having the books in front of you, of course.  And you will need to have a laptop or pad with internet access in order to use the SRD at the gaming table.  But if you just can’t afford the books this is the next best way to get playing a new game or keep playing your old one.

Search Keyword “Free” – Online stores like Drive-Thru RPG and it’s indie offshoot RPGNow are a great source for the gamer on a budget.  You can find low-cost .pdf copies of just about any gaming source-book you desire, including many out-of-print games.  But better than that, each site has a button located in the left-hand column of the home page, marked “Free Stuff”.  Clicking on that button is like opening a treasure chest of gaming material!  Yes, there is the usual slough of character sheets and promo items.  But you will also find complete RPG games, adventures, maps and gaming e-zines.  Best case scenario, you find a new game (like the Dogtown RPG) to take out for a spin with your friends and you have fun for an evening.  Worst case, you have plenty of inspiration and the bare bones of something you can re-skin or re-purpose for your own games.  Sure you have to do a bit of digging and thinking, but this is where the aforementioned imagination comes into play.

Cheapass is Not Just a State of Mind – Years ago there was a fine little company called Cheapass Games that made games on the cheap.  The idea was simple: if you already played board games then you likely had all the pieces that were standard between games (pawns, dice, tokens money and so on).  Cheapass Games, therefore, included just the bits you needed with their games, which in most cases was a board or cards or both.  This led to extremely inexpensive games, that also had the benefit of being amazingly imaginative and fun.  Sadly, there was a “Cheapass Games Interregnum” in which Cheapass Games stopped producing games.  I am happy to report that dark period is over! The new Cheapass Games website features links to all their popular games, plus a bunch of new ones.  Of note to the gamer on a budget is the page of games, free to download.  Some are just rules, some require you to print out cards or cards/game board.  But all of them are metric tonnes of fun.  And if the mood strikes you can (and should) support Cheapass Games with a donation; they even have a suggestion for donation amounts.

There you go, three ways to help your gaming dollar go a little further.  Of course, it goes without saying that if you can afford to support your hobby, you should.  That isn’t to say you grab every book that comes down the publication pipe.  But the companies putting out these cheap and/or free games for your enjoyment deserve some recognition for their work.  If you can swing it, hit the donate button every once in a while and help keep these companies producing.  And if you can’t do that, support them by being vocal about their work.  If you can help draw paying customers to a gaming company’s site, that will help ensure they are around to give us fun for a good long while.

Have any free/cheap RPG or board games resources to share? Slip them into the comments section below…

Humpday Links for October 12

Even though this is a short work week for most of us, that is no excuse to skimp on the links!  I have spared no effort or expense in bringing you the finest cuts of URL to be found on the internets.  Dig in, and let me links whisk you through your humpday…

– There are still tickets left for this month’s Edmonton Girl Geek Dinner!  This month’s guest speaker is Victoria Arbour, and she will be talking dinosaurs!  Dinner with geek girls and dinosaurs; what’s not to love?

– Apparently sci-fi authors have a job to do, and they need to start doing it.

Extra Life is your opportunity to raise money for charity by doing something you love: playing video games. You can do that for 24 hours, right?

– The voting deadline for the Aurora Awards is this Saturday and you should get your vote in.  If you vote for me, groovy.  But voting is the important part, if you want to show your support for Canadian SF and fandom.

– And if you want some behind-the-scenes looks at the Aurora Awards, check out their eFanzine.

– While we are still on sci-fi, if you have a Holiday themed SF story inside you, Carina Press wants to see it.

– If, like me, you weren’t at PAX 2011, you may have missed out on a truly momentous D&D event.  Here is your chance to watch the heroic antics of Acquisitions Incorporated.

– I found this site for the Creative Play Project, based out of Tucson AZ, and I think this is pretty great.  It has actually made me consider setting up something similar here…

– The next Media Camp Edmonton is coming in 2012, and they would like your input!

– If you are a newbie writer, LitReactor is a site worth checking out.

– Think you know everything about Star Trek: The Next GenerationHere are some things you might not know…

– Adam Levermore is starting a new poster series that looks awesome, and you robot-lovers should get in on it!

That is all for this week!  If you have links to share or wish to laud/lambaste me for mine, the comments are below.