Sunday, September 29, 2013

Check It Out...

And speaking of building new worlds...I've been a regular reader of Rob Conley's Bat In the Attic blog for a while now. He's a dedicated gamer with an extensive knowledge of several types of games. He (and gaming co-hort, and publisher extraordinaire of The Manor) Tim Shorts are generous enough to allow me (and Jason) to sit in on their role playing games, when they make the trip into Erie. Anyway, I'm kind of biased, but I think his recent blog postings on world building are absolutely phenomenal. 
While I prefer to build my worlds, by starting in one location, and working my way out, Rob's single sheet checklist is great for those who like to start big and work their way down. He's so detail oriented here, he even gives you the amount of time you should spend on each facet, just so you know what you are getting yourself into. He also has a great series of related articles that spring board into bite-sized nuggets of  further information, (which are  easily divided into clear and concise suggestions). I'm still making my way through the series, but they are really helpful in taking the insurmountable task of building a new world and breaking it down into simple, easy to follow steps. I strongly recommend them to anyone interested in designing a well-thought out imaginary world. Even if you do not use his blue print, you should read them over, just to help you to remember what important details to include...It's quite extensive, without being heavy handed.
I don't want to keep ranting and raving about it, because I'll end up blabbing on and on here, when you should just pop over there and check it out. Plus, unlike me, he's very good about answering questions, posting regular updates, and responding to comments (where as I'm more into the whole journal aspect of blogging, as in, "I'll get to it when I get the time").
Oh, and if you are hip to his vibe, I also encourage you to check out his mini product line of role playing games, set in the Majestic Wilderlands. I saw a photo of his new retro-clone minded game, and it looks pretty cool. And, while I'm thinking about it, pick up Tim Short's mini game series, The Manor. It's a mini-zine that regularly features three or four micro games, each one designed for a different rule set / game (plus some groovy art work from Jason). I warned you - I'm kind off biased here, but I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.


Sunday, August 11, 2013


After some time together, playing various war simulations, Dave Arnoson decided to set his next game in a small medieval hamlet, and, instead of a large troop moving scenario, it was a series of "door to door" encounters. The player wouldn't be a general (off the field) giving orders, he'd be a lone operator (or a leader of a crack team) that would have to infiltrate the town and find the damsel in distress, or the bad guy, or the monster with the treasure, or whatever, through rolling the dice and role-playing your individual character. (Side Note: I go into this aspect of the game in my MIND GAMES entry). He used the Chainmail rules to resolve close quarters combat, and it was a hit. Gygax loved the idea, and started running his own lone adventurer games, heavily based on the pulp fiction he grew up with in the 40's, namely Conan the Barbarian's sword and sorcery stories, HP Lovecraft's Horror mythos, with a sprinkle of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings thrown in (which were very popular at the time). They started publishing their games under the banner Tactical Studies Review (TSR) and shipped them off to other gaming clubs, and BOOM, by 1974, Dungeons and Dragons was born. Story goes Gygax got the title of the game from his 10 year old daughter, who, reportedly, is quite a good gamer.

Gary Gygax admitted to reading HG Well's instructions and ran TSR games with the understanding it was, essentially, 'public domain' material. Not to bore you with too much detail, back in the early 70's, TSR took Well's articles on miniature war gaming, and built those generic castles and towers (Blackmoore, Greyhawk etc) into detailed city states, fantastic locations and so forth. Ten years later, these imaginary locales became the primary game boards for thousands of avid role playing fans.

TSR games would give you a map of a town , with a background history, and tell you it was run by individual governors, lords and wizards, with their own agendas, powers (life bar, inventory , skills, and political alignments), enemies and allies, and then you (the Game Master) tossed your players into the mix, inventing the first "sandbox" game, where the player's choices would trigger a series of built in consequences (tables of 'random encounters' are included just to keep things interesting). So, effectively, you can play this one game (ex. City State of the Invincible Overlord) over and over, and there will be variations, because of the element of chance (dice rolling), and the choices of the players (role playing) will be different every time. And since it's different every time, you, the Game Master (the guy running the game) will need to use your imagination, because there are things players will do that are not covered in the rules, because you can't anticipate every outcome. In essence (and this how we get away with this now-a-days), the Game Master will have to make up his/her own rules (or versions) to the game. To some that ran in my circles, this was the birth of game theory, DARPA, and legal plagiarism.

Remember George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove, as the general, running around the war room, saying nuclear war heads were launched, and are real, because "it's on the big board..." ? In that movie, it's easy to understand the psychological shift from a WW II grand scale view of the world, to a personal local pride (even an imaginary hamlet). Because, really, in the game of life, there are no rules. But in a game that mimics a fantasy life, there are rules...lots of them...and one of the rules is "make it up", because as long as it's "on the board ", it's real.

True, military generals (Genghis Kahn had all his maps and spies) and people running RAND (standing on a bulletproof glass floor with a blinking world map, showing how much fuel is moving across the Atlantic Ocean, using toy warships) have been running these types of scenarios for years. There are tons of files marked "What if ? Then this !" in government agencies across the globe.

But none of them were really examining the rapid decay and deforestation of Sherwood Forest after the death of Robin Hood. Or if the Joker did in fact poison the water supply before Batman could stop him, and took over Gotham City. Or what would happen if the Universal Movie Monsters from the 30's and 40's grew fifty feet tall and attacked New York. Here's a scripted example:

"Can you imagine how many people they would need to eat to stay alive...Wait ! I'll look that up in this 1970's Game booklet, under the listings gargantuans / titans (50 ft and up). It has a bunch of stuff here... How much they can lift, how long they can travel, how much damage they do and... how much they weigh..."

The reader, back then, was assumed to be a genius gamer, (or shunned outsider, depending on what photos your looking at) and can therefore extrapolate how much food it would take .Sometimes they'll say, like in the dragon listings, "eats 4 donkeys in a sitting", but you'd still have to look up the weight of the donkey (it's listed) and then decide,"how often do they eat?" Before you know it, your writing up new rules (sometimes referred to as 'house rules' ) for the daily dietary needs of giant monsters.


Just for fun and flavor: Giant Dracula must drink three swimming pools worth of blood a day, preferably through a giant straw, or begin to diminish in power, and slowly, painfully die, at heightened levels of insanity, (he is 50 feet tall) in say, 100 years from now. Nobody was running that game scenario, except these guys...and they'd have down to the milliliter, just to appeal to their British counterparts. Yes, Dungeons and Dragons is big in the UK,  France, Germany, Australia, and Russia etc...Special shout out to all my readers there...Thanks for tuning in...


Thursday, August 1, 2013


In the free wheeling 60's, "gaming clubs" started popping up around college towns. The gist of these gaming clubs (which I gravitated towards) was to re-enact famous battles in history and try to come up with an alternative strategy, where the losers would end up being the winners (Don't Give Up The Ship, The Battle of Lake Erie, was one of the first Gygax / Arnoson games that toyed with this notion).

An expirament into alternate history. Gygax 'reinvents' HG Well's minature war gaming rules, printed as a mini press fanzine, called " Chainmail ", with his gamer buddies (Jeff Preen) at the Castles and Crusades Society in the late 60's. I know that some folks at the Vintage Wargaming site might take issue with this, but for the sake of berevity, I'm hoping they'll over look my rapid fire abridgement to the history of stragety games. Remember, these articles are not about how things were...They are about how things were for me and my group(s)...Anyway, back to Chainmail. I got my copy back in 1976, then had it stolen in 1982. Then my brother got a copy at a garage sale back in 1992 (with a brown grocery bag loaded with early Dragon magazines). Honestly, the last time I looked at it, was when I visited him back in 2004.

It's kind of a dry read, but it's interstesting. It's a big inventory of midevael weapons (ex. the number of damage points they inflcit, the length of time it takes to load, the distance it reaches / travels etc) and new rules on running large scale combat for your minature soldiers, using the included weapons listings. In other words, your soldier has 5 life points (or hit points), but he's armed with a crossbow that inflicts various amounts of damage, depending on the distance (ex. at point blank range the crossbow does more points of damage, than at 200 feet).

Chainmail also added more dice throwing to the game. If you rolled higher than, let's say, a four on a six sided dice, then your soldier hit your opponet's soldier with a weapon, one strong enough to possibly knock his life/hit points to 0 (death) and out of the game (or field of battle). It's interesting, because, this tiny mini-book had a huge impact on some of my gamers. What they liked about it was...well, how can I explain it?  Hmmm....There used to be a TV show on the History channel...I think it was called Deadliest Warrior), that interviews different weapon's experts, and presents them with a hypothetical battle. The fan favorites are: If a medieval knight fought a samurai - Who would win? Or a Ninja vs.Conquistador or an Viking vs. Zulu. You get the idea. 

The experts explain the battle readiness of each side ( strengths and weaknesses of their technology and culture), then present their opinions, based on 'scientific demonstrations of force, speed and impact of various weapons'.Then all of this information is punched into the show's super computer, which calculates the incredible amount of damage a skilled knight or samurai would inflict with their weapon(s), measurably demonstrated by the experts. How?  Computer sensors are hooked up to a watermelon, a piece of wood, and an animal bone. The samurai expert chops them up with a samurai sword, the knight experts chops them up using a two handed long sword. The computer tallies up all the minutia (the number of pounds per inch of the wound, how deep each blade cuts, the speed of the attack and so on), and calculates who would win.

That's kind of what Chainmail did, 40-50 some years ago. The difference (for my group of gamers) between Chainmail and other fanzines at the time? They'd draw up a section on fantasy armies as well. So, back in 1976, if you asked, "If there was a battle between the Ancient Egyptian army and the US Calvary of 1876, who would win?"'d use Chainmail as your 'weapon's expert' to extrapolate what weapon would do what, and then calculate and compare each armies firepower, and convert that into a number you'd have to roll on the dice. You essentially acted as the computer, to figure out all the minutia, then get a die total. If your roll of the dice is greater than your opponets, you win. The better your weapons, the better your chance at winning.

However, unlike the TV show, if you have a good stragety (and a little luck of the dice) you can still win. You can, with the roll of a die, (and an oppurtunity to capaitalize on an unfolding outcome), invent an alternative, unexpected result. Those moments got addictive.
I lost track of how many times we put ninjas up aganist other historical armies (the huns, the nazis, and spanish pirates). If we knew that games like NINJA vs. NINJA were going to be so popular back then, we would've kept more of that stuff lying around.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Just so folks don't think I'm some anti-Wizard of the Coast gamer (from my last posting), I thought I'd better elaborate on some of the positives. One being: They actually SAVED DUNGEONS and DRAGONS. Plus (from the outside looking in), they've actively kept some semblance of self - sufficiency. When WotC came in and bought TSR, they went into damage control mode, almost immediately. They took on all of the old TSR court cases and tried to turn the tide around. By the mid 90's, old fiction writers were back to work (with a bigger cut of the profits) and they ramped up the D+D computer gaming wing of the company to compete against "DOOM" and "Myst" like video games.
They relaunched old property rights that TSR acquired, but never did much of anything with, like Conan the Barbarian and other fantasy film franchises, essentially 'piggy back riding' their success. And they continue to drum up Christan minded people who played D+D, to give testimonials, assuring the courts that they were not homicidal satanists. And D+D, (like violent video games today), shouldn't bear the full responsibility of a few deranged wackos. Briefly: A lot of this devil worshiping stuff is the unfortunate result of D+D's meticulous record keeping. In the spell section of the Player's Handbook, there are descriptive passages about summoning demons to work on your behalf, and it outlines the rituals (for your miniature figures), which are based on actual middle ages folklore, but some people thought (or wished) it was real.
The problem was compounded in the mid 80's, when an unofficial rule book was published in Spain, by a group of D+D fans, that took it way off the reservation, telling players how to sacrifice babies, goats, and brew death potions (listing real deadly plants and recipes). WotC reminded everyone that the game is a family friendly game, the players are not allowed to play "the bad guys", and edged out the Heavy Metal, Satan loving subset of gamers, writing them off as "provocateurs looking to make a quick buck". They really worked hard, behind the scenes, to make D+D relevant again. But what to do about the game?

By the late 90's it was obvious. D+D needed a face lift. Fast ! A radical new rule set (the d20 system) was put together to actively compete against all of the role playing games that knocked it off it's throne in the first place. And since they were designing new rules, (which were going to give birth to the next generation of games) they put out the OPEN GAMING LICENSE, in order to stay above the legal fray that ended up costing them millions of dollars. They put out the Third Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, which revolved around a new game mechanic involving the d20 die. It was a minor tweak, but enough to win in a court case involving the rules of the game.
By 2005, they released D+D 3.5 ( a newly revised set of rules based on hours of playtesting with normal gamers, thus bridging the older gamer and newer gamers, at convention halls across America and Europe). Third edition and 3.5 edition are sometimes lumped into one edition - just 3.5; because it's a more rounded out series of books. The 3.0 edition is seen as the 'beta' version, and the 3.5 rules are seen as the actual rules to the new and improved D+D game. Suffice to say, you can't please everyone all the time. People who plunked down hundreds of dollars for 3rd edition when it came out, felt more than betrayed about having to disregard those books and buy the 3.5 version, (for hundreds of dollars), two years later. The 3.5 Core Rules had 80-90 pages more, better art, and rule changes. But some saw it as a grab for cold hard cash.  

And the problem was hard to over look, because the difference between the editions was great. If you played a 3.0 character in a 3.5 world, he would probably die. No amount of luck will keep him alive. A 3.5 monster will eat you alive. Fact was that only a 3.5 character can survive in a 3.5 world. That said, a 3.5 character will pretty much "own" your 3.0 world in a handful of gaming sessions. It was frustrating. It was the kind of thing that made you want to go 'on line' and sell your own version of The Game, and stick it to WotC. WotC claims they had to make the changes for the "good of the game", if they are going to remain "viable" to Hasbro, (who holds a Sword of Damocles over them, dependent on sales). They said 3.5 was the "final word". Everything, product line wise, was geared for those rules.Period. Four years later, they made D+D 4.0. People went bat$!*&, with the chorus being "Oh No You Didn't" !
So, what can I say? It's been a turbulent time, but WotC has managed to keep clear of things that nearly destroyed TSR...And besides, they have Jason putting his Dungeon Dozen stamp on their website, so they can't all be bad...I mean, they obviously recongnize clever writing when they see it...

Thursday, June 6, 2013


I just want to be clear here: I'm a big fan of Wizards of Coast and D+D (and a dozen of other RPGs), and this particular posting is purely my opinion...based on my surroundings...and my experiences...You'd think that was already implied, but I'm NOT leaving anything to chance here...So, with that in mind, here's MY DEAL with the 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons...

4.0 was built to be, let's say...transferable... to your computer, so you could stop playing  World of Warcraft, and play D+D on-line instead. The 4.0 rules are the table top, paper and pencil, dice rolling, miniature figures version of the game that treats everyone like a BOSS FIGHT from a video game. And I mean EVERYONE. From the main evil villain to the guy who just sold you a loaf of bread (just like in the World of Warcraft). It's D+D on Crack. It's faster, more lethal, but, in a 'gamey way', it's so far removed from original D+D rules, it drove old gamers (like me) nuts.

But the 4th edition sold. It sold a lot. Plenty of 12-14 year old boys (and I imagine some girls) got the books for X-mas in 2008-2010. Hasbro flooded, and I mean, flooded the market with book after book after book. My (and some others) biggest problem: It was ALL OFFICIAL EDITIONS. There was no room left on the shelves for competitive game makers. Hasbro's deep pockets buried everybody. It clogged up so much shelf space in the comic and gaming stores, there was NO ROOM for anything else. Plus, the reinterpertated combat system (with it's various Action Sub Catagories) didn't win us over. As a matter of fact, it spurned an Internet wide backlash. See, I wasn't kidding when I said D + D instills a love / hate kind of relationship...

It was sad. So much money going into such a lame version of The Game. Bloggers like Bat In the Attic, Black Blade Publishing, Brave Halfling, Mythmere Games, and Grognardia started springing up in 2003-2005. These guys started putting out fanzines (Knockspell and Fight ON!) and their own adventures, based on the 1st Edition Rules, thinking...the OPEN GAMING LICENSE lets me use D+D rules, why not just go back to beginning, (and pay attention here) and invent the games Gary Gygax and Dave Arnoson would've printed, if things didn't turn so horribly wrong back in 1983-1989. These are the games they might have invented, in an alternate history. If the D+D game went in the direction they wanted it to go, and not the way it went down. And, as such, these 'games' are protected under free speech and the Gaming License...because, technically, you don't call it D+D. Early on, (by way of example) there was a game entitled "Encounter Critical", claiming to be a lost and forgotten game design from the 70's, from TSR. It mimicked the old school fanzine size format, the old typesetting, and it got a lot of buzz, until it was discovered to all be a fake, and just a "marketing gimmick". But that's all it took. It made some big money, and still sales today. More importantly, it gave everyone else this idea of getting around Hasbro's dominance, by producing your own compatible adventure and set it in a world that combines any and all rules (from any and all games or editions) and call it your own. In my opinion, this freedom is both invigorating and troublesome.  

But can you blame them? If all you have is the 4th edition game, and you detest it, why wouldn't you go back to what you love. Let me digress for a moment here...

One reason  why Marvel Comics had to get bought up by Disney is case you didn't know...COMIC-BOOKS... right now, have been reduced to the role of promoting or writing Hollywood movies...because, nobody buys comic books anymore, they buy graphic novels. And they don't buy a lot of those, only their favorites. I briefly bring up Marvel Comics, because that was kind of their marketing strategy back in the 90's...It didn't matter if the books were any good or not, (and most wer NOT), they just spent all of this money to get them published, in order to take up the shelf space at comic stores across the country - Edging out any competition. The 90's were a dark time for comic book fans. You can still find a ton of 90's comics in countless dollar boxes...Then they almost went broke.  

And, in a way, that's been WotC's M.O. for the past couple of years with the 4th edition. You can find a 4th edition book on every type of monster, realm, or magic treasure, ever produced...Right Now. WotC has been re-releasing the original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books (the 1974-1977 1st edition rule books, and some early modules), written by Gary Gygax  (and others), in order to raise money for a statue of him, in his honor back in Milwaukee. They've organized fund drives and are trying to meet these Internet gurus, by appealing to their nostalgia for the game, and to tell them that they "miss Gary and Dave and all the rest, just as much, if not more, than you do". And...(are you sitting down?)...They are kind of implying..."Hey, we're really sorry about this whole 4.0 thing. We're going to fix all this by... putting out a 5.0 version as soon as possible. And you'll love it ! We're gonna dedicate it to Gary and Dave and do it right this time. We promise."

Pshew. I feel better already. But that hasn't stopped the 4.0 runaway train. I don't blame WotC for trying to make oodles of money, but are they really expecting me to shell out thousands of dollars for a never ending series of super-deluxe hardback books, basically covering a plot (and setting) I've already bought, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. And now that I know all of these Official Editions are going to be negated by a new rules set, I'm glad I didn't buy into it at the beginning. Like everything, only time will tell. Having Frank Metzer seems like a good start, but  when Monte Cook left the group designing the new game, the Internet comment sections went nuts with all sorts of rumors and theroies.

Don't get me wrong, the 4th edition books are great looking...The art is top of the line...The paper is high grade, and there's a ton of cool information in there, but...I dunno...If WotC wanted to, they could produce an affordable, soft-cover mini-book, that harkens back to the early days, (with some more Errol Otus art) and meet old timers, like me, half way. Of all of the editions, the 4th edition (and it's marketing campaign) kinda flies in the face of the first (and real) rule of the D+D games, which is: You are supposed to HAVE FUN ! 
And that's kind of where things stand now a days...Again, in my opinion...


Friday, May 24, 2013

As an Example...


Dave Arnoson had already left before 1982, over "intellectual property" issues, and went off to create his own gaming company. It didn't do as well, until they started writing computer codes for games (some of these early BASIC computer language codes would later end up in D+D like computer games : "Ultima" and Nintendo 's hugely successful "Zelda" video games).The FBI delayed the printing of TOP SECRET, the role playing game, thinking it was a 'threat to national security' (Merle Rassmussen, the designer and writer of the game had to prove he got his "intel" from the public library, and not a foreign agency), and slowly D+D was being associated, in the news, with crazy people weilding swords , running around in the sewers, looking for dragons to "vanquish" and, eventually, Satanists.

Gary Gygax, dabbling in a project to bring D+D to Hollywood,  was "forced" out of TSR, by 1987-1989, and most of the "old gang" was gone, replaced by a younger group, that spear-headed the 1984-1985 Second Edition D+D game. A version that was even more accessible to a greater number of people, but was accused of "dumbing down The Game". Other role playing companies ( Chaosium, White Dwarf / Warhammer ) started outselling D+D, using tweaked D+D rules, and TSR was taken over by a rich woman named Lorraine Williams, who knew nothing about role playing games, and was hoping to "turn it" for a profit. Story is: She was such a control freak, game designers were always clashing with her, over what made a good D+D game, and spent the better part of 1988-1993, reprinting older editions, in fancy print runs, or in special collected hard backs. One story goes: As the gaming offices were imploding, the fiction writers were saving the company.

Tales from The Forgotten Realms, and Dragonlance Series, and countless other, were long running fantasy novels, and they were / are very popular. The novelization of D+D related works sold across the board, because you didn't need to be a gamer to enjoy the books. These books still make it to the New York Times bestsellers list every once and a while, and the charatcers in these books have spun off into their own series of books. It was great to be a fiction writer for TSR, until you became so famous (Tracy Hickman, R.A. Salvator), you started to effect the bottom line, and, persumeably, asked for more money, more creative control, more anything, from the sounds of it. Those that did, were escorted out the door by security, only to file their own lawsuits aganist the company later. Everything related to the game was selling (the calendars, action figures, coloring books, computer games, and, suprisingly, the miniature figures), but the actual "game" material was not doing so hot.

In the early 90's, "Vampire, the Masqurade", (you play as vampires in a dinner mystery-type game) and "The Shadowrun" ( set in a post apocalyptic future where invisible inflammable gas pockets can kill you, and alter the human spieces into mutant monster) kind of nailed the coffin shut on D+D games, which had grown stale and dull. The folks I knew never bothered with the Birth-Rite, or The Dragons of Croym series etc.

By the time Pokemon and Magic the Gathering card games were hitting the states, TSR was facing up to the harsh reality. It was impossible to dominate the game market ever again, because there was 30-40 years of other legal published material based loosely on a HG Well's public domain game and Gygax's "make it up as you go rule", In other words, (as I said previously) any role playing game ever created was, and is, going to be derived from Dungeons and Dragons, because it was the first formalized role playing game. You can't have one without the other. And when the video games DOOM and Tomb Raider came out, you were lucky to find guys willing to sit around for three hours, roll some dice, and draw up maps. In comparison, that was just soooo last decade... 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Mysterious Disappearance

Well, I've been gigantically busy lately (and not just the normal end of the school year kind of busy stuff...I'm talking about the kind of freaking busy where the last thing on your mind is posting stuff on some blog). Too many problems. Not enough time. Not enough for my virtual life anyways. So, that's why I've been out of the loop these past few weeks / months. It happens. I'm not complaining, just explaining. I've been doing some drawings for some new games coming down the pipe. I'd tell you about it, but then my benefactor(s) would have to kill me. Corperate spies are everywhere and things must be very hush - hush...You understand. 
For instance, I'd love to go on and on about the new game I'm brewing up here in the lab, but if I blab on about it, I'll never finish it. I'll figure, hey, I told you about it, so why bother with all the headaches of printing and distributing it? Why not just type out all the cool ideas here on the blog and be done with it? If anyone wants it, it could be downloaded as easy as pie. Everything is done on-line now-a-days. So true. Why this ridiculous need to draw it up and send it out, in a vain attempt to sell it? Didn't anyone tell me printing is officially dead (Dude, it like, died back in 2003, when all the newspapers went out of business). Plus, do we need another fanzine?

Well, the simple answer, (depending on the kind of day I'm having) is I'm a andraline freak for rejection, or I'm a lazy perfectionist. I want it to be an enjoyable game to play and a fun game to read. That's a tall order, since the first rule to game design is: Be clear and consise, and keep it impersonal and uncluttered. So, already, I'm starting behind the 8 ball. But I can't help it. Pushing, bending, and mashing up the rules (as I've in said in earlier posts) is one of the things I enjoy about the game. I also want this game to work as a opening salvo to an over-ambitious project to produce a series of like-minded games. Hopefully, I'll have three mini books coming out, but at this point, I'll settle for one. The other reason...

Well, I come from an Underground Artist kind of background, and the pull to publish (or be published) is a strong and undeniably competitive drive for us types. Maybe it's motivated by the fact that we couldn't afford art school, or maybe having to slave away for hours at a drawing table for other people's product line, or maybe it's just they way we were put together. I dunno, but it's sometimes confused for insanity. God knows, it can drive some people insane.   
I won't lie. This is partly an exercise in ego stroking. I like having a series of books with my name and work in them on my shelves at home. It gives me a self-satisfying tingle. If nothing else, the work is real. It's here, in my greedy little hands and it's something that may actually out live me. Not in the long reach of history kind of way (I'm not that arrogant, or self-deluded). I'm thinking more in son's sons or daughters may one day flip through these books and think, "What kind of weirdo was grandpa back in the early twenty-first century" sort of way.
Plus, when the sun spits out the big solar flare that knocks out all of the earth's computers (and my virtual history), I'll still have my little shelf of books to go back to... as Google, Yahoo, Facebook and all the rest explain that the world will just have to  re-re-re-boot and start all over again. 
But yes, I should say something about the game I so boldly claimed was coming just around corner (30 some weeks ago). Thing is, I don't really want to show any of the artwork or designs just yet. Playtesting has been fun and frustrating. I'll say this: The game is an attempt to combine some of the best facets of role playing games under one roof, while presenting an entertaining. and striking, adventure. Hopefully...