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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fight On! - A Review

Fight on! Is a brand new fanzine from a group of dedicated gamers who saw a need for a magazine that will try and recapture some of the wonder and adventure that many of us experienced back in the early days of gaming.

As an “Old School” gamer myself, I get it. I see what they are trying to accomplish. Though I’m not sure everyone will. It’s one of those things you have to experience- to live through, in order to understand. Fortunately for the creators of Fight on! They hit the mark with a bull’s-eye.

Flipping through issue #1 of the magazine I began to happily reminisce about the early days of Dragon magazine (by early I mean the first 100 or so issues). Fight On! Has everything I loved about the early issues of Dragon-the tables and charts, the cartoony illustrations, the optional races, and most importantly the free mini modules.

The highlights for me in this first issue were:

The Swanmay- I had simply forgotten all about the Swanmay. What a great character. I loved Poul Anderson’s “Three hearts and three lions”. And “The Broken Sword” just blew me away the first time I read it. I firmly believe that Poul Anderson never got the accolades he deserved in the gaming world, his elves kick ass all over the usual namby-pamby soft lens hermaphrodites you find in most fantasy games- but I digress.

Flexible sorcery- I loved the spontaneous magic piece. What a great concept. There are tons of possibilities with this variant and it’s perfect for the player who likes his Mage to be so much more than a walking bazooka and magic detector.

The Ruined Monastery – Ahh, memories of the DMG. The Ruined Monastery is a little mini-adventure perfect for an evenings play. It’s ready to go with just a quick read over.

The Tomb complex of Ymmu M’Kursa - Another adventure, another dungeon crawl, I’m loving it! Wandering monsters, traps, undead, yellow mold- No multi faceted, angst- filled story adventures here. Just a hack and slash dungeon reminiscent of an old Judges Guild module-“grab me a Mountain Dew while your up.”

Setting up your sandbox- is an article about letting your players take the reins of the campaign and direct the course of the game (within reason). It’s a good article and I hope it’s the first in a series.

Puissant Priestly Powers – is a listing of blessings and powers to make your Priest more than just the team’s combat medic. And as with all the articles featured in Fight On! The stats are generic and any DM, GM, or Referee worth his salt can fit them into the rules set of his choice.

There is much more crammed in the thirty pages that comprise Fight on! Additionally you’ll find magic items, new monsters, personality tables, and campaign seeds.

Fight on! delivers on its promise. The work has a rough charm and you can tell that the guys really care about the genre and the feeling they are trying to recapture. A little stock art wouldn’t hurt, but then again maybe it’s okay as is.

For reasons I don't know, they decided to go through Lulu for publication.
After shipping my total was almost $10.00 and for me that was fine, I feel I got my monies worth and I’m a supporter of these types of efforts. But for the sake of keeping this venture alive I hope they consider a PDF format and a more popular vendor. This effort is worthy of all the exposure it can get and I don’t think Lulu is the best venue for it. In any case I will be back for issue 2 and issue 3 and hopefully for their special double issue 100!

One last thing.
Fight On! Has a great submissions policy:
“our authors and artists own their own work. Fight On! only asks for the right to print your work in the issue it’s originally published in, in that form, in perpetuity. Authors and artists own all other rights and may re-use and re-sell their work to anyone else as they see fit.”

So aspiring authors AND artists here is a chance to get published in a real printed magazine. I know for a fact that there are several artists who visit the Lair here. So toss a few snazzy pieces of art their way. It’s good Karma. Support the effort my friends.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The State of the Lair and more (a S.W.O.T analysis)

This picture has nothing to do with the topic on this post, I just think it's cool.

The SWOT analysis gimmick that I use in World of Broadsword is a favorite of most purchasers I’ve talked to. So I figured I’d do a SWOT of myself, the Lair and EDM Productions.

The Lair is popular and has a decent following. I attribute this to keeping it light, trying to be informative, and of course posting hot chicks on a regular basis.
If you stumble upon the Lair during a Google search you either move on or you stick around. A lot of you have stuck around, which is very cool-so thanks.

World of Broadsword (WoB) has proven to be a success/ I’ve released a product that people like and I can be proud of.

The popularity of both the Lair and WoB has given me quite a boost of self confidence. I crossed that invisible line from a talker to a doer. As my buddy Karl put it “I’m just glad to see on of my slacker gaming buddies get off their ass and do something with the hobby.”

The Lair takes up a bit of time. Even though the content isn’t text heavy I find myself falling behind from time to time. The returns on my effort have lessened in my eyes in comparison to those of actually creating a product and having people enjoy it.

EDM Productions is new and I don’t have a lot of content out there to dazzle people with.
My website is extremely amateur. It gets the job done for now, but it’s far from the professional snazzy looking website I know it could be, if all the stuff in my head was out there for people to see.

I’m a chronic procrastinator (case in point: Legends of Steel). I’m also one of those guys who are always regarded as very intelligent, but lazy. I’ve always been full of unrealized potential. To quote every teacher I’ve had from kinder to college- “Jeff is such a bright young man. It’s a shame he doesn’t apply himself.”

The Lair has given me a great deal of exposure in our little corner of the geek multiverse. I have made friends and networked with folks I would have never met in day to day life. For good or ill my name is out there and I have a sliver of presence.

World of Broadsword has proven that if I try I can put some interesting thoughts on paper. I have been approached on several fronts to do reviews, articles and more supplements similar to WoB. No screenplays or movie deals, but it’s a start!

This may sound weird but I currently have an ailment that is keeping me off work for a couple of weeks, nothing life threatening thank God, but still I have a regimen of medications and tests that I have to attend to and the doctor doesn’t want me working during that time (Hey, who am I to argue with a doctor?). So for the next few weeks I’m home. While I’m here I have the perfect opportunity to get some serious writing done.
I’m always bitching about not having enough time for Legends of Steel or some of the other projects I’ve had on slow cook for the longest time. So here is an opportunity to get some shit done.

The internets- that thing I enjoy so much- THAT is the biggest threat to my success with all of these ventures. Sure, posting a link to a new pulp game or putting up a picture of some dream girl in a thong doesn’t take a lot of time, but the time spent surfing to find that thong girl pic is what takes up time. A few clicks here and there start to add up, minutes become hours and then I look at the clock and it’s time to get to the doctor or pick up the kids. And I realize I just pissed away the whole morning cruising the gaming message boards, reading about the same old debates, the same old “tell me of ---gaming system”, or whether 4th edition will suck or not. This has happened to me before and I know it will again.

It’s a discipline thing. I have got to try to break that cycle of failure. I’ve just had the tiniest taste of how cool it is to have something published and thought well of.
That’s some heady nectar my friend.
So posting at the Lair is going to be scarce for a while, my presence on the boards is going to be severely curtailed. It’s not about being “burned out” or hating the hobby. I just want to be one of those guys who actually does something more than say “you know, one of these days…”

I have a cache of stuff saved up so I'll still be posting, and when I do have something to write about I will. But I'm going to be refocusing for a bit, so if it gets slow around here you all know why.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This n That

If you enjoy Heroscape, you might want to get to your nearest Target. they have the campaign box on sale for $19.99- At least they do in Sacramento.

I'm not gonna do a review of Return of the Sword, mainly cause everyone who has a blog dealing with Pulp, Sword & Sorcery, or any of the related genre stuff has already done a review- and they have all been resoundingly positive. As would my review.

All I'm going to say is I bought it and I loved it. My buddy Nate Meyer's story did not disappoint (despite a fundamental flaw regarding a Lucerne Hammer) and EE Knights writing tips had me digging through my notebooks of old story ideas with a "Yes I can" attitude. His blog is Kinda cool too.
Buy the book. Just buy the book.

I'm just a few clicks away from $100.00

There's a network called the American Life TV network. lots of old shows that I would have killed to see back in the 70's.
Rat Patrol
Time Tunnel
The Green Hornet (AKA the Kato show)
Land of the Giants
Lost in Space
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Mission Impossible and more!

Friday, April 18, 2008

A new venture for a cool Jeff

Jeff Rients from Jeffs gameblog has a great new venture going on. "Fight On!" is:
A new magazine for fantasy roleplaying in a broadly old-school style. Features content by Jeff Rients, Paul Czege, Stefan Poag, Gabor Lux, James Maliszewski, Calithena, Andrew Reyes, and many more! Packed with monsters, magic, new rules and character options, four FULL adventures, and much much more! Come unlock your imagination, and keep Fighting On!

I KNOW it's gonna be good. And that not just cause Jeff's a Jeff, I've been a fan of his gameblog since the beginning and I know the man has mondo gaming cred!
I ordered mine, order yours today!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pulp Thursday

A new website with a cool premise. Borderkingdom will be offering glances of Hyborian life, some with Conan some without.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Martinez (In the Company of Ogres) tickles the funny bone in this delightful, fast-paced mishmash of SF and hard-boiled detective story. Mack Megaton drives a cab in the mutant-infested technotopia of Empire City. It's a step down for a massive killing machine created for world domination, but kindhearted Megaton has bucked his programming, and when his secretive neighbors, the Bleakers, go missing, he begins a search. Young Holt Bleaker has something in his mutant blood that makes him valuable to aliens poised to invade Empire City, and only a giant robot—a robot like Mack Megaton—can break him out of the fortress where he's held prisoner. Soon plans go awry when sinister psychic Grey subverts Megaton's programming, but he finds an unlikely ally in Lucia Napier, an outrageously beautiful and talented media star and roboticist. Eccentric characters, all of whom are clever twists on stereotypes, populate a smart, rocket-fast read with a clever, twisty plot that comes to a satisfying conclusion. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

I know I'm way late to the party with this. But I would be remiss for not posting it. It's very cool.

I found these over at Grim Reviews

I have got to find some of these (like I need more stuff to buy).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Karma Strikes! Ouch!

Well World of Broadsword has been out a couple of weeks and my feelings have run from nervous and anxious to happy and proud to frustrated. At first I was nervous. Would my fellow gamers like it? And if not how badly would they stick it to me? I know how we are. When it comes to giving our opinion or spotting an error, gamers are always thorough and very often brutal, especially when wearing a +5 cloak of internet anonymity. I know because I’ve been pretty damn snarky when I get my nerd tail feathers riled up. So I was prepared for the worst.

So far I’ve been lucky the reviews that I’ve seen have been overwhelmingly positive. So then I entered the “happy zone” as sales figures started to come in and WoB cracked the top ten at RPGNow. I will admit I checked everyday (Okay, several times everyday) to see how my ranking fared. I made a concerted effort not to be a pain in the ass to Heyoka studios and James by sending in constant inquiries for updates. I also tried to ride a fine line between letting people on the various boards I frequent know that I had a product out and becoming a pain in the ass “game pimper.” Some message boards have very strict rules on self promotion others don’t allow it at all. So for the most part I tried to keep it low key, adding a message on my signature line and/ or sending out free review copies to key people. Here at the Lair I was less restrained, but I figure this is my house and I can shout as much as I want.

Many of my friends especially in the Blogosphere answered the call and gave me and WoB a mention or an entire post on their Blogs. My only frustration is in the area of the online review. You see, all of the virtual stores that sell PDF games have a place where purchasers can post their thoughts on the products they have purchased. It’s very helpful when making a purchase, especially when the vendor is new and untried like me. Personally, I use it every time I consider a purchase. And I feel it’s often saved me time, money and frustration. Despite the decent sales WoB has seen, the online reviews for it have peaked at a whopping two (thankfully those two are positive reviews, *whew*).

Now I buy quite a bit from RPGNow and to be honest I only write reviews for a fraction of my purchases. Well Karma is a bitch huh? Now I know what it feels like to be on the other side of the counter. I recall the “Free RPG day” last year, I downloaded a ton of free stuff- I still haven’t even opened most of it- did I write any reviews or even show a bit of appreciation? Hell no. but I was there fattening up my hard drive like everyone else. And so I’ve partaken of a bit of a payback appetizer, and I’ve taken the lesson to heart. I will go back and try and post a few words about the purchases I’ve made, I’m still going to be objective and if I thought the product was crap I’ll say so. But at least I’ll say something. To some small extent, I’ve joined the ranks of these guys, of course my chair is way in the back by the broom closet, but still- I finally got a ticket to the dance. So it’s time to up the support.

It’s funny, as a parent I see many similarities as to how our intellectual offspring are cared for and how our children are. Like my minions, I know WoB is good, I know it’s valuable, and I want it to succeed. But just like any proud parent at a dance recital or Karate tournament I want everyone else to see it as well.