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The cloistered game

The place is set, but no man knows the time




April 21st, 2010

The first article in a series I'm writing for has been posted - you can find it here.

They're based around the idea of terrain powers, which are a way within the 4e ruleset to give mechanical weight to the surroundings in an encounter. When I first read about them, my mind went immediately to aspects from Spirit of the Century (and FATE more generally). Just as FATE players can take the swinging chandelier from the read-aloud text and use the aspect mechanics to make it relevant during play, 4e players can use terrain powers to accomplish the same end. Both get more immersed in the fictional environment, and it gives the players a greater measure of narrative control over the scenes. Good stuff, and I'm thrilled to get to play around with these ideas for The next installment will be up in two weeks.

(Although I don't know who did what in Dungeon Master's Guide 2, where terrain powers were introduced, I did notice that rob_donoghue of Evil Hat and One Bad Egg fame was one of the contributors ...)

April 20th, 2010

As I get older, I find myself appreciating a good essay more and more. Some of that probably dates to the American school experience - essays are just another word for structured writing homework, without a lot of time devoted either to the point of the exercise or the value of a tightly-structured argument. The rest probably relates to how rarely I come across a well-done argument. Too often the op-ed pages are filled with boilerplate arguments devoid of writing style, novel propositions, or much regard for the dictates of logic or fair, reasoned argument.

Here's one that's done particularly well - Denying Shakespeare from the Wall Street Journal. In fairness, I was probably inclined to enjoy it because I already agreed with the overall point. (Although I find the "denying the possibility of genius as a democratic impulse" to be backward. Egalitarian gets closer to it, and one could argue that the perceived need for an aristocratic Shakespeare is an anti-democratic desire. But I digress.)

Technically, this is really good. The argument flows so smoothly, drawing the reader along to each obvious-in-retrospect point, that it is really convincing. The opening fantasia, too, really encapsulates the argument without coming across as trying too hard or false, as so many examples of the technique do.

Well done, Mr. Teachout. Well done.

February 25th, 2010

4e Review

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There's an excellent review of the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons up on RPGeek.

The Olympics have led me to the conclusion that we should really classify reviews by length - ten words and ten thousand words just don't try to do the same things, and so aren't really comparable. This one shades toward the marathon end of that range, but it's well worth the read.

December 8th, 2009

Frank Herbert, Father

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Frank Herbert must have had small children in the house when writing Dune. The Voice is clearly a product of a parent of toddlers.

October 22nd, 2009

On the way to work this morning it struck me that the Wii interface would be perfect for a gladiator game. Great minds apparently run in the same channels, as High Voltage Software is hard at work on Gladiator A.D..

Although I'm sure our Wii enjoys toddlers hitting golf balls as far as possible - preferably into a large body of water - it's time for something a little more substantial. Bring on the games!

June 1st, 2009

visited 20 states (8.88%)
Create your own visited map of The World or another interesting project

I've chosen the current name for a plot of land, so I lost out on the DDR and the USSR, but gained Georgia, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Palestine. I may also have crossed the border into Tanzania, but I don't have any real evidence of that.

Two continents to go ...

visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or Like this? try: Archean

Gotta find a reason to get to Alaska ...

May 12th, 2009

World of H1N1-craft

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Behind the link is a short article on using the behavior of <i>World of Warcraft</i> players to study the spread of disease, from the <u> New Mexican</u>.
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