Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Flashback

OK, so here I sit at 11:37 PM on Thursday night knowing that I am going to throw out an obscure flashback after the clock tolls midnight. It has been a while since I did a flashback, and sometimes you just gotta go with what feels right (well, most of the time you SHOULD go with what feels right). Given my current state of affairs, nothing makes me feel better than the following ditty by a one SIR Paul Weller.

Now, if you're a Brit, SIR Paul Weller needs no intro whatsoever...he's fairly well known on the Isles. Most of my readers, I assume, have NO idea who Paul Weller is. I got to know his work intimately just before his iconic band, The Jam, broke up. A much maligned break up which was indeed engineered by the eponymous Mr. Weller, who formed his follow-up act, The Style Council, before actually disbanding The Jam.

While his follow-up act issued a few note worthy tunes, it did nothing even remotely as influential or important as the music produced by that famous three man band, The Jam. Damn, I miss those guys and their vastly underappreciated (at least here in the States) music.

Classified mostly as Mod or New Wave, influenced mostly by The Who, The Jam was and will always be one of my absolute favorite bands of all time (and that says a lot, as you know if you've seen my flashbacks and know I enjoy a wide range of music).

Ghosts isn't their most 'rocking' tune, to be sure, and came toward the end of their legendary run, but DAMN just listen to it and be amazed at the musical perfection therein.

Enjoy Ghosts by The Jam!

Not much of a vid unless you want to follow the lyrics. Minimize and I bet you replay it again before the day is over. CRANK it way up. By the time you are enjoying this one I will be on a plane to St. Louis for a few days.

See ya when I return.


oh and I almost forgot, Quixotic Referee

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If Not Now, When?

Decades ago, I was a young man who collected booklet sized game supplements for my favorite hobby, and dreamt about joining the amateur publishing trend and producing my own whacky notes for fellow fans. Hobby is certainly not the appropriate term here, obsession is more fitting. Call it lack of know-how, call it procrastination, call it day-dreaming, whatever the case, this notion never got beyond the formative stages. As a young man I often talked about pursuing plenty of now unrealized goals, most I have probably forgotten. Things changed through the years. The D&D supplemental cottage industry dried up, the faddish nature of the hobby came and went, I forgot about that silly notion. Until now, that is. This all occured in that time lost period BC (Before Computers). It wasn't truly before computers, but it was certainly before the information age took hold, and before the internet proliferation that has swept the globe now, over a score of years later.

Thanks to the pipes connected to the back of this desktop, I can see that across the globe there are still small pockets of like me who enjoy reading and using what other fans conceive and commit to writing. Indeed I am answering the dinner bell late, and perhaps simply arriving for the last course, but I can sense that those bygone dreams of producing something of interest to the fan community are beginning to become rekindled now.

First and foremost I'd like to again thank Calithena for the excellent fanzine Fight On!, for encouraging me to submit one of my adventures to not only that superb publication, but also to the contest which I was lucky enough to be a part of. Was SGotCM simply lightning in a bottle? Only time will tell, but I'm convinced now that this old notion is worth exploring further. I still plan to submit future material to Fight On!, but some of the projects I hope to undertake might not fit in that publication.

I envision doing this whole thing as a solo project initially. That means hand drawn maps and writing by yours truly. Some illos or sketches are not out of the question, but given my own time constraints I think the fluff might have to fall by the wayside early on. On the other hand, first impressions mean a lot. Perhaps I should reach out to the gaming community and ask for help to dress things up.

This is certainly not a venture for profit, nay it's the pursuit of a dream from a bygone era. The nagging question is what I am going to throw out to the community here: which project should I undertake initially?

Possible projects are one-off adventures, the Dim Expanse, campaign settings, rules supplements, collections of maps, collections of artifacts and monsters, stand alone games, the list goes on. A few of the ideas are somewhat daunting; the Dim Expanse for one, campaign settings (which would include rules, maps and history), and stand alone games. I'm of the notion that there isn't a need for more published rules supplements, and that artifacts and monsters can find their own place amidst the other possible projects (adventures, megadungeon, campaign). So I've somewhat narrowed my own choices to single adventures, OR a series of large adventures which can stand alone or be connected to form what would eventually be the Dim Expanse.

The question is, are megadungeons something that fans would actually be interested in reading and using? It's nothing more than dungeon maps and room descriptions, really. The Dim Expanse would be a series of the regions of that still unfinished megadungeon; Krawlspace, Lahromil's Demise, The Hundred Pits, The City Below, The Weeping Caves and The Slumbering Vault. Six large adventures of two or three levels each, with intro, tables and lots of text. Modular, but interconnected once completed. Given my work pace, it might take years to finish, though.

I already know what you are thinking; Sham is talking himself into inactivity again already. Just write something and publish it, dammit! OK, OK, I will. But first, another much more immediate project needs my full attention, and I hope to provide a rollicking old school adventure with Ware the Queen of Faerie Twisted for a future issue of Fight On!

Thoughts and input would be greatly appreciated.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Easing Back In

Wow! What a busy summer it’s been. I knew heading into Autumn (which is, by the way, my favorite season…I only use the term ‘Autumn’ when I want to impress people, and since you all know I’m a fairly down to earth guy, I will happily call it ‘Fall’ now) that I would be busier than a one armed bar back at Oktoberfest. Fall is traditionally my ‘busy time’. I’ve still got trips to St. Louis, Las Vegas and Paradise Island (aka Hog Island…that’s in the Bahamas) slated in the next six weeks. Due to these trips, I had assumed that my big hiatus would happen in the Fall. It came a bit early. Suffice to say that my career centers around (prepare yourself for a NSFW word here) O-I-L, and I think that pretty well sums it up.

So. Here I am, trying to catch up on my blogroll. I see James is still cranking ‘em out over at Grognardia. Dude is a machine. I trust all is well in the old school blogosphere.

Me? I’m getting ready to set pencil to graph paper on my promised follow-up to SGotCM, the Lower Caves of TDB, aka Ware the Queene of Faerie Twisted. While I might be able to whip up an adventure the night before a gaming session, my personality type demands quite a bit of prep work and consideration before I’ll submit such a work for public scrutiny. Besides, much like many of my GM cohorts out there, my notes and work for the adventures I am going to personally run are 10% on paper, and 90% in my head. So the effort of making the whole shebang playable if I’m not personally present to Ref the mess is, quite literally, the Devil in the details.

During my unexpected absence I succumbed once more to the readily accessible pastime of computer gaming. Perhaps it was like a downtime to my much anticipated return to D&D. A denouement after months of toil in actually planning and arranging a gathering of my old gaming crew. My blog climaxed with that first gaming session in oh so many years. You can be sure that’s not the end of the story.

Recently I spoke to one of my cronies on the phone (the very mapper who happened to ‘leak’ a bit of…au jus shall we call it, on the player map). According to his recounting of the evening, it was the most fun he had had in ten years. EARTH TO SHAM! Set up another play session ASAP!

So, I’m looking at an October return to the Dim Expanse, aka Ulin-Uthor. Hopefully I’ll have a good response and will generate the feel of a true campaign in the very near future.

To all of you who still have Ye Auld Grog ’n Blog on your blogroll, huzzah! To all of you who are still dutifully blogging away in our circle of old school gangstas, youse guys are the best! If you’re reading this, thanks for making this effort, which started so innocently, worth coming back to for further inane ramblings and conjecture.

I’m not sure I’ll ever return to my daily blogging here, but I’d like to thank a few people who have certainly made me realize that I will never be far from D&D; Jeff Rients (who inspired me to start this very blog), James Maliszewski (who influenced me with his professionalism and gaming insight), Scott Driver (who still inspires me to reach greater heights of writing technique), the countless commentators in my past blog posts (who ridicule/disagree/support me), my old gaming crew (who, really, I wish to entertain more than anyone else), and last but not least, Calithena (who encourages me and actually seems to *gasp* like what I write).

Suffice to say that I am looking forward to seeing this blog reach out to more and more fans of D&D and perhaps share a bit of my enthusiasm for the hobby with players of all kinds. Once I have submitted my next adventure to Fight On!, I hope to make the initial steps toward making the Dim Expanse a self published series of adventures available to everyone.

Oh, and don’t forget to secure your copy of Fight On! #3 as soon as it is available. Word is that the Crabmen might make an early appearance!