Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Antipode System

Below is the star system that The Boy and I worked on during vacation for the Star Wars game:

"Details are sketchy in the galactic databases on the Antipode system.  It was a member of the Old Republic, settled by a mix of sentient races.  Due to a nearby supernova approximately 1,000 years ago, the hyperlanes connecting Antipode to the rest of the galaxy shifted, causing it to be unreachable.  During last days of the Clone Wars, CIS scouts detected a large hyperlane shift and rediscovered Antipode.  The last official records indicate that at the close of the Clone Wars, the Antipode system was absorbed into the Galactic Empire as an Imperial Species Preservation Zone with extremely limited civilian access."

This should be interesting, as it will be the core setting of an Edge of the Empire campaign. :)

- Ark

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Star Wars for Kids Only

The guys get serious as they plan to steal a freighter.
I've been wanting to run a kids only game for a while.  Before vacation I talked to the owner of the FLGS and she helped me set one up.  Last night we had our first game.

My son and two other boys played. Neither of the two other boys had played a role playing game and were a bit apprehensive, but they knew it was Star Wars, so they were willing to give it a go.

I'm amazed how a strange movie I fell in love with 36 years ago can still hold the attention of young and old alike.  Rather than overwhelm them with the 450 page rulebook, we played the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire - Beginner Game.  I had some issues with the beginner game earlier - but those all melted away as I saw the completely fresh gamers dive right in.

They seemed to really like the pregen character packets - especially after I told them that the character's names and genders were flexible - they could change them how they liked. Well, no one picked the droid doctor - so maybe he has a different target audience.

It fascinates me how quickly people pick up the funky proprietary Star Wars dice.  Within a couple of rolls they had it down and were chugging along, determining their successes and advantages with ease.  While they took to playing very quickly, they couldn't convince any NPC of anything, blowing their social type rolls catastrophically.  So they brute-forced their way along, bashing heads and making a general nuisance of themselves.  In other words, they behaved like seasoned RPG veterans.

I had great fun running the game, and to hear "when can we play next?" is just one of those things that money just can't buy.  In following games, I'll bring out the big book and let them rework their characters with the advanced rules.

It went really well. Most issues were minor - such as frustrations brought on by failed rolls.  The biggest problem with the game came to the fore as one of the boys asked "Can I play a Jedi?"  Yeah.  There are no Jedi in the Beginner Game.  There are no real Jedi in the Edge of Empire game at all, for that matter.  There are force sensitives - proto-Jedi perhaps - but they are expensive point-wise and rather ineffective at low levels.  Which is the way I like it.  But, you know, it's something iconic to Star Wars - especially those who grew up on the prequels - and seems like a gaping hole that will take two years to fill.

I explained the reasoning behind the missing Jedi, and that he could play a Jedi in training if he wanted too.  When we concluded the game and I told them about customizing their characters with the advanced rules, I asked the boy if he wanted to make the character a Jedi.

"No," he said, "I think I'd like an assassin better.  He wears all black and sneaks around.  He needs a jet-pack too.  I'm going to go home and draw him.  Is that okay?"

"Um, yeah, sure. That's just fine," I smiled.  Perfect, actually.

- Ark

Monday, July 22, 2013

World Building While on Vacation

First Catch of the Day (and last)
When I was young, we didn't get to go on vacations much - aside from spending Christmas or summer with one grandmother or another.  Many of my teenage years were spent on the flat, dry desert of West Texas, drawing maps of lush, forested mountain valley in which to set my D&D adventures.  I had a hard time grokking what these landscapes would actually look like, so I made contour maps of the imaginary regions and made slices of the maps to show the elevations.  Yeah, I was that kid.

Much of my idea about what wilderness looked like came from the land around my grandmother's house, which was a mixture of ranch land and wild areas full of pecan trees about 30 miles south of Cross Plains, Texas.  Those were Robert E. Howard's stomping grounds, so at least I was in good company.  But still, I didn't see a mountain until I was 17 on a trip to El Paso.  The meager 23 mile long Franklin Mountain chain inspired an entirely new continent in which to set fantasy rpgs.  Later, trips to Cancun and regional Texas lakes helped to form the Sea of Tears campaign, a world I designed made entirely out of small island chains - the peaks of mountains left dry after an aquatic cataclysm.

Attempting to Draw Palo Duro
This year we headed up to the Colorado via the Texas Panhandle and New Mexico.  The Boy wanted to see the Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States.  I was impressed.  When you first drive up on it and get out of the car - well - my head started hurting.  It is such a big hole in the ground that my brain could not comprehend it.  There is no really good mental vantage point to attach anything to.  You just have to stare at it long enough to realize that those tiny green bushes down there against the orange and red rocks are actually trees three time bigger than you are.  Palo Duro really needs to be in one of my worlds - somewhere.

It wasn't my first time through New Mexico, but it was The Boy's, and it was great fun to watch his expression as the bumps in the land grew bigger and bigger.  "Is that a mountain?"  "No, not yet."  "Is THAT one a mountain?"  "Nope."  Eventually we got to a point where he didn't have to ask.  The stark, empty terrain had me thinking a lot about Cowboys and Indians.  Well, until I was jarred awake at the Dhillon Truck Stop in San Jon, New Mexico, a Punjabi buffet serving up chana masala, tarka daal, and a variety of curries.  Life is funny like that.  I wish I could come up with things half as amusing as that in my games.

Colorado was just breathtaking.  (Really.  The air is pretty thin up there.)  I had never been up so far in the Rockies.  We went up to the mythical town of 'South Park,' (which more or less actually exists,) and said 'wow' a lot at the scenery.  At one point, we went to the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine tour, where they take you 1,000 feet underground.  I learned a lot about dungeoneering there.

First off, it's really, really hard to dig through basalt and granite.  Black powder was used before the advent of dynamite to blast through the rock.  And it is dark down there.  The guide showed the differences in lighting techniques over the ages, and a candle just does not cut it.  Yes, they mined by candlelight.  I, however, cannot see a very successfully melee against goblins happening that way.  And swinging a sword in a 10x10 corridor?  Yeah, right.  however, surviving an AD&D fireball was probably a lot easier than Gygax lets on - because the miners used to do it every day.  They were just all deaf afterwards and, on average, had 15 years to live. :)

While up in the the thin air, the boy and I sat down and worked on a planet for the Star Wars game.  It's a football shaped planet, either end having great big mountains.  The equator is all pretty much ocean with some islands.  The north pole points directly to the system's star, leaving the other pole constantly frozen.  He's great at naming things, so we fleshed out the entire solar system and he named everything we could think to name.  The planet itself, Antipode, should be a great place for adventure - maybe even as much as Colorado on summer vacation.

- Ark

Saturday, July 6, 2013


I've been staring a lot at Carrie Fisher circa 1977 lately.  My art style has been all over the place in my sketches for the past two or so months and I've been somewhat frustrated that nothing that I draw looks even vaguely like how I intended it to look.

So, I've been sitting down with the good princess and sketching her over and over again with the idea that maybe if my style won't calm down, perhaps I could draw at least one iconic person in a halfway similar manner semi-consistently.

Not so much. :)

Oh well.  But while practicing and icing my hand when it hurts, I have come to the conclusion that I probably am a Princess Leia fanboy and just never realized it. :)

- Ark