Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Monday, February 08, 2010

The Monkey Has Moved

Due to the imminent demise of FTP publishing on Blogger, the Risus Monkey has moved to a new address. The new URL is Please update your bookmarks and links accordingly.

The Velvet Edge is going to have to migrate soon as well. This be just the excuse I need to resume general (non-Risus) blogging again.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Return of the Risus Monkey

I am fairly certain that nobody checks this blog anymore. It's been dormant for years. On the off chance that anybody is still reading, I would like to direct your attention to the Risus Monkey site, where I hope to resume Risus-related blogging. If it goes well, I may even return to the Velvet Edge for non-Risus stuff.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dungeons & Dragons 4e Review

This past weekend I participated at the public launch of Dungeons  
Dragon 4e at the D&D Experience here in Virginia. 
I'm a bit disappointed to report that it was a bit of a
mixed bag. I had been looking forward to 4e since it's
announcement. Most of the Design & Development articles
really resonated with my own (current) philosophies
towards the game. There were a few causes for alarm
(specifically, some racial powers and premature death of
the magic-item christmas tree). But all in all, I have
been thrilled. I even really liked the two preview books
(especially Worlds & Monsters, which will remain useful
even once the rulebooks come out).

But my first 4e game was kind of lame.

Let me state up front that I think it was mostly poor
GMing and the nature of the demo scenario. The GM ran the
encounters and disjointed miniatures fights and had
substandard table-management skills. He failed to really
make use of the cool new kobold tactics and made no effort
to inspire roleplaying.

But, seeing through the poor presentation (and after
talking to other folks with better experiences), I did
come away from the event with my high hopes for 4e
*largely* intact. I do still have some concerns. I'm
worried that the new save mechanic will be cumbersome for
area-of-effect attacks. And I'm not sure how I liked the
defender's "sticky" maneuvers (though, in fairness, these
have been supposedly fixed). It was stated up front that
minions weren't completely worked out yet (a worry, since
the game is so close to shipping). And while I'm ok with
the healing surges, I don't like that *everything* is
healed/reset after 6 hours of camping. I may need to house
rule that.

Let me just say that I *loved* playing the first level
wizard. I used magic in almost every round. Granted, most
of my spells were blast effects (aside from a few spells I
didn't use). I really hope that more utility spells are
available during character generation. And I can't wait to
see the rules for rituals. That could make our break my
enthusiasm for the game.

The others classes seemed cool (other than the now-fixed
fighter/paladins). I like the new trtun undead mechanic.
The Eladrin Ranger really pulled some cool Legolas stunts.

As first level characters, we seemed as tough (if not
tougher than) 3rd level characters. Monsters were equally
tough and I worry that combats will take about the same
time. True, more cool stuff seemed to be happening, so
that is ok.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wild Wild Western Halloween

Just a quick note regarding Halloween. Ever since Santa retreated into the realm of myth, Halloween has been my favorite holiday. I have this pre-Halloween ritual where I pick a Halloween-appropriate movie (typically The Nightmare Before Christmas or more recently Sleepy Hollow) and carve one or more pumpkins. Maybe it's my lingering gothic sensibility, but I can't enough of the Halloween mood. I wear more black than usual, I listen to gothic music that I haven't touch for months, I tramp through fallen leaves, and I read spooky stories.

This year I was able to really introduce my oldest son to the pleasures of Halloween. He was here for the last two, but was far too young to really appreciate them (even though last year's costume - a little devil - embodied the holiday in a way that seemed more appropriate). In addition to an amazing trip to the pumpkin patch at Cox Farms, we allowed Finley to pick out his own costume. Of course, being absolutely bat-shit horse crazy (thanks to pony rides at the Maryland Renaissance Festival) he picked a horse costume where he is both horse and rider. Cool costume, though way to cumbersome for my tastes. Still it was a big hit and he had a ball trick-or-treating. His brother, appropriately enough, was a cow. Here are some pictures:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Catching Up

And here I thought that having a new computer in a clean office (my "cave") would give me more time to blog. Alas, my iTunes rating didn't transfer (funny -- comments and other info did) and I've been waaay too distracted rearranging my image library for iPhoto's Event-based system. In addition to regular photos, I have literally thousands of gaming-related images that I have scanned or ripped off the Internet in recent year. To all copyright police --  I use them inspiration for my games and for the occasional player handout (and maybe an image or two for my neglected websites).

Where was I?

I yes, it's been a while since I blogged. In my last post, I mentioned that we had another double gaming session coming up. Well, we had it and it was fabulous. My Dragonspire game was good, but Greg's season finale of Slaying Solomon was amazing. I simply can't recall ever having such a powerful gaming experience as a player. Emotions we running high in Nazi world. I was starting to tear up when I mentioned that Erik would be showing up at Juanita's door with flowers at the end of the episode. Slaying Solomon is one of those special games where the characters take on a life of their own. They go waaaay  beyond the combat stats you see in most games. The characters are defined by their quirks and relationships. Powers and abilities are definitely secondary. I can't wait for the upcoming 5th season. Greg's running the main arc, but I will definitely be directing several episodes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On My Own

The wife and kids are in Michigan for another week or so and I've been scrambling to complete a long list of "honey do's". These are mostly husbandly tasks that have slipped for a variety reasons (such as completing the second nursery) due to the numerous distractions of family obligations. While my wife is mostly happy to be spending time with relatives in Michigan, I know she's going to expect that I get some work done as payment for my having three weeks without having to help with the kids.

That being said, I'm also taking the opportunity to catch up on some personal stuff. Last Saturday, we had a double gaming session with Dragonspire in the afternoon and Slaying Solomon in the evening. We'll repeat this extraordinarily rare full day of gaming next Saturday as well. It's good to be gaming again, though I do wish I had yet more time to devote to it. I had high hopes for lots of down-time to plan future adventures and campaigns. Alas, with all my other activities, that ain't gonna happen.

One of those other activities is assembling my new basement office and adjusting to a new computer. Yes, I just ordered a new iMac today. Hopefully, it will arrive in time for me to play around with it before the family gets home. It sure is a beautiful machine. And with Boot Camp, I should have no loss of PC functionality. I'm hoping to high heaven that I can get the sucker online with minimal fuss, as I still need to spend time on getting our web photo gallery working as well. Sigh... I'm not looking forward to that mess.

Finally, I had hoped to get a lot of gym time in. Alas, Finley gifted me with yet another nasty cold just as I returned to Virginia. Now that I seem to be on the mend, I'll try to resume my workouts tomorrow.