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Looking for the Perfect OSR Game

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Objectively, of course, there's no such thing. So what's perfect for me?
I'm giving it some thought as my gaming group will embarking on an old school campaign this summer. There's a few I'm considering - links go to reviews on this blog. 
High up on the list is ACKS - Adventurer Conqueror King. I've had a lot of fun playing it in the past. It's based on what is probably my favorite version of D&D, the old B/X variant, but adds the sort of crunch that I like. It operates on the premise that characters will eventually become movers and shakers in the world, with rules for running domains, thieves' guilds, etc. On the negative side for ACKS advancement takes a while and it does require a bit more prep than most OSR style game. Prep time is something of a premium for me, as after a break of a few months I'll be resuming part-time pursuit of my Master's at Brandeis this July. My own experience is the prep time does yield excellent dividends, gr…

Call of Cthulhu Actual Play: The Haunted Landscape of Ka'tori

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Tuesday, June 15, 1920. Kingsport, Massachusetts

Evelyn Mercer, director of the Mercer Art Gallery had engaged the services of one of her occasional artists, Fredrik Tardiff, to solve a mystery in line with his experiences. Tardiff had been recovering from bouts with the supernatural - he'd returned from Greenland about a year ago after uncovering signs of the lost Hyperborean civilization. Spending the next six months pouring over the Book of Eibon he'd acquired was perhaps not the best idea for his mental well being but he had spent the past several months focused on mundane painting. Unfortunately, most of his former companions were unavailable - some having wisely retired from supernatural investigation, others taking advantage of Prohibition to pursue a life of mundane crime. He'd made the acquaintance of an antiquarian but he was apparently spending time abroad, currently in a yurt in Mongolia uncovering the history of an ancestor who had spent time living among the…

Fiction Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

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This is a little out of scope for my blog but I'm aware a number of my readers are the same age as me - somewhere in their forties or fifties with adolescent children. This is a review of Jay Asher's novel which is the basis for the Netflix series of the same name.

Thirteen Reasons Why is the story of Hannah Baker, a high school student who committed suicide. She left behind a set of thirteen audio tapes, explaining why she killed herself and the people who contributed to that. She claims the recipients are being watched and if they don't listen and pass them on the tapes will be released publicly. The novel follows the most recent recipient Clay Jensen, who does not understand why he is considered part of the reason she killed herself, as he cared about her though was never as close to her as he wanted to be.

Hannah feels trapped and betrayed. She has the reputation of a slut, despite having only gone so far as to kiss a few boys and nothing more. She feels betrayed in fr…

Musings on Cthulhu in Colonial America

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I say to you againe, doe not call up Any that you cannot put downe; by the Which I mean, Any that can in Turne call up somewhat against you, whereby your Powerfullest Devices may not be of use. Ask of the Lesser, lest the Greater shall not wish to answer, and shall commande more than you. - HP Lovecraft, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
I was talking with one of the players in my gaming group about Call of Cthulhu in Colonial America - specifically the 17th and 18th centuries. Sixtystone Press has a Colonial Lovecraft Country on their production schedule but it is likely safe to say it is a ways out so any Keeper is on his or her own.

I wrote about general gaming in Colonial America last year whilst in Colonial Williamsburg - Another Bucket List Setting - Colonial America. Not a lot has changed on the material available gaming in Colonial America. As I see it, the main products currently usable include:

Colonial Gothic - A game dedicated specifically to gaming in British North America.…

Adam West Was My First Batman

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Like many, I was saddened yesterday when I read of the passing of Adam West. When I was a young child, I have to confess I never saw the 1960s Batman series as campy. I treated those zany adventures with absolute seriousness. Of course I laughed, but much as one might laugh in a modern superhero movie with its funny moments.

A large part of that had to be how much Adam West put into his role of Batman. The show itself was awesomely campy but Batman always was serious. A noble crimefighter who would make certain he contributed to the healthy development of his young ward. Who would always do the right thing.

It was popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s to rail against the old Batman show. How Batman wasn't really like that, but rather he was a grim avenger of the night. I couldn't really get into that - I love The Dark Knight Returns and similar takes on Batman but I had too fond memories of the classic 1960s show to ever speak against it. When Adam West spoke at the UConn…

Defending in Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

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Having resumed playing Call of Cthulhu I thought I'd reflect a little bit on the rules changes in the 7th edition - specifically, related to defending. Previous editions of the game were always a little bit vague as to when you could defend. This post is a little bit wonky and probably of most interest to people considering the game.

I'll begin with a little bit of review of how dice rolling works in the 7th edition. In most situations you simply roll percentile dice, trying to roll equal to or below your skill or ability score. There are three types of success:

Normal - you roll equal to or lower than your scoreHard - you roll equal to or under half your scoreExtreme - you roll equal to or under a fifth of your score The game also introduces penalty or bonus dice. When you roll you might have one or more bonus or penalty dice. If you have a bonus die you roll three dice - two dice for your ten's digit and one die for your one's digit. You keep the lower of the two ten…

Film Review: Wonder Woman

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After a number of tries, I think the DC Universe films have finally managed to release a film firing on all cylinders. I think Man of Steel had a lot of good points but I think it was a missed opportunity, not showing just how good Superman is. Batman v. Superman was in my mind an improvement but I think it would have benefited from some tightening - the distrust of Superman seemed forced, the incident that caused the Congressional Inquiry was a bit confusing, and it really packed an awful lot into it. On the plus side, Ben Afleck made for a fantastic aged Batman and Gal Gadot's debut as Wonder Woman was a highlight. Suicide Squad seemed primarily to suffer from not knowing what kind of movie it wanted to be, though my younger daughter Jasmine loved it - Harley Quinn is her favorite comic book character. Jasmine and I saw Wonder Woman today and while Harley remains her favorite character, she definitely liked Wonder Woman better than Suicide Squad or any of the DC movies (she'…