With #chicagogameday41  on the horizon, I’ve shifted into “What am I going to run?” mode — assuming that I will have time to prepare anything at all, given life as it is now.

Right now, I’m reading through Golden Sky Stories. Quinn Murphy’s recent post about “Action, not Violence” has been rattling around my brain, prompting me to think about which games on my shelf don’t focus on combat as a core activity. Then I remember I’d picked up GSS at GenCon last year, so I grabbed it and started reading. It’s charming so far, but I’m only a little ways in.

It could be my age, my health, or my now being a father, but this idea of games about constructive behavior (helping others, discovery, creation) and what I call “small stories” (personal relationships, life lessons, human milestones) has become more and more interesting to me. (It also reminds me of the Burning Wheel meets Gilmore GIrls event I ran at BurningCon years ago. I might need to revisit it at some point.)

Or maybe I’ll just run some D&D!

Read the original English version of our interview with Kevin Crawford here: http://www.teilzeithelden.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Interview-Kevin-Crawford-English-Original.pdf

German speakers can get the same here: http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2015/05/11/interview-im-sandkasten-mit-kevin-crawford-silent-legions/

http://www.teilzeithelden.de/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Interview-Kevin-Crawford-English-Original.pdf

Thoughts on Becoming Steve Jobs

Yesterday, I finished reading the new Jobs bio by Brent Schneider and Rick Tetzeli, which I tore through pretty quickly. I’m very pleased; anyone interested in Apple or Jobs as a businessman should consider this a must-read.

The biggest arguments for this in comparison to the Issacson bio are: 1) the authors’ extensive knowledge of the field of both personal computers and the tech business, 2) extensive coverage of Jobs’ years at NeXT and Pixar, which get short shrift in Issacson’s book, and 3) many insightful interviews with Jobs’ colleagues, competitors, friends (which Schneider can count himself among), and family. Essentially, these authors “get” their subject in a way that Issacson did not.

The trajectory of the book as it pursues its thesis — Jobs’ evolution as a business leader and tech innovator — is also something I found more compelling than Issacson’s more traditional biographic perspective. Their discussion of people they see as Jobs’ various mentors had me adding books on them to my Wish List.

It’s great read and, especially towards the end as it tackles Jobs’ illness and passing of the reins to Tim Cook, can be quite moving. I consider it the definitive book on Jobs at this point.

In looking for links to include with this post, I stumbled upon original Apple employee and Macintosh team member Andy Hertzfeld’s response to the book. He seems a lot more favorable towards Issacson and raises some interesting concerns about this book:

https://medium.com/backchannel/would-steve-jobs-have-liked-the-new-biography-i-don-t-think-so-c9ceb4fc3005

(Hertzfeld’s Revolution in the Valley is one of the best books ever written about Apple and the Macintosh; I cannot recommend it enough. You can read it for free at http://www.folklore.org, but the book itself is a worthy artifact to have on your shelf.)

And the book’s co-author, Rick Tetzeli, responds to Hertzfeld in turn:
https://medium.com/backchannel/becoming-steve-jobs-co-author-responds-to-andy-hertzfeld-ddf33293624b

D&D 5e and The Sunday Crew in “Assault on the Seclusium of Istus”

Yesterday, I played D&D 5e for the first time. MadJay Brown was the DM, Jenn Martin played an elf rogue (thief), Julianna Aldredge an elf rogue (assassin), Dave Michalak a dragonborn monk, Geoff Raye a human warlock, and I was a human paladin. Jay started us all at 3rd level.

Jay began the session by choosing cards from some sort of Deck of Many Things set (where did those come from, Jay?) and laying them out on the table like a Tarot reading. He asked us to choose from three fortunes: a death foretold, greed leading to ruin, and power usurped (or something similar). I believe that the fortune we each chose determined where we would start and what situations would be in play. Very cool!

The setting was the “Seclusium of Istus” (Istus being the monk’s and paladin’s patron deity), a holy palace carved into the face of a volcano. It was the eve of the new moon, new year celebration in the palace, in which the Luminary of Istus would reveal her prophecies for the coming year. The choice of fortunes put Jenn’s thief in the catacombs pulling a heist with a small crew from the Thieves’ Guild, Dave’s monk and Geoff’s warlock in the library admiring a scared scroll of “Tenser’s Disseration on Fate,” Juli’s assassin in disguise amongst the celebration crowd in the main hall, and my paladin patrolling said hall with a small force of guards.

The action quickly escalated: a team of assassins (not including Juli’s) made attempts on the three archons of Istus in main hall, Jenn’s crew encountered some kind of one-eyed humanoid with necrotic powers in the catacombs trying to steal the same stuff as Jenn’s crew, and Dave and Geoff battled thieves making a play for the Dissertation. All the while there are serious tremors shaking the palace, and a planar gate (!) opened somewhere within. Eventually we wrapped up our individual threats and joined forces to help evacuate the palace, battling a platoon of gnolls(!) who’re preventing guests from crossing the mountain bridge back to safety; looks like a cambion(?) brought them in through the gate.

Obviously, someone has it in for the cult of Istus.

One of my favorite moments from my slice of the game was when, having captured one of the would-be assassins, I asked my paladin-commander to cast Zone of Truth so that we could question them (it’s 2nd level, which I can’t cast yet). The assassin makes their save (Jay rolls everything in the open, thank heavens), but Jay makes it clear that the commander is acting like they failed. Aha! An inside job! But of course my character doesn’t know that and would follow his commander to the ends of the earth. Hot! (This is how you handle lies in RPGs, folks.)

I really liked that we did not start the game as a “party”, but rather as individuals who all had our own jobs. Circumstance brought us together eventually, but it never felt contrived. Jay did a great job of running concurrent encounters, so that all of the action was happening at once, even though we were in separate groups.

In all, I had a great time, and this session hit all of my preferences for D&D-style play: we all got to be competent without feeling like it was a cakewalk, were badass without it being just a show-off-your-awesomeness stroke-fest, our decisions mattered, we engaged the system, and the game moved at a good pace.

Personally, it also felt really good to be gaming again, especially with this group of people. Other than Chicago Gameday back in March, I haven’t gamed at all since GenCon ’14, and I haven’t seen this group since before that. We’re drama-free, have great communication, and even when a game goes south, we all seem to be on the same page about what caused the southward journey and can talk freely about correcting course. The whole ride home I kept thinking how lucky I am to have all of them to game with.

It was also nice to just show up and be a player. My only prep was taking some time Saturday to print up a cool 1e-looking sheet from Dyson Logos and roll my PC by hand (i.e., with a pencil and paper instead of software), something I haven’t done in years. I came home feeling like my batteries had been recharged.

The session also got me excited about 5e again. It’s hard to judge based on one session — NTM one in which Jay wasn’t pushing us too hard, I think — but the system feels very clean and polished, like it’s taking ideas form 3e (and a little 4e) and implementing them in easier-to-use ways. I really like that a crit is a crit and not a crit threat, that you determine whether a foe is dead or subdued at 0hp, and that pretty much everything is an ability check. We got a little exposure to how Inspiration and backgrounds/bonds/etc. work, and they feel like just enough “indie” spice to improve the game without changing it’s fundamental “D&D” nature. And, man, advantage/disadvantage is a great idea; so simple. I came away from the game feeling some of the giddiness I had when I got back into gaming with 3e; this is a D&D I can get behind, I think. (Heck, I’ve been thinking up campaign ideas ever since I left Jay’s hotel.)

Jay handled combat “theater of the mind” style, and it worked really well. I’m not sure I’m 100% sold on it, though. I became a die-hard minis user during my tenure with 3e, so in hindsight I am a little conflicted about having to ask Jay things like, “Get I get to the gnoll with one move?” and “Is the assassin within 60 feet?” I totally had fun the whole time, no doubt, but there are mixed feels.

It looks like Jay will be in town three more times before the year’s end, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue this mini-campaign when he’s here, or else play some via Hangouts.

Thanks to Jay for running and everyone for playing. You guys totally made my Sunday.

#TheSundayCrew   #dnd   #5e   #rpg

D&D 5e and The Sunday Crew in “Assault on the Seclusium of Istus” Yesterday, I played D&D 5e for the first time. MadJay Brown was the DM, Jenn Martin played an elf rogue (thief), Julianna Aldredge an elf rogue (assassin), Dave Michalak a dragonborn monk, Geoff Raye a human warlock, and I was a human paladin. Jay started us all at 3rd level. Jay began the session by choosing cards from some sort of Deck of Many Things set (where did those come from, Jay?) and laying them out on the table like a Tarot reading. He asked us to choose from three fortunes: a death foretold, greed leading to ruin, and power usurped (or something similar). I believe that the fortune we each chose determined where we would start and what situations would be in play. Very cool! The setting was the “Seclusium of Istus” (Istus being the monk’s and paladin’s patron deity), a holy palace carved into the face of a volcano. It was the eve of the new moon, new year celebration in the palace, in which the Luminary of Istus would reveal her prophecies for the coming year. The choice of fortunes put Jenn’s thief in the catacombs pulling a heist with a small crew from the Thieves’ Guild, Dave’s monk and Geoff’s warlock in the library admiring a scared scroll of “Tenser’s Disseration on Fate,” Juli’s assassin in disguise amongst the celebration crowd in the main hall, and my paladin patrolling said hall with a small force of guards. The action quickly escalated: a team of assassins (not including Juli’s) made attempts on the three archons of Istus in main hall, Jenn’s crew encountered some kind of one-eyed humanoid with necrotic powers in the catacombs trying to steal the same stuff as Jenn’s crew, and Dave and Geoff battled thieves making a play for the Dissertation. All the while there are serious tremors shaking the palace, and a planar gate (!) opened somewhere within. Eventually we wrapped up our individual threats and joined forces to help evacuate the palace, battling a platoon of gnolls(!) who’re preventing guests from crossing the mountain bridge back to safety; looks like a cambion(?) brought them in through the gate. Obviously, someone has it in for the cult of Istus. One of my favorite moments from my slice of the game was when, having captured one of the would-be assassins, I asked my paladin-commander to cast Zone of Truth so that we could question them (it’s 2nd level, which I can’t cast yet). The assassin makes their save (Jay rolls everything in the open, thank heavens), but Jay makes it clear that the commander is acting like they failed. Aha! An inside job! But of course my character doesn’t know that and would follow his commander to the ends of the earth. Hot! (This is how you handle lies in RPGs, folks.) I really liked that we did not start the game as a “party”, but rather as individuals who all had our own jobs. Circumstance brought us together eventually, but it never felt contrived. Jay did a great job of running concurrent encounters, so that all of the action was happening at once, even though we were in separate groups. In all, I had a great time, and this session hit all of my preferences for D&D-style play: we all got to be competent without feeling like it was a cakewalk, were badass without it being just a show-off-your-awesomeness stroke-fest, our decisions mattered, we engaged the system, and the game moved at a good pace. Personally, it also felt really good to be gaming again, especially with this group of people. Other than Chicago Gameday back in March, I haven’t gamed at all since GenCon ’14, and I haven’t seen this group since before that. We’re drama-free, have great communication, and even when a game goes south, we all seem to be on the same page about what caused the southward journey and can talk freely about correcting course. The whole ride home I kept thinking how lucky I am to have all of them to game with. It was also nice to just show up and be a player. My only prep was taking some time Saturday to print up a cool 1e-looking sheet from Dyson Logos and roll my PC by hand (i.e., with a pencil and paper instead of software), something I haven’t done in years. I came home feeling like my batteries had been recharged. The session also got me excited about 5e again. It’s hard to judge based on one session — NTM one in which Jay wasn’t pushing us too hard, I think — but the system feels very clean and polished, like it’s taking ideas form 3e (and a little 4e) and implementing them in easier-to-use ways. I really like that a crit is a crit and not a crit threat, that you determine whether a foe is dead or subdued at 0hp, and that pretty much everything is an ability check. We got a little exposure to how Inspiration and backgrounds/bonds/etc. work, and they feel like just enough “indie” spice to improve the game without changing it’s fundamental “D&D” nature. And, man, advantage/disadvantage is a great idea; so simple. I came away from the game feeling some of the giddiness I had when I got back into gaming with 3e; this is a D&D I can get behind, I think. (Heck, I’ve been thinking up campaign ideas ever since I left Jay’s hotel.) Jay handled combat “theater of the mind” style, and it worked really well. I’m not sure I’m 100% sold on it, though. I became a die-hard minis user during my tenure with 3e, so in hindsight I am a little conflicted about having to ask Jay things like, “Get I get to the gnoll with one move?” and “Is the assassin within 60 feet?” I totally had fun the whole time, no doubt, but there are mixed feels. It looks like Jay will be in town three more times before the year’s end, so hopefully we’ll be able to continue this mini-campaign when he’s here, or else play some via Hangouts. Thanks to Jay for running and everyone for playing. You guys totally made my Sunday. #TheSundayCrew   #dnd   #5e   #rpg]]>