I read this rant over at i09 on why all vampire fiction is completely lame now. I have to agree with pretty much all of it. I find it interesting that the author never even once mentions Twilight, although she does mention sparkly vampires. It’s more of the entire genre (and yes, there is enough of it now that it can be called a genre, in my opinion) of post-Twilight vampire fiction: everyone is beautiful and handsome and all-around awesome, and they are sad about being vampires even though there is not a single detriment to being a vampire anymore.

To review, let’s look at the pros and cons of the traditional vampire (which I define as the most commonly accepted traits of vampires in various pre-Twilight fiction):
Never grow old
Live forever
Superhuman strength, speed, etc.

Never see the sun or sunlight again
Have to drink the blood of humans in order to survive
Killed by a stake in the heart
Slowly become more and more detached from human emotion and the cares of mortals and their world
Having to avoid or kill vampire hunters or other groups that consider your very existence an abomination
Weakness to garlic (this has been steadily relaxed in more recent vampire mythoi, even before Twilight)
Weakness to crosses/holy symbols/faith (also steadily relaxed, although I thought that White Wolf’s World of Darkness dealt with this one well. It depended on the faith of the wielder of the holy symbol vs. the strength of will of the vampire.)

So you see there was a real serious price to pay for immortality, hence all vampires being crippled by some combination of guilt and ennui.

Now lets take the post-Twilight vampire:
Never grow old
Live Forever
Superhuman strength, speed, etc.
Always be handsome and youthful
You sparkle!

Have to drink the blood of humans in order to survive Not anymore! Now most mythoi have them either be vegetarians (i.e. drink animal blood), vampire researchers have developed an artificial ‘blood substitute’, or vampires run the blood bank.

And that’s it. There are really no cons to being a vampire anymore. So as the author of the rant points out, if there are no cons to being a vampire anymore, why are they all so angtsy and mopey! It just becomes poor fiction when characters have no motivation to act the way they do.

Alright, I have 6 interested people in playing. Five of them have made requests for a character, and the sixth I am still waiting on. There is of course the 6th character that hasn’t been requested left, but in case Chris would like one of the other characters too I’m going to wait before I finalize character selection.

Spencer’s suggestion that this would be easier where everything is posted in a central location made me think that this might be easier as a play-by-post (PBP) format. I had no idea how to set up a bulletin board or forum for a website, but in looking around the administrative options for my website, it turns out there was already software for a bulletin board included, I just needed to install it and set it up.

So, the forum that I’ve installed is located here. Go ahead and go there, create an account, and then go to the Lord of the Rings Adventure Game forum and post a comment in the OOC thread introducing yourself (in RL) to the group. I know everyone that’s playing, but all of you certainly don’t know each other so short introduction would be nice.

I’m going to set up one more thread there for the characters and their background, and then once character selection is done we should be ready to go!

P.S. In the future I want to make a direct link at the top of the page to the forums, but I don’t know how to do that yet. In the meantime there is a link to Moroha BB to the right. Use that for the time being if you don’t remember the URL.

Well, I spent a week in Utah visiting with my family. It’s the first time in a few years that all of us have been together, and it may be the last time in quite a while. However, we were so busy that we never had time to play the role-playing adventure that I had prepared: Dawn Comes Early.

I proposed that we try it as a play-by-email (PBE) game, so that we could still play it without a single large time investment. So far I have tentative commitments from my 4 brothers and 1 nephew. However, the adventure has 6 PC’s, so we will need another player.

Also I’m not certain that all of my brothers are equally enthusiastic, so I’m going to have (semi) open recruiting for this game.

The game is called Lord of the Rings Adventure game, and it is essentially a super-simplified and stripped down version of the Middle-Earth Role-Playing Game published by the now defunct Iron Crown Enterprises.

The mechanics are so simplified that the entire rule book is only 34 pages (in fact it is called ‘The Guidelines’ and encourages the DM to appropriate judgments on the fly when problems not explained in the rules arrive). There are only 4 classes: scout, warrior, ranger, and bard. The scout is pretty much your standard rouge, warrior and ranger as self-explanatory to anyone that has played D&D, and bard is the class that is best at magic. In keeping with the flavor of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, magic is not particularly powerful or common. There are only 15 total spells in the entire game, and they are all similar in power to a 1st or 2nd level spell in D&D. Not only that, but casting spells does not use up spell points or memorized spell slots, but actually uses hit points! Magic is definitely something to be rationed.

The 6 characters for the adventure are the following:
1. Tolman Greenthumb – Hobbit Scout
2. Lily Greenthumb – Hobbit Scout
3. Galind – Elf Bard
4. Tatharina – Human Bard
5. Glain – Dwarf Warrior
6. Rilwen – Half-Elf Ranger

The story lead in is the following: Near the town of Bree, Tolman Greenthumb has discovered why there have been so many sheep disappearing from the flocks around the town recently: a troll is in the area! However someone has accused Tolman himself of stealing the sheep, and he is in the lockhouse until his guilt or innocence is proven. His sister Lily believes him though, and has asked her friends to help. They need to rescue Tolman and do something about the troll!

So, brothers and friends of mine, who is interested? I guarantee that as a PC the time commitment will be minimal. You don’t have to post for your character any more often than the DM does, and I certainly won’t be able to do much more (probably less) than one turn a day. If I have over 6 people wanting to play, I’ll either give preference towards those that seem the most interested, or I’ll consider making more characters (although more characters means more work for me, so maybe not). Generally posting for your character can be done in a short email, consisting of what actions and emotes your character does, what your character says, and any OOC (out-of-character) questions or comments. My time commitment in the two play-by-post games I play in is less than 5 minutes a day.

Let me know here in the comments section with your email or just email me directly (my email is on the contact page) and I’ll send you a pdf of the Guidelines and some more details on the characters.

Cover to the Boxed Set

Over the past few months, off and on I’ve been playing around with trying to make maps for role-playing games. It turns out that there is a whole web community devoted to this hobby, located at the Cartographer’s Guild. They have tons of tutorials and walk-throughs for creating different kinds of maps using GIMP, photoshop, or occasionally some other programs like Campaign Cartographer.

I’m not nearly dedicated enough to shell out the the money for such expensive software as photoshop or the campaign cartographer, nor am I covetous enough to want to pirate them. So it’s GIMP for me. GIMP has really improved in leaps and bounds over the past few years though (much like linux in general), to the point where photoshop’s advantages have become smaller and smaller. Certainly it’s more than capable of doing everything that I could ever want to do.

So here is one of my first works: simply a reproduction of old, weathered parchment:

It was a lot of fun to make, but I’m pretty much a noob, so it took me a while because I don’t understand a lot of the basic concepts.

My next task is that I’m working on is some maps for the role-playing game that my brothers and I are going to play when we get together at my parent’s place for a few days in May. The game comes with maps and figurines, but I think the maps need to have some kind of a grid scheme to really make full use of the maps. I’m a bit partial to hex grids myself, so I’m working on scanning the maps and then overlaying a hex grid of the appropriate size. I’ll post some of my results after we’ve played.