Tomb of Horrors, The Musical

So, this last weekend was another RabbitCon. Rob Daviau wanted to run the Tomb of Horrors, old school style. In the end, a party did manage to raid the Tomb (although, unsurprisingly, they didn’t kill the boss). It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen here at Rabbitcon. Rob did it right, with old-school dice, screens, yellow character sheets full of fiddly pregens, and tons of dwarven forge stuff from my basement. It was inspiring and lethal.

Rob also wrote lyrics (to the tune of “people who died” by Jim Carroll) commemorating the event:

All the PCs Who Died

Fodder the Fighter, he was 8 levels high
Gargoyle hit him, ripped out his spine
Aryk was next up on the gargoyle’s list
Threw him in a pit but Aryk can’t fly
Davin entered an arch of smoke and mist
Sprung out naked and started to cry
He was a friend of mine

Those are PCs who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

Karl was astonishing, a gnome of some reknown
Touched a lightning altar so they put him in the ground
Dravin got the shakes from a gas of fear and dread
Fled the tomb of horrors, with our gold but he’s not dead
They were two more friends of mine
Two more friends that died

Those are PCs who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

The Mincer ran in fear and took a bad left turn
Slid down a polished slope and started to burn
No-name 12 was a wizard who the group agreed to kill
To find a secret door that was invisible
And No-name 12, I miss you more than all the others
And I salute you brother

Those are PCs who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

Howard Hughes the cleric had just found his groove
Ended up some jelly on the demi-lich roof
Cringar of West had been there longest
But someone knocked the skull and Acererak kills the strongest
But Cringar didn’t cry, Cringar died

Those are PCs who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

The rest grabbed the loot from the last little room
Made their way out of this filthy little tomb
They got some bitchin potions, a rod, and some gems
So the others didn’t die in vain,
And No-Name 12, I miss you more than all the others
And I salute you brother

Those are PC who died, died
They were all my friends, and they died

So, that’s awesome. But what was really exceptionally awesome was that as Rob sent the email with the above lyrics, I was sitting in my living room with the last of the Rabbitcon stragglers. In the mix were Eric Hanson (who’s quite a good drummer), McChuck (who plays very good bass), and a wounded Sean Sands (who had ripped a nail off rocking guitar so hard he bled for the music). A huge huge part of this last weekend for me was setting up a band in the garage. We actually rocked.

I mean, sure, we sucked. Most of us are only passingly good at our instruments or singing, if we’re being honest. But we had a few really serious ringers — my friend Dr. Dave is just amazing on guitar, and can play anything. McChuck and Eric are just rocks. We played a few hours at least, every day. Everything from harmonized indigo girls songs to Smells Like Teen Spirit to Beatles and Oasis covers. We had 8 year olds on drums and bass. We had teenage girls singing harmonies. We had everyone making music.

It was fucking glorious and loud and everything I wanted.

So here we were, at the dinner table, reading rob’s lyrics. And none of them had ever even heard the Jim Carroll song. But me? Catholic Boy (the album on which People Who Died resides) was super important to me as a kid. 1980. I was 13-14 years old. I was too late for the first round of real punks. Instead, I had the Jim Carroll, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, and all the other cool LA Punk bands to counterballance the New Wave forces of The Cure and Talking Heads and the impending crazy of MTV.

So I knew it by heart. So we went down into the basement, and quite literally, in 10 minutes, we recorded this.

It ain’t pretty. But then, neither am I. And neither is the Tomb of Horrors.

Long time no post

It’s odd how twitter and my regular stuff at GamersWithJobs.com has completely replaced my need to maintain a blog. That and being unbelievably swamped with work.

Layer on the podcast, and I feel like I have really undergone a transformation in how I interact with the web. Dare I call it “2.0?” Blogs are just so 2005 I guess.

Podcasting and Strategy

Dilligent rabbitfollowers might have noticed I started doing a new podcast with Troy Goodfellow, Tom Chick, and Bruce Geryk, called Three Moves Ahead.

It’s a much more casual affair than the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call, my other weekly podcasting gig, in the sense that we just start talking and Troy hit’s record. On the other hand it’s far more rigid, in that we really limit the discussion to strategy gaming intermediated by computers and consoles. I had no idea how restrictive that was until I spent an hour a week trying to talk about it.

At the CC by contrast, we talk about pretty much anything that intersects with being a gamer, whether that’s economics, culture, design, music, or specific games and genres.

I definitely see the role for both.

The other interesting note is that since I don’t write reviews (not out of moral compunction, but simply a time/pleasure/reward algebra) I’ve never bothered gettingon anyone’s review lists. Consequently, I’m running out of things to talk about pretty damned fast, as far as new strategy games go. No way I can justify buying them all.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a magazine about games like this? Oh right, we had one of those …

Me and My Brain

I’ve long wondered if and when I’d ever write about epilepsy in the context of gaming. Well, turns out I had a reason a few weeks ago, so here it is.

As usual, whenever I write something I don’t hate, Lara Crigger shows up and writes something that makes me feel like a 2nd grader.

So here’s the thing,

EGM has closed it’s doors. 30 good people out of work. Latest of four magazines I’ve written for shutting down.

Time to consolidate. I’m not spending a TON of time here. When something awesome happens, I’ll post a link, but really, how many homes can one writer have? I post the random stuff on twitter, and the big stuff on the front page of GamersWithJobs.com.

So, no excuses, just that’s where to find me at this particular Tardis-drop.

Jason Fagone

Usually I just post here to pimp something I wrote, or something I like. I’m generally happy with what I write. Immodestly, I give myself a B in a world with a lot of B- in it. I’m not rife with false modesty most of the time.

In this months esquire (I presume, I’m reading it online), Jason Fagone has a biographical piece on Jason Rohrer, an eccentric game designer behind a few very odd, and very smart games (notably, Passage). The topic is interesting enough, but the quality of Fagone’s prose just depresses the hell out of me.

It’s easy for me to get all hyperbolic about things I love. I’m inclined to go off about books and music and games and things I love. I want to share things that turn me on. All people do it. I do it a little more ridiculously than some. But Fagone’s achievement in this little, unassuming article is astounding to me. I don’t really expect people to get a kick in the gut from it the way I do. I think part of my “holy crap” reaction to it is because stylistically, he writes exactly how I want to write.

So every turn of phrase in this piece, every quote he expertly threads, every picture he paints is something I wish I’d done. I imagine it must be what it’s like when a college band guitar player accidentally stumbles on B.B. King practicing riffs while sitting on a park bench in New York.

The kicker, the real nut-busting gut check, is the final two paragraphs. After telling an intriguing and occasionally enthralling tale of Rohrer, his passion for games-as-art, his unexpected involvement in a Spielberg project, and his obsession with meadows (seriously), he ends with this (apologies for the big cut out):

Then Rohrer met his wife, Lauren Serafin, in Ithaca. She was just like him, the daughter of wealthy business owners, harboring similar dreams of escape. A heart exploded. They searched a Web site listing the food co-ops across America. They crossed out the co-ops in towns with expensive real estate and landed here, Potsdam, a place where they could focus on the experiences of their lives instead of their materiality, and where Rohrer could finally have his meadow, assuming he could make the people of Potsdam trust that this meadow was a legitimate and good and dutiful and logical thing and not some lazy indulgence, not a deadbeat’s excuse not to mow, not an eyesore, at least not to him, because he cared about it, cared enough to carve it out and defend it, fight for it, believe in its potential, this odd form of expression he had chosen to love–the weed smells and the insect noise, the butterflies, the berries getting ripe and fat and falling and staining the ground purple, the smell of the compost pile spoiling, the apples and peppers and banana peels dissolving to mulch.

Christ, can’t you see this? This lush green atmosphere dying so gorgeously all around him? And Rohrer with a laptop, sitting cross-legged in the dirt, inventing a new way of showing the world what it means to be alive?

Let me be clear: journalists do not get away with this. We don’t get to go all Faulkner and completely lose our objective distance and dive headfirst into the obsessions of our subjects. But Fagone does, not because he gets a pass (I had no idea who he was until an hour ago), but because he has set up such a carefully crafted piece of writing that when he hits the magic three-word sentence that triggers the complete OMFGness of the piece: “A heart exploded,” he can cross right over the fucking line in the sand and directly channel the passion and madness of his biographical focus and leave us with gigantic “holy crap” ending.

I hate Fagone because I could not get away with this. I can’t write the first 1500 words well enough to set up those last 5 sentences, and I can’t deliver those five with that kind of rocket fuel.

Fuck you Fagone. Now I have to buy your god damned book.

Best video conference software ever

ooVoo

Mac or PC, quick install. Works on my freaking Macbook AIR for Pete’s sake. Super, amazingly great awesomeness.

That is all.

All I Want For Christmas Is Me

Please. Someone cough up the $60,000 for a life-size lego effigy of me. THen when I’m feeling really self destructive I can get some Testor’s model glue and melt myself.

If it’s going to be a circus …

… then let’s at least let it be a fair circus.

Bob Barr (Libertarian candidate for President) has sued to remove McCain and Obama from the Texas ballot. He has it 100% right, and he should succeed.

He won’t of course. But I think this quote says it all:

“The seriousness of this issue is self-evident,” the lawsuit states. “The hubris of the major parties has risen to such a level that they do not believe that the election laws of the State of Texas apply to them.”

Hubris. That’s such a great word for this election.

Magic: The Gathering meets Elections

Pure gold.