The Geek Emporium

The Great Geek Revolution is NOW!

This Is The End…My Only Friend, The End

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Well folks, this is the very last post on this particular web address.  Everything else will be at the new site, located here!  It’s been a blast here at my free wordpress site.  Like Lori Petty said in Tank Girl, “It’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down.”

Seriously, I hope everyone comes and checks out the new site and joins in the fun there.  There will be more than just RPG stuff, though there should be plenty of that as well.  Video games, anime, movies, comics, the works!

We’ll be ramping up everything over the next several months.  You’ll still be getting what you’ve been getting, but we’ll be adding to it all the time.  So, tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM Eastern time, you’ll have the first of the new posts on the new Geek Emporium website, and I certainly hope you like it.  I’ve worked very hard on all of this, and hope that you all continue to come and check us out!

September 12, 2008 Posted by | RPG | 2 Comments

The Next Horizon

As I gear up for the new site, which I’ll start taking live in about 24 hours, I can’t help but wonder what else is over the horizon. What niche has yet to be filled.  Seriously, I woke up at 3:30 this morning with a concept that’s one step in that direction, and yet there are others yet to be discovered.

Now, I’m not talking about some new system that let’s you play elves or vampires.  I’m talking brand new stuff.  Stuff that, if it exists, isn’t well known amongst the general geek community.  So, here’s my humble contribution to the future of gaming:

Highschool: The Role Playing Game

That’s right.  We all either survived it, or will survive it, so why in the hell would we want to go back and live it through a video game?  Simple…because then we could do it right!  Imagine being the jock instead of the computer nerd?  Imagine being the captain of the cheerleaders rather than the wierd goth everyone laughs at?  Or, conversely, imagine you’re just the way you are, but are able to torment the living hell out of those who made your life difficult?

Think about school for a moment.  You have combat (fights in the cafeteria), A ruler who expects you to do things a certain way and to help him out from time to time (a principle), minor rulers who give you tasks on a regular basis (teachers), and evil creatures bent on destroying you (schmucks who gave many of us crap in school).  Let’s face it…you lived D&D!  So why not take it into a new venue?

Now, this would need to be a skill based system, rather than a class based system…at least that’s my thinking.  And, I think it could be fun.  Of course, class based could be fun too.  The Jock class, and AV Geek class, the Goth class, the list is almost endless.  Or, I guess you could all play drama geeks and reenact High School Musical…but why would you want to?

I’m not going to bore you to death with details, because mostly I don’t have them.  Seriously, this idea is a mere two hours old, so who knows.

But this idea alone makes me wonder what’s over the next horizon.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | RPG | | 6 Comments

The Alpha and the Omega

This is it!  The beginning and the end of a era.  Now begins the new.  It is the alpha and the omega.  It’s Skeletor in a bad He-Man.  It is all of those things and many, many more.  You are witness to the greatest moment in human history!  OK, so I’m being melodramatic!  So what, I’m freaking excited!

I had originally thought that it would take months of hard, laborous effort to develope the new site, but I was wrong.  the new Geek Emporium site is up and ready to receive new updates very soon.  So, the tentative plan is for the effective change to take place early Saturday morning.  Here is the basic schedule, just so everyone knows what’s going on:

Tomorrow’s posts will go up as normal.  The only exception is that tomorrow night’s post will be the last on this site, and will probably be the about being the last on this site.  If you receive feeds from us, then you’ll want to update your feeds.  The new site can be found here.

Other than that, the weekend will operate just as normal from your ends if you update feeds.  This is a big deal for me, and the whole Geek Emporium organization (man that feels wierd to type).  I’m hopeful that this will be a huge success.

Cliff jumping is never easy, so here’s hoping things go along well!  Wish me luck! 😉

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Movies, RPG, Television | 2 Comments

Busting Stereotypes Part 6 – The Bard

They’re dandies in fine clothing, carrying the obligatory lute, and always ready to give a chipper song.  Sure, they’ve not made their way in with 4th Edition, but word on the street has them coming in the PHB II.  That’s right folks, I’m talking about the good old bard, one of the most maligned classes in all of D&D.  However, bards are incredibly useful and don’t have to suck quite as badly as people think!

Of course, the first thing you need to do before playing a bard is make sure there’s plenty of role play opportunity for your character.  Bards tend not to excel in combat, and players get bored inspiring their companions alone, so if you’re playing a hack & slash type campaign, take my advice.  Play a rogue instead.

However, if you’re fortunate enough to have a heavy role play campaign, the bard can be a very useful class.  With the typically high charisma, they make great diplomats.  The 3rd Edition bards had healing spells that could serve a party well also.  Bards aren’t completely useless in combat either, though to say their useful is a bit of a stretch.

Yep, but bard is a pretty cool class when played to it’s potential.  But the stereotype is that of a performer who seems to want to play his lute more than anything else.  So, how do you stay true to what a bard is good with, without playing the stereotype up to the hilt?  Easy.  Storyteller.

Most of the bards abilities are based on CHA.  By making him a storyteller, you eradicate the dreaded instrument they typically lug around.  He also has more chance to interact with people, possibly encouraging a DM to give them a plus to his bardic knowledge check.  In addition to that, he may get synergistic bonuses to diplomacy, bluff, and intimidate!  In short, the bard can be the “mouth” of the party!  He’s definitely better suited to it than the arrogant wizard who thinks that everyone should kiss his feet anyways, right?

His dress can be muted, and he can carry a typical adventurers equipment. Perhaps he has multiclassed as a fighter or something, and therefore has some skill with a sword that even the average bard doesn’t have.  So, what people would see is a man in regular clothes, carrying a sword and regular gear.  Maybe some leather armor.  NPCs would think “low level fighter” (if the DM wants them to anyways).  Or, if dressed in finer clothing of a non-bard nature, perhaps a lower noble traveling through.  Either way, nothing necessarily screams “bard” to anyone.

The bard, to break the stereotype, must be played against the stereotype.  Most of what makes the bard unique is in 3.5 class abilities.  As we still don’t know what they look like in 4th edition, no one can really speak of how that all will work, but I suspect they’ll be powers instead.  Same difference really, as far as playing a bard.  Those powers/abilities are necessary since they are what makes a bard!

However, the crunch doesn’t dictate how you play them.  In truth, it’s trickier to play a bard against stereotype because the crunch doesn’t make it easy.  However, if it were easy, the stereotypes would have been crushed long, long ago 😉

September 11, 2008 Posted by | RPG | , | 5 Comments

The One Less Traveled By

I remember it like it was yesterday.  My wife and I had been playing a good amount of D&D, and she was a little depressed.  I asked her what was wrong, as any good husband should.  She looked at me and said “You know how we pretend to have these adventures?”

Not knowing where this was going, I answered “Yeah?”

“I just wish they were real!  That we were really doing something like this stuff!”

Now, on the surface, that just sounded like crazy talk.  But I thought for a moment and realized that it wasn’t really.  We talked a bit more, and she was basically just a bit bored of talking about doing cool things, when we just sat around watching TV when not role playing.  I really couldn’t argue with what she was saying.  We were both working crap jobs at the time, and money was always tight.  Short of living in a parent’s basement, we were damn close to fitting the dreaded gamer stereotype.

I didn’t really act on anything then.  It took several years, but I took up backpacking.  I started off as an ultralight backpacker, which is sort of a more extreme backpacking.  Less gear, more skill required since gear can bail you out of a tough spot, etc.

My first trip had all the makings of a disaster.  I had overestimated my ability and finally made it into camp that first night well after dark.  I set up my camp and crashed, my feet hurting in ways I didn’t think possible.  The next morning, I ate the nastiest eggs in the history of man (I’m telling you folks, freeze dried eggs are awful), and started back out.  I was exhausted, and glad to start the long, long drive home.

I had a deer walk less than 10 feet in front of me.  I scrambled around rock faces where, quite honestly, a wrong step would have resulted in some fairly serious injury, if not worse.  I drank from streams, and had to ration water due to drought conditions on the mountain.  I sweated my butt off by day, and was cold at night.

I had done it.  I’d actually become a real-life adventurer.  My wife’s passing comment years ago, one that she’s never really acted on herself, lead me down the road less traveled by.  It’s not for everyone, but it was for me.  Despite the times on the trail when my feet were killing me, I never gave in.  I finished what I started, and despite the pain, I had the time of my life.

I won’t sit here and tell you that you should take up backpacking, or anything else, but I do urge you to take that road less traveled by, whatever it may be.  Not only will you be doing something you can be proud of, but it may actually help your role play.  You’ll know what it’s like to walk 15 miles in a day with all your gear on your back, or you’ll know what it’s like braving white water rapids, or climbing a rock wall that goes straight up, or any number of other things.

Why stick solely with pretending to have adventures where there’s so many real ones you can have as well?

September 11, 2008 Posted by | RPG | , | 9 Comments

The Dark Knight Returns?

I don’t think it’s a big secret that I’m a huge fan of The Dark Knight.  Heath Ledger’s performance was legendary, and it’s a damn shame we’ll never get a chance to see him top it.  Well, Warner Brothers seems to think so much of the film that they’re working on rereleasing it in January to help with the Oscar voting.

A source told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s just a matter of bringing it back as a reminder for people.”

Right now, Warner Brothers is in talks with IMAX executives.  As for whether they intend to return it to your local regular theaters or not is anyone’s guess.  Still, if you have an IMAX theater near you, this is something that could be very awesome for you folks!

To Warner Brothers, I just want to wish good luck.  I can’t help but feel that Ledger deserves the Oscar for his role.

September 11, 2008 Posted by | Movies | | Leave a comment

Keeping Up With the Indiana Joneses

Through gaming, I’ve visited ancient tombs, ruins of great civilizations.  I’ve hacked my way through jungle, slogged through swamp, and nearly died in the desert.  I’ve ridden horses across the plains, and sailed across the oceans.  My characters seem like they’ve done it all, and are still ready for more.

But theres one trick I personally don’t see used enough.  It’s a little late for the current campaign I’m playing in to try it, but it’s something I may keep in mind for the next campaign I run.  Why don’t more adventuring parties have rival parties?  Not necessarily enemies mind you, but straight rivals?  Here’s how I see it shaping up.

First, the party would have to be similar in make up to the PCs.  Otherwise, and advantages the new group would have would be discounted to that difference alone.  That would be bad.  PCs need to understand that these guys are just good.  Nothing more, nothing less.  If there isn’t a PC rogue, then the rivals shouldn’t have one either.

Make them arrogant, loud, obnoxious, whatever you have to do to make sure the players don’t like the rivals.  Friendly rivals is fine, but to really have fun with it, you need someone they hate.  Remember, they don’t have to be evil, just annoying competition.  Once you’ve done that, they’re ready to go.

Now, how you deploy them is really fun.  Let’s say the PCs are dragging their butts getting to the Liches lair.  NPCs keep advising them that they need to hurry, he’s almost done with the ritual, but they’ve been saying it for days (in-game time…but out of game time is possible to with some groups I’ve played with ;)).  No matter what, they still keep dragging their butts.  They know that the DM won’t let the Mondo-Bad-Thing-Monster-Beasty out into their precious homebrew world, so they’re not sweating it one bit.

Then, finally they decide to enter the Liches lair.  They’ve buffed up, readied a plan, and bust through the door…

…only to find their rivals have already dispatched the Lich and are looting the room.  Perhaps they make some quip about the PCs being late to the party, or even thanking them for clearing the way to the Lich, but leaving the fun stuff for them.

Now, in future games, the PCs will have the idea that time really is important because otherwise the rivals will get the XP and loot.  Even the metagamers in the group will start acting with some haste now.  After all, now there’s something they can’t account for, either in game or out of game.

The most important thing a DM must understand is how rarely to use this tool.  Frankly, using it will piss off the players if you use them in the way described above.  That should really be the “nuclear option” as a DM, so keep it in reserve for only the most dire of times.  Either that, or it’s a hook for something else.  Other ways the rivals can be used, and will make sure the rivals are kept in the PCs minds is:

  • PC mistakes are retold as stories in taverns all over the lands, making them look bad.
  • PCs often have to make moral choices.  The rival group can take the path the PCs don’t, then make them look bad by not taking that path.
  • The rivals can convince the local ruler that the PCs are evil adventurers looking to overthrow their rule.

Those are just a few.  The possibilities are endless.  They can provide a foil for the PCs that they can’t just outright kill (unless they want to deal with the results of such an act).  Even creating a situation where the PCs need the help of the rivals can be a blast as well.  Just don’t over use the rivals, or else the players will resent the hell out of them and you.

So, if your group is one that could benefit from this idea, give it a try.  It could be just what the Doctor (Jones) ordered 😉

September 10, 2008 Posted by | RPG | , | 2 Comments

Required for Fun: Do We Need All That We Think We Do?

Yesterday, while talking about the future of gaming, the question was asked by Ravyn if all the technology I mentioned was really necessary.  Obviously, the answer is “no, it’s not needed at all.”  However, that got me to thinking, which is always a scary thing.  What do we need to role play?

Role play is quite possibly the oldest form of play in our lives, if not in history.  Early role playing games for many of us were the classics: Cops & Robbers, Cowboys & Indians, etc.  Rules consistent of nothing.  The arguement we all heard started with “Bang! You’re dead!”  And was followed with the inevitable “No I’m not” response.  The typically female equivelant was playing mother to their dolls (even then, girls were ahead of the curve!  They played with miniatures while us boys were LARPing ;)).  Even with the freeform nature of what we were doing, we loved it in spite of the arguments.

All we needed was a rain-free day, some friends, and plenty of time before the street lights came on.  We might have props (toy gun for example), but we adapted well enough without it (fingers make good enough guns after all).  Rule disputes were handled simply by letting it go.  We could do anything we wanted to so long as the laws of physics were obeyed.  After all, 8 year old kids tend to not defy gravity very often.

With the lack of crunch, we all enjoyed ourselves.  It was the purest form of role play, and it planted the seed that lead many of us to take up role playing as a hobby.  We didn’t need dice to tell us if we shot the bad guy, we just shot him.  We needed need a DM to determine if we could do something, we just did it (or said we did it).  We needed need to reference books to see what spells we could cast, we just cast them.

Amid all the edition wars, both on this blog and others (and I’m just as responsible as anyone else),  I think we’ve lost sight of the simple fact that we play a game.  Nothing else matters so long as we have fun and don’t ruin anyone else’s fun along the way.  So long as we do that, we’ll be in good shape.  Not just for today, but for ages to come.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | RPG | , | 13 Comments

More X-Men and Another Daredevil?

According to an article in Variety, Fox didn’t have such a good summer this year.  That’s never good for a studio.  So, they’re taking a look at what they can do to spice things up.

Though Fox has no plans for a major overhaul, the studio has scheduled a strategy meeting to assess the status of its superheroes, a group sorely missed this summer. On the agenda, Fox will mull the possibility of more “X-Men” spinoffs, including a young-X-Men project as well as “Deadpool,” based on a character played by Ryan Reynolds in “Wolverine.” The studio is even considering reviving the “Daredevil” property.

Now, I’m a huge fan of Deadpool as a character, and Ryan Reynolds sounds to me like a great choice to play him.  The X-Men movies are second only to Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise in my scale of awesome comic-to-movie conversions, so a new X-Men spinoff could be awesome.

As for a new Daredevil movie, I’m seriously down with that one as well.  I didn’t think the Ben Affleck movie was that bad, over all.  Sure, it’s wasn’t Batman Begins by any stretch, but it was a solid movie that was well above even the old Superman movies with the late Christopher Reeves IMHO. 

So good luck to Fox!  I hope they follow through on these concepts!  It’ll give me something to be excited about until the Thor movie comes out in July, 2010!

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Movies | , | Leave a comment

The Fringe of Cool

When I saw that J.J. Abrams had a new show out, and watched the trailer for it, I couldn’t help but think Lost meets X-Files with a bit of Millenium thrown in for good measure.  Boy was I wrong, and frankly I’m pretty happy with being wrong for once.

What Fringe is about is probably a question that I’m not ready to answer.  In the 95 minutes I spent in front of the television, all I saw was the set-up for the rest of the season.  And boy what a season it looks like is coming.  First, there is a strange form of biological attack onboard a plane.  Thanks to a new autopilot system, it lands safely, but there are no signs of life.  All the passengers are dead due to this odd circumstance.

What follows starts off very X-Filesish before taking a hard left at the corner of Cool and Awesome.  The main character is Special Agent Olivia Dunham, who must uncover the source of this attack (yes, the FBI quickly decides it’s bioterrorism).  During her investigation, she finds similarities between the disease and the work of scientist Dr. William Bishop, who has been incarcerated in a mental institution for the last 17 years (I guess his work as Denethor in Return of the King typecast him ;)).  To access him, Agent Dunham must recruit the assistance of Bishop’s wayward but brilliant son Peter.

What follows is a wild ride to the truth, only to find more layers to the secret.  It’s very clear that Abrams is following the formula he’s ridden to success with Lost.  A tragedy occurs.  A secret is shown to exist.  Now, the characters must uncover that secret.  However, that’s where similarities with Lost really must come to an end (although I really had to wonder when the tragedy was on board an airplane again).  In this one, Abrams takes this formula into a new direction where despite access to all the wonders of the modern world, the characters are still on an island…this time metaphorical.

The actors delivered strong performances, but the stand out to me was Joshua Jackson’s job with Peter.  He comes across as brilliant, snarky, and a bit cynical for his age.  All these actually fit what back story was shared, and create a character that is at once likeable and annoying.  Jackson gets into the role with gusto that I haven’t seen in him before.  Joining him in the “strong performance” category is Anna Torv with her role as Agent Dunham.  I’ve never seen her work before, but I will be looking forward to more.

Next Tuesday, Fringe will be on at it’s regular time of 9:00 Eastern time.  I was ready to never watch another episode again before this came on.  Instead, I know where I’ll be next week…in front of the TV watching Fringe!

September 9, 2008 Posted by | Television | | 3 Comments