A Tale of Two Systems

Today marks an important day in my soon-to-be completed quest to be adequately prepared for the coming of SWTOR.

Finally, I have upgraded my PC.

Yes, I have now joined the ranks of people who can run the game on the highest of settings. It was a goal I had in mind for months, though now that I am running on a machine that navigates everything fast and silky smooth, somehow it is just another thing that makes me realize how important SWTOR already has been for me, and hopefully will be for some time.

I certainly have never upgraded my system for any other game, that’s for sure. Not WoW, not even for Mass Effect or Dragon Age. For the longest time my gaming needs were met by my trusty Dell (sort of an oxymoron if you think about it, “trusty” and “Dell”). Nevertheless, change is necessary. With SWTOR only 32 days away, I guess I just figured I had waited long enough.

I think a little celebration is in order. Not only for my newfound “performance enhancement” (Yes, I went there), but also for the impending release of a game that I now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is worth every cent I dropped on a collector’s edition (more on this once the bloody NDA drops).

 

 

And just for the funk of it – take it away Parliament:

I loaded every single one of those videos, plus two more videos, plus started a DCUO download, at the same time, just for shits and giggles.

I love fast internet.

Twas a Few Nights Before Christmas, When All Through The House…

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

Though I did not sleep, oh perish the thought,

I smiled, admiring fondly the lightsaber I just bought;

It hummed like an engine, purring with glee,

For soon the red, running blood of Jedi it would see;

I called to my companion, her lekku flowing care-free,

Vette, get back to the ship and make a piece of armor or three;

I cannot go with you, Vette, you must travel alone,

For there are hordes of ‘pubs on tonight that I must pwn;

Suddenly, what is this interruption I hear,

Why, it is the sound of my loved ones speaking in my ear;

“It’s time for bed, you’ve hogged the computer long enough, damn it!” they shouted with cheer,

“Fuck out my face – I still have to finish this quest chain on Ilum!” I responded to those I held dear;

So they acquiesced and left me to play,

Going back to bed, turning around just long enough to say – “Oh for fuck’s sake! Fine! Keep playing for all I care!”;

So I continued my blood bath, and smiled in delight,

Merry Christmas to all – I said as I stabbed a Jedi in the neck -, and to all a goodnight!

 

Mele Kalikimaka, bitches...

 

As if you couldn’t guess what this post is about, a funny thing happened to me on my way to the office today –  I found out something awesome about a game I’ve been following for several years *cough*SWTOR*cough*. I won’t tell you which game -*hack*SWTOR*cough*- it is, but I will-*cough*SWTOR*wheeze*-allow you to-SWTOR-watch this video to see which game I mean.

Pay very close attention to the last 9 seconds of the video (1:55-2:04).

 

 

Did you see what I saw? You know you did.

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. After 5 long years, after weeks, months, years of anticipation, the day has finally arrived:

Star Wars: The Old Republic – FINALLY – has a release date.

The Force Will – officially – Be With Us on December 20, 2011 (December 22, for the EU).

As I sit here typing this, the news is no longer fresh. I am several hours removed from learning about this for the first time, and that has given me enough breathing room to really take all this in.

That said, the excitement hasn’t worn off; not one damn bit.

People, almost 4 years; I’ve been waiting for this game for almost 4 years… Some people have been waiting for longer than that – all the way back when all we knew was that BioWare was making A MMO; no details about what that MMO would be, just that they were making one.

For me, for those people, this is like V-J Day (but not nearly as significant – R.I.P. Grandpa, and all the other vets from the greatest generation). This is the day we always hoped would arrive, but probably, somewhere in the back of our minds where we chased the thought to, wondered if it ever would come.

There’s only one thing to do now.

No commentary, no nitpicking, no over-analyzing.

The only fitting thing to do at a time like this is: CELEBRATE – and get ready.

December 20, folks; that gives you three months.

Plan those vacations.

Get your holiday situation in order. Start cataloguing all the acceptable excuses you can feed your family to explain your sudden absences while you steal away to the computer to play a little more SWTOR;

If you haven’t pre-ordered, DO IT! DO NOT DELAY! SWTOR‘s launch is staggered, folks (that means there is a limit to how many they will let in before they close the gates).

Don’t be caught on the outside looking in while we are all inside enjoying the wonders of Hoth & Tatooine.

Be next to us while we duel by the Sarlacc and try to knock each other in.

Other than that, it’s time to celebrate all things Star Wars, baby. Get up, get busy, get moving, whatever your voodoo, do that voodoo that you do so well, or get left behind.

May the Force be with you all!

 

(Sorry folks, I cringe everytime I see Hayden Christensen in that celebration – so I posted one that cut off beforehand. I’ll post the full music below.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Props to a friend for sending the two kitten links.)

 

 

 

 

 

(Seriously, lightsabers make EVERYTHING better.)

 

Best. Parody. Ever.

 

 

No words are necessary, really.

 

 

What?... She's a FAN of Star Wars...

 

 

Aw, I love it, guys! Put it in the hallway!

 

 

Um... Force Kick?...

 

 

Looks like there are lots of athletes all around the world that still have their arms in their sockets.

 

 

Can I getta "Amen"?

 

 

Han & Lando - Kings among men.

 

 

Before there was Cartman, there was Jabba (and before there were thousands of girls every con wearing this costume, there was Carrie Fisher, melting our movie screens).

 

 

No offense to Bib, but I'm kind of relieved that he is just the hideous exception, and not the rule, of the Twi'lek male gender.

 

And one more for the road.

Arguably, the most iconic sound in film history.

 

 

See you all in a galaxy far, far away this December.

 

Take it away, Tatsu.

Sorry for the ass level quality of the video, but it does its job.

For those who are out of the loop, the devs at BioWare pulled off a rather impressive ninja update earlier this morning. The result: SWTOR‘s Pre-Launch Guild Program officially hit Phase 2, which the devs are calling “Phase 2: Alignment.”

Those who have followed the game for awhile will remember the day, way back, when BioWare initiated their Pre-Launch Guild Program.

Phase 1 began with thousands of people registering their guilds on the official site, after which GM registrants were given an area on the official site to register other guild members, as well as built-in forums to use on the official site. Further, all players, whether in a guild or not, were given access to a fairly comprehensive search engine, which they could use to find a guild that suited their interests (PvP, PvE, RPPvE, RPPvP, etc.). The program was met with a very large amount of fanfare and positive reception, as I recall – though that positive reception quickly gave way to impatience for the next step of the program.

Fast forward, and we have finally arrived at that next step.

Phase 2 was described in better detail by BioWare dev Courtney Woods:

Back in March we initiated our Pre-Launch Guild Program, where members of the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ community could search for already established guilds or register one of their very own through the Guild Headquarters page. We are thrilled to announce that we have begun the second phase of our Pre-Launch Guild Program! 

With Phase 2: Alignment, we are introducing new features which allow guilds to set their allegiance with other guilds in The Old Republic. Now a guild leader, along with members who have the proper permissions, can select up to three guilds as either Allies or Adversaries, depending on their faction affiliation. Qualifying guilds that are marked as Allies and Adversaries of other guilds will have the highest chance of being placed in the game together, allowing these guilds to coexist on the same server.

Another feature being implemented with Phase 2 is the ability for guild leaders and members with the proper permissions to invite friends to join their guild via email. You can start recruiting new members today!

To learn more about guilds in The Old Republic, check out the Guilds Game System page for details, and to search for or join a guild, visit the Guild HQ now! Also be sure to visit the Guilds FAQ for answers to commonly asked questions.

To me, an announcement like this goes a long way toward easing my concerns that SWTOR could possibly be pushed back into the new year.

In many ways, I am a business-minded person I understand caution, and not revealing your cards too soon.

That said, I am also a gamer who has waited 3+ years for this game to release.

So comments like those made by Eric Brown at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, where he covered EA’s bases, once again, by suggesting that a push into 2012 was “a slight possibility”, wore on my already sagging heart.

Don’t take that as me indicting EA for their handling of the matter. EA are playing this very smart. As a business-minded person, I have to admire their fortitude in sticking with their guns in the face of such rabid demand. They definitely have some brass balls.

Still, updates like the start of Phase 2 of the Pre-Launch Guild Program, gives me real hope that this game won’t fall back into 2012. Add in Damion Schubert’s comments in his interview with TORWars (where he revealed that BioWare are now at the point where they are implementing features directly from their famous “Wall of Crazy”, which, to me, sounds like they are nearing the end of the development cycle), and it sounds even less likely that SWTOR will fail to meet their window.

This is probably the best news I’ve heard about SWTOR in recent months.

By my reasoning, if the devs are already preparing for server placement, they must be fairly confident that they are well on their way to hitting their Holiday 2011 window dead center.

Granted, testing is still very much underway – which is why EA/BioWare cannot give an exact launch date -, but everything in my bones tells me that, barring any major unforeseen issues in testing, SWTOR will be in our hands in a few months time.

I’m still hoping that I’ll have to be shooed off to Thanksgiving Dinner in the middle of slaughtering sand people on Tatooine. 🙂

In celebration of what I consider to be the first sign that SWTOR‘s release is coming sooner, rather than later, here are some screens that I have not seen posted anywhere else, and also some nostalgiac Star Wars-themed videos to brighten your day.

(Just a disclaimer: I don’t support the “gold key” movement, but I still found the video funny and entertaining.)

Get that #@!$ out of my face...

 

Hi, buddy!

 

"Satele, I have bad news: you won't look anything like you do now in ten years time."

 

"Where do you think YOU'RE going!"

 

"You cut my face?! I already had a skin condition, asshole!"

 

"I win."

 

"I object."

 

"NUBCAKE!"

 

Fatality - Malgus Wins

 

"I hate to say it, but you just got owned, son."

Faceless in a Land of Glamour

Cheeky title, eh?

This is going to be one of those posts that’s a little more off-the-cuff than I usually do – but I’ll let hindsight point out the things I regret saying (if there are any).

Despite the fact that I’ve had this blog for months now, there are still times when I struggle to decide what it is I want to say, if I want to say something, and how to present it. I guess that’s not terribly strange, considering the fact that I am probably the most secretive person I know – in real life, or online.

How the hell does someone who values privacy function online? I’ve often asked myself that question. In fact, I’ve often wondered if I should just delete this blog from the face of the internet, entirely. Its not as if I would be leaving hundreds of readers disappointed. Most of my page views come from a picture of a bottle of Louis XIII cognac. Granted, it is a sexy, sexy looking bottle, but what does that say about the rest of this blog?

Ok, now I should point out, I smiled all through that last paragraph.

Why? Probably because I take pains NOT to advertise this site.

Facebook? No (aside from some friends who have posted something I wrote – props to the coolest Aussie I know).

Twitter? I haven’t used my twitter account in close to a year.

Take your pick of every other form of social online gathering places – you won’t find any ads for TheLabyrinthineJar, nor any posts urging anyone to visit. I don’t think that is because I dislike talking to people – I’ve met some of my favorite people online. Sometimes, I think it is just my own personal need to keep things private that fuels my desire to stay hidden.

Trust me, I’m not like that in real life. I’ve often been called a “bastard” (though lovingly – props to you Daleous, my great Viking friend), and I think more than one person might even describe me as a bit arrogant (only a bit – assholes). But I am also a wise-cracking guy, and I try hard to be sincere, and I think that allows people to tolerate me. 😛

But I am far from that online.

So why do I have a blog?

I’ve asked myself that more times than I can count.

Sitting here now, listening to Tula from Cusco, I think maybe I keep this blog just to satisfy my need to write. Whether the topic is about SWTOR, films, music in video games, D&D, or what have you, I enjoy writing just to write.

No kidding.

When I think back on this blog’s fairly recent history, I believe my greatest accomplishment has been making “tl;dr” a viable title for this site (I’ve been thinking of changing this blog’s mission statement to something that highlights that fact).

I think in the future I may post excerpts of some writing projects I’ve been working on here. I may even expand on the little summary I wrote for one of my D&D articles I wrote a while ago, just for fun.

Just one warning: leave all preconceptions at the door.

I am not a horror fiction writer, a fantasy writer, or even a political writer — I am a writer… I don’t limit myself to one genre, nor could I for fear of insanity.

I will be careful to add an appropriate rating if the story contains extreme use of expletives (this is almost a certainty), if the themes are a bit much (this tends to happen sometimes – blame it on Lovecraft), or if the violence contained within is a bit graphic (this, not so much).

Just like anything else on here, don’t expect a theme. I may post horror, and next post a somewhat sappy romanticized piece of work. It all depends on how the cookie crumbles.

For now, since I brought up Cusco, I guess the only fitting thing to do is post it up.

Take a listen, and enjoy. Peace out.

I May Not Know Art, But…

So today, I happened to stroll by the forums of a favorite SWTOR fansite of mine called TOROcast, not expecting to find much. Maybe an odd tidbit about what is coming out of PAX Prime, which is due to begin today and run through Sunday in Seattle. But seeing as how Gamescom ended recently, I wasn’t expecting too much on the SWTOR front today (BioWare is likely going to hold off on revealing the juicier bits until their hour-long presentation on Sunday). However, I certainly did not expect to hit up the forums and see — to my utter joy — a topic reading:

Amazon: The Art of TOR

It’s things like this that give me hope that SWTOR‘s release is not far off in the distance…

As some of you know, I recently purchased the Collector’s Edition of Star Wars: The Old Republic, for a cool sum of money which shall remain unsaid as a matter of good taste. Suffice to say, it cost a shitload of money (taste be damned).  In the weeks since that purchase, I have not suffered any buyer’s remorse (I purchased it outright — no pay on the day of for me). In fact, I feel confident in saying I’m still pleased with my purchase. However, the above topic brought back the one glaring omission my CE is missing: an art book.

Darth Malgus: Hey you... Over there. Yes, you.

Everytime I see this image, the above caption is what I always think of first.

As you can see, Amazon is now beginning to take pre-orders for this art book, set to be released on November 2, 2011 (though this may just be a placeholder date). The cover features King Badass Darth Malgus doing his best Napoleon Bonaparte pose, leading the armies of the Sith onto the battlefield against, presumably, the forces of the Galactic Republic. There are no other images beyond this one to give a sneak peek at the contents within the book. However, seeing this cover, with the title “The Art And Making Of Star Wars: The Old Republic” boldly emblazoned in familiar gold lettering, leaves me with a very sweet taste in my mouth. Very sweet.

Lil Nippy

Napoleon: See. See Malgus. I can do it, too. Hey you. Over there.

Of all the items that I could have lamented being left out of the CE, the art book sits right at the top of the list. Most CE’s these days, as I understand it, include the art book as almost a prerequisite. When that proved not to be the case with SWTOR, I was sad. It didn’t prevent me from snatching up the CE in two seconds, but it did leave me feeling like something was missing. I always knew when the art book was eventually released, I would buy it. No questions asked.

Really, why wouldn’t I? SWTOR features some of the most breathtaking artwork I’ve seen for a video game in some time.

The trees on Voss look gnarly, and narly, as hell.

If Mos Eisley was the most "wretched hive of scum and villainy", I wonder what Obi-wan would have had to say about the "Smuggler's Moon" -- SWTOR's answer to Amsterdam & Las Vegas?

Taris is one of the worlds I am most looking forward to revisiting, 300 years after Darth Malak wtfpwned it into near-oblivion.

As a future Sith Warrior, I imagine Dromund Kaas will find a nice warm place in my cold, calculating Sith heart.

Corellia is a bit of an enigma for me. I know very little about it, but it is one of the worlds I am most looking forward to visiting. Every piece of artwork I've seen of this world has only fed the hunger.

The artwork for the game is just phenomenal. Really, BioWare has some of the most talented people working on this game.

If you have ever found yourself blown away by the art coming out of BioWare throughout this game’s development, I would suggest picking up a copy of this art book. According to the product description on the Amazon page, this baby is set to have 300 full color illustrations, in the form of interviews, character sketches, as well as weapon, starship, and world artwork.

It would not be hyperbole for me to say the art book for SWTOR is a first day purchase for me; the only real question is, do I want to pre-order it, or do I want to wait until the day it is released and just pick it up from a local bookstore?

Decisions, decisions…

The Diary of a DM: Sodomy of the Horse (Oh the humanity…)

Like I said in the previous article, gaming groups these days are diverse. My group is no different.

In my group, we have players of different races, fathers, husbands, techies, etc. But for the sake of time, privacy, and hilarity, I will stick to focusing on their playstyles and tendencies.

In my group, I have two min/maxers, an RP fiend who loves playing off-the-wall characters and is somewhat of a stickler for the rules, a battle-minded bruiser who believes that sometimes “things just need to die”, and another RP fan who is more flexible when it comes to bending the rules.

For this first article, I’m going to focus on the min/maxers.

These guys — I’ll call them Big Poppa & Sledge (because he likes to break things — you know who you are) — LOVE to test the boundaries of whatever system we happen to be playing in.

BP prefers survivability  — as in, a cockroach’s survivability. He loves to take all the shifty shenanigans (Aha, you missed me! Now I shift my speed and, oh yeah, action point — take 200 more dmg and now you’re slowed!), and he loves to boost his Initiative (the score that determines where in the order your turn falls, for the non D&D folks out there) to insane levels. In short, he wants to pop you first, then get the fuck out of Dodge before you can react. Though for my campaign, he broke away from this philosophy a bit and became more of an in-your-face slugger, ala Goku from DBZ (when he’s pissed).

Sledge is a little bit different. As a player, he too loves survivability. But he tends to play around with the system a bit more. By that, I mean he loves to play around with feats and powers until he can almost literally not be killed by anything short of a demigod with unholy reach. In my campaign, Sledge put these tendencies to full use. He created the most shenaniganed-up son of a bitch controller, who you almost couldn’t get into melee range with, because he could send you running in the opposite direction. If you’re a WoW head, think a Warlock with Fear, with a Rogue’s stealth (for those “bok bok” moments), and a mage’s spell capabilities. (-_-)

While the descriptions above paint a decent picture of the two players, it doesnt tell you the whole story.

BP may love to create cockroach characters, but he’s not the type to take stupid chances if the odds aren’t in his favor. So I would say he makes cockroach characters, but he doesn’t run right into a dance hall just to see if he can keep from getting crushed.

Sledge, on the other hand, is likely to make 10 crazy choices by dinner. Sometimes it’s not on purpose, but often it seems to come from a desire to see what COULD happen if, for instance, you happened to smuggle a dildo — I promise, this will make sense in a bit XD — out of a whorehouse to use at a later time.

Two different players with similar approaches to character design, with drastically different approaches to ingame experience.

That’s what D&D is all about, baby.

As promised, here comes the clarity.

In one of my first sessions, our adventurers left the safety of Mesa Verde after taking a job from a reputable freight depot owner who called himself “Big John”. At this point, they were given three choices for scenarios, determined by the direction of the delivery. Each scenario would have paid a different sum of money, depending on the difficulty.

*The first option was to travel west, where they would deliver arms to the front lines of a great battle. Their payment was set at several thousand gold for delivery, with another on return — but as the battle was still raging, the job was considered highly dangerous. They chose not to take this one.

*The second option was to travel east. Big John had sent various couriers in this direction — none returned. So their job would have been to travel East, make sure the cargo reached its destination safely, and determine the fates of the missing couriers. They ultimately chose not to take this job because of the uncertainty (there were reports of monstrosities seen in the area), though it paid the most gold.

*The final choice, which they chose to take, was to accompany a caravan of cargo south to a military base in the region known as Cendrate (pronounced Sen’dra’tee). The halfway point for this trip, was a stop at an outpost called Las Pueblos — known as something of an outlaw haven.

After making all the necessary preparations, the group set out for Las Pueblos. Despite having to sort out a sticky zombie situation along the way, they eventually arrived at the outpost the following night.

To the group’s delight, their employer — who believed happy workers worked harder — arranged for them to stay at an establishment of ill-repute on the company’s dime. Naturally, this led to some very interesting RP.

This was my first lesson in DMing: be careful what setting you place your players in — they will run a mile with it.

-My RP fan/rules stickler ended up tied to a bed and blindfolded by a pair of prostitutes — who then left him there while he basically imagined himself to bliss (-_-;) (his character was, rp-wise, supposed to be very good in battle, but a dimwit, otherwise).

-BP, who was playing a monk in this campaign, ended up spending the night — in a chaste way — with a newly obtained house girl who obviously did not belong in a whore house. He ended up buying out her contract, and taking her along with the group.

-The NPC I played to give them a boost, a Spanish elf hunter named “El Cid” (with accent to match), spent the night getting drunk and busy.

-My battle-minded bruiser, who was, uncharacteristically, playing a cleric for this campaign, sat in the main hall, disgusted at the depravity of his traveling companions.

-As for Sledge. He had a bit of fun… Actually, maybe a lot of fun. But I do recall him saying, quite clearly, that he was going to confiscate a sex toy that one of the ladies happened to leave on the floor. (I blame myself for being too naive to ask why…)

In any case, sometime during the night, BP learned from the new girl, nicknamed “Chibi”, that she had overheard some days previous a conversation between other couriers for Big John discussing a shipment that was to be sent to Cendrate in a few days. From their conversation, she learned that the cargo was not supplies, as our adventurers first thought, but some kind of weapon intended to go off inside Cendrate, itself. With this info in hand, BP assembled the other members of his group together to confront the other couriers who had traveled along with them — among them a douchebag hunter named Deseveran.

After an encounter with a scientist who supposedly had information on the true nature of the cargo, BP, Sledge and the others were all set to confront Deseveran and the other couriers about what was happening–

–care to guess who hitched up the wagons and ditched the group?XD

So after hastily paying a local stable owner for use of his horses, our adventurers rode out in search of Deseveran and the caravan to stop it before they reached the town of Cendrate.

Riding at breakneck speed, they managed to catch up to the caravan, and engaged in mounted combat with Deseveran and the other couriers. My rules stickler, who chose to name his character “Flash” after Flash Gordon (we had a blast mocking the theme song anytime he did anything), swiftly dove into action — and nearly got swiss-cheesed up in one round by all the enemies (which gave birth to another of our many gaming memes — “Flash… Awww”).  But despite BP getting dismounted along the way, and due to their resourcefulness and savvy, the group managed to kill Deseveran, and whittle down the couriers to only a handful of foes — but failed to derail the caravan entirely.

BP, who, like I said, loves shenanigans, had a movement speed that could, at a dead run, outpace most horses. So he just took off on foot, and ran down one enemy. The others weren’t far behind. One of the couriers, however, was just a bit too fast for them, and it looked as if he would actually escape with the rest of the caravan.

I’m sure if a lightbulb could actually appear over someone’s head in real life it would have, at that moment, shined pretty brightly over Sledge’s.

Now, let me say that I fully understand his reasoning for what he did next… poor little horse…

Sledge promptly grabbed the… object… out of his bag, and with a creative use of Mage Hand, managed to get the horse to stop (but Dear God, who wouldn’t?)…

I hope I don’t have to spell it out for people.(T_T)

So anyway, after the horse pitched its rider up into the air and kicked him square in the face with his flailing hooves — and after we all stopped laughing –, Sledge and the others managed to rendezvous with BP to make one last charge at the caravan, which was nearly at its destination.

In the end, they managed to stop the caravan just outside Cendrate, where they were forced to battle its cargo — a large demon, which would have hatched and gone berserk inside the town.

* * *

I learned a lot of things from that session. I would continue to learn as we went along. But that night, I learned a few very important lessons as a DM that I probably will never forget.

1.) Never be afraid to put your characters in strange situations, or locations. They often make for the most fun experiences.

2.) Don’t set your game on easy mode. Your players are often — at least mine were — resourceful enough to get out of most any dangerous situation.

3.) Create villains that your players want to kill. So create the biggest, most annoying douchebags you can possibly think of.

4.) If you don’t want to see some bizarre shit — like horse molestation — don’t ever, ever, ever ever ever, game with Sledge.(-_-;)

The Diary of a DM: In the Beginning

As the mid-day sun loomed over the town of Mesa Verde, the market district of the crossroad town was its usually bustling, cosmopolitan self.

-Butchers hung carcasses from hooks in somewhat macabre storefront displays — though their usual customers paid no mind. This was a wilderness outpost, after all. Many of them were intimately familiar with the practice of animal slaughter.

-Tinkerers, toy makers, engineers, stood outside their steam-powered wagons, establishing a rapport with the parents of their customers, allowing the little children on-hands access to the many gizmos and gadgets on display — everything from hand-crafted tin trains, to wind up toys made of copper screws and gears — while the adults struck deals on steam generators, and the new steam-powered farming machines just out of the factories in Red Rock Table, a renowned industrial hub.

-Weapon vendors and armorers opened their doors to present their wares. The brass and copper of chest plates shined blindingly in the light. The metal from the many guns, knives, swords, and axes on display glinted their deadly sharpness. The clientele who approached these establishments flashed equally sharp, deadly sneers as they browsed, though no vendor in this town would ever think to inquire on their intent for their purchases. What happened once the armaments left the counter was only for the winds to know.

-Other dealers, somewhat shadier than their more “official” brethren, laid out their wares for their waiting customers in the alleys just off the main shopping avenue. Here, potions, some medicinal, others decidedly more sinister looking with powerful stenches, sat displayed on ragged looking carpets or dingy blankets. Customers in tattered rags stood shoulder-to-shoulder with those who might have been some sort of nobility, with their emerald-accented rings, elaborately decorative cloaks, and soft, velvety furs, all waiting for the dealers to finish their spiel.

In all, it was merely another business day as usual in one of the most frequented crossroad townships in the region.

It was on this unremarkable day, that 5 adventurers found themselves all wandering the streets of Mesa Verde. Out of luck, out of work, looking for opportunity.

And one thing the many visitors of this town could attest to, readily, was that opportunity was always available to those searching — for the right price.

* * *

For the curious, this was not an attempt to begin a short story series.

This was merely the world I dropped my players into in a past D&D campaign. A world of steam punk mythology, mixed with insane cults devoted to the service of such greater devils as Belial and Asmodeus, and set up for an explosive revelation of a much greater danger later.

This was the setting for my very first shot at being a “Dungeonmaster”.

As years have passed, games like Dungeons & Dragons have found more mainstream appeal. No longer is the game just for nerds, sitting around a table living vicariously through characters. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a bit of an escape. But more than that, D&D is just good fun.

It’s an excuse to get together with some friends, talk trash, pump up or bitch about movies and books, and the like. Think of it like a weekly card game — only instead of hoping for a royal flush, you’re hoping to roll a nat 20 so you can royally fuck up some asshole villain’s day. You still get the normal banter between friends. You still get the jokes, the hilarious commentary, etc — it’s just that the game is different.

D&D groups these days are filled with an interesting assortment of people. You are just as likely to see a nerd, as you are to have well-adjusted family men and/or their wives in your group. Some people game with CEOs, or hip hop fans, or Hollywood actors, and even people who have been knighted.

D&D groups have become more diverse over the years; Diversity changes the way you have to craft a game as a DM.

In order to illustrate this point, I’m going to share some of my experiences in gaming, and in DMing — by recounting some of the more memorable moments that I’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure 😛 ) of experiencing while DMing and playing D&D with good friends over the years.

Names will be changed to protect the innocent (or the crazy), but rest assured, I have gotten permission from the people in my gaming circle to use our experiences in this blog.

So without further ado, in my next article, I will begin with a little story I’ll call “Sodomy of the Horse”.

Trust me, it’ll make sense by the end…(-_-;)

Writer’s Edit:  It should be noted right now — and it is since you’re reading this — that this new article series is not an attempt to create a “How to DM” guide.  I honestly wouldn’t know where to start.

Treat the DoaDM series as literal journal entries — or a “diary”, if you will. (I didn’t find it that funny, either.)

The format is going to be very informal, the way a diary entry usually is, when you are attempting to write as you recall.