Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tired Daddy Gaming

I am getting strange strange inspirations these days. 

Being a stay at home dad, full-time dad, what have you, my mind wanders quite a bit when my son is asleep or I am watching him play. My mind wanders while my body rests in bed, my strength only enough to surf the net or play the finger-loving Junk Jack. 

These days my mind craves a quick dungeon crawl. Something so basic that a checkmark means a horde of orcs. I want to work on a system that I can either do with a free finger on an iPhone, or with two thumbs on an iPad. 

And no I am not looking for an app that basically will play for me like Baldur’s Gate or something. No, a solo scratch pad solo-rpg. 

I call the intent simply, Tired Daddy Gaming, or Tired Daddy Crawl. I assure you, no child was harmed, neglected or ignored in this venture. I mostly run these experiments when he was taking a nap. Infact I will post an adventure using +Sophia Brandt’s Miso system that was specifically designed around his nap. 

But alas we do have a tired Daddy, thus I will only declare what I have been working with thus far. 

1. DunGen app: for the dungeon.

2. Modified FU for attributes and action resolution
    • I use a 1d10 on a modified d10 so that I can use the timer on the ipad or phone. 
Like this:

10- Ye gods, gods have touched thee 
9- yes, and behold
8- yes, solidly unremarkable 
7- yes, but 
6- yes, from the abyss
5- no, at yes's door  
4- no, but 
3- no, with certainty, unchanging 
2- no, and 
1- Demon have grabbed your toes 

    • I make my character with but one attribute to start. If this attribute is involved I choose the best of 2d6. 
    • If the character is challenged I 
    • If I pick up equipment or coolness I add d6 and choose the best. 
3. iPad timer for rolls (using the tenths part). When I need a number, I simply stop the timer. 

4. I simply can’t get away from the Miso system. I like to tell a story, and I may use it to create scenarios. I like something more complex than a yes or no spectrum. 

There is much more to do, and explain, but alas now the tired daddy is even more tired!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

NAGADEMON, SGAM, and NaNoWriMo Update

Report for Day Three:
About a week ago I had the masochistic idea of participating in National Novel Writing Month (why November? Why not June? where here in New Orleans nothing is gone on!), writing it as a grand solo adventure to commemorate solo gaming appreciation month and trying to design an oracle based solo engine called the Oracular for Nagademon (national game design month). Oh so much room for abuse!

It has been three days, and all I can say is I feel like a philanthropist gone completely mad! Without being judgmental and squashing the creativity, here is what I have.

Eight thousand pages where my mind has wandered to places that my fingers dread to go. I have hundreds of words of a first person Victorian letter-writing with a little steampunk helping, all thanks to the circles of perdition rpg called De Profundis. I have an oracle based RPG taken from the burned ashes of Oculus. Upon which I follow absolutely no rules and just grab the nearest tarot card, rpg, cubes, dice or random pet I could find and write about the nearest world I can think of. All in all, I’m not even sure if I am playing or writing, doing it for Nanowrimo, or solo gaming or thinking about dice mechanics (well, not that, because there aren’t any).

No matter what I try or what I do, I keep coming back to that mythical world I created in my head, sent in a (rejected) short story; cranked out a draft, and have played in my head ever since- The Barony of Rivermoon. For like its inspiration, New Orleans, I will always return to that place. It is my literary/RPG home.

I have garbage, I have a mess, I have a ball of yarn made out of words and phrases, tangled mess of ejaculate that can hardly be called creativity.

And I have never been happier.

 Plus I got three hundred more words for that Nano, don’t I- don’t I?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oculus Review- Ah yes here it is!

Oculus, to me, is barely a game. I do not think it deserves the shackle of ‘game’. Oculus is a writing exercise placed into RPG terms. In the exercise you play an unnamed character using a vague instrument- the oculus, to look up an infinity of worlds through the eyes of what the game calls a familiar, with a character sheet to fill out as you see the person’s attributes.

One looks through these eyes until your interest wains (the seeing and the interest are the parameters of the oculus instrument). The ‘player’/writer is to write down everything they see into their notes. The seeing is generated by the lens of the oculus which is a set of two tables of random descriptions. Roll a d20, look on the table (entitled ‘Focus), get a word, and start writing. If one needs clarification you can roll again and look at the second table (called Lens). The words are preferably vague like ‘Conspire’ or ‘Ancient’ giving the playing writer (or is it writing player?) the freedom to go where they wish without being tied down to only one genre.

So where is the RPG part, so far it sounds like writing. The familiar has a character sheet with abilities ranging from +4 to +1 (much like Risus). In a resolution action (pick a lock, defeat an enemy, climb a wall) a d20 is rolled against a favorable to alarming table (much like FUDGE) and the result is placed into the unfolding story.

But what takes oculus from the world of simple writing exercise to a surreal experience is the transcendence points- where the oculus viewing follows the writing player into their reality. When the oculus closes and the game is over, the player walks away. But if the player thinks of the experience, of the viewing, if something reminds them of the game-play, you add a point to the transcendence bank. These can then be used to ‘fudge’ the familiar’s dice rolls in a critical situation when the viewer returns to the Oculus. This made me carry around the oculus as a journal and be in constant communication with my familiar. And at times, he needed it.
It is a remarkably simple system that works wonderfully. The Oculus pulls the writing player into a universe. The rules themselves suspend reality completely (well at least for me, my brain is always looking for ways of suspending reality). Best of all, the writing never suffers, never is cut by the need of rolling dice or referring to a rule. The writing player could go pages and pages with one word, or just two, the dice forgotten until a resolution wall is hit- which is rare.

 All in all, I go to my Oculus when I feel blocked or when I can’t think of what to play, or get bogged down in a system’s rules.


There is a fine line for me between writing and role-playing. Somewhere along the line, a line that stretched to the 1980’s, the two got strangely confused. I use the process of dice, dice-writing, to recreate, well, mimic, the act of throwing dice and seeing what the hell happens.

I have spent some time trying to find a game that recreates a company of (fantasy) characters as they progress through a dungeon. The major problem is the wish for writing gets in the way of rolling, or the rolling gets in the way of the writing. There is little or no breaks that allow you to write, or figure out where to roll, or oddly what to write. I want to play or I want to roll and the things get confused in the mix.

Writer as role-player is nothing easy. A psychotic break between the game master and player must occur for the rolling dice to turn into ink. I think the key is a system that does not allow the entire picture to be revealed all at once, the curtain of mystery must hold up until the last possible moment. That where the thrill of the dice come in, waiting anxiously with a pen in one hand and a die in the other.

There are two games that allow the player to breath, to freeze and let the ink flow while still holding that curtain of mystery. They are:

Oculus and Four Against Darkness

Scrawling for Thirty Days

I think this year I am once again scrawling for thirty days over at Nanowrimo. I am thinking of entering a thirty day dungeon of the mind. A dungeon crawl into my own brain using a curious tool- The Oculus, a solo rpg engine which creates prompts for observations by an operator.

I have no idea where these adventures will lead, who I look at or anything of the sort. Me, just thinking. I hit National Novel-Writing Month three times and hit the mark twice. Somehow having a child appeared to have killed my thoughts for a whole month.

What I am wondering is if I should post the entries in here. But the moment I write that it is one of those ideas that seem stupid half way out of your mouth. Though, still, would anyone read that nonsense Kerouac crap?

Here is the instrument I plan on using to guide me. I think I have a review of it somewhere or the other.

Oculus Trifold

Saturday, October 8, 2016

DF: Where my week went.

I had planned to write amazing award-winning reviews of two (yes two!) games that struck my solo-rpg fancy, both Four Against Darkness (an amazing solo game and dungeon generator- where one thinks why had no one thought of this before) and the stunning tarot solo game ‘Dungeon Solitaire’ were on the list.

Then I discovered Dwarf Fortress, and all hope was lost into the embers of time. In my life now, time has literally burned before my eyes. It is an Oblivion level game (appropriately entitled because when you start playing an Oblivion level game that is exactly what your life becomes-an oblivion. When the actual Oblivion came out, I came home from teaching at 3:30, started playing, realized I had to pee- and the clock informed me it was 10:30 at night). DF as the fanatical fandom abreviates it, is a game that will not only eat your life, stump your mind, but tear your heart out. The game is a kamikaze rogue-like, like Fallout Shelter you play until everything goes to crap. To that end, the game’s theme is “Losing is Fun!”- No kidding! It has a learning curve of a small nuclear-powered space-capable warhead. The graphics are mid-1990’s at best, with various tile sets, that, like a drop of sugar in skim-milk, or a flower on the prison cell’s window sill, make it a bit more bearable.

But when you turn on that game and press the create a world command, you are opening the book of Genesis, hitting the key to bang the big bang, seeding a universe in your computer (and the cooling fans in my cpu can attest to the aforementioned). In that stroke, a world is born filled with myth, color and emotion. Topography rises and kingdoms engrave their history onto your hard disk. With that in mind I understand fully why it does not have ‘hard’ graphics like, say, Skyrim. Quite frankly, it can’t. It would be like giving graphics to a spiral of a galaxy. Any machine would explode.

My twelve dwarves live in a universe with a full complexity of society, art, fashion, emotion, hopes, dreams, furniture, armor, refuse, and beds- where blades of grass are brewed in a still. It is a monster of a game that hides laughing behind Nethack graphics- where only a select few look behind the facade and discover that it is full of stars. You can check just about any rogue/sandbox game out there, from Gnomoria to Minecraft, they have all been inspired or (dare I say) started by it. And according to all those decimal numbers after the name, it is still in beta. If it ever goes to full release, a 1, I think the thing will become self-aware. Sky-net will be an omniscient, RPG gamer, with a thirst for universe-accounting that kills you not with robots but an entire fantasy universe. Yes, Sky-net the dungeon master!

So I invite any procrastinator, any person with a deadline, anyone that is behind a secure cubicle and has a spreadsheet cover behind it, by all means burn this thing into your computer.

Thus abandon hope all ye who expected me to post in any play-by-post games or game reviews. If you are reading this and you are character in my fiction, enjoy the limbo, it may be a while.

Or at least until I figure out how to make a column of stairs!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Mysterious Janitor

I cannot be sure, but I believe someone is breaking into my hotel room and writing on my gaming books. I think it began with my reading of De Profundis. As if my sympathies have matched with some crazy janitor at this hotel in the catskills, somsone is leaving me these notes, anyone have this experience after reading the correspondence RPG De Profundis ?

If anyone wishes to form a society to get to the bottom of this, or if this happened to you- contact me via a comment below or G+

Friday, August 12, 2016


I think since the thrilling days of yesteryear, those years that I had manuals and tables running through my head, that I have in fact evolved (or is it devolved) into a solo- player.

I am still not even sure if solo-play is tabletop (ah yes let the debate ensue) but rather simply dice-writing. Can it be simply writing with the sound of dice. There is nothing wrong with that since Gygax envisioned role-playing as telling a story with the sound of rolling dice.

No, I think I have ‘devolved’ into a solo-player because I am just so blasted unreliable playing with others. I cannot do a tabletop because I am a full-time Dad or stay at home Dad, or a House-Husband, or Mr. Mom, go ahead do the multiple choice and pick one. Online play-by-post play becomes something that is more a chore than anything, must catch up must catch up!

Oh yeah, the playing will be for me, the playing will be me alone, almost exclusively. I found something really really good with oculus, though the system does not appear to lend itself well to adapt other systems. That is a thing I need to figure out, how to take an emulator and combine it with my favorite rpg, something that changes every day.

But from now on, I will be diving alone. When I get that dungeon crawl craving, I think it will be a party of one, though the idea of players making a party really really attracts me. I just can’t commit, sorry warriors.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ocular Viewing #6 A micro viewing or so I thought

[For those not familiar with these chronicles, via the oculus and its machination within my iFruit, I am following the adventures of a dungeoneer named Murkstav through what professionals would call an extraction mission, though many times the man just seems to be CRAWLING through a subterranean world, a DUNGEON for the senses]


The hero, the man with the sword, a dungeoneer, needed to be reassured of his reward, needed to make a break and cut bate, make a profit. He noticed the alchemist’s room about him, with an iron furnace and pipes and loads of ingredients around. There was a pumper, a giant iron engine that coughed, Murkstav looked around, bitter with the oil dropping like butter from the ceiling.
Disgusting as the ooze flowed, the subterranean warrior sick with sweat and oil, like heated butter about him, turned and observed his surrounding for anything of value. Everything in his core could not let him return to his TENSION ALLIES with an empty hand. Strange how his guild needed proof for these strange adventures, these dives into the deepest of realms.
Murkstav got his bearings, checked the dressing on his wound, which seemed (7) no better or worse than before. He looked about and wondered if anything, anything at all in that place would somehow salvage this situation.


The man looked up to an archway, wide with a stone trim, complete darkness beyond. He looked at a few carrion tables filled with strange liquors, when smelled scented of simple spirits and liqueurs. He never met an alchemist that was not a drunk, as if the human body itself was a catalyst for simple metals turning valuable. He looked under the tables, seemingly scientific and found a wealth of loot. (MONOLITH) Bars of silver, gold and platinum, perhaps too large to carry but sometimes in extractions, you don’t have to know or make your way back. He clasped two platinum and a gold and snuck them into his backpack. He noticed upon the treasured monolith strange symbols, strange images of a FANATICAL cult, the bars were so inlayed the dungeoneer wondered if there would be more money in trading them to the dwarves. Placing the bars in balanced pockets, he hoisted his backpack over his shoulder, and did not mind the extra weight.
Extra weight for extra pay, not a problem.
Looking to the portal Murkstav looked up into the shaft, knowing full well that he really had no where else to go. The fire above did not look like it had any intention of letting him pass any time at all in the near future. With that he strode into the portal...


(The thing that troubles me about this method of ocular observation, using a mechanical device rather than a scroll, is the fact that one uses more than one lens. In the referral of dungeonwords I notice I use all three words, but it is the way it is happening, and who am I to question the ocular oracle?
In the room just beyond Murkstav (odd that the oculus has shifted to other people) the men waited, dressed in robes of purple and silver trim, nets in their hands to capture this intruder. There were four of them, bald with hawk noses and expressions of intense hate. They watched Murkstav stealing the bars inlaid with sacred imagery, cursing his form and planning his demise.

Murkstav took one look back, but his instincts suddenly did not push his foot forward. Something was amiss, something indeed and one would ask the oracle if the dungeoneer’s skills would tell him of an impending doom.

(yes and)

Barnstorming, Mythic Oculus and Dungeonwords

I went a bit nuts today. I found a rather miraculous app buried in my apps archive called Brainstormer. It is a story prompt generator in an excellent, nearly steam-punk style. Not only does it offer various wheel subjects like world-builder or creature-generator, it also allows you to create your own.

With a recent oculus/mythic obsession, I thought I would enter the lenses of oculus and the subjects of mythic and throw them in the gear wheels. The result? Spinning imaginative perfection.

 I also took the liberty of doing the same with dungeonwords d30, a collection of nearly 340 dungeon description words and quickly threw them in the barnstormer’s wheels. This resulted in a mechanized random idea dungeon to run a crawl in. I will be publishing various play trials in the future.