Humpday Links for February 22

There is some happenings and doings around the ‘net this week, so let us get to it.  But first and most important, please help Spider Robinson if you canUpdate:  Jan Schroeder has begun the Graceful Woman Warrior auction on eBay in support of this cause.  There are some wonderful items up for auction with more coming, so please take a moment to check them out and spread the word.

– I know Valentine’s Day was last week, but these cards from the Dungeon Bastard are worth another look.

– Lloyd Brown has an updated look at starting a game company for $1000.  Hmmm…

– Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter.  No, it’s true! #history

– Beautiful in its own right, I would of course use this for gaming

– Thank god! Now I’ll know how bad I should feel for the creators when I’m watching The Avengers this summer. (Answer: Sort of.)

– It came as a complete shock to me that large companies could be dicks.  A shock I tells ya.

– If you are going to set the Zorro story in the future, why not just write a whole new story?  Oh, right, it’s FOX…

– If you are taking part in Free RPG Day this year (and why wouldn’t you), this is what Pathfinder is offering up.

– On a more serious note, apparently there are women girls who don’t want Chris Brown chemically castrated (and by that I mean drowned in a vat of chemicals.)  This article is for them.

– It seems the world of Sherlock Holmes remakes is getting more incestuous.  Who knew?

– In other news that will shock you, gamers on the internet are hyperbolically angry about something stupid.  I know, I know, I didn’t want to believe it either…

– Look out Doctor Who, here comes Inspector Spacetime!  I smell crossover event!

– Because nothing says fun like Soviet space propaganda posters!

John Cleese responds to online comments.  Um, not much else to say really.

– And finally: I’ve been playing a lot of World of Tanks recently, so I find tank graveyards pretty cool.

That’s it for this week, I hope this links have taken up enough of your Humpday that you can start the slide into the weekend.  If not, fill some time by providing links of your own in the comments.  It’s fun and it wastes time!

The Dawn of YEGGEEK

Edmonton has a rich and active geek community.  In fact there are very few facets of geekdom that are not represented in some capacity; sci-fi literature, comics, gaming, cosplay, anime, Star Trek, Star Wars, LARPing…the list goes on.  There is never a shortage of things for geeks to do.

But it is often difficult to find the events happening around Edmonton.  Some are run by stores and shops, who don’t advertise outside their customer base.  Others are organized by groups that lack the resources or know-how to advertise as fully as they would like.  Or they are promoted to a specific group of people, and never reach the broader geek community.  Whatever the case, geeks often miss these events simply because they didn’t know about them (something I have tried to ameliorate with postings of local events here on Renaissance Dork).

But YEGGEEK is going to change all that.

YEGGEEK is the brainchild of local geek extraordinaire Brandon Schatz (known to many as @soupytoasterson on Twitter).  Not satisfied to leave the status as quo, Brandon has organized a number of local nerds to put together YEGGEEK as Edmonton’s geek social network hub.  When the site officially launches its primary function will be to keep local nerds informed on the myriad events happening around Edmonton, through the use of an online event calendar coupled with Twitter and Facebook.  Any group, store or individual organizing a nerd or even nerd adjacent event can post it to YEGGEEK’s calendar, where it can be read by, well, anyone.  In addition, it will get promotion through the YEGGEEK Twitter feed.

The site will also feature articles and editorials on a wide range of subjects of interest to local nerds.  And submissions will be welcome from anyone in the geek community; we’ll even provide some simple proofing and copy-editing, for those concerned their writing skills are a bit rusty.  And there are other aspects of YEGGEEK that will be developed down the line, but I think I’ll keep those secret for now.  Wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise…

YEGGEEK has already soft-launched, and the twitter feed is up and active, as is the Facebook page.  This is going to be big, people, so I highly recommend you jump on board now.  If you are on Twitter you can follow all the YEGGEEK news with @yeggeek, and if you are tweeting local nerdery remember to use #yeggeek to bring it to our attention.   And come like us on Facebook, because we want to be liked!

I’ll post more details down the line, but in the meantime stay tuned to YEGGEEK on Twitter and Facebook, and get ready for the dawn of something really cool, nerdlings!

*     *     *

And Spider Robinson still needs our help, so step up my fellow nerds and do what you can: donate and/or get the word out.  Thank-you.

Spider Robinson Needs Our Help

While many writers have given me ideas and inspiration, there are only a few authors that have shaped the way I think to any significant degree.  Spider Robinson is one of those authors.  Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon had the effect of jump-starting my emotional intelligence, and starting me to think about compassion in its many forms.  That development continued through the rest of the Callahan series, and as I branched out into his other non-Callahan works, like The Free Lunch, the Lifehouse Trilogy and the Stardance Trilogy (co-written with his wife Jeanne, now sadly gone from us).

I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that at their heart every Spider Robinson book is about compassion.  Often between and for specific characters, but just as often for the whole damn smelly, noisy human race.  They carry in them the idea that it is possible to nurture and also be strong, that there is no weakness in caring; indeed, there is a profound fortitude to be found in loving.

As flawed as I am I would not be even half that man without the Spider Robinson’s words.  His work has reached me and helped me at some of the darkest points in my life, and I don’t have the words to describe what that means to me.  There are simply some debts that can never be repayed in full.  But it doesn’t stop me from trying.

Simply put, Spider Robinson needs our help.  As I mentioned earlier, Spider’s wife Jeanne passed away in 2010, after fighting cancer to a draw.  Now, their only daughter Terri Luanna, has also been diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.  She is undergoing treatment and the odds, while not the desirable 100%, are good.  But she and her family could still use help, because of the myriad costs associated with the treatment and just…life.

If you have ever read and enjoyed a Spider Robinson novel, please donate what you can to help Terri Luanna.  If his work has in any way touched your life the way it has mine, please help.  Even if you’ve never read his work (and you should), trust me when I say that he is one of the most decent men among us and deserves our help and support.  Give what you can, because even the small amounts add up over time.  And even if you are totally skint and can’t donate take a moment to hit “Like” on her Facebook page and help get the word out on Facebook and Twitter.

And I highly recommend taking the time to read Terri Luanna’s blog, Graceful Woman Warrior.  It is funny and well-written and touching by turns, and well worth the time spent.

Thanks in advance for all your help.

Update:  Jan Schroeder has begun the Graceful Woman Warrior auction on eBay in support of this cause.  There are some wonderful items up for auction so please take a moment to check them out and spread the word.

Humpday Links for February 15

Happy Post-VDay!  Once again that foolishness is behind us for another year, and we can get on with important things…once you waste some time with these links.

Priority Update:  A good man and a great Canadian writer, Spider Robinson, needs our help.  Take a moment to do what you can, and thank-you in advance.

– I’ve been skydiving before and loved it.  This guy is taking it to extremes, though.

– Wil Wheaton revealed this last week, but it bears repeating: there is a Fawkes story upcoming in The Guild comic, co-written by Wil and Felicia.  I’m running out of ways to say “squee!”…

– I wish more fans would do this for the shows they love: Fans of Sherlock create DIY marketing campaign.

– Jump in the wayback machine, it’s time for cosplay photos from Westercon 1980…oh my.

This more than anything makes me wish I lived in Texas. Almost.

Bryan Singer wants to remake the Star Trek TV series.  I’m not sure I want to let him…

– Ever been stuck in medieval times and wondered what to call the guy in charge of fences and hedges?  This list will help…

– If you’ve ever wondered where your flying car was, these guys might have the answer.

This would be the best thing ever. EVER!

– This may not be the best thing ever, but I have fond memories of Space:1999, so a new series might not be bad

These are about the only VDay cards I would accept.

– Not satisfies with making the changes, George Lucas wants us to believe they weren’t changes at all

The internet has a love song.  As is only proper.

That is all for this week!  If you have a nerdy link to share please do so.  Otherwise I will see you back here tomorrow…

Public Displays of Nerdery (and where to find them)

There is nerdery afoot and aflight in the city of Edmonton!  And you need to get out there and take part, lest your nerd cred atrophy over these long winter months.  To forestall any nerd-cred shrinkage, why not take in some of these fine events:

An Epic Valentine’s Day of Epic Epicness

Join the Graphic Content folks, along with Comics! The Blog as they host a special Valentine’s Day screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, tonight at the Metro Cinema.  Starting at 9:00pm, there will be drinks provided by Metro’s official supplier Alley Kat Brewing CompanyAnd, you can have your drink – in a fancy red party cup, just like in the movie! – inside the theatre itself!  Screening starts at 9:30pm.  Tickets are $10 adults, $8 students/senoirs, and Metro Passes will be accepted. The film is 112 minutes long, rated PG, and we’ll be showing it in glorious 35mm.

Chapters Mini-Comicon — Author Appearances

Saturday, February 18 at 11am, join Edmonton literary and comic celebs Andrew Foley (Done to Death, Cowboys & Aliens), Dave Gross (Pathfinder, Forgotten Realms), and Robert Burke Richardson (Old School, The Matriarch) for readings, signings and a Q&A.  Where else are you going to talk to these three together in one place, outside of a fancy-schmancy convention? Well, at the 170st Chapters, in this case.  But besides that, nowhere!  You would be the most foolish of fools to miss out on this opportunity, so make your way there this Saturday!

GEEKS UNITE! “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”

Friday February 24th at 11pm at the Metro Cinema!  At Last! Another film completely different from some of the other films which aren’t quite the same as this one is. King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights Sir Galahad the Pure (Michael Palin) , Sir Lancelot the Brave (John Cleese), the quiet Sir Bedevere (Terry Jones), and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-as-Sir Lancelot (Eric Idle) embark on a low-budget search for the Grail, encountering many very silly obstacles. Classic 35mm film comedy on the big screen…costumes & coconuts encouraged! Join the Knights Who Say Ni!, Tim the Enchanter, Roger the Shrubber, the Black Knight, the oppressed Dennis, Prince Herbert & his father the King of Swamp Castle & many more!

Happy Harbor’s Movie Nite! U-Decide!

Happy Harbor is having a movie night, Saturday, February 25th, and you get to pick the movie!  Choose between TUCKER & DALE vs EVIL or VAMPIRE GIRL vs FRANKENSTEIN GIRL; you can cast your vote on the Facebook event page (follow the heading link)  Whichever gets the most votes is what you will watch.  HH now has a snack bar (chips & chocolate bars) with coffee to go along with our pop so all you need is a donation to the Edmonton Food Bank and it’s extra crazy, geeky movie action time.  And if you haven’t seen the new HH theater in action, it’s pretty awesome!  Movie starts at 7pm, so cast your vote and don’t be late!

Okay nerds!  There are four events to get your nerd juices (ew!) flowing!  As always, if you know of any nerdly events going on in Edmonton drop a link in the comments below and I’ll post them on the blog.  Now get out there and have fun!

Stay Calm and Keep Gaming

So my Twitter feeds and internets were abuzz and a-bothered today over a poll over at Legend & Lore.  Seems Monte and the team were wondering what aspects of prior D&D editions would the community like to see carried forward into DnDNext.  They listed a great many things for which past editions were (in)famous:  THAC0, Vancian Magic, feats, armour/weapon-type damage modifications, and so on.  All things that any long-time D&D gamer would be familiar with.

But what seems to have sent the community off its collective nut is the inclusion of gender-based ability score maximums on that list.  For those of you not familiar with the early iterations of the game, back in the time of First Edition (or as we called it, Advanced D&D) the Player’s Handbook listed racial and gender maximums on the ability score charts.  Certain races tended to be stronger, more dexterous or more intelligent, so ability score limits were put in place to establish this (3rd and 4th edition did a similar thing with racial bonuses/penalties to ability scores).  But the racial scores are not the issue of course; no one is losing their shite over restricting the abilities of gnomes.

Let me say this, just to get it out of the way: I have never used gender-based restrictions on anything in my role-playing.  Even back when I played Advanced D&D I ignored those parts of the ability charts as ridiculous.  My reasoning was, why couldn’t you have an exceptionally strong halfling or gnome, or a nimble dwarf?  Adventurers were already the exception to the racial norms, why should their abilities be any different?  So nothing I am saying here is meant as a defence of gender-based limitations in role-playing games (though for perspective it should be noted the only ability score restricted because of gender in Advanced D&D was strength).  I think we are well past that in the evolution of the hobby, and seeing a rule like that in a game published today would be like seeing a new MMO published for the Amiga (look it up).

But I also don’t think that the inclusion of the item on that list is the great freaking travesty that most of the interwebs does.  At worst it is something that can just be ignored; at best, it can serve as a talking point about how far we have come since that time in our hobby (much as I’m doing now).  Out of the approximately 46, 000 people that have responded to that poll as I write this, do you seriously think that anyone picked that item as the one thing they wanted carried forward into DnDNext?  And I am excluding a margin of about 1% for standard internet dickishness, because I am sure there were a few that thought, “Hey, y’know what would be funny…?”

Like it or not, that type of rule was part of D&D’s past and I think WotC was right to include it in the poll.  Not because its a rule worth considering, but because, when the poll results are released and that rule is shown to have zero supporters (+/- 1% margin for dickishness) that fact may finally put the topic to rest.  And that would be a good thing, because I think there are bigger gender-equality fish to fry in the RPG industry (and in real life) than a single line item on a poll.

To recap: should seeing that item upset you? Certainly.  What should you do about it?  Vote to keep some other aspect of previous editions, like I did (I’d really like to see non-Vancian Magic carried forward, in case you were wondering).  Save your attack for gender issues that just won’t die, like fantasy artists that insist females of any class/occupation are most comfortable dressed as mid-price prostitutes with a leather fetish.  That line on that list?  It’s dead on arrival, it just doesn’t know it yet.

I am always happy for lively discussion, so feel free to give your opinion in the comments.  Keep it civil though…

**Update: It seems L&L put up a revised poll and apologized for including the gender-based ability modifiers in the first place. So there’s that.

Friday Guest Post: Bookmonkey

A while back I asked for guest post submissions, and from now on I’ll be throwing them up on Fridays as they come in.  I still have room for plenty more, so if you have something you want to talk about and need a place to do that, drop me a line.

Our first Guest Post comes from Kirk MacLoed, of the Clan MacLoed.  Enjoy!

XPerience and the recommended reading list

Years ago, after I had left gaming in the world of Dragonlance and was seeing the end of my brief affair with Battletech on the horizon, I came across the first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade.

Now hold on a second – I’m not going to spend this post lecturing on about how fantasy gaming is merely a stepping stone to the more advanced Storytelling system of the world of White Wolf (besides, I’m currently enjoying an exploration of P’Tolus, so there you go), but am instead going to give you one of my favourite tips as a GM.  But first back to Vampire.

The book introduced me to a new modern world, in which you took the character of the monster and got to stand on the tops of buildings, watching your humanity ebb away, and also girls seemed to be interested in the game (Including a young lady who would end up marrying me).  But from a GM perspective, the thing that stood out for me was the recommended reading list.

You see, the book gives a list of movies and books (and in later supplements other games, both RPG and video) as well as music that could be used to show readers what this strange new World of Darkness was supposed to feel like; including movies like The Crow, and books like Interview with the Vampire (remember, this was the ’90s).

Immediately I showed this list to my Battletech friends and found that on average they had seen about half of the movies and read about a third of the books.  Suggesting we check out some of the other films before playing the game I got a modest turn out and overall we had a pretty good time, but no matter how many times I said a movie or a book was great, I couldn’t get some of my players to check it out.

Until I realized I could bribe my players.

Here’s the thing, players will do almost anything for extra XP – and being a decent guy who tries not to take advantage, I chat with my players ahead of time and figure out what they have and haven’t seen (or read, or played) and then tell them I will give them extra XP for every additional book, movie or game they read.

From the player’s point of view, this is some easy XP.  Instead of waiting all week for me to get around to our next session they can simply pick up XP by reading Game of Thrones or watching the new Conan film (HEY! If I had to sit through it so do my players).

From the GM’s point of view, you get a group of players who now have all sorts of common points of reference to your game world, allowing you to crib descriptions, costume and weapon ideas, heck even plot points (if the players are interested) and greatly increase the quality of your game.

In the end, the experience of the game is what counts, and giving the players homework that they want to do benefits everyone.  Also, sometimes they recommend stuff to you that you might never even have heard of before.

Kirk (Bookmonkey) MacLeod has been inflicting his views about various TV shows, Movies and Books to all who are interested for the last two years at his own blog, http://wisdomofbookmonkey.blogspot.com