Category Archives: Misc

The walls of this 10×10 chamber are adorned with…

When my wife and I finally made the choice to became real Americans (i.e. go tens of thousands of dollars into debt to buy a house), one of my requirements was that said house have some sort of subterranean chamber which I could convert into a basement game room. One year later, my game lair is finally ready.

Of course, no game room is complete without cheesy posters adorning the walls. No longer being 13, I can’t get away with supermodel pinups or Megadeth posters. But this is a perfect excuse to dig out those vintage game posters I’ve been hauling with me around the country for the last two decades. After a few trips to Hobby Lobby to pick up some cheap poster frames, here’s what’s hanging on the walls of my game room. (I apologize for the flash glare in some of these… if my game room had adequate lighting, it would not be authentic.)

First up is a pair of (unfortunately fairly weathered) Battletech Mech schematics, bought way back in the early days of FASA:

Battlemaster

The 85-ton BLG-1G Battlemaster. Awww yeah.

Warhammer

The infamous Warhammer, complete with two PPCs and a cheesecake illustration of Natasha 'Black Widow' Kerensky in the bottom right (for scale purposes, of course).

On the opposite wall, d├ęcoupaged to an oh-so-classy piece of wood, is the map that came with one of my favorite Infocom games, Beyond Zork:

Quendor map

I love this map, although I could do without the dozen compass roses pasted across it.

And now back to Battletech. The only Commodore 64 game I played as much as Wasteland was Battletech: The Crescent Hawk’s Inception. It was my introduction to Battletech, and ever since, the poster that came with it remains the iconic Battletech image in my mind:

Crescent Hawk

A tiny Locust mech faces off against... what is that, a Marauder? That's not very fair, but it looks awesome.

Moving along, we have (surprise) another Infocom poster, this one of one of their least-known games: Quarterstaff: The Tomb of Setmoth. It was a quirky RPG/text-adventure hybrid (and only available on the Mac, strangely); but I really enjoyed it back in high school.

Quarterstaff

Am I the only person who played and enjoyed this game?

No game collection in the late 80s/early 90s was complete without at least one SSI Gold Box AD&D game. Here was mine:

Champions of Krynn

Champions of Krynn, one of many SSI Gold Box classics.

The next item is a change of pace: a poster that came with one of my favorite NES games, Dragon Warrior. This game was surpassed not long after its release by Final Fantasy I, but was a great deal of fun. And it has one of the most annoying/awesome catchy soundtracks of any NES-era game.

Dragon Warrior

One of the first great JRPGs on the NES.

And last but not least, I devoted most of an entire wall to one of the most iconic locations in D&D: Undermountain, the megadungeon. I framed three of the four maps that came in the 2e Undermountain boxed set:

Undermountain maps

There are a LOT of places to die in Undermountain.

So that’s what’s hanging on the walls of my basement game lair. I like to think of it as inspirational artwork. And believe it or not, there’s a stack of maps and posters that I’ll have to put back in storage because there wasn’t room to frame them too….

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Coming up for air

I’m still knee-deep in the Month of Weddings and Vacations, so not much gaming is going on beyond the occasional window of World of Warcraft. Writing on my WoAdWriMo adventure is coming along, albeit more slowly than I had hoped. It turns out actually writing an adventure that can be used by others–as opposed to just jotting some plot notes for myself down on a page and running a game on the fly–is not nearly as easy as I’d thought! Nevertheless, it’s been a fun writing challenge thus far.

At any rate, I’ll leave you with a NYT piece on Chinese gold farmers. Yeah, the gold-farmer situation has been covered pretty heavily already, but the article has some interesting angles I’d not yet seen before.

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Malleus maleficarum

Ha! You suckers feverishly clicked on this link thinking it was going to be about the infamous 15th-century witch-hunting manual, but in reality this is just another one of those “life update” type posts that, ubiquitous as they are, threaten to drag the entirety of the interweb down into the abyss of self-absorbed tedium. So here we go:

  • As my wife and fellow Rosicrucian agent Michele has noted already, the two of us are planning a trip to Germany this autumn. Of you who have been there, I ask: what should we do with our two weeks in the Holy Roman Empire?
    Also, Michele is really smart.

  • If you’ve got room on your prayer list, here’s something to keep in your prayers.
  • Congratulations, Peter and Vanessa!
  • I’m using the Opera web browser again, after years of adulterous flirting with other, less worthy programs.
  • Michele and I have continued our Warhammer RPG campaign, and continue to enjoy it. For a while now, I’ve been gearing up to run a summer campaign of the Castles and Crusades RPG, but scheduling and other difficulties are making it tough to get that started.
  • I saw Batman Begins and liked it a lot. In other film-related news, I keep meaning to post some thoughts about Revenge of the Sith, but cannot shake the dread certainty that the world doesn’t really need Another Blogger’s Thoughts About Revenge of the Sith.
  • My sister is coming out from California this week to visit!
  • My workplace has a fully-functional Pacman arcade cabinet. Who would’ve guessed that a successful, high-scoring Pacman game required so much strategy and practice?

I’m tired and rapidly approaching total incoherence. Time to sign off.

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Holiday linkage

A quick roundup of some links and thoughts you may find interesting.

  • Extended RotK: I was all set to blog about my thoughts on the extended Return of the King, and then realized that Polytropos seems to share my exact opinions and has already posted an insightful essay detailing them. (Short summary of my views: Drinking game = bad, Aragorn’s behavior at the Morannon = bad, and everything else = good to excellent.)
    More importantly, from the aforelinked post I’ve now learned that there are other people in the world who can sing from memory the Orcs’ timeless marching tune. True story: while slaving away sorting pottery on an archaeology dig in Jordan, I overheard somebody else in the pottery room humming this tune. When I worked up the courage to confront them, they were as amazed as I that somebody else out there had the song memorized. Instant friendship!
    Jonathan has some good thoughts on the extended RotK too.

  • OK, one more Tolkien link: Why Lord of the Rings Will – and Must – Be Remade. Very interesting little essay.
  • Environmental catastrophe: Mark has an interesting post talking about his reasons for not putting much stock in “we’re killing the planet!”-type environmental arguments.
    I’ve not read The Skeptical Environmentalist or the other books he mentions, so I can’t comment on their quality. But there is a glaring need for somebody–preferably somebody within the environmental movement–to step forward and honestly discuss why the worst-case scenarios we’ve been hearing about for decades have not come to pass. Some of these the-world-is-ending predictions are made by fringe extremists and can be discounted as such, but an awful lot of these ominous predictions originate from–or at least are not publically countered by–more reputable sources. Certainly, not a year has gone by in my memory that I have not heard from very earnest, scientific-study-citing individuals that our oil/forests/clean air/living space is on the verge of vanishing forever… but I can still fill up my car for $1.80 at the local gas station, same as ever.
    In my opinion, the reason for much of the disconnect between apocalyptic predictions and the reality is not a malicious desire to deceive, but simply the human penchant for hyperbole. In a world of ten billion distractions, the only way you can make yourself heard or drive home your point is by voicing more and more extreme warnings. This is perhaps understandable, but it also has the effect of making it hard to take seriously the latest “our ____ is about to vanish!” reports.
    Ahem. So much for quick links and brief commentary, eh? Forward, then, to the next stop on our journey, the much-anticipated…

  • Political link: One of the most thought-provoking pundits from the Right that I’ve come across is Stephen DenBeste, who has unfortunately retired his blog. However, I note with great joy that he has put together a page linking to his best essays. His synopsis of the war against terror is an excellent, logical ordering of the conservative vision for the current war. Even if you don’t agree with it, I think you’ll find it an enlightening summary of the conservative position.

OK, I think that’s it for now. I must be off to finish up some last-minute Christmas shopping. Merry Christmas to all!

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Catching up

I’m getting caught up on my blog reading. Here are a few noteworthy items I’ve come across lately, for your perusal:

  • Bill has written an excellent essay on prayer and miracles.
  • Fun article on how D&D changed the world. (Side note: have you seen the new 30th anniversary coffee table book? It looks pretty neat-o.)
  • As many of you know, Firefox 1.0 was officially released recently. If you are currently using Internet Explorer and don’t know what all the Firefox fuss is about, give it a try–it’s free and easy to download/install. And don’t forget its hot, email-reading cousin Thunderbird. Wait, that didn’t sound quite right…
  • I’ve been really enjoying the Game Matters blog, by one of the Duke Nukem developers. Lots of good discussion about games, from marketing to gameplay to what-have-you.

Enjoy.

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Redesign fever and other miscellanea

Wow, it seems that everybody has been feeling the need to shake things up lately, blog-design-wise. Kim, Jon, Bill, me and now Michele. And I’m probably forgetting to mention somebody else.
I’m sitting in my hotel room now, where somehow the wireless network is reaching six floors up and providing me with internet* access. Tomorrow is the final day of our annual internet-ministry conference, which has been a good experience thus far. Michele will be joining me here tomorrow after she puts some research time in at the University of Chicago library.
Then, Sunday morning is when Michele and I are being officially welcomed as members at our church. So it’s been a somewhat busy week and weekend for us–at least, compared to our usual weekly schedule.
(* Wired magazine recently declared that it was time to stop capitalizing the words “Internet” and “Web”, and I say it’s about time. So from now on, I’ll try to incorporate that into my online writing.)

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Rainy Saturday

Instead of a longer post today, I’ll fire off a few miscellaneous items for your reading enjoyment.
I really enjoy Penny Arcade’s occasional “Cardboard Tube Samurai” comic strips. I think the most recent two part strip is especially good. Great stuff. (And as an unrelated side note, “occasional” is one of those words that I spell incorrectly every single time I use it.)
Michele and I saw The Village last night. I won’t spoil anything, except to say that I was mildly disappointed. It had some wonderful characters, interesting ideas, and a few moments of brilliance, but overall it just didn’t seem to come together quite as well as it should’ve. I left the theater thinking it would’ve made a really good short story, but not such a great movie. That said, I did enjoy it, and I’d recommend going to see it–it’s just not as good as it could’ve been. I have some more specific comments about it, but I’ll wait a bit until a few more of you have seen it before doing so, as it’s difficult to discuss the movie’s merits and flaws without spoiling some of the surprises.
Speaking of movies–every now and then, against my better judgment, I get excited about movies that I know are going to be horrible. Such is the case with Alien vs. Predator, which I’ve been reading about this morning. The odds of this being a good, or even halfway-decent, movie are astronomically low (Alien Resurrection, anyone?). But there’s just something about those aliens that keeps me coming back for more, despite the fact that the franchise is quite thoroughly past its prime. Go figure.
On to another, semi-related topic: Doom 3 is coming out soon, and I’m quite excited about it. I was even more excited this week to learn that it might even run on my computer. Genuinely scary computer games are few and far between (System Shock 2 and Undying being the two most frightening games I’ve played); it looks like Doom 3 might be a contender. We shall see.
I’ll close this post with a question: is there any pagan deity in the ancient world that even comes close to the coolness of Horus? I didn’t think so.

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