Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Nerd Cred, 1970's Edition

Muffit. Like Boxey, he only had
a single scene in the re imagined series
Do you know what was hot in the 1970's? Hook Latch.

Do you know what else was hot in the 1970's? Battlestar Galactica.

The only thing that would make this more nerdy would be if I had one that had Lorne Greene, Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict all shooting a thumbs up.

I might not have been born this way, but boy did my mom plan it this way.

New Add to the Blogroll - THAC0

Ryan and Jarad are fellow bloggers both on Facebook and They write for THAC0 RPG about D&D. I'd tell you all about their recent posts with new character classes, but I went all the way back to the beginning, to the time Ryan wrote: I think I might have broken my AD&D party.

Since the demise of Google+, I have been enjoying the universe of blogs. THAC0 RPG is no exception. Other recent adds are Ten Foot Polemic and 3 Toadstools. I'm on, but Blogspot seems pretty hot.

I have to do something about my blogroll to make it stand out, but while you are there, check out Old School RPG Planet. It's the best blogroll for RPGs around.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

5 Below Fusion Speaker - BT Fusion Spk - Lights on, will connect, no sound

My wife picked up a cheap Bluetooth Speaker at 5 Below. It was $5.00. She used it once and it stopped working. It wouldn't even turn off. I looked it up and there was no manufacturer listed and the product does not seem to have a product code.

There appears to be a reset hole between the USB plug and the power switch. It didn't work, probably because there is no switch there. I was going to toss it in the trash, but the lights were still on and it would connect to my phone. Annoying.

So, I cracked it open. There are two screws on the bottom. I wanted to test the switch or disconnect the battery. No dice on the switch and the battery is soldered on. Figuring the product was done for anyway, I crossed the connections where the battery connects to the circuit board.

Just like they said in Ghostbusters, crossing things is bad. This could cause a fire or a board killing short. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN ATTEMPTS, do not blame me if this starts a fire or destroys you or the device. 

Crossing the circuit immediately switched off the speaker. I reassembled it and tried the power switch. It worked. The device connected to my phone and I was good to go.

Silly to spend this much effort on a Five Dollar product, but it worked. Save yourself some time and do not remove the two screws holding the board to the chassis.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Product Launch - Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D

I rarely create new character classes for my campaigns, but I felt I needed a different sort of character for seaborne adventures. The Swashbuckler character class was born.

This pamphlet was intended to add flavor to any campaign without creating overpowering skills or mechanics. Very often, new classes are game breaking and I have sought to avoid this.

Initially, the plan was to create one section for Basic D&D and another for AD&D. Since the Swashbuckler does not require extraordinary abilities, nor to they have level dependent skills, I was able to combine the two.

It had occurred to me to give the Swashbuckler some of the skills of thieves, paladins, monks and acrobats but these characters are not the type to engage in professional level skills. They are more charismatic enablers, they don’t develop useful professional skills, they capitalize on other people’s skills.

I would encourage DMs and players to play towards the humorous aspects of Errol Flynn shenanigans. Many times, this style of play revolves around the needed belief in success rather than the actual outcome. Swashbuckling success features going to Plan B, then C and D and so on.

This product contains two files, the character class description suitable for D&D and AD&D, plus a set of 6 pre-generated characters. This product would work well with both my AD&D Character Sheet and the book Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. 

Click here to purchase from DriveThruRPG, for a suggested price of $0.99 or PWYW.

Mid-Month Tek Report

In the middle of last month, I implemented Google Analytics. The news isn't surprising, but it ain't so good. I can see that I will fail to reach my goals in the middle of the month, which is even worse.

When you use Blogger, you can see your page views in the stats tab. Looking at that today, I have 3,867 pageviews. When I compare to Google Analytics, I have 480. That isn't so hot. But it isn't terribly surprising. Why are they so different?

No idea. I don't care, I just want useful data.

Google Analytics is a more sophisticated product, so I am running with their numbers as a guide to goals for a couple of good reasons.

First, I can see reader behavior. 480 pageviews can be converted to session, the activities that one person does when visiting. I can see people hopscotch through my site as they read. One of the things I am very happy about is that I can see drops, the point at which people stop reading my blog. When I run down this path, I can see that a tiny percentage of users hop through 11 pages per session. That speaks to the depth of interest by the reader. It's not everyone, but a small subset. I cannot tell you how pleased I am to see that some people enjoy what I do to the 11 degree.

I had a goal of 3000 readers as of last month. I will not make that goal according to Analytics. So, let's change that. I wish to have 750 readers for August and maintain that 11 page reading cycle.

For the next few months, I will posting Blogger stats along side Analytics stats to get a feel of what is happening.

As always, I hope this information is useful to you and that you also enjoy the website.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

All the right things, in three parts. Item three.

Back in 1996, I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. The whole world was one big crazy snarl and I couldn’t figure any of it out.
One day, a coworker handed me a simple wooden puzzle. She got it from a vending machine and once it was dissembled, she could not get it back together.
It was so simple, I don’t know how she didn’t see the answer. I reassembled it and she pulled it apart as we talked. That little puzzle was passed back and forth between us, a dozen time or more as we talked.
It was so simple. Hold these pieces gently, like so, and the last piece tied it together. Pass it back, she pulled that piece and the whole thing came apart again.
23 years later, 18 of them married and it all works exactly as it did all those years ago. Kitty takes it apart and I put it together as we talk. I pull it apart and Kitty puts back together as we talk.
I have no idea where that little wooden puzzle went, but it works just the same.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

On the Same Wavelength

Yes, I wear this cologne
This week, I have been thinking about villains. Personally, I love human or demi-human type villains. People that aren't going to turn into a snake, demon or dragon, because they are worse that any of those things. I also love making the villain equal or lower level than the PCs because the players never think to look down.

Of being on the same wavelength, a new podcast was introduced this week: Adventure Design Sessions. It's hosted by Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor. This week's guest is Joe The Lawyer. You can follow them on MeWe. ADS can be found on Spotify, Anchor and all the great podcasting networks.

Since I am plugging things, why not plug my cologne company? My favorite colognes appear often on my blog, usually for the bottle styling but also for the great, sometimes witty names. My favorites are Villain, Perversion and Whitechapel. My wife wears Bitches Love Unicorns, Eat Me and Cheshire Cat. Check out Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

(This is not a sponsored ad, I just love all of these products.)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Eulogy of Perception

When turned 11 or 12, my little sister gave me a hamster for my birthday. Over the years, he had a dozen different names. The last one was "Herman Vermin", from a very warped comic book I can't recall the name of.

I never got into the crazy cage thing, he lived in a glass tank his whole life. But I held him every night. I'd sit reading this or that comic book, while the hamster scurried around. He was really well behaved and hardly chewed the corners of the comics.

On a long holiday weekend, Herman started acting funny. Slow, tired. He wasn't looking good. All of my friends and family were away. I didn't have anyone to ask for advise. I took him to the vet. It was the first time I had ever taken a pet to the veterinarian. It was hard.

The guy asked what the problem was and I told him that Herman looked sick.

He examined Herman and said: "It's old age. They don't live so long. I think it's time for you to say goodbye."

I really didn't want to say goodbye. I held him for a long time before going to bed. On my wall was a picture of me and Herman back on my birthday, when I first got him. Compared to that picture of 11 or 12 year old me and Herman, he looked paler, thinner and smaller. I fell asleep, lights on staring at that picture, reflecting on the past and how much that little guy meant to me.

And in the morning, he was gone. He passed while I slept. I was mad and confused. How could I not have been there for him when he had been there for me over all the years.

I buried him in the yard behind my apartment.

Frustrated by loneliness, I called my sister in Toronto. I told her what happened, expecting a sympathetic ear.

"So, ah... Are Mom and Dad still in California?" she asked.
"Yeah." I said.
"And Doug?"
"Alabama for Reserves," I said.
"Hmm. Mark and Ryan?"
"Looking for a college. Visiting family," I said.

I was getting mad. Really mad. She gave me this hamster, when was she going to say "I'm sorry for your loss"? I had this damn thing for all these years. And now he was gone and I was all alone. I was in my own apartment, alone. Really, really alone for the first time in my life.

I felt emptiness filling up with fire.

"I'm sorry, Phil," she said.


"I'm so sorry. I hate to tell you this but hamsters only live about 18 months. Two years tops." She paused, and I felt my world sinking.

"Mom, Dad, me... all of your friends... we've been replacing that hamster every couple of years for over a decade. He died a long time ago. I'm sorry. But for someone who is so smart, you aren't very observant." 

"What the f..." I stammered.

"Hey, I'm your sister. It's what I'm here for. You're welcome."


Posts for Lettering and Logos: Gemstone IV Game

This tab displays posts, maps and logos for fans of GSIV. They should be considered in-character works and inherently flawed. Please feel free to download and use for artwork on your fan site. Use the comments to make suggestions, I would be happy to convert or map areas as time permits. 

If citation is required, you may mark them as the work of "Magarven the Mad", the fictional creator. These maps are based do the style of Dyson Logos, found at Dyson's Dodecahedron. 

Area Maps for GSIV

Area Logos for GSIV

August 2019 - Miniature Monday

One of my favorite games was Tractics. My dad and I would get some friends together and play on a sandtable in 1:72 scale. It was good fun. Tonight, I came across some of our models.

I believe these are all Airfix and ROCO models from when my dad was a teenager. They are painted in simple tan, a few of which have decals applied. I suspect it is merely spray paint. My dad has come a long ways in his modeling skills.

My favorite models, although nearly useless in Tractics, are the Jeeps and such.

My dad has a flair for modeling. Our sandtable was 4 feet by 12 feet. It was impressive until you consider his gaming table was 36 feet long by 16 feet. When I say his gaming table was 36x16, this was his everyday use table. He has been known to go bigger for one off events. (I am working on getting picture of that right now.)

Anyway, there used to be a time when I could name every model and every statistic from the game. No longer. I have these things in my hands, and I do seem to remember that they are light tanks from the North African campaign, but have no idea what they really are. The smaller ones are Sherman obviously, but I am only certain because the label on the bottle. The larger tanks are labeled DBGM Made in Austria, which makes them ROCOs.

I have several dozen more, perhaps 70 or 80 in all. Some German, American, British and Italian.

I suppose you're waiting for the sales pitch and there is one coming, but not yet.

These models have been sitting on my shelf for decades and today I decided to pull them out so I can have my children play a game of Tractics with me. As I said, I don't remember much from it, except that it was quality time with my dad.

In dusting these off today, I expected to find my set of rules. I still remember all of the charts, the tables and the 3 rule books that came in the box.

Unfortunately, in picking up that box of rules, I realized that I lost my set of Tractics. For all these years, the boxed set that I thought was Tractics is an incredibly dusty set of Striker Rules.

The gamer in me is not disappointed, but the dad in me is.

Now my quest is different. I need to find a set of Tractics, or a close approximation thereof.

Anyone have any suggestions? The models are ready, I have a table and dice. I just need to purchase a set of rules.

I promised a sales pitch, so here it is. My dad has come up with some epic games, usually of his own creation. Of late, he has been into WWI. These aren't simply a set of fun rules, Tanks and Yanks also includes a whole section on building dioramas and set pieces for wargames. While meant for WWI, I could totally see this as being adaptable to any time period.

Here is my "unreview" from a few months ago.

Title: Tanks & Yanks
Author: Philip J. Viverito Publisher: LMW
Rule Set: Tabletop Wargame Rules (Unique)
Year: 2018
Pages: 104
Number of players: 2+
Price: $15.00
Rating: Not yet rated

Tanks & Yanks is the latest offering from LMW. The game covers World War I tank combat. While the title hints that the rules are based on American WWI armor, it includes infantry, armored cars, aircraft and artillery from Germany, the US, France, Britain and Italy.

I was excited to find that the rule set includes dozens of color images and tips for either acquiring models or scratch building models. Personally, I was looking for an excuse to scratch build some tanks.

The rules are heavy, 104 pages with tons of interior art, maps and photos. It looks fascinating and I cannot wait to give this game a play so I can update the rating above.