Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Latest Novels and Test Posting from Kindle and Moto G Stylus

I've been reading a lot. I have a series of novels I'd like to review. I am also trying to combine my Kindle and Moto G Stylus phone so I can post more frequently while on the road. 

I have two books to read and 7 that are done. I'm making a list by screenshotting the covers on my Kindle and loading them up via my phone with the Blogger app. One of my issues with Kindle is the poor imaging handling. People pay a lot of money or put tons of effort into having the best of the best, only to have Kindle regulate it to a see once cover or a tiny image that doesn't play nice with the software. 

First, up on the completed list is a set of books by Rick Wayne. The Minus Faction series is an incredible collection of stories that build to a world breaking peak. Exactly how I will review this is beyond me. The stories build and build, so reviewing one might spoil others. I don't know how to handle that. I'm sure I'll figure it out. 




Copper Knights and Granite Men is by Mike DiBaggio and Shell "Presto" DiBaggio. This husband and wife team are dynamic duo of artist and author. Previously, I reviewed Population of Loss. It was an excellent read. Mike and Shell also caused me to update my own book, Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. I didn't list Illustrator and Stationers among the professions. 

The Feast of Shadows series is next to read. I've only read the reviews and it looks great. 

Tech notes: One of the glitches I have encountered is my phone and Kindle don't sync as quickly as I would like. In the Blogger app, there is no good way to cancel out of selecting an image. Deleting incorrect images is also an issue. As you can see below, I picked the wrong file.  


Like I said before, I'll figure it out. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

David Macaulay Series on Amazon

Amazon has the David Macaulay series of books at a great price. The books range in price from less than $6.00 to just under $20.00. I love this series of books as they are wonderful reference materials for a variety of games and models. They are informative as educational.

Even better, they have a collection of 5 DVD which bring the books Mill, Castle, Pyramid, City and Cathedrel to life. This one has a hefter price tag, around $100.00 for the set. If you shop around, you can find the individual DVD for about $12-20 each. 










Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Endless Quest Books at Amazon

In February, I was looking at these series of books on Amazon, so perhaps it's time for a little #TBT. 

I love these choose your own adventure style books. Since then, I noticed the price dropped on a couple of them. Back in March, I realized I'd have some time on my hands so I picked up a few of these. The prices were better on Alibris, so that is the route I when. However, they did not have all of the titles, so Amazon has a better selection.

The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com. 

Endless Quest Books

Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration. 

Why not try Amazon Prime today and save on shipping, plus get great music and videos? Get 30 days free by clicking the link below.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

#TBT - Campaign Helper - A Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

This a throwback post. This entry was originally posted on November 28th, 2019. 

As a social studies teacher, I like to tell people that I know everything... just not all at once. :)

The fact is, while I can't know everything, I have complied a list of resources so I can get an overview of a vast variety of subjects rather easily. Today, I found a new resource:


From the desk of Dr. Oskar Seyffert. this 1895 illustrated dictionary runs from Abacus to Zosimus. I'm sure it's horribly dated, but you have to love a dictionary that ends with a Greek historian and an Index. The first seems perfect to me, but the second is most definitively wrong in my internet addled brain.

Archive.org has 10 different files and 19 different ways to download this book for free. Check it out, it could be a great campaign helper for you game.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Endless Quest on Alibris

Back in Feburary, I looked at Endless Quest books at Amazon. Today, I'm looking for deals at Alibris. Sometimes, comparison shopping can really save you. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Alibris.com. Every click supports this website with remuneration.

It looks like they're missing some titles, but the prices can't be beat. Since I last checked, it looks like the prices are down a buck or two. None of them are over $8.00 and most of them are under $5.



Thursday, February 27, 2020

#TBT review - Dunromin University Press' SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young Review

I just picked up a copy of SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young and it is my new favorite item.

Title:  SM00 A Traveller's Atlas of Dunromin and the Land of the Young
Author: Dunromin University Press (Simon Miles)
Rule Set: OSRIC
Year: 2018
Pages: 28
Number of Players: N/A
Rating: ★★★★★

This is supposed to be a full color map folio of the Free City of Dunromin, but the work goes so much further. In addition to the beautifully drawn Free City, Mr. Miles killed it with amazing details of the surrounding area, political and physical maps of the Land of the Young, barony maps, maps of the continent and of the world.

The artwork is incredible, a great addition to any old school gaming campaign. Being a set of maps designed for OSRIC, it is generic enough to fit into any fantasy game system.

I just can't get over the art. The cover and some other images are wholly digital, but others look hand drawn. It's a near thing, I can usually tell the difference, but not in this product. Many of the pages are on a graph, but I can't tell if it's pencil on graphpaper, or digital work meant to look old school. There are a few pages where I think I can see blowthrough, like a scanner picked up information from a page behind the scanned page, but I can't be certain it isn't photoshopped to look like that.

I probably won't use this in my campaign, but I am already looking to see which pages I will print and frame. Simply put, it's awesome!

Priced a pay what you want, you can't go wrong with this title. I can't wait to check out the rest of the series.

If you need a Christmas gift and you have a nice printer and paper, this is perfect.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Books for Winter Break

I have 10 days to read and none of my classes have textbooks. So I picked up a bunch of books from Amazon.com. Each link below, except Aquelarre Breviarium is an ad which supports this website. 

The first two are The Minus Faction series. Breakout has 4.7 of 5 stars. It seems to land someplace between thriller and superhero novel. 


I do love serialized books, because they tend to be quick reads. Crossfire is the second in the series. Both books' reviews often call them page turners, so I hope to knock them both out this weekend.


Alastair Reynolds'  Permaforst is another thriller, which seems different for him. It includes time travel, which I also like. Reynolds is often a hard sci-fi writer, so I want to see how he handles it. I love all of his shorter works and have reread many of them. This one is a novella. 


And my long slog of reading is Aquelarre Breviarium, the classic Spanish roleplaying game. This one will take awhile as I can read Spanish, but never read anything of this genre. You can pick up the PDF from Nosolorol. I found it hard to find on their website, so the link goes directly to the PDF's page.

NEW! Aquelarre is now available at DriveThruRPG!


Come read along with me. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Exciting 2020 Blogs - THAC0 and Red Dice Diaries

I was going to make this post about a lot of blogs, but I only have time for the one I am really excited for: Red Dice Diaries. John is working on a campaign for Colonial Time Period B/X game.

Over on THAC0's facebook page, someone was just asking about guns in D&D, which sort of fits John's idea. However, my question is, how does magic slide into a Colonial Setting?

Go check out the Red Dice Diaries here. And friend THAC0 on Facebook here at this link. THAC0 also has an associate blog page which is a wonderful read if you like anything about D&D.

If I were to suggest a resource or two for John's campaign, I would pick the book "Everyday Life In Early America". I've always meant to do a review of this book as it paints a highly detailed picture of common things the colonist would have done or encountered in a day. I totally use this for my D&D campaigns to get the brain juices flowing.

Red Dice Diaries also has a link to an excellent resource called "30 Days of Worldbuilding: An Author's Step-by-Step Guide to Building Fictional Worlds" by A Trevena. He will be using this book to build his campaign, so now is a great time to either follow his blog or add the podcast to your podcatching software.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

My Amazon Picks for 2020

I have a list of books I want from Amazon. Here they are, in no particular order: You can read about these choices on this post from 2019. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

It should be no surprise...

A couple of months ago, Wendy's launched thier game Feast of Legends. And I wasn't totally surprised. Some lost memory tugged at me, but I wasn't able to put my finger on it until this morning. This little tug of memory had me categorizing a burger joint's RPG as "normal!".

While cleaning up for a game session this morning (already underway), a chance find refreshed my memory. I stumbled across a chapter book of the Spiderwick Chronicles. My daughter told me that it was part of set given away by Wendy's with their kids meals. 

Ah, innovation and creative has always been a part of the Wendy's brand. Those are strange attributes for a burger chain. But what better prize is there than reading? I love to read to my kids, and Wendy's was right there with me. My son tells me that McDonalds also jumped in on the bandwagon with Big Nate books. 

I feel funny singing the praises of fat food companies, but I do want to share that the things you give and read to your children have a massive impact on them. So read on to those kiddos. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Latest Book Find - Glyn Davies' A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

My latest find for reading is Glyn Davies' A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day. As near as I can tell, in the United States, this is a textbook. In the UK, it seems to be a casual read. I am taking it as a casual read.

My intent is to take some of Mr. Davies' observations and plug them into my role playing games. I haven't gone far into the 741 page book, but it's great so far. Once I'm done, I'll throw up a review.

I can't wait to get through this. So many games rely on money, gold, credits, but I really have no idea how an economy develops money in lieu of barter. Barter is such a pain in the butt that I can see the drive to cash and coins, but how that happens in the real world is mystery to me.




Saturday, September 14, 2019

Book Review - Population of Loss

Title: Population of Loss
Author: Michael DiBaggio and  Shell "Presto" DiBaggio
Illustrator: Shell "Presto" DiBaggio
Year: 2014
Pages: 46
Rating: 5 of 5 stars. 

I hate big screen or small screen characters render in novel form. It's always horrible, little better than the second Star Wars book, Splinter in the Minds Eye. I want to tell future readers that this is a mashup of comic book characters set in the science fiction worlds of 1880s and 90s.

It is, but it really isn't. The prose reminds me of the classic adventure of The War of the Worlds, which it should because it is implicitly set with in that world. Each of the four short stories captures that time period perfectly, no accidental or intentional anachronistic parts at all. The Signalman does remind me of Iron Man, but he is not remotely a superhero in that vein. In fact, I know that he should be a comic book character because that is what he was designed to be, but somehow, he isn't. Nor are any of the other characters.

Its hard to describe what the Celestial Paladin is, but I can tell you where these characters came from. There are hints of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien fused with H. G. Wells. The story "In Hoc Signo" starts in Well's world of Tripod invaders and ends with a taste of Lewis's Out of a Silent Planet. The writing is more than strong, it is powerful. Reading older works is often difficult due to the changing of styles. But Mr. and Mrs. DiBaggio do not struggle with this. They capture the flavor of these works, but also give it a style all their own. The easy comparison is to the past, but the authors manage to infuse this style with a more modern frantic-ness, in the vein of Dagberto Glib ("Love in L.A.") or Louise Erdrich ("The Red Convertible"). Perhaps it is the vignette style of these 4 short pieces that capture a tiny bit of introspection by the authors, which echos through each piece.

Regarding the illustrations, they are from a very different artist from the Shell "Presto" DiBaggio, who engages with her audience on social media. They have tiny reflection of the work of Kahlil Gibran. What is most interesting about the images of the Signalman and The Cyclone Ranger, is that they show an evolution of style over 2 years. The second is more like Mrs. DiBaggio's current artwork, but still reflecting the style of that old era. Like the writing, the illustrations have a touch of modern, frantic energy, while still embodying the works of arts from the past. Instead of being caught in between eras, they are great enhancements to the stories told. They fit perfectly.

I was only vaguely aware that the book contained artwork, and I would suggest to the reader that they obtain a paper copy as paper will always render the artwork closest to what the artist intended. It is an inherent flaw in all ebook technology.

I will give this book one more read, maybe two before purchasing the next title. It was an excellent primer for the world of Ascension Epoch.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

New Year, New Plan

This year, my goal is to be up at 6 am everyday. Between 6-8, I will read for 20 minutes and listen to one podcast.

Today's choices were Astronomy Cast's Stellar Collisions and Alastair Reynold's House of Suns. I picked up the Kindle version of the book, but I also found the Audible version appealing. I might upgrade to the that next and combine the idea of listening and reading.

If you have any suggestions for books or podcast, leave them in the comments. 


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stealing Monsters

Some of the best monsters are people. And some of the most intriguing people are villains.

Jon Wilson, of Appendix M put the bug in my head to steal a villain with his post on The Rival Party. These characters are decidedly different, with incredibly cool powers and abilities. I love the idea of a rival party as adversaries.

I immediately thought of a character I want to steal for a campaign. He is the Monomach from Stephen R. Donaldson's Mordant's Need series.



The Monomach is the villain's right hand man, the most skilled swordsman in the lands. As a villain, he is totally one dimensional. He's given a target and then the target dies. Or at least that is how he should work.

He is actually simple enough to build an AD&D character class with little adaption. First, he is a fightman so he has all of the abilities of a Fighter. Second, he has the disguise abilities of an Assassin. Third, he has some ability to heal himself like a Paladin. Finally, he will gain the damage bonus of a Monk. His prime requisites are Strength, Constitution and Intelligence. To get a +5% bonus to exp, he must have at least a 12 in each of those skills. To get a 10% bonus, he must have a 15 in each.

In framing the villain as a character with a class, he can scale with the Player Characters. He can start relatively weak with the PCs and grow from there.

Let's assign those abilities by level.

On creation - +1 to Strength or Constitution regardless of race.
Level 1 - Disguise as an equal level Assassin.
Level 3 - Laying has as Paladin of equal level.
Level 5 - Damage adjustment as per Monks +1 per 2 levels.

What is the Monomach characters limitations?

They are limited to two magic items plus one magic weapon and one magical piece of armor. They are limited to only equipment they can carry, even at home. They cannot backstab as Assassins do. They do not fight weaponless as Monks do. They do not have the variety of weapons of a fighter, they tend to stick to one main weapon and one back up. They don't often use bows. They can ride horses, but can not care for them. They work alone and are likely to strike a "friendlies" as they get in the way like a berserker. This berserker tendency is not a special skill or ability, it is just a ruthless and bloody methodology. They are relatively poor in day to day skills, unable to cook, care for animals or hunt making them reliant on their master's staff for self-care.

This lack of people and daily living skills prevents them from having followers, retainers or constructing a keep, tower or other base of operation. When assigned to retainers by their master, they tend to follow the retainer until a target presents itself.

What would make this type of character too overpowered? A crystal ball and a ring of teleportation. Yeah, I would totally give my evil Monomach a ring and crystal ball.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Macaulay - Great Books, Lousy Pictures

I'm tired tonight. I glanced over at my bookshelf an noticed a set of books by Dunder Mifflin.

On closer inspection, that was wrong. Very wrong. These books are by the amazing David Macaulay, published by Houghton Mifflin Company or HMCo. Each one illustrates a historically themed location, such as Castle, City, Mill and Pyramid. The pen and ink drawings are spectacular.

I received Castle from my parents as a birthday present. The other three I picked up on Amazon, very cheaply. I plan on buying one every few months to complete the collection. I prefer the black and white editions, on paper, but he has updated the series in color and also has many titles available for Kindle.

Fast forward to something I didn't know. Some of them were adapted to documentaries by Unicorn Productions. Even better, they are on Youtube.

I have yet to find a better streaming source, but if I find these elsewhere, I will let you know.

Cathedral:



Castle:



Roman City:



Mill Times:



Pyramid:



I was going to watch a little Netflix, but this is much better. That and order the few books I am missing from the series. The links below are paid ads and will take you to Amazon.com.

David Macaulay
On Amazon
Kindle or Print
Ads provided by Amazon help fund this website by remuneration. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Unreview - The Gardens of Ynn

When I found this title, I fell in love with the concept of a procedurally produced adventure. I meant to write a review of The Gardens, but I never could capture the core idea. What struck me most was the author's (Emmy Allen) desire to break out of her writer's block. Wow. That was an amazing idea and the end result is spectacular.

Anyway, I have collected up 3 reviews of The Gardens of Ynn and added a bit of commentary on each review.

The Gauntlet Blog, called the book "evocative" and praises the use of all five senses in the area descriptions. The Gauntlet takes the point of view of White Hack players, which is a step removed from typical D&D. This perspective enhances the review as it leaves the typical D&D archetypes out. While I don't play White Hack,  Fraser Simons' review of The Gardens makes me wonder if I should.

Bryce over at Ten Foot Pole, stress the Gothic Horror aspect while digging right into the mechanics of how to use this setting. Bryce is right that this is a setting book as opposed to an adventure, which something that the reader could over look, something that Emmy Allen took a moment to confirm in Ten Foot Pole's comment section.

d4caltrops calls The Garden "elegant". d4 praises the binary aspect of "go deeper/go back" to control where the adventurers go in The Garden. Even better, he suggests easy ways to use this book as a means of transport for your characters. Talk about taking a great idea and making it better.

I was surprised to see that no one commented on the artwork of this piece, which I totally enjoyed. Its Gothic simplicity is wonderful. I love this style of art.

You can pick up The Gardens at DriveThruRPG for just a couple of bucks. You can also go an add the three blogs above for free. Why not do both?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Latest Update

This has been a hectic week. What should be updated hasn't. What didn't need updating was. Let me take a moment to explain what is happening. 

First and most importantly, my kids are off for the summer at the exact same time the school where I work has kicked off it's summer school program. Work-life balance is out of wack, but in an entirely pleasant and wonderful way. I work with special needs students and we kicked our program into high gear. Not only are teachers getting ready to accept new students come the fall, we are doing some of the greatest outings and STEM stuff in and out of the classroom. We do it all, from building roller coasters out of tubing to taking the entire school to an amusement park. And there is even better stuff in the works. 

This is the finest "job" I've had and confirms that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. 

Speaking of loving what you do, all this makes my kids at home jealous as hell, so my wife and I are stepping up our game. 

To that end, I don't have time to produce new books or maintain 4 websites. From here on out, I will be focusing everything on These Old Games by pulling in everything of value from the other three sites. Much of it will be tabbed along the top of the page, so as to be unobtrusive as possible. I'm sure my readers will understand that I am both a D&D nut and amusement park fiend with a thing for technology. Its weird. We're all a little weird. 

And now the third and final use of the word love. I love writing campaign setting information. So what products can you expect from These Old Games? Let's start with what's already available: 

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. A set of rules to create both NPC characters with professional skills which can be resused to flesh out D&D and AD&D characters with non-heroic skills. 
Character Sheet for Use with Unearthed Arcana. This is exactly as it says on the tin, its a scan of character sheet created on Mac 512K back in 1987. Why? Because I don't like hosting my own files. 
The Compass Rose Inn Minisetting. A set of maps created in Worldographer of the Compass Rose Inn, the associated shrine and premade characters. The three maps, historical description and characters are ruleset agnostic. 

Coming in the first week of August is the Expanded Compass Rose Inn Setting for D&D and AD&D. This is a set of maps for all 5 floors of the Inn, several outbuildings, and detailed sheets for every character for use in your campaign. This will retail for $4.99. 

My next goal is to release a mini map of the Lake Forge, a mysterious business venture across the lake from the Compass Rose Inn. Like the Inn, it will have multiple levels and buildings visualized in Worldographer, plus new characters and more history of the Peninsula of Plenty game setting. It will be released in the same format as the Inn, first a PWYW ruleset agnostic version with a suggested price of $1.99 and a more complete version tuned to AD&D and D&D which will have fixed price of $4.99. 

Each and every thing I have published should be small potatoes in the grand scheme of gaming, but I cannot tell you how excited I get when I see one more person has taken the time to download one of my products. I hope that they add quality and wonder to your campaigns. 

As I roll through this year, I'll be looking at added two mapsets a month. I am also investigating creating a podcasts and perhaps a Patreon account. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The "Bookshelf" shot

I wanted to do a bookshelf shot, but then realized I needed to reorganize my shelves to look presentable. 

This is the result. The shelf is full from just a few things from DriveThruRPG in binders. No room for my "real" AD&D books or all of the palladium products. I only pulled out one module and the old D&D Basic Sets.  No more room on this shelf. 

As I look over at the old shelf, I see over a dozen modules, a Call of Cthulhu game, BattleTech, Star Frontiers, Interceptor, Traveller, Striker, Starfleet Battles, Car Wars and a few others I can't read.  

More than a new bookshelf, I need to make a pledge to play all of these games again. 


In the image below, you can see my Illustrated World War II Encyclopedia and The New Junior Classics set. These are some of my favorite books for brainstorming gaming ideas.

Well, off to clean up again.

Monday, November 12, 2018

I Just Can't Stop...

I just can't stop.

While organizing my desk, I happened upon a book by Robert Pearce. It is an incredible set of ship plans for Traveller. Sure, it says "Traveller", but it could be used for any game system. The detail and scope is amazing. It is campaign fuel for sure.

 Why not take a look yourself.

I know I will be pouring over this book for days to come. For some odd reason, it isn't even for sale. It's free.

Damn. A mighty big thanks to you Mr. Pearce, you made my day.

Taking Stock Part 2

Having established myself on MeWe.com and Pluspora.com, I started to clean my desk to get ready for more work. The first thing that stood out were all the books I download and printed from DriveThruRPG. I had purchased a number of ring binders and neatly hole punched them and added them to my shelf.

You can see the problem, I am sure.

What is in each binder? Might as roll 1d100 to see what I get when I grab one. I decided to print labels for them using Google Docs. Well, there is a horizontal but no vertical ruler.

Annoying.

In an effort to fix this, I made a template with an image of a ruler on each axis of the page. I trimmed the image down to read from 1/4 of an inch to 10 1/2 inches. On the other one, I ended at 8 1/4. It roughly takes into account a quarter inch margin all around and a 48 pt font.

It worked nicely and now I know what books I have.

You can download the template on Drive.

Speaking of books on DriveThruRPG, you could download my book: Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners. It's pay-what-you-want and compatible with many OSR D&D type games. It contains over 50 commoner character classes, rules for using the commoner class as a professional skill for PCs and many other game ideas.

While you are there, why don't you leave a review. Feedback is always appreciated.