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

Saturday, April 24, 2021

To Traveller or Not to Traveller

I've got my hands full. A moment ago, I had $100 Amazon gift card. Now I have a reading list.


I've shared both Rick Wayne's series before and Mike and Shell "Presto" DeBaggio's books before. Probably a couple of times. Generally, I have a plan. 

What do these two series have to do with one another? 

My winter posting series will be about superhero games, Marvel Superheroes to be exact. I'll be reviewing all three series of books as they have inspired me to select this topic for my winter post series.  

Today, I'd like to talk about H. M. Hoover's books. Helen Mary Hoover (1935 to 2018) was an American children's writer. 

Or was she? 

I'm not a child and I enjoy these books. The Delkon is my favorite. They are slightly more mature than C. S. Lewis or Tolkien. And many of them are science fiction themed. It occurs to me that many would make a excellent setting for the Traveller ruleset. 

Why? 

Because as "children books" they don't have much violence. The potential is there but it never seems to get that bad. Which is great when you're using Traveller rules. 

Gunfire is deadly... very deadly. I think this is my hangup with the ruleset and since I would like to learn to play, I need to learn "To Violence Or Not To Violence". I didn't think of that, I totally stole it from SAFCOcast. Episode 23 to exact. I've listened to this one episode like 3 times and the more I listen, the more I think H. M. Hoover's settings would be perfect for the Traveller game system. 

The tech is there. The potentiality of a quick and final end when violencing is there. The not so obvious or completely obvious solution is there. It's built into the atmosphere of the setting. Ms, Hoover does an excellent job of hiding whether or not the solution is going to be the tricky one or the obvious one.  

Traveller has a very different science fiction atmosphere than what I am used to participating in. It seems to live in that space between tricky and obvious, with violence leading to just one of many obvious solutions. Other obvious solutions is tailoring responses to skills and talents of the players. It places far more emphasis on all of the skills available rather than just the ones that give immediate results. 

As I amble my way down to Traveller way, I'm gonna read a few books before I give it another try. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Good Finds for the Gaming Garden

I had epic luck today. I found a bunch of things for my gaming garden. 

First up, solar lights. 

The flower shaped ones are from the Dollar Store. The really bright ones are from Ollies. I paid about $21 for 13 of them. I have no intention of leaving them in the raised bed, I'll probably arrange them around the hot tub and along the back of the garden. 

The raised bed is almost complete, I need to put up a center rail and some screens or chicken wire to protect the cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, basil and thyme from the bunnies. The goal is canning pickles and gardenia all from my own garden. 

I should have done cauliflower, onions and hot peppers, but I am out of space. This bed is 4 feet by 8 and everything that can go on trellises will. The problem is, I have 52 seedlings ready to go. 

That is where the garden hooks and random pots come in. I want the herbs to come inside at the end of the growing season, so I'll need to put them in pots. That covers about 12 plants. I figure I can squeeze 24 plants into the raised bed. I want to grow some under the arrowwood tree, which will be another 2. I need to find space for 14 more plants. 

I went a little crazy. 

In other news, I picked up a great book for a dollar. Swords' Masters is an omnibus by Fritz Leiber including three novels: 

Swords Against Wizardry (1968),
The Swords of Lankhmar (1968),
and Swords and Ice Magic (1968).

He is one of my favorite writers and I can't believe what a great deal I got on this hardcover. The cover is a bit... 80s? I don't know. The stories are better than the cover art, so I'll ignore it. I guess you now know what are the next three books I review will be. 

You can pick a copy up at Amazon for less than 15 bucks. 

My final find was a length of rope. What adventurer doesn't have some rope? This one is in blue so I don't hit it with the lawnmower. The dog was very excited when I cobbed together a lead for her out of it. She loves being outside and will probably be a part of game night in the garden. 



Thursday, April 8, 2021

Books by Mike and Shell Dibaggio

For the longest time, I have run a side panel ad for Dibaggio's books, The Ascension Epoch series. I'm doing a refresh of the blog and moving them here. All of these books are available on Amazon.com so check them out. 

Very shortly, I will be running reviews as many of them as I can. So moved but not forgotten. 

As of this moment, I'm spending a lot of time trying to get the garden complete so reviews are momentarily on hold. I can't wait for this brief burst of lawn activity to be done so I can get back to reading and blogging. 

Be sure to check out these and all of the other great titles by Mike and Shell Dibaggio at Amazon. 

Books by Rick Wayne

For the longest time, I have run a side panel ad for Rick's books, The Minus Faction and Feast of Shadow series. I'm doing a refresh of the blog and moving them here. All of these books are available on Amazon.com so check them out. 

Very shortly, I will be running reviews of all 8 of them.  So moved but not forgotten. 

As of this moment, I'm spending a lot of time trying to get the garden complete so reviews are momentarily on hold. I can't wait for this brief burst of lawn activity to be done so I can get back to reading and blogging. 

Be sure to check out these and all of the other great titles by Rick Wayne at Amazon. 

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. 

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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 and add the three blogs above for free. Why not do both?