A blog about games, gamers, and various and sundry geek culture-related ephemera and paraphernalia.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Dark World Map is Here!

Finally, the long-promised map of Dark World is ready for prime time.

Here's a preview of the map:

Want a hi-res copy? There are a couple of options*:

1) Go to my Cafe Press store and purchase one of the printed maps. (It's available in 17" x 11" as well as 20" x 16".)

2) Purchase an 11" x 8.5" 150dpi electronic version (PDF) of the map via Lulu.com.

Over the coming days/weeks/months I'm planning on building the Dark World Gazetteer, one blog post at a time, so stay tuned...

*I hope I'm not offending anybody by going commercial. Everything else I have on this blog is free, and I plan to keep it that way. But, like many other decent folks, I find myself in dire straits, financially speaking. By buying one of these hi-res copies, you'll be helping me more than you know - and you'll be helping to ensure that the Rust Monster blog keeps rolling along.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Holiday Wishes to You All

[Click the image to see more of this "Saturnalia miracle."]

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ich Bin Ein Nerd?

So, I took the plunge last week and bought myself the shirt I was gushing over in the previous post. It arrived on my doorstep yesterday, and upon gleefully opening the package like a giddy schoolboy on Christmas morning, I can say that this shirt rates a hearty and well-deserved "Meh."

While it looks lovely in pictures on ThinkGeek's site, it's not quite so alluring in the flesh, so to speak. What the pictures fail to make clear is how much the detachable "decal" stands out from the shirt itself. It's a rectangular, semi-glossy, 7" x 5" (-ish) plastic placard - not so much a "decal" - that looks like it belongs on the front of a t-shirt about as much as it would look like it belongs stuck to one's forehead. It really is that obtrusive.

To make matters worse, the battery pack was much larger than I hoped. As advertised, it holds three AAA batteries, but it is by no means slim and easy to conceal, totaling about twice the size of the battery bay itself. And it's heavy. Fully stocked with batteries, it's not easily hidden, as it would pull down the fabric if kept in the "small pocket sewn inside the shirt." (I'm guessing that's why it features a belt clip - I honestly can't imagine anyone wearing this shirt with that relatively large battery pack concealed within. It would look ludicrous.)

All told, I was completely underwhelmed. I guess the technology for this sort of shirt hasn't reached the point yet where it can be combined with clothing of this sort to form a truly wearable, fashionable piece of apparel.

On the upside, the "decal" is detachable, and the battery pack and wiring are removable - allowing for transplantation of the nifty wi-fi signal detector onto items more suitable to the unit's relative bulk and prominence. I'm thinking it might serve better adorning my canvas book bag, or perhaps stuck to a laptop cover - I'm not sure yet where I'm going to put it. I'm quietly awaiting a moment of inspiration. (The shirt, at this point, is a loss - without the "decal" the velcro-like material and hole for the connector are plainly visible. Unless I stick something to its front to hide these.)

I wouldn't recommend that anyone buy this shirt (or any of the similar "Interactive T-Shirts") until the price comes down a bit more or the technology reaches the point where it isn't such a detriment to the shirts' appearance. (Unless, like me, you plan to scrap the shirt and use the interactive placards elsewhere. Or unless, unlike me, you are so jazzed about the idea of wearing an interactive shirt that the fashion disaster created by the unattractive placard and bulky battery pack doesn't bother you.)

Also in my order was TG's "Critical Hit LED" twenty-sider. The die is awkwardly large - but this was to be expected, as it's measurements are provided on TG's site. Regardless, I'm hoping to get some actual at-the-table use out of it - if I ever get the chance to play again. (I haven't gamed in months, and since the move a month-and-a-half ago, I'm without a group. *frown*) The die seems to roll without bias (amazingly) and - as advertised - flashes red when a natural 20 is rolled. If you don't mind its bulk, I'd recommend it - at the current price ($9.99 US) it's not too expensive to make it a gimmicky toy worth adding to the dice collection of the discerning tabletop gamer.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Ich Bin Ein Nerd!

Okay, so does badly wanting this shirt that I just discovered on ThinkGeek out me as a serious geek? Meh - who cares? This shirt is - IMHO - too cool for words, and I must have it:

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another Day Older and Deeper in Debt

So, as a birthday present to my readers (it's my b-day, but you get the present - see what a great guy I am?) here's the latest iteration of my Dark World map. This is a grayscale version, but I'm still toying with other possibilities (a funky color version, a la the Divine Right map, or a monotone version). The map still doesn't feel complete to me, so I'm reluctant to call this the "final" product. Let's just call it the "close-to-final" product.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Work in Progress: Dark World

Some time ago, I gave Rust Monster readers a character sheet for and a sneak peek at my "forthcoming" home-brew campaign setting: Dark World.

Well, I never promised it would be coming soon. /wink/ Although progress may be slow, the setting is progressing. Inspiration continues to filter through my over-worked brain, making its way arduously through the tangles of my fevered imagination toward a final product. What I have now looks little like what I had originally envisioned, being less inspired by Thundarr the Barbarian and more inspired by the likes of Lovecraft and C.A.S., by other games (see if you can guess which) and by my own weird sense of humor.

Here's another peek at the map of the still-forthcoming Dark World setting in all its (greatly revised) glory:


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not... dead... yet...

Contrary to appearances, the Rust Monster has not passed beyond the veil - there's still a little life left in the old girl yet, I promise.

Although 2010's mostly been a wash for me as far as blogging (and gaming) goes, I'm hoping that the imminent move will help rejuvenate me (and help me expand my social circle - okay, so it's more of an arc than a circle at the moment, but I'm hoping this will improve when I no longer live in the boonies). It may be 2011 before I resume blogging on a regular basis, but I remain hopeful nonetheless.

While doing a little Web surfing recently, I found myself drawn to some older sites (and games) I hadn't visited/thought about for quite some time. One of these games was Metropolis' Kult, an old favorite that I've not had nearly enough opportunities to run and have never had the opportunity to play. I got to thinking that maybe - after the move - I'd dust off my books and give the game another go. I also took a glance through my old PC files, and discovered a modified version of the character sheet I posted early last year. As proof that the Rust Monster yet draws breath, I thought I'd share:

Kult 1E Char Sheet 2a.pdf (~6MB)
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Late Introduction to H.P. Lovecraft

As I've mentioned before, I didn't discover the joy of H.P. Lovecraft's works until sometime in the mid-80's. I'm pretty sure it was in the summer of '85, but it may have been '86. I may not be able to accurately recall the date, but I recall the circumstances well:

My family (well, my mother and father, my nephew, and myself - technically a small subset of my family) were on our summer vacation. For several years, it had been a yearly thing to trek to New England to visit my father's mother (in northern Massachusetts) and my mother's sister (in New Hampshire). Our standard routine was to spend a night at each relative's home, and the rest of the time at Hampton Beach. (The occasional day-trip to Boston was not unheard of.) This particular year, however, we took a day out of our week-long sojourn and went somewhere new: Salem, Mass.

I was especially thrilled at this, because of my new-found love for the horror genre. (Which is why I think we're talking '85 - read the post linked above to see why.) I was still a bit naive, and I expected Salem to be some sort of creepy little hamlet, still darkened by its witch-haunted past.

Of course, the real Salem was nothing of the sort. It was as modern and free of gothic horror as any other American city. (Nor had it yet become the witch-centric tourist destination it currently is.) I couldn't help but be disappointed.

Regardless, I was of a single purpose: to locate a shop selling magical paraphernalia and buy myself a set of tarot cards. My nephew and I had previously watched The Manitou in our Hampton Beach hotel room, and I had been particularly moved by a creepy scene involving a psychic and an ill-fated tarot reading. (Probably the only somewhat-creepy scene in that admittedly crappy '70's horror flick.)

My nephew was also of a single purpose: to locate a book store stocking the works of some horror author of whom I'd never heard, and whose name I thought sounded a bit fruity. He had heard about this author from one of his school friends or something, and regardless of my dismissal of the subject was determined that he must find and read the man's works.

After dragging my parents all over downtown Salem, we finally found a shop that filled both our needs. It was there that I purchased my first set of tarot cards, a Morgan-Greer deck (Oh, the forbidden delight of owning a legitimate piece of esoterica! Hey, I was a naive teenager - cut me some slack.) and my nephew purchased a thick, over-sized paperback bearing the title "Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre" on its cover in big red print. We returned to our hotel room that afternoon flushed with our conquests.

We spent the remainder of that vacation consumed with our respective prizes. I was still puzzled how an author with such a fruity name could be a great in the field of horror literature, but my nephew seemed contented with his purchase. For my part, I found the tarot deck to be a thing of great interest, but not nearly as mystical or magical as I had thought it would be. (Oh, the disillusionment...)

On our way home from New England I succumbed to boredom (the back seat of a Camaro can be a tough place to be for more than a few hours at a stretch) and my curiosity finally got the better of me. I broke down and asked my nephew if I could read his book while he dozed. I cracked open the paperback and flipped through it. Not being and avid reader at the time, and unsure of what to expect from this unfortunately named "H.P. Lovecraft," I looked for something relatively short. I don't recall why, but I settled on "Pickman's Model."

And I was hooked.

Over the next year-and-a-half, I collected the entire run of Ballantine's (IIRC) Lovecraft paperbacks and devoured most of their contents. ("The Statement of Randolph Carter" becoming my favorite story.) I also began to realize that I'd been exposed to Lovecraft prior to even knowing of his existence. I recalled an article from an old Starlog magazine that had always captivated me (about a movie entitled "Cry of Cthulhu" that was ultimately never made). I also recalled ads in Dragon magazine for cool-looking Call of Cthulhu miniatures - although I didn't make the RPG connection until fall of '86, when I stumbled across a hard-cover Call of Cthulhu rulebook in the local bookstore. (That book is now my favorite version of the game.)

Even though my love of the horror genre bloomed in 1985, I had harbored a fascination for it for years, despite my sensitive nature. (Again, see the linked post in the first paragraph.) I can recall being drawn to scary movies as far back as I can remember - I even recall choosing horror comics to read when visiting a family friend's house, despite the wide selection of choices presented in the stacks and stacks of comics her son had collected. To this day, I don't exactly know how Lovecraft slipped under my radar for so long.

To some extent, I lament not having become aware of him sooner - at least by a few years. Granted, '85 was probably the best year for me to discover HPL's works, given my new-found love. But I feel I missed out on a lot by not being privy to the early-80's Lovecraft "movement" - such as: the earlier editions of Call of Cthulhu and their classic supplements; Grenadier's characterful CoC miniatures, which I now find myself purchasing used or as Mirilton recasts at exorbitant prices; and publications like Crypt of Cthulhu - issues of which I would love to purchase, but haven't the capital to do so, thanks to their high second-hand cost.

I suppose I should be thankful for discovering H.P. Lovecraft when I did, since it was probably the most opportune time in my personal development to do so. But, as with discovering Dungeons & Dragons in '81, I can't shake the feeling that I missed out on something special by not doing so just a few years earlier.

(By the way: having since (hopefully) matured, I no longer think the name "Lovecraft" is at all fruity.)

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Dungeon World Article on The Escapist

Just a quick FYI: Although the Rust Monster's on hiatus, I'm still writing monthly for The Escapist's "Days of High Adventure" column. My latest installment in the Dungeon World setting is up for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Dagger for Every Back

I am a d4
Take the quiz at dicepool.com


"You are a d4: You are bright, perceptive, and driven. You would be considered a blessing to mankind, if you didn't insist on using your powers for evil. You are devious, deceitful, doubtful, and downright dangerous. Assassins can learn a lot from you. If your fellow party members knew how rotten you were, they'd go over and join the bad guys. Justified or not, you are meticulous in your ways: A poison for every person, and a dagger for every back. Much of your day is spent scheming or plotting. The rest of your time is spent trying to convince others that you're simply misunderstood."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Elsewhere...

Instead of sitting around like a lump, I've decided to use the Rust Monster's hiatus to start another blog - one focused on miniatures gaming. That blog will perform the same basic service the Rust Monster has - specifically, it will allow me to share with the whole wide world all of the gaming goodies I've created over the years - and will also act as a place where I can get away from the craziness of the OSR when need be. (Rest assured, I will still be updating the Rust Monster - once I'm feeling a little less burnt out on the OSR stuff.)

So, if you're at all interested in miniatures games (I hesitate to call what I do "war gaming," because the games I like are more about story and character than military "strategerery") please visit "A Hard Won Thing."

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meanwhile, in the News

My fiancee has an interview with Nathan Caroland, the creator of the miniatures game Malifaux, on her blog, Lili's Lair.

Oh, and in case you missed it, my latest installment in the Dungeon World setting for The Escapist's "Days of High Adventure" column went up last Thursday.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Worth Repeating

Found this article on CNN this morning:

(CNN) A pack of protesters gathered at the village park in North Hakenslach, Minnesota this morning, braving the frigid weather to stand up for the rights of, as one protester put it, "old school gamers everywhere."

The seven people, each one hailing from different locales such as Texas, Chicago, and even as distant as Ontario, Canada, carried signs, beat a drum, and shouted pro-"old school" slogans to show their solidarity, and to raise awareness for their cause.

"People need to be made aware that there are more of us around than they think," said Jim Grognardi, the group's unofficial spokesperson. "Beneath the thin veneer of today's gaming populace is a much larger, much older foundation of gamers, and we demand that our voices be heard."

Although the protest group consisted of only seven members, Grognardi claimed that many more like-minded individuals had indicated that they would be arriving to join the protest.

"We're expecting about another 130 people," Grognardi maintained.

No residents of North Hakenslach, population 372, could be reached for comment. However, one person in a passing vehicle voiced his dissent to the protesters' loud message:

"Get a life, weirdoes!" he exclaimed as he sped by.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Going For a Walk-About

Given the recent and recurring interweb melodramas, my anger and sadness over the loss of Chgowiz's "Old Guy RPG" blog, and the incessant pressure of recent and recurring real-life melodramas, I'm feeling completely burned out. As a result, I've decided to take a break from the OSR blogosphere. The Rust Monster blog is - effective immediately - going on indefinite hiatus.

I'd like to think that over the last year-plus I've posted a lot of useful stuff, and I don't plan on taking any of it down. (At least not in the near future.) So there should be enough here to keep folks occupied in my absence. (Use the hard links and the label cloud to the right to find what you want.)

Take care, everyone.

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Edit: If you're wondering about my motives behind this post, here's a fine example of why I'm in dire need of a fucking break (excerpted from comments to my previous post):

"If ChgoWiz is the voice of reason in the OSR blogsphere (read that as: incessant circlejerking pundits), then that collection of rabble needed a new spokesman anyway."

Ugh. Yet one more asshat with a smelly opinion - and this one wasn't even brave enough to leave his name with his oh-so brave words. Thanks, "Anonymous" - my opinion of human behavior just sank a little lower. Well, fuckwit, you've got a couple less "incessant circle[-]jerking pundits" in this "collection of rabble" to worry about. You and the other courageous trolls like you that see the need to turn anything decent on the Web to shit are welcome to it. Later!

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Monday, March 22, 2010

WTF?!


I apparently blinked and missed another flare-up of "OSR" blogoshpere melodrama - but what in the name of Orcus' besmeared farting hole could have been so bad as to make Mike take down his "Old Guy" blog?

For fuck's sake...

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Friday, March 5, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things Man Should Not Know

As spring approaches, I find myself beginning to entertain thoughts of madness and despair - different from the thoughts of madness and despair that the passing of the winter holidays brings, that is. No, this time of year I tend to find myself drawn toward the legacy of my favorite author, H. P. Lovecraft, and yearning to play one of my favorite role-playing games (if not my all-time favorite): Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu.

I don't know why this time of year causes such feelings. It may be because I associate late spring with the time of year I truly discovered my love for the horror genre. For whatever reason, though, this seems to happen to me every year. (Don't believe me? Then go read this and come back - it's okay, I'll wait for you.)

Being the visceral person I am, I like to fan the flames of my growing obsession interest by looking at pretty pictures. This year, I decided I'd share some of my favorite inspirational images with you.

Up first we have the cover of my favorite edition of my possibly favorite role-playing game: the third edition hardback produced in collusion with Games Workshop:

Although not from my favorite version of the book, the following image graced the covers of the game until its fourth edition. (I'm fairly sure of this, despite the 3rd edition cover above, because my third copy of the 3rd edition of the game is a boxed set with this image on its cover.) This image was also used for the cover of the limited 25th Anniversary Edition (don't get me started on that book!). It's my favorite of the game's covers, with the one above running a very close second:

I had the cover of Arkham Unveiled in poster form (it came with the original version of the book) hanging in my study/game room for years:


The book for which the following image is the cover - Mansions of Madness - has the distinction of being the only Call of Cthulhu RPG book from which I've run a scenario ("Crack'd and Crook'd Manse") in its entirety - with great success, I might add:

Here are the covers of a couple of books I would love but have yet to have the pleasure to own (despite regularly looking at them on eBay and used game sites)- Spawn of Azathoth and Cthulhu Now:
















Shambling away from book covers, here are a few other game covers I like, starting with another game I wish I owned - the original Arkham Horror:


And here some covers from the version of Arkham Horror I do own (and absolutely love!) starting with the core game:

And the Kingsport Horror Expansion (I especially like this one; like the two main book covers above, this is - to me - what an in-game session of Call of Cthulhu should look like):

And the Black Goat of the Woods Expansion (yeah, shoot that dark young - that'll save your butt. Not!):


I guess that's enough for now. I've got a bunch of other images I use for inspiration, but these are - as I alluded to in the title of this post - just a few of my favorite things...
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Obviously, the images above are either the property of Chaosium (the Call of Cthulhu and 1987 Arkham Horror covers) or Fantasy Flight Games (the contemporary Arkham Horror covers).
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Late to the Party...

... as usual.

So I just discovered that Christian successfully cast raise dead on the destination unknown blog last week. Thank goodness! I just wish I'd known sooner, though. I've been seriously bummed since hearing it was going way - which, by the way, was after it had already gone. (Like I said: "as usual.")

Christian's blog is - to me - the old-school blogosphere's equivalent of the quiet book shop you sneak away to when the rest of the world gets too intense; a nice, friendly place, mercifully free of sturm und drang.

Now I just need to find a cleric who's willing to cast remove curse on the Rust Monster blog - for less than 5sp, preferably.
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Monday, February 22, 2010

"N is for Neville who died of ennui"

Thankfully, my name is not Neville - for multiple reasons, but in this context for the apparent potential of dying of ennui if so named.

I hate New York state. At the moment, this is primarily due to the soul-leeching winter season that in the best of times makes getting through to spring an arduous task. Of course, as regular readers may know, this particular winter has been far from "the best of times" in my part of the universe. Double whammy.

Anyway, I wanted to apologize for my lack of useful posts of late... just finding it a little hard to get motivated these days. Although suffering from lethargy and a concerning cough, I promise that the Rust Monster blog is not on its death bed. I'm confident it will be up and around in no time, although it may be a while before it can resume normal activities.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

There's a New Rust Monster Coming to Town

Actually, a pair of 'em!

Otherworld Miniatures - purveyor of excellent old-school minis - is planning a mid-March release of a two-mini set of rust monsters. I must be slipping, because I wasn't aware of this. I have to thank Richard Scott for the friendly heads-up about it.

I'm getting a bit ticked off at Otherworld - their stuff is just too good to pass up! Now I have yet one more set to add to my seemingly-ever-growing Otherworld-ly wish list. First, those amazing pig-faced orcs. Then, the demon idol. And now, this...

When will this madness end?
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Profile Is Worth a Thousand Views

As of this writing, 1,000 people - most of whom I presumably don't know IRL - have viewed my Blogger profile. That's very cool - if not a little creepy...
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Friday, January 22, 2010

Dungeon World: Crypts of the Carrion King

Just an FYI: The latest installment in my "Dungeon World" series is now available on The Escapist. It's a nifty little four-room deathtrap dungeon. Enjoy!
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