[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Wednesday, 2010-06-16

HELLAS Kickstart

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 15:08

HELLAS Princes Of The UniverseFrom the West End Games Fan Site forum:

Princes of the Universe Needs you!!!


HELLAS was never intended to be just a single role-playing game — from the very start we had planned five books, and the second one even had a name: Princes of the Universe (after the Queen song). This book would expand the HELLAS universe in new and exciting ways, allowing players to see who the movers and shakers of the HELLAS universe were, both heroic and villainous.

As with HELLAS, we had planned Princes of the Universe (and, indeed, all the books in the series) to be an experience — full color, high-quality artwork, glossy cover, the works — and so POTU was designed that way from the very start. It’s truly a sight to behold.

That’s where you come in.

The number one thing you can do to help is spread the word. When you visit gaming sites and forums drop the HELLAS name and talks about your experience with the book. Direct people who may be interested in a good sci-fi game to the webpage and to the Kickstarter site.

With your help, we will be able to print Princes of the Universe in the way it deserves to be printed: in full color. All we’re asking is for your help and support now. If we can get enough support before our deadline, we’ll be able to augment our current printing funds with your added money and print our book in color.

We’re not asking you to spend more than you would normally spend for the book, but if you want to then we’re offering additional benefits for additional pledges, as you can plainly see on the Kickstarter page.

Here is the link http://kck.st/aZUGdU

Thanks for your help.

I wish these guys the best of luck. Publishing a role-playing game and breaking even (much less making a profit) is much more difficult now than it was back in the mid-1990s. They will need all the help they can get.

Tuesday, 2010-06-15

Blurb for ZeroSpace

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 14:31

I want to run a gritty science fiction game or a modern fantasy game, using d6 Space, d6 Fantasy, and/or d6 Adventure. If I run the modern fantasy game, it’ll be in my Rough Magic setting. If it’s a science fiction game, I want to make up a new setting. I am tentatively calling it ZeroSpace. Here’s a blurb:

The Thousand Worlds are at war, and have always been at war: with the Veejhad, the Shi, and countless other enemies. Some are human. Some are not. Some are powerful. Some are hardly even worth mentioning. Some are outside of the Imperium. Some are within. Still, the wars rage on, as they always have, and they always will, using weapons that can destroy planets and viruses that selectively infect family members of known dissidents.

But that is far away. If you have seen combat, it was at least a couple of years ago.

The people of the Thousands Worlds are privileged beyond imagining. For the wealthy and the powerful, there is no disease, no hunger, no death, and no wish unfulfilled.

But you are neither wealthy nor powerful. You have known both hunger and disease, and no regen tank, clone bank, or offline personality backup will replace you when you die.

You are a member of the Imperial Grand Survey, part of the skeleton crew of Remote Observer Station 1AC5, a sensor array pointed into the darkness at the edge of the Outer Rim.

You see a supply ship every six months. The most recent was two months ago.

Your assignment is for five years. You have at least two years to go.

You aren’t going to make it to five.

Sunday, 2010-06-13

Whatever happened to West End Games?

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 18:05

d6 SpaceI recently stumbled across a number of free-to-download game books published by West End Games (such as d6 Space). On flipping through them, I thought, “Hey: this is actually pretty cool.”

So I spent some time looking around for source material. I did find a bit (d6 Space Ships), but no setting material or adventures or anything like that. So I looked around for West End Games’ web site, only to discover that http://www.westendgames.com/ is no longer online.

Gone? Just… gone? How very odd. So I turned to that fickle friend, Wikipedia, and read the whole sad story of West End Games. Such a shame.

More’s the pity. On reading d6 Space, I got to thinking that this might be a palatable compromise between extremely rules-light games (like my neglected stepchild, Jazz) and more mechanically complex games like Mutants & Masterminds (which I like very much, but I confess the mass of game mechanics weighs heavily on me). I even wondered if it might be worth dusting off my affectionately misbegotten cyberpunk-immortal pastiche, Legacy: War Of Ages, revising it and rewriting it using the Opend6 game system. Or, heck, maybe even writing something altogether new….

But, alas, it appears that these d6 books are, like Legacy, no more than the weathered artifacts of a game company that strut and fret its hour upon the stage, and then was heard no more.

Here’s to you, West End Games. You rose higher, and fell further, than Black Gate Publishing ever did.

Saturday, 2010-06-12

GURPS sucks

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 11:58

Yuck!I am supposed to be playing in a Morrow Project game this evening, using GURPS. I have been reading the rules for GURPS (GURPS Lite, which is free to download).

I am debating whether to play or not. I said that I would, so I feel that I should, but I have been reading the GURPS rules, and there are so many things that I dislike (bad mechanics, like bell curve rolls; inconsistent mechanics, like sometimes needing to roll low, and sometimes needing to roll high; overcomplicated mechanics, like literally a dozen different weapon skills; etc.). I do not want to be the guy who comes to a game and complains about the rules the whole time. That’s no fun for anyone.

I am still a little behind on my classwork, so I should be working on that anyway.

Friday, 2010-06-11

A tale of two deadbeats

Filed under: Programming,The Internet,Work — bblackmoor @ 20:42

I currently am owed about $4000 from two clients that haven’t paid. One paid half up front for a web site, and I have been trying for a month to turn the web site over to them and get the other half of my payment, and they keep putting me off. The other client, for whom I did some programming work, bounced a check for $2000 three weeks ago, has promised to pay that and the rest of what they owe, but hasn’t paid yet, and never answers their phone or email.

I am pretty close to shutting down the first client’s web site, and turning over the second client to a collection agency. I think I will wait until Monday and try to get somewhere with each of them one more time before I do that.

Why won’t people honor their agreements?

Thursday, 2010-06-10

Steampunk Nerf Maverick: Rev 6A

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 20:09

Once I chose the color scheme (with the help of my modest Photoshop skills), I started the task of modifying the real thing. Here we go, step by step.

Nerf Maverick original
This is how it always starts.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 1
First, we take it apart. I used masking tape to keep the screws together. After I had more than a few pieces to keep track of, I started labeling them and putting them into ziploc bags.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 2
Everything has been disassembled and lightly sanded.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 3
Everything has been washed and is drying.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 4
The bits and pieces have been labeled and placed into ziploc bags. Note the bag labeled “unknown spring”. Yes, I have already lost track of where something goes. Sigh.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 5
These are the ornamental bits I bought at Michael’s. The curlicue flourishes were something like $5 a pair, while the bag of little oval things was about $5 for a dozen.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 6
And now those are lightly sanded and washed, as well.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 7
The decorative bits are glued on (with cyanoacrylate), things have been washed again, and are drying.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 8
Everything has been given a couple of coats of satin black.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 9
I assembled most of the large parts (without screws), and took a photo to use as the basis of my color tests. There is probably a word for assembling something without using the screws, but I do not know what it is.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 10
I thought the cylinder deserved its own photo.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 11
This is the first coat of “antique brass”. I will go over this lightly with “brass”.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 12
Masking off the cylinder was the single most time-consuming part. There are at least 50 individual pieces of masking tape on this thing.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 13
This should be the last thing I need to mask off: the upper receiver, under the slide.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 14
I painted the upper receiver black, and then gave it a mist of silver. I think that this gives it a nice retro “steel” look.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 15
And naturally, the black paint seeped past the masking tape, and the masking tape stuck to the silver and pulled it off. I tried using some acetone to take the black off, and that did nothing, nothing, nothing… and then went through all of the layers of paint down to the yellow plastic. Son of a…

Nerf Maverick 6A step 16
Okay. So I re-masked and then re-painted it (just in the damaged areas, to the best of my ability), and it looks okay. In retrospect, I should have sanded the edges of the damaged areas, because you can see those edges if you look carefully. But screw it: the whole point of steampunk is that things are hand-made, not mass-produced in a factory, so some minor flaws are acceptable.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 17
Here we are. All the pieces have been painted, and are ready for assembly. You may not be able to tell in this photo, but I used a brush to paint some black in the creases and edges, to give the parts a “used” and slightly dirty look.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 18
As I assembled the pieces, I used a kind of dry teflon-based lubricant on the moving parts. I think that this was a huge improvement over the silicone gel I used to lubricate the prototype.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 19
Assembly has begun! And wouldn’t you know, I still do not know where that mystery spring goes. Not only that, but I have a mystery screw, now, too. I stared at it for a good long while, but eventually I had to give up and go disassemble my unmodified Nerf Maverick for comparison.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 20
I immediately saw where the mystery spring was, but it took a long time for me to spot the mystery screw. It’s inside of the indexing mechanism.

Nerf Maverick 6A step 21Nerf Maverick 6A step 22
And here we are: all done!

The best thing — well, maybe not the best, but a great thing — is that it works! My prototype fails to fire about 85% of the time. I think that is partly because it has so many layers of paint, and also because I used silicone gel for lubrication. Rev 6A has, at most, half the layers of paint that the prototype has, and I used a dry teflon-based waxed lubricant on the moving parts.

All in all, I am very pleased.

I have one thing left to do, but it will need to wait a while, because work and school are keeping me busy: I want to put black leather on the grip, where it is currently painted black.

A very good day

Filed under: Work — bblackmoor @ 00:35

Today has been a very good day. I have hardly coughed at all, and my ribs are not hurting anywhere near as much as they did yesterday. I put the last coat of clear lacquer on my steampunk nerf gun (photos of that are forthcoming, once I assemble it). I had lunch with a friend (Greek food, yum!), and we chatted about our respective IT projects. The client that bounced a $2000 check to me has promised to pay that and everything else they owe (knock on wood). Best of all, I put in a full day working on a project for a new client (not the one that bounced the check), doing work I enjoy a great deal.

Everything’s going so well!

Saturday, 2010-06-05

Why I no longer do web design

Filed under: The Internet,Work — bblackmoor @ 11:28

I got my start in computers by writing small applications in Basic, and then Visual Basic. In the late 1980s, I wrote a program that backed up selected directories by copying them, zipping them up, and writing them to floppy disks. In the early 1990s, I wrote macros to integrate PGP and Microsoft Word. I also wrote a reasonably popular dice-rolling program (I was one of the first few thousand people to do so). However, I got my start working in IT by doing web design. My friend Nathan told me about NCSA Mosaic in early 1993, and within two months of the release of Mosaic, I was creating web pages. (It still amazes me that the web took off like it did — I just thought it was a neat toy.)

I eventually migrated from what I call “front end” work (the part of a web site people can see), to “back end” work (the stuff behind the scenes that actually makes a web site work — setting up databases, writing scripts, managing servers, and so on). One reason for this is that I am not a graphic designer — I am simply not an artist. Another reason is that as more people learned how to do “web design”, I could maintain my value by doing something more difficult (difficult for other people; not necessarily difficult for me).

However, the number one reason I moved away from web design and toward back end work is because I had too many web clients who made my job difficult. Not all of them. Perhaps not even most of them. But a lot of them. What do I mean by “difficult”? I mean this.

How a web design goes straight to hell

Friday, 2010-06-04

Boldly they rode and well

Filed under: Work — bblackmoor @ 09:37

I have been unemployed for a full year, subsisting on freelance and consulting work. As of this moment, all of my job leads have led nowhere.

Time to redouble my efforts and find some new job leads!

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward!

Wednesday, 2010-06-02

Still alive

Filed under: General — bblackmoor @ 17:55

Meeting with a client this afternoon. Hopefully, it will have positive results.

It will be a while before I know anything about the job with the company that helps nonprofits organize fund-raising events. That’s not the only job lead I have, so I am pretty optimistic, in general.

I am still coughing, but far less often than I was, and more often than not it’s more of a vigorous throat-clearing than an actual cough. I will be glad when the cough abates entirely: my ribs and chest muscles are so sore.

Class officially started yesterday. I think this semester is going to be great. I am actually interested in both classes.

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