Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Warning Queens Gambit is Fake News

Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about the Netflix mini-series "Queen's Gambit" 

Still reading? Good. I just finished watching the mini-series "Queen's Gambit" and although it is quite dramatic and entertaining something about it did not ring true. Growing up a chess aficionado in the 1960's I had never heard of Elizabeth Harmon or the events described in the movie. Turns out it is actually based on a novel written in 1983 by Walter Tevis (The same guy who wrote the "Hustler" and the "Color of Money"). None of the occurrences in the movie from winning the Kentucky State Championship to beating the Russian World Champion are real. Being addicted to tranquilizers is unlikely to improve your chess game, so don't do it (An age eleven Walter Tevis was actually dosed with phenobarbital at the Stanford Children’s Convalescent home while he was recovering from a rheumatic heart condition).

As an aside, in my youth, I was a chess aficionado. One of my earliest memories of childhood was watching my father (who was a very good chess player, I had to wait until he was seventy-two and not quite as sharp to beat him) play chess with one of his students under the apple tree of the house we lived in Cambridge, MA. I still have my copy of Fred Reinfield's Complete Chess Course which I received as a present at age eight. For a while, I used to go over to the college chess club and play while I was still in high school. I gave up the chess club when I discovered the Dungeons and Dragons club which met the same night (It was called the Conflict Simulation Society, but Dungeons and Dragons heavily overshadowed the board gaming). I always suffered from the problem that I couldn't focus well unless I was losing (I have some brilliant games played fiercely with a piece down. I finally beat my father by sacrificing a pawn in a gambit early in the game). I also discovered by playing chess at lunch at work that although chess is an interesting game it is not a relaxing one.  

Although the mini-series is well-acted,  well-directed, and captures the spirit of the chess tournaments I have attended,  it feels a bit disingenuous. The real-world triumphs of Bobby Fischer who actually beat the Russian World Champion or even my friend David Sprenkle who won the Illinois State Championship in 1980 seem more important.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Much Ado About Nothing

Just a blog post to be blog posting. Several notable blogs have come back to life in recent weeks (my favorite is Grognardia which had been inactive since 2012. It made me think about my own blog in which the post prior to this was in February. You would think with all the time on my hands during the lockdown, I would be able to blog lots, but it didn't work out that way. Trying to write thoughtful and well-researched articles (like I aspire to write) just seemed like too much work for my mental state during those times. Chrome frequently overwhelms the memory of my ancient desktop (used to be 4 GB of RAM was a lot). My copy of Outlook 2007 seems to constantly fight with the new mail servers as well. My wife and son's computers are much better behaved, but I need their permission to use them. I have not been gaming idle during this blog quiet period. Activities included: Binge-watching Critical Role (I had to stop about season 1 episode 100 as the scenarios seemed to be becoming repetitive and the players didn't seem to be learning how to handle their high-level characters). Playing through all of Ravenloft 5e on Fantasy Grounds. Learning Unity game programing by watching Zenva videos (unfortunately, programming seems to be the same tedious line by line text typing I learned in college, I have recently picked up a copy of RPG Maker to try instead). I started watching the Lord Gosumba youtube channel after virtual GaryCon. They have a fascinating series of interviews with many of the "old" Living Greyhawk organizers. I am at the time of life where 10 to 20 years ago doesn't seem old but I suppose it is. Unfortunately, times have changed sufficiently I do not think we will see anything as large or freewheeling as Living Greyhawk again. For the last few weeks, I have been playing Path of Exile. I have been thinking about how to play Path of Exile as a tabletop game. However, it is a little too bookkeeping intensive to play well without heavy modification from the online rules (here is someone else's attempt). I find the part Pacific Islander, part Roman Empire,  part Steampunk fascinating. My backed Kickstarter .pdfs keep collecting in my virtual inbox.  I am trying to slow down on signing up for new ones (5e campaign settings re-treading grimdark horror are making that easier). Well enough kvetching, for now, I'll try to do something more substantive next time.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Kickstarter Update 2020

I am trying to get my Kickstarter progress report for the things I backed out a little earlier this year. I am trying to scale back, but 5e world expansions and fancy card decks keep sucking me in. I also backed a couple of board games with cool miniatures (although I try to resist these because they are expensive).

Projects I backed
 Not Due yet
The Hero's Journey 2e
Glorantha: The Gods War (Reprint & NEW Expansions)
Curse of Roslof Keep Digital Bonus Content
Electric Bastionland RPG
Ian Miller’s Grim Tarock
Vampire: the Masquerade - Blood Feud a Mega Board Game
Tome of Horrors 2020 for Fifth Edition by Necromancer Games
Spire's End - Solo & Cooperative Card Game Adventure
The Folio #24 & #25 Double Edition Adventure Set
Heart: The City Beneath RPG
Retro RPGA Inspired 1E&5E Mini-Adventure Set              
Trudvang Chronicles: Muspelheim
World of Aetaltis - RPG Campaign Setting for 5E
Dungeons & Delvers: Red Book
Fantastic Adventures: Ruins of the Grendleroot for 5e
Hearts of Wulin
Empire of the Ghouls: A 5th Edition Campaign vs. the Undead
Terrain Essentials
GODS - The dark fantasy RPG
Arcana of the Ancients, a 5E science-fantasy sourcebook             
A bit late
Critical Core Dec 2019
Ruin Masters Nov 2019
World of Relivo Dec 2019
Rise of the Drow: Collector's Edition for D&D 5E or PFRPG Dec 2019
The World of the Lost Lands Dec 2019
Greg Stolze's Reign, Second Edition Aug 2019
The Koryo Hall of Adventures 5e Compatible Campaign Setting Dec 2019
The Grande Temple of Jing V1 - For 5th Edition (and others) Sep 2019
Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad Zine Returns! Oct 2019
Reach of Titan Dec 2019
Treacherous Traps for 5th Edition! Aug 2019
Scarred Lands Creature Collection for 5th Edition RPG Dec 2019
Tegel Manor Returns! Estimated delivery Jun 2019
EMBERWIND: a new breed of tabletop RPG        Estimated delivery Jun 2019
Demon City: The Ultimate Horror RPG    Estimated delivery Jun 2019
SECRETS of BLACKMOOR: The True History of Dungeons & Dragons         Estimated delivery Mar 2019
Rise of the Demigods     Estimated delivery Mar 2019
Sea King's Malice: a 5E Adventure in the Deadly Depths
Tales From the Sorcerer Under the Mountain
L'gat's Tome of Amazing Creatures Volume 3
Cities of Harn
Adventures Great and Glorious
The Isle of The Amazons - RPG Zine for #ZineQuest
Symbar - Mother of Darkness
Far Away Lands Nuzoz
Trilemma Adventures Compendium
Mini-Dungeon Monthly: RPG zine for D&D 5th Edition
Monsters & Magic: a 5e bestiary and treasury
Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition): Maps and Print Run
Your Best Game Ever!
Secrets of the Nethercity             Estimated delivery Jun 2019
Castles & Crusades: Den of Iniquity         Estimated delivery Jun 2019
Dungeons of Amara: Poems and Art of Monsters and Townfolks
The Ultraviolet Grasslands
A Rasp of Sand: A Roguelike Tabletop RPG Experience  
The Tomb of Black Sand
The City of Great Lunden
Fateforge: a 5th Edition Roleplaying Game
The King of Dungeons
The Folio #22 (1E/5E D&D Adventure)
John Carter of Mars - The Roleplaying Game
The Vagabond’s Cyclopedia: an OSR + PbtA Supplement
Desert Dwellers                Estimated
Humblewood Campaign Setting for 5e DND
Silent Titans Estimated delivery
Rex Draconis RPG - Rising Tides
Vagabonds of Dyfed RPG: OSR meets PbtA
The Midderlands Expanded - An OSR Setting Expansion
The Bane of Roslof Keep high level 1E & 5E gaming adventure
Trudvang Chronicles - Stormlands
Calidar "On Wings of Darkness"
Esoterica Tabletop Roleplaying Game
Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for 5e             
Dortoka: an OSR + PbtA City Module
Folio of Fiendish Monsters 1E monster compendium
Occult Secrets of the Underworld
The Complete White Ship Campaign 1E&5E mega-adventure
Make/100! Spell: The RPG & Spellbook Engraved Wood Box Set
YNDAROS: THE DARKEST STAR, award-winning Symbaroum campaign
Over the Edge: A Roleplaying Game of Weird Urban Danger
The Curse of Roslof Keep high level 1E & 5E gaming adventure
Confrontation – Classic The legendary skirmish game (note I just gave them a buck to read their updates)
The Dragon Heresy Introductory Set Fantasy RPG (5E-variant)
Rappan Athuk: Reborn for Fifth Edition! Go down the Well!
Tome of Horrors: Reborn for Fifth Edition
SYMBAROUM - Monster Codex
Forbidden Lands - Retro Open-World Survival Fantasy RPG
The Folio #16 & #17 Double 1E & 5E Adventure Set
The Folio #18 & #19, 1E & 5E Adventures
Lost Hall of Tyr: A 5e Adventure (Dungeon Grappling support)   
Luminous Echo: The Forgotten King extended campaign
Spire RPG
Artifices of Quartztoil Tower - 5E Adventure
Capharnaum - The Roleplaying Game
Sommerlund City Maps
Midgard Campaign Setting: Dark Roads & Deep Magic
Luminous Echo: The Forgotten King extended campaign
Slumbering Ursine Dunes
Heroic Fantasy & Barbarian Conquerors Collection
50 sHAdes of VORpal (Declared  done)


Salt in the Wounds (I had originally marked this one done based on receipt of the campaign setting, but on reviewing my pledge I realized I had been promised a good deal more).
The ADOM (Ancient Domains Of Mystery) Roleplaying Game
Neverending Story
Ryuutama (basically done but pledge contains permanent electronic updates)
Pieces missing
Rhune (one adventure short)
Please come home, I still love you baby (way past due, I still want the item).
Marmoreal Tomb (Tons of beautiful maps have been completed, Frog God Games has taken this over which is promising, but no adventure yet.)

Throne of night

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