Friday, June 21, 2019

From the Archives (09/17/2007) -- The Geek Quiz

In 2007, GEEK MONTHLY magazine published their Geek Quiz article which readers could use to measure how deep their geek goes. We used that quiz as a way to launch a conversation and then proceeded to stump one another with a series of trivia questions. We all thought we would do well with each others' questions, but alas and alack we were wrong. In the overtime, we continue our discussion of the Friday Night Death Slot and the future of streaming programming.

Join us for this glance into the early days of Geekerati.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Shotguns & Sorcery has Arrived and It's Been a Long Wait, but Worth It!

In December 2015, about two months after the Geekerati Radio Podcast went on hiatus, I saw an exciting new gaming project called Shotguns & Sorcery proposed on Kickstarter. The product was based on the Shotguns & Sorcery trilogy by Matt Forbeck, itself a part of Matt's 12 for '12 series of Kickstarter projects where he hoped to be able to fund and write 12 books in 12 months. Quite an ambitious project, but if anyone was going to try it Matt Forbeck was the man for the job. I backed his Brave New World, Monster Academy, Dangerous Games, and Shotguns & Sorcery trilogies when they were proposed and we interviewed Matt about the project on the old podcast (embedded at the bottom of this post).

A couple of confessions before, I get into the nitty-gritty of the Shotguns & Sorcery book. First, Matt's a friend and one of the nicest guys in the gaming industry, so I'm very happy that this project was completed. Second, my wife Jody did some illustrations for the first (and maybe the second, but I'm not sure about that) Monster Academy book and provided the art for the Storium Monster Academy page.

When I backed Shotguns & Sorcery on Kickstarter, I knew that I was supporting a friend. I also figured that there was a high probability that the product would be published. The Kickstarter presentation was very professional and had lined up a good team of experienced rpg designers including Robert Schwalb to write the product, had artists lined up, and they were using an existing game system's mechanics as a foundation. These were all things that pointed to completion in a reasonable time.

Sadly, making things is difficult and things fall behind schedule and sometimes never get completed. Such is the creative process that even with a good team, cost overruns, writers' block, or a host of other things can lead to a project not being completed. I've seen it happen with a couple of the 500 projects I've backed, and it looked like Shotguns & Sorcery was going to be one of those projects. Though it started strong, the production lost steam, updates became rarer, and I thought the project would never reach fruition. Since I backed the project (at the $100 level) to support a friend in creative work, I wrote it off as a sunk cost. A lot of backers weren't so generous and had some pretty angry things to say, things that might have contributed to the delay more than they helped keep the project going. It's one thing to check the status of a project, it's another to call into question the motives of the creators. This is especially true when the stakes are relatively small. In the end, over four years passed before the book came out.

Sometimes when a project finally comes out after a long delay, it looks like it was thrown together "just to get it out the door." That is not at all the case with Shotguns & Sorcery. Instead, this product seems to fall into the category that "you are only late once, but you are bad forever" and so it's better to be late than bad. The book has solid binding, high end printing production on the cover, and is beautiful inside. While the pages aren't printed on glossy paper, they are printed on acid free paper and the sepia tone of the book gives a nice overall look to the product.

Mechanically Shotguns & Sorcery uses Monte Cook's Cypher System, a system that will be very familiar to fans of Numenera, The Strange, or No Thank You, Evil! It's an easy system to learn, but flexible enough to cover any genre from street level espionage to superheroes without stretching the mechanics beyond utility. In order to determine if any action is successful, the player rolls a twenty-sided die and compares the result of the die to a target number based on the difficulty of the task. The difficulty can range from 0 to 10 and this number is multiplied by 3 to give a target number between 0 and 30. As you might have noticed, you cannot roll a 30 on a twenty-sided die. In order to achieve tasks that are at this "impossible" level, or to make other challenges less difficult, characters can spend points from their abilities to reduce the base difficulty. They may also have special abilities or training that lowers the difficulty, but the main game play is the same. Get a target number and roll equal to or greater than that number. Unlike D&D, the players make all rolls in combat by rolling both "to hit" and "to defend."

In order to flush out the characters, players rate the games in three categories (Might, Speed, and Intellect) and then select a Race, Type, and Focus. The Race and Type will be familiar to D&D gamers with things like Halfling, Dwarf, and Elf being available as races and Freelance (Rogue), Veteran (Fighter), and Wizard being among the Types available. Players will also add descriptors like "cunning" or "aggressive" to their characters and choose a Focus like "Commands the Dead" or "Carries a Quiver." Initial character creation is as simple as completing the following sentence, "I am a (fill in the adjective here) (fill in a noun here), and (fill in a noun here) who (fill in a verb here." More simply a character is an adjective noun, a noun who verbs. For example, I am a Hardboiled Human, a Freelance who Packs Heat."

The book includes scads, yes scads, of types and foci for characters to use. It may have been a long wait, but in this case it was a wait well worth it seeing the final product. One final comment. If you don't want to play Shotguns & Sorcery using the Cypher System, the setting was originally designed for use with D&D as a part of the campaign the resulted in the Eberron campaign. The combination of straight fantasy with the Old West works well with Cypher, but it could also work with 5e or with Savage Worlds. There is so much setting and adventure information here, that using it as the basis for a Savage Worlds game would be very possible.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Episode 161: Geekerati Returns with a New Format and an Interview with Dom Zook of Saving Throw Show

The Geekerati Podcast was founded in 2007 and streamed 160 episodes before going on hiatus in 2014. It was meant to be a brief hiatus as the Geekerati panelists coordinated their busy schedules, but it ended up lasting almost five years. With this episode Geekerati returns with new Bi-Weekly prerecorded episodes with new guests and new segments. We are proud to relaunch with an interview with our friend Dom Zook. Dom is the Executive Producer of Saving Throw Show a Role Playing Game Live Play streaming channel on Twitch. If you're a fan of Critical Role, or any other live play show, you should give Saving Throw Show a look.They are currently running a number of gaames online, but their Savage Worlds show launches its new season during the channel's Fundraising Marathon on June 21st!

This episode also sees the introduction of our first new segment, Something Old/Something New. This segment will be a regular review segment and will be joined by other segments including our Dungeon Master advice segment Dungeons & Dilemmas in the near future. Our current segment reviews the old Conan Roleplaying Game by TSR and Attack of the Necron, the first entry in Warped Galaxies the new YA Warhammer Adventures book series from Games Workshop. 

 If the discussion in Something Old/Something new piqued your interest in the system used by the TSR Conan Roleplaying Game, you will want to take a look at its Open Content successor ZeFRS and download the pdf rulebook.

This episode featured the following sound effects from Plate Mail Games: 1950s Space, Inside the Internet, and Space Battle

Monday, June 03, 2019

From the Archives (09/03/2007): The Pulps and Their Modern Legacy -- An Interview with Win Scott Eckert Discussing Barsoom, Hyboria, and Urban Mean Streets.

Listen to this blast from the past as the Geekerati panel discusses Win Scott Eckert's book Myths for the Modern Age and the long lasting legacy of pulp fiction. It's a conversation about John Carter of Mars, Tarzan, Doc Savage, The Shadow, French Pulps, and Dashiell Hammett. Who could ask for more?

Win Scott Eckert is one of the leading experts in pulp fiction and one of his major contributions to the continuation of pulp fandom has been his work on the Wold Newton Family and its universe of tales. The Wold Newton Universe was a creation of Science Fiction Grand Master Philip Jose Farmer who asked an interesting question, "What if many classic tales of fiction, literary and pulp, all happened in a shared universe?" Farmer uses the real world occurrence of a radioactive meteor landing in Wold Newton England as the cornerstone event of his shared universe, a universe in which Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Elizabeth Bennet, John Carter of Mars, Doctor Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, and many more reside. Our conversation with Win begins with a discussion of his book on the topic, but expand into a conversation about what made the pulps successful and why they continue to inspire creators today.

During the Overtime segment, Shawna Benson discusses an unaired pilot for a new Phillip Marlowe show. It is currently available on YouTube if you are interested in seeing whether you think the networks should have picked it up.

In this archive episode, I've re-edited the episode into segments using's functionality. All future episodes will be edited into segments and new episodes (our first one is coming next week) will have distinct segments with unique and consistent introductions.

Monday, May 20, 2019

From the Archives (August 27, 2007) -- Interviewing James Lowder About HOBBY GAMES: THE 100 BEST

In 2007, Green Ronin Publishing released one of the best books on hobby gaming ever written. Their book, Hobby Games: The 100 Best, featured thoughtful articles highlighting some of the best games in the history of the gaming hobby written by some of the best game designers in the industry. Some of the games were well known and are played by thousands of gamers on a regular basis, others were rare games that influenced the creation of the games people play today. One thing is certain, the game became a Christmas Wish List for many gamers and started an internet meme where game hobbyists listed the games they own/play.

Your average consumer isn't a collector of games and doesn't have room in their house for 1000+ board/card/roleplaying/family games and resources like these two books allow for those consumers to purchase games based on the opinions of individuals who have a great deal of experience in designing and playing games.

In August of that year, I and my fellow Geekerati panelists had the honor of chatting with editor James Lowder about the book and added some of our own recommendations. You can listen to the episode here:

The list of games in this edition a wonderful selection of the popular and the rare and consumers cannot go wrong with any of the games on the list.

In case you are wondering, I have provided a copy of the games included in the new volume below. Those games that are in bold are games that I own and those games that are italicized are games that I have merely played. Some of the games I now own, like Apocalypse (aka The Warlord) and War & Peace, were purchased because of this book.

  1. Bruce C. Shelley -- Acquire
  2. Nicole Lindroos -- Amber Diceless
  3. Ian Livingstone -- Amun-Re
  4. Stewart Wieck -- Ars Magica
  5. Thomas M. Reid -- Axis & Allies
  6. Tracy Hickman  -- Battle Cry
  7. Philip Reed -- BattleTech
  8. Justin Achilli -- Blood Bowl
  9. Mike Selinker -- Bohnanza
  10. Tom Dalgliesh -- Britannia
  11. Greg Stolze -- Button Men
  12. Monte Cook -- Call of Cthulhu
  13. Steven E. Schend -- Carcassonne
  14. Jeff Tidball -- Car Wars
  15. Bill Bridges -- Champions
  16. Stan! -- Circus Maximus
  17. Tom Jolly -- Citadels
  18. Steven Savile -- Civilization
  19. Bruno Faidutti -- Cosmic Encounter
  20. Andrew Looney -- Cosmic Wimpout
  21. Skip Williams -- Dawn Patrol
  22. Alan R. Moon -- Descent
  23. Larry Harris -- Diplomacy
  24. Richard Garfield -- Dungeons & Dragons
  25. William W. Connors -- Dynasty League Baseball
  26. Christian T. Petersen -- El Grande
  27. Alessio Cavatore -- Empires in Arms
  28. Timothy Brown -- Empires of the Middle Ages
  29. Allen Varney -- The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen
  30. Phil Yates -- Fire and Fury
  31. William Jones -- Flames of War
  32. Rick Loomis -- Fluxx
  33. John Kovalic -- Formula Dé
  34. Anthony J. Gallela -- The Fury of Dracula
  35. Jesse Scoble -- A Game of Thrones
  36. Lou Zocchi -- Gettysburg
  37. James Wallis -- Ghostbusters
  38. James M. Ward -- The Great Khan Game
  39. Gav Thorpe  -- Hammer of the Scots
  40. Uli Blennemann -- Here I Stand
  41. S. Craig Taylor, Jr. -- A House Divided
  42. Scott Haring -- Illuminati
  43. Dana Lombardy -- Johnny Reb
  44. Darren Watts -- Junta
  45. Greg Stafford -- Kingmaker
  46. Lester Smith -- Kremlin
  47. Wolfgang Baur -- Legend of the Five Rings
  48. Marc W. Miller -- Lensman
  49. Ted S. Raicer -- London’s Burning
  50. Teeuwynn Woodruff -- Lord of the Rings
  51. Mike Breault -- Machiavelli
  52. Jordan Weisman -- Magic: The Gathering
  53. Steve Kenson -- Marvel Super Heroes
  54. Gary Gygax -- Metamorphosis Alpha
  55. Greg Costikyan -- My Life with Master
  56. John D. Rateliff -- Mythos
  57. Chris “Gerry” Klug -- Napoleon’s Last Battles
  58. John Scott Tynes -- Naval War
  59. Erick Wujcik -- Ogre
  60. Marc Gascoigne -- Once Upon a Time
  61. Mike Bennighof -- PanzerBlitz
  62. Steve Jackson -- Paranoia
  63. Shannon Appelcline -- Pendragon
  64. JD Wiker -- Pirate’s Cove
  65. Richard H. Berg -- Plague!
  66. Martin Wallace -- Power Grid
  67. Tom Wham -- Puerto Rico
  68. Joseph Miranda -- Renaissance of Infantry
  69. James Ernest -- RoboRally
  70. Jennell Jaquays -- RuneQuest
  71. Richard Dansky -- The Settlers of Catan
  72. Ken St. Andre -- Shadowfist
  73. Steven S. Long -- Shadowrun
  74. Peter Corless -- Shadows over Camelot
  75. Dale Donovan -- Silent Death: The Next Millennium
  76. Matt Forbeck -- Space Hulk
  77. Ray Winninger -- Squad Leader
  78. Lewis Pulsipher -- Stalingrad
  79. Bruce Nesmith -- Star Fleet Battles
  80. Steve Winter -- The Sword and the Flame
  81. Jeff Grubb -- Tales of the Arabian Nights
  82. Shane Lacy Hensley -- Talisman
  83. Douglas Niles -- Terrible Swift Sword
  84. Ed Greenwood -- Thurn and Taxis
  85. Mike Fitzgerald -- Ticket to Ride
  86. Thomas Lehmann -- Tigris & Euphrates
  87. Warren Spector -- Tikal
  88. David “Zeb” Cook -- Toon
  89. Mike Pondsmith -- Traveller
  90. Zev Shlasinger -- Twilight Struggle
  91. Kenneth Hite -- Unknown Armies
  92. Sandy Petersen -- Up Front
  93. R. Hyrum Savage -- Vampire: The Eternal Struggle
  94. George Vasilakos  -- Vampire: The Masquerade
  95. Kevin Wilson -- Vinci
  96. R.A. Salvatore -- War and Peace
  97. Jack Emmert -- Warhammer 40,000
  98. Chris Pramas -- The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
  99. Steve Jackson -- The Warlord
  100. John Wick -- Wiz-War
Which of these games do you own or have you played? Which games from the past decade should be added to the list?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday Movie Recommendation: Pillow Talk (1959)

Doris Day is one of the all-time great Romantic Comedy stars and her charm really comes through in Pillow Talk. It's a simple story that begins with conflict arising over the use of a party line, continues in an attempt to manipulate a rival for phone use, and ends up with a romance. There are so many films one could compare it too, In the Good Ol' Summertime or the more recent Down with Love, both of which share certain narrative elements, come to mind. It's formulaic, predictable, and pat but the film manages to delight on the strength of Day's comedic charisma.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Blast from the Past: The Geekerati Crew Discuss Alien Invasions in Film, TV, and Games

It will have been 12 years this August since the Geekerati Team live streamed our Alien Invasions episode. Give it a listen and let me know your thoughts.

How well does it hold up?

Do I need to do an updated one that discusses upcoming Alien Invasion films like Rim of the World?