Ongoing Chatter #86: July 16, 2008 - March 6, 2012

12/14/2001 — I started the Chatter section on July 27, 2000 when I noticed that the rest of my site was sometimes getting cluttered with lots of text. I'm a talkative guy, after all! Eventually the page got too large, so I started making separate entries. Then it got to be too much work to make separate entries, so I stopped posting altogether. Now I'm back to a (new) single page (the old entries are still available from the main Chatter page). New entries will be posted at the top, pushing older entries down. When this thing gets unweildy, I'll archive it and create a new page - Chatter #87. I hope that's not too confusing! ->PM


See the main Chatter page for an explanation of the changes I've made in Chatter. Short version: I'll be making ongoing posts here until this page gets too big. Then I'll start Chatter #87. New posts will be at the top of the page, pushing down the older posts. So you can come here to see what's new about the site. In a general sense, that is! The detailed site history is still the place where I'll track every new change. I'll also be announcing upcoming projects here.


March 06, 2012 -

New campaign: Apart from some scheduling problems, the new campaign is going great. There are five players now, and we have a lot of fun. I've been writing up most of the adventures; they are archived online on our group mailing list. I'm not sure if that archive can be viewed by anyone else, but feel free to give it a try! And please let me know if you can or can't read them. They're mixed in with a lot of group scheduling chatter, along with other topics.

Contact: I've been pretty active on Google Plus. Among other things, I post my campaign writeups there to my RuneQuest and Roleplaying circles. Many of my posts are restricted to circles rather than public, so if you want to read them, get in touch with me first. I'm also on Dreamwidth now as bobquasit; that journal cross-posts automatically to my LiveJournal as well. Again, most posts are not open to the public, but are instead restricted to friends. I'm always glad to add new friends, though!

Zines & sheetless article: Still not done, but I haven't given up hope.

CCRI: I'll be giving a presentation about skill-based roleplaying tomorrow at the game club at the Community College of Rhode Island, followed by a demo of RuneQuest, and then (if time allows) a talk about sheetless roleplaying. Should be fun! It will be from around 11am-4pm or so.

Sheets: The sheets section has been updated quite a bit. I've added a RuneQuest III sorcerer's character sheet (had to design one for my campaign, so I decided to post it), and have added Open Office (ODT) versions of the RQ3 character and reference sheets. I also took the opportunity to add a link to this site on the sheets, since I keep finding copies all over the web and on BitTorrent.

July 18, 2011 -

Hyperspeed: The RuneQuest situation is increasingly frenetic, and I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about it. Now that yet another edition has been announced, this time by a new company made up of writers who worked on Mongoose Publications' RuneQuest 2, it's hard not to wonder how the system went from being nearly moribund to practically ubiquitous!

New campaign: I've finally had a chance to GM RuneQuest again, and I'm enjoying it very much. The two sessions we've played so far went quite well; in the most recent adventure, a player killed an enemy baboon, then picked it up and threw it at a second baboon...killing him. For some reason I think I've heard of that happening at least once before in some old RQ material from decades ago. If you live within a reasonable distance of Woonsocket, RI and are interested in joining the game, please drop me a line!

Google Plus: I'm on G+ now, and I have quite a few invites to use if you need one. So far I much prefer it to Facebook; it's better-designed, better-programmed, more mature, and it let me set up a RuneQuest circle for RQ-related posts. You can find me there under my full name (I don't have a middle name).

Zines & sheetless article: I've been thinking a lot about the sheetless roleplaying article lately, but haven't yet actually written anything. Soon, though! I hope.

The Big, Mysterious Project: I've finished the initial work. Much more remains to be done. In fact, I've since come to realize that the project is bigger than I realized. I hope to be able to make a concrete announcement within a few weeks.

June 17, 2011 -

Irony: I can't help but find the current RuneQuest situation ironic. Mongoose Publications created their own version of the RQ system at the behest of Issaries - which owned the RuneQuest trademark, but not the copyright to the text of RuneQuest. Now Issaries and Mongoose have split up (at least the third major split in the history of RuneQuest - one can't help but wonder why this keeps happening). But Mongoose is keeping their version of the rules and publishing it as a new non-Gloranthan RPG system! It seems that the genie is out of the bottle, and the RQ/BRP rules are proliferating madly as a result. Who would have guessed?

In a strictly legal sense, none of this is considered theft. But it's definitely very ironic and strange.

Changes: Six months is better than two years between updates, I guess. But I'll be updating a bit more frequently, for several reasons.

New campaign: I'll be starting a new Basic Roleplaying/RuneQuest campaign tomorrow. Tomorrow! That's a bit nerve-wracking. It's been quite a while since I've run a game. Is it like riding a bicycle, or is it possible that I've forgotten how? Actually, I'm pretty sure that I still have my chops, although I may be a little rusty.

World of Warcraft: I'm still playing. Drop me a line if you play WoW too!

Zines & sheetless article: Have I really not worked on these? I'd better get started! But before I do, I have another, major project to work on.

Which is: Without exaggeration, I can say that it will be a work of historical importance for RuneQuest fans. I'm a little intimidated at the prospect, but I'm going to devote all of my spare time to getting it done as quickly and cleanly as possible.

January 6, 2011 -

Two Years Later...: It's hard to believe that I let two full years (to the day!) go by without updating the site. I guess I owe you an explanation - "you" being anyone who still reads the site, of course!

I haven't been doing any roleplaying for many years now. As I've written before, when I moved away from the Boston area and got married ten years ago, opportunities for roleplaying became few and far between. The birth of my son nine years ago reduced my options still further. But although I missed roleplaying and much of my social life, I have to admit that I didn't miss it that much. Being a father has been wonderfully rewarding. I'm very lucky.

I did manage to get into a couple of D&D games in the area, but ultimately neither one worked out.

I'm not going to try to cover the past ten or even two years here in any detail. If you're curious, it's all on my LiveJournal. Due to a crazed stalker, more and more of the entries in that journal have been made viewable by friends only, but if you're that interested, LiveJournal accounts are free and I'm certainly open to new friending requests.

I'm also on Facebook. It's not that I particularly like Facebook, it's just that there didn't seem to be a choice; you pretty much have to be on Facebook if you want to function online these days!

World of Warcraft: I finally gave in and began playing World of Warcraft (WoW, from this point on) in late 2009. It's a time-sink, as I expected it would be. But it's fun, and since I don't have a roleplaying group in this area, it's a tolerable alternative - sort of.

RuneQuest: I still have things to say about RuneQuest, but I find myself in the odd position of not being sure what is wise for me to say. I guess it's inevitable that I'm less passionate about the system now, since I haven't been able to play it in so long; I still firmly believe that it's the best roleplaying game ever made, but, well, I don't get to USE it any more! At this point it's hard to know what to think. I'd like to see Chaosium's multi-genre Basic RolePlaying succeed, though.

Scenario: I did get to run a few sessions of RuneQuest recently, for my son, Sebastian. He's nine, getting close to the age where he can follow the rules without wanting to break them all of the time, and he's a geek at heart - just like his father.

I hadn't GMed in a long time, but I walked him through character creation. He created a human boy called "Ash", the son of the village blacksmith. I worked up a scenario off the cuff, and you know, it worked out okay! A rival of his challenged him to a race; he suggested a fist-fight instead (which surprised me quite a bit, since that's really not in Sebastian's character). They arranged a rendezvous north of the village near the mouth of an old cave, but when Ash got there he could hear the voice of his rival calling for help from inside the cave. A large spider-monkey-like thing had attacked him and dragged him into the cave, cocooning him in silk and giving him a mildly poisonous bite as well. Ash got lucky and criticalled the spider in the head with a Disrupt spell for maximum damage; all fair rolls, no cheating on my part (I was actually anticipating more of a battle than that). He rescued the boy and got him home, with a few minor happenings along the way.

The second scenario began with Ash's pet wolf (well, wolf-dog) acting rather frantic. He managed to lead Ash off into the woods. Hacking his way through brush that was higher than his head, Ash encountered a large, shadowy shape that was taller than he was. It turned out to be...the foot of an injured giant. Unfortunately before he realized what it was, he criticalled the foot. Luckily for him, the giant was unconscious. He went back to get others from the village; two of his friends, and the village healer. The healer is now working on the giant, while Ash and his friends are guarding them both. From occasional delirious mumbling, they've been able to determine that the giant is hiding from someone or something, and that something else has been taking bites out of him in the middle of the night.

Since Sebastian isn't web-enabled, I can tell the rest of it here: The giant is actually quite young, only nine years old (Sebastian's age). He ran away from home, and is hiding from his parents. He fell and hurt himself badly; a large carnivore has been coming by in the night to dine on him, bit by bit.

His parents will eventually find him. They are, however, quite small: only half human size. You see, this race of giants shrinks as they get older.

Arisia: I'll be doing eight or nine panels at Arisia on January 14-17 in Boston. The RuneQuest panel two years ago was a dud, I'm afraid; there were only two people in the audience, and I was the only panelist. I won't be suggesting a RuneQuest panel again. But I am doing a few roleplaying panels. The highlight of the con for me will probably be the Masquerade (costume contest), though. We've made a costume for Sebastian at the Kamikaze Kids event every year, and he always goes on stage. It's a big event, and lots of fun. Next year we might actually enter the contest!

Zines & sheetless article: No progress on these, unfortunately. But I do want to get them done. I'll do my best not to let things go again!

January 6, 2009 -

Anniversary: Happy New Year to all! I also should note that this site has now been online for over twelve years. I wonder what that would be in dog years?

Site hacked: The site was infected at least twice over the past few months; I believe that I've figured out the source, and taken steps to block it permanently. The server was also hacked very recently, and that too has been fixed. The internet has become a much more dangerous place than it was twelve years ago!

RuneQuest Panel: A RuneQuest panel has been scheduled for the upcoming Arisia science fiction convention in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It's a great con, now in its twentieth year; the first Arisia was my first convention, and I haven't missed one since. I'll be a panelist (in fact, currently I'm the only scheduled panelist) on the RQ panel, of course. In fact, I have to admit that this panel was my suggestion. If any readers feel like stopping by and chatting about RuneQuest (including all versions of Basic RolePlaying), the panel is currently scheduled for room 201 on Sunday at 5 PM. The con itself runs from Friday, January 16th, though Monday, January 19th. Of course you'd have to either buy a membership or a day pass to get in. Here's the panel description:

RuneQuest Reborn: Out of print for a decade, the classic skill-based RPG is now being published by three different (and competing) game companies. What's going on? Why three different versions, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

Zines & sheetless article: Sure enough, I got sidetracked and haven't done anything more with zines. I'll have to do something about that, although for the moment I'm preparing for Arisia (I'm scheduled to be on ten panels, including the RuneQuest one). No further progress on the sheetless roleplaying article, I'm afraid - in fact, it had completely slipped my mind until I re-read this page! It's strange how my mind completely lost track.

Typically I get much more involved in genre stuff after Arisia, though, so there should be a lot more updates in the next few months - assuming that the site or server doesn't get hacked again. I'm hoping that the Chaos Project will eventually go up in an interactive format, too, but that's not really under my control right now.

October 17, 2008 -

Recovery: My elbow is healing remarkably well; it didn't need surgery, just physical therapy.

RuneQuest Rules Hit Locations: I've made a few posts over on the RQ-Rules list on a thread about targeting hit locations. Might as well copy them here.

Combat skills and modifiers: how about adding the ability to sacrifice skill for time? Say, allow an attacker to be one strike rank quicker at a reduction of 10% to their chance to hit. I'd suggest that the skill cost for each additional strike rank reduction should be double the previous cost, i.e. -10% for the first SR, -20% for the second, -40% for the third, etc. - with a minimum limit of 1 SR. The skill reduction would apply to all attacks made that round, so if the combatant took a big reduction and made a fast attack and then a second attack (or more), those later attacks - even though not hastened - would still be made at a penalty.

Targeting hit locations: Here's an idea which is probably crazy: How about instead of allowing direct manipulation of the hit location, each SR of delay allows an additional d20 hit location roll? Then the attacker can chose which of those d20s to use. This would leave in an interesting amount of randomness (which would reflect the possibility that some locations would simply not be open to attack in a given round), while improving the chance of hitting a desirable location.

It would also eliminate the need to create a specialized chart for every different creature type.

Zines: I'm down to just SEVEN more zines. After that, I'll have to come up with new content. That article on sheetless roleplaying is still in the works, too. If anyone would like to see the working copy, please drop me a line.

September 11, 2008 -

A small problem: I recently broke my left elbow while hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire (a truly beautiful spot). This has slowed my work down on the site quite a bit, as you can probably imagine. Nonetheless, I managed to get another zine scanned and annotated today, and will continue to work on the site.

I'm down to just eight more zines. After that, I'll have to come up with new content. That article on sheetless roleplaying is still in the works, too. If anyone would like to see the working copy, please drop me a line.

July 22, 2008 -

Basic Roleplaying at last!

I received my playtester's copy of Basic RolePlaying, The Chaosium Roleplaying System on Saturday. It's huge! 399 pages.

I'm reading the character creation chapters now, and so far I'm absolutely delighted; it's even better than I expected. It's very true to the spirit of classic RuneQuest, far more so than the version put out by Mongoose. The optional rule sets allow an extremely faithful recreation of the RQIII system. The magic system, which was a point of concern for me in the playtest, is better than I'd hoped; it includes the battle/spirit-magic spells from the original Basic RolePlaying, and is thus entirely compatible with RQ. For example, "Sharpen" in the new book is identical to the RQ spell "Bladesharp".

I just hope Chaosium offers a hardcover edition, because I'll buy one.

On other fronts...

Zines: I've annotated and posted a lot more zines in the last few days. What's more, thanks to Joe Teller (the former assistant editor of Interregnum, he helped Kiralee McCauley after she took the reins) I've been able to post a PDF of the complete issue of Interregnum #1 - and it's only about 5MB! Curtis Taylor let Joe scan his copy, so I owe both Joe and Curtis my thanks.

July 18, 2008 -

The end of "Rack & Rune": I just finished annotating the final two issues of my old zine, Rack & Rune*. They'll go up when this installment of Chatter does. I have to say, annotating those old zines was quite a trip down memory lane, even though the lane was washed out in spots! I'll miss Rack & Rune, strange though that may sound. Of course, I still have 18 more zines to convert, scan, annnotate and post; the issues of "The Log That Flies" that I wrote for my own APA, Interregnum.

By the way, does anyone know if zine titles should be in quotes, italicized, or what? I'm confused!

Update the look?: Okay, I have to ask. Having spent a year away from the site, I may be looking at it with fresh eyes. It does look awfully dated, doesn't it? Is it time to think of a major redesign?

Speaking of which, I did a quick and relatively minor redesign on this page. I worked a long time on the runic background art years ago, but the fact remains that it does make it harder to read text. So I'm using these white boxes to make Chatter easier to read.

Basic RolePlaying site: I can't remember if I ever came right out and said it, but I've been working with a small group of people - well, primarily one person these days - on a new site that supports Chaosium's new Basic Roleplaying system, AKA "The Chaosium D100 System". It's called Basic Roleplaying.Net, and it will include the new version of the Chaos Project. I plan to contribute other material to that site as well, but I'll also be posting the same stuff here. CBRP/D100 is much closer to the spirit and tradition of RuneQuest than Mongoose "RuneQuest", which I'm not particularly supporting in this site.

One thing I should probably write up for both this site and the BRP site is my idea of skill-enhancing charms.

Sheetless Roleplaying article: Still working on it. Well, still thinking about it, anyway. It's definitely going to happen, but I can't say when; I hope it won't be too long. I've set it up as a Google document, but it's still in the very early stages.

* - Rack & Rune #22 appeared in the final issue of The Wild Hunt, and I don't expect we'll ever see another issue.

July 16, 2008 -

Changes: Okay, I have to admit it. I neglected the site for far too long. That was probably because I haven't had a chance to play RuneQuest in a long, long time. What finally got me to start working on the site again? It's simple: I became so frustrated and disgusted with the political situation here in the US that I finally had to have something to distract myself with. It was just a coincidence that I picked up a combination scanner/printer last month, allowing me to scan the 30+ old zines which have been laying fallow in my file cabinet.

Zines: Reading and annotating those old zines has been a real trip down memory lane. Some of them make me cringe, of course. But it's not as bad as I feared. And I'm actually really enjoying some of the later ones. I just finished annotating Rack & Rune #19 today (a monster-sized issue, 31 pages!) and was surprised at how readable it was.

It's also kind of disconcerting how much I've forgotten.

Oh well. There are lots more zines to go - 21 in all.

Zine conversions: I've had all sorts of problems converting my old zines. This is Chatter, so I can talk about the technical details without apologizing, I guess!

Rack & Rune hasn't been a problem, in a way. I saved copies of each zine, and bound them into a notebook. So scanning them has been a straightforward process. The image quality isn't that great, I'll admit. That's not the fault of the scanner; rather, the problem is that the copies I saved were several generations old, copies of copies of copies. And of course the earlier zines were originally printed on a dot-matrix printer.

What I dislike about scanned zines is that they're not text-searchable. The whole page is an image. That almost certainly means that the results can't be cataloged by Google, for example. To get around that, I've been creating extensive tables of contents for each scanned zine on the main Zines page. I'm even including the full name (when possible) of each person that I commented on in that zine; that way, maybe some of my old fellow contributors and writers will come across the site while doing a vanity seach.

The one drawback is that the new TOCs make the ones for zines that I've already posted look very skimpy. So now I'm thinking that I may need to go back and re-do the TOCs on the older zines.

There's another conversion issue that's kind of weird. Virtually all of my old zines were created on Publish-It! 4.0 for Windows. That program hasn't been published in a long time, though. It still works, amazingly enough, but crashes completely when I try to output it to Acrobat. So I have to print the zines out (at least that works) and scan them. Which once again results in zines that can't be text-searched.

Many of the old zines also lack art. Some or all of the art is missing. For the most recently-written zines, that's because of a glitch in Publish-It. I can insert new art and print them out anyway. For the older zines, though, I generally didn't print them with art. I didn't have much art in electronic form, you see; that sort of thing was much more rare in the 90s! Instead, I'd insert blank spaces and frames in the layout, and then photocopy art from books of Dover clipart, reducing or enlarging the art as needed.

I'm inserting electronic clipart as needed, but for technical reasons I sometimes have to make the art much smaller than the frames or spaces. It doesn't look great. Still, beggars can't be chosers!

Sheetless roleplaying article: I recently realized with a shock that I'd never written or posted an article about sheetless roleplaying. This is a huge omission on my part. I've talked about sheetless gaming at Arisia on various panels over the years, and I know I've promised to post an article more than once. What can I say? I forgot! So now I've started work on the sheetless roleplaying article. I'm hoping to do the concept justice.

BRP: The Chaosium System / Basic RolePlaying started shipping late last month. I haven't received a playtester's copy yet, and I'll admit that I can't wait. It should be here any day now...I hope. I have to admit that I feel kind of guilty about getting a playtester's credit, much less a free copy; I didn't think I'd provided that much useful feedback.

The Chaos Project: Alxnet, the free service I used to create the site guestbook and the Chaos Project, is pretty much dead. The Alxnet site still exists, and I can even log on to my account. But when I try to view any of my web-tools, I'm instantly logged out and receive an error message. Emails to Alxnet are met with a permanent fatal error.

That means I've pretty much lost the guestbook forever. Fortunately I saved every entry of the Chaos Project a while ago, so unless someone entered one in the last year or two - unlikely, it was pretty much unreachable - I have all the data. I entered it all into a Google spreadsheet, so it's saved.

The Chaos Project is now viewable over on It can't be modified - nobody can add an entries to it - but you can view everything, and with any luck it will soon be fully open for business. Registration will be required to add entries, but anyone will be able to read and search entries. I think it will also be available directly from this site, but if not I'll include a link.

Well, that should do it for this entry!


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So what do you think?

[email protected] Copyright 2008 by Peter Maranci. Revised: March 06, 2012. version 1.11