My current game library, for the most part.  Still have some tomes scattered about or in storage, but that's the lion's share.

My latest haul...

I don't mind saying, one of the reasons I am an oldskool gamer is because I'm cheap. One of the great things about older games is that they can now be readily found in used bookstores, on Amazon and eBay, etc. for very reasonable prices. Here's a veritable shitload of CoC stuff I picked up from my local Half-Price Books the other day.

Note the vintage copies of Shadows of Yog-Sothoth and Nightmare in Norway (both $5.98). I have lots others, all picked up on the cheap. Just the other day I also got a copy of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia for $12 and the Delta Green: Countdown sourcebook for about $20. Indeed, I love not only finding a good copy of an old gaming book I've been looking for but also getting a bargain on it, it's fun.

My point here is that you can get quality gaming material at reasonable prices for relatively little effort. Compare that to outfitting oneself with the latest edition of WotC's transmogrified D&D. Their hardback books start retailing at $35 and go up from there. Now the print quality is definitely good (the content quality another matter entirely), but really, there is just no way I would shell out that kind of cash for a new game book, sorry. I know some people will, but I would guess they are a minority. I know it is a different time now but when I first got into gaming new game books went for about $20, $25 tops, and sourcebooks about half that.

One of the interesting things about this hobby is that the game itself is largely unaffected by advancements in technology in recent years. While the internet has allowed us innumerable ways to support and feed into our habit via forums, webstores and blogs like this one, playing the game itself is still a matter of gathering your friends and sitting down with dice, paper and pencils. This is why games that came out 20 or 30 years ago still hold up just fine. This is in stark contrast to other areas of gaming and entertainment in general, such as video games. What this means is that if a company like WotC wants to put out a compelling product it really comes down to the strength of the writing and game design - areas in which they frankly have failed to meet much less exceed our beloved games of yore.

...And Cthulhu Called

So last weekend my number came up and after some 10 months since last helming the GM's chair it was my turn. We had a break in our regular game and decided to try something different. On a lark I tossed out the idea of running Call of Cthulhu, which although we all fondly recalled, hadn't seen any of our tables in years. In fact I'm pretty sure it had been well over a decade since I last played it, much less ran it. Not that I was concerned, I still know BRP pretty well.

At first I planned to run my own session and figure out a 20's scenario about the KKK. Being short on time though I decided on a published module a few days before game time. Now, this was an exception for me, as I normally dislike published adventures, but the module was well-designed and non-linear enough to accomodate flexibility on the part of the Keeper and players (Age of Cthulhu's Death in Luxor, if you're wondering). It also featured the baddies I wanted to use (a Shoggoth - always a hoot - and a Star-Spawn).

One tactic I use in the Keeper's chair is to never announce to a player how much SAN they just lost from failing a sanity check, I just let them know on a note or something. That way the only way the other players can know just how batshit crazy that PC is going is by how well he's roleplayed. Indeed, subtly disguising the mechanics of the game makes for a more immersive experience.

Anyway the adventure was great. I had forgotten how much CoC is such a roleplayer's game, since combat and tactics (something I can admit to fixating on more than not) tends to take a backseat when facing down the horrors of the Mythos. It has a different pacing, and structure then other RPGs and a GM can pick up a lot of useful techniques and tricks applicable to other games. Presenting the flavor and culture of a historical setting is a lot of fun too. All in all, a welcome break from the sometimes board-game like mechanics of traditional FRP's. A game of CoC takes a bit more of a time commitment than other games, but it's far worth it. In this instance, half the party croaked - but everyone still had a good time. Not many games work that way.

link for the day - love this one...

Cthulhu fhtagn!

Holy Snikes

Check this out. I was on ebay last night looking around for old gaming stuff, as I am wont to do, did a quick search for Gamma World, and look what popped up.

This, it is claimed, is the original painting for the cover of 2nd ed Gamma World by the late, insanely great Keith Parkinson. All I can say is wow. Parkinson was, as far as I'm concerned, the fantasy artist of an entire age. I wouldn't have ever looked twice at Rifts if not for his righteous cover art. This piece in particular, although the title escapes me, is one of my very favorite Parkinson works. The rider and his gleaming alloy armor and weapon, the cyborg bearcat, even the background landscape and blue sky come together for a very striking piece. I always wondered what the story was behind this figure and his ultra-cool riding beast was.

What's also intriguing is this is located in my own backyard, well, somewhere in the middle of Texas anyway. Which means even if i did pony up the $6300 the seller is asking they'd hit me for sales tax too (nice way to hook up your 'fellow texans' there bub). I'll be watching this one for sure and it will be interesting to see if a buyer steps up. Over 6 large is steep but a fair price I'd say, maybe even a bargain, for a Parkinson original like this one.

UPDATE: Looks like it sold for the asking price after all!
Just clearing out the closet, and some of these have to go

link action yo

I really wish I could just keep all my gaming books and stuff, and I probably would if I could suitably store a large collection, but I can't so periodically stuff has to go. Although I've read quite a bit my actual gaming library is rather modest, maybe 100 books all told, spread over about 30 games. The auction linked above are a bunch of 2e box sets, mainly Forgotten Realms stuff. It was actually fairly easy to put that up for sale because I hadn't really had them that long, they all came from a massive lot I got on the cheap from a guy clearing out his storage space. Seems the longer I hold on to something though the harder it is to get rid of it. Which is why I still have quite a few of the books I bought back in the 80's/90's. Except the Palladium books - got rid of those long ago!

An Indispensable Guide

Picked this one up a few weeks ago at the local Half-Price Books (which is, btw, an excellent resource for OOP games). I'll admit, I hadn't ever seen or heard of this handy tome before, but I'm sure glad I found it.

For the old-school gamer, this is the pocket game reference. Pretty much every RPG made from the hobby's genesis until 1990. And let's face it, it was all done by 1990. Every thing after that was varations on established themes. Rick Swan, the author, goes to some lengths to point out in the introduction that he couldn't possible cover every single game made but it's pretty comprehensive to me, and hits every title I played growing up, plus dozens more I had never even heard of (or didn't remember). Suffice it to say it is worthy of the title The Complete Guide to Role-Playing Games.

Swan's a good writer too, and puts it from the gamer's perspective. Each game is catalogued, rated, and neatly critiqued. Cover art by Phil "Goblin Digging Team" Foglio seals the deal. Though long OOP, it is still readily available through the usual used book channels.

Original artwork from Villans & Vigilantes 2.1 on the bay

My friend and gaming legend Jeff Dee has completed the newest edition of Villans and Vigilantes - check it out here. The system is still the same as the original 1982 version, so the old school aspect is all there for me.

Not only is Jeff an accomplished game designer, he's an artist too (Fiend Folio anyone?) and is letting go of some of the original illustrations from the new edition on teh ebay - Rad!

So if you are into collectable RPG art I can't imagine a better deal, especially for fans of the old school superhero games.

Check out the auctions for the two pieces now up!

There is Shatterman and Condor and Pharoah vs Ebony Angel