jojo’s bizarre adventure

Persona 4 Golden was a letdown, but Over Arms may not be

As I’ve been recovering from my surgery, I’ve been playing Persona 4 Golden (as well as some Among Us, which has been fun)—I was really excited when it came to Steam as I thought it would be a good opportunity to play a game that seemed perfect for me that I missed out on as a kid. Well, it might’ve been perfect for me as a kid, but, as an adult, I got tired of the game after 23-ish hours (which is decent, but the game is supposed to be about three times as long). The story is intriguing, most—most—of the characters are interesting, but the gameplay is very cyclical throughout and there aren’t any mechanics that really felt like they stood out. It felt like a Digimon game or something, which is okay, and then it didn’t go anywhere (and now I’m even more interested in playing Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition just to see how the games compare). More than anything, it felt like a visual novel, which just isn’t my cup of tea, and it led to the game feeling even more tedious and slow. Of course, Persona 4 is originally a PS2 game, so I guess I’ll cut it a little bit of slack based on its age, but I was definitely let down.

I really like all of the concepts of Persona, which, of course, made me think of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. I even have an idea for a story with personality-based guardian spirits somewhere on a very far back backburner. I’d even love to play with similar concepts in a tabletop RPG game, and I came close to trying to throw something together some months ago, but I’m even more excited about it now because Over Arms exists. It was just recently funded on Kickstarter, and it definitely shows some promise (although, I will admit it might be hard for me to see through these hype goggles without any sort of bias).

This is an odd post, but I wanted to throw this stuff out there. Honestly, I think I’m a bit overly heartbroken by Persona 4 Golden because I was expecting something life-changing. Oh well. Next up is Darkest Dungeon to help me get even more MÖRK BORG-ish vibes flowing in my veins. Oh, and even more Among Us. I know so much of the internet is a walking advertisement for that game right now, but it really is fun, especially if you have a group to play it with.

Tabletop RPGs other than GURPS and diving into the OSR scene

What a hefty title! As I type this out, I’m listening to Mörk Borg by GNOLL—that’ll be important a little bit later. As I’ve talked about in at least one of my monthly updates (including last month’s in which I shared a link to a thread about alternatives to GURPS), I’ve been experiencing GM fatigue, burnout, whatever you want to call it; but I also think I’ve been experiencing some kind of GURPS fatigue. (Maybe I just need to put more points in HT.) As much as I love the system, I think it might be too much for me—at least, for right now. The way that my group plays (and I tend to GM) is looser and more narrative and more focused on what feels right even though we all so much adore that GURPS is so great at simulation, which is really cool, but it kind of begs me to overthink things a lot. At our core, I think my group is more of a Fate group, but that’s not the right system for us either because it’s too loose and things start to feel very same-y after a while. (And I’m only talking about our experiences, of course.)

So, what do I want? Well, it would be something a lot like Fate (flexible, narrative, player-focused), but it would feel less like a toolkit, it would put a greater emphasis on equipment, it wouldn’t be so narrative-focused that it kind of waves away magic, and it would scale well in size and power level (which is why I thought “Knowing Your Own Strength” from Pyramid #3/83: Alternate GURPS IV was such a good start at this for GURPS). I really enjoy not having HP (which is why I really like “Conditional Injury” from Pyramid #3/120: Alternate GURPS V), classes, and levels.

Well, what else is out there? As I said, I have some experience with Fate, which I really do like. For a party-ish pick-up-y game, I’ve played lots of Everyone Is John, which is also fun, but is obviously not the kind of game I want to play for anything more than a session or two. Of course, there’s always Dungeons & Dragons, and I’ve dabbled in 3.5e, 4e, and 5e. I’m glad I did because it allowed me to find Eberron, but even D&D feels like too much while also feeling restricted. (Again, to me. I’m definitely not saying it is, and your mileage may greatly vary!) I’m not a fan of classes and spell lists, and I really think that there are just better alternatives even if I want that same D&D feeling (without going full Dungeon Fantasy RPG, of course). I also tried out the first edition of Pathfinder way back when, and that gave me similar feelings.

Now, as we’ve recently been playing Deadlands in my group, I know that Savage Worlds exists. As I’ve read over SWADE, it seems like it wants to be what I want: fun, fast, and furious. Better yet, PK has some great house rules and gives the system a nice recommendation: “Despite its quirks, Savage Worlds may be the best universal system when it comes to balancing groups of wildly disparate abilities and power levels.” That really speaks to me, and I even reached out to let PK know that said review convinced me to give it a go. Which I haven’t yet. But I’ll surely get there! Now, Savage Worlds still has a spell list of sorts with its powers, but they’re much more generic and there are guidelines on how to reflavor them, which is great. Plus, there’s a wonderfully-made Eberron conversion for SWADE, which means I can play Eberron without D&D and also without doing the heavy lifting of converting Eberron to a more palatable system (for my particular tastes).

Some other options I’ve found:

  • Numenera and the Cypher system in general seem pretty promising, and I’d definitely like to actually give it a go at some point. Numenera was actually the first tabletop RPG that my partner played—thanks to some random frat party.
  • Call of Cthulhu and the Basic Roleplaying system also seem interesting. If our group was more into horror, it’d probably be a higher priority.
  • Big Eyes Small Mouth and the Tri-Stat dX system, the Hero system, and Mutants and Masterminds are all recommendations I’ve been given, but they feel so close to GURPS that I’d rather play that instead (though, I will say that all three of them handle powers and balance quite a bit better).
  • Powered by the Apocalypse feels like an okay narrative system, but I don’t think we’d like it.
  • Genesys seems really popular for this kind of play style, but I don’t like the funky dice.
  • Cortex Prime also feels promising. It seems like it falls somewhere between Fate and Savage Worlds, which sounds right for us. I’ll definitely be giving this one a try.
  • Blades in the Dark is relatively new (to me, at least) tabletop RPG that I know very little about, but it seems like people on the internet really like it. Industrial fantasy sounds up my group’s alley, so this one has to get a try at some point.
  • Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine is another game that I’ve heard about only recently, and, while our group doesn’t ever really do the whole slice-of-life thing, we all enjoy Studio Ghibli movies, so it seems worth checking out for that feeling.
  • The Fantasy Trip is supposed to be something like GURPS 0e, and it has gained a fair amount of support and popularity since its revival in 2019. So, of course I have to check it out.
  • Everywhen just popped up on my radar, and I’ve seen a lot of reviews talking about it as if it’s the middle ground for other people who have likewise pendulum’d between GURPS and Fate—just based on that alone, it seems like it’d be worth a try.
  • Mörk Borg then showed itself to me. (Really, I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it even though it was just a few days ago. Perhaps it was the will of SHE.) A rules-lite over-the-top doom metal fantasy game that leans into itself while simultaneously not taking itself too seriously that hasn’t been out for long but already has a great community? Fantastic. Now, I’m not usually a fan of d20 systems (as I’m a true believer of the 3d6 bell curve), so that says a lot. Plus, the game is gorgeous. It feels like someone tried to turn in one assignment both to their art and game design class. Now, the art (and the dozen fonts) can detract from the experience of reading it, but it has a handy more-easily-readable guide toward the back of the most important rules. I judged a book by its cover, and it has already paid off.

Let’s leave the bullet point and talk even more about Mörk Borg. (I love the colors, and my site is currently pretty much themed for it.) It’s fun, fast, and furious—so, watch out, Savage Worlds. But what exactly is Mörk Borg? Like, what makes it tick? Where did it come from? Why does something like that even exist? What had I been missing in my GURPS-centric world? It turns out I had been missing a growing community filled with indie tabletop RPGs and zines. Why let Wizards of the Coast or some other big company have all of the fun if indie hobbyists can do it better? A big part of this seems to be OSR, which is Old School Revival (or Renaissance or Roleplaying). I am just a wee baby, so I would rather let Questing Beast explain what OSR is. Now, I guess Mörk Borg isn’t actually “true OSR”, but it is definitely OSR-ish or OSR-adjacent or whatever. (And I guess that would make The Fantasy Trip something like GURPS OSR.) Still, the spirit of OSR tends to capture what I’m looking for, especially those that focus more on narrative and eschew classes (and, yes, I know that Mörk Borg has optional classes, but it also has an optional non-class-based feat system).

So, I stumbled into a whole new facet of my tabletop RPG hobby, and I hope this mania simmers and leaves me with a steady rekindled flame of passion. Especially because I’m going to be running Mörk Borg in about a week and a half.

Some games that I’ve stumbled upon so far (not all OSR or even adjacent):

  • The White Hack (a streamlined and innovative OSR-compatible retroclone)
  • The Black Hack (a more-recent streamlined and innovative OSR-compatible retroclone)
  • Macchiato Monsters (which is like a fusion of The Black Hack and The White Hack, and it is very high on my to-play list)
  • Beyond the Wall
  • The Legend of Zelda: Reclaim the Wild
  • Legend of Zelda RPG (which was made by 4chan, I guess)
  • OSRIC
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess
  • Maze Rats and also Knave (which are made by the Questing Beast, look amazing, and are very high on my to-play list)
  • Into the Odd and also Electric Bastionland
  • Jump the Shark (another silly one-shot micro-RPG)
  • Over Arms (which is inspired by JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and Persona—count me in!)
  • NUMA (which is about frog samurai—count me in!)
  • Pacts and Blades
  • Into the Bronze
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • OSE
  • Prole and also Tunnel Goons
  • Acres Past (the game formerly known as Acres Wild)
  • Night Yeast (a cool zine)
  • Dissident Whispers (a great BLM-supporting anthology)
  • Troika
  • Torchbearer
  • Swords & Wizardry

Really, I can’t vouch for any of these too terribly much, and this list is likely way more helpful for me (to keep track of all of this stuff) than it is for you. Still, there’s some kind of lesson in here about how I’ve been into the tabletop RPG hobby for over a decade and have only just now stumbled across these games thanks to chance and GM burnout. I’m excited to do something different. Well, more than something… There are a lot of games on my list. The good news is that I’ll probably never burn out on a system again. Oh, but—one last thing—I can vouch for Mörk Borg. I ran a quick one-shot duet with my partner, and we agreed very quickly that it feels nice and fun.

It’s a life update! 3

It’s been almost a year since my last life update.

Believe it or not, I did beat Bioshock Infinite. I have to say that it was a pretty good game, and I’m usually not that interested in shooters.

I also beat Gris. It was a short and sweet game just as I had expected.

Pillars of Eternity was also an interesting experience. I love RPGs, but it was actually my first real foray into real-time with pause combat. I can’t say that I enjoyed that part of it too much, but everything else was really great—well, except for all of the loading screens. The story and the world were very interesting, and it provided me with a lot of creative fuel.

SteamWorld Dig 2 and SteamWorld Heist were awesome, of course. After beating SteamWorld Dig, I expected nothing less. I really enjoyed the turn-based shooting combat in SteamWorld Heist, and the music by Steam Powered Giraffe was absolutely amazing. I still listen to it. Plus, the Western vibes sparked ideas that led to my NaNoWriMo 2019 Project.

I’ve been playing a bunch of Deep Rock Galactic. I think that game has made it into my list of all-time favorites—it’s become my most played game on Steam! Rock and stone, brother!

At the behest of my BFF, I also watched Fringe. All of it. Unfortunately. No, not unfortunately, but the show started to drag and became very predictable in the later seasons, and that’s ignoring the plot holes. We watched a lot of it at ×1.5 speed. It was a fun sci-fi show, but it wasn’t anything close to as revolutionary as watching Battlestar Galactica.

Now, I’m re-watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars with my partner (as she’s never seen it before) so we can watch the latest season. We recently watched all of the Star Wars movies so she could finally experience them all for the first time, and she’s quite impressed that an animated series was actually able to make Anakin into a good character. Obviously, I agree.

I’ve been working on my coffee game. Using an Aeropress is nice, and I’ve recently ditched ‘good’ coffee for Café Bustelo. I’m trying to master café cubano and la espuma.

Looking back at my original life update, I didn’t end up giving a shit about Pokémon Sword and Shield. I was and still am salty about the lackluster games, and I ended up turning to ROM hacks and Temtem to fill that void (though, I haven’t actually bought Temtem yet). Super Mario Maker 2 and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled ended up falling by the wayside for me. The next Animal Crossing game is finally coming out soon, and I will definitely be snatching that right away! Baldur’s Gate 3 took the spot of Divinity: Fallen Heroes, but I’m quite happy about that. Oh, and I played some Halo: Reach, but it got boring faster than I thought it would.

Now, I did finally get around to finishing Part 7 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. It was probably my least favorite part so far.

I’ve started going to therapy again, which is always nice.

I’m still struggling with the symptoms from my infection, but they have calmed down a bit. I recently had a follow-up appointment with my doctor, and he said to monitor my symptoms a bit more closely so I could see how much they were going away. My swelling is pretty much gone, but the pain still comes and goes. Still, the doctor felt confident that the pain would resolve too; however, if it doesn’t, I could be looking at microsurgery for a nerve. Yuck.

Now, when I first wrote out the draft for this post (which was about two weeks ago), I hadn’t gone to the clinic, which also means that the big COVID-19 panic hadn’t started yet. Ohio has been on the forefront of reacting to the situation in the United States, and I am easily overwhelmed and it is quite easy for me to feel hopeless, so it has been a tough time. Luckily, just hours before things started shutting down, I was wise enough to grab about twenty boxes of (protein-packed) pasta, so things should be good here for a while. No, I did not go out and get a dozen packs of toilet paper and a dozen bottles of hand sanitizer. Preparedness is obviously important, but the people who are panic-buying just to panic-buy should slow down. At this point, OSU has online-only classes for the rest of the semester, public libraries have closed, bars have closed, and restaurants are doing pickup and delivery only. Things are changing too quickly, though, so I won’t say much else.

I did go out and vote early a few days ago just in case. Of course, I voted for Bernie Sanders, and I opted for a paper ballot. I’m doing my part, I guess.

Oh, and on an even brighter note, my life-long best friend visited me for a few days. We both really needed it, though we unfortunately didn’t get to do a lot of what we wanted to do because of how fast the COVID-19 panic was ramping up. We did start playing Doom, though. When I drove him all the way home to drop him off, I visited my family as well. It was nice to see them, bitch about politics, eat good food, and getting good feels by petting three cats and a dog.

So, I’ve already updated the font for Greyfolk

It’s actually already reflected in my previous post. After I published that post, I realized that I was seeing some inconsistencies across my phone, my computer, and my girlfriend’s laptop. The font looked much sharper on my phone and on my girlfriend’s laptop while appearing fuzzy on my monitor. “How can that be?” I wondered. My monitor has a 4k resolution just like my girlfriend’s laptop, and I’d be surprised if my font showed up best on the mobile site on my phone (which it did). So, I went crazy. I knew that the font was not allowed to look better for other people when it wouldn’t even obey the display of its creator!

But why was it doing this? Does it have to do with anti-aliasing in Chrome? In Windows 10? Does it have to do with resolution or scaling or sub-pixel stuff? Well, no one really knows, unfortunately. Such secrets have apparently been banished from the internet. Luckily for my sanity, I’m a pretty good problem-solver.

When I first created the font, I was using 1024×1024 svg files with 64×64 squares to make a 16×16 grid to ensure that my font would be pixel perfect. Well, no, that’s not what happened at all. It was fuzzy because—for whatever frakking reason!—it was creating a bunch of sub-pixel colorful noise stuff around what should otherwise be pixel perfect lines.

So, I said yare yare daze and tried using 1200×1200 svg files with 75×75 squares to make a 16×16 grid in the hope that this would translate better to 12pt font. It didn’t. Then, I had the thought that I should create a smaller “pixel” within the squares. I did it this way and that way, but I ended up with 1024×1024 svg files with 64×64 squares to make a 16×16 grid except the “pixels” were (basically) 48×48 in the middle of the 64×64 squares, resulting in a “thinner” “pixel”. Yeah, I was definitely making stuff up, but it worked—for the most part. Like, 6 times out of 7, it’s much sharper than it was before, and, because I was already screwing around with the font anyway, I added a few new things.

Here’s the alphabet:

m n p t k f s h l w y a e i o u
m n p t k f s h l w y a e i o u

Here are some syllables:

pa  pla  pam  plam 
pa pla pam plam

Here’s a sentence:

pe  pom  te 
pe pom te
I love you

Here are some other (stand-in) characters:

c q _ ?
c q _ *

*stands in for any other character

Also, «c» and «q» don’t mean anything. «c» is my test vowel and «q» is my test consonant, and, together, they help me test syllable structures with «qc», «qqc», «qcq», and «qqcq».

qc  qqc  qcq  qqcq 
qc qqc qcq qqcq

These syllables are utter trash, but they illustrate the other end of my font problem. With the “thinner” “pixels”, some vertices just like to disappear. Seriously, just look at the difference of the «c» between «qc» and «qqc». In «qc», the «c» has all of its vertices, but, in «qqc», it doesn’t! At least, that’s how it’s appearing on my monitor.

For now, however, this is more than good enough.

It’s a life update!

This is mostly for me, really, but you might learn some fun things too!

The weather was warm today! That was nice. I’m slowly recovering from my cervical radiculopathy, I think.

I’ve been listening to the My Brother, My Brother, and Me podcast as well as the audiobook for A Memory of Light from The Wheel of Time series.

What about video games? Grim Dawn just got its Forgotten Gods update. I love that game and I’ve been meaning to get back to it once the update came out! Deep Rock Galactic also just got a substantial update. It’s been a minute, but I’ve also been enjoying Stardew Valley a lot. Also, both Borderlands 3 and Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition were just announced, so that’s really exciting. It’s also Pokémon season—supposed leaks about Pokémon Sword and Shield have been everywhere. Super Mario Maker 2 and Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled are both coming out in June. There are rumors about two new Nintendo Switch console versions being released. I’ve been meaning to play some more of Wargroove ever since the update for that came out. And I’m always on Metroid Prime 4 and Animal Crossing watch. I’ve got a bunch of other games in my backlog like Divinity: Original Sin 2, which I’ve been dying to give another shot. And they just announced Divinity: Fallen Heroes, which looks pretty cool. And there’s Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire which is getting a turn-based mode reminiscent of what I love so much about the Divinity series. And what about Dwarf Fortress and Halo: The Master Chief Collection coming to Steam? And what’s this about Risk of Rain 2? That looks really interesting, though I couldn’t much get into the first one. It’s a good time to be alive… and I’m starting to think that this post was just a subconsciously-created excuse to talk about all of the overwhelming feelings about video games I apparently have. I don’t even consider myself a gamer, but look at all of those great games!

I’ve been reading the manga of and watching the anime of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures, and, boy, has it been an incredible journey. オラオラオラオラ! Not only do I finally understand all of the memes, but it has been deeply inspirational.

There’s also The Great British Bake Off, which I’ve been watching with my girlfriend. And Daredevil, which I’ve been watching with her and my dad—it’s been a bit disappointing. I still need to watch Get Out and also The Cat Returns. My girlfriend also told me that Legally Blonde is on my list. Like, she told me that just now. Oh, and we just watched Incredibles 2! That was nice.

The GURPS-related DFRPG Kickstarters for Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 2 and The Citadel at Norðvorn were both big successes as far as I could tell. I’ve also been watching the development of Ooblets over on Patreon, which could also go under video games, but talking about Kickstarter is what made me think of it. Oh, and, likewise, I’m also watching out for Littlewood.