December 31, 2008

Zunes ban together... to crash and piss off their owners.

Apparently Zunes all over the world crashed today.

As I said before, I'm an Apple kind of person.  I feel kind of vindicated in my purchase.  Watch, in the next three months Apple will screw up something and all the Microsoft fanboys will be laughing at me.  In the meantime: HA!

December 30, 2008

How Do You Run It? Noticing GMing styles

The Boyfriend introduced me to some awesome people over the summer who I now visit downstate whenever I'm in town from school.  We visited them with some other friends this weekend, which was the nerdy vacation I mentioned before.  We always end up playing some video games, some board games, and if there are enough people we play SLA Industries.  Good times were had all around.

The interesting thing to me was how different is the style of GMing is for the guy who's house it is.  He's the one who runs SLA, and he runs it well.  However, he's the only person I've seen (or at least noticed) who can run an entire game from the top of his head.  He starts with only the two sentences on the BPN, or mission statement, that we're given to pursue.  From there he's able to make up everything on the top of his head.  I find it a rather intriguing talent.  Especially since its the opposite of what I've experienced.

I started playing D&D when I was in high school.  My friend's father would run the game and me and my geek gal pals would play.  We never consistently kept up with it unfortunately but I remember that being good times.  Except for the Vampire that he had attack us.  That, at the time, felt unfair.  Tried to run a couple games of my own in high school, but it wasn't until college that I really got into RPGs.  Someone was running an D&D game in Eberron and I got back into the swing of things again.  Sophomore year I started the campaign I'm still running now, and the end of that year I started realizing there was more than D&D out there.  My eyes had been opened.  Now throughout all this time, every good DM I had planned at least something in advance.  Sometimes to the point that it was like having another class for the semester, or a part time job.  I noticed the less planned a game was, the less likely it was fun for everyone.  That's just how it is.  

I will note that since this was all college students, no one has been running games for long, and not extremely faithful to one system.  This is probably where the SLA GM has the upper hand in his ability to make a great situation on the fly.  He's older than me and has been more intensely into RPGs for a longer time than I have.  He might just have the experience to be able to just run a game off the top of his head.  I'm jealous of it to an extent, but maybe ten years from now I'll be able to do the same just fine.  Or maybe this GM friend of mine is also really good at just doing things off the top of his head and I lack that skill.

Have any of you had a GM who didn't plan but ran a great game?  Was it similar circumstances--a guy who has lots of gaming experience?  Or for some reason was this person someone who's just that good at pulling a scenario out of thin air?  Let's discuss!  Comment or feel free to email me:

-d20 Sapphire

December 25, 2008

Happy Atheist Children Get Presents Day!

Or more traditionally, Merry Christmas!

I hope you were all visited by Santa, and not by the Krampus.

Santa did get me the bag of holding for Christmas.  He also got me this awesome t-shirt.  Nerdtastic.  What great stuff did you guys get?

Today I'm going to hang out with family, then hang out with some more family, then I'm getting ready to go on a very geeky vacation.  I really need a vacation considering the stress of the last year at school, so I'm excited.  I may also not post something every day like I have been.  Don't miss me too much.

Once again, Happy Holidays!

-d20 Sapphire

December 24, 2008

NORAD Tracks Santa

If you never knew about this, click here to see where jolly St. Nick is right now.  If he's already passed your house, check under the tree now!  

Happy Holidays everyone.  Enjoy Christmas whichever way you do.

5 Last Minute or Belated Christmas Present Ideas.

Let's just get right to it.

For the RPG lover who also loves inside jokes:
The Bag of Holding

This was an easy choice for me.  I was raised on Dungeons and Dragons, and one of the most useful items in the game is the Bag of Holding.  ThinkGeek was smart enough to make one for us when we're not rolling dice at the gaming table.  This messenger bag comes with 6 useful compartments, that can hold everything from your laptop to your character sheet.  It practically is a transdimensional space that will hold everything you need.  I personally asked for this for Christmas.  This is great for nerdy college students or business geeks who don't like briefcases.  You can buy it here, and if you haven't explore I suggest you do.  There's something on that site for everyone.  I'm serious, the last two years I got my family's presents there.  Then again, I was raised by some serious nerds.

For the gadget geek that needs more than just a phone:
The Blackberry Storm

I'm not going to lie, I'm not the biggest gadget person.  That's more of my mom's thing.  But if I were to get her a touch screen phone, I'd get her this one.
Personally, I am an Apple fan.  But I don't think the iPhone is the be-all-end-all of phones.  It looks sexy and is a good product.  I refuse to get one though because I've had horrible experiences with AT&T all my life.  The Blackberry Storm is great if you don't want to go the iPhone route.  First of all it does everything the iPhone does, but its more user friendly with its touch interface.  When you touch a key it will be highlighted and it will click without actually responding.  Just hold your touch or double-click for the button to respond.  This saves a lot of time and you don't have as many errors when you text, when you're editing documents (more on that) or even just navigating through the main screen.  
This is even better if you're a business person, because you can view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, or Powerpoint documents on it.  Need to read that report before you board the plane?  Need to edit your presentation before you send it to your project leader?  No problem.  It's great for quick fixes like that.  Heck, as a student I know of times when I have needed something like that.  I'm a simple phone woman myself, but if I were to get an all-in-one product, I would go with the Blackberry Storm.  Also,  the Storm is sold through Verizon who, in my experience, has been a lot more reliable than the other phone companies I've dealt with.

For the girlfriend who doesn't get video games:
Boom Blox

Okay, not just girlfriends, but you know what I mean.  Every geek has that one friend who just doesn't get video games.  She doesn't understand why you can spend hours playing WoW and not feel guilty about wasting your time.  She doesn't get how fun it is to try to unlock every achievement or to take on a boss with almost no health left.  You try to show her, let her play Call of Duty on easy, or even talk her through Super Mario Galaxy.  I mean everyone loves Nintendo as a non-gamer, right?  But she still doesn't get it, and she just walks away frustrated, throwing the controller down and storming off to do... well whatever people do when they don't have video games.  I haven't quite figured out what that is yet.
(p.s., I know there are guys like this too.  Don't worry, I'm not a horrible sexist.)
Boom Blox is a great bridge for that gap.  First of all, it has a very simple interface and is a great example of when the Wiimote's advantages are best utilized.  Second, the goals in the game are easy to obtain and don't require the same hand-eye coordination that an FPS or a Platformer might.  All you do is move around blocks, either by throwing balls or pulling blocks out Jenga style.  It's fun with groups, but also has a great story mode.  I love this game for its simple sense of what's fun and being able to bean the blox dudes on the side when I'm tired knocking down blocks.  With the added bonus of being able to make your own levels, this game is hours of fun.  

For the hardcore gamer who's been living under a rock:
Fallout 3
If you love an FPS with a great story and a tons character choices, and you haven't played this game, what's wrong with you?  The overall experience of this game is great.  The post-apocalyptic landscape of Washington, D.C. serves as a great terrain for your character who has only seen daylight at age 19.  You play a person who has lived in a vault, and was planning on staying there too if your dad didn't run away to the wasteland outside.  As any good child you go to try and find him while discovering what happened to America after the nuclear holocaust from years ago.  In almost the same vain as Mass Effect, you're able to shape you character from day one, and continue to throughout the game, by the choices you make and who you decide to align with.  
Just play it already.  If you haven't, why not?

For the fanboy who loves the color black
The Dark Knight

I'm not a comic book person.  I didn't grow up with Batman.  I was more of a TNMT kid.  Yet I love The Dark Knight.  I would have this movie's bastard children if such a thing was biologically possible.  Christopher Nolan has served us a great moral play for the modern audience.  Even though it's a sequel it stand on its own.  (Although, if you haven't seen Batman Begins, you should.  Right now.  I mean it.)  Its a well written script with great acting all around.  Heath Ledger's last performance is fantastic, but you can't forget Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman... everyone delivered in my opinion.  Rarely do you get a movie this good in American cinema that also just literally kicks ass.  To top it off, it was shot in my hometown of Chicago, which fits the Gotham setting perfectly.  In all honesty, you could get this DVD for almost anyone and they would love it.  It's just that good of a story.

If none of that helped you...

Bonus idea
For the geek who you have no idea what to get:

I hope you all know that I'm serious.
If you are getting a gift for a RPG lover, this is useful, and it will appreciated.
The weird thing about dice is that they are kind of fascinating, even if you don't game.  They come in so many shapes and sizes and colors.  A lot of them have different functions too, for example there are dice out there with different smiley faces on each side.  Those are NPC mood dice, which are usually used by GMs who are particularly lazy about figuring out the mood of their flavor characters.  If you don't know half of what I said in the last sentence, it doesn't matter anyway because that is still a fun thing to play with if you don't game.  Think about it.  Your boos gives you some bad news, you don't know how to react.  Roll the dice and see what mood to be in!  Okay, that's actually bad business advice, but this is a nerd blog, not a how-to-keep-your-job blog.  
The point is that the variety of dice out there make it easy to pick out any combination of which someone will at least find interesting enough as a gift.  I find that my dice are a conversation piece amongst a lot of people who don't get gaming, and it turns out a lot of people think its kind of neat that I collect them.  So at least you're getting that person who you have no idea what to get something that's "kind of neat".  

December 23, 2008

Another nerd blog, who would've thunk it?

Hello vast internet universe that I know little about.  I'm one of the many people out to make a mark on the world with a blog.  Another opinion's blog.  However, I figured the the opinion of nerdy multiracial women out there is probably somewhat lacking, so this is what this blog is about.

I am d20 Sapphire.  Nice to meet you.  I want to discuss with the world my passion and interests.  It seems these days I find myself most interested in really nerdy things, like RPGs, polyhedral dice, video games and sci-fi.  I want to talk to other nerds out there, or geeks if you would prefer.  

You're probably wondering what the heck qualifies me as someone to write a blog about this stuff?  Well here I hope to give you an answer.  Let's start with the fact that I am third generation trekkie.  That's right, I said trekkie.  I wear that identity with pride.  My grandfather watched the original series with my mother, and then I grew up with Next Generation.  Its a show that's full of great ideas, and there aren't a lot of shows that do that these days.  TV wise I like a lot of other great shows, like Firefly and Heroes, but I'm a college student right now so I don't have a lot of time for TV.

Being a college student has its benefits for being a nerd.  It's been easier to run the campaign I have been for two and a half years.  It's a Dungeon and Dragons 3.5 campaign, with a heavy political bent because that's what my friends are into.  Of course we kill a ton of things as well, but it's half that and half political intrigue.  I'm damn lucky to have my PCs.  Unfortunately when I graduate in May the campaign has to be over.  I'm trying to get the big plot points to a head.  We'll see how it goes.

I'm into other RPGs as well.  Right now I play SLA industries when I can get down to see those friends, and I love Paranoia and Unknown Armies.  I find all of those fun for many different reasons.  I can get into that later.  When I graduate I want to study as many RPG systems and settings as possible.  I figure I can have one expensive hobby, so that will be it.  P.S., Greg Stolze is awesome.  If you don't know about him, google him.  He's great.

 Video games is also a big thing for me.  Well, not as big as it should be.  This is when being in college is a detriment to my hobbies.  Homework and other obligations get in the way of me being able to enjoy a lot of games I'd love to play.  I'm addicted to the Sims 2, which I know is called a girlfriend game and I know why but damn, I love that game.  I've been playing it a lot during this break.  I also have recently enjoyed the very beginning of Fallout 3 even though I have never played a FPS before.  I love watching friends play FPSs, especially games like Bioshock and Mass Effect.  

This is a great transition to talk about my current love, whom I will call the Boyfriend.  The Boyfriend is a great guy who despite his financial troubles is still working on a video game development company.  He's my video game hook-up, and he loves not only playing them but playing D&D and other RPGs.  He's also great for the occasional nerd debate. You will here more about him I'm sure, as well as a ton of other close friends.

There's a lot more about me, but that's all for now.  I think tomorrow, I'm going to talk about a list of gifts I think are great for any nerd.  Now, we all know that this blog won't be popular enough to affect anyone's shopping, but it's fun for me, so I'm doing it anyway.  

If you want to talk to me about stuff I should discuss on the blog, or tell me that I'm wrong (all of us nerds love to prove each other wrong) email me at and say hi.  I would love any ideas that you all would want to give.  Until the next post,

d20 Sapphire