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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG


The Lunchtime Game Master's Toolkit

by Ken Newquist / September 21, 2010

 RPG Blog CarnivalWhen some co-workers and I decided to try our hand at a lunch-time role-playing campaign, I knew that game prep was going to be critical to making it work. But not the sort of game prep I normally did; this was all about the physical game prep.

We're playing The Day After Ragnarok using the Savage Worlds rules, and thanks to Ken Hite's numerous adventure generation tables, the scenarios practically write themselves. No, the part the essential part of making this campaign work was making sure I knew where my towel was.

Dice. Initiative cards. A battle map. Miniatures. I have all of this stuff in my game room ... but we're not playing there. We're in an under-ventilated, odd-smelling basement conference room whose only virtues are privacy, a table, and a dry erase board.

Monster Week 2010

by Ken Newquist / June 29, 2010

Check the batteries in your motion trackers, refuel your flamethrowers, lock and load your shotgun, and make sure you've everything you need to make a few dozen pipe bombs.

Monster Week is here.

The week-long celebration of speculative fiction's monster movies is running July 25-31 at Nuketown. It focuses on "creature features", movies like Aliens, Predator and The Thing that pit humanity against overwhelming horrors. It will include movie reviews, audio commentary, game reviews and RPG reviews and anything else we can shove out the airlock.

Farewell to Mad Dog

by Ken Newquist / June 17, 2010

 Madison Up CloseMadison, my Labrador Retriever, died on Monday after 13 years of unrelenting enthusiasm for life, liberty and the pursuit of food. She was the quintessential Lab -- super happy, eager to say hello, an amazing swimmer, an even better retriever, and the kind of dog who knew how to take time to stop and eat the roses. And brownies. And cup cakes. And...

We knew she would be a challenge from the beginning: as we were signing the check to buy her, she tried to pull one of her litter-mates through a fence by his tail. It took us six months to train her to lick instead of bite, and two tours of puppy school to get her to agree to basic obedience commands.

Unless she was on the water ... in which case the only thing she'd pay attention to was her kong-on-a-rope. Or maybe ducks -- Madison once tried to catch a mallard on the Delaware River, not realizing that ducks could, you know, fly. I had to jump in the river and swim after her to get her attention. Fortunately she turned around before we got to New Jersey.

Looking for Geek Holidays

by Ken Newquist / June 15, 2010

One of my upcoming "Summon WebScryer" columns for Knights of the Dinner Table is going to be on geek holidays, those annual events of keen interest to (and usually created by) geeks. Knowledge of these events is usually spread online, and they're frequently the subject of Facebook updates, Twitter tweets, and blog posts, not to mention more than a few podcasts. Here's my preliminary list ... what am I missing?

Nuketown Database Go Boom

by Ken Newquist / June 1, 2010

You may have noticed that some recent posts were missing from Nuketown; that's because for reasons unknown, the MySQL database that drives the site became corrupted Tuesday afternoon. The database was unrecoverable, but I was able to restore from a recent (5/26) backup. As for why the database went south, I can't say though I'm planning to ping Dreamhost tech support to see if there were any database server glitches at the time.

FollowFriday: 5/14/2010

by Ken Newquist / May 14, 2010

Here's my Follow Friday list for Friday, May 14, 2010:

  • @richard_iorio Game designer at Rogue Games (Colonial Gothic, Thousand Suns)
  • @fredhicks All around cool guy, Evil Hat Productions honcho (SotC, Dresden Files)
  • @theonion The best fake news.
  • @FastRPGReviews RPG reviews in 250 words.
  • @timoreilly Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Publishing, the tech publishing juggernaut. Alpha geek of the first order.

Initial Thoughts on the iPad

by Ken Newquist / April 27, 2010

I've had some time to play around with my friends' Apple iPads since it was released. My initial impression? It's gorgeous ... but limited. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing will depend on what you want it for.

Apple built the iPad as a consumption device, and it excels at that role. While some dismiss the iPad as little more than an oversized iPad touch, this misses its primary appeal: it's huge, glossy screen. Yes, I can look at PDFs and comic books on an iPod touch, but what I see is a tiny fraction of what appears on the iPad. On a tablet, comic books loaded using the Marvel app display full-screen and are easily readable. You can zoom in if you like, but it's not essential.

The same goes for PDFs -- while there are several different ways to get PDFs onto your iPad, once they're loaded they're far easier to read than on a phone or a smaller device, like the Kindle or Nook. It surprises me that the iPad doesn’t do this natively – PDF support has always been strong in OS X – but perhaps the Adobe Flash spat is carrying over to this as well.

Web sites look great ... unless they're dependent on Flash, but honestly I dislike Flash sites and I already knew it would do that. My favorite sites tend to be blogs and text-heavy sites, and all displayed beautifully on the iPad. I see it as a great platform for casual reading with one caveat: weight.

Open Polling for Nuketown's Monster Week

by Ken Newquist / April 11, 2010

The Discovery Channel has Shark Week. That's all well and good -- sharks are equal parts terrifying and fascinating -- but why limit yourself to one species? This summer Nuketown is launching Monster Week -- one full week dedicated to the best in cinematic horror. We're going to have movie reviews, soundtrack reviews, blog and game posts inspired by said movies, and -- if I can swing it -- feature length audio commentary for a film.

Rock Candy Dinosaurs

by Ken Newquist / April 2, 2010

It began innocently enough with dinosaurs.

Kids love dinosaurs. I loved dinosaurs. Hell, I still love dinosaurs, so why wouldn't I share them with my daughter? Girls can be archeologists too after all, and this was the perfect setup to watching Indiana Jones a few years down the line.

Except that to my daughter, who was four at the time, dinosaurs weren't exotic reptilian wonders from 100 million years ago, they were 20 foot tall monsters with teeth like steak knives. Initial wonder gave way to horror, which spawned nightmares about being chased by velociraptors.