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The Bestiary – Procession of Orpheus

A recent read (The Bestiary by Nicholas Christopher, http://amzn.com/038533737X) drew my attention to the following interesting poem and artwork, while doing some digging into what free resources were now at my disposal as an alumnus of GWU (sadly far far fewer than when I was a paying student). Both works are the products of 19th century French creatives.

You set yourself against beauty.
And how many women have been
victims of your cruelty!
Eve, Eurydice, Cleopatra:
I know three or four more after. – A.S. Kline

The translated poem name, so similar to the book, was something that caught my attention and made me wonder if the N. Christopher knew of it in writing his own work as the wonderfully laid out wood-cuts closely mirrored the style of the images in the bestiary sought in his work. The work is in the public domain, but not widely republished. Two variants of the works that I have found:

Sadly both contribute their own strings and licenses – but the translation on wiki is in the public domain (CA, share-alike) as are the wood-cuts. Despite this, I felt the short verses might inspire gamers and non-gamer alike. For the gamer, perhaps a verse or set for a simple riddle that the players must overcome? “Guess what my rhymes are about.”

Just imagine the telling of any verse to a group of curious players!


Google+: Hangouts – Distributed Table Top Gaming

You heard it here first. Sate your need to be a nerd from the privacy of your own home with up to 10 friends via Google+ (G+ from now on for ease of typing on my blog). Find some soda and pizza, turn the lights down low, and snag your old and dusty game manuals because it’s time to begin using G+’s hangout feature for some good old fashion goblin slaying.

If you’re unfamiliar with the new Google Hangout, check out Google’s promo for it. They’ve basically created a Skype-like protocol for group chats. Many are already using it for distributed work and meetings. The service allows for video and voice, but also allows for the sharing of materials and videos.

For table top gaming, users could manage character sheets via Google Docs, private message with each other and the DM for strategies and subterfuge, and rely upon the face-to-face nature of the Hangout to beat the baddies into submission. As others have already said, you can get a lot of power out of the collaborative workspace within Docs. Why not extend this with some face-to-face time via this free to use G+ service.

Logistics

Based upon my readings of hangouts used for work settings, some basic tenats for table-top success need to be followed.

  • The DM as Moderator – A hangout is great, but with the current talker highlighted in the main view screen in the middle, the line can get pretty cluttered if individuals aren’t good about taking turns. A DM can act as moderator in this regard and “own the floor” for his or her players.
  • Be ready for a bit of latency – the more people you add the more likely you are to run into minor latency issues. This is not a deal breaker by any means, but recognize that voice and video chat is intensive for those with slow connections. This is likely a game breaker for anyone without high-speed connections.
  • Data usage – be aware that this service has been reported to utilize a lot of data in a short amount of time. Related to the latency issue above, group calling requires a lot of bandwidth to pipe in, and for those with capped data packages (Canada) you may quickly eat up all your monthly allowance in a single gaming session.

There are likely other issues to consider and or third-party apps to utilize for this. If you think of any other aspects that are key, let me know. This is just a quick heads up that you can use this service to enjoy your fantasy adventures without leaving home.