• Words of Wisdom

    Where did that beautiful site go? Who told you an unflattering text dump with a necktie background was a superior model for a website? And why did you listen?”
    Fib Gibbley, email, as soon as the site changed over.  Read more: The Whole Damn Site

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I have been playing very little UO since I returned from my vacation in August. My time away from compulsive tailoring and running around doing stupid chores for the benefit of others (mostly the guys who loot my house next) has reinforced in my mind how incredibly stupid it all is. I have been in a couple of times, mostly to refresh my house, but have taken a couple of solo walkabouts to see what happens, and besides an occasional wimpy ogre or ettin or some PK’s who are now afraid to attack because of the reputation patch, almost nothing at all happens. In addition, I’m not really making the best use of my digital connection when playing UO, as I CL at least once an hour, and lag is still horrendous even on ISDN.

I’ll give it a little more time, but will not directly tell anyone in-game about my disappointment, or else I’ll be inviting some sort of “let’s cheer up Mu” event or chat which is designed to make me believe that somehow the sense of community is the real reason to play UO, it’s the players that matter, etc. etc. (Of course now someone will read this and it will happen anyway.) This is a valid tactic, and has worked on me before, but after you go through a lot of interesting experiences and belong to several communities throughout your life, it is amazing how easy it is to flow in and out of groups of people, as it should be; you leave a group, maybe keep in touch with one or two people, and move on. Barring this argument, the only reason to stay in UO is that there is no other game like it and it’s revolutionary, which is also true, but this cannot hide the fact that it is buggy, full of idiots, and most importantly, mind-numbingly BORING.

Of course, not everyone in the game is an idiot, and it does have its moments… damn what am I doing, trying to talk myself back into it? We’ll see.

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This totally derivative adventure is blatantly based on the G1 module by Gary Gygax for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (the good edition). Like the original, it promises a flimsy premise and much slaughter. Characters may be of any type, and technically of any number, although 3-6 is suggested.

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Welcome to Shadwolf’s swill reviews.  Here I will be posting Shadowolf’s reviews of various types of liquor, most of which I won’t go near, for the edification of those who are too poor or too sane to part with huge amounts of money for a fine 18-year old single malt.

Shadwolf prefers a simple star-based rating system for those who have better things to do than read.  His criteria include flavor, value, buzz, and comedic impact.  Unfortunately, not all of the beverages he rates here can be considered truly awful by non-cogniscenti, so this information may actually be of some value to someone. – Mu

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You know something is amiss when the original editor of a game system offers an alternate take on a maneuver that he was not there to edit. He offered this version of the maneuver during some email exchanges a while ago.

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My half-Japanese heritage has bequeathed to me a rather distressing condition:  allergy to ethanol (grain alcohol).  I first discovered this when, at about 13 or so and in Austria, our group (a wind ensemble which was travelling around playing relatively bad music for Austrians who pretended to be interested) we stopped at a small rural inn which served bland food and excellent homemade wines.  After making a total idiot out of myself (as American teenagers will do when suddenly thrown into a permissive society with free access to alcohol), I went to the bathroom, where I noticed my face was entirely beet-red, and my pulse had shot up to somewhere around 135 beats per minute.  This was the first sign of my allergic reaction, which is a fairly common one among Japanese and was well-known in my particular family.  Meanwhile the other parts of my genetic makeup (primarily the English, Scotch and Sioux) were pushing for me to drink more than ever.  This is the fine line I walk.

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One day, as I was sitting around with absolutely nothing to do and discussing the Street Fighter system with Tony Faber, I realized that just about every single unbalanced thing in Street Fighter is a product of the Players’ Guide. The system as it exists was fairly balanced in the basic rulebook (with one minor exception, the Ear Pop, which I suppose you can balance out with special effects), and even the slew of silly styles introduced in Contenders wasn’t too bad (as long as you stayed away from the amusing but silly Silat Zen No-Mind/Sonic Boom guys), and Secrets of Shadoloo had really interesting material, but the Players’ Guide introduced us to such fantastic numbercrunches as the Animal Hybrid rules, Cyborgs, free damage bonuses for Savate, and everyone’s favorite cheap-ass terrible maneuver, the Cartwheel Kick. I have to wonder who was pretending to playtest these rules.

It seems that the authors of these various styles were not really interested in adding value to the game, but rather they just were pandering to their own "my style is better than your style" syndrome of old chop-socky flicks. A similar thing happens through some of Contenders (i.e. Silat, otherwise known as "Improved Kung Fu", and Jeet Kune Do, also known as "All Crunchy Maneuvers"), but tends to affect their NPC’s more than their styles and game mechanics.

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…Nothing appears quite right to you.  The air itself is electric and unnatural, not charged with life, but blurred, as if this part of the world has been neglected by a forgetful god.  As you turn your head objects seem to disappear even before they leave your field of vision and return lazily, clumsily, slowly coming in focus as you try to catch their disappearance.  You see flashes of places you have never seen, sights and sounds that are always gone when you clear your head to attempt to focus on them.  Even your life seems hollow and stale in the same way; you have been attempting to solve a mystery that has no end, only continuing threads of leads that loop back upon themselves and lead nowhere.  Logic itself seems absent.  And then, again, there it is!  That recurring scene, the one you keep seeing, the tired or dying man lying on a divan.  His face looks familiar, as if you have seen it in a dream or another life.  Beside him, out of focus, is a strange blockade or screen set upon a table.  You somehow need to know what lies behind it, as if the answer to so many mysteries is behind that shimmering screen…

Welcome to The Shimmering Screen, a reality warping adventure that will test your player’s creative skills.  Tired of the same old cliched RPG plots?  Watch the players attempt to solve the ultimate mystery, one that strikes at their hearts more than they’d care to admit…

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Although buggy beyond belief, overrun by murderous idiotic k3w1d0oDz and running on servers which have the processing power of a cheap wristwatch (they claim they are Suns, must be circa 1983 Suns), for some reason UO is extremely addictive and immersive. It’s inexplicable; I’ve been looted about 3 times, have to deal with morons every time I leave my one remaining secure house, have my friends constantly beg (or demand) money from me so they can waste it, and yet I still come back. There really is no other game currently on the market like UO, and the absurdist in me loves the interaction, even when it becomes utterly stupid (which is most of the time). The biggest problem with UO is not the bugs, the bad servers, the lag, or the unbalanced combat system, it’s the players. UO is designed to make money for Origin Systems Inc., and that money comes from players, many of whom simply wish to run around, act k3w1 and kill other players, loot their houses, and ruin their gaming experiences while enriching themselves. However, k3w1d0oDz have the same sort of money that serious gamers do (or at least their parents do), and so OSI looks the other way as the UO role-playing environment is systematically cut to pieces by their customer base.

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A bewildered, oddly pleased expression decorated Musashi’s face as he took inventory of his one remaining "secure" dwelling.  "Reagents still there… my weapons haven’t been moved to Kagero’s bank for ‘safekeeping’… my cloth is where I left it… the place isn’t looted clean… hmm…"  After only a week away from Sosaria, Musashi had fully expected to return to a looted and emptied house with some annoying graffiti scrawled on his signpost, or at least most of his belongings gone and a note from Kagero whining for more reagents right away.  After all, the other times he had been looted, it had seemed only one evening between a full and appointed home and an empty box in the woods; the lucky rogue of the week who took Musashi’s housekeys off of the somewhat absentminded Kagero certainly worked with all possible haste.  The shock of returning to his home and finding that it had not been burgularized left Musashi with only one logical conclusion to come to.

"Kagero is gone."

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"Slow business…" thought Musashi gloomily, having visited the Occlo tailor shop for the third time that day.  The proprietor Clyde, usually a reliable buyer of fine linens and cotton garments on this somewhat remote isle, semmed to be having problems finding captial.  "I cannot afford any more of that," he would say repeatedly.  Feeling badly for the poor merchant, Musashi was giving him a few complimentary shirts, gaining both the merchant’s gratitude and perhaps paving the way for good future business, when a young person in full plate approached.

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