John-Michael Gariepy

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

100 Article Posts on [Unnamed Blog]!

Hey, everybody!  We’re having a party here at [John-Michael Gariepy’s Unnamed Blog]!  100 posts, and 13,000+ views!  Oh, and my Klout score just passed 40!  Klout thinks I’m a Networker!  Thanks, Klout!

If I could only invent a name for [Unnamed Blog], though.  I’m supposed to be ‘the creative one’.  But, you know, there’s only so many good names out there.  And I refuse to call my blog something plithy and game-related like “John-Michael’s Critical Hits!”.  Besides, someone else must have that blog name.  Yup.  Found it.

Coming up with a good name for what you’re doing is tough.  Dave and Josh made it look so easy with our old blog Guilt Free Games.  A little alliteration, with a pop music name that simultaneously tells you a lot, and tells you nothing.  Tiiiiiiin Roof! Rusted.  Aah, baby, that’s where it’s at.

Naming yourself isn’t a problem limited only to blogs, of course.  Do you remember a time when you could name your Atari 2600 game ‘Boxing’ or ‘Adventure’?  The music industry is full of names that can’t be used, because someone, once, decided to cut an Read more…

The Top Ten Most Desirable Magic: the Gathering Cards, According to Gatherer, Part Two

In The Top Ten Most Desirable Magic Cards, According to Gatherer, Part One, we witnessed six of the finest pieces of cardboard ever to grace the game of Magic.  Those cards were powerful, flexible, open-ended and fun.  Well… fun at least for the person who cast them.  It takes a certain caliber of cards to get a consistent five star rating on Gatherer.  Card number eight, for example, Gaea’s Cradle, ranked in at a 4.842 community rating out of 219 votes.  That means if seven people gave this the worst possible score (one-half a star), then the other 212 voters gave it a full five star rating (which is not how it went down, since the math is an approximation).  These cards have a higher density of stars than the Messier 80 Globular Cluster in the constellation Scorpio (Oh snap!  I went there!).

Despite that, there are seven cards that have garnered even more respect from the Magic playing community than that.  Among them is:

~ Read more…

The Top Ten Most Desirable Magic: the Gathering Cards, According to Gatherer, Part One


Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game, where players spellsling against opponents by crafting a customized deck out of 12,758 possible cards.  This article is about ten cards that will steal victory on the verge of  disaster.  These ten cards are deck hacks.  Even in the slowest theme deck, they will super-turbo charge your way to victory.

“Oh!”  many readers are saying to themselves right now, “I’m not sure how you’ll paint your list, but I already know which card will take number one.  It’s Black Lotus, right?”

This card sits at the top of most top ten lists, and for good reasons.  It’s the most expensive Magic card ever printed, not including misprints and specialty printings, clocking in at $4,999.99 on  It’s demands that figure for a reason, too.  Black Lotus not only accelerates you faster than any singular Magic card, but it does it as a 0-cost artifact, allowing you to play crazy insane with cards like Auriok Salvagers.

I could spend an article series delving into why Black Lotus is so over-the-top broken, and why Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic, thought this was okay.  But I’m not going to.  Because it didn’t make the top ten.  It isn’t even in the top fifty.

That’s because, like in my previous article The Top Ten Most Reviled Magic: the Gathering Cards According to Gatherer, we’re using Gatherer, Magic: the Gathering’s online card database, to rank these cards.  Gatherer has a lot of features.  One of them is the ability rank the card you’re looking at using a .5 to 5 star rating system, and according to the Magic community’s votes, Black Lotus isn’t worthy enough.

Why?  Well, because Gatherer is a melting pot of ideas of what makes Magic a great game.  It’s not enough for the card to be merely spectacular.  For a card to make it onto the top ten list it has to be so much fun to play, that few people will get mad when you do it, because, damn, they want to do that too.  Gatherer doesn’t tell us what cards are the most powerful, (Though, don’t get me wrong, every one of these cards are utter game breakers), it tells us which cards people love playing and wish they had.  It tells us which ten cards, out of all the cards in Magic, are the most desirable. Read more…

Random Dungeon Generator: Room Negative One

Do you recognize this?

Hey!  It’s the start area example chart for Appendix A of the DMG for the original Dungeons and Dragons game!  For people who played the game in much of the seventies and eighties, this was probably the first place you explored.  Some crazy room with multiple branching hallways (Except stunted Number Four.  Nobody likes you Number Four!) leading to various doors.  The point was to find some neutral ground between the way back home, and the various twisty turning branches that would be your adventure.

Cool, and evocative, huh?  They also hold a high nostalgia value for Dungeon Masters.  You see, in many of my fellow DM’s eyes, they see these six shapes, and they just want to get drawing, or rolling for random rooms to attach to these suckers.  These six shapes (well, five of them at least) are practically calling for you to scribble away, attaching doodads and doohickies, until you wake up in a fever pitch, with a pencil clutched in hand and a finished dungeon.

But, secretly, as good as five of these shapes are for your imagination, they can stifle your creativity.

Everything in your dungeon will spawn from how you begin your dungeon.  But these strange starting shapes you’re presented with only encourage you to draw more goofy shapes.  It doesn’t explain why the players are here, or who built this dungeon, or what the theme of this setting is.  It’s just a weird shape, devoid of any emotion besides the symbolism you put into it.

That’s why I made this random room generator.  Room Negative One is a quick two rolls that mold the purpose of your dungeon.  First, roll on the “Dungeon Location” chart to determine what environment your dungeon takes place in, then roll on the “Dungeon Purpose” chart to determine why, exactly, this dungeon is here, and what role it takes in the world your characters play in.  Or don’t roll anything and just choose from the list.  That’s cool, too.  Oh an you’re more than welcome to roll multiple times.  Many of these entries are better when combined with other entries.

While we’re here and talking about it, I should remind you that every step which brings you closer to the dungeon itself can be an adventure.  If you roll up a Volcano Wizard Fortress, I think you owe it to your players to describe what it looks like on your travel to the volcano, create some small adventures before you get to the fortress itself, and deal, somehow, with the guards who are outside the fortress.  I mean, if I was a wizard, and I owned a volcano fortress, I probably wouldn’t leave the front door open, leading down to a set of stairs into a safe and cool start area.  I might, however, leave an open door that leads down a set of stairs to an empty Start Area Four, in which all doors lead to veins of liquid magma.  That’d show ’em.

Oh, and when you get done making your dungeon, maybe you’d like to populate it with Random 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons monsters?

Where is this Dungeon located?

01 – 03 At the heart of a city

04 – 06 At the heart of a ghost town

07 – 08 The Dungeon is a City

Read more…

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