Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Mini-Review: Sennheiser MX 365 Earphones

No, you're not misreading that title. This is not gaming related. I've been shopping for replacement earbuds for my SanDisk Clip Sport Plus. It came with earbuds that fit inside your ear canal, which I can't stand. I spent some time poking around Amazon and discovered there are approximately 8 billion headsets for mobile devices and cell phones available. However, most of these have the same design and features I don't want (namely, microphones). I went looking for what I guess I'd call classic earbuds and ended up with the Sennheiser MX 365, which currently lists for $13-15 US on Amazon. I've been using them for the last couple days and here are the highlights:

  • Extra-long, symmetrical cord. I measured it at a hair under 50 inches from the top of the earbud to the audio jack. As a really tall dude, I appreciate being able to stick my music player in my pants pocket without stooping to accommodate a short cord.
  • Right-angle 1/8"/3.5mm audio jack. This is personal preference, but I always find straight jacks catch on clothing.
  •  Foam earbud covers. These fit over the speaker side of each earbud and provide a little cushioning and a better grip than the smooth plastic shell. They were a tight fit and a little hard to get on, so I don't think they'll be coming off.
  • Minor concern: the cord is pretty thin so durability may be an issue. For a product costing about $15, I can live with that.

The earbuds themselves are a bit larger than original Apple earbuds. They fit my ears well snugly but might be a little big for some people. I measured one of mine with the foam pad on and it is approximately 11/16"/17.5mm. Note that these headphones do not have a mic or integrated volume control. They are just earbuds.

For lightweight earbuds, the sound quality pretty darn good. I listen to classic rock, metal, folk, electronica, and ambient music. This headset delivers plenty of volume and solid bass without losing the details of the music. I'd call the overall sound warm, accurate, and well-rounded. Available tech specs are limited:

  • 20-20,000 Hz frequency response
  • 110 dB sound pressure level (1 kHz/1 Vrms)
  • 32 ohm impedance

Bottom line: Thumbs up. I'm pleased with this purchase and, barring sudden failures, would buy Sennheiser's MX 365 earphones again. I chose the white option (easy to spot in a bag), but there are other color options available (the manufacturer's page says six colors, but I've only seen blue, red, and white). These earphones have a 2-year manufacturer's warranty.

Full disclosure: This post uses Amazon affiliate links.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

PBE Games - Belated New Year's Update

Well, I've finally gotten around to providing a year-end wrapup of PBE Games releases. I think this listing covers everything released since the last post I did in December.

I'll start things off with Hexed Places - Dead Rock Spires, which takes its name from the natural pillars and buttes that rise above its barren wastes. Ancient stone piles atop many of these prominences mark the neolithic barrows of an unknown race. Sour Creek, the only water source in this rocky desert, carries a poisonous stew of chemicals that coats the rocks along its banks with black and orange crystalline deposits. Hexed Places include GM and player maps for a 6-mile campaign hex along with descriptions of interesting locales and encounters, extra odds and ends, and a random encounter table. The simple stat blocks provided are easy to adapt to most OSR games.

Next up are three triple packs of Dungeons in Blue geomorphs. Miscellany #1, Miscellany #2, and Miscellany #3 each contain 16 quarter-size tiles, each featuring dead ends, edges, corridor style transitions, or elevation changes. They simplify connections between disparate geomorph types. All three sets are available as part of a discount bundle.

Miscellany #1 Preview
Small Dungeons and Complexes work as standalone maps or as part of a larger geomorph style dungeon. Both include player and GM versions of each style of map. Here's a summary of the six new maps that fall into these categories:
  • Small Dungeons #28 shows a cave complex that hides a small lake. Cages and statues hint at this locale's dark purpose.
  • Small Dungeons #29 is a small mine with twisting passages and a few small, rough-hewn chambers.
  • Small Dungeons #30 shows a traditional dungeon complex divided in two by a deep chasm.
  • Complexes #28 depicts a tunnel or chasm that passed between two sheer cliffs. Rooms and chambers are cut into each cliff face.
  • Complexes #29 is a traditional dungeon with a large central hall, outer fortifications, and many side rooms.
  • Complexes #30 shows a large cavern with several water features. Smaller tombs are carved into the cave's walls.
Small Dungeons Map Pack #10 and Complexes Triple Pack #10 offer the usual discount on the items above. Finally, Small Dungeons Complete pulls all 30 Small Dungeons maps into a single discount bundle.

So there you have it, the end of 2018 wrapped up with a nice bow on top. Except, you know, no wrapping paper. Or bow. Thanks as always for reading. I hope you find something useful here. Happy gaming.

Complexes 29 Preview

    Thursday, December 13, 2018

    PBE Games - Almost Year-End Update

    As we wind our way to the end of the year, here's a quick update on new PBE Games releases. The first item on the list is Animal Companions, an OSR-friendly system for leveling mundane creatures such as dogs, mules, or horses. In addition to outlining rules for companion training and care, Animal Companions includes the Beastmaster, a character class that can tame powerful animal allies. You can check out an early/rough version of the material in Animal Companions right here.

    Next up are about a dozen Dungeons in Blue Complexes and Small Dungeons. Both types of products feature standalone and geomorph ready versions of VTT maps drawn in the classic blue style. Here's the full list:

    Complexes #23 Preview
    As usual, bundle deals offer access to multiple products at a discount.

    Looking ahead, I have three Complexes, three Small Dungeons, and three sets of assorted Dungeons in Blue geomorphs in the queue for 2018. There's also one more Hexed Places waiting in the wings. Early in the new year, I'll update the Dungeons in Blue Master List to include all products released this year.

    Here's a special offer for those willing to read this far: Pick up Animal Companions for a buck off using this link. This offer is good now through Christmas 2018.

    Thanks, as always, for reading this update. I hope the holidays treat you well.

    Friday, December 7, 2018

    Staying in Touch

    With G+ on the way out, I've been looking at alternative channels for communication. My findings thus far are... disappointing. I joined MeWe to see what it offered and discovered it's more closely attuned to Facebook than G+. The lack of circles and group organization tools, plus the friend-approval process make it a much less useful platform for passively following people you're interested in. I've thought about digging into some of the RPG-focused Discord servers, but I'm less interested in chat than I am in thoughtful posts. I guess I need to update my RSS feeds.

    My ulterior motive for this post is to create a repository for methods people can use to get in touch with me or find out what's up with PBE Games product releases. So, here's my current contact information on many platforms and how I intend to use it:

    • This blog is still a good place to keep up with my gaming thoughts (woefully lacking lately) and PBE Games releases. I try to post an update on new products every month or so.
    • I'm on MeWe and I'll be posting new PBE Games releases there as they happen. I'll also be posting updates on my YouTube channel (more on that below).
    • You can find me on Twitter, which I also use to announce product releases. I sometimes post random humor and IT security news from time to time, and I'll be posting YouTube updates here too.
    • I'm still on G+ and will be until the end.
    • You can also use the PBE Games contact form to hit me up via email.
    • PBE Games on DriveThruRPG is right here.
    Finally, I've just started a YouTube channel that's going to feature me playing a variety of video games. I soft-launched this a week or so back, and I'm still working out some of the tech details, but, if you're interested in video games, I hope you'll take a peek. The first series I'm doing is a let's play of Minecraft Stoneblock, but I'm starting a let's play Path of Exile series when the Betrayal league launches.

    So, I think that covers the bases. I'll keep this post pinned to my G+ profile and update it when/if things change.

    Edit: See my Where to Find Me profile here: https://wheretofind.me/@mthomas768

    Friday, November 9, 2018

    PBE Games - Product Update

    Here's a quick update on PBE Games titles released in September, October, and early November, starting with a new Hexed Places:

    Sangha Jungle lies at the heart of an extensive tropical wilderness. The isolated location holds a variety of unusual creatures from an older era, as well as modern interlopers. A swamp, the Sucking Mire, stretches across the northwest portion of the region, making travel a slow and hazardous process. Southeast of the Mire, the ruin of the Shrine of Flowing Flame stands atop a lonely hill and offers visitors a view of the smoking peak of Ratnak, an active volcano. Who or what destroyed the shrine remains a mystery. Beyond Ratnak lies the Burned Land, a scorched waste of lava flows, blackened and dead trees, and soot-stained rock.

    Complexes #20 Preview
    New Dungeons in Blue products include six new Complexes and their associated Triple Packs:
    • Complexes #16 shows a traditional dungeon with many large pillar-lined rooms. An outdoor altar graces the dungeon entrance.
    • Complexes #17 is a network of large caverns surrounding an underground lake.
    • Complexes #18 shows a traditional dungeon complex with a large throne room and many narrow side corridors.
    • Complexes #19 depicts a lava-filled cave with many crystalline growths and steamy geysers.
    • Complexes #20 shows an underground arena surrounded by bleachers and a network of cage-filled rooms for beasts or gladiators.
    • Complexes #21 depicts a network of oddly regular, circular caves. Some contain pools of water; others hold strange objects.
    • Complexes Triple Pack #6 contains Complexes #16, #17 and #18.
    • Complexes Triple Pack #7 contains Complexes #19, #20 and #21.
    I've also published three new Small Dungeons:
    Finally, I've published a few one-off add-ons for Dungeons in Blue. Floor Grid is a single image of the floor pattern I use for all geomorphs. Dungeon builders can use it to cover unwanted features or carve out new rooms in existing tiles. Rock Formations contains close to 400 boulders, stones, crystals, and stalagmites plus a number of rock clusters and rough stone walls, all laid out in a single PNG image with a transparent background. Customize your Dungeons in Blue creations by cutting and pasting individual components into your geomorphic maps. Note that a handful of boulders and stalagmites from this set have appeared in previous Dungeons in Blue releases (notably Icon Packs One and Two), but there are still over 350 unique items in this product.

    Small Dungeons #23 Preview
    Looking ahead, the remainder of November and December should see the release of nine more Complexes, six additional Small Dungeons, and a set of miscellaneous tiles for Dungeons in Blue. I'll also be publishing another Hexed Places, Dead Rock Spires, and Animal Companions, a supplement for OSR games that adds leveling to party pets and beasts of burden, expanding upon ideas I wrote about here. It also includes the Beastmaster, a class inspired by a certain fantasy movie...

    That's it for now. As always, thanks for reading and happy gaming!

    Friday, August 17, 2018

    Tile of the Week #116 + Product Update

    Here is today's Tile of the Week entry plus some information on a few new PBE Games releases. This tile is a half-size sewer geomorph with several connected rooms and corridors.

    Tile 116 - Player Version

    All Tile of the Week images are free for private use. You can download the images above using right-click/save as. Each tile is a 100px per five-foot square image, sized for compatibility with Dungeons in Blue geomorphs. The entire Tile of the Week Collection is also available as a pay what you want bundle if you're feeling lazy, and I'll be updating this soonish to include the last eight or ten tiles posted here.

    I've also published a handful (a big handful, actually) of new Mega Tiles and Complexes. For those unfamiliar, Mega Tiles are single quad-size tiles that are compatible with other Dungeons in Blue geomorphs. Complexes are dual-purpose, quad-size tiles. They include both a standalone version you can use as a one-shot dungeon and a geomorph-ready version you can add to a larger creation.

    Mega Tile 38 Preview

    Here's the brief summary of all the new products, along with a couple of product previews:

    • Complexes #13 shows a system of large caves that contain a small lake. The area is only reachable via holes in the ceiling.
    • Complexes #14 depicts a traditional dungeon with large, pillar-filled halls and chambers, two shrines, and a room with a huge, empty dais in the center.
    • Complexes #15 shows a large chasm or tunnel with two outdoor entrances. Various rooms and tunnels are carved into its sides.
    • Complexes Triple Pack #5 is a discount bundle containing all three of these products.
    • Mega Tile #36 depicts an enormous underground chamber surrounded by smaller rooms and four shrines.
    • Mega Tile #37 is a cave complex with many statues scattered throughout. An underground river, crossed by a bridge, cuts across one corner.
    • Mega Tile #38 features a traditional dungeon complex with several prominent features and new construction along one side.
    • Mega Tile #39 shows a cavern complex divided by a cliff face. Traditional dungeon corridors and rooms fill one corner of the geomorph.
    • Mega Tile #40 shows a single huge chamber containing many smaller rooms. A river featuring docks and bridges divides the space.
    • Mega Tile Five Pack #8 bundles all five new Mega Tiles into a single package at a discounted price.
    • Mega Tile Big Deal #2 offers a larger discount on Mega Tiles 21 to 40.
    Complexes 14 Preview
    With that, I believe I'm caught up with new releases. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

    Friday, July 20, 2018

    Tile of the Week #115

    Here is today's Tile of the Week entry. It's a full-size tile that shows a section of sewer tunnel with several connected rooms and corridor nearby.

    Player Version

    All Tile of the Week images are free for private use. You can download the images above using right-click/save as. Each tile is a 100px per five-foot square image, sized for compatibility with Dungeons in Blue geomorphs. The entire Tile of the Week Collection is also available as a pay what you want bundle if you're feeling lazy.