20 Jun

Wilderness Of Mirrors Mini Review

Wilderness Of Mirrors: John Wick.

Review: Wick quotes James Bond and jason Bourne, both solo agents that work improvisationally and off the cuff, and then details and builds a game based on planning and teamplay. In other words he says you’re going to watch a Bond movie but when the title sequence ends you discover it’s Mission Impossible.. Mind you, it’s a cracking little rpg for team based, action filled, opposition overcoming fun. Also well suited to caper movies like Oceans 11. Mechanically elegant and simple, co-operative, playable in an evening, all about narrative control, everyone gets a go in the limelight. Cheap, short, best in pdf.

Other reviews: Uncle Bear; Tim Gray; Game for sale here: http://bit.ly/1gu4C2

20 Apr

Hellfrost Adventure: N1 – Lair of the Vermin Lord

With the snow already falling, the key to thwarting disaster is the village of Dunross, for here are stored the winter supplies of many surrounding villages. Fresh faced and eager, the heroes are hired by a local merchant to collect sacks of flour from Dunross and deliver them to a bakery.

But things are never that simple.

I ran this Savage Worlds adventure about 66% on Sunday with Matt, Alaa, Louis and Declan. We spent a LONG time on character gen so i am going to have to estimate, but I’d say there are about 8 hours of gameplay in the adventure with middling roleplaying and midding adventuring. It’s a classically laid out and developed adventure, with the story and plot first and foremost and the setting second. It is NOT the curiously fashionable [i]old school retro[/i] minimalist ‘map and some stats’. This is a pleasantly told tale of food, famine and conspiracy in the somewhat Anglo-Saxon lands of Rassilon. The adventure reminded me of a WFRP setup, but that’s partly due to the rats, WFRP always seems to have cornered the market in rat based plots!

The adventure is designed for 4 Novice characters and the lads (with their finely tuned minimaxing skills) have trounced all opposition easily so far. With a group of [i]novice[/i] players as well as [i]Novice[/i] PCs then I’d say it is not going to lead to too many player fatalities. The opportunities for interactive roleplaying abound, much can be made of it by players who like to chat and investigate, bit the plot is not overly complex.. no-one is going to be befuddled by this tale.

That all sounds a tad pedestrian, but that would be the wrong impression. I’d say the adventure is a well crafted starter adventure that conveys the themes of the setting well and both allows and encourages new characters and players to stretch their legs.

Plus we really enjoyed playing it.

tripleacegames.com/store/index.php

11 Apr

Life, Liberty and Gaming

We’re having a busy and yet good bank holiday weekend. We are doing a lot of clearance work getting ready for resanding the wooden floor downstairs, decorating the study and having new office furniture built. I am also clearing the garage and moving my work PC and stuff into a temporary home in the dining room. Somewhere in the weekend I have about a metre high pile of roleplaying books and stuff to put on ebay. Lot’s of Glorantha and the like, which should raise money to buy a new, slightly smaller pile of new rpgs and books!

I played MagBlast and Drakon with Alaa, Louis and Matt the other night. MagBlast is a card game of screaming space battles, you have to provide sound effects when launching an attack or the attack fails, and it seems a great beer and pretzels game. Drakon has a very cute premise, which is that you the players are adventurers captured by a dragon in her lair. She decides to have some fun and says the first to collect 5 gold coins can leave alive, the rest will be eaten.. It’s a very simple tile laying game, and at first it seems overly simplistic until you start to appreciate the tactics of how the tiles, which have limited placement, exit and laying rules, can produce quite intriguing looping effects. Then you start to see how you can thwart your fellow players as you rotate tiles, destroy tiles or replace them. Perhaps the lesser of the 2 games and not as rewarding as Cave Troll which is also a Fantasy Flight Games production, but also a short fast beer and pretezels game. I must dig out Citadels for the next ad hoc session. I have not had time to open Wizard Kings yet, but I am hoping for some block game fun with it.

I’m thinking over the Chinese TomCon on May 9-10th? There’ll be two game, one will be Newt’s Monkey game and the other Qin run by Graham. I am torn between the 2. There will be a full day of jollity on the 9th ending in watching Warlords and Monkey Magic. [Looking for Chinese boardgame/wargame for the daytime.]

I enoyed Dom’s Singularities game, which was good and IMHO a much better version of new transhuman/britSF/Culture SF than Sufficiently Advanced. On Monday I run Machine Tractor Station Kharkov-37 for Matt and his friends. I am sure Alaa and Ben will rise to the challenge, but it’ll be interesting to see if they can cope with what is a very typically Lovecraftian adventure. [I’ll not spoil it since you may yet play it one day, it’s a CoC monograph.]

Anyway, back to cables, printers, monitors and a copy of the new Savage Worlds setting: HellFrost which is winking at me from the corner of the room, just waiting to suck my time away..

16 Mar

Campaigns for Roleplaying

A Song of Ice and Fire

Image via Wikipedia

I have been listening to some podcasts about roleplaying games and in particular listened to the deisgners and writers of three relatively new games: Houses of the Blooded by John Wick, Hellas by Michael L. Fiegel and Jerry D. Grayson as well as A Song of Ice and Fire RPG by Robert J. Schwalb. All three sound utterly great games, and I’d love to play in all of them. Now, we’re doing really well with the monthly gaming weekend at my place, and we are getting a lot of good value one-off games that way. But none of these games are one-offs. Hellas and Houses of the Blooded are generational games where you play lineages of characters, and A Song.. has all the PCs play as part of a noble House, and if characters die then another steps forward from the organisation. All of this sounds wonderful, and just the sort of game that one dreams of playing in when you first picked up a rpg at the age of 15 and then read your first epic fantasy series. How can I refit my awfully complicated and complex work life into a nice shape which has a linear slot where I can either play or run just such a long running campaign, and who is going to run it?

BTW this does not in any way suggest I am tired of TomCons which are utterly wonderful and great.. just that man cannot live by fastfood alone..

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10 Mar

Casual Gaming

I love computer games, always have since I first fell in love with an Apple ][e in my Mum’s college and spent a whole day writing a very simple text based dungeon exploration game in BASIC. Ever since I saw Sonic on a Sega Megadrive in a branch of Tandy in Newark we have had at least one console in the house, and we’ve gone through handhelds from the Atari Lynx, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS. A Megadrive, Playstation, Dreamcast, Gamecube and Wii have all shared our TVs, and I am proud to say that my kids have all grown up game savvy and scarily adept with a joypad.. Which is odd.. ‘cos I’m rubbish at computer games.

Hand and eye co-ordination is not my area of skill. My butterfly mind means that the only adventure game I have ever completed took me 18 months [Lord of the Rings: Third Age on the Cube]. I can also throw in a busy and active work and private life, family, friends and lots of other hobbies.. but basically I am a casual gamer. If it’s simple, fun and I can get 10-30 minutes of fun from it before moving on then it’s probably best for me. Now sometimes I can invest an hour or two in Battle for Wesnoth or Age of Empires on my Nintendo DS, but best for me is short sweet and easy.

Over the last week I have supplemented quite a high degree of productivity on work with some great new casual games (well new to me) and I’d like to show them with you. All three are available for Windows, Mac and Linux and are either open source or free or available as a demo.

Monsterz game in play
Monsterz: Monsterz is a little arcade puzzle game, similar to the famous Bejeweled or Zookeeper.The goal of the game is to create rows of similar monsters, either horizontally or vertically. The only allowed move is the swap of two adjacent monsters, on the condition that it creates a row of three or more. When alignments are cleared, pieces fall from the top of the screen to fill the board again. Chain reactions earn you even more points. This game is mostly about luck, but it remains highly addictive. You have been warned.

gridwars in play
GridWars: A wonderfully vector graphic pschedelic game which I believe is a clone of Geometry Wars (which I have on my DS), and reminds me so very much of Jeff Minter‘s epic vector based games. Essentially it’s a modern Asteroids with endless waves of geometric shapes trying to blow your little ship to pieces, all played on a grid that warps and twists like a first year lecture on space-time. I can sit down to play this for 10 minutes and an hour goes by, so it score very highly on the ‘one more time’ factor.

World of Goo in play
World of Goo: You may well have heard of this. It’s Worms meets Lemmings meets Goo. Relentlessly cute, not too hard but hard enough, it explains nothing and yet is amazingly simple to play and enjoy. Essentially, build matrices of goo balls to reach a pipe and save the remaining goo balls. Simple. Download the demo and then buy the full version. I must go and rescue some right now.. Also available on Nintendo Wiiware.

So that’s my 3, what are yours?

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04 Feb

Gaming Plan 2009

All Flesh Must Be Eaten

Image via Wikipedia

Well it’s taken a month but here is my draft gaming plan for 2009. Ambitious, probably unachievable, but a plan:

General

  • Tidy up Omniverse.net adventure and spells.
  • Sell WHFRP books.
  • Sell TORG.
  • Read Jorune.
  • Read Earthdawn and evaluate for 2010 gaming.
  • Read Gwenthia and re-evaluate and update Cromaigne changes in main pdf.
  • Buy and play more Star Wars miniatures with Kieran.
  • Write up Savage Showdown stats for my SF Near Future minatures and play some skirmish games
  • Play Tannhauser boardgame.
  • Play Stonehenge boardgame.
  • Play World at War boardgame.

Games I want to play

  • Play Qin
  • Play a One Roll Engine game
  • Play MRQ
  • Play GUMSHOE
  • Play StarBlazers
  • Play Cold Crusade
  • Play I-War
  • Play HELLAS

Games I’d like to run

Run Pathfinder Chronicles using BRP:

with cults like RQ3;
with simple Elric! level rules;
3 2-3 sessions, not necessarily with the same players.

Run Vikings using either Savage or Wordplay;

use RQ Vikings as source;
use Beowulf (various versions);
Create a short (3-4 page) players pack for playing Vikings (non system specific),
Culture,
Mythology,
Gazeteer,
Scan and collect lots of images and flavour;
Collect suitable music;
Write a 3 session arc, 1 of which is suitable for a con game, not necessarily the same players.
 

Renuwal Survival Horror using AFMBE:

3 part Trilogy of single games,
underground lab,
escape from the town,
post zombie apocalypse;
Strongly influenced by Resident Evil but with some twists;
Collect music and images;
Use the AFMBE pregen characters from sourcebooks,
Age the characters from game to game,
Not necessarily the same players;
Suited to cons.
 

Noir – Mean Streets – A Dirty World:

Prepare to run noir style games as one offs using the scenarios in Mean Streets book;
Consider using ‘A Dirty World’ or GUMSHOE, but probably stay with genrediversion from MS book;
Lots of photos, images, maybe some music;
Suited to cons.
 

Deadlands one off:

Mix up Deadlands and Coyote Trail and GURPS Wild West sources;
Use the Coffin sourcebook;
Be able and ready to run at short notice.
 

B5 Traveller:

Probably not going to happen in 2009, but read, prepare, evaluate.
 

Battlestar Galactica rpg:

Probably also not going to happen in 2009 but read, prepare, evaluate.
 

Talislanta:

Probably not going to happen in 2009, retire to shelves and allow to ferment.
 

Freeport:

Not going to happen in 2009, read if time and life allows.
 

Gwenthia:

Not going to happen in 2009. Need to resolve system and just how well I can get on with MRQ. Need to play some more MRQ.
 

Let’s see how it goes

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26 Jan

Life, games, loss and new gamers

{{Potd/2005-05-16 (en)}}

Image via Wikipedia

I am in Newcastle for 2 days of lecturing, which frankly seems to take up far more time and energy than it is worth, but I agreed to do it so I had better. On the way to the Uni I popped into Travelling Man and Forbidden Planet and picked up the “Battlestar Galactica” rpg quick start rules, the “Coyote Trail” Western rpg and another copy of the “Pirates Guide to Freeport” all for a song. The latter one I shall pop on to Amazon Marketplace to make a few quid from, the rest I shall enjoy. Interestingly the Western rpg is from Precis Intermedia and is one of ther simple “genre driversion” games. I have just finished reading “A Dirty World” a Noir rpg from Greg Stolze, using the One Roll Engine. It’s a fascinating game system, interstingly implemented to bring out the themes of the genre. However before Xmas I ran “Mean Streets”, a genre diversion Noir game, a very simple old skool rpg. Having read both I have this feeling that if I ran a Noir game with ADW we’d spend all our time being dazzled by the system, it’s cleverness and ‘modern riffs on themes’ and we’d forget to play a good roleplaying game set in the genre.. Now I could be wrong, but a lot of new games put the system right up front and I have started to wonder if that actually might impede the roleplaying, rather than enhance it..

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12 Jan

Gaming Plans 2009

I have managed to review my gaming in 2008, which was quite successful given how often I travel and how ill I was in the early half of the year. Planning for 2009 is quite difficult.

Part of the problem is that we have had regular monthly TomCons at ours once a month and my friends and I have sampled a wide range of roleplaying games and a smaller set of boardgames. We had the first TomCon of 2009 this weekend past and had a great game of Britannia followed by a fun game of Serenity rpg, spoiled only by my being in rather a silly mood. The weekends are great, they fulfill all the key needs, meeting good friends, eating, some drinking, playing games you’ve never tried and running some of the rpgs we all have on our shelves and which we look at with guilt everytime we walk past them..

I am very happy with TomCons.

But I also need to run something over a slightly longer period of time. Now I am not unaware that my work life (40% away from home) means that I am very unreliable for ongoing weekly games, but it has been possible before to start a series of games (usually with my son and his friends or my mate Martin) and stagger through 5-6 sessions without too many interruptions. Indeed I ran D&D like that for over 2 years when I first moved back to Sheffield. About 50% of Tuesdays I am at Martin’s and we are currently playing our way through a Pathfinder/D&D game. Only problem is that we never seem to get more than 2 players and ref on Tuesdays and that’s almost too close to zero sometimes. My son and his friends are too busy playing World of Warcraft to play trad rpgs these days, altho’ maybe I could drag them together for a one-off sometime.

There are cons. Due to my issues with Gwenthia, or possibly a broader rush of anxiety, I haven’t run any scenarios at cons for some years. I got in a real tizzy about it all, which is very odd and quite embarassing. I have some confidence that I may have faced that bugbear and won, providing I use published material and stay away from commitments with or to others, but simply turn up, post up and play. We’ll see.. I shall certainly do 2 cons this year, probably Conpulsion (but watch how work stacks up), Furnace (better turn up to that one) and maybe 1-2 others. That means that quietly and without too much fuss I could run 2-4 games at cons.

I could play/run at our local hobby shop: Patriot Games on Monday nights. Now this is a seemingly sensible idea. There is a shop, it is full of roleplayers, the games are often over subscribed. But oddly getting players is difficult. I sat with 2 players running Savage Worlds 50fathoms for some weeks next to a d20 game that was massively overfull, and yet despite a nice poster and making it clear (I think) that we’d happily take onboard 2 more players, we never got another one. Perhaps a game of something mainstream might attract more players, or perhaps I need to ask the owner to use his pull and drag in some players to make a full group? I’d be happy with a five week run if I could pull it off.

So, where does that leave me?

Well. It says that I have about 5-6 one-offs that I can run this year. That’s good fine gaming as long as I have cured the con jinx, but even if not I can probably do 3. It says that as long as I am ok with 2 players I can run maybe 8 sessions on a Tuesday in a spread over 4 months.. and that can be almost any kind of gaming, as long as it’s not Middle Earth (unless they play uruk-hai hunting hobbits). It says that if I get my local shop owner to help I could do a 5-6 week run on Mondays at the shop.

You know, that’s not at all bad. I think I can move forward and plan.. 3-6 one-offs and 2 5-6 week story arcs..