Thursday, November 21, 2013

JimCon 3

Jim Con 3 was last weekend (November 15-17, 2013).

Friday November 15th
I ran a game of Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space.
Ashes of the Daleks from the adventure booklet was played.
I had one excellent Whovian player who played as the first Doctor.
Not the best choice for physical stuff like forcing open doors on a space station (there were lots of these) and with no sonic screwdriver... well lets say at least the jiggery-pokery made up for the lack of more obvious solutions. Oh and with a Tardis that basically can just leave and not come back the level of play certainly was improved as more thoughtful solutions to problems were required. I really enjoy this game and once again I was left with the impression of having just watched an episode of the show. Cubicle 7 has done a great job not only with the quality of the boxed game itself but with the game system as well. I would say this falls into the category of the modern RPG.

Its bigger on the inside?

Saturday November 16th
A very busy day.

I started off running Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG for two players who played two pre-gen characters each. "Tower out of Time" was provided free from Goodman Games as part of their DCC 2013 world tour. I was send a package of "Road Crew" goodies including buttons, pencils, bookmarks and badge tags ( I paid the shipping on this stuff as I'm in Canada and that's their set up, but they sent me enough stuff to host three events - so I guess I'll get a couple more games in this year if I can).
It was a very weird adventure and very pulp fantasy influenced. That's good as that seems to be the point of the game being inspired by Appendix N genre writing. I don't think one of the players really liked the spell tables but for me this random element is what is missing in most Baroque style game systems (d20 et al.) which focus on balance when designing an encounter.
Everyone seemed to have a great time even though (or perhaps especially that) half of the party died.
I think it all turned for them when the main adversary had a spell failure that ended up working in his favour resulting in an effect that caused all the armour within a 25' radius to fall apart.

Its made of flesh!

Fuck you Tipper Gore!

Next was playing in the Total Warfare BattleTech Solaris VII Tournament . I picked some mechs from those available and started shooting. I could see this perhaps being a little more interesting next time but considering that the BattleTech group put a weekend of demos and tournaments together despite having lost some of their organizers for the event I would say they did an above par job. Great fun.

Finally I joined in on a game of Numen̩ra. We played an adventure called "The Vortex" written by the game's designer Monte Cooke and GMed by Chris Wachal. I don't want to give away any details on the adventure but I would like to say that I haven't felt this sense of wonder playing an RPG since the very first times I played D&D back in the fall of 1982 when I was nine years old. It was great fun discovering my characters powers and abilities all the while exploring a mysterious temple with no clue as to what to expect next. Rules light system, all new idea, all new encounters Рfantastic! BTW my character died at the very end.

Monte, I almost forgive you for helping make D&D shitty
Sunday November 17th

Early morning as I was scheduled at 8:30 in the morning to run a Gamma World adventure I'd written for the second edition of that game. I had one person show up that expressed interest but he wasn't willing to play unless there were some more people showing up. Lesson learned – pad the table with a player or two of friends and don't run your game too early on Sunday morning. I can't help but think that I got that early slot because I may have expressed interest in leaving the Battletech:Alpha Strike Tournament slot open so I could play in that. In any case I plan on posting the adventure I wrote here along with the one I wrote and ran at JimCon II.

Possibly the best edition

Last of all was the BattleTech: Alpha Strike Tournament using the new Alpha Strike rules that recently came out. I've been playing this for a couple of months and its a really fun game that uses a more modern rules light miniatures game system but still has the feel of BattleTech. I came in fourth place but I had great time playing with the other guys and it looks like there is going to be a resurgence in the local BattleTech community.

All the fun in less than half the time

I had a great time again this year and I recommend that anyone that enjoys tabletop games of any kind come out and play next year.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Top Secret: Meta Agents

Top Secret: Meta Agents is on its way to becoming a reality.
I've been proposing this for almost a year now and have now managed to wrangle up a number of players.

The idea is to play a Play by Post game of TSR's 1980 RPG "Top Secret" using snail mail. Players play sleeper agents that have been using their real identity as a cover. Mission packages and agents reports are sent back and forth creating the story.

"Too secret for WikiLeaks, too dangerous for the Internet"

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Game Play Report - KeyCon 30

This past May Long Weekend (actually the 17th -19th - Victoria Day being the Holiday on the 20th) marked the 30th Anniversary of Manitoba's premier sci-fi and fantasy literary convention. This year as with most others, gaming was a popular component and I took the opportunity to run a couple of RPGs, in particular "Doctor Who - Adventures in Time and Space" and  "Dungeon Crawl Classics Roleplaying Game".

The theme for this year's KeyCon was "The Stars are Right" celebrating 30 years of KeyCon, 50 years of Doctor Who and 100 years of H.P. Lovecraft. This lead me to run the Doctor Who RPG which I had purchased several months ago but never played before. I took my time reading the rules and the adventure during the previous two weeks and became excited about running the game as I thought I had a reasonable idea how it would play. What a surprise when it turned out to be even better. After the game was done it felt like I had just watched a good episode of Doctor Who. Of coarse I have to thank my players, none of whome I'd met before, for doing a really good job of playing the parts of the 10th Doctor, Donna Noble and Captain Jack Harkness. Thanks for playing everyone. That was Saturday afternoon.

Sunday brought me to running Dungeon Crawl Classics. We played "Portal Under the Stars" an adventure for 0-1st level characters that was included in the rule book. I had run this before at an OSR Manitoba game night I ran at my home and was feeling good about introducing it to KeyCon. Very fun time was had running this for a table of five players,  most of whom I knew from playing Pathfinder Society games (none of which were being played that day due to lack of players). We started with zero level character creation, which everyone seemed to enjoy, and moved right into the adventure which they played with a mixture of ingenuity and humour. Way to go guys, I hope to see all of you again when I run a level 1 adventure at this years JimCon in November.

I tried to record all of the players who died in the DCC game and will compile it in a later "Hall of Heroes" post along with the dead from the OSR game night.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Unheroic Demise of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

In the world of super-hero comics the death of a hero can be an ostentatious event and great characters often don't stay dead for long. Unfortunatly I feel that the loss of licencing from Marvel for Margaret Weiss Productions' Marvel Heroic Roleplaying will not follow the same narrative cycle as the heros it portrays.

Annihilation - omen of an RPG.

This one really hurts as I've only seen good stuff regarding this game and have purchased almost everything on the shelf for it at my FLGS. I even asked if they could bring in a hard copy of "Civil War - X-Men"

So what happened here? I have my own theories and something about the following quote from MWP doesn't ring quite true - there's something not exactly transparent.

"And in Marvel news… the economics of licensing a tie-in product is always something we have to weigh carefully. We brokered an admittedly ambitious license with Marvel. Our first event, CIVIL WAR, was successful and well received, but it didn’t garner the level of sales necessary to sustain the rest of the line. We’ve learned from this and are taking a very different approach with the other licensed properties we’re bringing out to you in the next three years. We believe we created a great game. Those of you that have supported us have been terrific, and we appreciate you. But, unfortunately, we will not be bringing any new product out under the Marvel line. We know this affects our customers. Those that have pre-ordered Annihilation will receive a full refund or a credit worth 150% of their Annihilation order to use on existing or future product".

Really? This game has hardly been out for a year. It also was the 2012 ENnie Awards Silver Award winner for Best Game and Gold Award winner for best rules. They even say in the quote above that CIVIL WAR was successful and well received. How much better was this expected to be. I can't help but think that somehow this has something to do with Marvel over valuing their licence for this game after the success of the Avengers movie. If this game can't make enough money to be viable then I seriously doubt Marvel will be able to find a game company (or develop a game themselves) that will "garner the level of sales necessary to sustain the rest of the line".

If MWP would come clean with the details maybe the fans could do something regarding this. Specifically, did MWP dump the line because they couldn't make enough money on it? I hope not because they just invested in that tired old property "Firefly". If they dumped Marvel Heroic because they felt they couldn't keep both it and their other newly acquired properties then that would be tragedy. That would essentially mean that they were not prepared to let Marvel Heroic grow and produce returns for them and that they took the money we spent on it and rolled it into a licence for crap like "Firefly".

If that isn't the case, it means that Marvel wanted too much for the line as negotiated between the two  and MWP couldn't make enough profit to viably keep publishing the line- "an admittedly ambitious license". Also if the stuff already written is now being scrapped that means MWP expected to take a loss if they continued. The other scenario here is that Marvel was in a position to request even more for the licence after a set time period, and seeing the success of their Avengers movie, jacked up the fees, making Marvel Heroic unviable. 

Here's the situation. If MWP pulled out because they felt they would rather focus on other properties because they were more profitable than Marvel Heroic, but Marvel Heroic was still making money then basically it's over. If MWP lost the license from Marvel because it was too expensive then it's clobbering time. Basically it's unlikely that a new Marvel RPG is going to do better than Marvel Heroic. Its popular and won 2 ENnies. Marvel has to understand the "actual value " of its propery in the RPG game industry. They can either make some money or no money. But here is the game changer. If a game that was popular in the circle of customers that would be interested in such a game didn't generate enough value to continue the line, we need to let Marvel know that we want it to support Marvel Heroic, and that we will not be supporting any forthcoming system. This in effect will make any Marvel RPG completely unviable, unprofitable and generate nothing for Marvel and its properties. If Marvel wants to make any money from our hobby they need to renegotiate a new deal with MWP to continue the Marvel Heroic line. Simply put, we don't need Marvel to keep playing this game, we can make the content ourselves,the OSR has proven that it can be done, and MWP could easily publish the operations manual without the Marvel IP. Marvel has an opportunity to create even more fans, make some money, and watch a game line grow, with the future opportunity to make money on RPGs for every comic book tie in / event they have ever published and/or ever will. However this is Disney - creator of the Disney Vault - they're perfectly willing to sit on this, It's worked for them in the past. This time it's different, because if we keep building our own events and data files then there will never be a demand for a Marvel RPG. Our community will become the one with all the content and all the players. If Marvel sits on this they lose.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

d30 Quest

Some people really don't like the "funky" (I can't stand that word) dice included as part of the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG rules. I'm not one of them. I like dice, especially RPG dice, a lot. When I first noticed the GameScience "Zochi" dice I was interested right away but didn't move toward a purchase mostly because of a single die in my collection - the d30.

My d30 purchased c. 1986 at Hans Christian Toys at the local mall.

At the time I thought this was the coolest thing ever, even though I'd never read any rules that used the thing, and I had assumed that said rules would be forthcoming (why else make the thing - right?). That didn't really happen, at least not for me. My friend Chris, whom I ran most of my dungeons for, also bought one. We never used it for anything other than rolling to hit or for damage (and not under any house rule either - just when we thought it would be crazy). The only hint I ever received that this chunk of plastic had any use in an RPG was when I discovered that The Armory published a book of tables for use with it. I can't remember when I first discovered this product and I can't remember if I saw an advertisement for it or saw it at a game store. I've never had one in my hands but you can look at one online here.

It's a crime that this wasn't included with every d30.

So DCCRPG comes along and I'm super excited about this. I want to see how the new dice work in the game and I have a reason to get new dice (I lie to myself that this is even a requirement to get more dice). Best of all my d30 is actually good for something.

I order a 12 piece Gamescience set  on eBay and it was great except that it doesn't come with the d7 or d30 so I have to get those extra at my FLGS. I see what they have at the store and the d30 is huge (I already thought the d30 I had was massive) and has nothing even close to a hard edge on it. I'm not a big fan of "polished" dice and this one is by far the worst. So what do I do next. I find another set of dice I can use for DCC with mostly different shapes and go and buy those too even though they are mismatched sizes and the d30 is exactly like the one I bought at my FLGS. I'm still glad I bought them however.

Nice useless pips under the 16, 19, 26 and 29 Brainiac.

So what I decide I really want is to be able to find a d30 like the one I originally had. It's pretty beat up so I'd like to have a new one or one like new even though it still rolls better than the two newest ones I've acquired. Then I get word from my friend Jim that there is a d30 like the one I want in with a bag of other used dice for three dollars. I'm still not sure what kind of dice some of those are, but the d30 is exactly like my old d30 except for the colour and much better condition. What great luck.

A real treasure.

I don't know if these are GameScience or Armory, but they don't wear as well as any other GameScience dice I own so I'm going to assume they are Armory. The bigger ones I am lead to believe are Koplow. Besides those three, I can't find any other companies or styles of d30, but I'll keep looking.

My two styles compared to a GameScience d20.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Game Play Update

As has been obvious to anyone dropping by here I haven't been very active lately. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's been a busy time for gaming since JimCon in November.

Around the new year I was invited to join a group for a game held every two weeks. The home it is hosted in has a dedicated game room which is very nice and the hosts are active gamers (thanks Greg and Sara). Our first meet up was to decide what kind of experience we wanted to build here. We came to a decision that we would start with Basic D&D to create a campaign. I offered to DM (the players are Greg aka Radek, Sara aka Emmie, Jim aka Greybeard, Tyler aka Philippe and Paul aka Rogan). It was discussed that perhaps we could play a variety of game systems but most of the players wanted an ongoing campaign so they could develop their characters. I suggested that we could possibly have a campaign where the characters are transported to different worlds that would support a unique genre and allow the use of a new game with characters being converted to the new system. We've been going through the "Haunted Keep" and that's been very fun and of course it supports basic. I'll be switching us over to Castles & Crusades soon as it will be easier to convert the majority of the materials I have in mind for the near future. Once we move to C&C I'm not sure that moving away from that sytem will be necessary. Horror and Pulp adventures are being considered and I may just run something with the Lejendary Adventure rules. Only time will tell.

Also in the new year I was invited (through JimCon acquaintances) to come out for a monthly game day being put on by people interested in miniatures gaming. I've been playing Battletech with Nathan.  My game is starting to see some improvement. I'm actually using some tactics. I missed this last month but am looking forward to using my new miniatures next a few weeks from now.

I've also been playing in some Pathfinder Society games. I GMed Night March of Kalkamedes at the spring Game Knight Game Day and have been playing a few selected scenarios here and there. 

My Alchemist Gravidad died. I'm also finding the d20 Fantasy rules that Pathfinder uses to be somewhat unsatisfying, especially compared with Tom Moldvay's Basic D&D rulebook. I'm not the first person to say this, nor is this the first time I've mentioned it, but Moldvay's presentation of the D&D rules may be the single best version ever made and are especially the most elegant.