Demiourgos

•January 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So the old crusty DM has finally gotten around to publishing a book. Fantasy of course, what else? Many thanks to those who read it.

Description (Much thanks to my Co-DM blogger for the edits on this!)
Alethia Rose leads the mundane life of a sheltered slave in a dying world, a life that is irrevocably altered when a young elf helps her unlock a power hidden deep in her bloodline. Embracing newly found freedom, Rose embarks upon a journey that could either mend the shattered world or send it further down a spiral of destruction. Rose’s fateful passage takes her beyond the sands of her desert home, through the underground world, and into the alien astral fade.  Along the way Rose is exposed to love and loss, while clashing with adversaries that have laid even the gods low.  Her journey leaves her questioning whether the titanic opponents who threaten her friends, sanity, and the entire known world can even be defeated.

Buy Demiourgos on Amazon!

Dwarven Forge Dungeon Tiles (Kickstarter)

•October 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Everyone who’s anyone who is a gamer knows at least something about Dwarven Forge, that is a given. They make the most excellent pre-painted, pre-assembled terrain out there for wargaming and RPGs. If you own Dwarven Forge products then you, as they say on the IntarWebTubes, are among the elite. This is due to the fact that Dwarven Forge products are expensive (but worth it!) for your average gamer. More recently, Dwarven Forge organized a Kickstarter for their new “Modular Dungeon Tiles” product line.

Kickstarter, for those of you who have been living under a rock, is the best place to get your ideas off the ground if you are a person with an idea. More on that at Kickstarter, there are obviously risks to backing certain projects but for large companies like Dwarven Forge the risk is slim to none because big companies don’t want to hurt their names.

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter (Closed)
Reaper Miniatures Bones II Kickstarter (Currently Active) – Just throwing this out there for advertisement, this is an excellent deal as well. The first Kickstarter produced some excellent minis that my group and I use regularly.
Dwarven Forge Modular Dungeon Tiles – These are currently available for purchase on the Dwarven Forge site, though a good number of the items are out of stock. (And for good reason!)

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ISCLAIMER: More than one set and set of accessories is shown!

As you can see above I have built my first structure using the modular tiles. The above is from my regular gaming group’s current predicament, the Mansion of Vander Sarnikov. (Ignore the MageKnight Dungeons terrain scattered about, I was just doing a size comparison). The first run of these tiles was a huge success, my group had a lot of fun scouring the house for forgotten goodies and killing the defenders left by the archmage that built the place.

The tiles themselves are durable, more than that, they are nigh-indestructible considering I let my 3 year old daughter help me build the house. (More later on the little stuffed kitten that ended up in the servant’s quarters.) The painted set is beautiful, the detail is quite choice and the variety of tiles available makes it worth the effort to get at least one set of each available tile set in the line. They fit well with 25/28 mm miniatures and most of the tiles are made in a 2×2 manner so they all fit together like a puzzle. All-in-all I would have bought more sets had I been able to afford it, but as it is I expect my group to get some serious use out of these tiles.

My thoughts: Buy them, buy all the tiles!

Here are some sample images:

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Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

•August 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Look & Feel
So I picked up a copy of Edge of the Empire along with the GM Screen and two sets of dice. My initial thoughts on the artwork are positive. They’ve done a great job representing the different characters, races, star ships, planets, and even the miscellaneous gadgets therein. We come to expect that from Fantasy Flight Games, though. The core book is quite solid and large, well worth the cost.

Here is Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars EotE page: Link

Layout
At first the book can seem a little daunting but it’s worth the time to sit and read every section. I’ve gone cover to cover twice, you will miss things here and there just from the sheer size of it. The chapters flow well from one to the other without any issues. The only thing that I’ve found that should be changed is ‘The Force’, I feel it should have been put closer to the other available classes.

System, Races and Classes
Here’s were things get a tad dicey, if you’ll pardon the pun. The primary system is a fully dice-based system where your pool of dice is built by your stats and skills. I have become a big fan of this style system. It feels balanced. If you are unusually endowed skill or stat-wise your pool will balance itself. Considering a stat and skill, if you have a 3 in your stat and a 2 in your skill, you get a pool of three base dice, with two dice upgrades. The upgrades make your pool a tad more powerful. On the flip side if you have 2 in your stat and 3 in your skill, the same pool applies. They have seriously achieved balance in the force. Your checks are very straightforward. You roll your pool of dice, check it against the game master’s pool of dice (which is similarly generated) and count your successes and advantages. Successes cancel out failures and disadvantages cancel out advantages. Those are the barebones of it. I’m sorry I do not know where this image came from, I got it back when I purchased the game to help me along. If anyone knows the creator, I’d like to credit them.

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As you adventure you gain XP. XP can be spent to improve your skills and abilities. With XP you can buy talents from your class trees or even entirely new class trees as well. Your character is highly customization. I, for one, plan on going force sensitive on my first character!

Destiny Points are another factor. You use light side destiny points to pull a rabbit out of your hat or upgrade dice. The GM can use dark side points to hinder you. The kicker is that when you use a light side it becomes dark and when the GM uses dark they become light so it balances out well. Again, well thought-out. It’s a sort of renewable Action Point system.

So on to races, I expected a few more races from them. There’s a diverse array of races available, and it would be easy, considering the simplicity of the system, to create a custom race though. Your race determines your base array of stats, your starting XP, and any other skills/powers you start with. The starting races are Bothans, Droids, Gands, Humans, Rodians, Trandoshans, Twi’leks and Wookies. The racial benefits are well balanced and keep fights from breaking out over people with higher stats.

Classes
So when you begin, you get one class and one specialization within the class. The classes are: Bounty Hunter, Colonist, Explorer, Hired Gun, Smuggler and Technician. Yourspecialization grants you a number of primary and secondary skills based on a list generated specifically for each specialization. Plain and simple. Each specialization gives you the ability to purchase talents (not unlike an MMO’s talent tree) that gives you special advantages and bonuses. Also, straightforward. Each you can purchase additional specializations from any class, as I said above, so you can be a bounty hunter/technician if you wanted. The sky’s the limit, and I like that! Each specialization, while it has its own niche, does not feel under powered. They each get something they’re really good at and a few things that can help paint any scene.

The Force
The Force, in this book anyway, is limited in scope. I was a little disappointed to learn that the third core book, not due out until 2015 I think, is the one that will center around the Force. The mechanics for the force are good, and it feels like you are given a progressive growth for it. You can start out being pretty bad ass with the force, but the rest of your skills and stats will suffer. My advice? Take your time and progress it as you go. Your force score gives you your force dice pool. It starts as 1 and only talents can increase it. You can use light or dark side points but dark side points have their detriments. Honestly I feel this part of the force is a bit under powered. I may create a house rule that you get at least one light side force point to spend per your force score. Still thinking about that part.

DM/GM Information
The sections containing information on the universe and its contents is extensive but it barely scratches the surface of the universe (and they admit it!), the internet can be a wonderful place for information though. They provide you with a good amount of NPCs and baddies to start with as well.

All-in-all, I’d say you’d be a fool not to invest in this system! I expect good things for the suppliments.

Book Covers

•August 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

While this is not exactly related to pen and paper gaming or gaming in general it is important to the genre. Book covers! I’m entering a constest at Ermisenda Design and I have to share a link to it. :)

http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/__graphic-design-giveaway-2/#comment-10828

Coming Soon!

•July 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Coming soon, my in-depth review of Star Wars: Edge of the Empire!

A Jolly Jaunt into the Past

•February 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So my group has had a case of the missing players. One player went on vacation and the next went went home for two weeks. During this ‘off-season’ time I gave my players the choice of systems. In the end they decided they wanted to play a D20 Modern campaign set in the current time.

There was another caveat, they decided they wanted to play themselves. I had mentioned another game I ran wherein the characters all rolled D20 Modern mirrors of themselves. There are a lot of moving parts to this kind of conversion. First off you can never be 100% accurate when rolling yourself as a character no matter how thorough you are. Second it is a very DM driven format given the system and whatever campaign your DM dreams up. I chose for an open-ended campaign and in hind sight that was a poor decision. The players, as themselves, couldn’t think for themselves and find a driving force so the game split up.

The premise was as follows. An outbreak had occurred that was killing people. The first wave of deaths was not so bad, the second was worse. The infection began spreading from humans to animals and that’s when the mutations first began to take hold. The infected were no longer just dying, they were living but each different area of the country was suffering from a different set of mutations. The player characters soon found out that the virus was actually fungal in nature and it was being spread by alien ships hovering over major cities and heavily populated areas. We did not get far enough for them to discover that some people are immune and others just mutate in minor ways. We did get far enough to battle a few aliens but when the players did not even bother looting the bodies I realized that the game was over. Next time I will have a more structured campaign with a goal of more than just ‘survive the hideous cannibalistic walking mutant bio-hazards’.

Open games only work if you have one or more players with the proper drive to lead and forge the way. My leader fell short but it was more my fault for expecting him to take charge.

The Stupid Factor

•January 31, 2013 • 7 Comments

Everyone’s seen it, the half-orc barbarian decides to cut a city guard in half because he doesn’t like what the guard told him. The party rogue decides he wants to try and steal the nobleman’s purse, amulet, rings, clothes, etc. Inevitably 80% of players fall victim to what I call the ‘stupid factor’. A fireball in the town square, an offhanded punch to the face, you never know when the stupid factor will strike. Sometimes the stupid factor manifests in a very innocuous manner. The biggest ones I’ve seen so far are “I think we deserve more money!” and “I want to find the thieves guild!”. So what do you do when the stupid factor manifests? You show your players that there are real-time consequences in the game. RPGs are nebulous and for fun but if you do something stupid and it’s not that kind of game (that’s a whole different topic!) you will squelch the fun for everyone else. It’s not fun for the other characters in your party to try and get themselves out of the coming poo-storm of “Why did X party member kill a bunch of random civilians?”

If the resulting consequences are far to harsh to recover from sometimes, just sometimes, you need to roll new characters. I’m not fond of it but I have, on occasion, wiped a party due to multiple instances of stupidity and made the players roll new characters. In the case of one person I will let them suffer and try to be a little easier on the rest of the party. Just because you came in the front gate with someone doesn’t mean you’re responsible for their actions. If someone in the party goes berserk it’s their fault.

Down to the reasons. So the first thing that comes to mind is the player getting sick of or not liking the character anymore. I’ve had it happen to me, at some points the character concept just doesn’t do it anymore. The right thing to do is talk to your DM about it. I have yet to meet a good DM that won’t let you tweak, or in some cases change out, your character if you’re not having fun anymore. In all honesty the game is supposed to be fun and engaging and if it stops being that don’t ruin it for the others. Either change something or quietly bow out of the game. Personally I would rather have a player re-roll or flat out quit than make it a bad experience for everyone else. Just recently I had a player quit. He tried Pathfinder, found out that roleplaying games are not his thing and quietly bowed out. I respect that way of going out, it’s much better than destroying the game for everyone else.

 
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