Thursday, June 28, 2012

BTS Week 2

Tonight was my second session of attending the BTS game. I enjoyed it a lot.

A few things I will note:

-Combat is a bit of a grind. I've always thought this about Palladium. With SDC and hit points, as well as rolling to hit vs. rolling to parry/dodge, it can get a little bogged down. This was mitigated partially by the GM's ability to describe combat in exciting terms and to allow us to try different things, rather than just "you hit, you miss, blah blah." I will say that one thing about static defense in games (such as Armor Class in D&D) is that it speeds things up considerably.

-There was a second group in the basement tonight. At first I had a bit of difficulty concentrating with two high-energy GMs running their games, but gradually I found that I was able to zone out the other game. It helps that the BTS GM's style is very engaging.

-We solve the crap out of mysteries. I've seen groups of players optimized for combat, but never have I seen a group that can solve a murder mystery so fast. This is partially due to a lucky mix of character classes with complementary mystery-solving abilities, and a couple of handy skills. I enjoy the fact that I got to roll against my "Crime Scene Investigation" skill.

-I talked to one of the owners about possibly using the venue for a campaign of my own, and they went ahead and gave me the time slot.

Regrettably, there will be no BTS next week, as the GM and I will be out of town. (Of course, I will be out of town because I will be on the way to a gaming convention, so.... can't really complain.)

Now, I just need to figure out if I want to do SWN or DCC more. Maybe I should just alternate them. Maybe I should flip a coin.

Awesome Settings, Headache-Inducing Rules

Four games that have, in my opinion, awesome settings.

1. RIFTS- We all know the setting. Post-Future-Apocalypse sci-fi with magic and aliens and demons and every-goddamn-thing you can think of. The rules problems are well known and well mocked throughout the land.

2. In Nomine- Modern day angels vs. demons. God is absent, Lucifer is indifferent, so the Archangels and the Demon Princes wage war on each other. Add to the mix sorcerers, undead, humans with an array of divine or infernal powers, and the remnants of the pagan gods living in the collective dreamscape of humanity. The game oscillates between very dark and very funny. The rules system is based around a novelty die mechanic that wears thin. The rules system also assumes angels/demons as the baseline PCs, and thus creates a scale where ordinary humans are utterly useless, and even supernaturally empowered ones are kind of lame. 

3. Tribe 8- Post-apocalyptic fantasy horror, with humanity slaving away under bizarre and tyrannical living goddesses who saved mankind from weird icky fleshy fetish alien/demon things that had previously subjugated our entire race.  Add in weird technology priests, mutant barbarians, and a tribe of exiles who follow a slain god. Highly inspiring, if somewhat overwrought. Bizarre dream magic and weird ass anime powers based on what particular god you used to belong to before you got kicked out of civilization. The rules system is one that I hate maybe more than any other I've ever played, ever since we played Gear Krieg (dieselpunk World War I using the same rules) and found that headshots and flamethrowers are insufficient to kill enemies in combat.

4. Fireborn- Magic is reawakening in the modern world and creatures of magic are returning from their slumber. Players are dragons who are reincarnated as humans. As they reawaken, they gain sweet ass dragon powers. They have to contend with various supernatural entities, all of whom seem to have beaten the dragons in the whole waking up process...
Players also make a second character: full on, godlike dragons, that they play in flashbacks to an ancient mythic era before modern history. Neat in that the flashbacks are how you learn new powers as a human. The combat system is novel and is kind of reminiscent of Tekken. (You set up moves like Punch-Punch-Duck-Kick or whatever.) I found the rules to be a bit clunky.

My solutions:

RIFTS- Currently working on retro-fitting RIFTS to AD&D. The Palladium system started off as heavily house-ruled AD&D, after all.

In Nomine- Right around the time I graduated college and moved here, I was working on a FUDGE conversion for In Nomine. Sadly, I lost the notebook in the move and was never motivated enough to finish my translation. These days, I think the "New" World of Darkness (I hesitate to call it new because I think it is seven or eight years old now...) would actually be a better fit. (Plus, converting something to FUDGE is kind of a pain in the ass, more so than the usual conversion process)

Tribe 8- I was also working on converting this to FUDGE right around the time I was converting In Nomine. Unfortunately, the notes were in the same notebook. Bummer.
These days, I'm thinking Savage Worlds might be a way to achieve the cinematic feel the developers seemed to be going for, but that the Silhouette system just couldn't seem to deliver to me. Also, the power system in Savage Worlds might be better for emulating the weird ass power and magic system from T8.

Dragonborn- I think of this game as a weird cousin of World of Darkness, so I'd totally convert it to NWoD. I'm not sure the element-based stats would map well to NWoD, so essentially I'd just be taking the concept and trying to fit it to entirely new mechanics.

My gawds, what is wrong with me?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

d16 inspired rage

Zocchi dice make me want to punch orphans in the face.

More specifically, shopping for Zocchi dice and deciding whether or not I want to pay GameScience six dollars to ink my dice for me makes me want to punch orphans in the face.

I've downloaded a custom die roller for my smart phone that I have used to create virtual Zocchi dice, but this feels somehow unclean to me, plus it will be a pain in the ass for me to have to roll initiative for any fighters who happen to have a two handed weapons or what have you.

While I cannot punch orphans in the face without that pesky "legal reprisal" thing, I can log into my text MUD, unequip my sword, and go punch virtual orphans in their virtual faces.

That is all.


Coffee was good. Turns out that this player can swing a weekly game if he sets his schedule up.
Given how generally unsuccessful I am with games that play every other week, this is just what the doctor ordered.

I also had a chance encounter at the coffee shop with an old pal from my hometown who has recently moved here. We gamed a lot back in the day, and he lives a stone's throw away from my potential venue... perhaps that is worth looking into.

This might come together nicely.

Here's what I'm thinking:

1. Stars Without Number- Hard Light. I could at least start it off there... I liken Hard Light to Keep on the Borderlands in Spaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

2. Stars Without Number Ripping Off a Local Author- I picked up this book by a local author and I'm enjoying it. To me, it just screams SWN. It's called Der Sternvolker*, though I'm not sure how easy it is to get a print copy if you aren't local. Of course, options 1. and 2. are not mutually exclusive.

3. Dungeon Crawl Classics- I'd start with the 0-level funnel and see what comes out the other end...

At any rate, the idea would be to form a core group of people I know, and then draw extras from the interested clientele of the venue. I could also just run it at my house. In all honest, I usually vastly prefer to run my campaigns in my own basement, but I love this establishment enough to make an exception. (It's also not often that I meet new people in my basement.)

My player was also nice enough to print/bind my PDFs of Osric Unearthed and First Edition Skills. (His job apparently lets him do this for free) These will make said supplements infinitely more useful to me, since I only use my laptop for work and I hate running from the game table to my desktop computer and back. Thanks, yo!

I'm hoping to get something up A-freakin'-SAP. Like I said, summer vacation time is a-wastin', and since the summer course I'm teaching ends this Friday, I intend to hit the ground running.

*I love to say this title, working it into conversation as often as possible.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Warhammer Critically Fumbles

My Tuesday game of Warhammer was canceled at the last minute.
We've canceled more than we play. I'm starting to think that this particular combination of players simply isn't going to work...which is too bad, because their chemistry at the table is a thing of beauty. However, heartless as it may seem, I am burning up valuable summer time, and I need to invest my creative energy in something that actually has some kind of yield, i.e. "sessions where people show up and we play."

At this point, I'm of two minds: part of me wants to give them one more chance to reconvene at our next scheduled session (in two weeks), and part of me...well, most of me... wants to just cut my losses and start up something else. (I was thinking maybe Stars Without Number, based around the Hard Light module, at the comic book/coffee shop I have come to love so much- not that I've been putting any thought to it, no sir...)

Tonight I'm going down to said comic/coffee venue to hang out with my wife and one of the guys from the Warhammer group (and formerly of the Sunday group) to imbibe coffee, maybe work on our RIFTS-to-AD&D conversion (which is starting to resemble something playtest-able), and generally schmooze. It's not the evening that I was hoping for, but it should be fun anyway.

One of the shop owners was talking about getting a gamer connection/community of some sort started up. If he's there tonight, maybe I'll see what he has in mind.

Monday, June 25, 2012

July: There Shall Be Gaming

Ahoy, mateys.

WFRP2  Session #3 is tomorrow night. It should be Session #4, but I was laid low by the Flu From Hell last time.

I'm really enjoying the BTS game. It's a very different vibe from the Sunday group.
(Sunday group: don't read too much into that)

For Sunday's game, I've retired my boring ass bounty hunter for Deadlands and replaced him with a mulatto Voodoo houngan with a checkered past and a tie to one of the other players' arch-enemies. I like this character much better. I'll be returning to AD&D2nd edition this Sunday after several weeks of absence.

July is going to be game-o-rama. Next weekend I am going to KantCon, where I'll be playing Microlite d20, AD&D editions 1st and second, some steampunk game I've never heard of, and Traveller, plus any pick-up games I happen to join.

At the end of the month I will be attending my beloved Local Convention. This will be my fourth consecutive year of attendance, which is a record. I'm signed up to play Mutant Future, Stars Without Number, and Dungeon Crawl Classics. I was actually planning on running those three things, but I think I might take this year off an play for a change. Maybe I'll run something Sunday morning... though I must confess, I am usually in no shape to run a game the Sunday morning of any convention. In fact, I'm usually in no shape to do anything except drag myself home and go into a coma.

July is also host to a number of other nerdly activities, though they bear no relation to gaming and thus shall not be discussed here. Needless to say that July is going to be the most awesome month in the year of 2012, barring me winning the lottery or gaining X-Ray vision or something later in the year.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Few Thoughts on DCC

I got my copy of Dungeon Crawl Classics in the mail today. I don't typically do reviews, but I will share a few thoughts:

-This is flavor country. Seldom in recent times has my mind been set racing by a gaming product, but DCC had my gears churning almost from page one. That is about the highest accolade I can give a gaming product, not that my accolades really mean anything besides one lone repeat customer lurking in the depths of the internet.

-At last, a D&D-esque magic system that almost has the feel I want right out of the box.

-Great way to simulate feats without recreating the godawful bloat that is feats in d20. 

-My gods, he made halflings into an appealing looking class. (Yeah, he rolls race as class. Deal with it.) It looks different than my version of the halfling, (which is essentially a fighter+thief in the way that the Cyclopedia elf is a fighter + mage) but I definitely like what I see.

-I find it a bit fiddly that there are multiple crit tables for PCs and then another set entirely for monsters. A screen would be a nice remedy, since I don't like "permanent bookmarks" in my game books. Of course, they don't make a screen, and the screen runs contrary to the game's philosophy that the judge should make all his rolls out in the open.
edit: Jeremy over at People Them With Monsters has created a printable booklet of all the major tables from DCC, including said crit tables.

-The fact that Zocchi dice rolls are built into the rules is fucking annoying. I don't want to pay 12-18 bucks for a set of one of each of them. (For 19, I can get a freaking pound of regular dice!) The workarounds will have to do for now, but even those are annoying to me. (Aside from the d3 and d5, which I have been doing for years)

-Impressive looking book. You could also, I wager, stop a small caliber bullet with it or bludgeon a troublesome player to death with it.

-Took some of the better points of d20 (ascending armor class and streamlined saves*), but skipped the rest.

-Thieves- Alignment effects on thief skills is a cool idea. Weapons that do special damage on a backstab is a cool idea. 

All in all, money well spent.

*I actually prefer descending AC and the crazy ass saving throws of old, but I recognize that the d20 way of doing these things is more streamlined and intuitive, and I concede that point.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I recently sat in on a game of Beyond the Supernatural at my new favorite coffee/comic/game place. The game was run by a guy who ran a game of BTS at the Local Convention two or three years back that brought me around to the idea that it was in fact possible to have fun in a Palladium game. He is also a freelancer for Palladium. I enjoyed watching the session very much and have rolled up a character for next week's game.

At this point, I'm involved in four games, although two of them aren't weekly. This is not a sustainable situation, though I can get away with it for now because it's summertime.

I must say it is quite refreshing to see a game run at a local shop that isn't D&D Encounters or Pathfinder. Nothing against Pathfinder (though I have not been successful with it), but it often seems like the same stuff gets run at every shop. I'd like to run something there to see how well other non-D&D Encounters, non-Pathfinder rpgs do, but I'm a little too busy with gaming and training to really have time for something new. I just want to see this place succeed, because it's nice to have a nerd shop I enjoy visiting for a change.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A New Local Nerdvana

I'm back home from my trip down south.

While I was away, my wife discovered a newish nerd haven in our town.
It used to just be a comic book store, but they've apparently done well enough that they have moved into a bigger location that has an attached coffee bar. (My wife orders the Tony Stark)

They are starting to carry gaming stuff- both board games and rpgs. They carry books by local authors. (I bought one) They have a game room in the basement...only one game so far, Beyond the Supernatural run by the same guy who turned me around on Palladium at the local con a few years ago. Apparently there are plans to create a sort of gamer exchange and to have a friendly, open space to play.

In short, this place is nascent, but it has the potential to be truly awesome. This is the gaming/comic/game/coffee store I've always wanted here. I might even consider running a game there.

In other news, I ordered Dungeon Crawl Classics today. Based on all the positive feedback I've heard, I've decided to give it a shot.

My Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd ed game runs this week, and I might be giving Rogue Trader another shot in the near future.

Feast or famine, man.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I've been out of town for awhile.

The city I'm in has a population roughly 1/3 of the city where I reside permanently.
Our D&D meetup group has 10 members.
Their D&D meetup group has 230.
Granted, most of what they do appears to be Pathfinder (which I'm okay with, but it isn't my first choice) and D&D Encounters (bleeeeh)... but I did notice some Savage Worlds and the like on their schedule. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to have time enough to myself to drop in on any of their gaming sessions.

1/3 the population, but a much larger gaming community. Something is wrong with this picture.

I also had the pleasure of visiting a local gaming store that has literally the best selection I have ever seen in a brick-n-mortar store. In addition to stocking all the usual stuff you would expect, they had a delightful section of small press/indie stuff. There were a lot of books that I never expected to physically see on a game store shelf.

....also, their used books section is almost better stocked than the new games section of some stores I have visited.

Damn, I'm in the wrong zip code.

I will be back next week, and my group will play Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd edition again. I'm working on stuff for it here and there while I am away.