Friday, March 30, 2018

Double Header

I'm doing a lot of gaming this weekend.

I'm not DMing at all, which is my heart's desire, but by Jove I'll take what I can get.

Tonight I'm playing in my friend Josh's Savage Worlds game, which I think is best described as Dark*Matter, but with a sort of Shadowrun-esque "near future urban fantasy" vibe. I'm making my character on an index card after I finish typing this, because I'm suddenly super into games where you can fit your character on an index card.

Tomorrow I'm playing in John's game using his "D&D 2018" rule set. It's good to be back with the old group, even if the composition has changed a bit since 2015 or '16 or whenever I departed.

If I could somehow throw together a one shot on Sunday, it would be my first all gaming weekend in many years, but I'm afraid those halcyon times are gone and past.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Which Way Do I Roll?

So apparently D&D is super popular again.

Anecdotally, I know that in the past year or three, I can say I play D&D to someone and they at least kind of know what it is, rather than getting the blank stare I used to get in years past.

There are swelling sales numbers and surveys that show that D&D has attracted a much more diverse crowd than was perceived in the past. There are podcasts. Celebrities play D&D for an audience. People watch each other play D&D on Twitch...which I do not understand, at all, but maybe that's just the mid-thirties guy in me talking. The point is, D&D has definitely become pop culture. I'd hardly call it mainstream, but the exposure is definitely higher.

Another anecdote: back in 2015 or 16, I saw the D&D starter set on the shelf at Target. Target. The closest thing I'd ever seen to gaming stuff in a big box store is the anemic gaming section at Barnes & Noble.

Of course, this is mostly all news generated by 5th edition. That makes sense: it's the current edition, it has stuff coming out for it pretty regularly, the art direction exudes inclusiveness.

The 5th edition of D&D does very little for me. I ran it for several months, played in a Princes of the Apocalypse campaign for close to a year. I don't hate 5e. I don't dislike it. It's just... fine. It doesn't excite me like the older editions do. There's just some factor that doesn't pop for me the way it seems to with others.

I understand that 5th edition is valuable for the future of the hobby, in that it is highly visible and very good for recruiting new players. I like that the days of the chainmail bikini are over with. I'm glad that gaming is a more diverse hobby.

I also have a feeling I'm going to let this new wave pass me by. Like I said, my heart isn't in 5th edition, but I feel a strange sort of obligation to participate in it somehow for some sort of vague "greater good" that may or may not exist.

The games I want to play are BECMI D&D or some clone of it...Stars Without Number... Zweihander. A few small indie games that have snagged my interest. Lamentations. I've found that gathering players for these games has been an intensely frustrating and often fruitless experience. I could have three 5th edition groups rolling by next Sunday if I so chose. (Whether they'd stay rolling is certainly up for question, but I could get them going, I have no doubt)

So here's where I'm at: I understand that it's far easier to get 5th edition going, to find players, and to find games... and I understand 5th edition's value in making sure this weird hobby of ours continues on, but goddamn do I pine for a group of people sitting around the table while I run from my brand new POD copy of the Cyclopedia, or my moldering old AD&D "orange spine" books, or SWN/SWN2, or... really, just about anything else.

I've kept my 5th edition core books and GM screen, just in case. I may well break down and run it again. I may well play it again. I'd just rather be doing other things.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

KantCon Docket 2018

Bitches, I'm back.

(Well, I will be back. To KantCon. In July.)

My finalized schedule:

Friday Morning- Starships & Spacemen 2nd Edition, "Beacon"

Every year I run S&S, using the same ship and crew, and very often the same players (or some of them at least) sign up. I've had the same two dudes playing the Captain and First Office for years now. Last year I couldn't go, and it sucked. This year I'm running the game with the premise that the usual ship, the Armiger, disappeared a year ago while investigating a space anomaly called the Labyrinth, which itself disappeared as if never there.

Now, one year later, the Labyrinth has reappeared. The experimental science vessel Beacon is within reach, and the Captain of the Beacon is an old flame of the Armiger's Captain. She defies orders to avoid the Labyrinth and takes her ship in...

Depending on how things play out, next year I'll be back to running the Armiger and crew, or the Beacon and crew will be the new characters... or maybe a mix.

Friday Evening- Lamentations of the Flame Princess, "A Stranger Storm"

I'm running the introductory scenario out of the old LotFP Referee's Handbook. (The PDF version of the "grindhouse" edition.) It's a pretty dope scenario. Six travelers are forced off the road by a freak storm that renders the road impossible to traverse and camping a miserable prospect. Luckily, they are right by a quaint roadside inn. What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday Morning- Stars Without Number Revised Edition- "The Tartarus Gambit"

This is a free, system-neutral scenario that was apparently written by forum and placed on DriveThru for free download. I have no memory of downloading it...I found it while cleaning up my PDF library...pretty apropos, actually. I'm going to use this as my first crack at running SWN2. I haven't run SWN since before I entered grad school, and my love of the game burns with an intense, fiery passion.

Anyway, in this scenario, the PCs are a grou p of ne'er-do-wells who have the coordinates to a prison transport full of high value prisoners and high value tech...and it missed its scheduled meet with the next prison transport. People are after this ship. A lot of people. Can the PCs get in, grab what they want, and get out before anyone else finds the Tartarus?

Saturday Evening- All of Their Strengths, "The Dark Grand Conjoining"

AoTS is a delightful, if tongue-in-cheek, game about supernatural hybrids who fight against the supernatural status quo. The game is supposed to be high octane, over the top, stylized-to-the-point-of-fetish action in the vein (ha) of Blade and Underworld and that kind of thing.

This is another scenario of my own device. Rumors and rumbles in the Shadow War indicate some kind of unholy alliance between the Vampire High Council and the Hellfire Club. Normally demons and vampires aren't the best of friends, but the signs are there. Whatever these two factions are planning together, it can't be good.

Unfortunately for them, the hybrids are in town. They're here to kick ass and wear sunglasses.

Sunday I might host a board game like HeroQuest or maybe Space Alert. I can't imagine running five games... four was plenty last time. Who knows, though. I'm masochistic sometimes.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Back in the Habit

Yesterday,  I gamed for the first time since August. I haven't endured a dry spell this long in the 26 years I've been in the hobby.

I rejoined my old group, DM'ed by John Higgins, author of Engines & Empires, but this time we're using his D&D 2018 rules. There were new faces who had joined the group since I dropped out sometime in...2015? I'm not entirely sure.

I rolled a bard, which in John's game is more like the Celtic priest/scholar than the spoony fop of later editions.

As always, this DM's world is richly detailed and focused very much on exploration and expedition. Although he's running Mystara, he's managed to make it feel very much like his own thing.

I have an additional invite to two other games, but I think I can make all of them work. It seems I am fated not to DM again until KantCon, but this is a far better situation than I was in even three days ago.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

In Which I Return to KantCon

KantCon is my beloved gaming convention, one which I attended for 5 consecutive years until last year. A host of personal issues prevented my attendance last year. AD 2017 was an awful, awful year in my life, and I'd rather forget it entirely. As part of that process, I am returning to my convention this year. 

I intend to continue my tradition of running Starships & Spacemen 2nd and Lamentations of the Flame Princess on Friday. Saturday is reserved for running games which I've never run before. Last KantCon I rolled out OneDice Urban Fantasy and Ruins & Ronin. I love the scenario I wrote for 1DUF, despite my issues with the system, but I found R&R to be...well, bland. It might be the scenario I wrote. 

The proposed docket for this year: 

Friday morning: 

Starships & Spacemen 2nd Edition- "Beacon." I usually run the same ship and crew every year (with many of the same players returning to their roles), but given that I was absent last year, I'm going to run a scenario in which the ship has been missing for a year. The players will play a new crew and ship who have the chance to locate and rescue the old one. The results of this scenario will determine which crew I feature in next year's game. 

Friday evening: 

Lamentations of the Flame Princess- I haven't picked which module to run just yet. I'm thinking I might do Something Stinks in Stilton, but I'm honestly not sure if I like SSiS enough to run it. I've already done Death Frost Doom, Hammers of the God, Lamentations of the Gingerbread Princess, and A Thousand Dead Babies in prior years. 

Saturday morning: 

Stars Without Number, Revised Edition "The Tartarus Gambit" 
TTG is a free scenario that I found in my DriveThruRPG library. I have no memory of downloading it, nor do I even remember how I learned of it. Given it's sort of cosmic-horror-ish leanings, I find that to be quite apropos. 

Saturday evening: I have no idea. I'm considering several candidates: All of Their Strengths, the 1st edition of OpenQuest with the dope-ass cover that I love so dearly, or maybe some Savage worlds steampunk zeppelin pirates. Iunno. 

I was even thinking about squeezing in a 5th game. 

Sunday I typically host board games like HeroQuest and The Last Night on Earth. 

July seems like a very long way from now. I'm very excited.