Posted in Fan Friday, General Writing

Fan Friday – PAX Unplugged – Post Mortem

So I went to PAX Unplugged back in November.  Being my first PAX I was excited, being the first ever PAX Unplugged I had no idea what to expect.  There were a couple other firsts for me there too.  My first time to Philadelphia, and the first time I had gone to a convention with my family in tow.

Let me first say that Philadelphia is a fascinating city with a lot of history.  My family and I went up a day early to do all of the touristy stuff we could.  We visited Founders Hall and saw the Liberty Bell along with a ton of other old buildings and museums.    Our family enjoyed our time there immensely.

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Look the Bell is broken

 

 

The Con itself was an interesting beast.  The convention floor was a decent size, about a third of the size of GenCon’s Dealer Hall.  However, They broke the floor up quite a bit.  Only a third of the space was actual dealers while another third was full of empty tables for you to grab a game and go play, the final third was used for the tournament tables and the main show stage.

Early on the first day, I was a bit underwhelmed… This was a PAX? It was tiny compared to GenCon.  The Dealer space was taken up with a lot of cool vendors selling stuff I’d seen at GenCon along with what they had new since then, and a lot of catch-all board game booths selling every board game under the sun.

I’m a fan of board games, but mainly when I gather 5-6 friends together I’d like to play an RPG instead.   I must say I’ve been spoiled by GenCon, it’s the only gaming con I’ve attended in about fifteen years.(gosh I’m getting old) That being said I’ve gotten used to how they do things:  Register online to run events, then register to attend them.  With Unplugged you can register to run RPG  events ahead of time but you have to wait in a line early in the day to try to get a slot at one of the RPG games. It seemed like a huge hassle for not a sure thing. I may be wrong it might of went smoothly and everyone enjoyed themselves, but how the Enforcer explained the process too me made me just want to steer clear.  Hopefully, they have a better fleshed out RPG running/Playing system next time.  This was their first year, there were some kinks, and I am sure they will learn from them and only get better.

What the Con seemed to be about though was playing board games with friends.  That is where the Con thrived.  The Con had a massive collection of Checkout and Play games, and in the evening the convention hall was full of people at every table playing games.  This is great if you came with a group of friends you could grab a game and start playing.  You could learn a new game or visit an old favorite.  It was neat seeing a lot of people playing games into the wee hours.  However with my wife back at the hotel putting our little one to bed, our exchange student and I were relegated to playing small 2 player games, it seemed rather daunting to try and saddle up to another table with people, especially since most games were already in progress.

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The Line to the Acquisitions Incorporated Live Game

 

Of course, you had the panels, the Acquisitions Incorporated games, the Q&A’s and others which seem to be a staple of the Con.  I was happy to have a chance to meet a few of the Rollplay crew as well as see the Acquisitions Incorporated game live, though the people watching from the comfort of their homes had a much better view.

Overall I would say the Con was a success.  The city alone was such a delight and worth the drive up.  The panels were fun, the dealer hall underwhelming but the atmosphere was great.  I’ll probably attend again, possibly even next year, but I can’t see it becoming a yearly “must go” on my schedule like GenCon.

Posted in General Writing

Blog Update

So my blog has been quiet for the last month.  Let me tell you what has been going on.

I had more Star Trek content planned but the play session got changed last minute which caused me to have to hold the content because some of my players actually read my blog.   And with the crazy holiday times, we haven’t been able to make up that game.  But we will soon and more Star Trek Content will be forthcoming.

I’m venturing into D&D5E.  Yes, I’m like the last holdout whose never played the latest edition of the hobbies staple.  I month or so ago a cousin of mine who lives close by, asked me if I played D&D.  He’d apparently gotten into watching Critical Roll and thought this whole Role-playing thing sounded cool, and he wanted to give it a try.   Initially, I was going to run him through some Numenera instead.  I already had committed to Star Trek so I didn’t think I had the time to learn a new system and make up two separate campaigns for two systems that require quite a bit of prep.  Numenera rules I know like the back my hand and can come up with ideas quite easily and run with minimal work.   Then, however, something caught my eye.  I started watching Roll20 Presents: Tomb of Annihilation. A hex crawl adventure in the Jungles of Chult.  As a teenager looking at a map of Faerun I was always interested in what lies inside the unexplored (then) Island of Chult.  Dinosaurs lost civilizations, and ancient Mysteries all sounded like a great place to adventure.  My GM at the time just told me. “You’ll die in 5 minutes” and that was that.   I never got to go.  Now, however, Chris Perkins has written this wonderful adventure that expands on the mysteries of Chult and fleshes the place out into a full and interesting campaign.  Adam Koebel and his gang at Roll20 create interesting characters and have great fun in their delve into the danger field jungle, and they sell me on learning 5E and taking my cousin and a few others though dino-filled land in search of a way to stop the death curse.  We had our first Session last Thursday and so far everyone is having a blast.  Even if the DM had to take pity on a player and prevent a session 1 player death.  ( Seriously we had 3 death saves roll in the first session for 2 separate characters. None above a 10, and one and actual 1)

 

Another thing I did over the last month was, attend PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia.  I’ll have more on my thoughts on this Convention later in the week.

 

On the life front the Company I work for Decided to offload the division I work for, so they sold it.  I get to keep my job with the new company, saints be praised, but the whole transition has been a massive ordeal.   I actually start at that new company the day this post goes live.    This transition has sapped my desire to sit at a computer in write when I get home.  Instead, I’ve been watching TV, relaxing, and playing a bit of Star Realms with our Exchange Student.  But alas I need to get back to writing and my commitment to this blog.  My apologies readers I will try to be more consistent.

Posted in General Writing, GM Prep, Masks

X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2

This is a continuation of Issue 2 of my Masks: A New Generation Game Check out Issue 1 and Part 1 of Issue 2 if you have missed them.

When we last left the group they were hanging out of the rooftop having lunch, and Star Chyld was failing to convince the group he was seeing an evil version of Mobius around.   That was until Marc Hopper was thrown through a window below them followed closely by Fabien storming out the door.

Fabian is clearly pissed at him and the words he uses conveys that.  The “Heroes” stand and watch.  So Marc creates a bunch of illusions of himself and Fabian gets really angry and starts shooting lighting and attacking each one. (Note to Marvel fans.  Since I accidentally created a drug that replicates the powers of Fabian Cortez I decided I had to change his powers. Sorry)  Mobius runs to get a teacher while the rest of the party watches from above.  However once Fabian strikes the real Marc Hopper knocking him into a tree and unconscious, the party jumps into action, quickly detaining the furious Fabian.

I decided it was time for the facility to get involved so as they take Marc and Fabien to the infirmary an assembly is called.  Cythor decided to split off from the team while sitting down he received a text message from his father “outside 1 hour”.  While everyone is getting settled Slip-Stream slips in and sits next to Mobius.  This I did mainly to stir the pot and see what happens.  Slip-Stream talked about the fight and how she had already put in a request to be removed from Fabian’s team because he is a jerk.  Mobius sexual preference didn’t come up (you have to let some plot-lines percolate) but the players were sure waiting for the shoe to drop. Continue reading “X-Pelled: Issue 2 Part 2”

Posted in Fan Friday, General Writing

Fan Friday: Tales from the Loop – First Impressions

 

Tales of the loop is an RPG from Miodiphious and the Free League.  It is set in the 80’s that wasn’t and uses the Mutant Year Zero ruleset as it’s framework.  Being someone that has quite enjoyed the Mutant Year Zero Rules, and movies like the Goonies and the show Stranger Things, which the game tries to evoke the wonder and magic of, I quickly backed this project when it showed up on Kickstarter.  I must say I am quite surprised by the finished product and not at all disappointed.

Mutant: Year Zero’s ruleset is and interesting game where you build D6 dice pools for actions and require a 6 on a die to succeed. If you fail the first roll, you can always push yourself and roll again with potentially additional consequences added to the situation whether you succeed this second roll or not.   In Tales from the Loop, you always take a condition if you reroll, like Angry or Afraid.  This aspect reminded me of Masks: A New Generations.  There is one exception to this rule, however, and that is a mechanic called luck.  Luck is a free reroll, and how many you get per session is determined by your age. If you Ten you get 5 if you are fifteen you get 0.

Another thing I wasn’t expecting in the game is there are no combat rules, there is no initiative, and your players cannot die. This may turn some people off but I found it refreshing and really fit the setting.  Your kids can still get into combat with an angry robot or a strange dinosaur, but you play kids you are not really going toe to toe with these things, instead, you basically must overcome them, like a quick descriptive skill challenge.  If you players understand that they can have a lot of fun with it.

I found in the quick session I ran it played a lot like a Powered by the Apocalypse game, which was super cool.   The game wants to make sure that you intermix the mundane life of being a kid in the 80’s with all the strange and fantastical stuff they are seeing.  So, dealing with your bully of an older brother, your parents fighting and the kid next door you’ve had a crush on since 2nd grade all play a part in the game as well.  It keeps the game grounded (while your parents might ground you when they find out you snuck into that ‘abandoned bunker’)

Character creation is quick and has a few neat world building and party connections elements thrown in.  It would help to have a few more character types for your players to choose from; as listed there are quite a few that are a stretch to see hanging out together after school. (Hick, Jock, Computer Geek…)

I grew up in the 80’s watching the 80’s adventure movies so this game really punches my nostalgia button, but I am not sure how it will play out for the younger crowd.  The rules I think would be really great for kids to learn and play and have a lot of fun, but I am would think the 80’s tech (Walkman, Arcades, large home computers) would be quite foreign ideas so the tone would be quite different.

Overall though, I think Tales from the Loop is going to be one of my new “Go-To” Games, also a game that I’ll probably use to introduce a few people to the great world of Role-playing.

Posted in Fan Friday, General Writing

Fan Friday – LARPs – A Beanduck Web Series

 

A couple of years ago, a saw a video on Geek and Sundry’s YouTube page about a web series called LARPs.  I personally was not a LARPer; I knew people in the Camarilla ( a White Wolf World of Darkness LARP group) in college, and I knew of the existence of boffer LARP, but LARPing wasn’t something that interested me.  However, something about this video caught my eye.  The production quality was top notch, these people obviously studied filmmaking, the acting was nothing to sneeze at either.   I quickly looked up the show and binge watched the entire first Season.  Then I went and helped Crowdfund the Second.

LARPs is a show that follows a group of gamer friends as they maneuver through life, while the characters they play brave a fantasy realm.  The writing and direction are quite good.  Each cast member is given their own moments throughout the series, and the show expertly weaves between the in-game drama, as well as the real-life drama.

From the tranquil forest opening of Episode 0 to the Epic Finale of Season 2, I can say I enjoyed every frame.  If you missed this series when it first came out, or overlooked it because you weren’t into LARPing, I highly recommend you give this short series a moment of your time.   You won’t regret it. LARPS is one of the best short form series on the internet.

 

While writing this article I discovered Beanduck now has their own YouTube Channel, and promises more original short film content. I can’t wait to see what they have in store.  Check them out here: Beanduck Productions

 

Posted in General Writing

State of the Blog

Hello, Everyone… if there is anyone out there. 🙂

I created this blog a while back to write about my life as it pertains to gaming.  I quickly established my Set Pieces and planned a lot of other things that life got in the way of.  You see I sort of started my blog prematurely.  I bought a house in Late November so the last few months have been all about packing, moving and unpacking, all while going to work, raising a 5-year-old and trying my best to keep up with my wife’s honey-do list.   Seriously I think I put together about dozen pieces of furniture. (6 shelves 4 curio cabinets, 2 storage units and a teepee… ok the last one was easy) We had Christmas, My Son’s Birthday, and we now have an exchange student from the Czech Republic.

It’s been a busy few months.  I have also done a lot of gaming.  It is interesting because a year ago I was running 2 games and playing in none.   Now I am playing in 4 games and running none.  Quite a change for me.  (I’ll talk more about them in future posts)

So, I wanted to write this piece to talk about my plans for this blog.  Set Pieces will still be a thing.  Hopefully still on Weds and on a more regular basis.   They are long pieces and take quite a bit of time so I might have to schedule them for every other week or so.

I still want to do adventure write-ups.  We just had Session 4 of Gods of the Fall so I am a few sessions behind but plan on catching up.  My Android Cypher game ran into a few problems that made it hard to write about.  A player left the game and the plot got complicated.  I misplaced my notes during the move so I couldn’t continue the write-ups for some time.  After that, well, we found new players but have decided to change to a different game.  So sadly, I’ll have no more write-ups from the world of Android.

I’ve been working on a couple ideas for making a Dark Souls-like Cypher game, that includes adapting some of the rules for a solo campaign (1 GM 1 PC).   I haven’t started playtesting yet, but I might put some of that material on here.

I’ve also been experiencing quite a bit of gaming awesomeness.  Whether it’s some cool Actual Play Podcast I’ve been listing to at work, or some fun Board games I’ve been playing at home, I plan on writing a bit more about things I find that I think are cool.

Another thing I want to start putting on here is some fiction.  I had thought about doing NaNoWriMo and posting the stuff up here but I was in the middle of packing up and moving in Nov, so I didn’t have the time.

I don’t want to commit to a schedule for this blog because, A. I don’t want to disappoint people when I inevitably can’t stick to it, and B. adding a schedule makes it feel like an obligation to me so it ends up being less fun.   But I will commit to having more post more often.

 

Thanks, everyone for bearing with me.  I hope you enjoy what I will put out in the future

Posted in General Writing

Set Piece: Revelry

Introduction:

It’s the time of year that we gather with our friends and family and have great merriment.   Do your characters’ ever do that in a game?  Beat the Big Bad and save the town, the kingdom, the planet, the galaxy.  Do they stop and have a celebration, a party, get medals?(ala a New Hope)  Sure some of these events mark the end of a campaign, and rightly so, but other smaller victories should be rewarded, and offer the chance for the PCs to cut loose and develop.

Scene:

It’s time for a party.  Maybe it’s a holiday in your campaign, or the PCs are being honored or rewarded.  This should be more of a fluff session then an action scene, but it should also be ripe with roleplaying.  It also can be the setup for more things to come. A scene like this can end an act of your campaign or start a new one.

Mood:

Joyous.  It is time for celebration.   It is ok to have a few moments of somberness and reflection.  Most victories come with some loss or some collateral damage, this shouldn’t be forgotten like a cheesy 80’s action film, but don’t let reflection bring the whole session down…  Unless of course it is driven by the PCs and not the NPCs.  Lighten things up a bit, have people having a good time. Continue reading “Set Piece: Revelry”