RPGaDay Roundup, Part 2

The RPGaDay Roundup continues! If you’re just joing us, Part 1 is here. Let’s continue:

Day 13: Most Memorable Character Death

When I was in high school, I had a Paladin I had managed to get up to 16th level. I started that guy in junior high school, and at that time it was my longest running character.

For our younger gamers, a little history lesson: paladins were a rare breed back in 1st Edition D&D. You had to have multiple stats in the 17-18 range (one of which had to be Charisma), and you couldn’t just show up to a game with one already rolled up. You had to roll those dice in front of your GM to make sure you were on the level. I couldn’t believe my luck when I rolled the necessary scores, but there was no way I was going to let the chance pass. And thus, Sir Bennett was born.

Sir Bennett survived through every horror imaginable, including vampires, dragons, demons, and @%&$head DMs who just wanted to destroy a paladin. He was also the first character of mine who ever married; he met, was courted by, and wed a fighter in the party when they were both around 12th level. She later died and Sir Bennett, unable to save her, became a broken man for a while.

Sir Bennett died defending his keep from a marauding army of devils and undead which threatened to sweep across the land. He was victorious, earning the heroes death he truly deserved. As another first, we actually role-played out the reading of his Last Will & Testament (character Wills were the rage back then). Sir Bennett was allowed to return in ghostly form to render his bequests, and a great deal of fun was had, as I recall.

So raise a glass to brave Sir Bennett, a paladin just!

Day 14: Favourite Convention Purchase

It has become a tradition for me to visit the Chessex booth when I’m at Gen Con and purchase a mug of dice. If you don’t know, Chessex keeps a bin of assorted dice at its booth. You can pay a flat fee (this year it was $9) to scoop out a mug of dice from the bin. Mostly the bin is full of regular dice, but there is usually some of their odd or custom dice in there as well. I do it every year to restock my spare dice pool, and see what little oddities I can add to my growing collection. Pro Tip: if you do it, make sure to get your mug as close to the bottom as possible, that’s where the d4s and oddities usually hide.

Day 15: Favourite Convention Game

I will usually bring a few games with me to a con to play in the long line-ups, or when there is a spare chunk of time between scheduled events. So things like Zombie Dice or Cthulu Dice are my go to; they’re easy to teach, fast to play, and fit easily in a pocket of my bag.

If we actually have a chance to sit down at a table, and can take a bit of time, I like to pull out a game my friend Devon introduced me to called King of Tokyo. Has all of the qualities mentioned above, but requires a bit more of a set-up so it is not for all occasions. But it never fails to entertain, and I find it a great palette-cleanser between sessions of other, more intricate games.

Day 16: Game You Wish You Owned

Not so much a game as a game accessory, I deeply covet the Rise of the Runelords Deluxe Collector’s Edition. I’m currently GMing through the Rise of the Runelords AP with my regular Thursday night group, and I love everything about it. When Paizo first released the Adventure Path line, I though it was the smartest idea for a game accessory I had ever seen, and they’ve only improved upon the idea since.

But RotRL started it all, and the Collector’s Edition is ostentatiously gorgeous. Slap me with the Rune for Greed, I wants it so bad! Someday it will be mine, as a present to myself.

Day 17: Funniest Game You’ve Played

Hands down, this title goes to Tales from the Floating Vagabond from Avalon Hill, a perfect gem of a beer-and-pretzel game from my early gaming days. For many years I new the game only as a series of ads in The Dragon, but it hooked me with ad copy like: “Why is The Floating Vagabond like an anole? Sometimes it’s green, sometimes it’s brown, but it’s always a small Caribbean lizard.” I knew I had to play this game.

When I finally did, I wasn’t disappointed. The premise is pretty simple, as with most beer-and-pretzel games. The owner of the Floating Vagabond wanted to drum up business, so he installed a trans-dimensional gate in his door way which, for a few seconds, would randomly connect to a bar doorway somewhere else in the multi-verse. This transports any person walking through the door at that moment to the Vagabond, where he could sell the disoriented patron a drink or five.

What this means, of course, is that you can play anything. Any character you can dream up, who might want to get a drink at some point, can make an appearance in the game. The game does suggest some tropes to ease character creation. The game also uses Schticks to bring the fun and help flesh out your character. Schticks can include things like Never-ending Ammo, Errol Flynn Syndrome (you never enter a room through the door if another way is available, there will always be a rope to swing on), and one who’s name escapes me, but essentially meant that technology you don’t believe in doesn’t work around you (“Sir, I am a simple farmer from 14th century Sussex. Human flight is impossible!” *sounds of planes crashing all around*).

Maybe it had something to do with discovering the game around the time I discovered booze, but I loved this game. Ridiculous from start to finish, the game never takes itself seriously. It was one of the few beer-and-pretzel games I’d found which published modules. But with names like Cosmic Paternity Suit, Adventure with No Name, and Hypercad 54, Where Are You?, the modules never took themselves seriously either.

Tales from the Floating Vagabond was Kickstarted a little while back, and reached its funding goal. So I’m hopeful I’ll be able to lay my hands on a new version of the game very soon.

Day 18: Favourite Game System

Pathfinder RPG is still my favourite system these days. I know it, I’m comfortable in it, and I have a number of years of history with it. I don’t see it losing the top spot in the foreseeable future.

But a system I’m currently seeing on the side is the new Star Wars: Edge of the Empire game. Everything about the game mechanics supports playing a game with the feel and tone of Star Wars, which is something previous editions have missed for me. Also, the game doesn’t try to explain things which don’t need explanation; we don’t really care how computers work, for instance, so very little time is spent on that type of tech. And I’m a big fan of the custom dice used with the game. Yes, you’ll need to learn what the symbols mean, but once you do resolution becomes very quick and intuitive. I also think they were smart not to give us Jedi right out of the gate. As cool as they are, we know it’s the scoundrels which really make the Star Wars universe cool.

Nerding Up the Weekend!

I hope those of you not attending PAX and Dragon*Con are still finding a way to nerd up your weekend. Me? Tonight I’m getting together with some friends to read aloud William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher. If you haven’t read it yet, I urge you to get on it. It is just as much fun as a Shakespearean version of Star Wars sounds (and if it doesn’t sound fun…we can’t ever be friends). Read it yourself, but definitely get together with some friends and ham it up. You won’t be sorry.

Tomorrow I’m running a session of Pathfinder Society Organized Play over at The Adventurer’s Guildkicking-off Season Five of PFS. Named “The Year of the Demon”, the season’s plot takes the Pathfinders to The Worldwound, and the never-ending battle between the forces of Law and Chaos, Good and Evil. Sounds like a party! I can’t wait to see where the scenarios take the Society this season; there is a chance for some exceptionally awful/exciting/wonderful things to happen. And the Pathfinders get to be in the thick of it!

Sunday and Monday…? We’ll see. I have some writing to do and a week of work to get ready for. But I’m sure I’ll find a way to slip in something nerdy to do. Maybe I’ll re-watch The Gamers: Hands of Fate. If you haven’t seen it, you can catch the whole thing on Youtube for free until September 1. After that, I highly recommend grabbing the DVD or digital download. It is a funny and touching movie, made by gaming nerds like us, for us.

See you all next week, and have good game!

Free RPG Day Reviews, Part 2

In Part 1 of my Free RPG Day Reviews, I looked at my three favourite small press offerings.  Today I want to look at what the big publishers brought to the table. If you are sitting comfortably, and even if you’re not, we’ll begin.

Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG Quickstart/Shadows of a Black Sun – (Shadows of a Black Sun is an adventure set in Fantasy Flight Games’ Edge of the Empire RPG. Edge of the Empire, as the name suggests, focuses on characters and role-playing on the outskirts: the thieves, the scoundrels, the down-but-not-quite-out. And the FRPGD adventure backs that up by throwing the supplied pre-gens (not a Jedi or Sith in sight) against the scum and villainy of the Star Wars universe. To my mind it’s an approach long overdue, and I can’t wait to see other adventures in the same gritty style.

But what intrigued me the most were the mechanics presented in the Quickstart rules.  For ease of play you will need to buy the special dice especially for the game, though there is a chart for converting from regular polyhedral rolls to the new symbols if strange new dice don’t do it for you.  Whatever dice you use, every important action is resolved as a challenge rolled using the player’s pool of dice against the game master’s.  Certain things cancel each other out and the end result tells you not only success, but degree of success and whether there are consequences regardless of success. At first glance it seemed complicated, but after I tried a few practice rolls it became pretty intuitive.

You did your job, Shadows of a Black Sun: I’m picking up this game.

We Be Goblins Too!We Be Goblins Too! is the sequel to Paizo’s amazingly popular We Be Goblins! adventure module from FRPGD 2010, and all the feedback around the web says this one will be just as popular. Written for the Pathfinder RPG, the adventure focuses on the literal trials and self-inflicted tribulations of the four goblin characters supplied with the adventure. Having lost their tribe to filthy adventurers, the four buff goblins (level 3, practically heroic for goblins) seek to join a new tribe. And a new tribe wants them, but wants one of them to be chief as well. Hilarity ensues!

Honestly, there is nothing not to love about this adventure. Another chance to play the barely lovable, fire-flinging sociopaths of the Pathfinder universe? Yes, please! Loads of fun for gamers new and old, and a great way to get new players into the game (though maybe start with We Be Goblins! to get the full goblin experience). Seriously, you’re playing goblins, so knowing the rules is secondary; goblins are as ignorant of how things work as new players often are, so it’s a perfect fit for newbies. And I can’t say this enough, you get to play goblins! Goblins!

Okay, I sort of tricked you. There were three in my last post, you had every right to expect three in this post. But I wanted to talk for a moment about a big publisher I was disappointed wasn’t there this year: Wizard’s of the Coast.

Given how hard at work they must be on D&D Next, one could maybe understand why they’d want to take a year off from FRPGD. Except that WotC scheduled their World Wide D&D Game Day for June 15. Why yes, that is the same date as Free RPG Day. So not only did they decline to take part in an established and successful community-building event, but they pulled the super douche move of running a competing event on the same day. I have no idea how popular an event it was elsewhere, but to the best of my knowledge no local stores ran a WWD&DD event at all so I’m unsure what this was meant to accomplish.

I don’t want to turn this into WotC bashing. I’m excited about D&D Next and some of the stuff I’ve seen in the open playtest. But I do think this was a missed opportunity on their part, and a serious misstep with the gaming community. I’m not privy to the details of their production schedule, but they could have pushed their thing back a week. Heck, running an event the week after a successful FRPGD could have brought them more players. Instead they chose to fracture the gaming community with pointless competition. I’d understand if they were launching a new game that day, but D&D Next isn’t even going to be available for Gen Con this year. So why the pointless big brother bully tactics?

Okay, that’s enough from me. If you have a favourite FRPGD find or any thoughts on my post, leave them in the comments below. And if you hit up World Wide D&D Game Day, tell me about it, I’d be interested to hear how it was for you. Next time, dice talk!

 

Humpday Links for June 19

Another week, another Humpday. And that means links! At least it does if you’re here, I have no idea what it means anywhere else.

– Chuck Wendig wrote a great piece about sexism in publishing, and then some follow-up pieces.

For shame, Kickstarter! For shame!

– I’d read these pulp Star Wars books. I’d read ’em good!

– How to pass the love of D&D (and gaming in general) onto the next generation.

– A great article on using duplication to hone your game design skills.

– Like Dark Dungeons, this BADD publication is a wonderful piece of hysterical nostalgia.

I knew about Bob Ross And James Doohan, but the others were interesting.

– If this comic doesn’t hit at least part of your feels, you are dead inside.

– Some damn fine ideas on a gender-swapped LotR.

Craig Ferguson talking with Stephen Fry. You’re welcome.

Guinea Pig Armour. Enough said.

– For whenever you want to complain about slow mail.

– If Game of Thrones is a bit heavy for you, I present Game of Hodor.

One of many reasons I think Patton Oswalt is a swell guy.

That’s it for this week! If you have a link to share, slip it into comments. Next time will be Part 2 of my Free RPG Day Reviews. Feeling nostalgic for Part 1? Go here.

Humpday Links for March 6

March in Edmonton has come in like some sort of lamb/lion hybrid, as I’ve come to expect from the prairies under global warming.  Before we get too overwhelmed with thoughts of the impending weatherpocalypse, let us enjoy these special links from around the internet.

– If you’re a gamer popping the big question, why not give the ring that says, “I want to roll crits with you forever.“?

– Ever wonder what goes into making a can of Coca-cola?  I mean, everything that goes into it?

– A look at Star Wars Episode 7, if it were a French film. *shudder*

– To wash the taste of that out of your mouth, check out my personal choice for Father of the Year.

– A NIN/”Call Me Maybe” mashup…not much else to say, actually.

– From an interesting article on asymmetrical game-play comes the rules for Lord Dunsany’s Chess.  I’ll have to give this a try sometime.

– Iron Man 3 trailer.  Iron Man 3 trailer!  IRON MAN 3 TRAILER!!

– I touched on GM’s Day on Monday; here is a special take on it from John Kovalic over at Dork Tower.

– Speaking of John Kovalic: I have been a fan of Kobolds Ate My Baby! since it came out in the original indie version, and I snatched up the Deluxxe Edition because it had John Kovalic’s art.  Well now they have a Kickstarter, and they are going full-colour Kovalic, baby!

– Seriously, if you are just interested in learning about stuff, you can’t go wrong with Crash Course.  I’m learning chemistry!

– For you boardgamers out there, here’s a very cool box insert for sorting your card-based games.

Would I use a TARDIS soda machine?  Almost exclusively.

– Why?  Because Classical Gas, that’s why!

– And in conclusion, nebulas in 3-D. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned for more exciting nerdery to come.  As always, feel free to share a link to something interesting in the Comments, and have a great Hump Day!

Humpday Links for May 30

May comes to an end and we slide into June, just in time for the weekend.  Have some links to get you through, and then get ready for summer!

– If you’re like me and you spend a lot of time contemplating the coming zombie apocalypse, you might want to check out these homes.

Jonathan Coulton has a new song, Redshirt, the theme for the upcoming John Scalzi novel of the same name.

– This is a touching little tale of how R2D2 allowed a dad deployed overseas to still have dinner with his family.

– I have to believe this 10-year-old is being raised up right.

– I happen to think the character of Hawkeye makes total sense in the Avengers universe.  But the Avengers don’t seem to agree.

– So apparently there are some things they won’t let you talk about at TED. So…what’s the point of TED, then?

– Are you someone who loves supporting RPG projects on Kickstarter?  Hate hunting for them?  This site has your back.

– If Heroclix is your bag, then you need to get some HeroSnapZ.  I think @Doctor_Teeth might get a Christmas surprise…unless he reads this blog.

– If you are in the market for a tattoo, you’re tattoo artist has some helpful tips.

– Maybe we don’t want the Singularity, if lawyers/corporations will be involved.

– This Joan of Arc armour is made from bicycle tubes and cardboard.  I know, right!?

– Have you ever thought, “Man, I wish John Hughes and George Lucas had made a movie together.”  If you did, it might look a lot like Hughes the Force.  If not, what is wrong with you!?

– Ever wondered why the Doctor’s companions are generally young, attractive females?  Steven Moffat has your answer.

– Why just have tea, when you can have EPIC TEA!

Want to turn your living room into the bridge of a starship?  If you answer no, good day sir.  I SAID GOOD DAY!

– And finally, This a great treat from the Nerdist Channel: an interview with Leonard Nimoy.

Have anything you want to share from the web?  Drop it in the comments below.

Humpday Links for April 18

Another Wednesday, another week come and almost gone.  If only there were some way to pass the time until the inevitable slide into the weekend.  Some listing of amusing and/or thought-provoking links, perhaps…

– I’ve posted this here before, but it bears repeating: you’re all going to see Knights of Badassdom, right? RIGHT!?

– If you think that lava is all you have to worry about with volcanoes, you are sadly mistaken, my friend…

– It should come as no surprise, but I am a firm supporter of CCOKC.  So should you be.

– Somewhere there exists an R-rated version of Galaxy Quest AND IT MUST BE MINE!

– I won’t say these nerdy bathrooms gave me home renovation ideas…but I won’t say they didn’t, either.

– Need a pictoral map of four-thousand years of history?  Got you covered.

– Are you a self-hating genre fan?  If you have done any of these things you might be…and verily, thou must needs check thyself ere thou wreck’st thyself.

– For Game of Thrones fans, a most prodigious unboxing video.  HBO really went all out on this one.

– Like painting your gaming minis, but don’t like the cost of metal figs?  Paizo has you covered with Bones

– Charlene Rooke shares some tips on getting back to the roots of editing (from the Alberta Magazines Conference)

So this guy walked across Australia in his Stormtrooper armour for charity.  Yeah, I feel like a slacker, too.

This article should be a wake up call for anyone who thinks Facebook privacy isn’t a real issue.

– While I’ve brought the mood down, we may as well look at 5 Ways Modern Men are Trained to Hate Women.  Agree or not, there is something to talk about here.

– Staying in this vein, Ashley Judd had a few choice words for the media recently

– Okay, lets lighten things up a bit: Specimen B-28 is a Canadian-created webcomic about a guy abducted by aliens.  A lot.  There is also a short film you should watch first.

And that’s it for this Wenesday!  Join us tomorrow for <redacted>.