Monday, February 28, 2011

Rating Player Skill in RPG's... How?

Given Bulletsorm's recent release and the awesome Demo that I played over the weakend, followed up by my post of the trailer this weekend, I thought I should bring up an interesting topic that happened to randomly pop into my head yesterday.

How does one exactly measure the "skill" of a RPG player?  I am in some ways at a loss for exactly how to do this...

A lot of RPG's have a huge luck factor involved in them.  It is part of the nature of the beast really.  Because Pen and Paper games use dice, rather than some type of computer interface or video game console, there isn't an easily accepted way to talk about gaming skill in our hobby, but I did think up a few ways that you could potentially evaluate player skill using these frameworks below:

Powergaming Mentality
As a powergamer, I think one of the easiest ways that you could rate skill is through the effectiveness of your character, or your group, in dealing damage.  This especially works well in 4e where party optimization has become the new power gamer craze in some respect.  Don't just optimize yourself, optimize everyone else with you.  Then, using this powergamer mentality, you have a pretty easy way to rate how well a character or group of characters perform. 

How much damage did you do in the encounter?
How much damage did you take?
How many monsters did you kill?
How many players were killed?
How many rounds did the encounter last?

Answering questions like these gives a pretty easy way to evaluate how powerful a given group is.  But, even if you are evaluating based on these rubrics, it is still difficult.

The Success Mentality
I recently read Revenge of the Iron Lich by Save Vs Death.  The delve is very interesting in that it presents a tournament style rubric for scoring the players as they attempt to navigate a potent and dangerous dungeon.  I thought that this was a really cool thing to have in an adventure/delve like this one, though it does seem like their scoring rubric is pretty intense.  It would require a very hardy group of adventurers to go through a dungeon like that one.  This adventure is part of a design methodology called fourthcore - a type of dungeon design created to challenge the living daylights out of a group of near mad players/PCs.  I really like the methodology behind the design of this adventure as well as the actual adventure itself.

One of the core principles behind this success mentality it seems is rating skill of characters/groups based on their success or failure in performing certain tasks.  Did they find the treasure?  How far along the adventure did they progress?  Did they defeat X?  These questions get a little bit further away from each individual combat and instead look at player skill from a bit of a larger scope.

The Roleplay Mentality
I don't really know how well I could evaluate skill of a roleplayer in this area.  Evaluating a player based on his or her abilities at roleplaying seems like I would be holding a little Oscars of my own right at the game table.  I don't know if I would have the talent to judge a roleplayer based on this criteria.  Might have to call in the Academy...  the award goes to... Natalie Port... wait.... Jerome the Bard.

The problem with evaluating player skill based on a roleplay mentality is that you really can't do that.  It would be impossible to provide any actual point based system for scoring or analyzing.  To me, this mentality seems a little bit like a lost cause.

What do you think?

How would you rate a player's skill?  Do you have a way to do it that is based on a single encounter rather than an adventure or delve? 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Do the Nav Bars Display for you?

This is question going out to all my readers.  I am having some problems with the navigation bars on my website.  Do they display properly for you?  If they are displaying correctly, under Roleplaying, there should be a drop down menu which shows all of the different RPG's which I talk about on my site.  There should also be another drop down menu for CCGs, Miniatures Games, Video Games, and Other Games. 

If they are not displaying properly for you, please leave a comment telling me which browser you are running this site on and what version.  Right now I am mainly having trouble viewing this on my home computer, which may mean that it is a problem on my end.  Thanks in advance.


We need an RPG like this....


I don't usually post stuff that isn't clean on my site, but this weekend, after hearing all the related news to the Video Game Bulletstorm I decided that I was going to have to have a go at the demo.  I picked it up off of PSN and, well, it was amazing.  The demo was really, really fun and I can only imagine that the full version of the game will be as well.  I can't imagine how mad multiplayer in this game is going to be, but I am sure that it will be more fun than barrels full of monkeys. 

Check out the trailer for the game below.

If you're not sold on the game simply from the preview trailer above, you should download a copy of the demo for the nex-gen console of your choice.   It didn't last all that long, but I'll tell you a secret - If you play the demo, and finish it, you can get some cool stuff for the game when it comes out.

But, why do I bring all this up?  Well, it kind of makes me wonder if we could put an RPG together like this.  One that lives on a mantra like "KILL WITH SKILL!"

In my mind, that would be sweet.  It might not be something that everybody would want to play, or something that you could run long campaigns of, but I think it would fall into the category of games for me, like the new edition of Gamma World.  I would play it once in a whle and probably drink a beer while I play.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ghost Runner: The 9th Layer Completed!... but a little late... sorry!

Well, I finished up my RPG - Ghost Runner: The 9th Layer and made my proclomation post over on the 1km1kt forums.  I did however meet with some seriuos setbacks during the production of this game.  Late last night, when I was hard at work, the original word file got corrupted and saved in that state.  I wasn't able to recover much of the document and lost about 7 hours worth of work...  at that point, my Live Twittercast of all this stopped as I nearly threw my netbook across the apartment.  The valuable lesson that I learned from this is that you never want to use the same save file when working on stuff like this - make multiple save files, like you would when you're playing final fantasy, and that way, even if one does happen to get corrupted, at least one or two will be ok.

But, the game got done.  I'm really happy to say that.  I did some serious salvage work early this morning and then went back to work.  Even with some serious marital interuptions, I was able to complete this RPG and get it in only about an hour or 2 late.  I feel like declaring that as a victory, even if it might knock me out of the running for any of the big prizes... lol.

Check out the download at this link here.

I'll get an overview of this RPG up here later, but all you need to really know is that it uses the FATE system with a new rules lite d8 system of my own, the DOOM 8 system.  I was able to work in combo attacks into the game, but I don't know If I really liked the result.  I'll probably do some more with this system at a later point.  For now, I'm tired of typing and I really want to take a break from my bleeding computer monitor.  I feel like I'm covered in Ectoplasm after this one and I need a shower, or three...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Getting rid of Weapon and Armor Proficiency the Demon's Souls Way

Pretty much as soon as the announcement that Dark Souls was going to be coming out, I got out my copy of Demon's Souls that I had put away since picking it up at Christmas and decided to give it the play through that it deserved.  I'm going for 100% trophy completion.  That is not going to be an easy task, but it should sure be a fun one.  Right now I'm about Soul Level 100 and about to finish my first run through of the game (that is only about 25 Hours of actual play time - I'm a quick one).  The other challenge I set for myself was that I was going to play the entire game offline - nobody will be helping me on this solo path towards greatness.  I will probably end up jumping online to PvP with people, but only because I'm a griefer who enjoys hunting and killing other collectors of souls.  ;P

My current character, Azmodeous (gotta love him) is a bucket of fun for several reasons.  One of those being that I decided I wasn't going to be taking him down a particular special road through the leveling process.  Instead, I decided to keep him pretty well balanced and try to make him have as much options accessible as possible.  He is turning out to be very mage-like, but he can swing one of the above big bad cloud swords like the best of them.

One of the reasons that is actually very easy in Demon's Souls is through the way that they deal with equipment and proficiency.  In order to use a particular weapon, all you need is the requisite minimum statistics.  There aren't any Feats you have to deal with, or any skills you have to train if you want to use something like a wand or a big huge sword.  All you need is a bit of magic power or a bit of strength or faith and you're good to go.  I love that. 

In the course of leveling this character up, I have tried to stay very general in the advancement process, though I have been putting a few more points into some statistics than into other.  I have tried to give him the ability to have as many magic spells as he can, as well as cast as many miracles as allowed (this game's equivalent of divine magic).  Right now, I am almost maxed out in both of these areas.  I can remember 5 of 6 possible magic spells and 3 of 4 miracles.  This gives my character a lot of flexibility as to what spells or miracles he can cast when.  Also, having both spells and miracles means that he has a pretty good balance of defense and offense making him a reasonably good PVE solo character.

But, spells and miracles are only half of it; there are also all the weapons.  There are actually suprisingly more magic weapons in the game than I remembered.  The reason for that is probably due to the fact that my first time playing through the game took me well over 200 hours.  I got beaten down badly all the time.  But, once you figure out the game, and get better at it, you learn to remember where things are difficult and where the bad things are going to come out of the darkness and the game's difficulty level becomes a bit more manageable.  Because the game took me soooooooo long to play, I remember using the same basic gear for a much longer period of time.

But now, that is a very different story.  I am going through weapons pretty quickly - I have gotten a bunch of new magical gear which keeps me entertained.  And, since I'm kind of middle of the road when it comes to stats, I almost never worry about not being able to use something - being a generalist certainly has its perks.

Maybe the simulationist has a perfectly reasonable explanation for why certain weapons may require proficiency to use well, or why some weapons are harder to use than others, or why a certain weapon might require special training to be able to actually hit someone with, but in the end, that all just feels like a lot of dead weight to me.  I don't want to have to tie myself down to using only Fullblades for the rest of my fighters career, when I pick up that Exotic Weapon Prof Feat at level 1.  Retraining aside, I think it is much more fun to simply allow people, within reason of course, to use whatever weapon they want whenever they want to use it.

The way that Demon's Souls does this is pretty clean and simple.  Every weapon has an associated set of abilities; maybe that is strength, or dexterity, or maybe it is faith, magic, or luck.  If you don't have the requisite ability score, you can't use that weapon to its full power.  You suffer some damage when wielding the weapon in question.  Most of the time though, weapons that are in the same category all pretty much use the same ability scores as a baseline.  If you're going to be hitting someone over the head with a big sword, you will likely need a high strength; the same can be said for medium sized swords, and other two handed weapons as well.  By doing this, the game allows you to pick from a lot of different weapons, keeping the game fun, and also keeping you from getting bored.  Variety is the spice of life and this system keeps life very spicy.

You could easily make whatever pen and paper RPG you are playing work the same way.  D&D 4e is particularly easy in this respect.  For example, you could simply rule that anyone with a strength of 18 can use a two-handed weapon and gain the proficiency bonus for it.  You could also say that 16 is required for things like axes; maybe 14 for stuff like one-handed swords, etc.  House ruling like this will let your players experiment with different types of weapons and will allow them the flexibility to pick up something new once in a while and try it out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

24 Hour RPG - Ghost Runners [Working Title]

Ok, I admit, I love the 24 Hour RPG Contest too much to let it go away.  I'm going to tackle the game design contest again, this time, I'll be using the films Ghost Busters, and Blade Runner.  Sound like fun? It does to me.  I'll probably start actually sitting down to design in about an hour or so.  Gotta pick up some food, etc, before I get onto my netbook and hit the design fiesta yet again.  As last time, I'll be tweeting the whole thing.  If you're interested in checking out the design process, go ahead and follow me on Twitter @Shinobicow776 - you can use the little twitter button at the top to do that.  Wish me luck!!

Marrying D&D 4e with FATE

In a conversation I had yesterday with @digitaldraco on Twitter, I brought up the legal question of whether or not you could unite the FATE system, which has an OGL with the D&D 4e system used under the GSL.  I'll get into the reasons for this in a second or two, but apparently it would seem there is some legal precedent for this.  Although I haven't played the Dresden Files RPG, I have heard a LOT of talk about it around the web; I am informed that the game uses the GSL for D&D right alongside the GSL for FATE.  It seems to me then that there is some precedent for using the open game license for FATE with 4e.  Cool.  Question pretty much answered (if this is wrong let me know).

The reason for this madness of mine is this:  I really love the tactical, miniatures based combat that D&D 4e provides, but I definitely see the problems it has for roleplaying.  I love me some 4e, but the groups that I have had play it usually ignore more roleplay opportunities in favor of hitting monsters with pointed sticks or blunt objects (or both).  I wouldn't say that the system used for D&D 4e discourages roleplaying; I just don't think that it goes out of its way to encourage it.

On the other hand, FATE is driven by roleplaying.  The narative power of Aspects is pretty amazing.  I feel like there is a lot of power behind that system which drives players to roleplay well.  Using FATE points to activate or compel a character's or even a creatures Aspect is an amazing game mechanic. 

I see no reason why these two system should not, or could not be wed into a blissful union that combines the best of both worlds. 

The power creep in 4e is pretty immense.  When you think about the fact that Fortune Cards recently hit the FLGS shelves, you can imagine that your characters will be getting a few new bonuses to their rolls which up until now they weren't getting.  What would happen if instead of giving these +X bonuses to your players based on some random card that they pull out of a deck, you gave them based on activating a character Aspect and thus encouraging roleplaying even during encounters? The answer: nothing bad. 

Aspects in FATE have a nasty double sided nature - they provide your character with a potential strength, but they also give the GM a pretty little weakness that he or she can exploit.  Giving Aspects to characters is a great way to change up the story and perhaps lead to some very, very interesting results. 

I can't say whether or not I really dislike the other elements of the FATE system because in all honesty, I have not really gotten to see stuff like Stunts and Skills in practice during a game.  My experience with FATE is limited to what I have read, or typed in PbP games.  I don't necessarily think the system is lacking in that respect; I just think 4e does it so exceptionally well that I wouldn't really want to move to a different system just to play other tactical fantasy combat.  My jumping ship to a different system is usually spurned by wanting to try something different, not try the same thing in a different way. 

My idea for combining these two would be to allow every character to start the game with 10 points to buy Aspects.  For every Aspect they pick up, they lose 1 point.  You start the game with whatever FATE points are left over and whenever you take an extended rest, you refresh X number of FATE points.  You can then invoke or compel Aspects whenever you want - you can use them to get a +2 to a single d20 roll (skill, save or attack) or gain a +2 bonus to AC (no rerolls allowed because of the difference in die size in the d20 system).  If you like that little houserule, why don't you give it a try and tell me how it works out.  I would love to know.  TTYL

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spotlight - L5R Kickoff!

Well, it has been a long road leading to this point, but, triumphantly, I am ready to kick off my review week of the 4th Edition L5R Core Rule Book.  I got this as a review copy and have been literally glued to this book for about the last two weeks.  I have been delving deep into both the setting and the system and feel like I am now prepared to tackle this monster tome of a roleplaying game.

L5R produced by AEG is, in my opinion, one of the lasting juggernauts of RPG's.  I was a pretty big fan of the game when it was out in its previous edition, because of my love of Asian settings, and I have a lot of those roleplaying books still locked away at home in my gamer trunk (this has spilled over onto several bookshelves now).

L5R is a game based around several Asian Cultures, most prominent of those being Japan. Since I'm such a big Japan nut, and have a major in Asian Studies, live in Japan, etc. etc. I thought I would probably be a pretty good person to give this a review.  The game came out some time ago, but it is still worth talking about now. 

I will say right up front that I was totally blown away by the quality of the book in every single aspect.  The artwork is fantastic and in full color.  The book itself is of superb quality and the cover is brilliant.  The formatting of the book is perfect; the sidebars have almost as much visual impact as the actual artwork of the book.  You would not be wrong to buy this book simply to have on your coffee table alongside other art books.  It has been said many times, but really, this is the best looking book put out this year, hands down.

But... what is inside this book?  That is what I will be talking about considerably this week.  And, consdering I have made about a dozen characters now, you will probably even get to see a few of my character creations up on the site.  Stay Tuned!

Sorry for the lack of posts - blame the remodel

It has been relatively quiet on the posts front here.  Sorry about that.  I was out due to family obligations for part of the weekend and have been either deep into my video games or have been working on this blogs remodel in my spare time.  That has put a bit of a time crunch on my actual blogging.  I have however completed most of the remodel now and think I will be able to update much more quickly and easily in the future.  You can see that I have updated the top navigation bars and where they lead to better reflect some of the varied content that gets brought up here on this blog.  It will always remain an RPG focused site, but all of the other CCG, Board Game, Miniature Game, and Video Game posts were just getting lost.  This way you will have a very easy place to find them (rather than using that pesky little tag cloud which I may get rid of all together...).

I have also updated my legal section on this site, which hopefully, will keep me from getting sued.  I believe I should be pretty much in compliance across the board now, which means I can stop worrying about drawing corporate rage and work on the whole blogging part of whatever this project of mine is.

I hope you find these nav bars easier to navigate.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Shadowrun Play by Post Art by Obidancer - The New Guy

Awesome.  He looks a bit like my character from way back when I used to play EVE Online.  Those were some fun times.  As you can see, our player Obidancer continues to put out top class artwork for our Shadowrun PbP.  Feel free to contact him if you have commission work that needs doing.  Check out his profile on the RPG Table Talk forums for his e-mail and contact info.

Tossing it Out: A to Z in April Challenge...Homebrew Style!

There are a bloody plethora of folks on the RPGBN who have already started talking about the April A to Z challenge.  I am entry number 291 on the list, but I can be sure that I won't be the last.  I am always a sucker for new directions and reasons to get motivated; that reason, more than any other, is probably why I like doing all the XDMC contests and 24 Hour RPG's.  They provide a great deal of needed motivation which kicks my fat arse into gaming gear.  The A to Z challenge seems like it is going to be a lot of fun. 
I will attempt to do 26 posts, all of which are related in some way to Homebrew.  I figure that might be a good way to build up some new content for my game setting and I also think it might be a great way to put out some cool stuff that somebody might pick up and use.  I hope you will give my posts a read through and perhaps even use them in your campaign setting or game.  I'll probably get started brainstorming for this really, really soon.  It is going to take quite a lot of planning to get that all together.

When it is all done, I'm even going to try and put together a little PDF of all the homebrew and make it available on my site.  Sound good?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What makes a Game Designer??

Something that @atminnn said on Twitter the other day has kind of resonated with me.  He grouped me up with a bunch of other people and identified us as game designers.  It feels really odd being called a "game designer" and I really don't think I earned that title.  I haven't done anything legendary.  I haven't produced anything that anyone has actually ever played.  I have never made a cent from any game that I've ever written (my own parents don't really want to buy my stuff and if my wife bought it, she'd be using my money, so that doesn't even count....).

But, in the end, does any of that really matter?

To date, I have put together a bunch of homebrew material for D&D 4e (still working on getting the GSL and WotC mark of approval up here... sorry I'm just really lazy.  It is all compliant though).  But, really, that is more content development than game design.  I would say that virtually every DM who has ever role played could pretty easily call him or herself a content developer.  The content you generate may not ever get used, or it may get used in only your game, but content is content.  You have made something real and concrete and if you put it on the internet (and make it free) chances are somebody is going to use what your wrote in their game for no other reason than that people are fundamentally lazy.  I procrastinate like a beast, so it is often much easier to just take somebody else's idea and use it as my own.  This is so much more the case now with 4e D&D than it was when I played 3e all the time.  Back then I was much more inclined to simply use things as they are and not do much reskinning or homebrewing of my own. Now, things have really changed.  I feel like the system is so easily homebrewed that I can do it easily on my own.  But, since the system is also so easy to brew for, I also feel like it is much easier to put confidence into the homebrew of others.  I can look at a statblock and within a few seconds figure out if the creature is going to be too easy or too hard to fight.  Content that is spot on gets used.  Hell, content that is off gets adjusted, then gets used.

I'd say that being a content developer is a lot easier than being a game developer and I feel much more comfortable accepting that mantle.  But really, is game developer any different?

To date, I have put out three different games, but none of these games were developed independantly.  I did my first game: Bloody Stuff, for the 2009 24 Hour RPG and based the game off of the theme "Teddy Bear Blood Sports".  I think I was on one of the lists for good looking games, but I didn't win anything. I never really thought I would.  I made a valiant effort, but it didn't really amount to much and the time constraint was punishingly hard.

In fall of 2010 I entered in the Game Chef competition with my RPG Edge of Annihilation: The Last City.  I tried to make a Post-Apocolyptic RPG/Board Game which mimicked sim city. It was simply too far reaching and I didn't really feal satisfied with my work.  Since then, I have been going back to the concept for this game, that of an RPG/Board Game based off of Sim City and have been revising and redefining what I want to get out of it.

Most recently, I developed Alone in the Woods, this time again for the 24 Hour RPG Contest.  I even tweeted the whole thing as well.  That was a lot of fun and I think I have gotten a lot better at designing, developing, and producing original stuff.  The people that have read this one have said they really liked it, which I think is awesome.

So, can you really call me a game designer?  I have put out 3 games, none of which was over 30 pages in real content, and to my knowledge, nobody has ever played any of them.  I certainly haven't gotten a chance to.  Nobody I know has the time to run any of these games.  Do i want to?  Sure!  I would love to eventually play one of the games that I made.  It might be a while, but eventually... I'll get somebody who will give me the time of day.

I was listening to Giant Fire Breathing Robot the other day on the train back from Tokyo.  They had somebody on who was talking about getting out there and doing.  I like that sentiment.  I don't think I could really quote him perfectly, but what he said was interesting.  If you want to be the next great podcaster, you need to get out there and podcast.  The same holds true for writing.  If you want to write the next hit novel, you need to get out there and write.  I think you could say the same holds true for Game Development.  If you want to be the world's next big game developer (something I'm not really aiming for, but it would sure be nice) you have to get out there and develop games.

So, I guess I would call myself a game developer.  I'm still a newb though.  I still have lots of people that I look to as mentors so I'm not really the person you want to be asking game development questions about.  There are more educated people out there who have done much more than I have.  But the point I'm trying to make is this: it doesn't take much to be a game designer.  All you need to do is have an idea, put that idea onto paper, and assemble those ideas in such a way so that the ideas you have can be experienced and played with some office supplies and oddly shaped dice.  It's that easy.  If you've got an idea, do something about it.  If you have problems, like I do, with working independantly on stuff, go enter into a contest.  The 24 Hour RPG Contest is, if nothing else, a great place to get motivated, get pressured, and get criticism.  If you enter the contest, you are guarenteed that at least a few people are going to download your game, read it, and tell you what they think of it.  The criticism might be painful (remember this is the internet), but it will also be good for you.  Learn to love it. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

World Building Tips @ Stargazer's World Pt. 9

My latest post in which I explain about first adventures and selling your setting like Mr. Don Draper of the TV Show Mad Men is up at Stargazer's World.  If you haven't already, go check out my post, World Building Part 9 - The Don Draper School of World Immersion.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

24 Hour RPG - Alone in the Woods - Complete, Twittercast below

Yesterday, around noon, I started work on my 24 Hour RPG – Alone in the Woods. Now, I’m all finished with it. I also made up my mind that I was going to tweet about the whole ordeal, while I was actually writing my little RPG. It turned out to be a pretty fun thing to do. Lots of people chimed in to have conversations about the game and to talk about the contest in general. I encourage you to do the same. Below, you’ll find the anthologized version of this tweetcast in which I begin and end my RPG in about 14 hours of non-stop, finger breaking work. But, it was a lot of fun and I’m glad that I have something complete to show for my efforts. You can download my RPG at this link.

now starting the first of my attempts on the #24HourRPGContest - this year I'm going to do two of these. Starting Alone in the Woods now.

The game will be based on #HomeAlone and #RobinHood - Maybe a Blend of the Anthripamorhpic and Robin Hood Men in TIghts version

got the basic idea for this game down, now i'm just going to have to figure out how to present all of it. Going to be a very long haul.

24 Hour RPG - Alone in the Woods - Work Begins NOW!!!: #RPG

@HyenaSpotz Thanks. Currently doing a little write-up about the world and the Major NPC's. Keeton is going to end up being the Sheriff

Currently writing up NPC descriptions. Good times. Robin Hood turned out to be a real lecher and I jokes abound with Friar Tuck.

I think I just finished up writing section 2 of the book. It is way easier being able to draw from two already well known sources.

Thank god the story of Robin Hood is public Domain... gotta love old, old stuff.

there are some great public domain images for Robin Hood on Wikimedia commons. That is going to make this easier.

now finally on to the Rules section of the game. I tore the d20 system apart and stripped it down to its most basic elements. #24HourRPGLive

This rules section is going to take time. I hope I didn't bite off more than I can chew trying to pump this out quickly... #24HourRPGLive

@HyenaSpotz yup. That is pretty much all I am using. Movement is going to be mostly secret and combat is going to be about traps.

@HyenaSpotz Same here. If that was the case than so much of the old stuff would be public domain and be full of awesome.

@HyenaSpotz Still, using wikimedia commons to find artwork is pretty much the best option for games like this. at least I think so.

Currently writing up the section on Phases, in which the Young Merry Men have a chance to gather resources for trap building #24HourRPGLive

#24HourRPGLive home now from work, stopped to pick up snacks and sustenance. Work continues now, renewed and restocked.

@HyenaSpotz god yea. Nikuman, Pocky, Cup Raman, lots of other goodies as well. Great stuff. Will get me through this.

breaking from writing to work on the Character Sheet part of the Game, then I'll get back into Character Creation chapter #24HourRPGLive

#24HourRPGLive Character sheet is all finished moving on to other things. Still trying to get teh Character Creation section done.

#24HourRPGLive decided I was going to need to better explain how the Trap process works before I move on with this game.

@HyenaSpotz LoL. I have like 8 hours until I burn out on this and have to hit the sack for work tomorrow... Going to be a long haul.

#24HourRPGLive Going back and editing the Trap section some more. It is the biggest part of the game so I have to get it right

@HyenaSpotz its going to be fun, it feels like your are playing a rather humorous version of Battleship in a forest #24HourRPGLive

@firestormink i'm going to write those pretty soon. Just got done figuring out what kind of traps you can set.

@HyenaSpotz lol maybe. Oh, did I mention the LoL points?

@HyenaSpotz Well, LoL points are in the game

getting very side tracked... must focus #24HourRPGLive

#24HourRPGLive the rules section takes so bloody long to write. After this only 2 other sections left to go, then formatting...

@dazedsaveends actually, I have a lot of time left, on the clock at least, I have until tomorrow at noon... but my tiredness level may kick

#24HourRPGLive update: Currently at 24 Pages, 7700 Words in. Fingers Bloody. Knowing that I'll get it done - Priceless

@dazedsaveends lol my rest schedule begins when I'm finished. I have work tomorrow... :P gotta get this done before that all starts

@Highmoon thanks for the good wishes! it's fun times.

#24HourRPGLive update: finished the rules section now moving onto finishing up the Character creation section.

@firestormink for serious! I finished that now, Character creation is also done. Characters in this game are more fluff than crunch.

#24HourRPGLive update: Character creation is all finished. Very simple process. I got rid of equipment, classes, and races... very quick

#24HourRPGLife update: now breaking for frozen pizza and those little strawberry koalas... delicious.

#24HourPRGLive update: talking with my wife has severely hurt my progress... not sure if this one is going to get finished on time now...

#24HourRPGLive update: finished writing the game. Now time to just put the finishing touches on this and I'm gonig to submit

#24HourRPGLive update: my live Tweetcast is now at an end. I'll press the submit button in about 15-30 minutes and then you can read it

@Shinobicow776 has submitted his entry for the 24hr RPG contest! That's two in quick off the mark!!

#24HourRPGLife update: my entry, Aline in the Woods is up on the #1km1kt website. At school now. need...redbull...

Review: Soldiers of Fortune @ Stargazer's World

Howdy Folks! Wanted to alert you to my review of Soldiers of Fortune, by Matt James and published by Open Design.  The supplement was full of awesome.  You should go check out my full review which came up on Stargazer's World yesterday.  You can find it here:  Review: Soldiers of Fortune by Matt James

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

24 Hour RPG - Alone in the Woods - Work Begins NOW!!!

Ok everyone!!  I decided that I couldn't wait until this weekend to do my first 24 Hour RPG Project.  I have lots of free time at work today, with my classes all behind me, so I decided to start working on...


This game is based on two popular movies: Home Alone and Robin Hood Men in Tights!
I hope to have this game done at some point tonight actually.  I won't have nearly enough time to finish it tomorrow since work will be a pain in the butt and I won't be able to submit it to the 1km1kt forums from there since the site is blocked, but I think I should be able to get it done since I'm going to use a preexisting system instead of making my own.  I'll be using a very slimmed down and revised version of the d20 SRD for this one, which is something I'm very familiar with, but there will be a lot of different stuff going on.

If you're interested in following this project as it progresses, you can listen to me talk about it on Twitter.  Follow @Shinobicow776 for all the tweets I put out related to this project.  Stay Tuned for more updates.

XDMC 25 "Create a Mount" Entry - The Kaboomer Dragon

Well, my entry for the XDMC 25 "Create a Mount" competition at the Wizards of the Coast forums is up and running.  If you are of a mind to, you should go over there and give it a look see.  It was pretty fun writing.  Check out this thread, in order to see it before I post the full thing on my blog for all eyes to see.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Joining Eye of the Vortex - Staff Writer Extraordinaire

If I didn’t have enough on my plate already, I decided to be totally crazy and become a new staff writer for Eye of the Vortex. Eye of the Vortex is an awesome site. I’ve been reading it periodically on and off (reading when I can at work and the site isn’t blocked, not reading when it isn’t…). The site is awesome because it pretty much collects all of the cool stuff I like in the world and puts it all into the same place. I find it pretty hard to believe that I hadn’t joined their forums before, considering how big of a troll I am on so many other boards (but you probably already know that my good readers).

So, what will I be doing for Eye of the Vortex?? One might ask that question. One might assume that since I write a lot about pen and paper RPG’s here on this blog that I might be doing the same thing over there, but, if you thought that, you would be horribly, horribly wrong. I think I pretty much have the RPG front covered here and I haven’t really written much about my other hobby too much, unless I’m talking about it within the context of RPG’s.

This other hobby, you might ask, is video games.

I am a huge gamer. Video games are where I got my start. Remember, I’m a youngin. So, video games were my intro drug into the entire world of RPG’s, CCG’s, War Games, etc. So, when I heard that Eye of the Vortex was looking for somebody to write about video games, I jumped at the chance. If, for nothing else, the folks that write over there, and read the Eye of the Vortex would probably appreciate my yearly wrap-up of Tokyo Game Show a whole lot more than most of the folks here, who probably aren’t too interested in what games happen to be coming out in Japan and the status of next gen console gaming.

So, as of this week, I’m now a member of the staff over there. I still haven’t made my first post yet, but you can bet that when I do, I’ll make some kind of post about it here as well. Give it a read through and check it out, if you are so inclined.

Letters from Artorius VI - Re. New Voidling Species Discovered

To the Legatus Legionis:

My lord, have made a very important discovery here on Kimyona. When we were here last, 100 years ago, these creatures did not exist on this plane, but now, the world is literally swarming with a previously undiscovered type of Voidling – the Modum.

You are very familiar with the Voidling, we have had numerous run-ins with them in the past as we travel across the multiverse. Most of these encounters have been bloody and tragic, resulting in great losses to our people. The Voidling are a formidable enemy and always appear in areas which have been influenced by Azatar.

This new species of Voidling however is very puzzling. They are totally unlike any other species which we have yet encountered. Our Hypothesers believe that they are part plant, but also have features similar to many Cephalapods. The people of this plane have dubbed these creatures as the Modum.

The Modum seem to be almost totally incapable of prosecuting any form of combat. Our soldiers, when they first encountered one, attempted to slay it, but were incapable. The creature didn’t fight back, but we were simply unable to lay a hand on it. These Modum hover along the earth, moving at a slugs pace, but will occasionally show extreme boosts of speed accelerating into a lightning fast form of teleportion. Any act of violence attempted against them results in an innate defensive reaction which causes them to simply teleport away. Our fights with them are practically over before they start. We have not yet been able to subdue a single one of them.

Although we have not been able to kill one yet, we have been able to study them very, very closely. Though they respond reflexively to violence, they have no qualms about making contact with other living species. We have been able to hold them, look them over, and generally observe their anatomy, but their danger-sense, which border on precognition, is so powerful that we have not been able to cut one open yet and see what is inside.

From what we can tell, the world is literally filled with these things. They are everywhere. From what we can tell, they don’t eat, they don’t sleep, and they leave nothing behind. They simply exist, floating about the world as pollen which has fallen from a tree; that in fact may be exactly what they are – pollen from the Tree of Azatar. The Seed may have taken such a firm root on this world that we may see it come into full growth.

The Modum have several very important qualities which I will need to discuss at length later, but I am being summoned now to make another foray into Kimyona to investigate these beasts further. I will provide more information to you about them following this investigation with the Hypothesers.

Your ever faithful servant,

Justus Artorius, Primus Pilus, Centurion of the First

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This is My Game - Birthday Presents Galore

You all know how much of a sucker I am for random contests right? Every so often, somebody will be having one and I usually throw in an entry. This time around, Thadeous Cooper from This is My Game, was having a special birthday competition to mark the one year anniversary of his site.

I read This is My Game pretty frequently. I follow Thadeous on Twitter and even listen to the DM’s round table every once in a while (I’m dying to get on that show eventually, but time changes being what they are, it’s always getting recorded when I’m right dead smack in the middle of teaching some English… bummer).

If you haven’t gotten a chance to read his blog, you really should make the time. It’s worth having in your RSS feed for sure. It’s one of those many blogs that I read and just have not had the time to add into my blogroll (construction sucks… yea yea).

But, onto the winnings. I’m really pumped about this. The giveaway for this one was a Dragon Chow Dice Bag. I have been salivating over one of these for a long time; given the review that Stargazer’s Michael Wolf did recently on his blog about them, this urge to purchase has only gotten stronger and stronger. I’m a dice collector, so the more dice bags the merrier. This will be an awesome new piece and I will be getting one hell of a lot of use out of it (sorry for the adult words but it is really hard to hold back the joy).

I’ll write more about this dice bag once I get it, but the one that I will hopefully be getting sometime in the next couple months (my rerouting service is sloooowwww) is the Cherry Blossom Spring and Cyan Dice Bag which retails for a incredibly cheap $12.00 (shown above). Awesome.  You should go pick up one of these babies for yourself. After I get this one, I’ll probably be shopping for these when I hit my next big gaming con.
You should go take a peek at This is My Game and at Dragon Chow as well. They both deserve the visit and the patronage.

24 Hour RPG Contest 2011 - Movie Mash-Ups Edition

If you hadn’t heard, Rob Lang, the owner of the Free RPG Blog, has started up this year’s edition of the 24 Hour RPG. If you didn’t know, the 24 Hour RPG Contest comes around about once a year – the goal of this competition: design a game from the ground up in a single day, art, layout, and all. When it’s all said and done, everybody who threw their game into the contest gets the satisfaction and the sleep deprivation to show that they put in some serious work on something a bit ridiculous, but at the same time, probably awesome.

The topic of this year’s 24 Hour RPG is a bit special. This year, Rob Lang has tasked all the entrants with mashing two movies together in order to form their special little Free RPG. It sounds like a lot of fun and the list of movies to choose from is long and full of win. You should go give the competition a look over and try and make an entry for yourself – I’ll be working on one this weekend when I have the time to really hit the laptop (or netbook as my case might have it). I have no idea what movies I’m going to play with yet, but I have a few on that list that I’m particularly drawn to… can you say “Sound of Music” ? WIN.

You can find the forums for the event, where discussion is taking place here - 1KM1KT Forums: 2011 Movie Mashups.

MTGO Weekend Draft Update

Well, since last week, I have had some pretty disappointing draft results on MTGO. This also marks the last of my drafting online for a long time. I simply don’t have the money for it :P I also don’t really need the cards so much anymore. I have built up a nice big collection and now I have pretty much everything that I would need to work with for deck-building.

In my first draft, I went 2-1 in the total match round-up. I did pretty well. I didn’t even pull anything extraordinary. A few semi-decent rare cards coupled with a half-decent grip of commons was enough to do pretty much all I needed to do. The wins were enough to get me a couple more packs towards the next draft.
In draft number 2, I didn’t end up doing very well… 0-3. It was a massively lame draft… except for all the awesome pulls!!! WOW they were awesome pulls. I picked up my first planeswalker!! YAY!! Elspeth Tirel, this beauty below, got passed to me. Couldn’t believe that. I also picked up a particulary nasty little Engine of Destruction and a nasty little Ooze.

But, apart from all the bombs, the deck was all over the place. I barely pulled any white at all so I ended up splashing to drop Elspeth… disappointing.

Today, after getting back from the inlaws, I decided to play one more draft for good measure. This one didn’t go so great. I tried. I really tried. I didn’t pull much of anything. It was all pretty lousy. I didn’t pick up any great bombs, no great uncommons, and even less good common cards. It was all a bit “meh” so that one went 1-2. I finally pulled out a win in the last round, but the early stuff is just impossible for me – another reason why I still don’t play in 4-3-2-2; Those guys are in a league of their own.

Must. Train. Harder.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review: Smallville RPG @ Stargazer's World

Hey everybody, my latest full product review, this time of the Smallville RPG is now up and online at Stargazer's as of yesterday.  You should go give it a read.  I found the book to be a very mixed bag; it might be perfect for you, but it also might fall very flat.  It is really going to depend on what you want the game for.  Also, the review brought up a very interesting discussion regarding the focus of RPG's which are based on licensed products, especially TV shows.  Check it out here:  Review: Smallville RPG by Margaret Weis Productions.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Letters from Artorius V - Re. Industry & Technology Pt.1

To the Legatus Legionis:

My lord, it has come to my attention that I have been terribly remiss in writing to you with regard to the technology which we have found here on Kimyona. I dare say that found is perhaps the wrong word; cultivated might be a bit better way to describe this plane’s level of development on this front.

As you remember, we found this world 100 years ago and made first contact. We planted our own seed at that time – they people of Kimyona witnessed our technology and our power and realized that we were a mighty force to be reckoned with. We met with little resistance as we waved our white flag coming in peace and commerce to commune with this world’s leaders. But, our first coming was still much too soon. We saw the state of the world then and left with the same degree of freedom in which we came.

However, our first contact was a monumental event for the people of this plane. Although we thought we were observing them, they were in fact observing us. These “humans” and their like were able to reverse engineer our Void Technology. Although at first this technology was powered through very simple means, such as steam, over this last century, they have evolved and have been able to develop their own version of our Void technology. Though they do not possess the purity of the true void to draw upon, as we do, they have found in their own world a source of power which is almost as mighty – The Seed. They have tapped the Seed of Azatar and are drawing on the power of the Void inside it in order to fuel their void engines.

However, this clone technology is still very much in its infancy. They still rely very much on steam power, fueled by resources dug up from within the earth mother. Industry now in Kimyona is widespread. Many huge cities belch out filth into the atmosphere and churn out countless engines of destruction in order to fuel the great war machine which is brewing. Though politically all the current nations of the civilized world fall under the dominion of the Emperor, they fight on small scales almost continuously. What’s more is that they all foresee the coming darkness. The land is growing dark my lord, this dying world’s days are numbered, but the people of this plane do not intend to go out without a fight.

Your ever faithful servant,

Justus Artorius, Primus Pilus, Centurion of the First

More Amethyst Love to Come

Chris Dias over at Dias Ex Machina has asked if the Dump Stat would liked to be involved in a sort of preview/play-test/review of some new upcoming Amethyst related goodness to come.  And, of course we said that we would.  I have really been enjoying getting into this setting for D&D 4e and I am drooling in anticipation waiting for more Amethyst like the dog in this here video below -

But, I don't have to wait any longer.  We have gotten the preview/play-test materials and they are pretty cool.  This preview pack includes several new builds for each of the classes included in Amethyst Foundations.  Can you say awesome??  It is about 40 pages of "Essentials" goodness *wink wink* get the pun.  So, coming soon, we will be taking a pretty detailed, but at the sime time every secretive look at

Amethyst Essentials

MTGO - Recent Play 2: Rare Drafting, Power Drafting, and Deck Building

I've been at it again this week.  Though I thought I was done drafting MTGO for a while, I realized that I had a bit more budget freedom to run a few more drafts and decided that I would give it a go again.  Once you get addicted to draft crack it is a very hard drug to kick.

So, the day before yesterday, I did one particular draft that I want to talk about from a very specific point of view - Rare Drafting.  In MTG Draft style limited tournaments, which I talked about in a previous post (which you can read here),   you are picking a card and passing it the pack.  In order to build a good deck, you might not always be picking the rare card out of that pack.  Sometimes, you want to pick up an uncommon or a common card over a rare because those cards make up the meat of any good deck.  However, if you pick a common, you end up passing up that rare in your pack, which means the guy next to you has a chance to pull it.

Rare drafting is the practice of entering a draft for the sole purpose of picking up as many rare cards as you can.  You go in with the mindset that you don't care if you win or lose; the only thing that matters is pulling as many valuable cards as you can.  Unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of Rare cards in this set which people are going to pass up which are actually worth money, so at least in my opinion you don't really go into Rare Drafts trying to make cash off your pulls - I mean that would be a really difficult endeavor considering the cost of packs and the entry tickets. With that in mind, unless you rare drafted really, really well you aren't even very likely to win back your entry costs.  But, rare drafting has some other side benefits which I'll talk about a bit later in this post.

Getting back to my particular draft experience, I pulled a plethora of amazingly good and rare stuff.  I didn't really go into the tournament thinking I was going to rare draft, but the rares just kept up coming round the table and I kept pulling them.  I can't remember off the top of my head everything I ended up opening, but here are a few of the goodies that I pulled :

As far as the meta of limited goes, some of the cards I pulled are absolutely horrible.  Molten Psyche is one of the top 5 worst cards to play in draft as is Venser's Journal.  Memoricide makes it into a lot of B/U control decks, but in Draft it is much weaker since you don't really know exactly what your opponent is going to swing at you (after g1 if you are still alive it can be a bit better since you know what to zap out of your opponents deck).  Also, Grindclock is just very slow.  I actually pulled two of them in this particular draft (which was great since I am putting a play set of them together).

So, how did the draft go for me?  Well, apart from pulling, in total 9 rare cards and 2 mythic rare cards, I ended up losing every single game in every single match.  Although that might sound like a throw away, it was actually EXTREMELY close to being the opposite.  I ended up drafting into deck destruction in B/U control since I pulled the grindclocks and the Geth; every single game the opponent was down to around 0-2 cards on his deck when he ended up killing me; what this means is that if I had had one more chance to play, or had just hit him a little harder with my milling effects, I would have one every single bloody game....

Rare drafting may seem like a very bad proposition, but sometimes you just may be able to make it work.

Now, with that out of the way, lets talk about my draft yesterday.  It was quite the opposite when rare cards and mythics are concerned.  I ended up pulling only 2 rare cards of any note. 

I pulled the Hand simply because I was afraid of it hitting me.  That thing is brutal.  I have a playset of them in my poison deck and they are awesome (also a bit of a money card, not too pricey, but still very nice to have in any infect deck).  However, this time around I did end up pulling a lot of power cards for the format.  Although I pulled no power green rare cards, I did manage to get Acid Web Spider, Alpha Tyrranax, Ezuri's Archers, and several Molder Beast, and to top it all off a Bellowing Tangleworm.  This deck didn't have much of anything I didn't already have in my collection already, but it did have a lot of good synergies some good bombs and also the artifact backup to help out my big heavy hitting creatures.  I ended up with a G/U ramp deck and did a whole lot better than in the draft the day before.  I lost round 1 in 2 very, very close matches again coming down to about 1 life each.  In game 2, a top deck one the game for my opponenet.  But, in the next two matches I dominated.  They were close games, but I went 2-0 and then 2-1 to finally win two matches and take home a couple booster packs in prizes.  Awesome right?? 

Now, there is a method to my rare drafting madness in some of my drafts.  That reason is for deck building.  Sometimes I just want to pull some cards which are going to help me build better, funner decks later.  It might not be very economical to do it this way, since you can often buy a lot of singles for cheap in the marketplace (i spent about $4 last night and I think I built three mediocre decks using cheap rares that people get rid of easily) but sometimes in rare drafts you just get lucky.  Those games that I played were all very close.  Literally one turn away from victory in each case which means that I was very close to recouping a pack or two by the end of the tourney.  Also, sometimes in swiss drafts, people leave.  I have, on more than one occassion gone up against an opponent in r2 or r3 who lost earlier in the tournament and just decides to cut and run.  If you with through a bye or through a leave, you still get packs for that win (this is a bit of a shadey thing to hope for, but it has on several occassions gotten me packs - about 6-7 packs in total now).

That about does it for your daily dose of MTG.  I will be drafting again today after work with one of the guys from my clan.  We'll see, maybe there will be a wrap-up post about that after it is all over as well.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Blogging is being impaired by... my GAMING! RAWR!!

Sorry folks, it would seem as though somewhere a pig is flying or a fat lady is singing because in my wildest dreams I never thought the day would come when my gaming life actually interfered with the time I have to write my blog.

I kind of started this blog as a way to kill time and get involved in gaming again back in `08 when I was studying abroad and had nothing but free time on my hands and not much at all to do.  With no game systems other than a DS and when the only games I played were a Bot-Heavy version of free Ragnarok online and Pokemon in Japanese, I didn't have too much to do.  I had read some RPG blogs and thought I could start one of my own up since I had started reading a lot of the 4e books and found a gaming group or two in Japan. 

But now, things have totally changed.  I am besieged with gaming on all fronts.  In some ways, I am in heaven, but It is really affecting how much time I actually have to spend writing.  I am playing a lot of MTG online and have ironically found a couple people I know from a variety of forums on there too.  I have about 27 PS3 Games that have piled up over the last year or so that I have barely even touched - some of them are still in their packing (sorry LEGO Batman).  To top that all off, I actually have a semi-frequent in person group which is really enjoying the new Gamma World as well as playing some MTG in person.  We will be trying out Amethyst when everyone is together as well as some other games too.

Then there are the PbP games that I am either playing in (1 soon to be 2) and running (Shadowrun PbP).  I have had to try and balance learning new systems to play and refreshing myself on old systems to run.  I played a bit of Shadowrun in the past, but I really feel pretty overwhelmed by canon, vocabulary, and even the system of the game.

I have a bunch of new reviews coming down the line, which I hope you look forward to reading.  They may not all be good, but I tend not to actively search out games to review that I think I won't like.  Sometimes, I pick up a game and am suprised and disappointed to find something troubling, but I rarely go looking for that trouble, it just kind of sneaks up on me.

So... that all piles up and I would officially say that I am busy.  This is a good thing.  My work is slower than paste at the moment.  Every single one of my classes is busy working on projects, which means that I spend those classes watching the students work rather than teach.  Next up we have tests at the beginning of March and after that there is about a month of nothing until the new school year starts in April (the Japanese school system is wierd like that).  I have 2 weeks to follow of me watching my students work on making English Comic Books (very little prep necessary for that) followed by a month and a half of nothing at all.  So, this means that I'll have a bit more time at work to write.  It is really nice having a job where they don't mind you using your free time for pursuits like this.  I love being a teacher. 

Well, you can look forward to lots of sporadic posting over the next few weeks, but you probably won't see too much change.  I have tried to keep to a strict 2 posts a day schedule of the last two-three months, but that might vary a bit now that I am having so much fun actually gaming again. 

Design & Development: Demon's Souls Pen and Paper Clone - Leveling and Gear P.1

It is going to take a LONG time before you're ready to
take on one of those big fellas- I should know...
 In my continuing quest to build a Demon’s Souls-esq. D&D 4e module (mod) I have been examining more closely the way that Demon’s Souls deals with things like leveling up and equipment. And I think I have come to some interesting conclusions about how I would make it work.

First of all, the leveling system in Demon’s Souls is freeform and is much more like a point-buy system than the traditional D&D style leveling system. There is no level cap in the game (that you are going to reach quickly at least – I spent more than 300 hours playing the game, but I only got to like level 150 or so, the max level cap is around 990). Leveling up consists of spending soul points on a new attribute. The number of times you have done this is called your soul level – so, if I spent 50 points on leveling up my strength, my Soul Level would be 50. There are about 10ish attributes (going off the top of my head right now) which cover things ranging from your ability to dodge, carry more weight, take damage/block, and of course your power in casting spells, using bows, and hitting with big blunt/sharp objects.

In terms of Equipment, Demon’s Souls takes a very, very basic and primordial approach to gear. What you get in your starting package (i.e. the class you pick at character generation which amount merely to your starting stats, spells, and items) is going to be with you for a long, long time. You don’t find magical items of any kind until well into the game. I was often very happy just finding a new piece of better armor in a level. Collecting armor sets becomes one of the main attractions of the playing through various levels, but these armor sets aren’t really magical so much – they are just more efficient types of armor. Finding a set of full plate is a major pain. Finding good sets of leather is also very problematic. Also, finding weapons that have particularly good properties can be very difficult. I remembered that I was super pumped to get a Katana as a rare drop because it’s a fairly fast and high damage sword. The spear, which is one of the better weapons in the game (in my opinion) was also a pain in the butt to get my hands on.

Although you don’t find many magic items in the game, there are some that you get toward the end. You can also pick up a few magical trinkets which add to some of your abilities or do certain special things. The Rings that you pick up possess the most value to your character – they provide a myriad of bonuses to things such as your mana regeneration and your carrying capacity and the like. However, one of the larger elements to the game is in crafting and forging better more powerful versions of the weapons you start with. You can level a weapon up to level 10 (I believe), but that is going to take a LONG time; there are only very limited quantities of every type of material in the game and it takes a lot of skill and timing to get these precious resources. One of the big cruxes of this system though is once your weapon gets a particular type of enhancement, you can’t give it a different one. You are stuck with that one and can only level up the weapon, adding to its damage or efficiency. You could compare this system fairly effectively with 4e D&D’s magic weapon system. You won’t find these weapons anywhere in the world, but you can make them if you put in the time and effort to find what you need to do so.

One of the ways that I want to go about making this module for Demon’s Souls D&D is through experimenting with the Inherent Bonus system that D&D sets up for games in which you have a very low magic level. Instead of letting the players simply gain these bonuses as they level up, I’m going to use a system where they have to buy them individually as they harvest Souls from their fallen demon enemies (think of residuum and its usefulness in crafting magic weapons in 4e). By doing this, you essentially turn the leveling up process into something akin to a point-buy system. Also, by using a method like this, you let your players gain those bonuses through a level, instead of only when they level up. I like that system a whole lot better than simply having to wait until you pick up your next level to get a benefit.

In creating this Demon’s Souls mod, I am also going to be very, very strict with what weapons and gear I allow my characters to either take at character creation or pick up through the game. In all honesty, I very well might do away with all of the Superior weapons all-together in the beginning of the game. When players do actually find a Superior weapon, they won’t need the feat to gain the proficiency bonus with it. They will be able to use it outright, which might give them some incentive to do some hunting.

Also, magic weapons are not going to be something that you can just pick up through adventuring. Players are going to have to explore certain areas and collect the needed resources to put a certain property on a weapon they are carrying. They will be able to do this through either personal crafting or the use of some named, godly forge-master who is their to aid them, given the proper souls and funding.

I’ll have more to talk about again soon in my Design & Development of this Pen and Paper Demon’s Souls clone. Hope you stay tuned to check it out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Package Arrives - L5R, Awesome Dice, and Horse minis

The Folks over at AEG were nice enough to send me a review copy of the L5R core book. They shipped it to my place in the states a little bit after New Years, but my re-routing service takes a bit of a long time and money, so I have finally gotten the book in hand yesterday. I am really excited to delve into our spotlight of the book, but it is going to be at least a week or two before I can start to even breach the surface of this glorious tome, and I still have some reviews to finish up before that one can get any reading at all. It is a beautiful, beautiful book and given how much I love all things Japanese, you can bet that I will be delighted to review this wonderful RPG as soon as It hits the top of my pile. I finally get to apply my Asian Studies major to something related to this blog… other than all of my homebrewing and my campaign setting construction stuff.

On another note – the dice that I won in a contest over at The Stuffer Shack a while ago for my entry into their Steal this NPC competition, also finally arrived as well, just in time for our Gamma World game tonight. Not only did the dice come through, but the horse minis got here as well. Ironically enough, both of the people in my Gamma World one-shot got themselves some horses during character creation so we were able to pull the minis out of the box and throw them right onto the battlefield where they were gloriously displayed in all their honor.  I found it really funny that they came into play in my GW one-shot party night, but haven't yet made it into our Fantasy game yet... You should go get some of these at all costs, which really isn't that much cash at all. The horses even lived through the game, though their PC counterparts did not.

Gamma World Spotlight - Actual Play 2

Today was a wonderful day. Today, we played Gamma World again and OMG it was so fun. Can’t wait to tell you all about it.

So, a little bit of the background. The guy I had over last time to play Gamma World joined me again this time, but we were also visited by another one of the folks from our 4e D&D group, who had the time on a Monday afternoon/evening and was game to play. Our gathering began around 5 pm and we started rolling characters around 5:30.

We decided that instead of bringing back the characters from last time around, we would roll some new characters up this time and see how that went, but we decided to just pick up with the same levels and the same campaign from last time, the one that is included in the 4e box.

Character creation was a blast and continues to be really the funniest and most entertaining of the whole game. Each of the players rolled up 2 characters to start and leveled them up to level 2. Our characters for this game were: Seismic Electromancer, Felinoid Hawkoid, Hypercognitive Speedster, and a Mind Breaker Pyromancer. Good times to start. Lots of love there.

I have a rule for Gamma World; no player can roll the same origin whenever we play. We take turns rolling mutations and I have copies of each of the different mutations that I hand to a player when that origin mutation gets claimed. This really helped character creation random and fun. No overlap and also very little need to actually recopy everything from the Origins.

We got lots of awesome random junk during character creation. I always let my players have 1d6 rolls on the random junk table to start things off, which turns out to make for great bartering fun and roleplaying when the game actually begins.

This time around, we started off with some heavy roleplaying actually. Instead of just letting the campaign pick up from where we left off, I added an encounter to replace the first encounter of the adventure which my player had cleared last time around – I chose to plant an Orlen outside the castle keep and have him be essentially a merchant who picks up the random robot junk that comes out of the the ruins each day. My players wanted to get rid of some of their random junk so they tried bartering with the Orlen – wow. That. Was. So. Much. Fun. I did a British voice for each of the two heads (one higher, one lower) and had them bicker over what they wanted to trade and what they didn’t want to trade. The PC’s ended up bartering a tennis racket and a 9 Iron for an extra set of ammo (since one of the Orlen heads had a golf bag that he wanted to fill), but when they tried to make their way past him into the keep, he got in their way and combat ensued.

Combat was a lot of fun. 4 Level 2 PC’s against essentially just a level 4 brute was a truly outrageous fight. By the very end of the combat, all the PC’s were down pretty heavily, as was the BBEG; but, it got its special attack off and was able to kill 2 of the PC’s. That was met with roars of laughter and curses. The players ended up taking it out with just 2 of their PC’s by pushing it into a radioactive crater from which it could not escape.

So, the next thing that happened in game was the 2 remaining PC’s looting the corpses of their fallen friends then using their Radio Cell Phone’s (which they picked up through that wonderful random junk table) to call up a couple of their friends – so, out of the game, we took a short break to roll up a couple more PC’s, which didn’t take nearly as long as the first round, since we didn’t have to worry about all the equipment, which they just picked up off of their fallen comrades in arms. The two new PC’s that joined the party were a Giant Gravity Controller and a Cockroach Yeti. The meat-shields arrived to help the players.

After that, we just picked up the adventure. We rolled into the ruins and had a couple fast encounters before the night was over. S3, with the Badders proved almost fatal again, but some care and strategy on player’s side allowed our Pyromancer to live through the night.

In the last encounter of the night, S4, in which the players have to fight some flyers over a large pit, we had a terribly funny little event. After getting hit by a nasty ranged attack, The Giant used his alpha-mutation in order to switch places with the evil moth creature that blasted him with a radioactive beam; but, this switch ended up putting him dead center above the Pit, which he then fell straight into almost dying in the process. That encounter turned out to be a lot of fun and once again almost deadly on several accounts.

We ended the night by listening to R.A. Salvatore talk about his Wubba Wubba story on the WotC D&D podcast. Great times had by all. Can’t wait to get in another round of Gamma World and see if our players ever get to see that Iron King that they have been hearing all about.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

MTG - Weekend Play Report - Besieged Sealed/Draft Tournaments

This weekend was very magical for me.  Though I had to spend hour and hour on a train traveling back and forth between my home near Mt. Fuji and the far side of Tokyo, I was able to get some good writing done for my Shadowrun PbP game, my D&D 4e Campaign Setting, and also, was able to play an amazing MTG Tournament yesterday afternoon.

I’m totally unfamiliar with all the lore behind the new MTG sets; it has never really interested me that much, so I don’t follow the story at all.  If I want story, I’ll play an RPG.  MTG is my competitive “Win or Die Trying” game.  I don’t play to lose.  I play to have fun and the most fun I get is through winning… so, yea… I play a lot of Tournaments and I very rarely have fun (in other words, I very rarely win :P  )

Ok.  So that last part is a bit of a lie (not the part about rarely winning though).  I usually have fun playing MTG even if I lose, which was certainly the case this weekend.  We all gathered together at a local teacher’s house around noon.  We had ourselves some Pizza (awesome, you never really get to eat too much pizza out here and it is way expensive) and had ourselves some warmup games while we waited for everyone to get settled. 

Our format this time around was 6 pack Besieged Sealed.  In this format, you buy 7 booster packs.  1 of these goes to the prize pool and you keep 6.  When the tournament begins, you open up the 6 packs and then have to build a 40 card deck from whatever you get inside.  I highly encourage those people who actually like to play Magic with their friends to give this a try rather than just opening up packs.  I almost never simply open packs anymore.  Opening packs for me has to include some kind of game, whether that be draft, or sealed.

Apparently a $5-10 card.  Nice.

The sealed format is very interesting, in that what you get is what you get.  Whereas in Draft format you have 3 packs worth of cards to build a 40 card deck, in sealed you have 6, but what you get might be all over the place.  I pulled lots of great rare cards and even pulled myself a Mythic Rare as well (Prator’s Counsel ).  However, the problem that I had some good cards, but they were too spread out.  I had a bunch of good cards in each of the colors, but no bombs.  I didn’t pull any game winners and I also didn’t pull enough good color concentration to build a really solid deck with.  I threw together a Black/Red deck, running my Red Sun’s Zenith and a few other burn and kill spells and combined that with some odd creatures.

In round 1 of the tournament, I went 1-2, which was sad, because that pretty much knocked me out of contention for the last place booby prize ( a single pack which is usually reserved for those people who go 0-2 across all three of their matches ).  I got pounded pretty hard by some big beasties and ended up losing hard.

Round 2, after a little bit of deck modification, I got steam-rolled.  Hard.  0-2 by the biggest of the Magic Veterans in the house, who, because of the way the brackets ended up aligning played down from where he should have played and I played up… lame :P  He was one of the luckiest one’s in the draft (took first place that day) after he pulled 2 of the Black Infect Knights, and the Phyrexian Hydra, pretty much automatically giving him enough amazing synergy in his deck to just sweep the tournament.

After reconstructing my deck for round 3 (which they house rule as being OK at this tournament as long as you aren’t in contention for the top 3), I put together a blue/green deck that splashed red for burn spells.  The final round, I won! Yay! 2-1, giving me one match win in the tournament and also solidifying that I would not be taking home anything for all my trouble other than the cards I pulled in the tournament (which were all actually pretty good).

That is a $6 card as well :)

After the sealed play was all over, we decided to just do a passing draft for fun.  One of my friends, the guy who plays in my Gamma World game (which is going to happen here in a couple hours – we are making new characters as well.  Yay) wanted to play, and a couple others of us wanted a few more packs as well as a bit more fun.  We made a 4 man draft and started cracking packs.  I ended up putting together a nice little Black/Green deck which mixed artifacts/beat down/infect all together for some punch.  I steamrolled through match number 1, 2-0 (ironically against the guy who had just won the sealed tournament… go figure), but in rounds 2 and 3 got whipped hard by Blue/Red and White/Green, both of which were either two fast or two big for me to get all of my medium stuff through. 

All in all, had a pretty fun day of gaming, which lasted from about noon to midnight.  For a guy who rarely has a chance to get out and play, like me, having a day with the guys to play a bunch of Magic is always a fun time.  Oh, also pulled this little beauty during my draft.  Gotta love Mythics... I wanted the blightsteel, but this here sphynx will do just fine.

And with that, all my play for the day gets paid for... gotta love draft and sealed :)