Wednesday, December 11, 2013

State of the Blog - Almost Dead

I had noble intentions when I started this blog. However, I have not posted anything in a long time and had even come to terms with the fact that I would let the blog suffocate and die. Then I read a post over on Tenkar's Tavern where he said that he comes up with his ideas on the toilet and that inspired me to continue.

When I started this blog, some of my goals were to play ten new board games and two new rpgs ( new meaning that I have never played) and then write about those games. I have played over ten new board games since then and I have played four new rpgs. I did not write about any one them. To make up for that, I will now provide some highlights.

Best new board game I played this year:

Infiltration - This is a cyberpunk heist game published by Fantasy Flight Games. The game is filled with crazy cyber gadgets, computer hacking, and push your luck mechanics.  Thumbs up from me.

New rpgs I played this year:

Psi-punk - This is a fudge-based game set in the future. People with psychic powers coexist with computer hackers. I played in a session with the designer of the game. If you would like, you can watch a video of the session.  It was fun and I would totally like to use these rules to run a game based on the Scanners movies.  Scanners: 2250, where cybercops hunt down rogue psychics.

Supers - this is a rules-lite game that I backed on Kickstarter. I ran a session of the play test rules with some buddies. We were all comic book nerds and this game let us shine. I am looking forward to the completed version.

That's all for now.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How Tunnels & Trolls Led Me Back to Role Playing

I was a big collector of rpgs in my youth.  I had copies of tones of Gurps source books, Paranoia, Shadowrun, and other classics   As I got older I bought less and less rpg material, and eventually I decided that role playing was a hobby that I didn't have time for anymore.  It took too much time and energy to collect a group of players, read and understand the rules, and prepare material.

About ten years ago I remember seeing the All Flesh Must be Eaten core book on Amazon.  I thought that the book looked cool but I did not buy it because I felt that I would never be able to play something like that.  I didn't have any friends at the time who knew what rpgs were and my wife wasn't interested in them.  Heck, I gave my copy of Paranoia to Goodwill because I figured that I had no use for it (a decision I now regret).

Later on I started doing some research on D&D on the internet.  I figured out that D&D was on its 3rd edition.  I debated buying the books and trying to find players.  While doing research online I read about another fantasy rpg called Tunnels & Trolls.

I had never heard of this game before, but it was almost as old as D&D.  Also, Tunnels & Trolls could be played solitaire!  I was playing Heroclix solo at the time, so playing an rpg solo was an intriguing concept.  I found a  website that had the basics of the T&T rules.  As I read through the rules I thought, "This game is simple!"    One of the issues that I had with rpgs was that I felt that complex rules were a barrier to the game.  T&T took care of that problem.

The game was designed to be fast and playable.  You were almost forced to house rule the game immediately.  The rules tell you to change them.  Plus, there were a ton of solitaire adventures to keep one occupied.  I felt that I had found a game that let me spend my energy on being creative instead of remembering rules.  The game was so simple I began playing it with my six year old daughter.

T&T brought back the wonder of role playing.  This was a game I could explain to people in five minutes.  If I couldn't find a group I could always play it solo.  With T&T I was given permission to make things up in order to help the flow of the game.  The game's up front sense of humor put me at ease.  This was an rpg that was about having fun, not flipping through a rule book.

Tunnels & Trolls is currently having a kickstarter for a brand new edition.  If you have never checked this game out take a look.  T&T is one of the most fun games I have played.

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls on Kickstarter

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cross-Blog Promotion

I love internet contests.  I also love the fact that so much gaming material is available online.  When I started out as a gamer I had to wait for the next issue of the General or Autoduel Quarterly to read the lastest rules explanations and expansions.  Now all one has to do is a quick Google or forum search and  one can have rules clarificaitons and a whole adventure at their fingertips.

William Dowie over at Ramblings of a Great Khan is running a contest of his own.  He's looking for people to write rpg adventures with an Ancient Rome theme.  He plans to put all of these adventures online after he gets them.  That is awesome because free adventures are the GMs best friend.

Part of the reason that I started this blog is that I want to be more creative and productive with my gaming habits, rather than just buying and collecting stuff.  My short term gamer goal is to enter an adventure into this contest.  I hope some of you will, too.  As a GM with tons of other stuff to do, the availability of free rpg adventures on the interent has been a big help to me.  Check out William's blog and send him an adventure so we can have some more awesome free adventures out there on the web.

Also, congratulations to William for winning my copy of Himmler's War.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Episodic RPG Campaign

My group ran into an issue last year.  We were in a rebuilding year; our old GM had moved and we were tentatively adding more players.  We got to a point where we had a nice stock of PCs in the campaign.  The issue was that it seemed rare to have everyone able to make it to our sessions.  Someone had to work, someone had to go out of town; the real world was assaulting our ability to run an in depth campaign.  Players gave me the option of running their PCs for them in absentia but that just didn't feel right to me.

I had an idea.  Rather than try to run a long campaign, I would break up each session into an episode.  We have been playing a standard fantasy "kill monsters and take their stuff" game so I would run each session as an independent kill the monster scenario.  My rationale was that the PCs had become famous for their daring deeds and were now being hired out as monster exterminators.  Whoever showed up to the session determined which PC's were hired for that episode.

I now plan for each session to be a self-contained 3 hour episode.  Whoever can show up to play will be in that session, and if someone can't make it then that's okay.  I just make up a reason for their PC not being there.  For each adventure is the basic challenge and when it is defeated the PCs "win" that adventure.  Next session there will be a new challenge, and whoever is around to fight it will.  I have had to change some of the long running plots but overall we are keeping out momentum.

That's how we have dealt with the issue of having players who can't show up every session regularly.  I know this is an issue every group deals with.  How does your group deal with it?  Feel free to comment.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Free Book Giveaway!

I love internet giveaways.  I have received quite a few cool things from them and have given out a few cool things as well.  I am a collector of stuff and I have to work hard to make sure my house doesn't collapse under the weight of all the games, books, and action figures that I bring home.

So I am giving away a copy of the book Himmler's War by Robert Conroy.  I wrote a review of it in my last post, it was okay in my opinion but you might think it's awesome.  I was going to take this puppy down to the used book store but I would rather send it directly to someone who would enjoy it.  The book is still in excellent condition; I am a bibliophile who  cringes at the sight of a broken spine on a paperback.  I will ship it for free to US residents.  How can you win my copy?

Send me an email at 4d6drop1 AT earthlink DOT net with the subject line "Free Book".  In the email,  tell me your name, address, and the title of the last book that you read.  That's all.  Send your emails by midnight CST on January 18.  I will randomly pick a winner the next day and send you the book.  I don't think many people are reading this blog so your odds of winning are favorable.  Good luck!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book Review - Himmler's War

Besides gaming I love to read.  In fact I think that loving to read is a must if you want to play rpgs.  I read mostly science fiction, although my tastes are varied.  For a few years I have been recording the books that I have read.  Since I want to share things on this blog, I guess I will share a book that I recently read.

Himmler's War is an alternate history novel written by Robert Conroy.  If you are not familiar with the genre, alternate history involves "what if" scenarios depicting what would happen if historical events went differently.  Harry Turtledove is an author who has written a whole series of books based on the idea of the South winning the American Civil War.  Robert Conroy has written other books in this genre that I have read.  I enjoyed his other books and I thought the tank on the cover was cool, so I decided to give this book a try.

The main idea of Himmler's War is that Hitler is killed in a bombing raid in 1944.  Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, takes control of the Reich.  With Hitler out of the picture the German army can finally make rational military decisions and the war continues.  There are also hints of a German super-weapon in the making.

I like history and I really like alternate history.  I like Robert Conroy because unlike some other authors I read he focuses on the historical characters and doesn't insert a bunch of awkward sex scenes into his book.  Unfortunatly, Mr. Conroy's editor must have asked him to insert a bunch of sex scenes into this book.  There were a ton in Himmler's War.  It is like someone said, "Do you know what readers want after this scene with Eisenhower?  A steamy sex scene!"  There were so many that it detracted from the main plot.

The overall book was ok.  I would give it 3 out of 5 stars.  If you are a fan of alternate history I would read another one of Mr. Conroy's books instead of this one.  Try Red Inferno: 1945, which deals with a  war between the US and USSR right after WWII.  That book makes me want to run mash-up game of GURPS WWII/Twilight 2000.  As for Himmler's War, I got some enjoyment out of it but I will be taking my copy to the used book store.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

I am a gamer.  I love to play board games, role playing games, card games, you name it.  I love gaming because it is an active and creative hobby.  I enjoy using my mind and my imagination.  Because of my love for games I tend to collect a lot of them.  I have many awesome games that sit on my shelves, tempting me with their coolness.

This brings me to my gaming resolution for 2013.  My goal is to play 10 board games that I haven't played before, and 2 rpgs that I haven't played before.  I also plan to write about the games I play, since things are better when you share (to paraphrase Oprah).  My hope is to channel more energy into the enjoyment of the games that I own.