Archive for March, 2013

I was a hipster RPGer before it was cool.

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

oteSo I may have mentioned Baron Munchausen a time or two. I don’t think I’ve mentioned Over The Edge. Back In The Day™ two of my favorite games, Role Playing wise, were Paranoia and Over The Edge. And now I have a confession to make, I was never a very good diplomat for the style of gaming I love. Half a year back or so the 20th anniversary special edition reissue of OTE came out and I got a copy because it was a thing I’d loved, and I knew that it was a limited print run. Here’s the second half of the confession, as much as I loved the game, I got it, flipped through it momentarily and then stuck it prominently on my RPG shelf in my living room where there was any chance someone would notice it and go “Oh wow,what a great game!” and then it’d be true love or something. Of course reality is that practically no one knows about a game from 1992.

Then last week I came across a blog post from Vincent Baker talking about how he’d borrowed some mechanics from OTE for Apocalypse World. And it clicked. What did I love about OTE? Story. It wasn’t about the mechanics, I mean really, they basically fit on a single page. However Al Amarja overflows with setting, and story. Conspiracies and weirdness abound. Dark and disturbing things, black humor, wacky silliness. Drugs, Sex, Rock & Roll. Magic and Murder. Mutants, semi-feral baboons, aliens, more criminal organizations than you’d want to shake a stick at.

So anyways, a year or so back Dave reminded me what I like in Role-Playing which is basically What It Says On The Tin™. That is to say, I’m no stranger to tactical combat, and I love board games, but really, when I sit around a table with some friends, I want to do whatever it is that we’re going to do. If we’re going to play board games, let’s do that, and really do it. If we’re going to Role-Play, let’s do that. I’ve long griped the tired and clichèd gripe that I want to Role-play not ROLL-play … but it’s only clichèd because it’s so damn true. D&D isn’t about Role-Playing. I mean… it can be. If you’ve got a great session you might barely engage the rules at all. Oh wait. Just because it’s the progenitor of a genre doesn’t grant it any special status besides that of actually being the progenitor of Role-playing. D&D is a series of tactical encounters loosely wrapped in a story. Often though, the story is almost entirely the creation of the DM. The players should be able to play too right?

I’ve played basically edition of D&D excepting AD&D1st Ed. That is D&D, AD&D 2nd, 3rd, 3.5, Pathfinder, and 4th. Actually no, I lie. Though I have downloaded the D&D Next files, and was in the Beta, I haven’t actually played it yet, or read the rules. And I enjoy it. Obviously I have fun, or I wouldn’t be doing it anymore. That said, there’s better stuff out there.

Back on topic we’ve been playing Monsterhearts, Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monster of the Week, and a bunch of one offs of other story and indie games, like Dread or Fiasco or Don’t Rest Your Head or Vesna Thaw and much more. And they’re great. Some are better than others, but they all attempt to do that thing that OTE did back before there was really an internet. Many of them have learned a thing in the intervening two decades, and in fact where the 1st edition of OTE had a section on how you could use the setting and convert it to other games, the latest edition has a section on how you can steal the latest tech from Indie/Story gaming to make your OTE game better.

Who knows how soon it will be, but I need to drag some people over the edge. I think maybe I know enough now to convert the world to one of the best games ever published.

 

LPX2 Operation Blood Dream

Monday, March 25th, 2013

xcom8

May 23, 2015

The continued alien presence is having a worldwide detrimental effect. The USA, Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Nigereria, Japan and Australia all are in a state of terrible panic. The scientists have finished their analysis of the captured alien shard and developed plans for an improved satellite Nexus so we can track a larger grid. We’ve built a harmonic resonance key, according to plans the scientists developed from the alien shard. Using this we’ve located an alien base in South America. This will likely be our most fraught mission yet, so we’ll be sending our most experienced soldiers!

Will will be leading. Laura H and Joanna will be our Heavy support. Billy and Adam our Assault, and James T will be our support unit. This time Billy will be equipped with the Arc Thrower, as James now has certification in advanced field medical techniques.

The infiltration of the alien base is a breeze thanks to the HR Key, though the set up is definitely alien. Adam takes point and flushes a pair of Thin Men almost immediately, with our cover blown he opens fire dropping one of them. Billy rushes up and takes out the second one. The rest of the squad moves up to support. While moving to a good sniping position Will is spotted by a pair of floaters. In addition a number of holding tanks are spotted containing bodies… What they are doing with the abductees isn’t immediately clear, but it can’t be good.

The floaters take several shots, but lay down some heavy suppressive fire on Will. Laura moves up and tries to take out the floater who is laying down the suppressive fire, but the range is to great for her MG. Joanna takes cover and drops the other Floater. Bill and Adam both forsake cover to flush the floater out of it’s hiding spot. Will takes the opportunity to put it down before it can hide behind a different bulkhead. Billy moves to cover to reload and spots a pair of mechanical drones that we haven’t seen before; he decides to empty his clip into one, much to our scientists likely chagrin. Will pops the second one with a single shot while the rest of the squad moves up. Unfortunately these drones seem to explode rather easily. Maybe we can modify the arc thrower to stun them and capture one.

Terrifying sounds emanate from deeper within the base. The squad is a little spooked but keeps it together. However this base is HUGE. We pass countless control panels, and more tubes filled with goo and bodies. Adam finally spots 3 new aliens, frightening centaurs with chitin back plates, talon like legs,  scythe like cla
ws and pincer mouths.  At this point the squad had become a bit spread out. Billy takes a shot and misses. Joanna gets a few hits on the lead alien, but barely wounds it. Will gets a solid shot on another but it remains standing. James and Adam manage to finish off the one Will wounded, and the remaining to rush forward. Holy crap these things are fast, and deadly. One of them is on Adam in a flash and he doesn’t even have time to react before it has eviscerated him. Will puts another shot into the wounded one, but these creatures are also startlingly resilient, and it takes a burst from James to put it down. Billy and Joanna both unload on the third one, both hit and somehow it manages to remain standing. Joanna keeps firing, completely emptying her clip and managing to finish it off with her last bullet. Laura moves up and spots to Floaters that were sneaking up on us. She manages to take one out before they can spring their ambush.

Horror of horrors! Adam has stood back up, only what has risen is generating no life signs. We can only conclude this is some sort of horrid alien zombification process enacted by the centaur aliens. After confirming the situation with the scientists Will puts a shot into the zombie, and Billy finishes it off. Meanwhile the other floater tries to circle around during the distraction, but Laura is ready and drops it as it moves between cover.

 

xcom9

The squad takes a minute to reload, then begins moving forwards again, even more cautiously than before in case more of the centauroids show up. More vile experiments are discovered, more gruesome sounds are heard and the general unease increases until finally James spots two more pairs of floaters. Will takes one down from what seems like half a mile away. The rest of the squad takes up position and James falls back. Laura unloads on one as it approaches, grabs some cover and finishes it off unloading the rest of her clip. Will drops a second one, leaving one more somewhere out of site. Billy, Joanna and James move up and James spots the remaining alien first, pumping it full of bullets before either of the other two can draw a bead on it.

As the squad continues to move forward will throws a scanner, revealing a huge and ominous door. No doubt speaking friend here would be purposeless. Everyone takes a minute to check that their clips are full as they slowly advance. Maybe there is an end to this base after all.

As the squad moves through the great door another pair of drones and another pair of the centaur aliens moves up. The squad has been going very carefully and the drones both go down under a hail of fire so intense no one is really sure who is responsible, unfortunately the centauroids show up a bit later and what little fire can be concentrated upon them is insufficient during the reactionary fire. Will takes aim and plugs one. Laura says “Screw this, I’m not becoming a zombie!” and launches a rocket at them. Amazing one of them is still standing after the explosion, but Billy is able to finish it off.

While moving to a new sniping position Will spots a pair of Sectoids, but the scuttle out of sight so he reloads. James moves up and manages to take one of them out. Billy tries to find a position to take down the second and spots a new alien, similar to the sectoids, but different. The scientists declare they’d like this one alive, but Will has already pulled the trigger and put a bullet through it’s, admittedly slightly bigger, head. Laura moves up and finishes off the remaining sectoid. After a sweep of the area it’s determined that all aliens are dead and the base is secured.

The destruction of the alien base has reduced panic throughout the world. Leaked cam footage from soldiers helmet cams has made it to youtube, but since that seems to be having a beneficial PR effect command doesn’t seem too interested in investigating the source of the leak. The scientists are in a tizzy, barely able to decide which research to focus on.

The Lazy-Man’s Route

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

98263So when I started blogging regularly the deal (that I secretly made with myself) was that I would post every day. I did this great for a few months and then decided that I needed to do it on a platform where I had a little more control. I already know sixty billion things about WordPress so I installed it on one of my domains, imported my tumbler blog-back-log and decided to reduce frequency and increase structure. Since then I’ve been making 5 posts a week, and I’ve done a pretty damn find job of staying on top of things (only a couple have been late).

At the start I’d get a few weeks ahead on my movie and game reviews. Rants where never too big of a deal and such. However I think I’m going to switch to three posts a week, with “rants” to fill in space whenever I feel like it. I’ll keep the Let’s Play on Mondays, CYOA on Friday’s and lump all the reviews together for Wednesday. However knowing I won’t always have a great review, or might be behind on my Let’s Play game or whatever, I”ll take the liberty to put in a rant whenever I’m behind. 3 posts a week is still respectable. You’ll still respect me in the morning right?!

So yeah, I hope you’ll keep reading.

Too much fun

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Something’s got to give. I work 35-40 hours a week between my two jobs. I run or play in 3.5 RPGs per week. That’s about 6 hours apiece, so another 18 hours (24 every other week). 4 hours or so for darts.  6-7 hours for board games on Thursdays. That’s 75 hours. And theoretically I spend 56 hours sleeping each week. A week has what, 168 hours? Assuming I spend 25 hours a week on meals, chores and hygiene, 3 hours a week on this blog and 4 hours getting from place to place… that leaves me 5  hours each week to watch movies, read books, play video games, surf the net, and all the other fun relaxing things I’d like to do.

And I already multitask like a champ. I read books or play videogames while I walk. I watch movies/tv and play videogames. I watch Doctor Who while I paint miniatures. I need more spare time, and until I’ve got ready access to a pill that makes sleep unnecessary I’m going to have to give something else up. Right now the solution seems like it’s going to have to be one of my several Role-Playing games. The question then becomes which one.

On Fridays I host I Podcast Magic Missile’s weekly game, which is usually some kind of story or indie game. Right now I’m running Monsterhearts. There is lots of story, drama and Roleplaying. I’m not giving that up.

On Tuesdays I run or play Pathfinder Society at Fun-N-Games. This is fun, crunch heavy, RP light. Still there is some RP, and I do like a nice bit of tactics every now and again. And hell, I’m playing a half blind (can’t see past 30 feet) oracle with my new favorite Pathfinder spell, Murderous Command. Last time I played I never even drew my sword, instead sowing strife amongst our enemies and letting them do the work for us.

On Mondays I host Billy’s campaign. Which was All Flesh Must Be Eaten, and then we took a brief stint into  Apocalypse World (for two sessions) and then switched to Big Eyes Small Mouth. We’ve only had one session of BESM so far, and I’m playing a 16yo girl who dabbles in Poetry, Manners, and Witchcraft but largely has no useful skills. The most exciting thing I did was go shopping for new clothes … but then if we’re doing an “anime” game, might as well go whole hog.

Finally every other Sunday Dave is running a Dungeon World game at the store. Again, we’ve only had one session, but it was a LOT of fun. And it is Powered By Apocalypse World so kind of hard to go wrong, even when you’ve got an 8 player party. That’s right, we had 9 people at the table and it was still pretty damn sweet.

I suppose I could ditch the Darts League… however I’d feel pretty bad. Besides our captain Joanna, I’m pretty much the only person who reliably shows up. And we really need 4 people. We’ve already got 2 make up matches to do, which will probably end up happening early saturday or sunday afternoon sometime.

So, most of you who read this know me. What should I drop? What do I give up? Or do I just suck it up and deal with having less than a dozen hours each week that aren’t completely spoken for.

Wreck it review

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

 

calhoun

Wreck it Ralph may be the best movie I’ve seen this year. It is only March, but damn that was fun. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for retro. It’s certainly true that my favorite Community episode was the “video game” one. Probably my favorite thing in the movie… Well out is super subtle, but once you notice it you can’t not see it. The little people in Ralph’s game all movie with jerky 8 bit styling, that is, if you’ve played any really old games, you know the sprites only have a few frames of animation, and even upscaled to high resolution they retain the low frame rate.

Another thing i really liked was the Sgt. Calhoun’s cursing. It sounded so eloquent and dirty all at the same time. “All right, ladies! The kitten-whispers and tickle fights stop NOW!” Contrast that with Felix’s super cute, super polite style of talking. Even when he was obviously trying to curse, it sounded like the cutest thing ever.

If you haven’t seen this yet, by all means do so. A lot of fun, and a well spent hour an a half. I’ll let you know when I see something that is better.

 

Great Heartland Hauling Game

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

The Great Heartland Hauling heartlandCompany is my latest Kickstarter to come in. It is basically a trading game. You drive your truck around picking up and dropping off various goods. It is actually a surprisingly quick play only taking a half hour or so and probably less once everyone knows how to play. It even came with an ‘inspansion’ thanks to being a Kickstarter which adds in upgrades, of which each truck can get at most one. The “board” is made of a  dozen cards, randomly deployed, with a variety of different possible setups depending on the number of players. While the basics aren’t too complex, the fact that you MOVE every  turn means goods move around, and eventually become scarcer. Making a profit becomes more difficult. I’ve only played two games so far, so I’m not sure if there is much in the way of complex strategy, but for a quick, portable game with fairly simple rules it works pretty well.

There are a few things that aren’t exactly covered in the rules … like just how optional some of the options are. Can you choose to “deliver” even when you can’t? These are things that maybe I could find out by looking up in a FAQ but I just haven’t been bothered to do so yet. Too many other games to play!

LPX2 Operation Twisted Shroud

Monday, March 18th, 2013

xcom7May 18, 2015

Our scientists have developed plans for Carapace Armor. All available fund have been diverted towards construction of 5 suits of this armor, in the hopes that it can help prevent anymore deaths of our operatives.

A UFO has landed in the UK, and we’re scrambling to get there before it takes off. This will be the first time testing the new armor, but we are one set short, and Adam draws the short straw. Will will be leading the mission. Joanna is our Heavy and James T. our support. Adam, Matthew H. and Kev will fill the assault roles.

This is a landing site, not a crash, so the squad moves in extra careful, but no threats are immediately apparent, even when Will moves up and throws a battle scanner far forwards. However it’s only a few seconds later before Kev spots a pair of brutes. James moves up and takes a shot at long range and misses, as does Will. Joanna begins some suppression fire on one of them, and Kev manages to wing the same one. Matthew holds his shot in the hopes one will break cover. Sadly they do not, taking wild shots at Kev and Joanna, both of which miss.

Will takes another shot at long range and fails to connect. James moves up to flank the brutes and spots a trio of Sectoids, who scatter into the underbrush. The squad unloads on the Brutes, but the long range and low visibility (it is twilight) both make it difficult and none do any better than Will. The Brutes move around and flank James, one laying down suppressive fire while the other moves behind him. However the second one exposed himself to Will in the process who takes full advantage and puts a bullet through it’s skull. Matthew moves up and puts a couple rounds into the remaining Brute. Kev moves up to try and finish it off, but comes under ambush from one of the Sectoids in the process. He’s hit, but the new armor absorbs the majority of the damage. Adam grabs the bit of cover Kev just vacated and puts down the responsible Sectoid. Joanna takes down a second one and Kev finishes off the last of the Brutes.

Oh no, even more aliens. Six of the Floaters deepstrike onto the remaining Sectoid’s position. Will drops one with his last remaining shot. Joanna earns our first Pentuple kill, with a well place rocket. Of course, the scientists will be furious about all the destroyed equipment, but the odds are heavily swung back into our favor now. James reloads, and the rest of the Assaulters move into closer position.

Will moves forward and reloads. Joanna takes out the remaining Sectoid and the rest of the squad continues to move slowly forward. Kev patches himself up and as the squad comes up on the alien craft, everyone checks that they’ve got full clips.

Kev and Adam move up and flank the “front door” and kev opens it, the rest of the squad moves in through a smaller entrance on the right side while Will covers everything from the hill outside. No activity is spotted so Will moves up close to where Kev and Adam have stationed themselves. The ship is set up in a Y shape from the main entrance. Kev and Adam break left, with Will covering them from behind, the rest of the squad heads down the right side of the ship. Further ahead both corridors curve back into a central room Matthew, Joanna and James get there first but the room appears to be empty, though sounds can be heard from deeper in the ship.

The last room has two entrances and once the squad is positioned around the right one Kev opens the left door. Inside is another of the Energy aliens, and the scientists come on the comm, strongly suggesting we try and capture it alive. James is the only one equipped with an Arc Thrower, “I’m game!” he says and moves up to try and stun it.  He slips around the corner and the alien can’t even bring it’s weapon to bare before James has tazed it.

Mission Success! And the docs say Kev will have a little bruising, but the new  armor has kept him whole and hale. By selling a few of the corpses to other governments we were able to put together enough money to make another set.

This is not my beautiful crystal ball

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Previous Page (B14748). This is page B147481 of the Barbarian Story. This is your second life (the Troll Story ended poorly.) If you are confused go back to the start. If you want a different story make poor choices until you die or excellent choices until you win.

What sorcery is this? As your foot comes down, the heel of you shoe clips the rubbery case and the squawking device flips over, the crystal on it’s front cracked and as you bring your foot down again to finish the job you catch the briefest glimpse of a beautiful woman trapped within, her hands and face pressed against the inside of magic box as if attempting to escape, but it is too late. Your foot connects with it a second time, and the pealing sound ceases, there is a brief spark as the magic escapes and then the box is still, quite and dark.

As you look down on the scene below you wonder if the woman inside is trapped forever. Maybe it is worth bringing the pieces with you in case you run into a sorcerer who can be persuaded to free her. The men who late arrived are all dressed in similar dark blue uniforms, or white and orange ones. The latter have rushed over to the corpse of the boss, whilst the ones in blue are speaking with the peasants, several of whom are pointing towards where you entered the forest. The soldiers in blue confer for a moment then rush into the forest, hands clasped in front of them. It might be a good time to move.

CHOICE (B147481)4 Pick up the ruined artifact and head deeper into the forest, away from the soldiers who are tracking me.

CHOICE (B147481)5 Pick up the ruined artifact and head back to the scene down this rocky slope, once the soldiers are all out of sight.

CHOICE (B147481)6 Leave the artifact and head deeper into the forest, away form the soldiers who are tracking me.

CHOICE (B147481)7 Leave the artifact and head back to the scene down this rocky slope, once the soldiers are all out of sight.

 

Late

Friday, March 15th, 2013

This week has been crazy for me. I’ll try and get the CYOA post up tomorrow sometime. Sorry.

RIP Google Reader

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

If there is one service I use to access the internet more than any other it’s Google Reader. Google Reader tracks for me 131 websites. Some of them update three times a week (or more) like Penny Arcade. Some of them update once every 1-3 months (like Lackadaisy). Most are somewhere in between, but when I discover a new website, with periodical updates, that seems interesting the first thing I do is find the RSS feed, and plug it into my reader. That way I never miss anything. And yeah… I’m usually behind, right now having nearly 200 unread posts, but they’ll wait for me. Maybe today I can only read 2-3 comics, and a blog post.

I’ve tried a couple alternatives, but only just barely. Do you use an RSS feed reader of some kind? What is it? Keep in mind a lot of people are looking for alternatives, so probably a lot of potential services are going to be having problems for the next couple of days.