Tuesday, July 1, 2014

No comment on 5e

Unlike some blogs on the web I will not be commenting on 5e, until I have an actual copy of the rules to read. I am working on reviews for Barebones fantasy, Beyonder, and the Emerald spire "Superdugeon". Hope to have them done soon, although I am currently tied up working on a technical paper for work. She-who-must-be-obeyed had some weird idea for a cartoon for a regular dungeon ripping its t-shirt to reveal the "Super" dungeon, but actually sketching it seemed too much like work to her, so I guess you'll have to draw your own.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Quick Review "Bill Webbs' Book of Dirty Tricks"

A couple weeks ago Frog God games mailed out their "bonus" book for the "Sword of Air" Kickstarter, "Bill Webbs' Book of Dirty Tricks". Took a quick look through last week it last week and thought I'd do a little review. Enjoyed the first half on Bill Webbs house rules, thought the concept of NOT having your chance to hit improve with level something to think about. Doing rather than rolling dice is another good piece of avice. Not as enamored of the second half of the book. Bill admiration of the Tomb of Horrors is perhaps the tip-off. Like that Gygaxian classic knowledge of the DM who wrote it is necessary to survival. I think one of tells of this is the story he tells of one of his long time players withdrawing from the convention run of Bills campaign, when he found out Bill's eleven year old daughter would not be playing. A section by section assessment of the tricks below.

 Players got too much money: his tricks here seem as arbitrary and capricious means of correcting mistakes made by the DM earlier in the campaign. With castles to build and uber magic items to negotiate for, I have seldom run into a campaign where this was an actual problem.

Situational Advantage: solid but nothing spectacular (unless you like skunks).

Time Wasters: Really!? My players waste enough time already.

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Some good ideas here, some not so good. The kobolds with toys has been one of my trade marks. The unkillable monster always leaves a bad taste in players mouths (especially the Dung monster ;) ) so i don't use it.

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing: Like the kobold with the glowing staff concept. Illusions are very much overused, and lead to the question of who had enough magic power that he could afford to waste it on this stuff.

Trickery: Mostly very much my style. I would avoid the melting lock unless you are absolutely certain the party can make the required check easily (having the prize snatched away or further adventuring progress blocked just because someone rolled a 1 is no fun).

Greed is Bad!: Most of these tricks are overused and highly demotivating. If you like the party tapping on floors and pitching coppers to the far side of the room for a half hour FOR EVERY ROOM use these. My time available for roleplaying no longer allows for such activities.

As bonus for contributing the kickstarter I do not feel cheated by this product, however I would probably not pay the $10.95 cover price for it (I might buy a $3.00 .pdf). Most of the tricks are just not my style and I have seen way too many of them before. I did like the box tips explaining how to use the tricks in pathfinder.

P.S I have expressed my dislike for the "Tomb of Horrors" several times on this blog before. A dungeon filled with limitless magical death traps, seems to both capricious and unfair. However, I remember an interesting post a few years back on Gary's purpose for writing, as well as Rob Kuntz's "Robilar" successful navigation of said tomb (see  Creative Origins on this wiki several forum thread [for those more dedicated to than me] on the subject as well). Once I read that I understood its true purpose, but think an intimate acquaintance with Gary's style and some metagaming is required for survival.

*** Update *** P.P.S. Check this link out for comments from Gary himself on the Tomb of Horrors

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ancon Postmortum and Oddmall

Back on Ancon last Saturday, but with the family. Not so many games played (as in none :( ). She-who-must-be-obeyed was going to do the paint and take, but was discouraged by the need to wade through the registration line again to pick up the required tickets. Had a nice chat  with Andy Hopp about Con-on-the-Cob in the fall and the heretical concept of not charging for individual events, but including games in the registration (probably not this year). Andy wants you to know about the Oddmall this Saturday down in Akron at the John Knight Center. Toys and comics have been promised in addition to the weird art, so I have to check it out this time. Definitely gamer friendly hours Noon-10 PM (even if no gaming). Andy is hoping for some crossover from the Roller Derby game in the evening. Come on down!!!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ancon Friday

Decided to take off work and go down to Ancon instead. Not pre-signed up for anything but had a good time playing demos and pick-up games. Games played so far:

Python Fluxx
Barebones Fantasy

Most interesting is Barebones Fantasy, quick character generation reasonable percentile resolution system, class as skill mechanic which avoids skill proliferation, Have to dig up my .pdf of the rules and post a full review sometime soon. Went on with Larry Moore one of the publishers of Barebones off to play HouseTek. Although we successfully stopped Mechazilla ( In order to stop Mechazilla we resorted to dropping tanks on his head, see Larry's Blog for the Skystriker in Mechazillas death grip), the rules seemed a bit rough-and-ready. By the way if your rules contain high tek space lasers they should shoot across the room not just a crappy few feet in front of themselves. Both Fluxx and Libertalia were card games and less than an hour to play, good for filling time while waiting for events to start, but not the main attraction. I prefer Libertalia for a little more finesse and less randomness, even though I won the Fluxx game. I have written about Numenaria before, but wanted to try it actual play, Mechanically it went quite smooth, however the dungeon we were in seemed challenging figure out without breaking out the skill checks and having the DM explain (not really my cup-of-tea). Ancon has two more days to run. It's at the Clarion in Hudtson (Route 8, and I-80 the turnpike). If you are close to the Cleveland-Akron area, come on down!. If you stop by the Barebones or HouseTek booths tell them Imredave sent you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kickstarter update

A brief update on the kickstarters I am backing and their status: 

Dementalism: Lots of Snazzy New Stuff
Legendary Games Pathfinder Books in Print
Razor Coast
Revisiting my Legions of the Petal Throne Art
Midgard Bestiary for 4th Edition
Scarlet Heroes

Almost Complete
Dungeonaday.com: The Original Online Megadungeon! (everything but the pathfinder conversion)
Rappan Athuk (still one more subscription level to go)

Subscription Ongoing
Adventure Quarterly: A Pathfinder Periodical
Throne of Night, a Pathfinder RPG Adventure Path (a little behind, but good things are promised)
Beyonder (rules in hand, bestiary still pending)

Draft in hand
Orbis Terrarum RPG
Ryuutama - Natural Fantasy Role-Playing Game
Domains at War: Battles, Campaigns, and Mass Combat

Still waiting
World of Calidar
Adventures in the East Mark - The Red Box
Dragon Kings
The Lost Lands: Sword of Air
***Update two more added***
Lusus Naturae: A Gruesome Old-School BestiaryBethorm: the Plane of Tekumel RPG

Best performer: Scarlet Heroes final .pdf shipped within 20 days of funding. I was going to list Beyonder as most worrisome, because as a slacker backer I didn't get to read their updates (next time either in at the start or wait for drive thru  .pdf). but they sent the rules .pdf out last week. These days I am mostly opting for the digital version, having ridden out the proto-kickstarter Slumbering Tsar and the white knuckle ride that was Rappan Athuk. Note to kickstater newbies: layout takes longer than you think, the tchotchkes will not show up when the vendor promised, and shipping a 1,000 of anything is real work. However, notice I am still buying stuff from Frog God games. Why? Because their products are cool, they have always delivered in the end, and they let the subscribers know whats happening good or bad.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mythweaver RPG

A rules light RPG from New Zealand at http://arsphantasia.wordpress.com/ . Written to introduce the the authors friends to roleplaying its core mechanic is both simple and elegant. Everything is resolved by attribute roles. Need to disarm a trap make a Dex check, need to bluff somebody make a charisma check. Normally I am not fond of attribute checks (especially the old roll a d20 and get under your stat kind), but the mechanics for this are bit different you are rolling a d20 and adding a bonus based on your attribute to hit higher than a target number. Target number is based on difficulty (seven levels from easy at 5 to uncanny at 30).  There's a nice table that lists all the common things that adventurers often do and what kind of check they are. Reasonably straightforward so far, but here's the twist that makes it awesome, if the attribute is primary you get to add your level. What determines if the attribute is primary, why your character class of course! Fighters are good at strength things, Rogues at dexterity, etc. What struck me about the system (perhaps I'm just in a weird mode) is that it has given a mechanism for doing what what needs done while kicking to the curb all that talent, skill, feat, non-weapon proficiency crunch that grinds many modern systems to a halt, but still preserves unique roles for fighters, rouges etc. Magic is based on a spell point system Mages get charisma+1 spell points to start and an extra spell point every level. Spells cost 3 points per spell level (cantrips are only 1 point leaving one open to cantrip spam abuse but damage from these is only 1d3). No Clerics, healing spells are on the mage list. I did have a few things I didn't like, the most important one being if your longsword only does 1d8 giving platemail a damage absorption of 8 is going to make things tough. In general I found fixed damage adsorption a bad idea.One of the reasons I gave up on Runequest was that its damage adsorption both that most hits didn't count and that fight usually went to the first one lucky enough to roll a critical. I am working on a percentage damage reduction system, but since smooth implementation will require a chart it won't be rules light.  Lack of artwork didn't bother me since the pages are well laid out in a nice font. All in all Mythweaver is definitely one of the better rules systems I have run across, and since it is currently a free download the price is right. Definitely worth checking out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

GMs day sale *update*

Here's what  I bought at the GM's day sale

Marked down 30% until the 15th

Marked down to $5 until the 31st then the're gone

Pay what you want

Some good titles from some of my favorites including Avalon Adventures, Cubicle Seven, Kobold Press, and Purple Duck games. Was going to buy ORSIC adventuers from Expeditious Retreat , but they are still cheaper per adventure in the bundle ten packs, and she-must-be-obeyed recommended focusing my $100 budget on rules rather than adventures (I ignored that recommendation for Kobold Press). You too can get in on the savings but you have to hustle because the sale ends tomorrow (the 14th).**Update sale still on Saturday the 15th, Drivethru rpg account reports 1 day 1 hour 13 minutes at 8:47 AM Eastern Daylight time. Going to pick up some emperors choice Arduin eternal things and hunt for more ***

P.S. my biggest problem there is so much on sale its hard to sort through (unfortunately not the tile sets I am still missing from Skeleton Key games).                                                                  
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