Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Oh hey, thing!

So yeah, I'm on The Tome Show tonight, discussing Midgard Heroes as I oh-so-smoothly insinuated in my terribly conveniently timed latest roundup post. So if you're here from that, s'up?

Otherwise, I should mention that we had session #83 of Harbinger's game on Sunday, which was really excellent for me, as my Fighter, Lanth accomplished yet another major goal, and got to do some serious and convincing weight-slinging as far as convincing other people to do the needful and not be assholes (NPCs, not the party). Also, the party actually agreed on a plan for actually actives next steps against the main (so far) campaign level threat. This highlights something the game does that I really super love, which is Birthright style Magic-is-tied-to-the-land. Lemme 'splain.

There's these gigantic (typically) stone creatures called Domain Sentinels, who were created in ancient days to protect certain magically designated areas of land, or, well, domains. My character's race, the Veytikka, seem to have some kind of connection also to the domains, or at least to providing legitimacy somehow to people who want to rule it- but that's my impression from some things that've happened in game. Not least of which involves the first time we met a Domain Sentinel, on the first floor of a dungeon which is basically a nod to Od Nua from Pillars of Eternity. This one was a 10 foot tall stone quadruped which trapped each of us in this ray of blue light and asked us creepy, enigmatic questions. And the one Lanth got was, "Is there a threat to the domain?"

I said no at the time, but as shit got ever closer to the overhead rotary device, my opinion has shifted, and now we're basically collecting Sentinels to turn against the evil angel that is busily seeking to sow chaos and destruction in all the living world. So that's fun.

But really, I love this kind of mecha-monster ally deal, and it potentially lends itself to some fun, non-horrible, more allied Shadow of the Colossus type play, in the long run. Anyway, the session was much more heavy on the social side than the combat side this time, which is often pretty awesome when it's well seeded and has a strong foundation (this did, it was a number of pay-offs from really old previous encounters), and the combat, when it came, was done in such a way that we only barely survived it, only barely defeated the horrible curfew-enforcing armored air elemental thing that was beating the snot out of us, and then only barely avoided getting the tracking curse it'd placed on us cured before the local military police found us and made our lives that much more short. All in all, a good time.

And looking back over that, I should really get into more details about the pretty awesome and terrible situation we're in, but it's late, and I need to cut like, 50 words or so from my 200 word RPG that I will maybe actually remember to send in this year.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Over a year and roundup time.

...Wow, I suck so much. I promise you that the lack of posts in the past... years has been from lack of time, and in no-wise lack of topics. So let's walk through some Roundup stuff, shall we?


I'm running Liel, my D&D game, and... that's about it. I'm enjoying the hell out of it though. I like running games... maybe more than playing them. I want to talk more about this soonest, especially because we just went through about 3 sessions of the players dying, being dead, and then making themselves not dead again, which meant it was a fairly good test case for ideas I put forth in that article I guest wrote for Tribality that one time. I think it went pretty well, and it was also a nice example of a theme that bears repeating: When the players pick up all the hints and figure out what's going on, they should probably just win.

...because, y'know, I need more blog topics. Right.


Aurikesh - Harbinger's D&D 5e game. Continues to be great. I'm mostly focusing on my Blademaster 2 weapon fighter, who is level 7 now and feels like an unstoppable badass. I need to get my Tomelock and my Royal Sorcerer caught up more. That said, my main is well in the middle of accomplishing one of her major character goals, so I've got that going for me. 

Granite Sledge - Standsinfire's 5e game. Planescape on a boat! A big, rocky boat. I am playing a Lamia Monk, which is really interesting... StandsInFire created cool rules for her; I'm blood of Abraxas. The game itself is gonzo in a good way... thing

Forgotten Realms - Harbinger is also running a 5e Realms game with me and a couple of friends. I am playing a gnomish Mystic Theurge who worships the god of runes... really, I just wanted to play a Theurge. So far, I like it pretty well... it sure is a wizard who gets to use cleric spells. Not super special, except thematically. 

Over The Edge 25a - Harbinger has run a couple sessions of this, and basically, I always want more. I've said this before, but MAN do I love the playtest dice rules so far- I feel like I could run almost anything with them, particularly if I want something very light, that is heavy on the RP.

Cuphead - does anyone really play this game, or does this game play them?

Love Nikki- Yeah, I said it. But seriously, it hits all my weak points- collection, completionism, aesthetics, and exploration. It's a time and money trap like no other. If you value your cash and sanity, AVOID (but seriously, my friend code is 106448785).

Flight Rising- Yup, still. Not a ton to say about the dressup dragons except it seems the community has mellowed some, and it's gone to always-open registration, so check it out if you are so inclined! For reals though, it's a really good introduction to the culture of subgaming and in-game IRL economics beyond gold sellers (just... search on 'adoptable' sometime), and how pet games are fascinating for the econ lessons.

Pokémon Go - What? Don't you judge me, you know you're playing it too. And no, I don't have Mew yet. I'm about halfway there, still stuck looking for friggin ghost pokémon.


I wrote a Campaign Starter Kit for Unknown Armies 3 which is out to the backers now! Likely it will drop on DriveThruRPG soonish, and when that happens, I should definitely post it here, and not, y'know... forget.

For myself, I'm working on a Very Deconstructed Game called (tenatively) At What Cost, and if I actually manage to not get swamped by Day Job, I will post design diaries here, or sommat. I am hoping to have a playtestable version of it by Metatopia, assuming we're able to actually go to Metatopia this year. We'll see.

Also, I should make sure I'm not under NDA before I talk about anything else I'm writing for anyone, but Harbinger and I will be at GenCon, so there's that.


Midgard Heroes - by Kobold Press. More on this later as well, but the short version, there's a lot here I want to pick apart and feed on to grant my games strength, much like the necrophage described in its pages. Find it here

In the Company of Unicorns - by Rite Publishing, specifically, converted for 5e by my own dearest Harbinger. So, in the dim and tawdry days of 4e, I was working on a set of equine racial options called Pwny Island, which apparently, I actually thought was funny at the time. I never finished it, like so many things, but look! B basically has- well, at least, the unicorns- and managed to make them interesting, serious but not over-earnest, and fairly compelling. I'm actually unironically interested in playing a unicorn character after reading this book. I really want to do some sessions with it and post roundup reviews, because Yeah I do! So really, go! OBTAIN IT.

From Kickstarter, we got our copies of Epyllion, Changeling 20th, and I'll be picking up Dawning Star at GenCon this year, and I'm further waiting on too long a list to mention, so I'll make the attempt to talk about those games as I receive them. 

And that's the news. Why am I actually posting things now? 

...well, why indeed. 

Because I missed you, probably.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dungeons and Dungeons (potentially, part the first)

Since Shieldhaven brought it up in the comments on this post, I should talk a little about what I do when it comes to dungeon-running.

I grew up playing my dad's AD&D games, which were always dungeons. I think I've only run one game that was not a dungeon, and that one was a one shot for a single player. Contrariwise, except for my dad's game, I don't think I've played another D&D game that has been primarily dungeon based. So I guess it is still a little odd that for me, when I am running a game, dungeon exploration is pretty much everything. Which isn't to say that the world above doesn't matter-- it certainly does. Just that the players won't typically be interacting with it directly; at least, not for some time.

The part that can be chalked up to laziness is where I like the constraints that dungeons put on the party's immediate actions, at game start. There's this map, see? There's only so many directions they can go. I don't suddenly have to gen up a bunch of stuff I'm not prepared for (unless I haven't read my notes in a while, which has certainly happened), or come up with a more artificial way to use something I'd planned. What's there is there.

That said, no one really wants to go through another boring hall after boring hall, fighting incongruous monsters and improbable traps that don't seem to have any reason to be there. Also, there's the problem where you find a bunch of loot that is difficult to impossible to spend, because there's not a ton of good shopping in the underground. Usually. So here's a list of things I think about when I'm preparing a dungeoncrawl campaign.

Friday, March 4, 2016

In which there was Content.

As of Sunday, I will be actually running a game again! My first time running some 5e, so it ought to be interesting. I am a huge fan of the megadungeon, so we'll see how that goes down, especially since it will be my first time running D&D for Shieldhaven at all. Not the first time I've run a game he's played in; the first (and only) such being my Nobilis One Shot of great antiquity (that I never actually posted about ><). Anyway.

My setting, which is called Liel, is the oh so original idea of taking a Sigil like crossroads and making it a whole world, rather than just a city. So pretty much all races and gods are available here. To reduce burden on myself (for some values of reduce), I re-wrote most of the PHB races to get rid of subraces, and broke some of the subrace options into a cultural bonus for being an immigrant (more recently come to this work) or being a colonist/native (originally from the world, or having immigrated so long ago it makes no difference). I also changed some things because the default races are different (humans are common, but not even a little default), and yeah. The important thing here is that the natives/colonists all have an option to take a feat at first level, and I know you're surprised that pretty much all of the PCs are doing that. Go figure!

The main thing this does is make it so that I feel better about starting at first level, rather than going with my 3e inclination and starting everyone at 3rd.

When I last ran this setting for 4e, I had a pantheon of gods that granted a background feat to their worshipers. Feats being tiny and fiddly, this was a lot of good fun to come up with. I wanted to do something similar for 5e, and funnily, it actually fits better. Because there are so many gods available in the world, the most common form of worship is called Giedame, where the worshiper selects six gods of their choice and focuses their piety upon them. Technically, a PC could choose gods not listed below (historically, Dragonlance gods are popular in the world :P), and I'd try to come up with something for that, but I've only actually written things for the gods I made up myself. So... below the cut I have:

  • 1 new feat
  • a bunch of boons (about 1/3rd of a feat to mix & match)
  • 3 new spells (2 1st level spells (one of which is a ritual), 1 cantrip)
And a bunch of gods for spicy flavor. Enjoy!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Where she been, Oooh she been gone! (Sporadic Roundup #3)

Over the past... several months, I completely forget what I've been doing. So let's talk briefly about what I've been up to lately:

  • Dungeons and Dragons 5e -- I'm playing two games at the moment: Shieldhaven's Aurikesh game (as I was, and will be, amen), and also a game called Reborn- a mostly online game run by a friend that I will call Mr. AWESOME. In the former, I am continuing to play my Veytikka Fighter and Beruch Warlock, and have now added a Kagandi Parthé who is a Royal Sorcerer. My Warlock has been the subject of a lot of tinkering and fussing, but really, it was the addition of a couple of new cleric cantrips of Haven's that really helped me have fun in combat (I'm a tomelock, see). So it seems like a lot of the problem was that most of the cantrips at base just weren't interesting enough. Well, and the combination of a) needing to take Agonizing Blast (even though I didn't), and b)  invocations being a little too much like build traps (see item a). But I digress. Hopefully, I'll also get to play a bit of Lost Mines of Phandelver fairly soon, so that will be cool.  
  • 13th Age -- we started a game of 13th age, run by another friend I will call Batgirl, and I'm hoping we'll get to play more of that. I am playing something completely ridiculous, but it's been long enough I can't recall a lot of specifics. 
  • Life is Strange -- a Square Enix story game. I bought the season pass, and am on my second playthrough of episode 3, having completely fucked up the second episode in one playthrough. Or, well, allowed something bad enough to happen that I had to have a second one to see the other primary outcomes. There's 5 episodes total, and it's interesting to see how they handle the branching consequences. So I'm liking that. 

Also, I am working on a Twine game about books that change based on the order you read them in. I need to brush up on my JS skills so that I can possibly write some macros around more robust array functionality, because a lot depends on whether I can make conditional content around whether one item has a higher or lower array index than another. On the subject of a lot of fiddly, branching consequences. Anyway, when I have a playable demo, I will doubtless post it here-ish. 

I have not been working on either of the tabletop game ideas I have; the one about psions, temporarily called The Red Ones, and the one about cities, working title: A City of Dolls and Monsters. 

And that's the news in brief. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sporadic Roundup #2

It's been a while since I've done one of these, and as context is everything, let's talk about the Games I'm Playing Now.


D&D Next: Run by Shieldhaven. This is pretty much it for tabletop right now. We're still playing with the last playtest packet rules, which was a serious de-powering in a lot of ways, largely because this was always meant to be a level capped game, and D&D Next introduced the "Apprentice Tier" of levels 1-3. While I'm kind of glad they just come out and say that you should start the game at level 3 if you want to have established, functional characters, it's still a little vexing. On the other hand, I guess it's all right to have the option to play helpless noobs if that's your thing, but it really, really isn't mine. Also, the introduction of Feats, and changes to two weapon fighting which have had the damage add to the off-hand weapon appear and disappear a few times in execution. Y'know, I am very tempted to remove the flat +1 AC bonus of two weapon fighting and replace it with an optional reaction (so the same slot as Attacks of Opportunity or, in our game, Give Ground) that allowed you to impose disadvantage when an enemy attacks you. Now, there's some quibbling to make whether you should have to make that decision before or after you know if the attack hit, but that's a lot more cool and interesting to me than a flat AC add. Either way, my Veytikka Fighter's claw damage is likely about to go down to 1d4, because of some other tweaks to the damage numbers. And as much as it pains me, it's likely the correct decision, because 1d6 on a weapon that can't be disarmed is boss as fuck. But I have a magic rapier now, so... yeah. I have not played my Warlock in some time, pending either a rebuild or the formal re-release of the Warlock from Wizards. And I should talk about my reactions to Haven's proposed Warlock rebuild in another post. Either way, the last session was incredibly great for character decisions and actual, fun play, and did a great job of reminding me what I like about D&D in the first place.

Vidja Games

Hearthstone-- currently on hiatus because, while fun, one kind of has to cool down from high rage points every season.

 Sunless Sea-- From Failbetter games; a companion to Fallen London. I want to do a post just on this, because I really love it, but it has the growing pains of something that really wants to be overt horror, and punitive, but also wants to reward exploration. This is an incredibly tough balance to strike, and I feel they're moving ever closer to actually hitting it.

Doki Doki Universe-- A pretty fun, extremely well written, and adorable game for the PS3; I spent about a week on this before hitting the end of the basic content. Haven't decided whether I want to pay for more... perhaps eventually.

Browser Games

Flight Rising-- a dragon breeding game, and another fascinating example of player-driven economy. The game presents objects of varying values that it sets, which are mostly irrelevant to the player prices except to set a floor... when you can get a thing by breeding or gathering, you have to sell it for a price that exceeds the vendor sale price, or in the case of dragons, the exalt (essentially, turn into game for money) price. It does some interesting things when the floor drops-- usually self-correcting. Anyway, it's another subject that really deserves its own post. Those are the main things I've been playing; in short, pretty much all of which I should post about more in-depth.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Yes, Video Games are Art. There. I said it.

This is a common question that's come up over and over: Are Video Games Art? If so, what makes them thus? And so on, and so forth. Typically, the argument is divided by people who don't care for games saying, "No! They're silly kids' entertainment, and cannot be Art!" and people who like games saying something that sounds a lot like, "well, I like them, so they must be Art!" and people who like games, but want to be snooty about it saying, "well, what is Art anyway? And some are Art, and some are not," et al.

But what we're actually talking about here, at a fundamental level is legitimacy: should games be taken seriously as a medium and a format, or not?

And yes, I am using Art with a capital A, because it _is_ to be high-falutin' here. Or some junk. And because I am unable to avoid pretension or fulmination, because I am not as awesome as Shieldhaven. But I digress.

First, we have to separate Art from value judgement. That is to say: whether or not you like something has nothing to do with it's status as Art. There's plenty of bad Art. But the fact remains that movies, books, music, and visual art are all Art, and video games combine these elements with interactivity... thus, Art. But there's another reason too... the economics, the production, and the marketing of video games are all consistent with those for Art of various media.

I shall explain.