Thursday, June 30, 2011

Session Roundup #16

Two weeks out of date, alas! But with good reason-- Shieldhaven and I were out of the country for a weekend, and friends getting married on a tropical island do take precedence. Not that there's been much to report, game-wise... I've gotten to disc 2 of Shadow Hearts, and Haven and I, with the help of one of his co-workers, Spirofin, managed to make it to the 3rd tier of depth in Spiral Knights. Which is a ride we are not even a little bit tall enough for. Time to work up to that 5-star gear, which will require a profound investment of time, money, or both. Which is a difference in philosophy between Haven and I-- he will Never Ever Pay Real Money For a nominally Free To Play Game, while I will apply Arcade Logic: that is to say, I am having a good enough time that I would totally feed quarters into this if I were in an arcade, so dropping 10 bucks on energy to craft faster doesn't bug me. I want to write about micro-transaction models and De Biz more, but... well. Time. We'll see.

Thank goodness it's not pinball. My Biggest Weakness!

Also, there was Arcana Evolved the weekend before last, a short session. We spent the first half-hour or so of the game addressing the question of whether we'd be charged, and how much, for using the Library of Eradnos (sp?), to which we'd finally made it last session. The answer was that they'd accept payment in trade, which, luckily, people who weren't Basel took care of, because I think they have Magisters to do... well, pretty much everything she can do.

We didn't have time to trigger the fight with the Rune Reaver before Haven and I had to leave for the Eclipse One Day, though we came up with some pretty nifty plans to fight it (three cheers for access to seventh level spells, and the Dragon Template!), so we spent the rest of the time chatting with the Rune Angel who had come to help us fight it. There was some discussion of whether or not she'd give us info as to the plot macguffin that brought us together, which boiled down to... well, sort of but not really. Self-directed... stuff isn't really the point of this game, though. It's more... well, here's the stuff that is happening, and we can react to it or not, mostly through where we decide to go. That said, helping to defeat this Rune Reaver thing is pretty cool, while I'm still at a loss as to the whole spreading cold and what we can do about it. Though we've apparently done some! Which is good! Stupid ice devils.

Which brings me to the Eclipse One Day! That was pretty darn excellent, all told. They rented Safety Wolf; a paintball facility in Conyers, GA. It used to be a cheap-o hotel, and now is a creepy, multi-room, no air-conditioning hellhole that was the perfect place to take down a horrible terrorist and yes. Of particular note were some utility boxes they set up, where mucking with them with a number of skills, including Security Counter measures, Energy-tech, and the like produced different results, and combined with info from a computer that the hackers had to get into. It was _awesome_. And there was much fighty. There had been a conversation earlier that day about how NPCs didn't use guns often enough; yeah, that was definitely not the case here. So many guns! The only thing that would have made it better would have been the lights flickering, instead of just being turned off.

Also, kneepads. I am wearing kneepads to every event from now on. My knees love me so much for it. And I need to get gel-pads for my boots. So badly.

These are my hands, my knees!
Spacepunk Samurai Knees.

No Mage tonight, as there is too much writing to do-- this post being one thing, and much belated Website Updates for Dust to Dust. And Culture Packets. And, if I can manage it, any of the other posts I want to do. Meh.

Monday, June 20, 2011

RoadTrip Inspiration

As may have been mentioned before, Shieldhaven and I go on a number of road trips, usually to Georgia, which involves many hours of natter. And not a little of this natter, of various sorts, is about random design ideas and the like. The chief topic of discussion this time were a pair of branching ideas, stemming from his thinking about how to make martial combat in D&D 4e feel more parry and thrust... have a certain amount of dynamic action, where one can actually respond to attacks in a way that is logical given one's particular class (read: Martial School). One hopes he will expound further on the topic, as it was a really cool idea, and I contend that it is not that difficult, in 4e, to do something like this by adding minor action powers to classes.

However, when he was first pitching the idea, I managed to completely misunderstand what he was trying to do, sticking on the point of, "a purely martial system." Which made me think about, "wait, why no mages? What if there were NOTHING BUT mages?"

Now, it occurs to me that most of the time, when one winds up talking about any given tabletop game system, one is actually talking about combat systems. There's a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that it is more clear-cut to reduce combat actions to roll something, do something, than the huge and open field of social endeavors that people can undertake.

And then there's magic. Magic, especially in earlier editions of D&D, is pretty much a box of tools a mage can use to fight, sure, but realistically they have a potentially huge number of applications, limited only by whether or not you're the sort of person who would do well in Spontaneous Competitions in Odyssey of the Mind. So what happens in a world where everyone is basically a wily tool-user, and there's none of the beloved hack-and-slashers to stand before our dress-wearing wimpiness and take the damage?

Well, first of all, rather than dispense with the question of why there are no fighter PCs, let's come up with some answers.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Session Roundup #15

Had Mage: The Awakening tonight, which was entertaining, as it was the first encounter with our Cabal (we've decided we're a Cabal now!) and the Boston Consilium. We managed to gain status with them through describing our encounter with the Cult of the Red Word, and explaining how we fought them, and turning the horribly evil Abyssal artifact we recovered to the Witch King of Angmar Nemean Hierarch. Clearly, his cabal, the Ebon Noose, are Ring Tainted a little corrupt already. But nu. Also we picked up some quests from various other members of the Consilium, were solicited by some orders, and set up an arrangement to trade some of our Hallow's Tass for Rotes. Which is good, because we upgraded to Hallow 3, and because I don't think any of us are in much of a hurry to jump into orders.

Even better, no one went out of their way to make themselves Odious to Volchik, so we're actually on pretty good terms with everyone so far.

Eclipse event and Arcana Evolved coming up this weekend. I know I haven't run my D&D game in a while; we're waiting until after Dahlia's player's wedding to pick back up.

And now, Spiral Knights. :D

Monday, June 13, 2011

Not-Roundup #5

Super belated edition, as we didn't really play anything much-- I mean, barely even Spiral Knights-- between my last post and last Thursday. Well, I've played some random hidden object games, which I have to confess a weakness for. Also, I have been thinking about game economies, and the kinds of games like Pony Island and Neopets which are, well.. pure economy games. The genre is fascinating, as it's amazing how much trading pixels becomes the entire mode of play-- and how hugely popular those things are.

Next in Pwnies-- Air Ponies.

First, Section 2 of Dungeon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pwny Island, 4e Act 2: Earth Ponies

Now that I've posted the base stats and some design ideas for the pritty ponies, time to fill out the roster with powers and abilities. Each of the breeds belongs to an elemental type, because, well, of course they do. Today, we shall focus on the Earth-based ponies:

Earth Ponies: +2 STR, +2 to any one other stat.
Unicorns: +2 INT or CON, +2 WIS
Kirin Ponies: +2 INT or DEX, +2 CON
Purr Ponies: +2 DEX, +2 STR or CHA
Reindeer Ponies: +2 DEX or CHA, +2CON or STR

Friday, June 3, 2011

Session Roundup #14 :(

Okay, so I... I won't say lied, exactly, but was mistaken about my ability to catch up on Roundup posts in the intervening week. Anyway, here's what we've been up to, gamewise:

Magic The Gathering: New Phyrexia Expansion: So far, all right. Spendy in terms of mana costs, not so bad as Zendikar, and having the kinda neat thing where you can spend life instead of mana at a rate of 2:1 for some cards. Need to play a few more drafts to see what I really think, but there's some fantastically gross cards therein.

Mage: The Awakening: Last night's session was short, but really fun. First of all, went to Volchik's (my character) uncle's house to do research on an abyssal artifact received last session, and to research the Prince of a Hundred Thousand Leaves, who is apparently some sort of literary Lost Carcosa-- pieces of his book intrude on other works, and if they're all assembled, the abyssal reality which _is_ the Prince will replace our own. Horrible, sure.

But also wicked awesome.

Anyway, after that was a meeting with some banishers to convince them that they needed to help us with the abyssal, cannibal, cultists of the Prince, instead of, you know, killing us for being mages. We convinced the guys we were sitting with-- who could do absolutely nothing about the other banishers lying in ambush for us, and for whom they'd baited this trap. So Tommy (who I still think of as Tod Lowry, and is played by Stands-in-Fire), turned some of the decorative plants into a swarm of locusts, while Sequela (Four Color) controlled the shadows in the room to help us escape, and I went Incognito. Also, I decided to mind control a handful of the locusts, which was really useful when we got to the back door and there were dudes hanging out to jump us.

"Feast, My Hungry Children!" indeed.

I have to say, I like collaborative research in Mage-- first, all the assistants roll, and their successes are added to the final dice pool of the main researcher. This is some value more engaging than researching in a library in our AE game, which was pretty much, "you ask a librarian, who asks another librarian..." and so on. But I'll get to AE in a moment.

Best moment of the game? Our Obrimos, Suryia (System Sans Setting) agreeing to hand over a couple of Mages from the council to the Banishers in exchange for leaving us be. Since we had to cripple a couple of their dudes, don't know how well this will stand up, but we'll see. Because THERE'S NO WAY THIS WILL COME TO HAUNT US, RITE?

Also, Sequela and Volchik managed to find a couple of Rotes in Volchik's uncle's library. So that's awesome.

Arcana Evolved: On Sunday, while in Hotlanta, we managed to get in some AE, which was a pretty good time-- it was a shorter session for that game, which, in typical 3e fashion, meant all of one combat encounter. To be fair, this game is also frequently bogged down by IRL stuff and child wrangling, and was also the day after the 2nd World Event of Dust to Dust, so this Kainenchen was in a whole world of pain. That all said, my habitually whiny character had very little to complain about, as we mostly moseyed through the ruins of this city towards the bizarre interdimensional library by taking advantage of the extremely low going rates on native guides-- as in, 1 gold apiece. This was cool, as otherwise, it probably would have been three or four more sessions before we even made the library. As it was, we only wound up in a fight at the door, where some mooks called their Rune Reaver boss to come and bash us. Fortunately, we made it into the library first, where we met the (miraculously) still living last guy who seriously schooled it. At which point, we decided to cool our heels for a while, and do some research, while we made plans to give it a final beat down and restore some Imperial Order to the city. Banditry = Got to Go, and such.

Who can hate that? Not this Rabbit.

Dust to Dust World Event II: Return of the World Event: This world event was a thousand times smoother than the first one, which doesn't mean that it went perfectly by any means. Getting things that are basic setting information across to players is a huge challenge, and one we certainly don't have a good answer for yet. I suppose it's mostly a good thing that we're, you know, not a con/salon larp, and so not actually coming up with a bunch of pre-gens all the time. That said, everyone seemed to have a really wonderful time, so yay to that! We got to test a couple of different totems, and more higher level ritualism, which is _really_ dependent on the efficiency of the rituals in play. Not that any player could know that off the bat.

But, well, it is to find out!