Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kickstarter - Dwarven Forge Game Tiles

Kickstarter seems to be doing wonderful things for the gaming industry. Recent blockbuster success stories as well as many smaller projects abound on the site and gamers are getting things they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to enjoy.

The latest major success story is Dwarven Forge Game Tiles. Stefan and the crew at Dwarven Forge have been making 3 dimensional gaming terrain of dungeons for 17 years.

The material of choice up till now has been a polystone resin which while tough, is still fragile enough to be concerning. Now they are introducing a far tougher material that will also have the major benefit of being much less expensive.

The cost of resin along with labor cost has been rising rapidly and continuing to push the cost of the terrain out of reach of budgets for a large part of the gaming populace. With this new kickstarter project Stefan hopes to change that and make the Dwarven Forge product more accessible.

You should check out the Kickstarter for details, however here are two pics from the page to show off a little bit of the painted and unpainted product.

Both the painted and unpainted look great. If you're into hand painting miniatures you might also like painting the Game Tiles although they dark gray tiles are fine for use as they come.

I can imagine a myriad of ways to enhance the unpainted ones for special scenes, and some people already modify existing painted resin pieces to make some very unique scenes.

I have a number of the various sets of Dwarven Forge that I occasionally break out and use for special set-ups, but I lack enough to anything major even with the basic sets. I have built my small collection up over the 17 years Dwarven Forge has existed and I have had to skip a lot of sets that I would otherwise love to have and have small quantities of the sets I do own.

For people like myself and especially people new to 3d terrain for gaming, this kind of project and hopefully future ones for other sets might just be the magic ticket to affordably getting this wonderful accessory to enhance games.

Dwarven Forge intends to continue with their high-end resin sets for now since that allows them to continue making some of the very specialized limited edition or otherwise complex items, while the new molds for the new material will allow the basic pieces to made in greater numbers at a much lower cost.

Go to Kickstarter and check out the Game Tiles page. Even if this isn't your thing, the info there is still interesting.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Murder Hobos Advanced Edition RPG part 1

Having given some thought to different systems and house rules it occurred to me that I am a difficult DM to satisfy.

The time has come and is long past due, to try and collaborate on a workable semi-OSR system and get feedback along the way if for no other reason than it might be a fun experiment.

Several players I have spoken with prefer the armor classes to ascend instead of the original descending armor classes. That in itself is an easy enough fix. To flip armor class just subtract existing armor class from 20 and presto, you know the ascending AC. For hit bonus just go to the chart and for each change in THACO by levels add one to the to-hit. In Labyrinth Lord everyone starts at +1 for 1st level with some staying that way for additional levels depending on class. Converting THACO into THAC20 is the easy part.

For Saving Throws the table works fine like it is (for me at least). Not only do I like the multiple save categories, but I find they lend themselves well to other functions.

For example I replaced the Identify spell with a save vs Spells and Spell like Devices for the wizard making the attempt. Since the save improves with level it reflects the wizard's growing knowledge and lore skill.

The Reaction table can be flipped so that high rolls are good as opposed to low. You only need to modify the Charisma mod from a negative to positive to make that work normally.

For the first few items above is there anything you would change and how would you modify them?

For example, would you try to make the attack bonuses escalate slower for all classes? Why and how? Would you also do the same for the monsters?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Weekly Game

The following journal entry is copied from the group's Obsidian Portal adventure logs. It is from my character's (Vedayn of the ashes) viewpoint. We gain extra experience for journal entries that help in keeping the facts straight, though they may be colored by our character's perceptions.

The party is pretty large and we began play with 5,001 xp to create our characters. Vedayn is a 3rd level wizard with a rather unusual starting assortment of spells. None of them are directly applicable to combat.

Journal of session 2 from Vedayn's perspective:

As I sat thinking in the loft of the tavern, a ruckus arose more focused than the usual low rumble associated with a crowd of drinking fishermen and sailors. Grabbing my things and a candle, courteously provided by the tavern keep, I joined the growing crowds along the docks.

I found myself among a group of people, whom I guessed by their demeanor and accoutrements, were likely travellers and explorers much as I was. All of us were drawn by our curiosity to discover what had aroused such interest of the locals.

Across the narrow bay on the barrier islands was supposed to be a lighthouse standing ever vigilant, its light a magical everburning beacon. All was dark.

The group I was standing with began discussing finding a boat and going to investigate and being that I was not tired enough for sleep and genuinely curious, I asked that I be allowed to accompany them to offer what help I may.

Hiring a local shore boat, we set out for the island. While in route the beacon tender set fire to the backup signal.

We arrived to find the islanders quite disturbed, scampering about busily like a hive of ants whose mound has been carelessly toppled by running children. Inquiring of them we learned that the beacon was indeed magical and somehow had been extinguished by a source as yet undetermined.

Knowing that any inbound vessels would be at great risk of foundering on the reef, we borrowed another boat and rowed out to where we thought a ship had indeed grounded itself in the brief time no beacon shone.

We arrived shortly behind a couple of other would be rescuers or salvage seekers some of whome had already worked their way aboard the striken vessel.

I and three others stayed in the boat while two of the more vigorous members of our party crossed the reef and boarded the ship. As they were approaching the rope lines just behind the bowsprit, two screams in short sequence were heard, each quickly silenced.

We would later learn that what was left of the crew along with the first two salvage seekers had been beheaded, their heads tied into the rigging as a gruesome warning, and their bodies dragged below decks to become the fuel for a deadly blaze.

The attackers, who according to description were aquatic elves, departed the ship after setting firetraps that our intrepid investigators stumbled into, barely escaping with their lives.

We returned to shore only to be escorted to the office of a man named Jacko. A gruff sort who seemingly knows his business and tolerates little nonsense, he offered us 500 platinum as a group for the head of the person responsible for snuffing the beacon.

One of the travellers, Jonas by name, insisted that once our task was finished he would like to learn information from Jacko about the slave trade. I think I will attempt to sit in on that discussion as I too am interested in the topic.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kickstarter - Torment: Tides of Numenera

I can honestly say I am blown away by how this kickstarter project is going.

It launched a few hours ago and is already well past the funding goal and into stretch goal territory.

I am not yet a backer and do not yet know if I will (probably will) jump in.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Magpie Behind the Keyboard

Ok, let's face it, I have been polymorphed into a magpie and now have a fever for anything shiny.
I've decided to back yet another kickstarter, albeit one that is a guaranteed success.

Futuristic Metal Coins or Victory Tokens. Yep, lots of little shiny metal objects that can be used for various games.

Do I need them? No. I already have tons of aluminum Mardi Gras coins in various colors. It's just that I can't resist the darned things.

Heck if nothing else, I suppose can play Monopoly with them.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kickstarters - Doppleganger, Dice Shield, Fantasy Violin

I just jumped into another few kickstarters, one that just hit the funding goal, one I believe will fund and another I have a lot of doubts about despite it being a useful product.

The first is Legends: Fantasy Violin. It is what it sounds like, a CD for listening pleasure and for gaming background music. Julia Okrusko kept this project simple and her goal low. The project just reached the goal and has 14 days remaining to make more money.

The second, which I believe will fund, is Doppelganger: The Universal Game Piece. This one is about $5,000 from hitting the funding goal with a little under 31 hours remaining.

I can see tons of uses for having just one of these even though I own hundreds of miniatures. In the Villains and Vigilantes game I'm part of, it would be perfect for displaying my character image. It makes a perfect pawn for lots of board games. Who needs the tokens for Monopoly when you can use the Doppelganger and have whatever you want! Play Battletech and lack a good representation for the light mech you really want to play? Grab or draw the correct image, load it into this device and there you go. Many more ideas have been mentioned in the comments for the kickstarter.

The third kickstarter, the one I have my doubts about making the funding goal, is also very useful.

The Dice Shield: Roll Anywhere. See Everything - This can be used for more than just rolling dice above your play area. It can be used as an elevated play area. Have characters and creatures at different heights? Perhaps they are exploring the floating wizards tower? Need a snack bowl at the table, but hate playing around the bowl? Add the extender legs to give it additional height, line it with paper towels, and pour your snacks into it!

I decided to back this one at a higher level than I really need for myself since if it does manage to fund then I'll have some to give as gifts. It is expensive for what it is, partly due to keeping the manufacturing in the United States instead of outsourcing (I applaud this because our economy could use whatever boosts it can get), and because creating high quality mass production molds for something like this costs a lot.

Please check these Kickstarter projects out, and if you know of any others you find interesting please add them in the comments so we can all take a look.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Monte Cook, you magnificent bastard

He's done it again. My wallet = his bitch.

Anyone that knows me or that has followed the blog for a time already knows I love a bunch of Monte's previous work, especially Ptolus, which is awesome for production value and content.

Although I skipped the kickstarter (don't recall why, but I suspect I just wasn't feeling it), I have gone ahead and committed to the preorder for his new game - Numenera. I fully expect this to at least match Ptolus in quality of materials and potential for ages of play.

It took me a while to come to the decision to preorder Ptolus as well, but I had more time than kickstarters typically provide and back then I still got in early enough to get a signed and numbered copy of Ptolus. I'm kicking myself for not trusting Monte and going ahead and supporting this kickstarter like I should have.

I hope Monte is ok with me posting this image from his work. If not I'll gladly remove it.

From reading the website, the play test reports, and looking at the posted art work for the game, it strikes me as if someone took a blender and filled it with bits of The Dying Earth, Call of Cthulhu, Gamma World, Rifts (Paladium), and a dash of old Heavy Metal magazine stories, especially the Moebius works. It also has been influenced by Gene Wolf's Book of the New Sun series and I suspect Mike Grell's The Warlord comic series.

Looking at the art of Numenera you can already see some of the Moebius influence. These two pieces are by Moebius for comparison of influence:
The Numenera books are going to be art rich to help convey the mystery and awe of the setting. I recommend going to the site and looking at the gallery showing just some of what is to come. Lead artist Kieran Yanner is brilliantly talented. While I personally find some of his black and white work too heavy and thick, he really shines with his color work, especially his landscapes. The manuals and support material are going to be a treat for the eyes.

In recent news, the people responsible for the popular computer game Torment: Planescape are already committed to producing a sequel in this new setting. The title has been announced as Torment: Tides of Numenera. The kickstarter for the computer game will be announced at some point in the future.

For those not yet ready to go prowling the game website, the short version is this - it is a billion years in the future. Many very advanced great civilisations have risen and fallen. The current inhabitants of earth are trying to use artifacts from the past to build a new great civilization. Arthur C. Clark's third law is in full effect: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Numenera promises to be interesting from a system perspective as well. What information on the site indicates and what podcast interviews Monte has done seem to point to a simple and flexible set of mechanics.

Difficulty is determined by a level times 3 and can be modified downward by skills and other factors. For example if a creature was difficulty 5 to hit (5x3=15) you roll the d20 to meet or exceed that target. If you had some piece of numenera that functioned as a targeting device, it might knock the difficulty down by 1 meaning you instead need to roll 12. Conceivably you could use a combination of skill, effort (a limited resource based on character stats), and available numenera to reduce a target number so low you wouldn't need to roll.

It has also been mentioned that the players do most of the rolling. The main dice are a d20, percentile dice for the GM to use when preparing scenarios, and a d6 that will be used only occasionally.

It is unfortunate that I lack a regular committed play group currently or I would absolutely love to beg Monte to allow us to play test the system. (The weekly crew are involved with a fantasy sandbox being run by bighara of Echoes From the Geek Cave).

For character classes there are three types: Jack of all trades (Jacks), Nanos, and Glaives. See if you guess what they equate to?  If you said Thief/Bard, Wizard/Sorcerer, and Fighter, you win! Not that there's a prize or anything.

Character creation is fairly simple and can be broken down to a one sentence Mad-lib structure. "I am a blank, blank, that blanks; with the blanks being filled by a short descriptive word or statement, the class, and a focus. Example: I am a strong glaive that excels with javelins.

Experience is handled differently than most traditional games, but will sound familiar to the OSR crowd. Combat isn't where XP comes from, instead it results from discoveries. Sure, you'll have fights, but the goal is the numenera you seek and the story. Also, players can grant each other xp for good ideas, etc, and the GM can influence things by giving additional xp.

There's a lot more to know about Numenera than I could include in a single blog post. With that in mind I highly recommend you seek out the game website and even give a listen to the fan podcast Transmissions From The Ninth World for more detailed information.

And as a parting gift, more Moebius art: