Sunday, January 31, 2010

My Journey to the Game Master's Chair (or: How I Ended Up Behind the Screen)

[I actually posted this on a Forum of one of the podcasts that I listen to. Predictably, it ended up being ridiculously long, and no one read it—so I'm posting it here where an equal number of people won't read it. Changes or comments made for the sake of the blog format to be denoted by brackets.]

Buckle Up, this is going to be a long one! 

Again I feel compelled to comment [referring to the content of the podcast]—this does not happen often, but this episode hit close to home, and I just feel compelled to share my experience. 

To begin, I want to point out that I have only Game Mastered [Fifteen] sessions (Technically a few more than that, but we'll get to that later) and as such I still consider myself a beginner.

Let me start at the beginning. 

Growing up I was into all the same pop culture as my peers (Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, He-Man, etc. etc. etc.) At the same time I've always been a bit of an old codger since birth—I also enjoy the pop culture of my Father's and Grandfather's Generations. Even as a kid I used out dated catch phrases. 

Back to the point, I was not the kid that was into sports. I was the small kid everyone teased, I lived in my own little world inside my head, I watched educational programming of my own accord, I was a Geek in Embryo...

By all accounts I should have gotten into Role Playing back when the Red Box Dungeons and Dragons burst onto the scene in the late 70's/early 80's. I was intrigued by the advertisements for it in my Smurf and Goofy Comic books, I watched the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon every Saturday Morning; granted I was a little on the young side, but I always had a longer attention span than my friends of the same age. My reading comprehension was above where it "should" have been. I enjoyed full length movies as a kid, I was excited when certain movies were to be broadcast on television, and I would try to get my friends to watch them with me, but they never lasted more than probably half an hour and had wandered off to play elsewhere by the time it got to the really good parts.

The reason I never got into it back then was because my mother bought into the D&D is Evil Vibe.

I come from a religious family—I won't get into religion here [they avoid religion and politics on the podcast and on the related forum], I just want to point out that that is part of the reason I never tried D&D. I honored my mother by listening to her instruction that D&D was something to be avoided. 

I only really encountered D&D once as a Kid. I went to the next door neighbors house to play one day and they were sitting on the porch of the house with paper and pencils and being kind of secretive about what they were doing. When I asked what they were doing, they said they were playing a game—but that I would probably not be interested. They said they were playing D&D—so I went home. 

Looking back on that I think they thought they were playing D&D, but were probably just trying to emulate someone that they had observed playing. I remember they had lined paper and pencils only. No Dice. I only came to that recently as I was reflecting on things and applied what I know now of D&D. At the time I was just obeying my mother's instruction to avoid that game. 

My next encounter with Role Playing Games didn't happen until Junior High School. An English teacher of mine used a d20 and some tables to give us random items to incorporate into a story, for a creative writing assignment. Understanding that D&D had a bad reputation, the teacher explained that it was a Role Playing Game, and that it was only as good or as bad as you made it. I think a book was even passed around class. [Which I found very intriguing.]

I came to be good friends with this teacher, but as interested as I was in this Role Playing Game thing, I never broached the subject. 

In High School, I was friends with quite a few people that I knew played Role Playing Games—I was interested in the concept—I wanted to play, but I was never invited (probably because I never asked). My friends played Rifts, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Heroes

Interested, but too timid to ask I researched it a little, but as the internet was just fledgling I was limited in resources. I liked the Idea of the game GURPS [Generic Universal Role Playing System] because it is "universal" and could cover any possibility. 

On a Bulletin Board System I found a free RPG called Ringwielder. (Which I managed to find Here, if you're curious)

Here is my first attempt to GM. I read the text file, I liked the concept and wanted to play. I talked my parents into taking me to the local Comic Book Store, I had seen the special dice needed when I was there. Thus my obsession with dice was born (but that's another story). [Actually, I think the obsession truly started when my Jr. High English teacher showed us a die with more than six sides—I wanted one immediately.]

Here's how I attempted to run a game. I explained the concept to a friend of mine and got him interested. Then, we sat in the back of Math class and passed notes. I wrote what was happening and he wrote what he wanted to do. We rolled dice and what not. We never got very far because I still had no real Idea what I was supposed to be doing, I was trying to do it all on the fly. I didn't understand the concept of Preparation, story, etc..

That died after just a few classes—and I didn't include it in my count of sessions run above.

After High School I went on a proselytizing mission for my church for a couple years. While on that mission I picked up GURPS in a used bookstore [on a preparation day]. It was in good condition, but it was kind of Old, and it started falling apart shortly after I brought it home. I put it aside, because it wasn't the sort of thing I needed to be focusing on while I was doing God's work.

I had one more attempt at this Role Playing thing on my own accord. 

I was attending the local community college. I had a large group of friends, and I convinced a bunch of them to try role playing. We got together and created characters, and again I was trying to do things on the fly. Our Characters were very random. The Universal in GURPS said to me that it was a game where anything could happen. 

My Girlfriend at the time (Now My Wife) Created a Fairy in the vein of Tinkerbell, one person created himself, I created a creature that I had been making comics about since High School. I remember that when we "played" the game, the guy that created himself got up in the morning and was brushing his teeth, wearing a bathrobe and suddenly found himself standing in the middle of a field between two opposing armies (medieval fantasy—cavalry) charging each other. I'm not sure what exactly I had in mind, I was winging it based on the characters that they made. Making characters had taken so long that we didn't get much play time in. 

And we never got together to play again. I didn't count this in the sessions at the top either.

So I graduated from Community College (Three associate Degrees!—LOL), got married, got a job in a field completely unrelated to what I studied in school—and was introduced to the Widening World of Board Games. We play all kinds of Board Games and this is what led me to my first Real experience with a Role Playing Game.

Our church held a night of Games for an activity; everyone was to bring their favorite games. I brought unique games no one had heard of before, while every body else brought the usual.

Talking to a member of the Bishopric he asked if I had ever played D&D. I told him no, but I wanted to. He invited me to his game. His group (mostly made up of his family) played once a month. Thus I was introduced to 3rd Edition D&D.

Shortly thereafter I met someone at work that played and I went to one of his sessions. It had fewer people and they played more often (weekly, for the most part)—so I dropped out of the original campaign that I attended. 

The new group stopped playing, understandably, when the wife of the GM delivered a premature baby. 

I still had a desire to play, but I'm not the sort of person to go down to the game store and look for a group. I still have no desire to do that, it doesn't interest me at all.

Some time later I ended up talking to an acquaintance from High School via a social networking site (not Facebook—I'm still being stubborn about joining Facebook). We knew each other and had some of the same classes, but that's about it. 

He invited me to a GURPS Supers game. Which fell apart after a few sessions. [Not his fault, but that of some of the other players.]

He also introduced me to Fear the Boot. In some of the earlier shows one of the hosts was going on and on about Savage Worlds, and I was intrigued. I picked up the book. 

After reading the Book, I was dying to play—but really had no one to play with, or any Idea what kind of game to play, if I chose to run a game. 

Then Necessary Evil Explorers Edition came out and I bought it with the intention of running the plot point campaign. Then my Wife planned to go out of town one weekend, and I saw an opportunity to invite some people over for a test run of the system. I didn't want to Run Necessary Evil because I knew that my wife would want to join in if I ran a full on campaign. I get a kick out of zombies, so I was thinking maybe a zombie game.

That very week, Zombie Run was released updated for Savage Worlds Explorers Edition. I picked it up thinking it was just a few sessions type of adventure. 

I run a game every two weeks. There are approximately fifteen players invited. I've never had more than five actually show up. I've only had two sessions where I didn't have enough show up to actually play. I have one player that is a very experienced GM. I have seven people that are familiar with playing Role Playing Games, and to the other seven this is a completely new experience.

So here I am, [eight] months later. [Just Finished] the Explosive [unfortunately Anti-climatic] Conclusion to Zombie Run. My first Real Experience as a GM.

What I think of your discussion topic. [Referring to the particular episode of podcast. Topic: pros and cons of using Adventure Modules]

I've never been really good at improvisation. I'm creative, but not really quick about it—so running an adventure has been good and bad. 

Good because there was a lot of stuff there for me that I didn't have to think up on the fly. 

Bad because the players almost derailed me a few times—which made me feel like a deer in the headlights. 

I think running Necessary Evil would have been better because of the Plot Point Campaign rather than Scripted Adventure model. 

Listening to your podcast has helped, but nothing truly prepares you for the GM chair.

I think you need to play in a Role Playing Game (any game) before trying out the GM seat, just so you have an Idea about how Role Playing Games work—no book really explains it well enough. I can sort of imagine what it was like for first timers back when D&D originally came out.

Also, when you decide to GM, make sure your story is prepared, make sure the world is fleshed out in your mind. Knowing the Rules is good, but I've found looking a rule up slows things down less than when I'm stalling and trying to figure out what to do story wise. This may just be part of my improvisation deficiency.

I didn't have a mentor GM to help me. I could have, if I had taken the initiative to talk to a few of the people that I know that GM. However that didn't occur to me. Also, as much as I enjoy the social aspect of gaming—I'm kind of an introvert and would not feel justified in making someone take time to hold my hand along the way. In this case I just wanted to branch out on my own and see what happens. 

So Having an adventure module, in my mind, became essential. In essence the module became my mentor. It does take a lot of creativity at times to railroad your players without them feeling railroaded.

When we finish this campaign, we're going to take a break from RPG. Have a couple weeks where we play Board Games or Video Games [Video Games almost always refers to the advanced version of Karaoke known as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, we have most of them and they are great party games]... and then Jump into Deadlands: Reloaded. [My wife changed her mind and we're no longer taking a break—next session is character creation for Deadlands: Reloaded]

I've read the Book Cover to cover it's taken me a while to get through it (due to time constraints)[okay, mostly because I read it on the bus and I fall asleep on the bus a lot—actually, I fall asleep every time I read lately, I don't think I'm getting enough sleep]—I'm planning to read The Flood, Murder on the Hellstromme Express, Coffin Rock, and Don't Drink the Water [all Deadlands: Reloaded Supplements and Adventure modules] before I start. Hopefully I can run a less railroaded campaign this time, but not make it so much of an open sand box that the players feel lost and directionless—I know my wife has felt that way in other games she's played.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Catching Up While Remaining Stubborn

Thus far, I still don't have a Face Book account or a Twitter Account.

My sister invited me to Twitter ages ago—I stubbornly wouldn't join because she wouldn't join Plaxo. Since then I've stopped using Plaxo and replaced it's functionality with the far more useful tool: Google Reader (people don't have to be subscribed to Google Reader for me to get updated from their sites).

I still don't care about the minutiae that twitter puts forth.

I remember trying to log into Face Book back when it was first launching and opening up. I had just graduated from community college and back then it was just a college thing, and apparently my community college wasn't in it's database—so I gave up.

About a year later, Face Book was starting to really explode. I swear I had one, because I vaguely recall signing up just so I could see some pictures a Family Member had posted. I think I logged in once to see the pictures and never logged in again. I tried logging in recently, and if I did have an account, it's long since been purged from the system.

Now it's a worldwide phenomenon—and I'm refusing to join.

I know there are benefits, my wife keeps pestering me to join so I can keep up with all my Friends from High School—she mocks me that she's friends with all my high school friends. At this point, I think it would be nice to keep up with everyone, but I don't want to deal with the inane aspects. The people you don't know requesting you join their list of friends that they don't know—a list they will continue to grow until it rivals the population of China. The post X in your status notes. The people that post moronic things on your wall, or things best dealt with privately on your public wall. The Games, the games, and the Games.

I prefer Blogs paired with an RSS reader. It's a control issue to be sure, and it definitely lacks in the networking department. I was happy that a friend from back then messaged me on Yahoo messenger when I was logged in the other day.

She questioned the fact that I was even using that account. I don't really—but a certain eCommerce site won't let me change my e-mail address to Google, because the name matches my login name (Never mind the fact that it also matches my yahoo account, but apparently they've changed policy and I'm grandfathered in as far as that email goes. I'd have to change my login on their site in order to change my email address to my Google account it's not worth it). I've Digressed.

So we chatted momentarily. I remembered to get her blog and now I've read through some posts and caught up a bit. From there I was able to link to to some other friends blogs and find out what they're up to (Including a Teacher of mine that I always considered a good friend). There's still a few people I'd like to keep up with a little more—maybe I'll remember to ask them if they have blogs someday—I'm still being stubborn about Face Book. 

Geek/Nerd Law

One of the Blogs I read that keeps me up to date on Geeky and Nerdy things, recently held a contest. To enter the contest, people were encouraged to sent in their Nerd Laws—twenty of which were assembled into a list of Nerd Commandments.

The Winner wrote a "Law" that Truly Spoke to me. The Blog is Topless Robot, the author of this Law/Commandment Identified him/herself as Chapka.

The Law is as Follows:

"Thou must obey the Law of the Golden Mean.
What is it? Glad you asked:
• Any thing that can be purchased, achieved or obtained that consists of a discrete number of individual parts, issues, episodes, or location; such as issues of a comic book, trading cards in a set, or action figures in a line is subject to the Law of the Golden Mean.
• Any nerd in possession of more than 61.8% of the individual items in such a series must, if at all possible, either proceed to acquire each of the remaining items so as to complete the set, or sell one or more items on eBay until the nerd again owns less than 61.8% of the total series.
• If the items owned make up a complete set of a more specific series, the law is satisfied.
Example 1:
Peter owns seasons one, two, three and four of Babylon 5 on DVD. Peter owns 4 of 5 (80%) of Babylon 5 on DVD, and so must also purchase Season 5 to complete the set, even though it kind of sucked.

Example 2:
Clark owns the first nine of sixteen collected volumes of Dave Sim's "Cerebus the Aardvark." Clark owns only 56.25% of the Cerebus books, and therefore may stop purchasing them without violating this Law once he realizes that they've gotten longwinded, incomprehensible, and obnoxious.

Example 3:
Logan owns all of issues 27 through 860 of Detective Comics except for Issue #449 ("Midnight Rustler of Gotham City"). Logan owns 96.7% of all Detective Comics issues and would ordinarily be required to complete the set. However, by buying Issue #449, Logan can complete the more specific set of all Detective Comics issues published since the introduction of Batman, after which he does not need to purchase issues 1 through 26.

Example 4:
Reed has photographs of himself with William Shatner, Majel Barrett, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig. His photographs comprise only 55.6% of the original nine-member regular cast of Star Trek: The Original Series, and it is unnecessary for him to stalk either Nichelle Nichols or Grace Lee Whitney, although I bet that won't stop him.

Example 5:
Bruce has 300 issues of Fantastic Four from the 1960s through the 1980s in plastic storage tubs under his bed. Because Bruce owns less than 61.8% of the 500-plus Fantastic Four issues, he is not required to purchase the entire set. However, Bruce's collection likely includes more than 61.8% of those Fantastic Four issues inked by Joe Sinnott, and if Bruce is aware of this, he will be required to complete that subset.

For most nerds, failure to abide by the Law of the Golden Mean will result in madness, obsession, and eventually a [hazy, sleep deprived] late-night sale of the entire remaining collection on eBay."

I don't know what it is about being Geeky, but there is an obsessive need to collect and categorize stuff. Reading over this Law, I realized that I've been living that way instinctively. My They Might Be Giants music collection, at one time was 100%. Then we had a falling out (i.e. they were donating money from album sales to a cause that I cannot support). Since then I've learned that it was only money from a particular Album (a compilation with other artists for the express intent of raising money for that cause) and it drives me a little insane that I'm missing Nine of their Albums.

This is the precise reason that I do not purchase T.V. Series on DVD (That and the fact that I would never sit down and watch through them). Though recently I purchased Seasons one and two of Zorro because it was necessary to keep complete my selection of Walt Disney Treasures DVD sets.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Anticlimatic Ending—An Apolgy and Explanation for my Players

The Final Session of Zombie Run was Anti-climatic. I had a suspicious, little, nagging, thought in my head that led me to believe that the potential for an anti-climatic resolution was possible.

I had read through the mass battle rules multiple times last week—and I still didn't feel like I had a grasp on them. I had read a post on the Pinnacle Entertainment Group forums that talked about some house rules that would help to alleviate the mass battle rule letdown of the finale to Zombie Run, but I felt that they were too complex and had come up with a house rule of my own (a house rule that I forgot to use when it came right down to it—I'm still kicking myself over that one).

I had decided to run the mass battle rules as written, but between rounds, draw cards and have each character play out exactly what they were doing on the battle field. What happened? The player characters rolled so well (and I simultaneously rolled poorly) that my army should have cut and run after the first round. I made the decision on the spot that my army was so bent on misplaced loyalty that they were going to fight to the end—and I forgot to have everyone draw cards at that point and describe their heroic actions (grumble, grumble, grumble)—to which they again rolled ridiculously well, obliterating the army of non-player characters that was me.

I was hoping that the setup period for the battle would elicit a little more Role Play than it did. Also, I had a feeling the Mass Battle rules would end it too quickly, but I decided to roll with them anyway, since I was curious as to how they worked and reading through the rules 7–8 times didn't seem to help. When I find I don't understand a gaming concept on paper, I know I have to actually play it out to gain understanding. I even came up with that house rule so that people would actually have an opportunity to do something heroic or cool during the battle and then I dropped the ball and forgot to follow through when I got flustered about the battle technically being over in one round.

If I was to call a mulligan, the following changes would be made.

1—Remember to actually use the house rule I had come up with.
2—Use more battle tokens. (70 to 100, instead of 7 to 10)
3—Have their General roll the correct dice. The player with the highest smarts was acting as General and I was having her roll her smarts since no one actually had knowledge(battle). It would have made a difference if they had been rolling a d4 -2 (unskilled attempt) and then adding the cooperative rolls and situational modifiers into the mix.
4—Preparing for the battle should have involved Zombies. Zombies should have wandered into the Mine Field and destroyed some of the Zombie-Bus-Melting, Tactical-Nuke-Land-Mines. Zombies should have attacked when they were putting up the Tank Traps, and the Mines (technically, there probably should have been potential to mess up when arming each of the mines—that could have been sad and very unheroic).
5—Also, Random Zombie Attacks from Zombies Drawn to the Battle by whatever senses they posses.
6—The Dead Rising During the After Battle Clean up.

I don't know why I can't come up with these things before or during the game. Chalk it up to my inexperience as a Game Master.

So I apologize to everyone for a pretty lackluster game. Particularly to S, since she doesn't come often and this explosive finale that I had been hyping up ended up being kind of lame—and to Brian, who showed up after the battle was over already.

On a more positive note. My wife wants to do character creation for Deadlands: Reloaded next session whereas before she had requested that we take a Role Playing Break and have a couple Board/Card/Video Gaming Nights.

Also, she just called me and informed me that the flowers she received from her parents for her birthday tipped over and my Deadlands: Reloaded book narrowly escaped The Flood.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

To The Players of My Upcoming Deadlands Reloaded Campaign

The Following Are Some notes that I recently made about things that I want to introduce into our game-play experience.

Part of the Character creation in Deadlands Reloaded requires that you make note of your character's greatest fear. I also want to know each Character's greatest weakness, and greatest vice.

I want to use a group template for this campaign, and I'm hoping for more consistency of players.

I want to try having Players describe their own Character's failures.
I want to try having Players describe what their Characters see (Expanding on a basic description that I feed them).

I want to encourage note passing character to character, and characters to GM

I want to use some advice that I read, and pay attention to the player's character sheets to help me in planning sessions.

I need to ask a lot of Why questions.

I need to make things happen to the characters that cannot be ignored.

I need to Read Gumshoe and Implement the Investigative theory of that game into any investigatory plot points of the campaign.

I know there are other things as well—I'll Amend the list when I remember them.

For instance—I remember some talk on one of the pod-casts I listen to about a three by three thing—wherein character back stories are tied together from the beginning by three things of one type and three things of another type, or something like that, but I can't recall the details.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gamers Donate to Help Haiti

This morning I got a notice from one of the bloggers whose RSS feed I subscribe to, that OneBookShelf  was running a promotion through their sites and wherein you could donate money that would go to Doctors without Borders to assist in the Aide for the victims in Haiti.

To create an incentive for donations they asked their various publishers if there was a product that could be offered up for those that donated, and by the time all was said and done—for a $20 donation you could Download a bundle package worth $1,481.31.

I'd been thinking of a way to donate to the relief effort—thinking that I would do it through my church. So I donated and started downloading PDF books. The response was huge and within a couple hours the site went down. A couple hours later the site was back up and they are asking those that have donated to wait a couple days before downloading. As of this writing a total of  $23,040 has been donated through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

Also, OneBookShelf has it set up for people to danate $5 or $10 with no incentive, this offer appears to be available through their other sites DriveThruComics and WarGameVault, and as of this writing  $3,480 has been donated through those sites.

For the Curious, The Game Products You May Download for a $20 donation are the Following: (I'll Highlight the ones that caught my eye).

17 Archer Feats
17 Bard Spells
17 Magic Shields
17 Monk Feats
17 Plants
17 Rogue Feats
43 Space Opera Adventure Seeds - Space Opera Support #6
90 Phenomena in the City of Copenhagen
Advanced Fleet Designs: Titan Class Scout
Adventurer Essentials: Holy Water
Adventurer Essentials: Rope
Afterpeak Systemless Setting
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113)
API Demon Codex: Lochs
API Demon Pack 01
API Worldwide: Canada
Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.
Ápocrypha - Myths of the World
Barbarians Versus
BASH! Basic Action Super Heroes (New and Improved)
Basic poker playing cards 1
Beast Hunters RPG
Behind the Monsters: Skeleton
Behind the Spells: Sanctuary
Best of The Rifter
Bits of Darkness: Dungeons
Bits of Magicka: Pocket Items
Black Book The
Blood Games II
Blood of the Innocent: A Savage Worlds mission set in the jungles of Evil
Book of Dumb Tables The
Book of Races
Book of The Dead The
Book of the Faithful: Power of Prayer
Brandy's by the Bay
Breathe Life Into #1
C&C Arms and Armor
C&C Shadows of the Halfling Hall
Castlemourn Campaign Setting
Character, Hero
Chronica Feudalis
Class options volume II: Paladins Prevail!
Classic Spycraft: Shadowforce Archer Worldbook
Classic Spycraft: Shadowforce Archer Worldbook
Classic Spycraft: Spycraft Espionage Handbook
Colonial Gothic: Secrets
COPPER DRAGON: Basic Dungeons 1
Cortex System Role Playing Game
Counter Collection 4th Edition Paragon 1
Creatures of the Wastelands: A Menagerie of Mutants and Mutations (Revised Edition)
Creatures of the Wastelands: Habitats
Creatures of the Wastelands: The Thrasher Gang
d66 Ship Names 2
Damnation Decade
Dark Raiders of Misty Ridge
Degenerate Seaside Town
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Bar Room Berserker
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Gravity Slinger
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: Lucky Bastard
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: NeoWitch Guardian
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: The Innocent
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: The Prince of Doggs
Dept. 7 Adv. Class Update: The S.L.A.M. Soldier
Dept. 7 Technology Update: AAP/CPR Med Kit
Destinations: Spaceport Trident Vespa
Diana: Warrior Princess
Divine Homelands
Divine Quests
Dork Covenant
DRAGONSHIRE: City Interiors (Fantasy Paper Terrain)
DRAGONSHIRE: City Ruins (Fantasy Paper Terrain)
Earth Space Marines
F-211 Copperhead
Fantastic Maps: The Dragon's Lair
Fantasy Firearms
Fantasy Women Clipart JPEG 7
Fate of Inglemia The - Superlink Edition
For the Love of Dungeons
Forlakh's Tower - CR 4 D20 Module
Full Light, Full Steam
Future Firearms Pack One
Gravitic Thrust Vehicles
Grumlahk's Troll Tales
Hollow Earth Expedition Earth Drill
Instant Antagonist: The Selfish Succubus
Interface Zero: Modern20 edition
Items Evolved Rituals
Karma Roleplaying System Core Rules Book
Kerberos Club The
Kiddy counters
Kids, Castles & Caves
Kobold Quarterly 11
Labyrinths & Lycanthropes
Lady's Rock
Lazy GM: Lizardfolk The
Liber Sodalitas: The Dream Healers (Pathfinder edition)
London Fires module A101 for Fellowship of the White Star
Lunar Scrolls The
MADS Role Playing Game
Magpie Codex 2
MARS: Savage Worlds Edition
Martial Cultures: Arytis
MegaCity Sector Maps
Mini Nuclear Plant
Modern Dispatch (#104): Line Zero
Modern Dispatch 120: Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit
MonkeyGod Presents: From Stone to Steel
MonkeyGod Presents: Frost & Fur
More Mighty Than Steel
NEO MONKS: The Dragonlord
NEO RANGERS: The Spider King
No Dignity in Death: The Three Brides
Objective Interim Modern Combat System
One Shot Adventures! Days of Knights
Open Game Table - The Anthology of Roleplaying Game Blogs, Vol. 1
Open Source Role Playing Game Collectible Card Game - Card Template 1
Otherworld The
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game GM's Aid VII: Condition Cards
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Loot 4 Less Vol. 1: Armor and Weapons
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game The Book of Arcane Magic
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game The Book of Arcane Magic
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Wyrd of Questhaven
Piledrivers and Powerbombs: Chokeslam of Darkness Edition
Pimp My Paladin
Police Precinct
Portrait of a Villain - The Desire
Power Pics Heroes 1 -Female Speedster
Power Pics Villains 1 -Male Cyborg
Privateers and Pirates
QAGS Second Edition
Quirin Encounter #3: Healing Device
Quirin Maps #14: Bandit's Territory
Reign of Discordia (Traveller Edition)
RIO DRACO: Base Set (Western Paper Terrain)
Rise Of a Legend:NEW Issue #1
Roma Imperious
Rugged Adventures
S.C.A.R.E. Vol. 2-Viesca Melin Aella
Scenes of Space Hex Battle Maps
Serenity Role Playing Game
Seven Leagues roleplaying game of Faerie
Shaolin Squirrels : Nuts of Fury
Shrouded Agendas for D&D 4E: The Purifiers
Slivers of Dawn
Special Vehicles
Spirit of the Season
Squared Circle:Wrestling RPG The
Squirrel Attack! Operation: Get Mr. Jones' Nuts
Stolen Blood
Strike Force 7 - Savaged! - [Savage Worlds]
Summerland Revised and Expanded Edition
Tales of Wyn D'mere Role Playing Game!
Tendril's Oak Inn
Thousand Suns: Foundation Transmissions
Thousand Suns: Transmissions from Piper
Threat Record Vol. I, Issue #2
Three Sixteen
Thrilling Tales 2nd Edition (Savage Worlds)
Torn Apart by Radiation Wraiths
Trail of Cthulhu Player's Guide
Treasure Chests: Volume 2
Turris Lemurum : Tower of Ghosts
Unorthodox Sorcerers
Valherjar: The Chosen Slain Core Rulebook
Vampire Castle
Veggie Patch The
WorldWorksGames / Deadly Encounters Combo (Fantasy Paper Terrain)
WorldWorksGames / DungeonLinX: Dragon God (Fantasy Paper Terrain)
WorldWorksGames / Uncharted Space: Sathrican Homeworld (Space Paper Terrain?)
WorldWorksGames / UrbanMayhem: Streets of Mayhem (Urban Paper Terrain)
WorldWorksGames / Wormhole
Zombie Apocalypse
Zombie Bytes: The Anthology

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Deadlands: The Battle For Slaughter Gulch

I've played some complicated games in my time, and this one is right up there. The deceptive thing about it, is that's it's not as complicated as is appears to be—yes it took us about four hours to play a game that (according to the box) should only take one to two—but it was the first time we had played it.

This game has a LOT of components. I started setting it up on the table and was worried that we weren't going to have room if we didn't put a leaf in; shifting the modular board to run diagonally solved that problem, but it was by a very narrow margin.

There are cards, and tokens, and player screens, and miniatures, and counters, and cards, and tokens, and miniatures, and card, and cards. . . there's a lot on the table. I should have taken a picture, maybe I'll set up a game and snap a picture...maybe.

Even though there's a lot going on, the actual game play is pretty simple; after a couple rounds we had it down and the game moves pretty quick. I'm not sure how to win this game as far as tactics go. It's a "victory point" game, but those victory points come from so many different places that I found it difficult the first go around, to come up with a strategy.

In a way this game reminded me of Agricola, there was so much to do, that I found it difficult to decide what was important while playing. After seeing the end game, I had a better Idea of what I should have been doing throughout the game. Unlike Agricola, I never really felt my options were limited (except by movement). Unlike Agricola, I don't simultaneously hate the game and yet still feel compelled to play it—I actually really liked Deadlands: The Battle For Slaughter Gulch and look forward to playing it again. Observing that I pre-ordered this game; that it was released October/November of 2009; and that Jan 2010 is the first time I've gotten to play it—who knows when it will make it to the table again?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Penultimate Session of Zombie Run

===For Those Not In My Gaming Group===
===Possible Zombie Run Spoilers Ahead===

I ran the penultimate session of Zombie Run Saturday night.

I had three players. They finished exploring the underground military base. I had promised those that RSVP a bonus of some sort that would help them out in the Explosive Finale of Zombie run. My wife is playing a "perky goth chick," so I came up with a funny bonus for her; a metallic dog collar/choker, that grants a -2 bonus versus Bite Attacks. I thought that was funny and appropriate for her character. But I wasn't sure what to give the other two characters that were coming. One character is a UFC fighter (he's a bit of a Munchkin) and the other character, she is a plastic surgeon.

I really didn't know what to give them, I'm Sure he would be happy with some sort of weapon, but I really wasn't sure what she would want. So I copped out—In the underground base there is a large room that represents the Commisary/PX—I pretty much let them find whatever they wanted that could be found in such a place (Knives, Bayonet, Flashlight/Laser Sight for guns, Sweaters/Sweatpants, New Underwear (I'll spare you the details), generator, batteries, portable surgery tool kit...) the book describes this room as undisturbed. When I stated that it disturbed the UFC fighter—that bothered him for some reason.

I was talking to another player that wasn't there that night, and told him that he would have been really angry with me had he shown up. I explained that their ability to find things in the commissary was directly related to their having sent an RSVP. I explained that the following situation could have taken place.

Player that Didn't RSVP: Hey can I find a flashlight?

GM: No, you don't find any flashlights.

Player that did RSVP: Can I find a flashlight?

GM: Sure, you find a display that has the exact type flashlight you're looking to possess in a variety of colors.

Player that Didn't RSVP: Can I have one of them.

GM: No, there was only the one that player that did RSVP took.

That would have been a bad situation socially, but hilarious. The whole looting of the store would have turned into a comedy.

The looting was taking quite a while, so at a certain point I had a loud buzzer echo throughout the installation, and half the lights turn off. Then as they were exploring the rest of the "maze" I read the descriptions of the remaining rooms to make sure I wasn't missing any details (It was a busy day and I hadn't taken the time to read through the notes beforehand) and realized that I had invented a situation that was already written into the story—with my own flavor text that was not included in the Adventure Book. That was cool.

While exploring this space my wife realized that they were experiencing a modern dungeon craw; and for a moment she flipped into dungeons and dragons mode as far as play goes, it was amusing. 

The best part, was that they were looking for the Armory, and it was behind the last door they opened in the main hallway. It was great, I couldn't have planned it that way if I wanted.

I had to use my poker face during this session—I can't elaborate until later.

Now I just need to plan something cool for the Explosive conclusion. If everyone that has played at least one session shows up there will be thirteen in attendance for the finale. There are three people on the invite list, then never played a session. One never came, one came one night and then didn't play, and one came on a night that we were playing other games.

What I got out of this session was fun. There was a moment when I was questioned about a bonus for having a laser sight on a gun, I consulted the Rulebook but I didn't see anything, and so he said—well you're the GM make a ruling. I would have, right then and there—but I knew they probably wouldn't encounter a reason to use that during this session, so I just told him I would make a ruling when the need arises. This banter meant a lot to me, because it meant that my authority as the games referee is in tact.

I have sort of made up my mind on the answer. I did some research on the use of a laser sight and developed a house rule. Then I searched all my Savage Worlds supplements and found a laser sight in Necessary Evil. Mine is more detailed and "realistic"—but the Necessary Evil version is simplified, which makes it more FFF as they like to say at Pinnacle Entertainment Group (That stands for Fast Furious Fun). So I haven't made my final decision yet—but I'm informed enough to make the decision now. (Also, my gut instinct, i.e. what I would have said in-game if they had decided to run down the hall and enter the Barracks and force me to make the ruling then and there, matches the rule in Necessary Evil)

I need to go read the Mass Battle Rules about fifteen times now...