Friday, July 3, 2015

Two new comic books worth reading

I have been really disappointed in DC's Convergence and Marvel's Secret Wars, mostly because both of them have been fairly random and confusing and have that sense of mining previous era's successes in hopes of reminding old readers why they used to like comic books (but maybe don't so much anymore).  I'm also fairly convinced that I can just wait out both summers and both "universes" will reset to whatever closely resembles their respective movie franchises.

So what's a comic book reader to do?  Two comic books series have come out this week, both worth a look, especially if you're a fan of sci-fi comics.

The first is Onyx, a space alien wearing a suit of starfaring armor that comes to Earth to protect them from a parasitic alien race that has already infected the planet.  If it sounds like Rom the Spaceknight, it is because the creators made Onyx as a sort of "love note" to that series.  There are some differences.  First, Onyx is female, and refreshingly is not depicted in a "lift and separate" suit of armor.  Second, it takes place in the dystopic future of an ecologically-challenged Earth.  Third, you don't have to worry about weaving in an established Comic Book Mythos into the story.

We Stand On Guard is another dystopian future story, only this time with more of a political slant.  The White House is hit by a drone strike, and correctly or incorrectly blames...Canada.  They respond with a massive missile strike that devastates Canada, leaving only a handful of resistance fighters to hold off the American invasion that (according to one of the characters in the story) is actually a ruse to claim one of Canada's most precious resources: water.

Issue one revolves around Amber, a young woman whose parents were killed in the initial strike and whose brother is a prisoner of the United States.  She meets a rag-tag group of partisans that look like the Canadian version of Red Dawn (including the Canadian shibboleth "If you are really one of us, who took home the Cup in '11?)

If you were comfortable with the US as the villains, you could easily run this as a roleplaying game, using any number of RPG's featuring near-future hi-tech weapons and giant walking robots.  Did I mention the giant walking robots?  No?  Oh they have them too.

So go check them out.  And hope to God the Big Two settle down and figure their stuff out.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Leaving the Nest

If you saw my group photo from my last blog post you know I have ten players in my group, down from eleven now that Ben has moved on to a new job.  Of those, five are under the age of fifteen.  Four of them are children of other players, including two of my own, and the fifth is a classmate of several of them.

Juggling eleven (now ten) players has always been a challenge that mostly involved me running lots of sessions each month to ensure that everyone got to game at least twice a month. But now that is about to change.  One of the young players has decided to try his hand at running a game, as the other youth players are going to move into his game.  That means we now have two campaigns: a youth one with a GM and four players, and an adult one with one GM (me) and five players.

Obviously there are some big positives to this.  For one thing, it's exciting to see another generation of gamers start their own, separate campaigns.  Second, it is a a lot easier to manage logistically.  Third, one of the subtle things I've had to massage is the PG/R rating issue to the campaign, both in terms of my stories and the player's behavior.  That's not to say there's inappropriate adult behavior, just a lot of teenage shenanigans sometimes.

Hopefully the junior campaign (or whatever we are going to call it) will go well.  I think that there are several of the youth contingent (junior league?  teen adventurers?) that are interested in running something, so maybe they could have a revolving GM Screen kind of thing if need be.

Anyways, it's big news for the group, so I'll keep you posted.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Game Night Recap: Negative Crisis!

How do you say goodbye to the player of Komos (both incarnations), Union Galactic, and Positive Crisis?

By have a massive dimension-spanning epic adventure to save the multiverse, culminating with superheroes, fantasy adventurers, and spacefarers battling a tarrasque, a lich, and a demigod on the rolling surface of a Federation starship orbiting Sigil, the City of Doors and center of everything.

After starting off fairly typically in our 5E campaign, things went suddenly, terribly awry as the world was shattered and PC's were scattered throughout the multiverse.  At this point I handed each of them a PC from some time in their gaming past, worked out using Marvel Heroic Roleplaying rules (which is a great system for doing something like this.  Since this was a plenary session for the gaming group, there were no less than 11 players present, with PC's or NPC's from every game campaign I have run since I arrived in this state.  In the gaming group itself we had

From the 4E D&D Campaign

  • Aukan, the Goliath Warden
  • Grendel, the Minotaur Barbarian
  • Skyhawk, the Pixie Rogue
From the Marvel Heroic Campaign
  • Abrasax the Guardian Gargoyle
  • Bubblegum, former teen hero
  • Union Galactic, cyborg cowboy
  • Positive Crisis (who showed up later to be played by Union Galactic's player)
From the Mass Effect Campaign (run by John)
  • Xavier, the human infiltrator
From the Firefly Campaign
  • Thyme, former Companion
From the 5E D&D Campaign
  • Roghanj, the Dragonborn Sorcerer
  • Calidis, the Elven Druid
  • Robin, the Genasi Fighter
The main villain was Positive Crisis' evil brother, Negative Crisis, who had contacted a plan to lure the Star Eater from my Star Trek one-shot to destroy Sigil and use the TARDIS (from the League of Extraordinary Dudes one-shot) to recreate a universe completely under his control.  He was assisted by a group of villains from the various fantasy and superhero campaigns, along with lots of minions.  It was an over-the-top rollicking time, a real change from the "kobolds and copper pieces" that are the staple of Dungeons & Dragons.  Frankly it had been a long time since I had put this much work into a single adventure, and it really showed.

Anyways, it was Ben's last night, so we had one more group photo before he heads off into his next adventure.  Juggling 11 players might be at ton of work, but it is all worth it.

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