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Showing posts from May, 2013

Star Trek: Journey into Darkness (Review)

I just saw Star Trek: Journey Into Darkness today over the Memorial Day holiday with my family, and after some careful consideration, I have to say that it fell short of the first of the re-boot series.

It's hard to talk about it without spoiling the plot, and I'll include some spoilerific comments after the break, so don't click on those if you haven't seen the movie yet.

On the upside: Chris Pine has clearly been watching old Star Trek footage, because he is definitely imitating Shatner more in the movie.  Not in a bad way, just in some little mannerisms here and there.

On the downside: Benedict Cumberbatch was awful.  I like him a lot in Sherlock but he was pretty woeful in this movie.  His dialogue was limited (I think he had one multi-sentence piece the whole time) and he didn't radiate the power he needed to for the character he was (I won't say whom).

Okay, the break:


Character Mortality

If there is one element of the Old School Renaissance that is the most discordant with me, it is the issue of PC mortality.  Or rather, the element I think I would find most difficult to sell to others.  The idea is that you're going to burn through a small ream of character sheets as part of the game and that the process will be fun.  Or at least have some value.  Ignoring the "it's a good idea because Gary said so" element of the argument, the most thoughtful reasons why this is the case are the following.

It encourages intelligent play.  If you're going to die from a single arrow to the neck, you're less likely to just start kicking in doors and swings swords around wildly.  You have to hire retainers, move carefully, and manage resources.  No superheroics and stupid players pay the price.  Now this only really works if the GM does a good job of providing sufficient clues for the danger: small details that can reveal the location of traps, or monsters withi…

Why it pays to be out of the (gamer) closet

Yesterday I was attending a graduation party for a person I know through work.  Her son was graduating from the University of Kansas, and she was holding a party for him and his friends and had invited, well, everyone on the planet to attend.  At the party the host introduced to me to her nephew, whom she identified as a gamer like me.  Now my place of work had organized a fundraiser in which local youth could come and play boardgames with unlimited concessions, the proceeds of which support a local food pantry (my place of work is cool like that).  So the host was basically trying to get her nephew involved with the fundraiser the next time we do one.
We, however, began talking gaming, and I told him that while I love board games, I'm more of a roleplaying gamer and a wargamer.  As might be expected we frequented the same local gaming stores, etc. and he said that he and his wife would love to find a roleplaying group to be a part of.
Right now I've got a pretty full group of…

Supporting the Other Side

Tim Brannon at The Other Side is supporting the Bloghop against Homophobia and Transphobia, and while I didn't sign up to specifically support that bloghop, I will support Tim's efforts.  Prejudice against a person based on their sexual orientation is wrong, and I'm glad that in my own line of work we have made great strides to address that.

Tim's doing a cool thing to support the bloghop by first offering a free copy of his RPG sourcebook The Witch in a raffle to those who link to his blog, but also is contributing the proceeds from the sale of this book from May 17 to 27 to The Trevor Project.  So go buy a copy (I'm going to, not the least of which is because I have a player in my gaming group who loves to play witches), support the bloghop, and do what's right!

-Robb

Campaigns I'd like to run: RPG Carnival for May

I've decided to take a crack at the RPG Blog Carnival this month, especially since the topic is so easy: Campaigns I'd Like to Run, a topic chosen by Lowell at Age of Ravens.

Ironically enough, one campaign I've wanted to run for a while--a supers game--I'm doing right now, so I can scratch that one off the list.  So what have I dreamed of doing?  Two answers

My Own Version of the West Marches
I think most GM's of fantasy games have considered this at least once in their lives.  For those who don't know, the West Marches was a  D&D sandbox campaign run years ago by Ben Robbins over at Ars Ludi.  His reflections on it were immediately absorbed by a lot of OSR people into their canon about what a sandbox campaign should look like.  What's ironic was that a) it wasn't a hexcrawl, and b) it was done using the oft-maligned 3rd Edition rules.

In any case, I've often dreamed of doing a fantasy campaign where the focus was on player's deciding what …

10,000 Hits

Well, in the midst of everything, I hit one of those milestones: 10,000 hits on my little RPG blog.  Thanks for everyone's interest!

On the subject of keeping people's interest, I'm going to try to post some more content more regularly.  I've been feeling down about Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, but I think the supers genre is working okay.  I may consider switching to Mutants & Masterminds or Champions.  But in the meantime, there's nothing to keep me from creating some character concepts for the campaign.

And yes, eventually I may switch out, as I've said before, so I may be writing about that as well.

But anyways, thanks again for reading!

In which weaknesses are revealed [MHR post-game report]

Part of my ongoing report of my Marvel Heroic Roleplaying campaign.

Scene One
The action begins in media res as the Ultimate Posse (who swears they are going to change their name) respond to a report of two supervillains, Arrowhead and Headstrong, robbing a local bank.  The Posse, short Mr. Eternity who is working on building their new vehicle, mostly concentrate on taking down the gimmicky archer Arrowhead first while their tank Abrasax ties up Headstrong in combat.  Once Arrowhead is down, Headstrong quickly follows.
I've decided to open each session with one of these action scenes, rather than a "you're all hanging around the base one day..."

Scene Two
Outside the bank the heroes are approached by Agent McAdams of the US Secret Service.  Agent McAdams asked them to accompany him to the offices of Senator Pritchard, the political rival of their friend Senator Rybeck (see here).  High-tech agents attempted to kidnap Pritchard's daughter, Lucy, from her private scho…

Quick shout out to the Happy Whisk

The Happy Whisk is a loving gamer spouse and talented chef, but she's also a fanatic about uber-couponing, which hasn't ever been my thing before but she had a link on her site to a deal where you could load up on coupons for Digiorno's Pizza at Target.  Since I didn't feel like cooking for the gaming group tonight I followed her advice and saved $9 off $23 worth of frozen pizzas.  Hoody hoo!

In other news, we doing another session of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying tonight, and I'll post the report later this weekend.

A Second Look at Blade Raiders

My paper copy of Blade Raiders, a new fantasy RPG by Grant Gould arrived yesterday, and I tore into it with gusto.  I've read the .pdf copy when it came several months ago, but I'm not a huge fan of reading e-books, and being able to thumb through the pages is always a more pleasurable and effective way for me to read.
You can read my first look of the game here, but I wanted to do a more detailed one now that the book is out. First, let me say that there are a lot of "fantasy heartbreakers" out there that constitute a game designer's attempt to polish and tweak Dungeons & Dragons to their liking.  They are called "heartbreakers" by some because in the end, it's still largely the same game experience as the original, and if you didn't like that, you won't like its derivatives.   Blade Raiders is not a fantasy heartbreaker.  It's a fantasy RPG, but there's little in similarity to the Tolkein/Dying Earth gumbo that is D&D.  The…

Mi gran sueño de aficiones

My Grand Dream of Hobbies.  Despite the fact that my Marvel Heroic Roleplaying "campaign" is kicking ass in four different colors, I began to see the cracks in the wall Friday when one of my players began asking me about how to increase his powers.  He was almost immediately rebuked by two other players, who said "it isn't that sort of game" but I could see that he was upset that he couldn't get a d12 power because I hadn't allowed them at the time of his character creation, but I had allowed a player whose powers were pretty weak generally to crank up to a d12 at the expense of three plot points (a sort of mega-blast that also left his power set depleted).

The fact that characters don't develop in ways that are reflected in abilities, but instead gain contacts, reputations, etc. is as I've said before a big weakness of the game, and I suspect that the cracks will eventually open into fissures.

So, building upon an earlier post, I'm still th…

More good food for gaming: homemade Jalapeno Poppers

I've said it once, and I'll say it again: you don't have to just sit around eating chips and pizza at a gaming table.  Every gaming night the group comes together to share a meal, with most players bringing something.  Last night I made my traditional pulled pork, Evan brought baked beans and potato salad from the store, my gaming couple and another player brought beer, and Todd brought homemade jalapeno poppers.


These guys were made by taking the seeds and membranes out of jalapeno peppers, then filling them with cheddar cheese and wrapping them with pepper-smoked bacon.  Toothpicks hold them all together.  Bake them at 275 degrees for a little over an hour (until the bacon sizzles) and you're good to go!

Not the healthiest option, but man they were good.  And good food helps make for good gaming!  Todd's birthday is in a couple of weeks, but I hooked him up with an early present: a re-release of an old Romulan warbird model.  Todd's a big modeler and Trekkie,…

The Ultimate Posse(?)

I ran another session of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (R.I.P.) Friday night for my gaming group. All six players made the game, and here's the way it went.

Scene One
The group meets a cowboy who was abducted by aliens in the 1800's and kept in suspended animation until he was rescued by the Wonders in the final battle against the alien invaders. The cowboy, calling himself "Union Galactic," hopes to honor their memory by fighting villains using powers gained from various alien implants. Since Positive Crisis has left the team, the new hero is welcomed aboard.
Ed. note: Positive Crisis' player had never really taken a shine to the character, so he comes in with a new one, straight out of "Cowboys and Aliens."

Scene Two

The heroes hear a broadcasted distress call from a transport ship being attacked by a mysterious Crustacean-like monster. The heroes fly to the ship and battle the strange figure, finally subduing it for questioning. Before they can do that,…