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Showing posts from 2017

Summertime Gaming, Part Two

There are times when I think to myself, "you know, you could have done a better job being a GM that time."  Last Friday was one of those times.

In my defense, after literally having no one show up for the previous June session, I went from having four, to three, to two, then back up to four people signed up for last Friday's session.  When it was down to two, I scuttled the whole thing and stopped planning.  Then, literally the day of the gaming session, two people pop up as planning to attend, and I'm scrambling for content.

And with a game whose dice mechanic can be as jammy as Bash can be, that meant that we were done way earlier than I thought, and I didn't have much in the way of fallback material.  Like I said, a less-than-superlative job there.

It reminded me why I dislike doing "story" style gaming, because there is always the issue of timing: sometimes you get four-fifths of the way through the story and you've gone way long in the session,…

Summertime Gaming, Part One

Wow, it has been six weeks since my last post.  Well, a lot has been going on.  A ton of person transitions, some vacation time, etc.  But that's not what this blog is about.

Over the last six weeks, my friend John wrapped up his West End Games Star Wars campaign.  I'll admit that I wasn't in as many sessions as I might have liked--another consequence of my many responsibilities these days.  This campaign started as a closed game with a limited number of players but slowly creeped up to around seven or eight.  That's on the high side, and a lot of overlap between certain characters started to show (e.g. who flew the ship).

In the final episode the GM decided to split the party.  This is always a gamble, and I'm not sure if it paid off.  This wasn't the fault of the GM, but rather the fickle hand of fate (and some decision making on the part of the players).  The first half managed to handle their scenario in a very brief period of time, but the second half took…

The Vicious Circle [Bash gaming recap]

I was looking over my blog posts and thought, "I haven't written since March?  Did I even run something this month?"  And sure enough, I had, but had not written a gaming recap.

I suspect part of that was because it was a brief gaming session that didn't move the needle a lot except introduce the group to the archtypical Evil Billionaire Genius Supervillain and throw down with a bunch of supervillain flunkies (the eponymous Vicious Circle).  What was good about the session was some solid roleplaying with the villain and some very clever group tactics in the combat.  That's to be celebrated.

I'll confess to a certain amount of ennui regarding the campaign, however.  Maybe it's all the other stuff going on right now, but I'm not really fired up.  I can tell when things are bad when I end up just recycling plots and swiping NPC's from the back of the book.  Bash! was always meant to be sort of a pick-up, get-me-through-the-divorce kind of RPG campaig…

The Flute of Ymir [gaming recap]

My daughter wanted me to run a Bash! session just for the younger members of the group.  She likes her PC, the Lioness, who happens to be a trained martial artist tasked with hunting a group of supernatural villains (similar to Daredevil or Iron Fist from the MCU, or Sara Lance from Legends of Tomorrow).  So, what fun high-stakes adventure with mystical overtones can I possible reconfigure for a superhero episode?

I went with arguably the greatest episode of The Real Ghostbusters animated television show, "Ragnarok and Roll."

If you need the rationale as to why "Ragnarok and Roll" is one of the best episodes, this blog post does a good job making the case.  Fun side note: it was written by James Michael Straczynski, who would go onto do Babylon 5.  I went with the general skeleton of the plot: morbidly depressed Jeremy decides to use a magical flute to not summon Ragnarok (as in the cartoon), but Fimblevintr, the ice age that is supposed to precede Ragnarok.  I als…

The soundtrack of my life these days

So, a couple of months ago, everything shifted.  Some of it was well and goodly expected and some of it wasn't dreamed of.  But in a very short order practically every major relationship in my life changed: my spouse, my kids, my friends, the people with whom I work, and the people whom I serve in my work.

Now lest this seem like some kind of pathos-ridden post, a lot of those changes were positive.  The last couple of months have seen my grow and helped me discover a lot about who I am.  But it has been a huge struggle, and some things have taken a real hit, like the amount of time and mental energy I have to dedicate to my hobbies.  I moved away from my basement where I keep all my paint and miniatures and plaster and gaming books.  I'll move back there, probably in another month or two, but in the meantime all that has lain fallow.  I think it is pretty noteworthy accomplishment that I've been running three or four gaming sessions in that time, and that they have been w…

Enter the Miscreants!

I haven't been doing much on this blog for lots of reasons (including major life changes), but it isn't as if I am doing nothing all this time.

My gaming group played their third session of the game Bash! a few weeks ago, a game session that introduced an mysterious NPC group of metahumans (aka the Miscreants), an evil corporation (Kort Technologies, which only now I realize sounds like the Blue Beetle's Kord Technologies.  Damn.), and a handful of villains including Hot Rox, Brute, and Gunfire.

Gunfire is the latest NPC swiped from the book The League of Unfortunate Superheroes, the first entry from their modern section.  Gunfire was a DC comics character, part of the company's desperate attempt to catch up with Image and the Iron Age of comics with their "Bloodlines" event that introduced a slew of violently-named gritty "heroes."


Gunfire had the curious ability to shoot energy blasts from any object, meaning he could turn a wooden mallet (shown a…

The Fractal Dungeon: Introduction

I've been thinking about this for a very long time.  So much so that I'm sure if I looked, I'd find earlier failed starts on the blog somewhere.  But this time I'm going to see how far this can take me.
I have owned Central Casting: Dungeons for over a decade, a rare-as-hens-teeth book that is dedicated to the creation of random dungeon maps.  See, unlike some people, I frankly struggle conceptualizing what a dungeon should look like.  But Central Casting: Dungeons is a book that gives a method for creating random dungeons with hallways and rooms.  And "random" is a pretty good word for it.  The few times I've made one-page dungeons from the book's many charts the result has been completely without sense.
But I've often wondered what a truly expansive random dungeon would look like.  Would the chaos event yield into patterns, like a fractal?  Or would it come out as some delightfully bizarre?
So, I decided to just go with it.  I would start build…

The superhero campaign gets going

I've been talking for a while about starting a superhero game now that the previous "home game" of D&D had wrapped up last year.  For a while I had been planning on running Champions, mostly because I thought it would be fun to run a game that meant so much to me as a college student and might promote long-term play.

But as it turns out (to the surprise of few) Champions was difficult to teach and difficult to make NPC's.  Between the holidays and a bunch of stuff at home nothing was happening and the game seemed to be stalling out.  But then I found Bash, a fairly simple supers RPG that was easy to teach and easy for me to make villains, etc.  Two weeks ago I ran a test session of Bash, using 1940's WW2 characters.

It was a big hit, and suddenly the WW2 session, the PC's the players had been trying to build for Champions, Bash, and the book The League of Regrettable Heroes all jelled together into what appears to be the first session of a campaign.

The Le…

Some more thoughts after the Bash one-shot

I had the chance to follow up with several of my players who were present for the one-shot I ran last Friday of Bash! Ultimate Edition.  Many of their insights matched my own (submitted in no particular order):

It's a very easy game to pick up.  The one-rule mechanic of X times 2d6 for effect with X being an attribute or a power, usually between 1 and 5 was pretty simple to grasp.  It also made play pretty quick, even with the six players that I had.The dice mechanic is jammy.  "Jammy" is a term that has somehow made into my gaming group's lexicon, meaning that there is a lot of swing in terms of results.  This is especially true because when you roll doubles of any kind, the dice "explode" and have you roll a third die to add to the total.  If it also matches the others, then it explodes again, etc. For example, if you have an Agility of 3 (low superhuman) you can get a result of 9 (two 1's would explode on the roll, so a 1 and 2 is the lowest you coul…

Bash RPG One-Shot [Game Recap]

With all the craziness going on right now, I took some good advice and set aside complicated plans for long campaigns but instead ran a one-shot of Bash, a fairly rules-light superhero RPG.

I also took a break from the norm by setting it in the Golden Era of Comics, with the PC's being a group of patriotic superheroes called The Defenders who are called on by FDR himself to battle the Third Reich.  They are led by American Wonder, with his teammates Pyre, Cosmo, Nitro, Haute Couture, and Blind Fury.  By the time the session was done they had battled Nazis, Tiger tanks, and eventually the Nazi's top-secret weapon, the supervillain Ubermensch!  Thankfully they were not alone, being joined at various times by the stubble-jawed Sgt. Brick  and Pat Parker, War Nurse (along with her Girl Commandos)!

Bash is a pretty fun, easy system that my group picked up right away.  I have to tell you, I needed this.  I needed a light-hearted gathering of my friends at my new (temporary) digs, ful…

2016 and the Year That Was

I'm several days late on getting some sort of end-of-year retrospective, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know, I suspect.

Way back in January 2016 I drew my D&D 5E campaign to a close.  This had been going initially as a way to try out the new rules, and lasted until then with a pretty dramatic climax.  At that point the Other Rob picked up the D&D ball and ran with it, doing his own 5E through the Fall.  That was a good game in many ways but to me illustrated the weaknesses of 5E high-level play and made me appreciate bailing out when I did.

But in addition to the regular "house" game, 2016 saw a lot of people get behind the GM screen.  Rachel ran her zombie game using the FATE system.  Emma did a one-shot of her own D&D story, and is talking about starting a club at her school.  John started up a regular game of d6 Star Wars, which had a strong start and is still going on.


Somewhere wedged in there I ran a couple of off-book sessions with…