Monday, October 31, 2016

Four Frightening Games to Play on Halloween

Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls! It's that terror-rific time of the year when the air gets colder, the leaves start to change colors, and people embrace the horrific and macabre.

In honor of this spooky season, I thought I would share four games I personally feel are ideal to play in celebration of this die-lightful holiday. I'm sure you'll find all of these to be absolute monsterpieces.

I also apologize for the awful puns.

1. Betrayal at House on the Hill
Designed by Bruce Glassco and published by Wizards of the Coast under its subsidiary Avalon Hill, Betrayal at House on the Hill is a semi-cooperative adventure game where players investigate a creepy mansion, experiencing one of fifty randomly determined scenarios. Players can end up being transported to an alien world to be experimented on by extraterrestrials, chased through the halls by a hungry werewolf, or fighting a race of evil plants. Betrayal at House on the Hill can be a little bit unbalanced at time and some scenarios are a little lackluster, but the game does a wonderful job at capturing the magic of the more campy horror films of yesteryear.




2. Dead of Winter
Published by Plaid Hat Games, Dead of Winter is a semi-cooperative game where each player leads a small faction of survivors living within a colony during the zombe apocalypse. The players will have to strengthen the fortifications, venture forth into the nearby town to gather supplies, and fight off the living dead if they wish to survive through the harsh winter. However, players will also have to remain vigilant because there might be a traitor lurking among them. Dead of Winter masterfully replicates the tension found within a zombie film, where both the danger of the walking dead and stressed relationships between the living create a suspenseful experience. The added element of the Crossroads Cards, which force the players to make difficult situations throughout the game, is just icing on top of the cake. 





3. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Based on the party game designed by Dmitry Davidoff, One Night Ultimate Werewolf is a quick bluffing game where player are inhabitants of a small town menaced by a pack of hungry werewolves. Each player receives a secret role, some of which are the lycanthropes. The game is divided into two phases, with the townsfolk attempting to figure out who are the werewolves and execute at least one of them. One Night Ultimate Werewolf is great when you need a game that can handle a large group of people, but won't last several hours. I also highly recommend downloading and using the free app. It will take on the role of moderator and make things run a lot more smoothly. 



4. Fury of Dracula
Fury of Dracula is a deduction game originally designed by Stephen Hand set eight years after the events of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The game has one player take on the role of the titular vampire as he travels across Europe, massing an army of the undead, while the others play hunters attempting to find and destroy him before he succeeds. The current edition published last year by Fantasy Flight Games does a solid job at cleaning up the rules, streamlining combat, and adding a few new mechanics that make the game even better. I suggest picking up the 3rd Edition before it gets too expensive due to FFG losing the publishing rights when they split ways with Games Workshop. You won't regret adding this one to your collection. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tiny Epic Quest - Kickstart it Now!


Tiny Epic Quest is the latest entry in Gamelyn Game's Tiny Epic line of board games. This sandbox adventure game is obviously inspired by the video games of yesteryear, specifically the Legend of Zelda. Players will control a group of elven heroes who will explore a fantasy land, complete challenging quests, and fight vicious goblins in order to earn victory points. The one with the most points at the end both wins the game and saves the world. 

I really liked the previous two entries in the Tiny Epic line, especially Tiny Epic Galaxies. Gamelyn Games manages to take these really entertaining games and fit them into pocket-sized boxes. Tiny Epic Quest seems to take that to the next level, and I can't wait to get it into my hands.

Those looking for a cool looking adventure game that can easily fit inside the pocket of your bag should give this Kickstarter a look.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jack Chick Returns to the Dark Dungeon

*Blows dust off the blog*

It's been a very long time folks. Nearly three months by my count. Life's just been kicking my ass this year and I've been trying my hardest getting it back in working order.

I didn't expect to write a post today, but when I heard this piece of news I knew I had to say something.

Jack T. Chick, the fundamentalist christian cartoonist that wrote numerous comics called "Chick tracts", died this past Sunday at the age of 92.

This is the man who wrote Dark Dungeons, the unintentionally hilarious comic that depicted Dungeons & Dragons as something evil. That it was a tool for satanists to corrupt the innocent youth of the world, teach them magical spells, and drive them to commit suicide if their characters died within the game.

I wish I was making this up.

Dark Dungeons is a relic of a strange time in the hobby's history, a moment when some people actually believed to be dangerous. This little comic was made to fan those hate-fueled fires, along with stuff like John Coyne's novel Hobgoblin or the made-for-television film Mazes & Monsters based on the Rona Jaffe book of the same name.

Today, I find it hard to muster any amount of hatred for this piece of exploitative propaganda. I might not like the person who created it and find the majority of his beliefs to be utterly deplorable, but I can't help but find some strange merit with this particular piece of work. It's like this weird, cultural landmark for the hobby, giving us something to laugh about and make snarky references towards.

However, I might also just be reaching for something positive in all this so I won't default to negativity in this incredibly awkward situation. You'll never know.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Sasquatch Game Studio Giving New Life to Alternity

Click HERE for the Official Announcement Article

Earlier this week, Sasquatch Game Studio announced they will be releasing a new science fiction role-playing game in 2017. The most intriguing aspect about this announcement is what it will be titled: Alternity.

Those with a keen memory will recognize this as the name of another science fiction role-playing game published by TSR in 1998. Following the company's acquisition by Wizards of the Coast, Alternity was discontinued in 2000. While certain elements of the game would later be used in d20 Modern, specifically the DarkMatter and Star*Drive campaign settings, Alternity itself has pretty much laid dormant for over a decade.

Until now.

This latest iteration of Alternity will not be a second edition, but a new role-playing game that simply draws inspiration from the original game. It will be a modular toolbox like the previous version, allowing Game Masters to mold the mechanics to fit the specific brand of science fiction they're trying to achieve. They even have the original designers, Bill Slavicsek and Richard Baker, working on this version.

I'll admit, Alternity was before my time. While I have managed to read the rules and thought the Control Die + Situation Die approach was pretty cool, I never actually used it for a campaign. However, I would love to see what Sasquatch Game Studio has in store for us with this new Alternity.

How about you? What are your thoughts on this announcement? Excited, cautious, or a little of both? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Four Questions of Character Creation

Everyone has their own process for creating a character. I'm not talking mechanically, but how they approach crafting the elements that make the character something more than a simple bundle of stats. Some like to write long, detailed backstories, while others prefer to start small and build upon that as they play the game. Some begin with a concept, but others like to be inspired by the mechanics.

There is no one true approach, each working better for different people.

That being said, I thought it might be nice to present my own preferred method for constructing a character's flluff. I like to call this method the "Four Questions". This little questionnaire helps me develop a handful of basic pillars I can use as a foundation for the character, allowing me to build upon it while playing said character. The Four Questions are:

QUESTION #1 
"WHO IS THIS CHARACTER?"
Before delving into the more specific aspects of a character, you should figure out her most basic concept. Think of this as the elevator pitch for this imaginary person, capturing her most important elements in a simple sentence or two. It should be clear and precise, getting your point across in as few words as possible.

QUESTION #2 
"WHERE IS THIS CHARACTER FROM?"
Your character didn't spring forth from thin air, fully formed and ready to explore ancient tombs in search of priceless treasure. They had to originate from somewhere in the campaign's setting, a location with a interesting atmosphere and culture that more than likely left a last mark upon the character.


QUESTION #3
"WHAT IS THIS CHARACTER'S ULTIMATE GOAL?"
Every character should have something important they are working towards, explaining why they've decided to become an adventurer in the first place. You have the classics, such as avenging the lost of a loved one or restoring the prestige of her long-tainted family's name. This goal can be literally anything, but should be something that will take many adventures to obtain and should be driving force for the character.


QUESTION #4 
"WHAT PREVENTS THIS CHARACTER FROM ACHIEVING THIS GOAL?" 
There has to be a reason why the character hasn't obtained their goal yet. Maybe she doesn't know the identity of the assassin who killed her loved one, just that he had an extra finger upon his right hand, or possibly the only way for her restore said prestige is to hunt down and kill the dragon her ancestor failed to slay many years ago. This is where you give the GM a very blatant hook to use within the campaign, something to draw them into the story the group is attempting to weave together, making the challenges just a little bit more personal.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Find Your Path to the Stars - Paizo Announces New Roleplaying Game


Looks like Paizo still has some surprises up their sleeve. Yesterday, Creative Director James L. Sutter published a blog announcing something completely unexpected. Next August, Paizo will be releasing a brand new roleplaying game.

The Starfinder Roleplaying Game will be based upon upon the Pathfinder rules, but designed with the science fantasy sub-genre in mind. It'll be backward compatible, but ultimately a stand-alone product. The rulebook will contain numerous new races, classes, equipment, and other elements suited for the far-future version of their Golarion campaign setting. Sutter described the default setting as follows:
"Starfinder is set in Golarion's solar system, but far in a possible future - one in which the gods have mysteriously spirited Golarion away to an unknown location, and refuse to answer questions about it. In its place, the cultures of that world have evolved and spread throughout the solar system, especially to a vast space platform called Absalom Station. Gifted access to a hyperspace dimension by an ascended AI deity, the residents of the system suddenly find themselves with the ability to travel faster than light, and the race is on to explore and colonize potentially millions of worlds. But there are horrors out there in the darkness..."
The Starfinder RPG Core Rulebook will be released in 2017 at Gen Con. Furthermore, a monthly Adventure Path will support this new product, offering quality adventures along with interesting rules and setting expansions. However, Starfinder will be released under the OGL, meaning third-party support will be possible.

Strangely, Paizo has also announced they will not be hosting a full public playtest for Starfinder. The reason given is that it would be very difficult with something of this sheer scale. That being said, they will bring in key community members to give input over the next few months.

Personally, I find myself cautiously optimistic about this product. The words "science fantasy" immediately warm the cockles' of my heart and I'm curious to see what they'll do with the mechanics. However, I'm also nervous that Paizo might be going down the same troubled road that TSR did, splitting their customer base in two. I'm also worried about mechanical bloat, but that's really nothing new with d20 games.

How about you, dear readers? Are you excited for Starfinder? Are you cautious like myself? Do you think this is a Harbringer of the End Times? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

5e Musings - The Bard College of the Mountebank

Not all bards are connoisseurs of stories. There are a handful use their abilities for a much more nefarious purpose: deceiving the foolish individuals that inhabit the lands in order to gain fame, glory, or great wealth.

BONUS PROFICIENCIES
When you join the College of the Mountebank at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with disguise kits, forgery kits, and one gaming set of your choice.

BEGUILING WORDS
Also at 3rd level, you learn enhance your carefully woven deceptions with just the right word or phrase. When making an ability check to deceive or persuade a character, you may spend a bonus action to expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and adding the number rolled to your roll. You can choose to use this feature after you make your roll, but before the DM determines whether the ability check succeeds or fails.

MAGICAL DISGUISE
At 6th level, you develop a mystical knack for disguising yourself, allowing you to assume a variety of unique masks to enhance your deceptive acts. As an action, you can magically change your appearance. You decide what you look like, such as your height, weight, distinctive features, etc. However, you cannot change your size and your statistics remain the same.

This change lasts 1 hour or until you use this ability again. You revert to your true form if you are knocked unconscious or killed. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all uses of this ability after you finish a long rest.

MAGICAL TRICKSTER
Starting at 14th level, you can empower your spells to make them harder to resist. When a creature within 60 feet of you makes a saving throw against an enchantment or illusion spell you've cast, you can use your reaction to expend a Bardic Inspiration, rolling a Bardic Inspiration die and subtracting the number rolled from the creature's roll. You can choose to use this feature after the creature makes its roll, but before the DM determines whether the ability check succeeds or fails.