Friday, March 9, 2018

Chronicles of Darkness - RPG Campaign

  When I started playing role-playing games back in the 90's, The Story Telling games of White Wolf publishing came to my attention.  More specifically, Vampire:  The Masquerade.   My gaming group at the time picked up the VtM book and quickly set our hungry fledgling vampires upon the unsuspecting world.  At least that is what we thought we would do with our characters.  Our Storyteller, now an old friend of mine many years later, took it upon himself to do his research and prepare a fantastic narrative.

Our story revolved around a group of vampires that were recently embraced and still learning their place in Vampire society.  During our months of game play, with the help of a mystery patron, we worked to destabilize the current clan regime and coordinated with werewolves to accomplish this plan.  When the dust settled, most of us were gone but the two that remained had clearly succeeded.  The older generation and ruling cast of Vampires in our region where gone...with nothing to replace them but chaos and death from the anarchy of not having anyone in control.  Our last scene we ever played, had a mystery patron confronted us and revealed that he had manipulated us the whole time as a power play to remove the competition!  We never learned his name or background or the fate of the two surviving characters.

Now many years later, I have taken the reins and started a campaign with my wife and her friend playing to two "normal" young women.  Our first adventure went well and set the mood for a short horror/haunting adventure.  What the two players didn't expect was to find out they are both awakened and set on the path to become Mages.  During the events of the first adventure they both experience (at different times and for different reasons) that the world isn't what they thought it was...

An older Mage is encountered during the adventure and dies shortly after meeting the players.   This short encounter is enough to set the players on their journey into the word Mage:  The Awakening!  I am not going to reveal too much about my upcoming plans for the players since they both read this blog, but I shall say that they are in for a bumpy ride.  It may even involve some Vampires... or perhaps this new God Machine thingy...

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mansions of Madness Review

I have seen a few posts online about the game, Mansions of Madness by Fantasy Flight Games and thought it looks interesting.  I must confess, before the first part of 2017, I have never actually read any H.P. Lovecraft or being very familiar with the Chuthlu mythos.  So back in February, I took it upon myself to get a copy of the collected works of H.P. Lovecraft.  I quickly discovered that Lovecraft is exhausting to read.  I have to take the short stories a few at at time and longer stories have to broken down into manageable lengths, by taking breaks and reading non-Lovecraftian fiction during those breaks.

That being said, I have found the creepy world Lovcraft fascinating.  I was looking forward to trying my hand at Mansions of Madness.

The character selection is impressive.  The copy of the game I played had several of the expansions and a multitude of characters to choose from.  It was a bit overwhelming choosing my first character.  I tried to balance all the attributes and get a special ability that would be frequently useful.  I found out that during the game when you have to make a feat roll, the roll is random as to which trait it may call upon.  In other words you may attempt to shoot a bad guy but instead of using agility you have to use a different characteristic such as willpower.  This randomness didn't make much sense and left me feeling frustrated

The map-tiles are also plentiful and reused in various scenarios.  I was happy to see that even when you reuse a tile it is often is a fashion that does not feel repetitious.   I also like how you use token to make the lighting and persons/points of interest that your characters will interact with during the game.

We have played several scenarios; some of which are more action oriented and a few that are more investigation based.  I personally enjoyed the more action based scenarios, and guns were very effective against the baddies.  Also fire is bad, for both the investigators and monsters.

The app that is used to interact with the game is very interesting.  It does add to the atmosphere via music and sound effects during play.  I had hoped it would be more of a game in and of itself, but its just a bare  bones map that you select icons to interact with and it doesn't care about the number of actions or which player turn it may actually be at the time.  This makes it easy to cheat on actions as we found on some of the puzzles.  I am convinced that you could spend an entire game worth of actions attempting to solve some of the puzzles and still not have enough actions to solve it before the game is over.

The game is on new edition but all the previous edition material is still useful.  As is the expansions that are available.  There are lots of different scenarios you can choose from.  I have played around 8 different scenarios and still enjoy the game each time.  We have found that our play group is thorough and we tend to explore as much as possible, so our play times tend to run longer than the suggested run time.

The lovecraftian horror is present thorough out the game and you visit several of the locations and story elements from Lovecraft's fiction.  I would recommend the game to any fan of Lovecraft and his collected works.

The game is readily available from several online sources and I have seen in it on the shelf in several local game stores.  The base game price hovers around $80.00 for the new 2nd edition.

Pros (Things I like)

  • The App support works well to help create a tense atmosphere
  • Map tiles are pretty and used very effectively 
  • Lots and lots of characters to choose from

Cons (Things I don't like)

  • The app support is "dumb" and is just a portal to interact and doesn't hold you to the structure or rules of the game
  • Rolls to suceed in the game are based upon what appears to be a random character trait.  So it feel like it doesn't really matter which character you select because you have no control over what traits will be called up during the game.
  • App puzzles are

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 - A year in review

2017 was an interesting year, below is a list of events that occurred this past year:
  • Watched a new Star Wars movie again.  The movie is divisive among fans, but I enjoyed the film.
  • Lost my sister Jessica to cancer.  I don’t want to discuss this one.
  • Traveled with work to Arkansas 9 times, ~9 more than I really would have liked
  • My son is now 3 years old!  Holy cow, where does the time go?  I seems like we were bringing him home from the hospital yesterday.
  • I am still enjoying my ipad
  • Started playing World of Warcraft, again...
  • Stopped playing World of Warcraft, again...
  • Read a lot of good books, We are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. TaylorRise of a D-List Supervillain by Jim Bernheimer, 13 of the 20+ Honor Harrington series by David Webber, The Last Coven (final book of the Tome of Bill Series) by Rick Gualtieri, Agent of the Imperium by Marc Miller (more on Mr. Miller later), and last but not least…Persepolis Rising (The Expanse Series) by James S.A. Corey
  • Finall broke down and started using Audible and listening to audio books.  I am now a big fan of audio books but the quality hinges heavily on the performance of the narrator.  So far I have tried the following books:  Armada:  A Novel by Ernest Cline, The Collapsing Empire  by John Scalzi, Star Wars:  Ahoska by E.K. Johnston, Three books of the Velveteen Series by Seanan McGuire, Thrawn (Star Wars),  by Timothy Zahn, A Closed and Common Oribit  by Becky Chambers, and The Columbus Day:  Expeditionary Force Series by Craig Alanson.
  • Went to GENCON 2017 the 50th Anniversary.  Met with several of my favorite authors and RPG creators:
    • Marion Harmon – Wearing the Cape book series and the RPG.  I picked up my Kickstarter books form him at the convention.
    • Marc Miller – The creator of the Traveller RPG, we had an opportunity to sit and discuss traveler and I had a great time.
    • Greg Stafford – One of the Runequest creators and Jeff Richard one of the men responsible for the resurgence of Chaosium and Runequest 2nd Ed. Material.
  • Interviewed for a new position in my company again.  I didn't get the job but I feel this is still moving in the right direction to get my family back to Kentucky and closer to family.
  • Played several new board games:  Scythe, Terraforming Mars, Mansions of Madness, Star Trek Ascendancy, Charterstone, RISK:  Game of Thrones,   Tiny Epic Galaxies, and Tyrants of the Underdark.  There are are a few more and I will work to get some reviews posted.
  • Started an ongoing Marvel (FASERIP) campaign on Roll20.

Thing that I didn't get to do this past year but want to change in 2017:

  • Work in the wood shop.  I did make it out there a few more times than last year.
  • Slacked off on my blog for the past couple of months.  I got very busy with work, and I know, excuses…excuses. 
  •  Visit old friends, especially the ones that are fairly close.  Such as some old Army buddies in Atlanta.
  • Take my son to the Zoo, he still wants to see an Aardvark!
  • Take a family vacation in an RV to the Grand Canyon. 
  • Convince my mother to come and stay with us and when that doesn't work, talk her in to staying for a couple of weeks.
  • Just so I can be like everyone else at New Years, loose about 20 lbs.
  • Write more, practice practice practice!
  • Continue my Marvel RGP campaign on Roll20 and perhaps add a second RPG campaign.  

I know its quick and just a list of experiences but I feel better getting them down on paper.  I do have a few game reviews that will be coming up in a couple of weeks.  I promise!  I also am going to strive to be more regular with updates, and share more of my thoughts and stories.  Happy New Year!

- Jeremiah

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

GENCON 2017 First Report

My wife and I were able to attend GENCON in Indianapolis this year with several of our friends. I am going to post a couple of highlights. This picture is with Marion G. Harmon, the author of Wearing The Cape series of novels and a brand new RPG based upon the same material.
As I have stated in my other Blog entries, earlier this year I was a play tester for his RPG and then backed it as a Kickstarter. During our visit at the convention, I was able to meet Mr. Harmon, talk about his characters/novels, and pick up my Kickstarter rewards! This was definitely a highlight of the convention.

I plan on writing a few more Blog entries to discuss some of the games we encountered, played, and eventually purchased!  

Keep watching for more updates.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How to Play FATE Comic, Presented by Up to 4 players

 I have seen this comic strip floating around the internet for about a week.  It is presented by the folks at  Up to 4 Players.  This is a good description of how the FATE system works and I wanted to share.  If you would like to check out the original post if can be found HERE

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Marvel Superheroes - Issue # 4 "Old Friends"

Issue # 4 “Old Friends”

Our heroes are training in the "shop" area of their new digs in Boulder City, NV when Jennifer Paulsen, the woman from the convention who was dressed as Art3mis knocks on their door.  She wants to help them be heroes by using her new power she has developed after the events at the convention.  She can speak to electronics, anything with a simple circuit board now has a personality and will speak to her mentally.

After some discussion with her smart phone and a few other devices via the internet, Jennifer was able to track down the Vegas Vigilantes.  She realizes that her power is not an offensive ability but believes that her gift can bring the team a windfall in intelligence gathering.

While Art3mis (Jennifer) is explaining this to our heroes, she informs them that the computer in their home just heard about a drug deal going down across town and the cops are having a difficult time arresting one of the parties involved.  Our heroes head to the train yard in town via  Art3mis pick up truck.

A few minutes later they arrive to a scene of chaos.  Two small group of gang members are behind cover within the train yard and  firing small arms at the police cruisers and officers.  A single large man, whom appears to be made of a white material that resembles a Jaw Breaker, moves around the train cars.  Shrugging of  the bullets from the police and criminals alike.

Our heroes fly above the scene and Simon drops all into the battle directly next to the Candy-man.  move in via an air drop from above.  The Candy-man yells something in Spanish as he hauls off with a hay-maker against the new arrival.  Al then finds himself flying thru the air and denting the side of a tanker train car.  He slides back to earth struggling to catch his breath.

It appears Candy means business, so Simon lets loose with a full strength kinetic blast.  Candy shrugs it off and reaches for a shipping crate to lob at our flyer.  Simon dodges the container easily and lets off another kinetic blast at Candy, once again with no effect.  By this time Al has gotten back up and even though he can't catch his breath he runs for Candy and grabs him by the forearm.  Using his power of Catalyst, Al concentrates and turns Candy's hard coating into custard...which starts to slough off off the man underneath.

As the previous candy coating falls away the Hispanic man underneath has no special abilities and fall to the ground as Simon's next kinetic blast catches both Al and man now covered in custard.  The gang members quickly surrender when they see their secret super-powered weapon is now disabled.   The police quickly round up the gang members, who were trying to pick up a drug shipment in the train yard when they were discovered by security.  When the cops arrived they were out classed by the Candy Man who, as the heroes discover, was also at the game convention that Al, Simon, and Art3mis attended.

Our heroes stayed around long enough to give statements to the  Boulder City Police department and then took to the skies.  It looks like having Art3mis around will be a big help!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Scythe Review

This game has been on my list for some time now, so this past weekend I picked up a copy of Scythe.  I have read a lot of Google+ posts about the game and most of those are very positive.  So I was eager to play, but family commitments worked against me and the game sat on the dinner table unopened for a few days.  My first impression; the box is heavy and the artwork is Amazing.  

The game is produced by Stonemaier Games and created by Jamie Stegmaier and that "Amazing" art work by Jakub Rozalski.  The game was a successful Kickstarter back in 2015 and is now commercially available via many outlets.  We pick up up our copy from Amazon for $62.00.

Upon finally opening the box, we found detailed minis, wooden tokens, cardboard coins/tokens, double sided game board, rules books (yes two books, we will get to that in a minute), an achievement sheet, and about 30+ ziplock baggies of various sizes to hold all your minis and tokens.

With my toddler son "helping" pop out all the card board tokens, my wife and I were ready to set up and try to play our first game.  One of the pointers in the rules books says not to stress over the rules and do not attempt to explain all the ins and out to new players but to just "jump in and push the buttons and see what works", and after playing the game for the first time...I would agree with this statement.  

The actual game play flows very well.  The turn order is dictated by what player mat you are randomly assigned and then goes around the table.  You will have a faction mat and player mat assigned.  the order, costs, and rewards may vary between each faction mat and player mat.  Each turn you will choose one of four actions found on your player mat and you can't choose the same action two turns in row (unless you are the one faction that breaks that rule).

These actions will either move your character, mech, or workers around the mat.  While other actions will produce resources, trade for resources, or recruit people to help your faction grow.  Each action has it pros and cons during play and you will need to consider your needs in the immediate and long term of the game, to get yourself in position to play stars and win the game.  Each player is attempting to play 6 stars and thus end the game.  Once the game has ended you score; hexes, monuments, and several other criteria to determine the overall winner of the game.
Each faction has unique abilities that break some of the established rules.  For example I mention earlier there is  faction that can select the same action turn after turn instead of being forced to not select the currently action for the turn.  For example if you select movement this turn, then you have to select one of the other three actions on the following turn.  After you have then done the new actions, you can move again your following turn. 

The box and rule book state that the game should take around 115 minutes to pay but our first play lasted closer to 4 hours for a two player game.  In the games defense we did stop and watch part of a 30 minute Youtube video how to play, to clarify a question we had about resources.  Once thing we did notice was that the game was slow in the begging during our build up but accelerated as the game progressed.  So our last few turns flew by.  

The last item I would like to touch on is that the game come with a second rule book just for playing the game solo.  Yes, the game is for 1 - 5 players.  I haven't had a chance to try out the solo play yet but I should get a chance soon and will update my readers with my impressions.  I recommend the game for anyone who likes resource management games with a healthy dose of combat.


Pros (Things I like)

  • Impressive artwork
  • Large amount of detailed minis 
  • Stonemaier Games and Jamie Stegmaier have a large on-line presence
  • Lots of storage baggies provided with the game for minis and tokens
  • Top action and Bottom actions are a fun mechnic to manage your turn 

Cons (Things I don't like)

  • The rules are straight forward but we found ourselves referencing online FAQs for clarification on a few rules.
  • The 30+ page rule book was a bit intimidating at first and the first read thru was difficult to keep it all straight.
  • Cost, the game had been above $100 on Amazon for awhile and finally dropped down to the $60 range and is a bit more affordable