Friday, December 21, 2018

Wearing the Cape: Operation Pole Star Review

I am a fan of Mr. Harmon's Wearing the Cape universe and quickly snatched up a copy of this product upon its release.  The supplement/adventure is 12 pages in length.  If you are familiar with the other Wearing the Cape RPG books and high production quality then you will enjoy the same level of attention and design with this book as well.  I enjoy Kasia Slupecka artwork from the cover and the continuity in with this book and the other RPG products.  Please keep in mind this is a FATE powered product and all game stats are recorded in the WtC:  RPG format, but can still be used with FATE Core as well.

The book includes an opening chapter addressing how Ole Saint Nick fits into the Post-Event world of WtC and sites examples of how to incorporate Santa into other type of campaigns.  Mr. Harmon then follows up plot ideas and area descriptions of the North Pole and story specific areas addressed by the adventure.  I was surprised to find several top down and 3D rendered maps of one of key areas within the adventure.  I like maps and find them very useful with my players in describing the areas they will be playing during an adventure.

The only item that kept me from giving this book 5 stars, is that despite Mr. Harmon presenting several ideas on how to approach the villainous plot. It is ultimately in true FATE fashion a loose suggestion of how to approach the story and leaves the specifics up to the individual game master.  It would have nice to have a few more fleshed out ideas and suggestions and more concrete path of play.  With that said, the Side bar texts do an excellent job of presenting options and ideas for the game master to explore during the play.

Our gaming group is playing this adventure on Christmas Eve and we are all looking forward to meeting Santa!  Thank you Mr. Harmon for this seasonally themed WtC adventure.

The game resource is currently available via Drivethrurpg for $2.99 

Pros (Things I like)

  • More Wearing the Cape products!
  • The art work is fantastic
  • The adventure includes Santa Claus
  • Excellent finish and game design quality

Cons (Things I don't like)

  • I would have liked to see more specifics on the actual adventure story and less of the freeform that naturally comes with FATE products.
  • That is about it...

Friday, September 21, 2018

Golden Sky Stories: Twilight Tales Kickstarter Review

As my collection of Roleplaying game material continues and my addiction to Kickstarter project continue to grow.  I come across some neat RPG concepts and some games that slipped by me.  Golden Sky Stories  is one of the games.  The game is originally a Japanese RPG which became a translation project for a Kickstarter  here in the United States a few year ago.

As I said before, I missed the original Japanese version and the translated U.S. Kickstarter.  I did not miss the translated expansion;  Twilight Tales.    I back the Kickstarter and was pleasantly surprised when it took less than 6 months for delivery of the final printed books.  I also took advantage of the add-on for the project to pick up the original Golden Sky Stories in softcover.

I don't know what I expected from a translated RPG but wow, the book is well laid out and easy to follow.  The basic premise is that the player will choose a Henge (pronounce Hen-Gay), which is a spirit creature that resides in and around the town.  The players as Henge are animal spirits that can assume human forms and human-animal forms.  The players then will spend their time helping the mortal, and sometimes making things worse, but it all works out in the end and everyone gets a happy ending to the story.

The Kickstarter campaign was quick and to the point, with the printed material arriving amazing quickly for a Kickstarter.

If you like cute and heartwarming stories then this game is for you...if you like action and violence in your RPGs...I would look elsewhere.

The game is avialable from Drive Thru RPG in PDF or print-on-demand Golden-Sky-Stories

Pros (Things I like)

  • Good looking book, high print quality
  • well organized
  • I can't say enough about how quickly the Kickstarter wrapped up and delivered the printed books 

Cons (Things I don't like)

  • Not much, its a fun game and easy to pick up and play

Thursday, August 30, 2018

GENCON 2018 Summary

Ok, I did not attend least not yet.  I did attend GENCON 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I experience several high points of the years trip; playing Golden Sky Stories RPG, talking to Marion Harmon (The Wearing the Cape creator), meeting Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games, getting my little gnome hero for Hearthstone, and playing Runequest with Jeff Richard as our game master!

This was the view from our hotel in downtown Indianapolis.  This was our first year to secure a room in the downtown block of hotels...the best part we were easy walking distance to the convention center and all the games.  Our close proximity made gaming, eating, and sleeping much easier than previous years where we were forced to stay at least a 30 min. drive away from the convention center.

I only signed up for a few scheduled games.  My wife and I like to keep our afternoons and evenings free to meet up with friends (sometime strangers) and try our hand new games.  This year we tried several new games to include:  The Thing, Shipwreck Arcana, Campy Monsters, and Space Park.  On Saturday I even managed to play Blizzards Hearthstone in a Fireside match and get my Warlock hero!  I made it a point to seek out Mr. Marion G. Harmon, the creator of Wearing the Cape novel series and it's corresponding RPG.  He was fantastic and he was the person who directed to me the logic game of Shipwreck Aracana. Fantastic game Mr. Harmon, thank you!

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the highlight of the whole weekend was Playing the new Runequest:  Role playing in Golorantha with Jeff Richard.  The event ticket was expensive at $20.00 but well worth the price.  The adventure was tittled "The Trouble in the Big Rubble"  and we had a fantastic time.  I meet some fellow gamers who were awesome and loved Runequest as much as I do.  This was my first exposure to the new rules/edition and I found it close enough to 2nd Ed. that I knew my way around most of the mechanics and the other newer game material came easily.

This was easily a weekend of memorable events.  Going with the Chaosium theme, i attended Sandy Peterson's "How to create a Call of Cthulhu adventure" seminar and wow was that informative.  Mr. Peterson has been kind enough to post the session on YouTube, if you are a fan of Call of Cthulhu, I recommend you take a few minutes and check out the video.  My apologies for the picture, but Mr. Peterson walked behind the camera and its the only one I remembered to snap.

My wife and I also "Spent a night in Greengully" with Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games and the creator of Scythe, Chartertone, and Viticulture.  He is a wonderful host and took time out of his evening to sit with us and ask about the games and our experiences.  Once again, if you are going to GENCON and Mr. Stegmaier is attending, take time to visit his area and check out his selection of games.  You can even ask him about winning strategies.

Ok, those are the high points of the weekend.  We had a wonderful time and met a lot of great people and played some many many terrific games.  I am looking forward to next year...I just hope Marc Miller can make it next year and is willing to host his Traveller RPG:  Can you survive character generation!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Kickstarter: Traveller The Great Rift Box Set

Today I received my copy of Mongoose Publishing's The Great Rift box set for the Traveller RPG.  I have been watching the development and impending delivery of this product on line with a great deal of excitement.

Mongoose delivered the PDF versions as they were completed but we have had to wait for delivery of the printed copies.  I have been very eager to see the final product. 

It has been worth the wait.  The final box set is superbly constructed, it even has a small ribbon to help you get the books out of the box with out damaging either the books or the box.  Mongoose did an outstanding job of keeping all the backers from Kickstarter informed along every step of the journey.  My only concern was that as I read of US backers receiving their physical copies, I had not received mine.

I sent an email out to Matthew Sprange and he responded quickly stating that I should have received my copy already.  After verifying my mailing address Mr Sprange said that would see it in the mail soon.  True to his word it arrived 3 days later. I don't know what hiccup occurred, but he handled my inquiry professionally and resolved the issue quickly.

I have seen several articles and forum threads that disparage the cost of some of Mongoose Publishing products but I personally have not had any issue with any of the printed material and have been supplied with PDF version of anything where I have purchased a physical copy from an online.  source.  

An exciting note is that within 24 hours of the PDF being released, the fan favorite web site,the Traveller Map had been updated with all the supplied material and content!  If you have not had an opportunity to explore the Traveller Map web site, it is well worth you time.  My favorite "easter egg" is the map of the Zodani Core Expeditions!

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