Posted on September 24, 2018
I’ve been enjoying running Numenera, as long as I don’t have to go off book too often. Sometimes I’m really feeling the improv nature that the rules permit and encourage, and sometimes I’m super not in the mood. Fortunately, I have plenty of material to lean on most of the time.
I’ve also been enjoying running Paranoia, not just because I think it’s a good game once you get around the Initiative rule, which isn’t that tough, but is a bit clunky in practice (often because I can’t remember what number I just called out), but because there’s no long term commitment.
I got three connected adventures to run and three more connected adventures, but no campaigns or long running stories or fascinating character backstories to juggle. Those are all things that enjoy, but being free of them and just having a four night stand with a fun game is pretty rad too. And hey, leave your players wanting more and they’ll hopefully remember it fondly, rather than remembering only when the campaign ground to a halt.
This winter, we’ve got some changes going on. Numenera 2 is out, with all new adventures and stuff. Male Blilie 2 is out now too, so it makes sense to take a bit of a break in Numenera – or at least the current storyline. I have a small campaign that’s designed for new characters and could run that with no impact on Bryce. Or anyone else. It’s just a game, jeez.
I have another couple of games either coming this Winter (hopefully) or having just arrived. The Stars are Fire is a Sci-Fi RPG using the Cypher System that Numenera players are familiar with, but setting appropriate. The Legend of the Five Rings is a fantasy RPG drawing from Eastern legend and history. (Because Oriental Adventures is SO problematic guys). Star Trek Adventures is an erotic horror LARP. No, not really, its Star Trek, having adventures.
L5R and Star Trek both have Starter Kits, aside from the main rulebook. I’m a fan of these, with their custom maps, pregenerated characters and their learning curve scaling adventures. I think it’s a great way to spend $25-$40 anyway, but it’s a great way to get people dipping their toes into a game without splurging.
The L5R one is LUSH, Fantasy Flight pouring the franchise rights into their magical machine that spits out glossy new editions of card games, board games and RPGs with shared art and fluff. They are able to flood a property onto the sales floor. So if you see stuff for L5R, it could be any one of the game iterations.
The L5R starter kit puts you as almost-samurai of several of the great clans, attending your gempuku, coming of age ceremony. Which is also a contest. Which is also not quite what it seems. Plenty of investigation, social play, world revealing as you go and each encounter is staged to introduce a new mechanic as you go, so you don’t have to understand your character sheet before you play, but chances are you will understand it by the end of the first session.
I’m crushing really hard on this setting its deep, deep lore and the possibilities that the setting raises. The complexity of the game is really all in the situations you put yourself in and consequences your actions have. Imagine if everyone in Game of Thrones was a Paladin. Imagine how fucking complex that would make it.
I haven’t seen the Star Trek one yet, but I’m interested in that too. Needless to say, that’s one that I shouldn’t run until Bryce gets his life back right-side up. The rules for that one are surprisingly simple. Roll 2d20, and try to roll under your (Attribute+Specialization): you only need one success to pass the test. And good news, player characters are hyper-competent! Far cry from Star Fleet Battles of yore. Players play Star Fleet from Ensign to Captain, (this is a game that’s fine with splitting the party and balanced so rank isn’t too important to playability) with the Ship itself a shared character that they all have a role in creating and playing. I’m excited about this game,… just gotta find the elusive Starter Set and get Bryce out and playing.
There are, of course, other RPGs I want to play (Fiasco, Dusk City Outlaws (nudge nudge, JIM) Dark Heresy, good old Call of Cthulhu) but those have a long shelf life and aren’t going anywhere. Similarly, I and probably you, have a boatload of board games. Rising Sun certainly hasn’t been extinguished in my mind yet and I haven’t started painting yet… And I have Tang Garden coming too sometime soonish, (I think). And there are still plenty Mansions of Madness to burn to the ground as we try to save them. And Doomtown. And did you know I own Blood Bowl?
What I’m saying is, we’ll survive the winter. I’ll shoot out an email and try to figure out what people want to play and when, once MN United’s season is done (I don’t think we need to worry about playoffs…)If we end up playing something that isn’t your cup of tea, I wouldn’t worry too much, I’m not committing to anything for too long. Chances are your choice will come around.
Posted on September 24, 2018
We got pretty much through Weird Discoveries, the 10 instant adventure supplement for Numenera. They’re planning on doing one for Numenera 2 and I’m psyched for that because they are really minimal set-up adventures that are generic enough that they can be slotted into any remote area of the Ninth World (which is… like, most of it) but full of Numenera flavour.
I wish more games designers would do this because it definitely suits my purpose and I bet there’s a bunch of 40+ GMs who find themselves with not quite enough time and want someone else to do the heavy lifting.
There are two we never got into, one because I couldn’t fit it in and the other because the lure didn’t get taken: that’s one of the things I thought would be a problem with this setting – that there’s so much weird stuff that the players might not be able to differentiate between things that were worth investigating further and things that are just weird and awesome.
Anyway, me needing a break from running Numenera coincides with the using up all the instant adventures I was planning on using, the release of Numenera 2, Bryce being on paternity leave/sleep deprivation mental vacancy, me spilling coffee over all my damn notes and the release of a bunch of other interesting RPGs. There are still other things in particular I want to run for Numenera – The Devil’s Spine short campaign is quite a different thing from the freewheeling explorer’s for hire High Plains Drifting shit we’ve been doing. There are two other downloads from MCG, one of which is excellent. And there are six adventures for free in N2. So we have plenty of mileage left in a game I enjoy and I’m pretty satisfied with that. I enjoy the Cypher system as a game system too and I’m looking forward to playing The Stars Are Fire with it (see other post where I dribble over other games).
I do find that if I don’t recap, I have no recall of what we did. There has been a few times where I just have no idea what I’m doing if someone doesn’t remind me. So I should really get back on that…
Oh boy, I haven’t updated since they were looking for Jip Krofwarten. There’s been some water under the bridge since then… in brief; they found Jip, found out that he was indeed another Meef-alike called Jip Krofwarten, and he was wanted by some heavy powers because of his relatively innocent involvement in a heist. Jip was trying to play the angles to try to get out of the situation rich and alive, but the players largely didn’t care to get involved in the caper and Red turned him in to the authorities for a reward.
The situation was not resolved as Jip would not give up the location of the artifact he’d stolen from the thieves who’d stolen it from one of Giana’s father’s lieutenants (it was his fellow clone, Meef, who had them). When torture wouldn’t work on him, they decided to grab his girlfriend and kid of the street and torture them instead.
While all this torture and manly resistance was going on to Meef’s benefit, Meef was conning a dying airship captain out of his flying ship. With the means to skip town and get away from the various dangerous entanglements Jip’s situation had ensnared them in, they were invited along to meet Dracogen, creepy af shadow entity. They had problems, he had solutions: for completing a job, they’d learn the way to the Temple of The Blind God (although Jip also claimed to know how to get there, before they handed him over to be tortured).
They took their flying ship, The Ruffian, out to a remote village that had appealed to Dracogen for help. They fixed their wagon… leaving their village smashed and burned but danger free. (This adventure would be impossible to describe without revealing the twist, but it was a good one, I enjoyed it.) And Dracogen was well pleased and coughed up the information.
So taken was he with them that he had further work for them, a delve into the famous Orgorek. They had been approached by Jip’s future Mother-in-Laws, incensed that the party had endangered their daughter by handing Jip over for torture. So they worked out a deal with Dracogen to have Jip freed inexchange for exploring the Orgorek.
They flew way up north, The Ruffian outfitted with crew, a sex yurt for Red trailing off the back and a welded-on crew cabin. they checked out the Orgorek and found a bunch of interesting things, not least of which was an Octopus explorer they named Vern whose skim-craft had crashed into the heavily defended Orgorek.
Heading home they were almost taken over by the Iron Wind, but found last second shelter in a chasm, their ship crashing into ancient structures. They encountered a priestess with a problem, sort of solved the problem, and then fixed their ship up enough to head off home.
Posted on March 20, 2018
We’re two games in on Rising Sun, and I’m still happily baffled at how to win at that game. Our first game (me, JIM, Ben and Rolland) was a learning experience and Ben ended up romping home to a comfortable victory. Our second time out (me, JIM, Ben and Matt) and it became obvious that just a single (unsuccessful) game under your belt was a big advantage against someone who had not played before. Someone can explain the component parts of the game, but until you see how they interact with each other, it is difficult to grasp the bigger picture. Ben won again, but he had me by only 4 points, JIM not too far behind and Matt, despite coming last (I think) made a good go of it and was at one point doing well.
The rules of the game are easy. The three phases (Tea Ceremony, Political and War) are simple enough, but how they work together becomes so entertaining as the game goes on. While you decide who you want to sorta work along with during the diplomatic Tea Ceremony, the Political phase is about getting your Force out onto the bits of the board you want to win, and during the War phase you resolve contested bits of the board.
Posted on February 19, 2018
Reviews and Previews: Jamaica/Photosynthesis/Adventure.exe/Cpt. Sonar/Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate/Rising Sun
Okay, with Jonathan and Steven’s visit we went full-bore games shopping for some likely additions to our respective catalogues. Some I can review (along with a podcast), some I can preview, but keep in mind that I tend to like boardgames. Rarely meet one that I couldn’t enjoy a few times. The two that we tried out were very enjoyable, but unless I get an amazing deal I’ll probably not pick them up, but they would certainly be good additions to a game library.
There are a few things I haven’t got to completely finishing yet, like the entire back catalog of Cirith Ungol, the streamed sessions of MCG’s Invisible Sun, the new Numenera novel “The Night Clave” and the campaign “The Devil’s Spine”. Mostly that’s because I’ve been busy with Crusader Kings 2, because it is so great and eats all my time and I don’t care and let me tell you about my Kings…
A turn based race around the island of Jamaica. It’s a six player, 45 minute game that is easy to pick up, got a bit of tactics to it and with beautiful (nay, award winning) art. After you get the gist of the rules there’s no reading required and you cant be knocked out of the game, so it would be a good game for kids.
Players have a hand of three 2-action cards; the lead player rolls two dice, and assigns one die to morning and one to the evening. Then everyone chooses a 2-action card, the first action tied to the morning die and the second action tied to the evening die. So if the dice were 2 then 5, a player could assign a Collect Morning (and collect 2) Action and a Move Evening (and move 5 spaces) Action. This means the dice usually favour the roller because they can tailor the dice/action interaction, but not always.
To land on most spaces requires either food or gold, resources you can collect as you go. If you don’t have enough of these things, you end up going backwards, which sounds bad in a race, but can sometimes work out well. The only spaces that don’t have this kind of tax are pirate hideouts, which give treasure to the first person who lands there. Some of that is Victory Points, some of it is gear that helps in combat.
Basically the first person across the finish line gets a whole bunch of points and wins, unless their opponent is close behind/laden with treasure. Streaking for the finish line is a pretty solid strategy, but there are a few tactical things like cargo management and treasure detours that make for a more interesting game.